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for his children will be of any benefit, if he is not adding his exertions to his wishes; if he is not bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, guarding them from the snares of youthful life, and setting before them a Christian example? Is it to any purpose that we entreat to be kept from temptation when we are voluntarily running into it; or that we pray against worldly-mindedness, when we choose worldly-minded companions; or that we seek for the guidance and consolation of the Holy Spirit in words, when in our conduct we are grieving Him by wilful impenitence and inconsistency?
The truth is, that care, and vigilance, and self-control, and self-denial, and self-examination, are as necessary as prayer: neither without the other is sufficient. We readily allow this in our temporal concerns. When we pray for our daily bread, we do not expect to procure it without corresponding exertion. “Prayer,” remarks a pious writer, “will not plough one's field, nor fence it, nor reap the grain, nor thrash it; but prayer may procure strength to la bour; and a blessing to accompany and succeed our prudent industry.” And it is thus in religion: God does everything that is good for us ; but He expects us to make use of the appointed instruments of spiritual blessing as much as though we did everything for ourselves. He graciously preserves us from many an unseen peril; but if, instead of using the means of prevention, we wilfully put our foot into the snare, we cannot hope that he will interpose to prevent our being entangled. We are to watch as well as to pray, that we enter not into temptation : we are to keep at a distance from it: we are to employ every effort to resist it; and if we neglect to do this, are we to wonder if we fall? Moses, and the people of Israel, did well to cry unto God in their extremity; but they did ill in neglecting the means of escape which he had set before them; and their supineness was accordingly rebuked by the Almighty. “Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward." Ex. xiv. 15.
When Luther first set himself against the torrent of idolatry and corruption, in the year 1517—assuming a task, to human view, as hopeless as for a man to set his shoulder to a mountain to remove it-he communicated his intentions to a wise and prudent friend, who had as deep a sense of Romish corruption as himself. But that friend advised him to abandon
his design, and retire to his cell and pray, “Lord have mercy upon us !” Had he done so he would have brought himself into a state of despair, unbelief, and inaction. Luther more effectually prayed, “ Lord, have mercy upon us," when, believing the promises of God, he put forth efforts corresponding with his prayers. The one prayed and did nothing, because he believed that God could or would do nothing. The other acted and prayed, and in faith took hold of God's strength, and the work was done. He put his shoulder to the mountain, yea, to the seven hills on which Antichrist had set his throne; and, weak as he was, yet in God's strength he made the mountains tremble, shook the foundations of the throne of the beast, and gave him a deadly wound, from which he never has recovered, and never will. When we pray that
prayer, “ Lord, have mercy on us,” we profess to believe, that however desperate our case may be to human view, it is not beyond the power of God; and the
prayer engages us to obedience to the commands of God, while we appeal to his power and. grace.
Reader, may you ever live as you pray : for “the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord; but the prayer of the upright is his delight,” Prov. xv. 8.
BEFORE AND AFTER TRIAL. SEE that sailor on the beach. He is going round and round
fine new life-boat, that has never yet been launched. You see him most critically examining every part, and hear him speaking of her in terms of strong admiration. He discovers many features of what he believes to be remarkable adaptation to the purpose for which the vessel has been constructed, and he feels as if he should not hesitate to breast the wildest wave, if once fairly seated in her. A month or two after you see the same man on the same beach, and he is looking at the same life-boat.
She is now a very different object in his eye, or, I should say, his heart. The marks of rough work are on her bow and sides and stern. The boat has evidently seen service now. Well, that same man, a day before, was driven before the storm, and his ship stranded on the coast. He, with the rest of his shipmates, were expecting a watery grave beneath the angry surf upon which their unmanageable ship was fast drifting Their danger was seen, and the new life-boat, with her
brave crew, dashed through the foaming billows to their relief. After almost inconceivable dangers, they were safely landed. Now he stands looking, with tears of gratitude and admiration, at the life-boat. He does not need to
go round her with a critic's eye now. There is no need for scrutinizing plank by plank and joint by joint, of the noble
construction. The grand whole of her sterling worth is before his mind, and deep in his inmost heart. His other look was before—this look is after trial.
My reader, you can somewhat enter into his feelings and understand the principle I wish to explain. It is that upon which the soul's Saviour is viewed before and after trial. You observe that man seated quietly in a pew, listening with intelligent interest to a description of the great atonement of Jesus. The subject is somewhat new to him, and especially it is new for him to be shown that the death of Jesus is all he can have between him and eternal despair. He is truly interested in the preacher's matchless theme.
He seems to weigh every syllable, and anxiously to scrutinize every feature of the great salvation. By and by its glorious adaptation appears to his understanding, and he sees the truth. He admires the great propitiation. Yes, he even blesses God that there is such a ground for human hope. He leaves the place with a new and glorious object
in his mind. He meditates, with great interest and satisfaction on the newly found Saviour. But let some time pass away and look at the same man. He has just begun to have some favourable symptoms indicative of recovery from a dangerous illness. He has been at the gates of death, and he has seen through them into eternity. He has had anticipations of judgment, as if the next hour he would stand before God." The dark catalogue of his past life has been held before him, and “the accuser has sought to hurl him headlong over the precipice of self-condemnation. The propitiation of “the Lamb of God” has upheld him. “ The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth us from all sin,” has proved the pole star of his spirit in the darkest hour of his spiritual conflict. Now he thinks of “ that atonement.” Oh, how he admires it now! His feelings in the pew, and his feelings in the hour of dark tribulation, are almost a contrast. Yet they are the same in kind. They are different only in degree. So different, however, are they in this, and so strong is his adoring estimate of Jesus now, that he little grudges the ordeal
which has had the effect of making him prize his redeeming Lord so highly
My dear friend, have you entered upon the first part of that which I have been describing? If you do not look to Jesus before overwhelming trial, you are in danger of never seeing him at all. There are many who put off till the storm has burst upon their heads, ere they think of the lifeboat! How often are such found at last without a refuge in the hour of need. Be it yours to act otherwise. Examine the great salvation of God-consider it well—be fully acquainted with it, and lodge it in your mind, so making it your own now; and then when the time of trial comes all is well. You are ready to reap the blessed fruit of the conflict, in having proved the matchless refuge provided by God for guilty man.
GLORY TO GOD.
DR, TIIE HAPPIEST CHRISTMAS DAY FARMER BROWN EVER SPENT. It was an uncommonly cold Christmas eve. Frost had set in a week before, and the ice on all the water round about the neighbourhood was inches in thickness. There was a snow-storm too; it had commenced at noon; and at five o'clock, by the old clock in the farmer's kitchen, the flakes fell heavier and faster than ever.
“ The old woman is plucking her Christmas geese in earnest,” said farmer Brown, as he came in from his stockyard, where he had been giving attendance to a sick cow in the cow-house; and as he spoke he shook off the snow