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doubtless too often in our weakness lose the Spirit in the letter, and the substance in the shade. But yet some of these means are so obviously right in themselves, and so obviously calculated to obtain God's blessing, that it were almost a presumption to hope for it while they are wilfully disregarded or rejected. And is not this the case, my brethren, as to a large part of these means, with too many Christians, for God forbid it should be so with all. We must not indeed suppose that the help of God's Spirit is a thing of which by these or by any means we can gain a supply which we can lay up, as in a storehouse, against the time of need. But by these means the Comforter will doubtless affect, penetrate, purify and elevate the heart, purge it of gross and sensual desires, and quicken it to a ready perception and a glad yielding up

of itself to His blessed influences, howsoever and whensoever they may be sent. Let us look then to a few instances.

When we consider its immediate importance on our own hearts, and its unspeakable efficacy as a means of teaching the young at once their wants and their duties, in calling forth and in directing aright the best and holiest affections of the human heart, what can we say as to the general and miserable neglect of family prayer? What! my brethren, shall the walls of your houses echo to every name but the name of God, shall they be defiled and desecrated by the obscene sounds of envy, of slander, of passion, of lust, but never be sanctified and purified by the sweet voice of prayer ? Shall that sweet voice be never heard within the walls of the home where all the tender, the purifying and ennobling affections of the human heart are to be exercised, where parents, children, brethren, are to live and to die together ? Can they who repress and put it to silence hope, that the grace of God's Spirit will animate them to the performance of all the great duties of life, or use those duties as a means for strengthening, for purifying, and for exalting the heart ?

But if we pass from duties that are peculiar to one class, to those which are common to all, (common to those who are here occupied in giving or in receiving instruction, as well as to those who are engaged in the relations of domestic life,) what shall we say as to the use of private prayer? Here indeed we must speak in another strain, for the Christian teacher cannot presume to penetrate into the recesses of the chamber, or into the deeper recesses of the heart. He must admonish, not rebuke, he must counsel, not complain. Let me then counsel and admonish every one of you in particular, my brethren, to consider what has been and what is his course in this matter. Are his devotions, his communion with his God, fervent, and constant? Has he, undismayed and unchecked by the coldness, the abstraction, and the almost formalism which attend the commencement of a life of prayer, persevered in waiting on that God, on whom no humble and pious and longing heart ever waited in vain ? And when the full tide of devotion has entered the channel thus prepared for it, has he hailed its coming with joy, and bathed his whole spirit in those purifying and strengthening waters ?

Does he in the hour of temptation, when sorely


beset by the corruption of an evil nature and an evil world, look for strength to communion with his God in prayer? Does he, when faith is weak, and corruption strong, does he fly to his chamber for refuge from the attacks of Satan and of sin ?

But connected with this great duty of Prayer are others of scarcely less weight and importance. Among them stands (perhaps the first) the use of Scripture as a Guide of Life. We must seek God and His grace in His house indeed, and on our knees, but we must seek Him too in His word. This is now the Schechinah in which His glory is visible to man, the Urim and Thummin to which he is to seek for light and guid

Thither therefore we must go if we seek His face and say, Thy face, O Lord, will we seek in thy Word. Is this our course? Do we seek Him there in a spirit of devotion, and not of vain curiosity ? do we seek for truth, not for eloquence, for holiness and not for knowledge when we go to the oracles of God? Do we seek to draw from that sacred fount of living waters, only. a draught that shall clear the eyes of the understanding, and not one which shall purge away the film that clogs our moral vision ? Do we approach the book of life with a tractable and childlike spirit, anxious to listen to God's voice, not our own, not to question but obey ? Do we approach for daily instruction and guidance in our daily '

needs? Do we look to the Bible as our guide, our counsellor, and our friend; our strength in weakness, our comfort in sorrow, our joy and delight under all the varied aspects, the lights and shades of our mortal pilgrimage? Or do we look

on the reading of Scripture as an irksome duty, do we go through it as a duty, and turn from it as a duty; performing it languidly, heartlessly and cursorily, and glad when the task is accomplished ? Do we accomplish the task at all? Do none of us shrink from the strong light which Scripture would throw on the darkness of our hearts, and quench the sense of shame and of evil by turning to thoughtless amusements, to secular employments, or to mere intellectual research?

But again, do we give the heart time to commune with itself? Do we remember that though we are not to renounce the world, but to live in it, yea ! on that very account, so much the more do we require some seasons for retirement for self examination, for meditation on our present and our future state, our trials and our dangers, our hopes and our anticipations, the nature of our God, the promises of His Gospel, the means of grace and the hopes of glory? Can the still small voice be heard in the noise and bustle of the world? And do we seek for a solitude where its lowest whisper and gentlest suggestion may be heard ? Are we still in the stillness of our chamber, and there do we commune with our heart and with its Maker?

And oh! yet more than all, let each of us ask himself how he regards the blessed communion of his Master's Body and Blood ? Does he look to it with awe indeed, but with hope and joy unspeakable, knowing that there he shall find the largest portion of the graces of the Spirit, in the assured hope of pardon, in new desires, new affections, new dispositions which will transform his mind and separate him from the world below, lift his thoughts to that which is above, adorn his soul with every Christian grace, cleanse it from every impurity and corruption, and strengthen it to immortality ? Or does he fly from that high communion, soul and conscience smitten, knowing that he can bring to the altar no sacrifice worthy of it, that he cannot present soul and body to be a holy, lively, and reasonable sacrifice to the Lord of the altar, but that, if he come at all, he must bring a soul and a body alike degraded by sin, by low thoughts and base desires ?

Or does he stay away in deep humility, looking to that table round which his Christian brethren meet, with an earnest longing to join their holy festival, but ashamed and afraid ? But oh! thou trembling soul, fear not ! To thee the gates of righteousness are open, go into them and praise the Lord'! Fly to His sanctuary for refuge from thy ghostly enemies, and to His altar for grace and strength and peace. The voice from that altar need not alarm thee. To the unrepentant sinner, and to the hypocrite the Church of Christ may speak the language of fear, and warn him against mocking his God by pretending to desire His help, when he desires it not. But to the penitent, the believer, the faithful, humble, Christian, what are her words of consolation and of comfort ? Does she not call with her voice of love to all the weary and heavy laden to come and lay down their burden there ? Does she not speak of love by which

1 Ps. cxviii. 19.

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