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is a man whose character is formed, and Christ is its model,-who walks with God,-whose faith is sincere,-whose heart is upright,—— whose conversation is as becometh the gospel of Christ. When our profession of faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ is supported by our willing submission to his authority, by our cheerful obedience to his holy commandments, by the grateful emotions of a heart really devoted to him who loved us, and gave himself for us; by a constant dread of sin, by a dignified superiority to the world, and by a sincere desire, a desire amounting to habitual anxiety, after all that is pure and spiritual;-then may the hope be entertained that we have made some approach towards the character of a righteous man. And a righteous man alone is capable of offering to Him who examines our inmost dispositions, an effectual fervent prayer. He who remains unholy, cannot desire the things of the Spirit of God; and if he utter any language in the form of supplication for spiritual blessings, either on behalf of himself or others, it cannot be the prayer of the heart. What idea can we conceive more really disgusting to any man of common honourable feelings?—what can we suppose to be more hateful to the God of holiness and truth, than to see a man of the world, a man of pleasure, a man of lofty mind, a man of covetous heart, affecting the feelings of a Christian? Such a one pretending to humility; lamenting the sins which he loves, praying for victory over the world, which is his God; asking for spiritual blessings, at the very thought of which his heart recoils; petitioning of the Prince of Zion, that manifestation of his power, that triumphant reign of the Gospel upon the earth, that complete change in the aspect, even of temporal things, in which he can feel no interest; but which would violate all his own habits and principles? A moment's reflection will convince every man who is at all willing to be instructed, that acceptable and profitable prayer must be connected with purity and righteousness of character.
The sentiment contained in the above remarks will not attract the notice of the unholy, or the speculative, should they be read by such persons. Yet, is there a something in the present state of the world, -in the situation of our own country,-which it must be difficult even for an infidel to resist. At least, we are warranted, on the most common principles, to call upon the careless and unreflecting portion of our fellow-creatures, to act the part which reason itself must encourage, and, to consider: but of Christians themselves much is required,―these are the salt of the earth, these are the men, the women, the devoted band, to whom we must look; who must take upon themselves, in the strength of the Lord, the duties, and exert
the energies, and submit to the sacrifices, which at the present moment are especially needful,-which observation and reflection will dictate, which faith and devotion will enforce. Christians who live in extraordinary times, ought to be themselves extraordinary cha
THE OBJECT OF FAITH AND PRAYER IN THE DAY OF
BY JOHN STYLES, D.D.
PSALM 1xxi. 3.-Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.
PRAYER is the expression of our thoughts, desires, and emotions, at the footstool of Him "in whom we live and move and have our being;"it is a recognition of our dependence and necessities; and these are never so powerfully realized as in seasons of trial or calamity: sorrow leads to thought, and the burdened heart seeks relief in the utterance of its griefs. Those ungrateful beings who, whilst the ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib, live without God in the world, and bask in the sunshine of a prosperity which visits alike the evil and the good, the just and the unjust; who say within themselves, "Who is the Lord that I should serve him; and what profit is there if I should pray unto him?” who rise up early, and late take rest, and eat the bread of carefulness, while that eye which never slumbers, and that hand which is never weary, and that heart which cannot grow cold, are alike despised or forgotten ;-these men, who live habitually without prayer, and never ask "Where is God my Maker?" will nevertheless pour out their cry when his chastening is upon them, and in their affliction will seek him early. They cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivereth them out of their distresses; but, like his ancient people, alas! how often is their goodness like the morning cloud and the early dew! Let the desire of their hearts be granted, imminent dangers pass away, or the bloom of health reanimate their countenance, and their fears and devotions cease together. And
with those devout men in all ages, whose prayers have ascended as the incense, and the lifting up of whose hands was like the evening sacrifice, the pressure of sorrow increased the fervour of supplication; and those beautiful compositions of the royal Psalmist which are the fruit of his most dreary and desolate hours, have in them a peculiar tenderness and spirituality: it was not only good for him that he was afflicted, but we derive great advantage from his sufferings. To these we are indebted for those supplications, confessions, and thanksgivings, which so many Christians have appropriated in their times of need; and of them we may remark, that they are so characterized by simplicity, plainness, and fervour, and so admirably adapted to the varied exigencies of Christian experience, as to furnish an ample supply of materials for appropriate and consolatory meditation.
the almond tree had flourished
In the Psalm before us, we find that David had chosen God as his hope and trust from his youth up: and two things are evident respecting the season to which it particularly alludes;-it was composed in a time of great trouble, and when the royal Psalmist was far advanced in life. "The keepers of the house had begun to tremble, the strong men to bow themselves, and those that look out of the windows to be darkened, and the grasshopper was a burden;" age and infirmities were making rapid advances, and grey hairs indicated that he had not long to live. A severe and dreadful trial pressed heavily on his heart, for at this period, when he needed all the support which filial affection could yield to be the solace and comfort of his declining years, the affections of his subjects were alienated by artifice, the trumpet of revolt was sounded, the standard of rebellion unfurled, and a new king proclaimed in the person of his son Absalom. Weakened by age, and enfeebled by recent illness, the afflicted monarch was obliged to abandon his palace, the capital, and even a considerable part of his household, and seek in almost solitary exile a place of shelter and security. If these were messengers to call his former sins to remembrance, and put his piety to the severest test,—as viewed in relation to God they certainly were,—in reference to himself, they were the bitterest which human cruelty could have devised, and penetrated to his inmost soul. The sinews of his strength as a sovereign were gone, the diadem had been torn from his anointed brow,-the sceptre wrested from his hand, and the throne of Israel was the seat Parental sorrows, those corroding agonies
of an unnatural usurper.
"How keener than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child,"
sat brooding on his heart, and his grey hairs were well nigh brought down with sorrow to the grave. Deserted and forsaken by all, he raised his aged eyes to heaven, and placed his honours and his life at the Divine disposal : "O God, thou hast taught me from my youth; now when I am old and grey-headed forsake me not; cast me not off in the time of old age, forsake me not when my strength faileth : be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort; thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress."
No one can read this beautiful Psalm without conviction that it is the language of a heart almost broken with sorrow and bereft of every hope but that which religion can inspire, yet upheld and supported by an unshaken confidence in the Divine character and government. The words of the text may be taken as an epitome of the whole, and they supply us,
I. With the object of David's meditation in the trying hour.
III. With the expression of his desires.
I. We have the object of David's meditation in the hour of trial: "Thou art my rock and my fortress."
The revealed character of God is every thing to his people; it is the source of all encouragement to confidence and prayer, and a powerful motive to all holy obedience. We can never think seriously of his infinite perfections without reverence; and as a whole they are eminently adapted to yield relief under all the vicissitudes of life and every variety of condition. This is true even of those who are obnoxious to his righteous displeasure, and have just cause to fear that he will punish their offences with a rod, and their sins with stripes. Every hope of forgiveness, and every motive to contrition, must arise from this source. Partial views of the Divine character may generate presumption or induce despair; but the knowledge of God, as he is revealed to us in the Scriptures of truth, while it repels every species of false confidence, affords the ground of hope to the unworthiest and most wretched of the human race: his justice and purity, in conjunction with his fidelity and power, may and ought to awaken our fears; but as allied with mercy, tenderness, and love, forbid us to sorrow as those who have no hope;" for he hath no pleasure in the death of him that dieth. It is difficult to persuade men of these truths, and consequently God is not in all their thoughts: or, if his being and government are forced occasionally upon their attention, the subject is unwelcome and the visitant intrusive; and