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But this conclusion of the Lord's Prayer is not only a doxology, but also a plea; and a plea founded upon the best of all bases, the glory of God. "It is connected with the prayer by the word 'for,' to signify that all these things-the reign, power, and glory of God-will be manifested by granting these petitions. It is not because we are to be benefited, but that God's name and perfections are to be manifested. His glory is, then, the first and principal thing which we are to seek when we approach him. We are to suffer our concerns to be sunk, and lost sight of in the superior glory and honor of his name and dominion. We are to seek temporal and eternal life, chiefly because the honor of our Maker will be promoted, and his name be more illustriously displayed to his creatures. He is to be 'first, last, supremest, best,' in our view; and all selfish and worldly views are to be absorbed in that one vast desire of the soul, that God may be 'all in all.'"
In such a spirit, and with such desires for the honor and glory of God, should we spread our prayers before him. And, if His glory be the paramount desire-the ruling passion of the soul-there is no danger that we shall urge our suit too strongly; and there need be no fear that we shall plead in vain.
God is jealous for his honor. His glory will he not give to another. His children may pray: they may plead for blessings for themselves, and for others, but it must be in subordination to the glory of God. That is a good reason why we should solicit favors from God: that we are in want; that we are in trouble; that we need pardon-sanctification-eternal life. But it is a better reason-t -the best of all reasons which we can name, or think of—that, by granting these blessings, God's glory will be advanced. That glory is the sum of all good; the chief in value of all the desires which the human bosom can either conceive or cherish.
Never was a prayer offered to God, by a child of his, in any age or country, in vain, where a desire for the divine glory prompted that prayer; and where such desire was uppermost in the heart whence it proceeded. When we have attained to such a state of the heart, and the affections, as a permanent principle in our intercourse with heaven, we may hope, with some confidence, that we are nearly ready to participate in the song there sung: "Not unto us, O Lord! not unto us! but to thy name, be all the glory."
O happy souls that pray
Where God appoints to hear!
O happy men that pay
Their constant service there!
That love the way
PRAYER OF JESUS BEFORE CHOOSING HIS APOSTLES.
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.-Luke vi. 12.
A MEASURE deeply involving the interests of the kingdom, which the Redeemer was about to set up, lay distinctly before him. To prepare himself to act with wisdom, in reference to it, was his object.
Only a brief period had elapsed since his entrance upon his public ministry; but it had sufficed to awaken in the public mind a deep interest in him. That mind was roused. The inquiries were abroad: "Who is this? What doctrines are these? Could any but the promised son of David work such wonders?"
Nay, many were already believing on him; a multitude of others were daily pressing round, prepared to flow with the popular tide. The time for action had arrived. His kingdom must be set up; his standard be raised. As it was part of his plan ultimately to carry on his cause by the instrumentality of men, it was necessary thus early to select such as would enter into his views; who would feel the magnitude and importance of the work, which he was designing to accomplish; who would be willing to forsake all for his sake, and toil in his service; and with whom he might safely leave the spiritual interests of a world, when he should ascend to his mediatorial throne. A mistake here might retard, and even prove fatal to, the great object of his mission. For it is to be remembered that Jesus, as Mediator, was dependent upon the Father for wisdom to direct him. That wisdom he sought and obtained; sought it by prayer and supplication, and exercised it in relation to all his measures as dependent, and with a desire to please his Father. True, there was no doubt and no hesitation; for as his every thought and wish was to honor God, so he had the most perfect reliance upon the infinite wisdom of Jehovah, upon which he cast himself for guidance, in every emergency of his eventful life.
And, now, in reference to the selection of those who were to share his toils on earth, and whom he would leave to communicate his doctrines and spread his cause, what does he do? Lean to his own wisdom? No. Consult the friends whose kindness and confidence he had won? No. He needed the higher direction-the loftier wisdom of the Father.
With this in view, he retires from the presence and interruption of the world. He ascends a mountain, amidst whose solitude he might be undisturbed, while from its top he should seek wisdom to guide him.
Here, then, behold him, as night gathers her folds about him. Does he sleep? No; he prays. The hum of the
busy population on the plain below gradually ceases, and is still. The flocks rest; the shepherds repose. But the Son of God is still holding high and holy communion with his Father; nor are his ardent and importunate supplications intermitted till the break of day. He descends the mountain with a calm and assured heart. He calls his disciples to him; makes the important selection of twelve of their number; whom he names "apostles;" whom he admits to his special love and friendship, and whom he proceeds to instruct, as the future heralds of his gospel, and the subordinate lights of the world.
How many men, in high and responsible stations, are rebuked by this example of Jesus! With more wisdom than all of them, he still seeks wisdom from God. Not one meas ure was more important to the interests of his kingdom, than that of selecting the instruments by whom its affairs should be conducted after his ascension. Under this conviction, he takes the only, yet sure, method to secure those who would prove "faithful unto death.”
How differently would the affairs of nations and kingdoms have proceeded, had kings and governors sought the "wisdom that is above," to aid them in the selection of officers of trust and authority! Had cabinets been formed, and ministers, secretaries, embassadors, been selected in dependence. upon wisdom sought in humble, fervent prayer—what perplexities-what entanglements with foreign powers-what wars, had been avoided! And the crown which has been worn with sorrow and anxiety, or the office which has proved only a post of bitter disappointment, would have been won and held in peace, and with honor and pleasure. Joseph is entrusted with power by the monarch of Egypt; and he proves the salvation of the kingdom. Daniel is called to the councils of the proud and imperious Nebuchadnezzar; and he renders services beyond the combined wisdom of the wise men of the empire.
It stands out, and will remain an important and glorious truth, while the world shall stand, that counsel sought of God will not be in vain. Who can estimate the value of the prayers offered by Moses for the children of Israel? Who can say that, but for the prayers of that pious and holy man, Mr. John Robinson, and his flock, on the eve of the departure of our pilgrim-fathers from their native shore, the Mayflower might not. have foundered in the waves of the Atlantic? Who, that knows the fact, does not impute the success of the American arms, in our Revolutionary struggle, as much to the prayers of Washington as to the courage and bravery of our soldiers. Or, to go back to the era of the Reformation, and to that interesting crisis in its history when Luther was to appear before that august assembly of electors, dukes, margraves, archbishops, bishops, with Charles V. at their head, to plead the cause of God and truth. No one but his great Master ever had such a weight upon him.
He was cited to appear at four o'clock in the afternoon of the 17th of April. On the morning of that day, he was for a brief space almost overwhelmed. "God's face seemed to be vailed, and his faith forsook him: his enemies seemed to multiply before him, and his imagination was overcome by the aspect of his dangers. His soul was like a ship driven by a violent tempest, rocked from side to side,—one moment plunged in the abyss, and the next carried up to heaven. In that hour of bitter trial-when he drank of the cup of Christ -an hour which to him was as the garden of Gethsemane, he threw himself with his face upon the earth, and uttered those broken cries, which we cannot understand, without entering in thought into the anguish of those deeps whence they rose to God. "Oh God, Almighty God everlasting! how dreadful is the world! behold how its mouth opens to swallow me up, and how small is my faith in Thee! Oh! the weakness of the flesh and the power of Satan! If I am to depend upon any strength of this world—all is over.