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The knell is struck . . . Sentence is gone forth... O God! O God! O thou my God! help me against all the wisdom of this world. Do this, I beseech thee; thou shouldst do this. . . . by thy own mighty power. . . . The work is not mine, but Thine. I have no business here . . . I have nothing to contend for with these great men of the world! I would gladly pass my days in happiness and peace. But the cause is Thine... and it is righteous and everlasting! O Lord! help me! O faithful and unchangeable God! I lean not upon man. It were vain! Whatever is of man is tottering, whatever proceeds from him must fail. My God! my God! dost thou not hear? My God! art thou no longer living? Nay, thou canst not die! Thou dost but hide Thyself. Thou hast chosen me for this work. I know it! . . . . Therefore, O God, accomplish thine own will! Forsake me not, for the sake of thy well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ, my defense, my buckler, and my stronghold.”
After a moment of silent struggle, he continued, "Lord— where art thou? . . . . My God where art thou? . . . . Come! I pray thee, I am ready.... Behold me prepared to lay down my life for thy truth... suffering like a lamb. For the cause is holy. It is thine own! . . . . I will not let thee go! no, nor yet for all eternity! and though the world should be thronged with devils-and this body, which is the work of thine hands, should be cast forth, trodden under foot, cut in pieces . . . . consumed to ashes.... my soul is thine. Yes, I have thine own word to assure me of it. My soul belongs to thee, and will abide with thee for ever. Amen!
O God send help . . . . Amen.”*
"This prayer discloses to us Luthe and the Reformation." It discovers the secret source of his strength and courage. It reveals to us the true cause of his success, humble and despised as he was. When I read this prayer-its fervency, its pathos, its eloquence, its importunity, its disinterestedness, * D'Aubigne's Reformation, vol. ii. p. 223, 4.
its mighty hold on the strength and faithfulness and promises of God-I no longer wonder that the single monk of Wittemberg was more powerful than all the crowned and mitred heads found in the memorable Diet of Worms.
Just as the author had reached this place, the public papers announced the arrival of a steamer from England, with the intelligence of a change of ministry in that country. It was a natural question, Did Queen Victoria, before authorizing the new premier to form a cabinet-did she retire to her closet, and ask counsel of God? Before selecting his apostles, the Lord Jesus spent a whole night in prayer on a mountain's top. Oh! if our kings, and queens, and presidents, before selecting their counselors, would follow the example of the Prince of Peace, and seek the guidance of God as to their choice, what a blessing might they not prove to the world! Many a crown would have sat lighter on royal brows; many a presidential chair would have been a place of comparative ease. The fires of many a persecution would never have been lighted; the horrors of many a war would never have existed.
THE SAVIOR'S DEVOTIONAL HABITS.
And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray and when the evening was come, he was there alone.-Matt. xiv. 23; also, Mark vi. 46.-John vi. 15.
WE find Jesus again upon a mountain, and alone—for what purpose? "To view the Judean landscape?" asks a writer; "while the setting sun was flushing the lake of Gennesaret, and flinging his yellow radiance over the adjacent wilderness? No." Was it "that he might watch the rising of the evening-star, and mark the lamps of heaven kindling in clusters and constellations throughout the hem
isphere? No." Was it to enjoy repose? That he might well covet, after a day spent in imparting bread to hungry thousands, and in ministering relief to the sons and daughters of woe, v. 14. But it was not thus that he pleased himself. He ascended the mountain to pray—to hide himself from the multitude, who, under the influence of gratitude and admiration at the stupendous miracles he had wrought, were desirous of proclaiming him king-i. e. the Messiah, whom they had expected; with the further view, doubtless, of constraining him to assume the character and titles of an earthly prince. John vi. 15. From human honors, so coveted by the ambitious of the world, Jesus shrunk and retired-retired for private prayer-thus setting a noble example for all who are pressed with ill-timed human honors and applause. "Nothing is better," it has been well said, "to keep the mind humble and unambitious, than to seek some lonely place; to shut out the world, with all its honors; to realize that the great God, before whom all creatures and all honors sink to nothing, is round about us; and to ask him to keep us from pride and vain-glory." "Devotional solitude," says Philip, "is commended by the high example, and commanded by the high authority of the Savior."
Cold mountains, and the midnight air,
And we learn, from his example, not that we must of course ascend a mountain to pray. He resorted there from necessity—not from choice; because, as Son of Man, he had not where to lay his head; no home, no closet. To those who have both, his command is: "Enter into thy closet." And his example teaches us that inconvenience must not prevent secret prayer. Here was the Savior upon a lonely mountain-exposed to the winds and dews of night-the ground damp beneath his knees, and the air chill around him; and yet he prayed--prayed long: the morning-star
often finding him where the evening-star had left him. have no such inconveniences to surmount. What is a cold room in winter, or a close room in summer, compared to the hoary side of a bleak and dreary mountain at midnight? And yet, how often are cold and heat allowed to hinder or hurry our secret prayer!
"The Savior's example proves that fatigue of labor must not prevent secret prayer. He had spent the day, until the evening, in active exertions among the multitude that followed him into the wilderness. During all the time, he had been under a burning sun, in a sandy desert; and had, afterwards, to ascend the mountain alone. And there, neither shelter nor refreshment awaited him; but, although thus exhausted and exposed, he closed the labors of the day by prayer. Now, his example ought to have all the authority of a law; all the influence of a charm upon his disciples. We do not come home more fatigued than he was. He had no house-no domestic comforts; neither shelter, nor pillow for his sacred head: and yet, he went apart to pray. will remind the prayerless of this fact.
"The Savior's example proves that even deeds of charity, and great exertions for the poor and afflicted, must not set aside secret prayer. He closed a day of mighty effort on behalf of suffering humanity, by going apart to pray. And, surely, if serving others must not prevent devotional solitude, serving ourselves must not be allowed to do so if acts of charity will not excuse neglect, the labors of industry cannot if giving money to the poor, be no plea for the omission of prayer, making money is not a valid one. Accordingly, while 'diligence in business' is expressly enjoined, 'fervency of spirit' in prayer, rests upon the same high and unalterable authority. Pray or perish is the alternative set before us in gospel.
"The Savior's example proves that no strength of character or of grace, can render devotional solitude unnecessary.
He who had the spirit without measure-who knew no sin→→ who was full of grace, and in whom Satan could find nothing to work upon-He went apart to pray. He held neither the fullness of his Godhead, nor the perfection of his humanity, as a reason for restraining prayer. And, surely, nothing we have attained,' can render us independent of secret devotion! The servant is not greater than his Lord.' If, therefore, Satan, or sloth, or pride, say we may do with less prayer than the first, let us hear the insinuation as we should the assertion, that we can do with less glorying in the cross than we began with.
"Solitude is also peculiarly suitable to the worst frames of a Christian's mind. The tones and terms in which backsliding, or, indeed, any sin, can be deplored in the domestic or social circle, are both too general and tame for the emotions of a contrite spirit. David was alone when he said: 'I have gone astray like a lost sheep.' Asaph was alone when he said: 'I was as a beast before thee.' Ephraim was alone when he smote upon his thigh, and acknowledged that ne had been as 'a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke.' And our secret sorrows and shames are not fit even for the ear of our families. They might be misunderstood and misinterpreted by others; whereas, He who heareth in secret, can heal in secret. And what a sanctuary is solitude for the expression of all those feelings which, even at home, can only be breathed in general and gentle terms! It will not do to utter before our families all our fears of death, nor all our anxieties for them. It will not do to unburden and unbosom all the heart to any one but God. God seeth and heareth in secret. What a mercy! What a wise and kind arrangement! 'It is good for me to draw nigh unto God, alone!"' 1 *
'Philip's Guide to the Devotional.