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The prophet's chamber was lighted-up with celestial radiance after a day's wrestling with God for the chosen tribes, and heaven drew near to earth to tell him he had prevailed.
Paul, the Apostle, had been praying for those who sailed with him, when an angel of God stood by him to assure him that not a soul on board should perish in the storm.
And thus it has ever been. Praying for others always brings a blessing into our own souls. “He that watereth others shall be watered himself” is an inspired proverb, as applicable to prayer as to any other department of Christian effort. We never realise our own adoption with more clearness and confidence than we do when we find our hearts touched with a divine compassion for the ignorant and perishing, for then we are likest God, and are best able to call Him Father! Then we feel our oneness with Him who sweat as it were great drops of blood for the redemption of a world lying in the wicked one.
The doubters and grumbletonians in Andrew Fuller's Church ceased to doubt and grumble when they began to work and pray earnestly for the Foreign Mission. The secret of being blessed oneself is to live to make others blessed.
Intercessory Prayer has ever been honoured of God in the blessing
of others. God was angry with Job's three friends, but He made known the way in which that anger might be appeased : Job must act the part of intercessor for the offenders. There was a cloud
Jehovah's face, but the patriarch's pleading dispersed it.
Abraham obtained this for the guilty cities of the plain: that, if ten righteous persons had been found in them, they would have been spared; and who can tell but that he might have prevailed had he still further pleaded ? This we know: he was successful so far as he had faith to go.
Moses, by his prayer, saved a whole people from being blotted out of the book of the living.
Daniel's intercession obtained the restoration of Israel and the rebuilding of the temple of Jehovah; and Paul's companions in voyage were all given to him in answer to his supplications.
We bless others by remembering them at the throne. This is what the Churches need to recollect and to believe. “Have faith in God” is an admonition which requires to be sounded through the length and breadth of Christendom. If we had more loving trust in Jehovah as the ready “ hearer and answerer of prayer,” we should not approach His throne, as we do, with hesitation and doubt when we draw nigh to ask Him to give the kingdom to His Son and the uttermost parts of the earth to HIM for His possession.
The excellence of Intercessory Prayer appears in this, then : that wherever God has power (and HE is omnipotent everywhere) it may, and will secure a blessing for all whom we remember in our earnest and believing supplications. Like the benevolence of the Great Supreme, it has no limit.
Intercessory Prayer is the most nearly allied to the worship of Heaven.
Some men who are wise above what is written would have us believe that there is no such thing as prayer in heaven. We know that there is at least ONE petitioner there our Lord Himself. Before He left us for His throne of glory He said, “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter." The Father thus speaks to Him amid the splendours of the excellent glory : “Ask of ME, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance." "He ever liveth to make intercession for us." And what is His intercession but the blood of sprinkling finding a voice in His unceasing prayer for us? Jesus prays in heaven, and prays “always" and " without ceasing.” And is our enthroned Redeemer the only suppliant in glory? If so, He will cease to be an example to His Church. But that cannot be. In Him we are to share both His throne and intercession. In the Apocalypse we have glimpses of the heavenly state, which lead irresistibly to the conclusion that the intercession of the Church will not cease until the Divine purposes of mercy are all fulfilled, and the last enemy is swallowed-up in the completeness of Immanuel's crowning triumph. The prayer of heaven is for the subjugation of the world to God—that the Saviour will take unto Himself His great power, and reign; and when that prayer is answered, there will be heard rolling through the celestial world the majestic pæan, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of God and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever.” Disembodied saints are praying that the last enemy may fall, so that the entire Church may be clothed in the resurrection and spiritual body, of which the body of our Lord's glory is the model.
Cannot we imagine the joy with which the ransomed hosts will muster round the standard of Immanuel when HE shall descend at the last day to swallow-up death and the grave in victory; to gather together living saints with those who have fallen asleep; to raise the universal Church to a perfect conformity to Himself; and to consign all the enemies of His benign reign to a hopeless imprisonment, which shall render them thenceforth and for ever powerless for mischief in any other portion of God's universe ? For this consummation the saved in glory are longing, watching, and pleading; but this is all they can do. It is our privilege that we can WORK for its advent as well. When, therefore, we toil with self-denying devotedness, and pray with seraphic fervour, for the completion of Immanuel's triumphs, our worship on earth is most akin to that of heaven, and we seem to come nearest to the spirits of just men made
perfect--to the Martyns, and Careys, and Marshmans, and Knibbs, and Williamses, who preceded us in labour and have entered into rest. Another crown of glory this on the head of Intercessory Prayer !
VIII. Intercessory Prayer is what the Church of God most needs. If ever ministers needed the prayers of their people, they do so now. Surrounded as they are with an atmosphere which is heavily laden with the miasma of scepticism, they need much grace to be kept strong in the faith. Exposed as they are to the carnalising influences of this money-getting, materialistie age, they need special help from God, that they may not become worldly too. Discouraged as they often are by prevalent disregard to their message, they are in great peril of throwing all up, and, in hopeless despair of winning souls, once again returning to secular pursuits. From every minister's study there comes at this moment a sigh of anguish, which articulates. itself in the pathetic appeal," BRETHREN, PRAY FOR US!” Our deacons too, (often the best abused men under the sun, but the flower and glory of our Churches), put in a plea for the same remembrance:
And as to our missionaries, no language. can exaggerate the earnestness with which they appeal to us for remembrance, where remembrance most avails. With a feryour which amounts to an agony, they ask us to remember them when we make our supplications to God. When we are on our knees some missionary may be traversing a jungle, the atmosphere of which is weighted with the poison of death; another may be down with fever, raving in delirium, and apparently drawing nigh to his end; another may be in peril amid barbarous and hostile tribes, who are thirsting for his blood; another may be sighing out in the bitterness of his soul, ‘Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ?.". and may be sorely tempted of the devil to give up his work as hopeless; another may be conscious that the horrible pollutions by which he is surrounded, and from contact with which he cannot escape, are undermining his own keen sense of right and wrong, and lowering his own moral and spiritual tone, so that, in terror at the discovery, he is crying out, “ Lord, save, or I perish with the heathen around me!” And shall we not remember these when we draw nigh to God?
Our annual missionary gatherings are at hand. Their chief power will lie, not in the wit or eloquence of the speeches delivered; not in the “loud laughter" or "loud applause" with which the orators will be greeted; not in the numbers that attend them; but in the selfsacrifice that they will represent, and the inward groanings which cannot be formulated in speech that will ascend from then to the eternal throne for the rescue of a polluted and benighted world from the grasp of the destroyer. This will be the measure of their power with God, and, consequently, of their power with men.
May every Baptist brother and sister lay these things to heart, and when we come together to estimate our resources and arrange our plans for another year, may there be much prayer among us. May we all appear clad in the robes of a priesthood which is the common function of all the saints, and with faith and fervour wrestle with HIM as INTERCESSORS FOR A WORLD WHICH LIETH IN THE WICKED ONE.
It was after the Tishbite had poured out his whole soul in the majestic intercessory prayer" Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that Thou art the Lord God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again”. that the fire of the Lord fell.
May we all thus plead, and may answering signs from heaven follow! Huddersfield.
Pre Baptists Increasing Numerically-as a Ebristian
BY THE REV. E. MACLEAN, GREENOCK.
upon the writer's mind again and again, in face of the present
life and history of our churches generally. Have we been during the past few years growing in numbers corresponding to the growth of population and Christian intelligence and activity round about us? To the question thus asked it would not, I think, be easy to return an emphatic or enthusiastic affirmative. It is not a sufficient answer to point to the prosperity of a few churches, nor to the greater efficiency in the working of our different organisations; for, after all, the question will still return-Underneath all this are we growing numerically in the country? Statistics may tell us much, but not all the considerations which have to be taken into account in this matter. I am not to be turned aside here from the point in hand by those who are apt to say that numbers do not mean prosperity. We do work for increase in numbers, we pray for it, it is an element in our prosperity which we cannot overlook. Now without going minutely into statistics, which anyone with the "Handbook" may do, I would ask my readers who may have had somewhat of an intimate and lengthened knowledge of our churches in different districts, if there has not sometimes been a sense of wonder and discouragement that those principles which we hold so dearly and believe to be founded on the Word of God, and which appear to us so simple and imperative, do not commend themselves to the judgment and obedience of Christian men around us. There are two aspects in which I regard this—one full of discouragement, another full of cheerfulness and hope. To start with, then, I hesitate not to say that, taking all things into account, we have made during recent years but little numerical progress.
The “ all things " which I take into account are-1. The greatly improved means of acquiring accurate statistics. Our churches are now better known in the denomination itself, and sinall and obscure causes are getting more and more absorbed by district associations, so that their numbers become tabulated and help to increase the body at large. In making such a calculation as this, a very large discount from the apparent increase would require to be made, for this reason. 2. In our large towns and cities where chiefly increase has to be recorded, it must be remembered that country churches have, in a great many cases, been lessened to swell that increase, while in the cities themselves the changes from place to place on the part of members, churches becoming extinct or existing churches dividing, are apt to mislead as to actual growth unless the whole numbers be taken and compared together. There are, I suppose, many instances of churches in large towns where the increase of members has been largely caused in one church by an influx from another; instances might be named of places where twelve or fifteen years ago two churches had an equal number of members with one in which they are now merged, or where a church has been divided without a corresponding double increase. 3. Among the elements which go to help us in forming a judgment on this matter, I would further point to the vast increase on every hand of places of Worship, churches, congregations, mission agencies, &c. The different Christian denominations in the land have all been wonderfully active of late years, and have grown in numbers. During the religious movement of the last two or three years, in which most, if not all, of our churches shared, it will, I believe, be confessed, that the additions to our membership were almost entirely drawn from a circle already gathered round the churches composed of the young who were all but declared Baptists. So far too as I have seen or known, there have not been, to any noteworthy extent of late, additions to our ranks of the more intelligent, experienced, or influential from among the other Christian communities. There are men in these bodies—we all know them and meet them every day-who, on account of their godliness or zeal or influence or wealth, would be a great gain, but they do not come over to us. This is a fact which cannot but be a subject of surprise to any one reflecting upon it. The adoption of Baptist sentiments plainly and openly, by men whose name and position would do much towards awakening inquiry or allaying prejudice, is a sight comparatively rare. Even amongst ministers, students of the Word of God, candid and conscientious many of them