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SAD EFFECTS OF NEGLECTING PRAYER.
118 vours; that thus they may fill up the measure of their iniquities. Search, then, the Bible through, and you will not find one real blessing, that can prove such to a person that continues to live in a prayerless state. Nor can religion possibly exist without prayer. Those words, so encouraging to the Christian, “ Ask, and ye shall receive, "w may strongly imply, that if you ask not, you shall not receive; if you seek not, you shall not find. Many have ascribed their ruin, for time and eternity, to the neglect of prayer. They asked not, and so they did not receive. A poor murderer, who was executed for his crime, in his last moments said, “Oh, if I had gone to prayer that morning when I committed the sin for which I am now to die, O Lord God, I believe thou wouldst have kept back my hands from that sin.”
The writer, who states this fact, mentions another, displaying, not merely the awful effects of neglecting prayer, but the bitter consequences of growing weary of it, because a favourite object was not granted. An aged person, who had been many years a well-esteemed member of the church, at length became a drunkard, and was excommunicated, and died in awful circumstances. Some of his dying words were these : “I often prayed unto God for a mercy, which he still denied
At length I grew angry at God; whereupon, I grew slack in my acquaintance with the Lord : ever since which he hath dreadfully forsaken me; and I know that now he hath no mercy for me.' "*
§ 29. Such being the value and importance of prayer, it is not strange, that the Christian should at times be tempted to neglect this sacred duty. Perhaps, there are none that have not, more or less, experienced this temptation. Have not you, in the hour of devotion, at times felt some subject or other, perhaps in itself trifling, pressed into your mind, with a liveliness and energy that quite destroyed all the comfort of prayer, and when you rose from your knees this subject vanished, and harassed you no more ? Is it not reasonable to believe, that these suggestions are efforts of the wicked one, labouring hard to disturb the soul in its best moments, and to prevent its obtaining the blessings of prayer ? Perhaps, at other times, when unable to pray with the comfort you deşire, this suggestion has been presented to your mind : “Such (w) Matt. vii. 7, 8.
* Mather's Hist. of New Eng. lib. 6.
PRAYER TO BE PRIZED AND IMPROVED.
119 prayers as yours are worse than nothing: you had better not pray at all, than pray as you do." -Ah, look on this temptation, as one that proceeds from your great enemy. If you ever yield to it, you will soon perceive it answers his designs ; your soul will grow more dead; prayer still more a burthen. Instead of your state mending by this neglect, it will grow worse ; your heart less and less disposed for prayer, and the frame of your mind less and less suited to it. Pray, then, and continue instant in prayer. Pray, though the world with its cares would hinder you. Pray, though the devil with a host of temptations would prevent you. Štill pray, and God will hear. And when unable to pray as you would, still pray as you can ;
pray for help to pray better. Pursue this course; cleave to the great Intercessor ; and then, in a little while, in a brighter world, prayer shall be changed for endless praise ;
" While sweet remembrance calls to mind
" The scenes of mortal care;
THE CHRISTIAN A PILGRIM UPON EARTH, AND A MEMBER
OF THE FAMILY OF GOD.
N important and pleasing view of the Christian's state
and character, is that of a traveller to a better world. A pleasing English poet has said,
“ Turn. pilgrim, turn, thy cares forego,
“ All earth-born care is wrong
“Nor wants that little long." The Scriptures describe life as a pilgrimage, and the child of God as a traveller to a lasting home. I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.”a “When
(a) Ps, xxxix, 13, 5.
THE CHRISTIAN A PILGRIM UPON EARTH. a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return." The aged patriarch, Jacob, said, “ The days of the years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty years : few and evil have the days of the years of my life
Of him, and those who lived much longer than he, it is said, that they “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth; they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city."
Cherish the views these holy men professed. You, if a Christian indeed, are but a traveller here. Childhood and youth, said Solomon, are vanity, and so are manhood and declining age. They are all parts of the same little journey, of which some may, and others must, be near its close. Infancy, childhood, youth, manhood, and age, succeed each other so rapidly, that many scarcely reflect they are in one, before they find themselves advanced to another. Trifling do fifteen, twenty, thirty years appear to those who can look backward on them, and equally trifling would seventy, eighty, or an hundred seem when gone for ever. A poor man, who had spent more than seventy years on earth, once observed to me, that his time seemed but like two or three weeks. Yes, life is a pilgrimage, and short is the passage from the cradle to the tomb: some find it a longer, some a shorter, but all a short and hasty journey. It is hasty, though its haste be unperceived. A traveller in a packet, driven by steam and tide down the smooth surface of the Thames, may indulge the illusion that all he sees on shore, the trees, the spires, the villages, are in rapid motion, hurrying away; but it is he who moves, and all on shore is still. Thus, even when least sensible of the speed with which you go, are you advancing with sure and rapid haste to the eternal world. Think when you lie down, think when you rise up, think when you walk, and think when you rest, I am but a traveller here. Amid the cares of life, remember these are but the cares of a journey; amid its pleasures, these are but the comforts of an inn.' This world is not my world ; for I am but a traveller here.
Would you deepen the impression,
§ 2. Think of those who are gone. The great and noble, who once turned the world upside down—what are they? where
(c) Gen. xlvii. 9. (d) Heb. xi. 13-15.
(6) Job xvi. 22.
121 Are they now? Those who abounded in riches, or revelled in pleasures—where are they? and what is theirs ? The moment that they breathed their last, riches, pleasures, pomps, and honours, vanished all. “ Those lying vanities of life; that ever-tempting, ever-cheating train,” what are they to those whose journey to eternity is finished ? Their life is ended; that valued life is valued no longer. What one day they would not have resigned for the world, the next is snatched from them, and they are consigned over to the dark and dusty grave. What is then to them the value of all they once most loved and prized ? And what, O my soul ! will soon be the value to thee, of all that is now most dear below ? It is but a moment since they were warm with life, gay with hopes and pleasures, or perplexed with plans and cares, and now all these are finished for ever. Then they were like me, and soon must I follow them, and be on an equality once
§ 3. Think of the living : look at the multitudes that crowd a populous town, or busy city; and when evening comes, consider that all the nunibers you have seen in the day, in forty or fifty years, a very few perhaps a little more, but the most part a great deal less, will have left this world for ever, and be for ever fixed in another. All their business brought to an eternal close. All their transient griefs and joys eternally ended. No longer traversing the streets, hurried with cares, and distracted with business; no longer concerned about the varying changes and commotions of the world, about the nations that rise or that fall; but silent in the dust. Think, that could you revisit those now crowded streets when one hundred years are passed, if no new generation arose, you would find them entirely deserted; not a single passenger in them, nor an inhabitant in the houses; but the streets, where a blade of grass is never seen, then covered with it; the houses falling into ruin; many of them already in the dust; the birds of the desert building their nests in the deserted
and foxes, half hid with grass and nettles, peeping through the shattered windows. The houses of divine worship all forsaken; every preacher gone from his pulpit; every crowded congregation vanished and forgotten in the dust ; and all as silent as the midst of an Arabian desert, or as the
REFLECTIONS ON THE VAIN AND
122 chambers of the grave. O, act as a stranger and pilgrim while in so vain a world!
$ 4. Or view the subject, by indulging pensive reflection on the transient nature of all the most endeared sublunary ties. Think with yourself, Could I rise from the tomb when the year two thousand comes, and look around on the world I shall then have so long forsaken, what a scene of desolation would it present to me! Not those only whom I saw go before me, but all I left would have followed me. Could I
approach their now cheerful hearths, I should miss them there; walk their gardens or their fields, I should not find them there; go to their tombs, and even there would not one wretched trace be found, nor even a stone remain, to tell that they had ever been. Had not others arisen, the silence of death, for ever undisturbed, would reign around their habitations, and the desolation of the grave. Then could I walk where once with them I walked, review the scenes that once I knew, rest on the spot where once with them I sat, or climb the hills we climbed.--Alas, dear companions ! whither have you fled ? The silent stars that we often together beheld, still would shine, still have continued shining, but shine upon to me a solitary world. And do we think this world our own! Oh, vain deceiving world! Oh, trifling, cheated possessors! cannot the dying generations of six thousand years, all swept away, impress the heart with the feeling, that we have no continuing city here?
$ 5. When you mark the silence of midnight; when all around you is as calm “ as if the general pulse of life stood still;" let that solemn stillness, that impressive gloom, lead you to contemplate the period, when all the noise and tumult and business, that have harassed the world for almost six thousand years, shall have ended for ever. A deeper silence will then fill the universe. Creation will lie dead. The world no longer existing. No stars glittering in an extended sky, but their blaze extinguished for ever.
Oh, could your spirit then wander from its eternal dwelling, to witness this scene, how impressive would be the stillness ! how deep the gloom that would overspread the space once occupied by this busy, agitated world, when this world is vanished for ever! Here, might such a wanderer think, here once revolved a world ;