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and profitless in its effects. They will find that the light to which they have been directed, neither gives a sense of pardon for sin, nor power to resist it; and, concluding from what they have heard, that transgression against the Divine will consists as well in the imaginings as in the deeds of evil, such persons, when they experience the utter hopelessness of purifying the first springs of action, will be in awful danger of falling into a state of reckless indifference to religion, restrained only by outward appearances ; having a name to live, but “ having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. ii. 12).
Now, according to the teachings of Christ and his Apostles, we learn that the man who is awakened by the Holy Spirit to a sense of his lost condition as a sinner, and enabled by His renewed influences to fathom, in some measure, the depth of the depravity of his corrupt nature, will be brought to acknowledge that the work of spiritual renovation is that which “ the power of God unto salvation" can alone accomplish : how thankfully then will he listen to the Gospel message of reconciliation *, and how joyfully will he accept the offers of the mercy of God by faith in the atoning “ blood of Jesus ; " whereby he
may have “boldness to enter into the holiest, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh 1; and may draw nigh in “ full assurance of faith, having his heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, and his body washed with pure water” (Heb. x. 19-22). Being reconciled to God by the death of his Son, he
* See Eph. ii. 16; Col. i. 21, 22; 2 Cor. v. 18-21; Heb. ii. 17.
can call God his Father, Christ his Saviour, and the Holy Ghost his Sanctifier and Comforter. He will have "good hope through grace," and be sustained thereby in the path of life, in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment.
And here may I be allowed to offer, in sincere humility, and with a feeling of entire unworthiness, a few words of tender counsel and earnest exhortation to my dear Friends, especially to my younger Friends—to the young men of our Society—not to suffer any worldly consideration, or spiritual discouragement of whatever character, whether from within or from without, to lead them to “ forsake the assembling of themselves together;" and this not only on that emphatically called, " The Lord's-day," but on other days of the week when public worship is kept up. Let me affectionately entreat you to be instant in this obvious duty of meeting together for the worship of Almighty God; and if you are often sensible, that, instead of your making it a season of prayer, you are converting your Father's house into a house of merchandise, may not the reason be, that you have entered upon the duty without asking the Divine blessing upon it?
Let me entreat you to persevere in this reasonable service, even though you may be destitute of the ministry of the word. Pray against that state of listless expectancy, which is as opposed to the spirit of prayer as is the commerce of worldly thoughts; and ever remember, that where two or three of Christ's flock are met together in His name, there is He in the midst of them.
We can never too strongly insist on the inestimable privilege of a living way of access to the Throne of Grace being opened unto us by the blood of Jesus, in whose name we may have boldness to approach our Heavenly Father; or on the encouraging truth, that a sense of want, a consciousness of inability to ask, is of itself the sanction and qualification for prayer, since these feelings are evidences of the influences of the Holy Spirit.
How can that soul want objects and motives, which " has every thing to ask, and nothing to render ? *"
We are directed to ask, and promised that we shall receive; we are bid to knock, and promised that it shall be opened; we are told to seek, and promised that we shall find. The promises are to those who not only wait, but who ask, and knock, and seek. In the humbling sense of helplessness-of want of every thing-of being really spiritually “ wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked,” lay yourselves in true prostration of soul at the footstool of the Throne of Grace, where “ we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. iv. 15). Holy Scripture furnishes us with varied forms of petition : - What must I do to be saved ? "« God be merciful to me a sinner ; send out thy light and thy truth : let them lead me; “ That which I see not, teach thou me; Lord, save me; I perish ; ”—and hath not He who is truth itself said, “ Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast
* “ Defence," p. 30.
out ?” (John vi. 37.) Where, then, is room for doubting, where for despair? But the devil's device is to keep us from a Throne of Grace. Those who would be horror-struck at “ denying the Lord that bought them,” or those who are too timid to believe and appropriate the blessed promises of God, the enemy tempts, by insinuating that they are not prepared to come before the living God. “ Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?" (Micah vi. 6). True, who hath any offering to bring to God? but the Holy Spirit is promised to help our infirmities, and Christ hath said, “ Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.”
« Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
Is to feel your need of Him." Answer the tempter, the discourager, with the words of Jesus, and with his precious offers : "Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. xxii. 17). Do you feel that you have evil hearts of unbelief (the foundation of all sin)? The Bible gives you a supplication : "Lord, I believe ; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark ix. 24). " Thou hast said that thou wilt grant thy Holy Spirit to them that ask his influence of thee. I plead thine own immutable truth, thy promise : ‘If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?'” (Luke xi. 13.) And though it may be the will of God long to delay the
answer to our prayers, where is the praying soul that was ever eventually denied ?
There are those who can testify, that, in seasons of the deepest discouragement, of the most entire absence of all good, humble supplication has been mercifully answered, and the “house of prayer” has been cleared of the thieves who would rob us of our peace, by keeping us from the footstool of Divine grace and mercy.
And what is prayer? Let the author of some of the most beautiful poetry of which our language can boast, give his simple, touching, and evangelical
“ Prayer is the burthen of a sigh,
The falling of a tear ;
When none but God is near.
Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try :
The Majesty on bigh.
The Life, the Truth, the Way,
Lord, teach us how to pray."
The exhaustless treasury of Divine truth furnishes an answer to every kind of doubt-to every modification of fear—to every suggestion of despair. Does a soul say, “Behold, I am vile; how shall I then present myself before the throne of God's holis ness ? ” the Bible gives him a suitable petition : “ Create in me a clean heart, O God!”. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity”-yes; but “God hath made