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Oh, it is in the hours of bereavement and sorrow, that the value of spiritual blessings is chiefly felt, when the earthly cistern is broken, or the human gourd is withered ; when worldly expectations are blasted or disappoint us in possession, then it is that the Christian does most emphatically rejoice in his God, and joy in his Redeemer! If, then, our afflictions induce such desirable practical consequences, they will surely be felt and eventually acknowledged to be really “ blessings in disguise.”
The glorious dispensation under which a Christian lives is an intercourse between the Creator and the creature.
Man approaches his God, and spreads before him his wants, his sufferings and his dangers; and God in mercy and loving-kindness communicates to him from heaven grace and strength and consolation, as the answer of his prayer, and the fruit of his faith.
Oh, it is not by the resolutions of our own will, by the mere exertion of natural fortitude, by the force of moral obligation, or even by a speculative knowledge of the gospel system,
and its powerful motives, that we can endure afflictions as Christians. That knowledge only can be efficacious which is acquired by frequently “ bowing the knee” in fervent and sincere prayer. It must be imparted from above by the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who rejects not the lowly petition—Teach me to pray, O Lord, my God! and let my cry come unto thee. Hide not thy face from my petitions.
The hour of sorrow is the time which more especially tries the stability of the foundation on which the Christian hope is built. It is then that the genuine disposition of the soul is manifest, and that the supports and consolations of divine grace are most abundantly vouchsafed to the sincere and humble Christian. It is then that a sweet consciousness of the divine presence gives peace to the desolate, for it enables the heart to reflect“I am not alone, for my heavenly Father is with me; he hath promised he will never leave or forsake me!”
Let us assure ourselves that believing prayers are acceptable to our God.
pray that he will graciously pour out his Spirii upon us, that we may pour out our hearts before him. If our hearts are affected and willing, our supplications will be frequent and earnest. If the Spirit of God teach us to pray earnestly, it will also teach us to wait patiently, assuring us that the mercies which are in the hands of our God will be given to us in his own good time.
It may be safely asserted, that if we pass our life in faith and prayer, we shall close it in peace and comfort. How soothing is the thought that “man was made for communion with his Creator;" it is the excellence of his nature to be capable of this end, the happiness of it to be raised to enjoy it. This blissful communion is actually and highly enjoyed in the exercise of prayer.
In times of deep distress, when the soul is oppressed with griefs and fears, what a sure relief is found in pouring out all we want and all we desire into the bosom of God, as a faithful and powerful friend, and most tender father! In all our affliction he was afflicted, and in his love and in his pity he redeemed us. Thus may the distressed soul rest quietly upon the love, power, and gracious promises of God, assured that it is not in vain to seek him who despiseth not the sighing of the afflicted. The rich comforts derived to the soul from prayer, and the high privilege it confers of converse with our God, is pathetically and forcibly expressed by holy David :
“O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast heard me. I love the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my prayer, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy, O Lord, for thou hast considered my trouble. Thou hast known my soul in adversities !
“ Make thy face to shine upon thy servant, and save me for thy mercies' sake.
Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, all ye that hope in his mercy.
Our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.
The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly, I go mourning all the day long. Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not hid from thee.
Forsake me not, O God. O my God be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation. Remove thy stroke away from me, I am consumed by the blow of thine hand. Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear unto my cry; hold not thou thy peace at my tears. I will cry unto thee when
heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. I will trust in the covert of thy wings.
I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble.
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee. What time I am afraid I will trust in thee. Trust in him at all times; pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us. Blessed be God who hath not turned away my prayer, nor hid his mercy from me!
Olet us then continually pray for the