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"The church," says a writer already quoted, "became one region of life, of divine vitality throughout. Believers themselves seemed converted; if sinners became saints, saints themselves became as angels: thus fulfilling the prophecy, which had said: 'The weak shall be as David, and David as an angel of the Lord.' Every Christian saw, in every other, the face of an angel-looks of benevolence and brotherly love; one interest prevailed; one subject of emulation swallowed up every other: who should approach nearest to the likeness of Christ; which should do most for the enlargement of his reign. 'The whole multitude of them that believed, were of one heart and of one mind.' The spirit of Christ animated the whole, because the one heart of the whole community, and every particular pulse, beat in concert with it." What a gift! how rich! how god-like!

Among the objects to be answered by the descent of the Spirit was the "convincing the world"-the impenitent portion of it" of sin, of righteousness, and of a judgment to come." But his mission also embraced a glorious work, in reference to the children of God. Not to specify more, he was to awaken and keep alive within them a spirit of prayer. He was to guide and aid them in reference to that great duty; to suggest to them the things for which they should pray; and to "make supplications for them with groanings, which could not be uttered." The believer has, indeed, a guaranty that his prayers shall be heard and answered; but it is only when he prays by the Spirit. Hence, the indispensable importance of this gift. Without it, the believer's supplications, however ardent in manner, however strong and eloquent in language, are in vain.

How, then, shall the aid of this Divine Auxiliary be obtained? Up to this point, a throne of grace is easy of access, and asurances of acceptance meet us of the most gratifying and encouraging nature. Does the grace of our Divine Master stop here? On the contrary, the same kindness; the

same liberality in reference to the Spirit's assistance, is shown us, as is shown in regard to preceding assurances.

Anterior to regeneration, the motions of the Spirit are likened to the fitful and uncontrollable wind. The wind comes, we know not whence-it goes, we know not whither. It seems to obey no laws; it seems unsteady, and even capricious. So does the Spirit seemingly act in the renewal of souls. But when that great change has once been experienced, the man is brought into new relations-comes under a new administration. Before, there is no law; at least, we know of none; regulating the operations of the Spirit. All depends upon the sovereign good pleasure of a sovereign. God. But, in reference to the Christian, the rule is: That he is to enjoy the influences and aids of the Spirit, according to that measure in which he desires them, or is capable of enjoying them. "Every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth :" i. e. under the reign of grace, there is an "established connection between asking--it must be a proper asking for the Holy Spirit—and receiving it." And a distinguished writer has expressed the opinion, that “could we appeal to all who have made the experiment, we should find that this order was never violated; that could we interrogate each of that throng, without number, who have sought the gift, they would testify, with one consent, that they all received to the utmost of their desires, and abundantly more."*

And that nothing might be wanting, by way of assurance, on a point where the heart needs confidence, the Savior places an argument at the disposal of the believer, which, from his own declaration, must prevail. "What man is there among you, who, if his son should ask bread, would give him a stone; or, if he ask a fish, would give him a serpent?" Has such violence to the "instinct of parental tenderness" ever been known to exist? If not-if, on the con

*Harris' Great Teacher.

trary, it be a law of our nature—a law which bears sway, notwithstanding our evil nature-to give good gifts to our children—and he would be a monster, who should violate that law-" how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him." "What a human father will scarcely ever fail to do, though he be evil, God will never fail to do, because he is ineffably good."

This is enough. He that does not believe, would not be persuaded, though one rise from the dead.

Such is an ontline of the great principles in regard to prayer, found in the New Testament. Some of them are new revelations; while others are cleared from the mists and obscurities, in which they had become involved, during a darker dispensation. Let us enter this field; and, as we pass round, see if we do not find ample confirmation of their truth and importance. In every step of our progress, we shall perceive occasion, I trust, to admire "the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ; who, though he was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might become rich." Comparing our privileges and blessings with those enjoyed by believers of past ages, we shall be ready to say: "Truly the lines have fallen to us in pleasant places!" And when we have compassed the field, and understand something, as we may, of its hidden treasures; of the liberality of its great Proprietor, and the privileges and immunities of its inhabitants; we shall doubtless exclaim:

'Tis a broad land, of wealth unknown.



And the whole multitude of the people were praying without, at the time of incense. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord, standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias; for thy prayer is heard, &c.-Luke i. 10-13.

ABOUT four hundred years had now elapsed since Malachi, the last of the prophets, had uttered that remarkable prediction:-" Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me." 3: 1. During this long period, the Jewish church had experienced a variety of fortune. Party divisions had sprung up, and the bitterness and intolerance of party were rife. False and pernicious doctrines were prevalent. Traditions had been invested with undue importance. Ceremonies, unmeaning, and even immoral, had been introduced. A lamentable departure from the pure and spiritual worship of God, was generally to be observed. Yet, the true church was existing, and the temple-worship was continued. There were a few, also, who were waiting for the "consolation of Israel;" and who were looking out with intense anxiety upon the spiritual horizon, for the rising of some sign of the coming of the "messenger of the covenant."

Indeed, that anxiety, it is thought, had, for some time, been increasing; and, at length, so general was the expectation of the speedy fulfillment of the prophesies, touching the coming of the Messiah, that the faithful in the church were praying for the event with unwonted fervor. When God would signally bless his people, he imparts a spirit of supplication for the blessing; and, now, that the greatest of blessings was in the divine councils near at hand, it was

befitting that the church should be correspondingly engaged in supplicating its bestowment.

At length, it fell to the lot of Zacharias, a priest of the course of Abia, to officiate a week, in the morning and evening service of the temple. The Scriptures make honorable mention of both him and Elisabeth his wife. "They were righteous before God," and distinguished for their faithful observance of the "moral commands, as well as ceremonial ordinances and institutions," of the Lord. In former years, they had ardently desired the blessing of childrena blessing generally coveted by pious married Jews; but the time had now passed when they longer hoped to be permitted to rejoice as parents. For that joy, it seems, they had often prayed; but, as their supplications in that respect had not been favorably answered, they had resigned themselves to the good pleasure of God, and were contented.

But God was yet designing to fulfill their wishes; and, though he should answer their requests seemingly late, it would be in season for his own plans, and for the proof that

Praying breath is never spent in vain.

The duty of the priest, ordinarily, consisted in burning incense on the golden altar, within the sanctuary, morning and evening, while the people collected without, in the courts of the temple, silently offered up their prayers to God.


In the performance of his duty, Zacharias, one evening, entered the temple. A concourse of people had assembled— so great as to be called, by the sacred historian, a multitude;" which, being unusual on ordinary days, Dr. Lightfoot thinks it was the Sabbath, when a greater number would likely be in attendance. But is it not more likely to have resulted from some special impulse of the Spirit, moving upon their hearts, and inclining them in greater numbers to the temple, to pray for the signal blessing which was to be an

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