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being unprepared to receive the blessings for which they pray, and that they may be sustained in agonizing prayer, while they wrestle like Jacob, and prevail like Israel.
IV. They should highly value those things for which they pray. Who would dare approach an earthly prince to request a mere trifle? They who approach the "King of Kings," should feel that they come with a weighty message; that their request is of high importance; that when they pray for the increased piety of themselves, or of other christians, and for the conversion of sinners, they are petitioning for favors which mortals could not purchase; that if their request is granted, the gain can be estimated by this only, that it is a charity worthy of a God of grace. They should feel this that they may be humble, fervent, and persevering in prayer, and that they may be prepared to receive, with gratitude, the gracious answer of their God.
V. They should be very fervent in their prayers.
Is it not true that the people of God often have so little feeling, ardor, and energy, so much coldness and indifference, so much unconcern whether God hears them or not, that their very prayer seems to invite a denial? Ah! this is not the way to reach heaven, and draw down blessings on perishing souls! "The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much." And christians who would offer this prayer for revivals, for the conversion of a sinner, must bring home the subject to their hearts in all its immense importance, till it lie a heavy burden on the soul; till their sympathies are enkindled, their anxieties excited, and their energies aroused; till they feel an awful and overwhelming responsibility resting upon them, as the instruments of salvation to others-that if faithful, souls will be saved, if unfaithful, lost for ever!—until they feel for perishing sinners that restless agony of soul, that shall go with them wherever they go, and abide with them wherever they abide; that shall steal away the refreshings of their food, and sleep, and all earthly enjoyments, that shall weigh down their spirits, and make them look into the bottomless pit, and behold sinners crowding upon its very verge!-that inexpressible agony which can find no relief, but in the throes and travailings of the second birth! When such prayers are offered, sinners are converted-God's work is revived:-" For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth, saith the Lord ?"
VI. They should persevere in prayer.
He who engages in an earthly enterprise in search of earthly good, is untiring in his pursuit till he gains the desire of his heart and shall christians, who supplicate for heavenly, for eternal good, tire and faint? They should continue steadfastly and perseveringly in prayer,' for God sometimes withholds for a season the gracious answer which he intends to give. He does it that his people may realize the value of what they ask, that they may more fully manifest their humility and fervor, their faith and submission, their determination to persevere,
and their zeal for his glory, and that they may be prepared to receive the answer of peace. When the answer is deferred, they should feel that their prayer may be hindered by something wrong, or something wanting, in their desires, or motives, or graces, or efforts; and while they should correct what is wrong, and supply what is lacking, they should persevere, though God seem to hear them not, still they should persevere till they gain their request; unless they have clear and unequivocal proof that they are praying for that which God intends not to bestow. How perseveringly did Elijah, on Mount Carmel, pray for rain, when his servant, sent to watch for the rising cloud, returned and said, "There is nothing." "Go again, seven times," said the holy seer, and seven times he poured out his soul in prayer, and obtained his request.
VII. In connection with their prayers, christians should put forth those efforts through which the supplicated blessing is to be obtained. God works by means. Efforts are generally required by God of those who would obtain an answer to their prayers. Here many christians fail. Many pious parents, who feel and pray much for their children, it is feared, neglect those efforts which stand connected with the conversion of their children, and which would secure it, by the grace of God, if they were only only put forth! Many who feel a deep anxiety, and pray fervently for a revival, still neglect the means of Gods appointment-means, which if faithfully used, would procure a revival! Christians should understand and feel that however deep their anxiety, and fervent their prayers, they have no right to expect a revival without using those means which God has placed in their power. This is a point, which I fear, many christians do not fully understand. And this, I apprehend, unfolds one of the great secrets why many apparently fervent and persevering prayers for revivals, receive no answer from God. These prayers are inefficient, because their corresponding efforts are not put forth. To give all the scripture illustrations of the connexion between prayer and effort, would require a volume.
VIII. In their prayers they should have a supreme regard to the glory of God.
The glory of God should be preferred to all earthly good, and they should seek the spiritual good of themselves and others, in connexion with this glory.
IX. They should pray in faith. They should believe and trust unwaveringly in the promises of God: so that
"When his saints complain,
It shan't be said that praying breath,
Was ever spent in vain,'
No. 5. VOL. XVII.]
[WHOLE NO. 197.
BY REV. HUBBARD WINSLOW,
PASTOR OF THE BOWDOIN STREET CHURCH, BOSTON.
THE TRIUMPH OF THE CROSS; AS OPPOSED TO THE MODERN THEORY OF SECOND ADVENTISM.
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me."-John xii. 32.
We have fallen on strange times. And yet not entirely strange; for ever since the melancholy disaster in Paradise, man has been prone to morbid excitements. The present is one of the points, in the wheels of revolution, at which this weakness of our fallen nature is very strongly developed. Not on one subject only, but on all, there is an impetuous rush of feeling, in which passion overleaps reason, and a fiery haste to do, prevents the calm pause to think. The mass of men seem now to be moved, not so much by the intrinsic truth and importance of subjects, as by the quantity and violence of urgencies with which they are pressed upon them. The most clamorous are the most influential. Such is the passion for excitement, that they who would take time to study coolly, and think soundly, must hie into a corner and bear the reproach of inefficiency, while the storm around is playing its noisy part and passing away.
At such a time, how cheering to hear the familiar voice of that well-tried and glorious Friend, speaking from a higher world, " And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." This is none other than our divine Saviour. He was to be lifted up upon the cross. And as thus lifted up, a bleeding victim for the sins of the world, he was to draw all men unto him. Here, in the cross of Christ, is the realization of the beautiful theory of the oneness of truth-that truth which is but the "stiring of the great mind of the universe." Observe the language-draw-indicating something attractive in Christ crucified :-something that would catch the cye, and captivate the hearts of all men.
The sentiment is clearly this :-The cross of Christ is to gain a moral triumph over all the world.
I here announce this as an antagonist doctrine to the recent secondadvent theory. The former teaches that God is to purify the world from sin by the power of the cross, the latter that he is to do it by the power of fire. The one is a moral agency, and a moral result; the other a physical agency, and a physical result. In the latter case moral government is virtually, as connected with the cross, abandoned; in the former, it is carried on to glorious consummation. If God must needs interpose fire, to do what the cross was to do-purify the world. from sin-then the cross is defeated. It is as if a king should employ very expensive means to reclaim a rebellious city, and give out that he shall surely succeed, but finding himself foiled in the attempt, should conclude to set fire to it and burn the inhabitants up.
God once destroyed the world with a flood. He then promised that he would no more destroy the world; in token whereof he set his bow in the cloud. That bow anticipated the cross, and the cross proclaimed redemption, not destruction. Nor were the consuming fires of the last day to kindle on the earth, until Christ had by his cross drawn all men unto him, and the jubilant shout of earth's redeemed millions had ascended to heaven through long ages of millenial glory.
Every student of the Bible must have observed that it is a book having very little to do with mathematics. Yet our modern theorisers have ten times as much to do with mathematical calculations upon the prophecies, as with the cross of Christ. The arithmetic of the Bible is mainly the arithmetic of the cross; and it is principally concerned in computing the value of that cross, as learned from the dignity of its victim and the glory of its results.
In the drawing of men to Christ, as lifted up upon the cross, the following facts are to be distinctly noticed.
I. There was to be no miraculous agency. Nothing arresting or contravening the established laws of nature. The wheels of nature were to move their steady rounds, until the triumphs of the cross were fully achieved. Miracles were interposed to put the seal of God upon his holy religion, but not to extend its dominions from age to age; for a perpetual miracle would defeat itself. It would cease to be a miracle.
II. This drawing to Christ was to be effected through the agency of those heavenly truths which cluster about the cross. The cross of Jesus was to be the central point of radiation, whence the subduing light was to go forth. The cross said, "Let there be light,”—“ and there was light." The bright developement of the character of God, as a being of infinite justice, mercy, and truth; the awful malignity of sin, as illustrated in the agonies of Jesus; the amazing value of the soul, as seen in the price paid for its redemption; the immortality
of man; and the endless destinies of weal or woe pending on his relation to God, these are the truths which, radiating from the cross, were to seize on the hearts of men and draw them to Christ.
III. These truths were to be made effectual by the Holy Ghost, whose influence is secured and sent down to men by virtue of the cross. Christ declared to his disciples, that as the fruit of his death and ascension, the Holy Ghost should be given, to reprove the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. Accordingly the Holy Ghost was given, in greater measure after the ascension than ever before, and has through all ages accompanied the gospel and drawn men to Christ. His influence will be given in greater and greater measure, as the millenium advances;-he will come down like rain on mown grass, like the soft and warm showers of a summer evening that water the earth. Then will the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace, so long as the sun and the moon endure.
IV. This was to be a gradual work. Our Saviour compares it to the operation of leaven, which a woman hid in three measures of meal till all was leavened. He also compares it to the process by which the mustard seed rises from the smallest beginning to a stately tree. There are times when the leaven, subjected to unusual heat, operates more rapidly than at others; there are times when the tree, feeling the refreshing influence of the warm rain and sun-beams, starts forth as with a fresh life;-it has its winter and its summer, but the general law of progression maintains. And thus the triumphs of the cross, retarded now, and now again moving with fresh impulse, are on the whole making progress from age to age. Sometimes a nation is, as it were, born in a day-as in the case of the Sandwich Islands. This, however, is only when things have ripened for the issue, by a gradual process.
V. In this drawing to Christ, no other than moral means were to be employed. It was for Mahomet to take the sword, for the Brahmin to wield the terrors of cast, and for the Roman pontiff to light the fires of the stake; but it was for the heralds of the cross, unarmed with carnal weapons and with carnal sophistries, to proclaim Christ crucified-the wisdom and the power of God for salvation. They who should take the sword, were to perish by the sword. The proud terrors of cast should be brought to the dust;-the fires of persecution should leap back on the kindler, and devour him;—and all the crafty should be finally caught in their own craftiness. While the friends of the cross were to go humbly forth, making known to men the love of a dying Saviour. And never have they swerved from this but they have brought reproach on the cross, and evil on their own heads. Not even the glitter of wealth is allowed to share the honor of human salvation. It is a cross of wood, not of gold, that is to save the world.