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on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field. The same Prophet, describing a future scene of religious prosperity, ascribes it to the outpouring of the Spirit in these terms: I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed and my blessing upon thine offspring, &c.
Ezekiel speaks in similar terms: Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. Joel also says: And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, &c. Zechariah uses these terms: I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications; and they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced, and mourn. · Such are specimens of Hebrew prophecies of the then future scenes of the outpouring of the Spirit : showing that the Old Testament saints must have been familiar with the vocabulary of revivals. Nor were they wholly strangers to the actual scenes of revival. Spiritual reforms had, indeed, such connexions with external changes, that the spirituality of the reformation often escapes the notice of the superficial reader. The coming out of Egypt was not a mere deliverance from slavery; a thorough reformation of character was effected in the space of one generation; so that the generation that entered Canaan ex
ceeded all others for piety. And after that, in the time of the Judges and of the Kings, there were occasional scenes of reformation, which bore all the essential features of a religious revival. Witness the reign of David, of Hezekiah, and of Josiah. The return from the captivity was attended by a great revival of religion-as may be seen by the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.
And saints, under the Old Testament economy, were wont to pray for revivals. The prayer of Habakkuk is an instance: 0 Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, &c. The Psalmist prays : Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee? And: Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, &c. Isaiah puts the same prayer into this language: Awake, put on strength, O Arm of the Lord. Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, for the ransomed of the Lord to pass over ? Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, &c. And again : 0, that thou wouldst rend the heavens! that thou wouldst come down ! that the mountains might flow down at thy presence !
Thus the piety, which breathes in the Old Testament, attached great importance to special outpourings of the Holy Spirit. The testimony of the New Testament is still more full. From the day of Pentecost, onward, the Acts of the Apostles record special outpourings of the Holy Spirit, here and there. And from that time to the present, the history of the Church has been the history of successive declensions and revivals. The history of the Reformation, in the 16th century, presents an instance of a remarkable revival, which changed the aspect of the Christian world. The New England Colonies had their conception and birth in a revival of religion. And from their birth, to the present time, their revivals have constituted their peculiar glory. And he must be blind to the true nature of religion, who does not see that it is kept alive and in progress mainly by special outpourings of the Holy Spirit. It would be better if there were no declensions, and no occasions for revival. But as long as there are diseases there will be need of remedies; and the Church in all conditions, hitherto, has had need to be revived. If there be drought, there is need of rain. That may come by the steady and continual dropping, or in the sudden and impetuous shower. We might fancy the steady rain to be desirable, to the exclusion of showers. But God is wiser than we.
The spirit of indifference to revivals, then, which is ever so ready to creep in upon the Church, needs to be chased away, as by the breath of heaven. And we need to bring in, and seat with greater strength in all minds the conviction, that the revival of God's work is as essential as religion itself: and that in a world where ten thousand causes unite, to depress the tone of piety, religion must-at least now and then-be revived, or else its very name must erish from the earth.
ADDRESSES ON PRAYER. No. I.—The NatURE AND OBLIGATION OF PRAYER. CHRISTIAN FRIENDS: Permit me, at the commencement of the new year, to address you on the subject of prayer. Its vast importance you will readily admit. May I not, therefore, attempt to stir up your minds, by way of remembrance, to a consideration of its nature and obligation, and attempt to set the subject fully before you with a view to your spiritual welfare ?
Prayer is a glorious privilege. It is connected with innumerable blessings. It is essential to vital religion. Where the spirit of prayer exists, there piety flourishes—there the blessings of Heaven descend: but where prayer is absent, there is the paralysis of atheism, and there the coldness of spiritual death.
What is prayer ? Prayer is the expression of the desires of the heart to God. It is asking God for the blessings he has promised to bestow. It is the lifting up of the soul to Him in ardent aspirations after spiritual good. It is not a fine form of words eloquently expressed. It does not consist in well sounded periods or poetic diction. No:
“6 Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed ;
Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
When none but God is near." “Prayer,” says Scott, “ is to look into the Bible and see what God has promised- to look into our hearts and ask ourselves what we want to look up to God to give us what we want, and what he has promised, as the purchase of Christ's blood; expecting, although we are the most unworthy, yet that he will be as good as his word.”
In prayer we adore God for his perfections, thank him for his mercies, confess to him our transgressions, petition for his blessings, and intercede with him for favours for our fellow-sinners.
Such, in a few words, is the nature of prayer. Let me now direct your attention to the obligation of prayer. “Men ought always to pray,” saith our Lord. There are few who would refuse to admit that we are bound "by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving to let our requests be made known unto God.” There are many arguments which readily present themselves to enforce the obligation of prayer.
Consider your entire dependence on God for all things. God is the author of your being and your blessings. “In him,” in every respect, “ you live, and move, and have your being.” “Every good gift and every perfect gift” which you receive “cometh from above- from the Father of lights." Without God you are nothing. Every