« AnteriorContinuar »
heart has no interest in. As hypocrites, is an expression occurring repeatedly in the lesson. It means masked persons, like stageplayers, who personated characters not their own.
that we should pray daily, whether the heart feels aright or not. We should pray to have it made to feel as we ought.
Yet we are to pray to pray often; to pray in our closets; to pray because we need divine mercy. If, therefore, our heart does not feel, it ought to feel. There should be the love, the reverence, the dependence, which sincere prayer implies.
Children ask their parents for what they want, lovingly, earnestly, and with expectation. So we should pray to God, ver. 8; 2 Chron. xvi. 19; Isa. lxv. 24; Eph. iii. 20.
So David prayed, Psa. xxxviii. 9.
Thirdly. SIMPLICITY MUST BE MAINTAINED.
By simplicity, something in addition to sincerity, or heart-praying, is meant. We should know what we pray for; why we pray; and we should understand every petition.
The pattern of prayer in ver. 9--13, is of this simple kind. There are no fine words or phrases; there is nothing unmeaning, nothing superfluous. God is addressed in the character which most encourages prayer-Our Father. The prayer is full of reverence, humility, and dependence.
It will be a good exercise to mark and state distinctly the six petitions in this prayer-three relating to God and His honour; three relating to ourselves and our own interests, temporal and spiritual. Notice also the explanation and enforcement of one of these petitions, in ver. 14, 15.
The prayer closes with an ascription of glory to God. See 1 Chron. xxix. 11, which encourages the petitions offered, and implies thanksgiving for mercies received, Psa. lxxi. 14; 1 Cor.
PRACTICAL.-1. Pray always-privately, publicly, in the closet, or alone; in the social and more public assembly, Luke xviii. 1. 2. Give to the needy. 3. Weep and humble yourselves over the sins you observe. 4. But do all as before God, and not to gain men's esteem.
APRIL 26TH.-THE BIRDS AND THE FLOWERS.
For Repetition.-Matt. vi. 31--33. Reading Lesson.-Matt. vi. 19--34. The Notes on this Lesson are designed for the teachers of Elementary Classes.
Ver. 24 read. I am afraid you cannot understand the last word in this verse, so I must tell you what it means. In the language which Jesus and his disciples spoke, "mammon" meant riches.
And so he said that, just as no servant could serve two different masters, because, if he obeyed the one he would be often obliged to disobey the other; so you and I cannot serve God and-mammon, or-riches. Jesus said that if we set our hearts upon getting the good things of this life, and love them better than anything else, we cannot be his disciples. Let me try to show you why it must be so.
Illustration.-A rich young man once came to Jesus, and said, "Oh, sir, what am I to do in order to go to heaven?" Jesus answered him, "You must obey all God's commandments." "Oh!" said the young man, "I have done that ever since I was a boy." He thought that he was quite perfect; but Jesus saw his heart, and, in order to show him where he was wrong, said, "Sell your goods, and give them to the poor; and come and follow me." The rich young man was astonished, and went away. He loved his riches too well to give them up for Christ. Most likely, if he had been willing to give them up, Jesus would not have let him do so; for he does not often wish people to give away all that they have. The great thing is to be willing to give up anything that he wishes us to give up, because we love him better than all beside. If, like the young man, we love these good things better than Jesus, we are serving mammon," and "cannot serve God." I think we shall now understand better what follows.
Ver. 25. There was a great crowd of people standing round Jesus, when he said, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon ;”—you cannot serve God while your hearts are set upon storing up-riches. And I dare say some of them were thinking, as people do now, "If we don't spend our time in getting as much as we can of the good things of this world, what will become of us? We shall starve! or if we do not come to that, we shall always be poor; that is quite certain." And so Jesus said to them, as this verse tells us, "Take -no thought for your life," &c. Yes; that means: Do not distress yourselves about the future-about what food you shall have to eat and drink, or what clothes you shall have to wear. Leave all that to your Father in heaven. And so, in order that they might always remember this, Jesus gave the people, and to-day he gives you and me, first a lesson from the birds, and then a lesson from the flowers. Now let us read the bird lesson.
Ver. 26. [In bringing out the teachings of this verse, the following points may be noticed:-How rare a thing it is to find a dead bird, unless some mischievous boy or man has killed it. This shows that birds do not starve, even in winter, when the trees are leafless and the fields are bare Think of the number of birds
250 different sorts, living (for at least a part of the year) in our own country. They do not provide for themselves (refer to verse); none of them store up food for the winter. How is it that so many little mouths are fed? What does Jesus say about this? Our Father" provides for the birds; sends flies, spiders, worms, and grubs. What question does Jesus ask in this verse? How are we "much better than they?"
Examine on the foregoing, and elicit the lesson,-If God feed the birds, surely He will feed those who are so much better than mere animals.]
Ver. 28-30. Now for the flower lesson. What else beside food do people think very much about-something that they could not do without in cold weather? What are clothes called in this verse? Jesus knew that many of those who heard him were "taking thought," which I told you meant-worrying themselves; being very anxious, about clothes; and a great many boys and girls think far too much about dress now. So he told them to-(see verse). What does "consider" mean? Well, let us "consider the lilies of the field, how they grow."
[The "lily" here referred to is doubtless the kind described by Dr. Thomson (see Biblical Treasury for October, 1862, p. 160); a large and splendid flower, the stem tall and rather woody used by the people of the country to heat their ovens with. Grows wild. No man sows it or tends it; yet no garden flower is stronger or more beautiful. What king-even Solomon-so beautifully arrayed? And yet they are only flowers, their life soon gone for ever. They cannot live again. Not so with us. We are much better than flowers.
Examine as before, and elicit the lesson, If God clothe the lilies, surely He will clothe those who are so much better than dumb, senseless plants.]
APPLICATION.-Repeat after me-The birds do not sow nor reap, yet God feeds them. We are much better than birds. Therefore God will feed us.
The lilies do not work or spin, yet God gives them beautiful clothes. We are much better than flowers. Therefore God will clothe us.
Yes; but this lesson is only for God's children. If we are not God's children we cannot expect that He will take care of us. Unless we love Jesus, and strive to be like him, we are not the children of God, and cannot expect God to bless us Have we each prayed, "O Lord, make me thy child, for Jesus Christ's sake?" If we do this with all our hearts, God will hear us and take us to be
his children. And then the lesson of the birds, and the lesson of the flowers will be for us; and when we hear the birds singing, or when we see the beautiful flowers, we shall seem to hear the voice of our Father in heaven, saying, "Do not be anxious about tomorrow. Never mind what may happen. I will take care of you. Are you not much better than they ?" So you will be able to sing, as you journey along,-a young traveller through this world,
"What sorrows may my steps attend
I cannot now foretell,
But if the Lord will be my friend,
I know that all is well.
"Attend me through my youthful way,
And when I'm feeble, old, and grey,
"Then still, as seasons hasten by,
TESTIMONY TO THE SCRIPTURES.
I have heard of a copy of the Scriptures preserved in one of our old castles, which belonged more than a century since to the noble owner. At the end of many hundred verses through the volume he has carefully signed his name: and at the close of the volume, in a handwriting evidently tremulous from weakness, dated a short time before his death, are these words: "I hereby set my seal to the truth of every promise contained in this book, having found them all realised throughout a long life, in my own happy experience."-Rev. Charles Bullock.
A few years ago, a young minister went to visit a pious, devoted, and revered aged member of the Episcopal church. The conversation ended, and he arose to depart; when with trembling steps the aged one followed him to the door, and there taking his hand, he solemnly said: "My young friend, I have seen you for the first and probably for the last time. I have a legacy to give you before we part, it is this: do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can, and just as long as you can."-Workers and their Work.
WORKMEN WHO RECEIVE NO PRESENT PAY.
WHO works for God awaits his hire,
And labours on while others tire;
He bears the burdens of the day,
And looks beyond for rest.
He ventures all for God and good;
He often toils in need and pain,
His treasures now are hoarding fast-
Till all their work be done.