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spiritual maladies, who perceives the tendency of our circumstances, who knows the stations to which he means to call us, and sees the indispensable necessity of preventing or checking the pride and vanity and self-confidence to which we are so greatly prone.
O infinite mystery of divine mercy, wisdom, and grace! O the unsearchable depths of the counsels of redemption! And is it then in this way, 0 our God and Saviour, that, unknown to us, thou art furthering our final salvation ? How unfathomable is thy love, that, after the sacrifice of thy own life on the cross, thou hast condescendingly brought us to thyself by the secret energy of thy Spirit, and still guardest us in the ways of righteousness by thy providential control! And is it thus that thou leadest us, as thou didst Israel of old, in order to humble us and to prove us, to know what is in our hearts, to do us good at our latter end? Is it thus that thou bringest us by a right way to a city of habitation? O continue thy goodness and mercy to us!' O leave us not to our own choice and our own wisdom! O administer to us such discipline as thou seest needful for us! O preserve us in thy faith, fear, and love, and “ grant that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal."
We now come to consider,
II. THE PARTICULAR MANNER IN WHICH THIS CONFIDENT HOPE OF THE HUMBLE CHRISTIAN WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED—through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
The sanctifying effect of all events is produced by the mutual prayer of Christians for each other, and by the gracious influences of the Holy Ghost. The first is the appointed means, the second is the efficient cause. The first regards our duty, the second the influence of divine grace. The two are inseparably united. God gives his Spirit, ordinarily, in answer to prayer.
The effectual fervent prayer even of an individual Christian on behalf of others, availeth much. United supplications are yet more successful: for our Saviour has said, If any two of you agree on earth, touching any thing ye shall ask, it shall be done unto you of my Father which is in heaven. The intercessions therefore of all the several Christian churches for the Apostle Paul must have been eminently calculated to ensure the divine blessing upon him in his afflictive circumstances. This is implied in his language to them. He says to the Corinthians, who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver; in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; you also helping together by prayer for us. And to the Ephesians, Pray
ing always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all
perseverance and supplication for all saints : and for me, that utterance may be given me, that I may open my mouth' boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel ; for which I am an ambassador in bonds. He tells Philemon, Withal prepare me also a lodging, for I trust through your prayers I shall be given unto you. He exhorts the Thessalonians and the Hebrews, Brethren, pray for us,
THE CONSEQUENCE OF THIS FERVENT SUP: PLICATION for St. Paul was that favourable direction of all the events in which he was concerned, which he was persuaded God would vouchsafe him. We are dependent for many blessings on each other, and God attaches to - mutual prayer his highest graces.
Now never - was any one more beloved by the whole body
of the faithful than the holy Apostle; never ¿ was à closer intercourse of intercession main
tained than between him and the several churches which he had planted. On his part he remembered each of them without ceasing in his prayers, he always laboured fervently for them in prayer, that they might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. On their part, they ceased not to supplicate God for the Apostle. Thus a new tendency was given to the most painful occurrences in St. Paul's life,
and things apparently the most unfavourable, turned out to his benefit and final salvation.
A forcible example, amidst many others, of the blessing granted to united devotion is found in the case of another Apostle, St. Peter, when he was apprehended by Herod, and de. livered to the care of four quaternions of soldiers. Prayer was then made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. In consequence of this, when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night the angel of the Lord delivered him out of his hand, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews; and, as if to mark still more clearly the divine answer to mutual supplication, the rescued Apostle came to the house of Mary, at the very moment when many were gathered together, praying.
In like manner, the secret and mysterious providence of our heavenly Father still bestows his favours upon us IN REPLY TO OUR MUTUAL INTERCESSIONS. He thus unites us in closer ties of affection and dependence, As we are eon·nected with each other in various ways, we call down on ourselves and those concerned with us, the mercy of God. Events, however distressing, are in this manner directed by an infallible guidance to the furtherance of our -salvation. Thus the minister and the people, the magistrate and the private subject, the head of the family and his household, the husband and the wife, the parents and the children, the master and the servant, whilst they walk together as heirs of the grace of life, promote each other's highest interests. Like the several parts of the human body, if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it. Prayer has a mighty effect in healing the little jealousies and disagreements which human intirmity occasions, and in quelling the rising disorder of irritated passions. When events, as they arise, are made the subjects, not of controversy, but of prayer ; then afflictions excite sympathy, mistakes and errors receive forgiveness, meekness and forbearance are promoted, the Son of peace delights to dwell in the heart; and our gracious God vouchsafes to united supplication that superintending influence, by which all things are made to conspire eventually to our salvation.
It will not appear at all surprising that we have so LITTLE OF THE BLESSING OF GOD ON
FAMILIES AND CONNEXIONS, WHEN WE CONSIDER HOW LITTLE THIS DEVOTIONAL TEMPER IS CULTIVATED. Our religion is oftentimes too much the religion of education, of habit, of taste, of system, of form, of display, of controversy, of any thing rather than the religion of prayer. A devout spirit is frequently little esteemed amidst our anxieties to settle difficult questions, and determine between conflicting sentiments. Family prayer is too often
OUR MINISTRY' AND