Page images

and important subject, the writer is well aware that his topic is very far from being exhausted. Perhaps, in regard to every part of the subject, little has been presented beyond what is merely suggestive. And if even this much shall be found true, and some other and abler pen shall be called out to do higher justice to the subject, he will rejoice. Or, should it call the attention of praying.. people to a prayerful consideration of its importance, and stimulate to efforts and measures for bringing out to duty, in this matter, many who, though they otherwise profess and practise the duties of religion, yet either neglect the Prayer-meeting entirely, or give it a very limited share of their concern, we shall feel more than amply rewarded.

As the day approaches when the promises and predictions, relating to the last times, shall be fulfilled promises and predictions of the most exciting interest, on which the faith of God's people has so long waited, and for which their prayers have so long ascended, the motives and call to concerted prayer become stronger, louder and more distinct.

As the signs of the times indicate still more and more distinctly that the glorious period must be at hand, when the gospel will be preached to every nation, kindred and people on earth-and as vast fields for missionary enterprise are opening to the benevolent, as never before, so should the Church hear and regard the command of the Saviour concerning united prayer—"Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.” Just now, the unusual demand for laborers, the discouraging paucity of their numbers, and the extraordinary enlargement of the fields, white for the harvest, call for new interest in the Saviour's command, and new earnestness in the Prayer-meeting.

As there are now earnest yearnings for union of the divided members of Christ's body; ayd as the signs of the


dawn of that happy day, when the watchmen shall see eye to eye, begin to appear more distinctly; so, as when the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees” heard, now should the people of God bestir themselves in frequent and earnest concerted prayer.

There is some earnest concern-we hope general-among Christians, on the subject of the revival of religion. Many are mourning over the low state of religion in their own hearts, and in the Church; the time is nearing when the day of the Lord, in the power of revival, shall be great as the day of Jezreel, the first fruits of which were given in the Pentecostal baptism of the infant Christian church. These were the first fruits of the "refreshing times from the presence of the Lord.” As he has promised, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon the seed of the Church, and my blessing upon her offspring; and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses ;" so, is there a loud call for earnest and concerted prayer

for the fulfilment of these promises concerning the gift of the Spirit in revival.

As prayer—especially concerted prayer is placed in an inseparable connection with the fulfilment of all the promises made by a covenant God, in regard to all those glorious events now so earnestly looked for; so, concerted prayer must be employed by the Church before she can enjoy the blessings and the glory of the times of the coming of her Lord. And if the Spirit of prayer is the power of the Church by which she takes hold of the hand that moves the world, then is she now called to gird on her strength. “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, 0 Jerusalem ; shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit , down, ( Jerusalem ; loose thself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion."



1. The prayer-meeting is founded in man's moral social nature. MAN is a moral, or, a religious being. He has a moral

sense. He has a conscience a sense of right and wrong--and of accountability to God, his Creator. As a religious being, he is also social. The law of his nature inclines him to worship; and the religious, social principle, inclines him to seek the communion of kindred spirits. “And doth not even nature itself teach you ?” “It is not good for man to be alone." “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things of the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves."

There are Divine ordinances founded in law natural, acknowledged to be such by all Bible believers, though not found in specific terms, or direct commands of institution, in the Word. All Christians recognize civil government to be an ordinance of God-founded in the law of nature-existing without the Bible, and among nations where revelation has never gone. We prove it to be a Divine ordinance from the Bible, just as we prove all other Divine ordinances of its class. We prove it, substantially, as we do the prayer-meeting, with all the difference in weight, and clearness of evidence, in favor of the latter. The Bible recognizes its existence. It defines its privileges. It regulates its duties, its obligations, upon rulers and ruled; and so establishes it to be a Divine ordinance. “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers,” is the recognition of the existence of such higher powers--not the mandate, in express terms, instituting the ordinance of civil government. “Whosoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God," is the language of direction in regard to the duties of obedience to an institution, in terms denominating a Divine ordinance “the ordinance of God.” The testimony of the Bible as clearly establishes the truth of the “divine ordinance” of civil government, as the “divine ordinance” of the gospel ministry. But the one, being founded in law moral natural, needs not positive terms of institution. The other, being founded in law moral positive, must, of necessity, have express positive enactment to prove it to be a divine ordinance.

Men prompted by the dictates of nature only, would, and do, pray to God. Men would naturally, as all nations do, form civil government without "any passage of Scripture prescribing” anything in regard to its institution. But the gospel ministry, and the sacraments of the church, can have no existence, nor would men without revelation naturally resort to them-nor would they have validity-without express positive institution in the word. Let this suffice to make clear the distinction involved in the proposition, that "the prayer-meeting is a divine ordinance, founded in man's social nature.”

One of the most precious privileges enjoyed by saints, this side the perfect felicity of the state of glory above, in the presence of God, in the company of angels and fellowship of the redeemed, is the communion of saints.

“ To saints on earth, to the excellent, where my delights all placed.”

Grace sanctifies the religious social principle of our nature, and places in very striking contrast the state of our race without the sanctifying power of grace. Here, sinners are “living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” How intense must the sufferings of the damned be, when thrust down together in hell, forced to associate together where the social bond is not love binding in one, but hate under the penal decree of inflexible justice, holding, in the presence of the hated and hateful, only to enhance the misery eternal! With the universal creed of the universal church, the Christian heart beats responsive, “I believe in the communion of saints." The Christian feels the power of truth and grace constraining to love Christ and his fellowship. And this same love of Christ constrains to love the brethren. A pre-eminent design, in calling out from the world, of organizing a visible Church out of those called into a holy fellowship, and of the ministrations of the gospel, in all its precious institutions, is to prepare for and induct into the enjoyments of the communion of saints here on earth, and ultimately in heaven. The social nature, sanctified by grace, demands the society of kindred spirits sanctified by the same grace.

By the communion of saints, believers--the members of one holy family, partakers of the common salvation, and of the same blessed hope have a mutual interest in matters of the highest importance. They are separated from the rest of the world, and incorporated into one spiritual body. Marked with the same seal, and distinguished by the same badge of a holy profession, they are called to like solemn duties, are inclined to engage in similar services, are exposed to encounter like fears, dangers, and common enemies. They have joys and privileges in common; they live to the same high end; they cherish the like expectations; and are animated by the same blessed

« PreviousContinue »