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“By no means. You are not shut up to any such necessity. Suppose you pray, and suppose you plow with a right heart—with a penitent heart ?"

“ But I have no such heart," he replies.

“ No, you have none now. But is it not your imperative duty to possess such a heart ? to make yourself such a heart? Cast away from you all your transgressions,' says the Word of Inspiration, whereby ye have transgressed: and make you a new heart, and a new spirit.? Ez. 18: 31. Do this, and your prayers will be acceptable. Do this, and your plowing, your reaping, your eating-whatsoever you do—will be done to the glory of God, and, therefore, be acceptable to Him. You will then be a "righteous man;' and the fervent

prayer of a righteous man availeth much.'” But, perhaps, he replies, “I have no such heart as you describe; and no disposition to make myself such a heart as you aver it is my duty to make. What, then, shall I do?"

I answer: You are a subject of God's moral government; and, under that government, you are able to choose, or refuse to do your duty. Prayer is your duty; and, when offered, should proceed from an humble, penitent, and obedient heart. If it proceed from any other heart, prayer will be, and must be, an abomination to God. You can thus pray, if you please; but then you must expect the displeasure of God. If you neglect prayer-and this you can do—you will be condemned for neglecting a known and positive duty. You are shut up, then, if you would meet the approbation of God, to one course; and that is, to pray with a right heart.”

16

ISAIAH.

DUTY OF WATCHMEN IN RESPECT TO PRAYER.

I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence; and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Isaiah Ixii. 6, 7.

The speaker here is Jehovah; and by watchmen are meant those whom he has appointed to be instructors of his people--prophets—ministers of religion. These should be ever vigilant in the high and holy duties of their calling ; instructing and warning the people ; directing them to the appointed ark of safety, and pressing them to enter while entrance is possible. The watches in the East are, to this day, performed by a loud cry, as the watchmen go their rounds. So ministers should lift up their voices, crying day and night : “ Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation." “ The day is far spent; the night is at hand.” “Escape for thy life.”

“And give him no rest.” The idea is, keep not silence yourselves; nor let him rest in silence. Pray without ceasing; do not intermit your efforts while a soul under your charge lingers in the tents of wickedness; while there is a spot or wrinkle in the garments of any child of God. The truth taught here is, that it is the duty and privilege of ministers to pray unceasingly for the welfare of Zion.

The trials of ministers, in one respect, are, however, but little known. Like other Christians, they are tempted to relax their efforts. A chilling influence comes up from the world, and they are in danger of feeling it; but in greater danger are they, when the church itself has become cold and insensible. A minister pray then? How difficult! and yet how mightily has the importance of prayer—ardent, humble,

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holy prayer-increased! Look, at such times, into the minister's closet—you will find him there, if he be one of God's faithful watchmen—and he will pray. O how would it relieve his heart could he weep! He does say: Oh that my heart were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears !" But, often, while he longs for such melting tendencies-a breaking up, perhaps, of a long and dreary winter—a warm and generous gush of feeling, as he has sometimes seen a fountain pour forth its liberated waters—he finds all chill and cold, as if his heart had never known any thing of the warm and impulsive love of Jesus.

And, perhaps, at this very time, he is called to follow to the grave some one of his flock, who has departed for another world without hope. Perhaps, his appointed prayer-meeting has arrived; or, the Sabbath has come, and his people are already within the sanctuary, waiting his arrival; and, though dull and formal, they are expecting him, by his fervid eloquence and ardent supplications, to rouse them to appropriate life and animation.

What minister cannot relate experience like this? And, often, while, as to other trials and troubles, he can claim the sympathy and support of his friends, here he seems alone. He feels alone. It is difficult for him to unbosom himself to his people, as they can one to another.

Well, so it has been. But, need it be so ? Would not ministers have less occasion to mourn over a cold and formal state, if they prayed more? This is the grand, spiritual panacea; the sovereign antidote against that depression which so disheartens; and which, too often, diminishes the usefulness of the watchmen in Zion. Let the ministers of Jesus then pray more; and, as sure as “ praying-breath was never spent in vain," they will find themselves animated, when all around them are dull and formal; and joyful, when others are sad and dispirited.

JEREMIAH.

GOOD MEN SOMETIMES FORBID TO PRAY.

Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them,

neither make intercession to me; for I will not hear thee. Jer, vii. 16. (See also xi. 14, and xv. 1.)

WHEN Abraham stood before the Lord, pleading for Sodom, he received the gracious assurance that, if ten righteous persons could be found in the city, it should be spared for their sake. Signal as God's condescension was, in respect to that city, the cry of whose sin had gone up to heaven, an instance of similar favor is recorded in the history of his covenant people.

For a series of years, anterior to the reign of Zedekiahduring which, the Jews were carried captive to Babylonthey had provoked God by their sins. In consequence of which, he had, on several occasions, inflicted severe judgments, and threatened those which were still more signal; especially a captivity, which would take them from their father's sepulchres, and leave their beautiful city a desolation. Yet, such was his reluctance to cause " the daughter of Zion" to be despoiled of her beauty, that if they could find one righteous man in Jerusalem—meaning, probably, a righteous magistratehe would spare them all. 6 Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man,

if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth, and I will pardon it.” Jer. v. 1. “ This," says Dr. Scott, “probably referred to the time immediately succeeding Josiah's death, when their wickedness burst forth, the more impetuously, for the temporary restraints which, by that prince's regard for the divine honor, had been imposed upon them.” Then occurred that tragical scene of stoning to death Zach

arias the priest, for faithfully warning them-an evidence of their guilt so signal, as to have received the special notice of Jesus Christ. Luke 11 : 51. Nay, so general was the wickedness, that those set for the administration of the laws, were destitute of even common rectitude. “ Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.” Isa. 59: 14.

Had the nation, at the proper time, repented and reformed, God would have saved them from their terrible overthrow. Had there been those of the citizens, who were willing to s stand in the gap"—who, lifting up their voices, had cried : “ Spare thy people, O Lord !”—and who, to prayer, had added their influence to effect a reformation, they would have been saved. This we infer from the declaration of God, by the prophet Ezekiel, ch. 22: 30, 31. After the judgment had befallen them, and they were gone into captivity, God assigns as a reason why he had inflicted it, that not one had been found to stand in the gap, and intercede for them. “And I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath; their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God.”

Jeremiah, and other prophets, and their immediate associates, would, and doubtless did, pray. Indeed, we have the lamentations of the prophet of Anathoth in view of the desolations which he was commissioned and required to announce. But, irrespective of them, the entire people were in revolt from God, and in the practice of wickedness, which, as a righteous sovereign, he could not and would not tolerate.

And, at length, the measure of their iniquity was full and overflowing. They were ripe for the terrible judgment which had been sounding out from the prophetic oracle for years.

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