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Do I return good for evil_blessing for cursingkindness for abuse ? . Do I bear them on my heart before God in prayer; and earnestly implore, like my compassionate Saviour when nailed to the cross, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”? Or do I resent their injuries by sourness of temper, irritation of spirit, retaliation of wrongs : returning, when possible, evil for evil ?
Almighty Saviour ! thou who art the author and finisher of faith, give me a right spirit; a purity of intention ; a principle of love ; that all my thoughts words, and actions may be regulated according to thy will. With true humility of heart, may I ever study to advance the spiritual welfare of my fellowcreatures, by exhortations, prayers, influence, and example. Suffer not the enemy of souls to fill me with high notions of my own excellence; but ever keep me low in my own eyes. Preserve me from spiritual pride, the bane of all true godliness. In the lowly attitude of deep contrition, may I daily come to thy bleeding cross for renewed forgiveness and renewed strength. There may love and gratitude fill my heart, till passing through the gates of death into the celestial city, my soul shall be for ever dedicated to thy service and glory.
Ah! who can tell the joy,
Which reigns within the breast,
And Jesus is the guest.
Like some sweet summer's rose,
It sheds a fragrance round;
Of nature may be found.
A bright celestial day
Pours light and warmth within ;
Its beams through inbred sin.
Here is the seat of war,
Where sin and Satan rage ;
Who fighting quits the stage.
Blest Jesus, to my soul
Thy grace and strength impart;
I see thee as thou art.
XLIII. ON THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER.
There cannot be a greater blessing imparted to us, than a spirit of prayer. It is the earnest of all other blessings. When it pleases God to bestow a spirit of prayer, every other spiritual blessing is, as it were, waiting to descend upon the seeking soul. The spirit of grace and supplication is closely connected with believing contrition.
"I will pour upon the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplications, and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and mourn."
A spirit of prayer implies faith in the promises of God, and an earnest desire for the promised blessings. It includes waiting and hoping. “I waited for the Lord,” says David, “yea I waited patiently for him.” And what was the happy result? “He inclined his ear unto me, and heard me.”
O! it is a blessed state of heart, thus to wait upon God continually in the spirit of humble, fervent, believing prayer. Satan well knows the value of such a spirit, and therefore tries hard to prevent its exercise. He labours to extinguish this sacred fire, kindled in the soul of the Holy Ghost. He endeavours to disturb the mind; to ride upon the wings of the imagination ; and to fill the soul
believing pirit, ane labours of the ho to nie the
with an almost endless succession of fleeting images.
This daily irruption of the enemy constitutes no small part of the Christian warfare. The believer feels greatly distressed, when his foolish heart thus wanders from its divine centre. At such seasons his language is : O! that I were “near, and like my God!" But alas ! I groan being burdened. My heart is pained within me. I am almost tempted to conclude, that my experience of joy and peace is delusion.
If I be a child of God, why am I thus ? And yet, I cannot but feel some encouragement from the thought, that if I were under the absolute controul of natural corruption, I could not thus lament and mourn over its workings and deceits.
Why do I groan, being burdened, if I feel no burden ? And if I feel my burden, who has given me this spiritual sensibility? I know that in a natural state, man can neither mourn over, nor feel the weight of spiritual evils; it being one of the marks of unregeneracy to grow in love with, rather than groan under, sin.
If I am daily anxious to possess the spirit of prayer, to be inwardly renewed in the spirit of my mind, to be more under the influence of filial love and filial fear, may I not hope that a God of grace has indeed drawn me by his loving-kindness, and loved me with an everlasting love ?
Delightful thought! Is it too much to draw this happy conclusion? There is no merit in any creature, saint, or angel. The voice of sovereign grace is: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy ; and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
O! that I may be enabled by humble faith t) lie at the foot of the cross; and there to view, with growing delight, the never-ending wonders of re
deeming love! Such are the feelings of every true believer.
Lord, bestow upon me this blessed spirit of prayer. Preserve me from the incursions of the enemy, from the wanderings of my wayward heart. Take the world out of my affections. Let not its image be painted upon my imagination. But let thine own image be deeply engraven on my soul.
As we cannot live naturally without air, neither can we live spiritually without prayer. The latter is as necessary to the soul, as the former is to the body. A prayerless person is a Christless person. Living without God in the world, he must die without hope.
The natural heart dislikes prayer, because it requires a frame of mind quite opposed to its corrupt views and feelings.
If we feel an inward dislike to secret prayer; or if, when we pray, our hearts are habitually cold, and distracted by worldly cares and sinful imaginations; we cannot have a clearer proof of our being carnally-minded, which is death.
To pray aright, we must see our wretchedness, we must feel our misery, we must acknowledge our guilt, pollution, and helplessness, we must lie at the foot of the cross, plead in faith the merits of a crucified Saviour, renounce our own righteousness, supplicate forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, implore the gift of the Holy Ghost, hunger and thirst after righteousness, and pour out our souls in grateful acknowledgments for redeeming grace.
Now all this is contrary to the natural man. It was therefore no small mark of Saul's conversion, when Jesus said to Ananias: “Behold he prayeth."
What an exalted privilege is prayer! How precious is the throne of grace! And yet,
“ What various hindrances we meet,
There is even in the believer a painful backwardness at times to approach that throne, on which his Father sits in the mild radiance of covenant love. Yea, even in his happiest moments, when with filial confidence he draws near the mercy-seat, the artful enemy will labour hard to impede him in his work, and tempt him to give up the present duty; well knowing that every relaxation in duty is a weakening of principle.
When such assaults are violent, the heart is grieved, and the believer is greatly discouraged. But if he really loves the exercise of prayer, and seeks opportunities for holding communion with God, although much hindered by foolish, wandering, hated thoughts; let him not be induced to abandon the sacred work, which would only give the tempter an advantage over him.
When Satan casts his fiery darts, then must the soldier of Jesus Christ hold up “the shield of faith," and wield the weapon of “all prayer;" being assured that, in spite of every opposition, victory shall be the glorious result.
The divine command is, “Go forward.” So did the Israelites when the Red sea was before them, and the Egyptians behind them. Through the power of Jehovah, the mighty waters divided; a way was made for his ransomed to pass over; and they sang the high praises of their Redeemer, whilst their enemies lay dead upon the sea shore.
" So let all thine enemies perish, O! Lord: but let them that love thee, be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might.”
“Happy art thou, O! Israel: who is like unto thee, O! people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and he shall thrust out the