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ceased. It is true still, that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." It is true still, that saints have more power as instruments, and may accomplish more, in the attitude of humble fervent prayer, than in any other. Through the prayers of christians in modern times, temporal deliverances and blessings in great variety and multitude have been bestowed. And what is unspeakably more important, innumerable spiritual deliverances and blessings have been procured in the same way. The Holy Spirit has been poured out; revivals of religion have been multiplied; the means of grace have been extended and blessed; saints have been quickened; sinners converted; and precious immortal souls have been saved. No one can reasonably doubt that these events have been brought to pass by means of prayer; and certainly they are great `events-so great, that no christian, and no creature, can pretend to have accomplished them in any other way. We might as well attempt with Moses to divide the deep, or with Joshua to arrest the sun in his course, as attempt in our own strength producing a revival of religion, or the conversion of a single soul.
The superior power of the people of God, when in prayer, is farther evident, since by this means they enlist all the Divine perfections on their behalf. Weak in themselves, by prayer they go to an almighty Friend-go to him with penitence, confidence, affection, and trust-go to him with earnestness, as to their last resource, and with the tenderness of a Father, and the faithfulness of a God, he at once en
gages for them. He engages, agreeably to the assurances of his word, that nothing shall be wanting to them which he can with propriety bestow. He
engages to do all that, in compliance with their requests, which infinite wisdom, and infinite goodness, and almighty power, can consistently accomplish. This is the way in which prophets and Apostles were enabled to perform such wonders in ancient times. They carried their cause directly to God, and he undertook for them, and with him enlisted1 on their side, they were powerful indeed. The angels of heaven descend and ascend-the judgments of the Almighty are inflicted and removed the sun goes backward or forward in its course-the living are struck dead, and the dead restored to life, almost at their word. It is by this means too, that Christians in modern times can accomplish so much in the spiritual world. Feeling and confessing their own weakness, they go affectionately but empty to God. They fall in humble prostration at his feet, spread out their desires and necessities before him, and implore his help. And with all the kindness of a Parent, he enlists on their behalf. He opens to them new resources, converts or confounds their enemies, encourages their trembling hearts, and strengthens their feeble hands. He pours out his Spirit in answer to their requests, and through them as weak but honored instruments, advances with irresistible power and progress the triumphs of his holy kingdom. Dry bones are shaken, blind eyes opened, hard hearts are changed, stubborn wills bowed, and the dead in trespasses and sins are raised at once to newness of life.
If it is indeed true, as is here shewn, that prayer enlists even the great Jehovah on the side of his saints; then it cannot be doubted that they have more power, and may accomplish more, by means of humble fervent prayer, than they can by any, or by all, other
methods. In every other attitude in which the chil-. dren of God can be viewed; what are they? Feeble, ignorant, unworthy creatures, who know and can do comparatively nothing. But when we behold them in the attitude of prayer-humble, fervent, persevering prayer-prostrating themselves before the Almighty, and thus enlisting his infinite perfections on their behalf;-here they seem exalted-they are brought into a kind of unison with the Deity-he is theirs, and they are his-his power, and wisdom, and goodness, and faithfulness, are all pledged for themand great effects may be expected to result. Without their God, the saints can do nothing; but with him —with his perfections enlisted on their side, by means of holy, humble prayer; they can in a sense dɔ all things. He will do all things for them, when inquired of in this way, which their highest interest and best good require.
1. From what has been said we learn, that the people of God have a resource, of which the world are ignorant. This is the power and perfection of Jehovah, which they may enlist on their behalf, by means of humble, prevalent prayer. In seasons of affliction and oppression, saints have often availed themselves of this unfailing resource, to the confusion and discomfiture of their persecuting foes. When Pharaoh had pursued the Israelites to the borders of the Red Sea; he supposed he had cut off from them all hope of escape, and had infallibly secured them as his prey. But the pious in Israel had a resource of which Pharaoh was ignorant They earnestly sought to God for help; and he opens a way of de
liverance for them, but a pit of destruction for those that pursue them. When Sennacherib too invaded Judea; nothing could exceed his insolence, and nothing as he vainly imagined could withstand his power. But again the pious in Israel have a resource, of which the great king of Assyria" is ignorant. They spread their cause before the Lord, and he appears for their salvation. He sends his angel into the camp of their enemies, and the desolating army of the proud Assyrian is destroyed at a stroke. And so it has been with the people of God in all periods since-so it is now. They have a resource in their afflictions and distresses, of which the world around them by experience know nothing. They have a throne of grace to which they may repair, and here under all circumstances they rest secure.-Wicked men oppose the progress of the church, and are ever planning to defeat and overthrow it. Their designs are formed, often, with great worldly wisdom, and to their own distempered minds furnish promise of success. But in view of what has been said such men have reason to beware. They may burn the bush, but nothing can consume or ultimately injure it. They are engaged in a cause, in which no one has ever succeeded, but in which thousands and millions have fallen and perished. The truth is, sinners, the people of God have a resource in their afflictions-a constant, inexhaustible resource-to which you have no claim, and which you never can take from them. They have an almighty Friend, who, when inquired of, is ready to assist them. They can enlist a Power on their behalf, in comparison with which your proudest designs are but idle dreams, and yourselves but worms.
2. If the power of prayer is so great as we have seen, then the present expectations of the people of God, in regard to the future triumph and glory of the Church, are perfectly reasonable. We know very well what these expectations are. Saints are expecting, that the religion of Christ will shortly prevail over all the world-that ignorance and vice, oppression, slavery, and war will cease-that every idol temple will be demolished-that false religions of every name and description will come to an endand that true and undefiled religion shall cover the earth as the waters do the seas. These great changes too, they are expecting will be brought about in some way by their means.-But what reason, it may be asked, have they for such expectations? What can they do? They cannot convert one soul;-how then can they be instrumental in the conversion of millions? They cannot of themselves produce a revival of religion in the smallest village ;-what then can they do towards reviving it all over the earth? They can engage in a use of means; but they cannot give efficacy to one mean of grace, or crown it with success.-To all this it may be answered, that no persons can feel more deeply their insufficiency and weakness, than real saints do; still. their sense of these does not destroy or at all weaken their expectations, relative to the final success of the gospel. For their expectations are not founded on what they can of themselves do, but on what a God of sovereign mercy and almighty power can do for them. And they expect themselves to be instrumental in this important work, chiefly, by going to Godin all their weakness, and engaging him to act on their behalf. They know they cannot accomplish the promises, and fill a ruined world with good ;