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crumble into dust before the withering prayer before us. What, what, my dear power of heavenly truth-before the might friends, what is the request in which you and majesty of the word of the Lord. would unite with us, whom you have in
And, my brethren, in the same view of vited, in the services of this day, to share the subject we may contemplate even in with you in holy fellowship, in hallowed a certain sensenot in the minor and pet- anticipation ?-what is the prayer which ty and contracted acceptation of the term, would embody to your mind the most inbut in the more large and liberal view of teresting, the most important ends to it-we may contemplate that the success which all your efforts have been directed? of gospel efforts shall have the most Could one voice utter the feelings, and powerful influence on the destinies of the anxieties, and the requests, of this thrones, on the condition of empires, on church and congregation, to all the the state of nations; for we look forward churches and all the pastors of this vito a period when the whole world shall cinity, of this metropolis, and even of become the kingdom of our God and of our whole country, in the length and his Christ; we look forward to this as breadth of it, what would be the lanthe legitimate result of the very object to guage of that request?
“ Brethren, pray which the apostle refers us—the success for us, that the word of the Lord may of the gospel, the glorifying of the word have free course, and be glorified.” And of God.
we assemble, my beloved friends, to asMy brethren, I have chosen the subject sure you that our hearts correspond with of this apostolic injunction as the topic yours in the request which you have thus of our present reflections, because I con- presented ; and we would unite our supceive it to be peculiarly appropriate to plications and combine our sympathies the end for which we are this day gather with yours, and re-echo, from the inmost ed together in the sanctuary. Most de- recesses of our minds, the apostolic invoutly do I rejoice, with the church and junction, “ Brethren, pray for us, that the congregation that will henceforth assem- word of the Lord may have free course, ble within these walls, on this auspicious and be glorified amongst us, and glorified day, and on the results to which their in every part of our country, and gloriprayers, and their liberality, and their fied throughout the world, even as it is long-continued arrangements have led with you." them, and by means of which we are this This apostolic injunction brings before day permitted, with other churches and us, other congregations, to share with them I. THE GREAT OBJECT OF CHRISTIAN in their felicity, to be helpers with them DevotioN. in their joy, and to unite with them in The object is strikingly represented in solemn and fervent supplications to the the phraseology of the text, and it conFather of mercies, and the God of all sists, comfort. What, my beloved friends, is 1st. In the free and unimpeded circulathe end for which you have erected this tion of the gospel. “Pray for us, that the spacious edifice? Why have you sought word of the Lord may have free course." this ampler territory for the proclamation There are impediments to the progress of the truth, for the administration of the of the gospel-mighty impediments to word and ordinances of the most high its progress. They may all of them, inGod? What have been the impelling deed, be resolved into one-hinderances, motives by which, as a church of the and hinderances are overcome in every inRedeemer, you have been influenced in stance in which the word is the power of all the arrangements and all the liberality God to salvation. But the impediments that have terminated in this day? I trust, are variously manifested. There are immy brethren, that with each individual pediments to the gospel in the spirit of member of the church and congregation persecution—in the prevalence of idolathere is a principle accordant in spirit, try and superstition—in the power of and sympathy, and feeling, with the | Antichrist--in the effects of infidelity-
in the inconsistency and the corruptions them to pray that the word of the Lord by which the Christian church is itself might have free course, he taught them degraded ; but all of them, however va- to pray that whatever hinderances existed ried, may be resolved into one, the oppo- in the inward opinions, in the feelings, in sition of the heart to the power, and vir- the prejudices, in the pride, in the natutue, and influence of the gospel. It was, ral scepticism and unbelief of the heart, therefore, with peculiar propriety, my to its admission and to its triumphs, friends, that the apostle taught the be- might be removed. And he could not lievers of Thessalonica to pray that the possibly look back on the state of his own word of the Lord might have free course. heart, on the impediments to the entrance
He alludes, in this injunction, to the of the word which existed in that heart, ancient stadium, or race-course, on which and to the wondrous energy by which the persons were employed in running, for word had free course, overcame, subdued, the purpose of gaining the honours of the and conquered it, without feeling that Olympic prizes, or obtaining some perish- every recollection encouraged him to coning crown, some fading distinction, which fidence and perseverance in his hallowed the applause and which the honours of work. the world might confer. It was requi. But, my brethren, it was not enough site, obviously requisite, before there for the apostle to have contemplated the could be the successful progress of such free and the unimpeded circulation of the as were engaged in running this race, that gospel, the removal of all external impeevery impediment should be removed diments as a great and important end; that crooked things should be made but he looked upon these as subservient straight—that rough places should be to some other end. “Pray for us, that made plain—that the valley should be the word of the Lord may have free exalted, and the hills should be made low course and be glorified." —and thus a way should be prepared for What, then, is it for the word of the their unimpeded movement. The apos- Lord to be glorified ?—will thus demand, tle, therefore, applies this imagery to the in the next place, our consideration, in gospel. The Son of God is riding forth illustrating the object of Christian devoin the chariot of his gospel, and those tion. employed in preaching it may well be It would not, my friends, in your esticonsidered, in a certain sense, as running mate be enough, if in every part of our a race, employed in a most important country, and in every government and and honourable competition. But there kingdom under heaven, the most unremust be the removal of all the hinderances stricted freedom were enjoyed. It would which exist in the state of feeling, in the not be enough for you that all the diffiprejudices, in the opinions, in the cus-culties and all the impediments in the toms of mankind, by means of which op- way of the evangelization of the world, position in various forms is presented to arising from persecution, from idolatry, the power and the influence of the gos- from anti-christian superstition, from the pel. When the apostle, therefore, taught systems of infidelity and of every other the Thessalonians to pray that the word outward cause, were removed. It would of the Lord might have free course, he not be enough for you that in every part was, in fact, teaching them to pray for of our land, in every part of our world, the progress of the cause of liberty; he there were edifices, spacious and elegant was, in fact, teaching them to pray for like your own, in which assembling the march of truth and knowledge; be thousands might unite for the great purcause he knew that liberty, and truth, poses of worship and fellowship. It and knowledge, in relation to all the ob- would not be enough for you that, on jects that could occupy the thoughts and principles connected with the simplicity attention of men, would be ultimately and spirituality of the gospel, kings were subservient to the progress and the tri- every where nursing fathers, and queens umphs of the gospel. When he taught | nursing mothers, to the church, and that
the power and splendour of rank, autho- of the cross, the weapons of their hostirity, and government, were every where lity, and to consecrate themselves to the subservient to the progress of the truth. service and honour of the divine ReEven all this moral machinery, erected deemer. upon the very best principles throughout Oh, my beloved friends! it is the acevery part of the world, would not real. complishment of these objects which ize your objects--would not realize that alone can furnish the answer to the for which you are taught to pray in this prayers, and the devotional anxiety, and apostolic injunction. All this would not the earnest solicitudes, of this day. I meet the glorifying of the word of God; know too well the heart of my beloved for, my friends, the glorifying of that and esteemed brother, the pastor of the word is inseparably connected with its church assembling within these walls, being made the power of God to salva- not to know that whatever falls short of tion—is inseparably connected with that the realization of this object will not influence by means of which the under satisfy him. If within these walls sinstandings of men are enlightened, the ners are led to feel the energy of heavenly hearts of men are renewed, and sinners truth piercing their consciences, alarming are turned from darkness to light, and their spirits, leading them to inquire, from the power of Satan to the power of what shall we do to be saved ?-if those God, receiving forgiveness of their sins, who are driven in from accident, or curiand an inheritance among them who are osity, or even base and unhallowed mosanctified.
tives, should, though they came to scoff, When then, my friends, may it be said return to pray—if the arrow of conviction that the word of the Lord is glorified ? should enter the conscience and subdue In pointing out the instances which may the heart—if the rebel should be brought be viewed as accomplishing this object, to submit to the authority of the ReI am sure that I am stating what you will deemer—if thus, from Sabbath to Sabregard—my brethren, the members of bath there should be transmitted from this church and congregation, you who this sanctuary, to the realms of purity and know any thing of the power and influ- bliss, the glad intelligence that another ence of the gospel-as that which alone and another prodigal is brought to the can realize and accomplish the objects house of his Father, another and another for which you are now assembled. The sinner led to repentance, and thus there word of the Lord is glorified when it is should be fresh joy in heaven, and the the medium of spiritual renovation, when harps of angels should be again attuned its supreme authority is felt and recog- to louder notes of joy, and the Redeemer, nised by all who profess to receive it looking from his elevation, should be sawhen its discoveries are cordially received tisfied while witnessing the triumphs of -when its injunctions are practically his gospel, and reaping the rewards of regarded—when its holy influence is ex- his humiliation ;-—these will be the ends emplified in the tempers and in the con- which alone can accomplish the object duct of those who profess to receive it. of Christian devotion, that alone can The word of the Lord is glorified when realize and consummate the true end for that word becomes the law of all your which you are this day gathered together. thoughts, the rule of all your actions, It is, my brethren, that the word of the the authority to which you submit with Lord may be glorified. Yes, it is gloriimplicit deference, the principle mould- fied not only when sinners, by the energy ing all the elements of your nature into of God's Spirit making it effectual, are subjection to itself. The word of the Lord turned from darkness to light, but it is is glorified when, by means of that word, glorified when those who receive it exsinners are guided to the refuge of mercy, emplify its spirit and adorn its doctrines, pricked to the heart, are led to exclaim, walking worthy of their high vocation, “What shall we do to be saved ?”—and proving that the gospel is the power of are constrained to cast down, at the foot God to their salvation,
Mark, therefore, my beloved brethren, “ Brethren, pray for us, that the word mark the devout solicitude with which of the Lord may have free course, and be the apostle pressed this very object on glorified." the attention of the believers in Thessa. The connection between prayer and the lonica. The gospel had been glorified success of the gospel is one which inamong them; it had had free course, even volves many important principles. We though persecution scowled; it had had may often find it difficult to prove the free course, by turning them from idols connection, but the word of God distinctto serve the living and true God; it had ly asserts it—the history of the Christian had free course, for their characters proved church demonstrates it—the feelings of their election, and exhibited the evidence all true believers give the inward demonthat God had written their names in the stration of the reality of it. No one ever book of life ; and thus the gospel, tri- doubts the efficacy of prayer till he has umphing in their hearts, and displaying forgotten to pray. The moment a man is its practical effects in their lives, was in- under the influence of practical sceptideed the power of God to their salvation. cism in relation to prayer, that moment But he was not satisfied with what had the power and spirit of prayer have lost been effected; he looked forward to still their predominancy and their influence greater and more important results, and over his mind. Prayer is the first indito these very Thessalonians we find him cation of spiritual life-prayer is a decisaying, in the language of deep and earn- sive evidence of the advancement of that est solicitude, “ We give thanks to God life-prayer is the barometer to determine always for you all, making mention of the elevation and depression of the spiyou in our prayers, remembering, with ritual principle. In proportion as we feel out ceasing, your work of faith, and la- the power and spirit of prayer, in that bour of love, and patience of hope, in our proportion we shall be ready to perform Lord Jesus Christ.” He calls upon them every good word and work. And why, to pray that God might count them wor- my brethren ? Because, thy of their calling, and fulfil in them 1st. Prayer honours the agency of God. all the good pleasure of his goodness, Prayer moves the hand that moves all and the work of faith with power. When things. If we have the ear of God, we God's word is glorified—when the work are sure of the hand of God. If the spiof God is carried on with power—when rit of supplication be poured out upon us, in the unity of the Spirit, in the liberality the very consciousness of that feeling and of feeling, in the exercise of holy charity, energy is itself the pledge of success. in the consistent deportment of those who God himself is the Author of that good name the name of Christ, God is glori- and perfect gift. Whatever leads to God fied-it is then, my friends, that we see comes from God, and whatever comes beautifully accomplished the meaning of from God leads to him. He has not enthe prophetic testimony, “Instead of the joined upon us the duty of prayer, bethorn shall come up the fir tree, and in- cause he is unwilling to accomplish the stead of the briar shall come up the ends for which we pray. He has not enmyrtle tree : and it shall be to the Lord joined it upon us, because there is uncerfor a name, for an everlasting sign that tainty in his plans and purposes. He has shall not be cut off.” Such, my brethren, not enjoined it upon us because there is are the objects of Christian devotion any thing like dependence on his part as to which the apostle has brought before us our entreaties—as if he would grant
that in this solemn injunction.
to our fervour which he would not grant But, while the text reminds us of the in any other circumstances—as if he were great objects of Christian zeal and devo- moved, as we are moved, by fervent suption, I remark,
plications. God is not a being of parts Il. It enjoins THE DUTY OF Fervent or of passions; he is the same yesterday, ORDER TO ITS ACCOMPLISH-to-day, and for ever. But, though "his
thought moves on his undisturbed affairs."
-though he is of one mind and none can 3d. We see the connection proved, turn him—though his counsel will stand, because, in all the institutions of the church and he will do all his pleasure—it is as in every age, and in the history of indivimuch his pleasure to have connected dual believers, the spirit of prayer is invaprayer with the accomplishment of his riably connected with success. own design as any other species of moral No one ever prayed for himself that agency. He who has made faith, and did not succeed. Let this encourage the hope, and charity, and practical godli- anxious inquirer-let this tranquillize the ness, in all its various manifestations, troubled spirit in this assembly, who may essential to present happiness, and es- sometimes be led to fear that God hath sential to your everlasting welfare, has, not heard, and will not answer, his supfor the very same reason, made prayer no plications. Oh, persevere in prayer, less essential to the accomplishment of whatever your present doubts, whatever those ends; and could we resolve the your misgivings, whatever your fearful whole matter of this connection into no- apprehensions, whatever your painful thing but his own will and his own de- and overwhelming anxieties! Oh, let termination, it would be enough. He not the enemy of your souls—let not the who is the Sovereign of the universe, temptations of Satan—let not the enjoywho is the source of all good-he whose ments of the world—let not the deceitblessing is life evermore, and can com- fulness of your own hearts, cause you to mand it if he please—has a right to com- relax in prayer! If you have not at mand the terms on which the blessing once all the comfort and all the confi. shall be enjoyed; and he has connected dence that you would wish to enjoy, conit with prayer, because prayer honours tinue to pray. 6 Be instant in prayerhis agency—it is the solemn recognition pray without ceasing;” and you will of it-it brings the mind at once into that find, sooner or later, that praying breath posture, that attitude, before the majesty will never be spent in vain. Can you, and mercy of the Most High, that leads brethren, refer to any Christian church, us to feel that in his sight “we are no- on which the spirit of prayer descended, thing, and less than nothing, and vanity.” that was not a successful church? Can Unless his power work with us, and by you mention any individual believer, the us, all our resolutions, and all our doings, head of a family, who was really a man will be totally ineffectual. And, therefore, of prayer, who did not succeed in the
2dly. Prayer is necessary, because it most important objects that lay nearest is expressly enjoinedenjoined by the most his heart? Can you tell me of any who explicit revelation on the subject.
have ever, really and sincerely, approachGod has said, “ Ask, and it shall be ed the throne of mercy, and sought a given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, blessing from the eternal throne, accordand it shall be opened unto you.” “ Foring to the will of God, and sought it in all these things will I be inquired of by faith, and yet have not received it? My the house of Israel, to do it for them.” friends, there is much of practical infiNay, we find Jehovah putting himself delity amidst all our professions. We into the very attitude of entreating, and talk more of prayer than we really prac. calling upon us to give him no rest till he tise in reference to it. We may defend shall arise, and have mercy on Zion. the duty on the ground of unanswerable And he calls his church his remem- argument; we may refer to the fact which brancer. They are to appear before him the history of the church all ages has for the very purpose of putting him in illustrated, that God is the hearer of remembrance-not that he forgets, or is prayer; but what we need, for ourselves unwilling to bestow—not that his pur- and for others, is the spirit of prayer. poses can ever change, but because he 'The apostle felt the importance of it, and has thus connected the spirit and duty therefore did he enjoin upon the believers of prayer with the accomplishment of his of Thessalonica that they would pray for own designs.
him, and pray for all connected with him