« AnteriorContinuar »
nen and women sank down, down, his easily besetting sin! The little uiles, before they rested on the foxes creep in easily and spoil the ottom!
All done through the neglect vines. The worm that eats up chaJim Spiker, who was too unfaith-racter, and wrecks all the hopes of il to mend the hole made by the life, can crawl into a very small hole. roken nail.
A mother neglected to punish or There were watchings and anxie- even reprove her boy for stealing an les by those on shore-all wonder- egg, and that neglect, as he said ig why the richly-laden ship did on the gallows, brought him that ot arrive. The cargo and ship shameful death. A single bow or a Tere all gone, and many were made single smile may win the good-will voor, because the broken nail was of a child, that will lead him to lot replaced !
Christ. A single visit to the sickThe wife waited long and tearfully chamber, to the Sabbath-school for the husband—the children longed scholar-a
-a single conversation or a for the father who never came. The single word dropped may result in Little hole had been left!
the salvation or the ruin of an imThe poor widow, who depended on mortal soul. The spiritual Tereier only son, a kind, dutiful, manly does are multitudinous, and they youth, her stay and staff-looked enter any hole, however small, and ont of her humble dwelling in vain. sink the ship. All great effects Her boy never came! The nail had grow out of small beginnings. The been left broken !
loosening of a single grain of sand Scores of homes were desolated, may end in the sweeping away of and many had their earthly hopes the dam, carrying off the mills, and crushed by the sinking of that ship, ruining a village. Beware of the and all because the little hole was first lewd word, the first profane left! Mrs. Teredo and her great expression, the first taste of strong family had never brought about all drink, the first neglect of your Bible, this ruin-had not Jim Spiker been the first neglect of prayer, the first
breaking of the Sabbath. You are Oh! how often is a child ruined leaving holes for the Teredo family by some neglect, as to his temper, to ruin you for ever.
THE PREACHER'S PRAYER.
BY THE REV. C. H. SPURGEON. “If we would reap in the pulpit, we must plough in the closet.” Or course the preacher is above all others distinguished as a man of prayer. He prays as an ordinary Christian, else he were a hypocrite. He prays more than ordinary
Christians, else he were disqualified for the office which he has undertaken. “It would be wholly monstrous,' says Bernard, "for a man to be highest in office and lowest in soul; first in station and last in life.”
All that a college course can do for a student is coarse and external, compared with the spiritual and delicate refinement obtained by communion with God. While the unformed minister is revolving upon the wheel of preparation, prayer is the tool of the great potter, by which he moulds the vessel. All our libraries and studies are mere emptiness, compared with our closets.
A certain Puritan divine, at a debate, was observed frequently to write upon the paper before him; upon others curiously seeking to read his notes, they found nothing upon the page but the words, “More light, Lord," “ More light, Lord,” repeated scores of times: a most suitable prayer for the student of the Word when preparing his discourse. The walls of his chamber were witnesses of his prayerfulness and of his tears, as well as of his cries.
Prayer will singularly assist you in the delivery of your sermon. None are so able to plead with men as those who have been wrestling with God on their behalf. It is said of Alleine, “He poured out his very heart in prayer and preaching. His supplications and his exhortations were so affectionate, so full of holy zeal, life, and vigour, that they quite overcame his hearers; he melted over them, so that he thawed and mollified, and sometimes dissolved the hardest hearts." A truly pathetic delivery, in which there is no affectation, but much affection, can only be the offspring of prayer. There is no rhetoric like that of the heart, and no school for learning is like the foot of the Cross. It were better that you never learned a rule of human oratory, but were full of the power of heaven-born love, than that you should master Quintilian, Cicero, and Aristotle, and remain without the apostolic anointing.
As fresh springs of thought will frequently break up during preparation, in answer to prayer, so will it be in the delivery of the sermon. Most preachers who depend upon God's Spirit, will tell you that their freshest and best thoughts are not those which are premeditated, but ideas which come to them flying, as on the wings of angels—unexpected treasures, brought on a sudden by celestial hands, seeds of the Howers of paradise, wafted from the mountains of myrrh. Often and often, when I have felt hampered both in thought and er pression, my secret groaning of heart has brought me relief, and I have enjoyed more than usual liberty. But how dare we pray in the battle if we never cried to the Lord while buckling on the harness ? The remembrance of his wrestling at home comforts the fettered preacher when in the pulpit. God will not desert us unless we have deserted Him. You, brethren, will find that prayer before preaching will insure you strength equal to your day.
As the tongues of fire came upon the apostles, when they sat watch ing and praying, even so will they come upon you. You will find yourselves, when you might perhaps have flagged, suddenly upborne as by a seraph’s power. Wheels of fire will be fastened to your chariot, which had begun to drag right heavily, and angelic steeds will be in a moment harnessed to your fiery car, till you climb the heavens like Elijah, in a rapture of flaming inspiration.
How often have some of us tossed to and fro upon our couch hall the night, because of conscious shortcomings in our testimony! How frequently have we longed to rush back to the pulpit again, to say over again more vehemently what we have uttered in so cold a manner!
Like Joseph, the affectionate minister will seek where to weep
His emotions, however freely he may, express himself, will be pent up in the pulpit, and only in private prayer can he draw up the sluices and bid them pour forth. If we cannot prevail with men for God, we will at least endeavour to prevail with God for men. We cannot save them, or even persuade them to be saved, but we can at least bewail their madness, and entreat the interference of the Lord. Like Jeremiah, we can make it our resolve, “ If ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride, and mine eyes shall weep sore and run down with tears." To such pathetic appeals the Lord's heart can never be indifferent; in due time the weeping intercessor will become the rejoicing winner of souls. There is a distinct connection between importunate agonizing and true success, even as between the travail and the birth, the sowing in tears and the reaping in joy. “How is it that your seed comes up so soon ?” said one gardener to another. “Because I steep it," was the reply. We must steep all our teachings in tears," when none but God is nigh,” and their growth will surprise and delight us.
The man who is mighty in prayer may be a wall of fire around his country, her guardian angel and her shield. We have all heard how the enemies of the Protestant cause dreaded the prayers of Knox more than they feared an army of ten thousand men. The famous Welch was also a great intercessor for his country. He used to say, He wondered how a Christian could lie in his bed all night, and not rise to pray.” When his wife, fearing that he would take cold, fol. lowed him into the room into which he had withdrawn, she heard him pleading in broken sentences : “Lord, wilt thou not grant me Scotland?" Oh, that we were thus wrestling at midnight, crying, “ Lord, wilt Thou not grant us our hearers' souls ?”.
Satan's kingdom fears not our rhetoric, our literature, or our orthotoxy; prayer is the master weapon, and the enemy quails before it.
ain are all our words till the word of the King comes with power to the conscience in answer to our prayers.
Could we read Jonathan Edwards' description of David Brainerd, and not blush ? " His life,” says Edwards, "s shows the right way to success in the works of the ministry. He sought it as a resolute soldier seeks victory in a siege or battle; or as a man that runs a race for a great prize. Animated with love to Christ and souls, how did he labour always fervently, not only in word and doctrine, in public ind private, but in prayers day and night, wrestling with God in ecret, and travailing in birth with unutterable groans and agonies, intil Christ were formed in the hearts of the people to whom he was ent!"
We not only ought to pray more, but we must. The fact is, the ecret of all ministerial success lies in prevalence at the mercy-seat. ne bright benison which private prayer brings down upon the ministry an indescribable and inimitable something, better understood than lamed; it is a dew from the Lord, a Divine presence, which you will ecognise at once, when I say it is “an unction from the Holy One.”
The getting up of fervour in hearers by the simulation of it in the preacher is a loathsome deceit to be scorned by honest men." To affect feeling,” says Richard Cecil, “is nauseous and soon detected; but to feel is the readiest way to the hearts of others." Unction is a thing which you cannot manufacture, and its counterfeits are worse than worthless; yet it is in itself priceless, and beyond measure needful, if you would edify believers and bring sinners to Jesus, To the secret pleaders with God this secret is committed.
Priceless as the gift of utterance may be, the practice of silence in some aspects far excels it. Do you think me a Quaker? Well; be it 80. Herein I follow George Fox most lovingly; for I am persuaded that we most of us think too much of speech, which after all is but the shell of thought. Quiet contemplation, still worship, unuttered rapture, these are mine when my best jewels are before me. Brethren, rob not your hearts of the deep-sea joys; miss not the far-down life by for ever babbling among the broken shells and foaming surges
of the shore.
It would be a great thing every now and then for brethren to spend a day or two with each other in real burning agony of
Our seasons of fasting and prayer at the Tabernacle have been high days indeed ; never has heaven's gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central glory. Even if our public work were laid aside to give us the space for special prayer, it might be a great gain to our Churches.
Our silence might be better than our voices, if our solitude were spent with God.
ANNIE AND WILLIE'S PRAYER.
For, somehow, it makes me so sorry because
But then, I've been thinking that she used to pray,
"Now Willie, you know we must firmly believe