Page images




THE subject
of the following

pages is divided into Two

Parts. The First Part-The Prayer-meeting is the principal, and is that Part for which the other was written.

The Prayer-meeting, viewed as a subject of vital interest, has engaged the attention of the writer for more than the third of a century, though never, till very recently--indeed within the present year--with even the remotest idea of presenting to the Christian public his views through the press. And even now the force of circumstances in Divine Providence, rather than any desire to appear as an author, has induced him to submit his views to the public eye. The merits of the theme/the almost entire want of

any standard work on the subject, so far as known—the importance of some settled scriptural views and practise in relation to this precious institution of divine worship—the religious sentiment and feeling of the age, and the tendency of the evangelical Churches to harmonize in views and practise here, all seem to invite to reflection and conscientious investigation. Few, if any, in these churches entirely ignore the Prayer-meeting ; yet many can give very little “reason of the hope that is in them,” in regard to its claims. Very loose, vague, crude views-perhaps no well matured views at all-are entertained by too many. Christians too often assemble themselves together in the Prayer-meeting only because the multitude move that way, and under excitement are carried along, without considering whether there is any Divine warrant for this way

of worshipping God. Or, if it be deemed an ordinance of divinely instituted worship, it is not seriously considered for what end appointed, or how, or when, or by whom to be observed.

The question whether this is an ordinance of religious worship, appointed by the Head of the Church to be observed by all Churches and Christians, as other acknowledged ordinances of worship; or, whether being simply sui generis, it comes under no Scripture recognition, as all other ordinances of religious worship divinely appointed, but not being forbidden, may be observed as other indifferent things; or, may be ignored altogether, has, perhaps, received from Christians, generally, very little consideration.

It is not strange if the Prayer-meeting, as viewed and practised in many of our Churches, should fail to bring forth the blessed fruits that should be produced by a believing and faithful observance of it as an ordinance of Divine authority, encouraged by precious promises on which worshippers can take hold, and from which they can draw the grace designed to be communicated through this channel. If the worshipper cannot answer the questionWho hath required this at your hand ? how can he in faith wait on God, and with confidence ask his blessing on the service of the worshipper? But if he have an intelligent assurance that Christ is in the Prayer-meeting, by the record of his name in his appointed Institution, and by the promised presence of his Spirit and his grace, with what confidence then, and comfort too, can he come to the place “where two or three are gathered together," because of his appointment, and the promise of his presence there!

In presenting this humble treatise, upon a very grave

« PreviousContinue »