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splendid victories, and the mild and glorious conquests, which have been obtained through the medium of believing prayer. And the first consideration is, that by presenting in one view, Prayer and the Answer to Prayer, in the words in which they are recorded, and by leading us to examine into the circumstances, the situations, and the trials which were peculiar to those gracious and distinguished characters who were so eminently honoured by their Lord, may have a tendency, through the divine goodness, to promote a spirit of prayer, causing us thereby to imbibe the fervour of their spirit, and the deep piety of their hearts: and that we may become more acquainted with the transcendent excellency and the exquisite beauty of the Holy Scriptures, and be enabled to gather into our bosoms those rich spiritual consolations which lie infolded in every portion of the Word of God.
That seeing what mighty deliverances, and what an immensity of blessings have been obtained, even by individuals, through the medium of believing prayer, and the numerous encouragements which are held out to us by their example, to
delight ourselves in the Lord," we may in all our trials and afflictions, as well as in happier seasons, "when the candle of the Lord shineth upon us, when the Almighty is yet with us, when our
children are about us," and when our cup runneth over with mercy, repose our entire confidence in the Lord, so that we may have " our mouths filled with arguments,” to plead boldly at the throne of grace, for the fulfilment of those gracious promises on which He has caused us to
hope. 66. That seeing also what judgments have been averted, what mighty deliverances have been wrought, and what an immensity of temporal and spiritual blessings have been conferred on Congregations, on the Church, and on the World, through the fervent and united prayers of the People of Godwe may no longer restrain prayer before him, but unite in earnest supplications for the fulfilment of those gracious promises for which the Lord has said I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them.''
But there are considerations which pre-eminently claim our regard. The blessings of salvation are to be sought for by prayer ; nay, even salvation itself, for it is written, " Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Prayer, the offspring of faith, is the first evidence that we are born again, that we are partakers of spiritual life, “Behold he prayeth !” The increase of the kingdom of the Lord is to be sought for by daily prayer. And our Lord has taught us, by the most touching and beautiful similitude, to pray for the Holy Spirit, by whom alone Christ is revealed in our hearts as the hope of glory, and by whose sweet influences we obtain “joy and peace in believing.”
And there are numerous gracious assurances, that, in answer to fervent and united prayers, there shall be a very abundant out-pouring of the Holy Spirit.
The restoration of the Lord's ancient people will be ushered in by prayer'; for the Lord has promised that he will " set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, and gather them from all nations whither he hath scattered them,” and that he will again“ have mercy upon Zion.” The language of all who tenderly mourn over the desolations of Jerusalem, who “ take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof,” will be, "our hearts desire and prayer for Israel is, that they may be saved.” O Lord, look upon thine ancient people. Remember thy promises made to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. “Turn again, O Lord, the captivity of Zion. Turn again their captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south,” that she who is now desolate and sitteth on the ground, may arise," shake herself from the dust," and lift up her head with joy!
Prayer will usher in that bright and glorious morning-that morning without clouds, when the Lord shall come to be glorified in his saints in the great millenial day,—when the wonders of redeeming grace shall shine forth in all their splendour and glory,—when our eyes shall the king in his beauty : when the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams.” Yes, that bright and glorious day will be preceded by a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, teaching all the families of the earth to call upon the Lord for the manifestation of his grace and of his glory. It will not be as in the day of Pentecost, when a few were met together in one place, and with one accord; but there will be a multitude who will meet together in all places, in the unity of the Spirit, who shall call upon the name of the Lord. Then "shall be revealed the abundance of peace and truth," and the “ kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ;" and the unceasing prayer of all who look for his appearance is, “Even so, Come Lord Jesus." - As the advantages of prayer are so numerous, and the blessings which it obtains are so exten
ve, how highly ought we to appreciate the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit who can alone teach us to pray. And let those who are living in neglect of prayer know that they are despising the riches of his grace, who by precept and example taught, that "men ought always to pray and not to faint.” And those who are restraining prayer before God, that they are wounding their own souls and causing their spiritual enemies to triumph over them. Let us remember that if there be any known guile in our hearts God will not hear us.
Amalek will assuredly prevail, unless the polluted garment, and the wedge of gold be removed away from us. May we cultivate a spirit of prayer, and then we shall find ourselves on all occasions turning to our God, and holding sweet communion with him.
The advantages of prayer are so admirably described by Bishop Hall, that they are here given in his own words :
He, that can truly pray, can never be truly miserable. Of ourselves, we lie open to all evils : our rescue is from above : and what intercourse have we with heaven, but by our prayers ? Our prayers are they that can deliver us from dangers, avert judgments, prevent mischiefs, procure blessings; that can obtain pardon for our sins, furnish us with strength against temptations, mitigate the extremity of our sufferings, sustain our infirmities, raise up our dejectedness, increase our graces, abate our corruptions, sanctify all good