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SECOND SERIES. NO. XV.-->WHOLE NO. XLVII.
REMARKS ON PRAYER.
By Calvin E. Stowe, D. D., Prof. of Biblical Literature in Lane Seminary, Cincinnati, Ohio.
In respect to prayer the scriptures plainly teach us two things. I. That it is our duty and privilege to pray for the things which we need with the expectation of receiving
This truth is taught in such texts as the following: He shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper. Ps. 72: 12. And it shall come to pass before they call I will answer; and while they are yet speaking I will hear. Isa. 65: 24. If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth liberally to all and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. James 1: 5. Open the New Testament and read attentively our Saviour's declarations as recorded in Matt. 7: 7-11. Luke 11: 5-13, 18: 1-8.
II. The scriptures also clearly teach us that the general promises above quoted, have actually been realized by those who, in a right spirit, have availed themselves of them. This truth is taught in passages like the following: The Lord hath heard my supplication. Ps. 6 9. I sought the Lord and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. This poor man cried and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. Ps. 34: 4-6. Open the Old Testament and read the whole narrative. 2 Kings 19: 14-37. 2 Kings 1
SECOND SERIES, VOL. IX. NO. 11.
19 20. Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah saying, thus saith the Lord God of Israel, that which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib, king of Assyria, I have heard. v. 33. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. vs. 35, 36. And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred four score and five thousand; and when they arose early in the morning, behold they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib, king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
But we are not confined to scripture for the verification of these promises. Many a christian, in every age, has known and felt that his own prayers for particular blessings have been heard and favorably answered; and such instances in the life of a christian are numerous, just in proportion to the simplicity and uniformity with which he relies on God. A few insulated cases of this kind, might be explained on the ground of accidental coincidence; but when they occur uniformly and through a series of years, it is contrary to all the laws of sound reasoning to explain them in this manner.
I will illustrate my meaning by a few well authenticated examples. Henry Young Stilling was an eminent physician in the service of the Grand Duke of Baden. He died in the year 1812, and consequently was well known to many persons now living. His career was an extraordinary one. By his skill as an oculist, he restored more blind persons to sight than there are miracles recorded of our blessed Saviour himself. I have been acquainted with some of his children and grandchildren, and feel no doubt of the entire accuracy of the facts about to be related. Stilling was an intimate friend of the German poet Goethe, who will not be accused of credulity or superstition, and it was at Goethe's suggestion that he published the account of his own life from which the following incidents are taken. Goethe, in his autobiography, says of Stilling, "he had a round understanding-and an enthusiasm for all that is good, right, and true, in the utmost possible purity. His course of life had been very simple, and yet had abounded with events, and a manifold activity. The element of his energy was an impregnable faith in God, and in an assistance immediately proceeding from Him, which obviously justified itself in an uninterrupted provision,
and an infallible deliverance from every distress and every evil. He had experienced numerous instances of this kind in his life, and they had recently been frequently repeated; so that, though he led a frugal life, yet it was without care and with the greatest cheerfulness; and he applied himself most diligently to his studies, although he could not reckon on any certain subsistence from one quarter of a year to another. I urged him to write his life, and he promised to do so."
Such is the unequivocal testimony of Goethe, who was most intimately acquainted with him; and surely no one will say that Goethe was a man to be beguiled by religious fanaticism, especially towards the latter part of his life, when he wrote the sentences which I have just quoted.
In youth, Stilling was extremely poor, destitute of the common comforts and necessaries of life. After a long season of anxiety and prayer, he felt satisfied that it was the will of God, that he should go to a University and prepare himself for the medical profession. He did not, at first, make choice of a University, but waited for an intimation from his Heavenly Father; for as he intended to study simply from faith, he would not follow his own will in any thing. Three weeks after he had come to this determination, a friend asked him, whither he intended to go. He replied he did not know. "Oh," said she, "our neighbor Mr. T. is going to Strasburg to spend a winter there, go with him." This touched Stilling's heart; he felt that this was the intimation he had waited for. Meanwhile Mr. T. himself entered the room, and was heartily pleased with the proposition. The whole of his welfare now depended on his becoming a physician, and for this, a thousand dollars at least, were requisite, of which he could not tell in the whole world where to raise a hundred. He nevertheless fixed his confidence firmly on God, and reasoned as follows: "God begins nothing without terminating it gloriously; now it is most certainly true that He alone has ordered my present circumstances entirely without my co-operation.-Consequently it is also most certainly true, that he will accomplish every thing regarding me in a manner worthy of himself." He smilingly said to his friends who were as poor as himself "I wonder from what quarter my Heavenly Father will provide me with money." When they expressed anxiety, he said, "Believe assuredly
that He who was able to feed a thousand people with a little bread lives still, and to Him I commit myself. He will certainly find out means. Do not be anxious, the Lord will provide."
Forty-six dollars was all that he could raise for his journey. He met unavoidable delay on the way, and while in Frankfort, three days ride from Strasburg, he had but a single dollar left. He said nothing of it to any one, but waited for the assistance of his Heavenly Father. As he was walking the street and praying inwardly to God, he met Mr. L., a merchant from the place of his residence, who says to him: "Stilling, what brought you here?" "I am going to Strasburg to study medicine." "Where do you get your money to study with?" "I have a rich Father in heaven." Mr. L. looked steadily at him and inquired, "How much money have you on hand ?" "One dollar," says Stilling. "So," says Mr. L. "Well, I'm one of your Father's stewards," and handed him thirty-three dollars. Stilling felt warm tears in his eyes; says he, "I am now rich enough— I want no more." This first trial made him so courageous, that he no longer doubted that God would help him through every thing.
He had been but a short time in Strasburg, when his thirtythree dollars had again been reduced to one, on which account he began again to pray very earnestly. Just at this time, one morning, his room-mate, Mr. T, says to him:"Stilling, I believe you did not bring much money with you," and offered him thirty dollars in gold, which he gladly accepted as in answer to his prayers. In a few months after this, the time arrived when he must pay the Lecturer's fee, or have his name struck from the list of students. The money was to be paid by six o'clock on Thursday evening. Thursday morning came and he had no money, and no means of getting any. The day was spent in prayer. Five o'clock in the evening came, and yet there was no money. His faith began almost to fail; he broke out into a perspiration-his face was wet with tears. Some one knocked at the door. "Come in," said he. It was Mr. R-, the gentleman of whom he rented the room. "I called," said Mr. R-, " to see how you like your room?" Thank you," says Stilling, "I like it very much." Says Mr. R--, "I thought I would ask you one other question; have you brought any money with