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We may rank all those in the class of false teachers, who would, under any circumstances, draw us off from “ that simplicity which is in Christ." In our social intercourse with men, we shall frequently encounter these false prophets, for all come under this denomination who encourage doubts against the authority of God's recorded word, and would taint with these doubts the minds of those "whose delight is in the law of the Lord.”
Many who confess their Saviour in generals, deny him in particulars, and think themselves privileged to question what they only wish to dis-, believe; “but
have not so learned Christ.” If there be a doubter now before me, let him pray earnestly to God to “help his unbelief,” that his faith may be established. His doubts will soon subside, if he devoutly seek the assistance of that Divine Guide, which alone can spiritualize the corrupted heart and enlighten the darkened understanding.
The precepts of the gospel are intelligible to every capacity. If we take them as our directors in the practice of our lives, we shall neither be shaken by the sophistries of presumptuous innovators, nor withdrawn from our allegiance to our Creator, by the scoffs of those who have lived without God in the world.” Let us call to mind the terrible denunciation of the Apostle against perverters of the Christian faith. * But, though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you
than that which we have preached unto you,
let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto
ye have received, let him be accursed.” May “the Father of Mercies, and God of all Comfort,” increase our devotions, strengthen our faith, and bring us at length, through its justifying influence, into eternal communion with Him, “who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen nor can see; to whom, with the Son and Holy Ghost, be honour and power everlasting. Amen!"
ON THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER.
1 Thess. v. 17.
“Pray without ceasing."
It is evident that this injunction is not to be literally understood; because, as we are enjoined other duties besides prayer, it is clear the Apostle never intended that our whole time should be engaged in this most important occupation. We are therefore to consider the words before us only as an exhortation to frequent, regular, and earnest prayer. We find that St. Luke, at the conclusion of his gospel, says of the disciples, from whose presence Christ had just ascended into heaven—" and they were continually in the temple praising and blessing God." By which he simply signifies, that they were constantly in the Lord's tabernacle during the appointed seasons of devotion.*
* See Whitby's note on the text.
They who uniformly observed the seasons of prayer, are said, in the expressive language of inspiration, to “pray continually, night and day": or, in other words, they constantly attended in the sanctuary during the time of the morning and evening sacrifice. Enough has been said to establish the meaning of the text ; let us, therefore, proceed to consider the necessity of prayer, and the danger of neglecting it.
Its efficacy is frequently exhibited in the sacred writings. I need only recall to your recollections the case of the prophet Daniel, who esteemed prayer to be so paramount an obligation, that the prospect of death, in the most appalling shape, could not deter him from “kneeling upon his knees three times a day, and praying and giving thanks before God." The efficacy of his prayers will appear
in that wonderful deliverance which, in the sequel, was extended to him, when the God, to whom he prayed, “shut the mouths of a den of hungry lions, so that they did not hurt him.” We are told, that Elijah “prayed earnestly, that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the
space of three years and six months ; and he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit." We perceive in these instances, how fully the Apostle's declaration was confirmed, that “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Now, if the prayers of a righteous man are so signally regarded
by the Deity, it is evident, that they must be well
pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you; and ye shall seek me, and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Here, then, prayer is distinctly enjoined. Through prayer must we seek the Lord, and by prayer only can we find him. The neglect, therefore, on our parts, to do that which is manifestly agreeable to God, must necessarily have an effect directly contrary to what a punctual performance of that sacred obligation would produce.
Prayer is the only becoming mode of petition, from a being utterly dependent to one infinite in power and perfections. Our moral incapacity clearly establishes the necessity of application to such a Being for “grace in time of need,” that we may accomplish those good designs which our better reflections direct us to pursue. And how is such application to be made, but “by prayer and supplication of the spirit”? The Lord God of our salvation expressly tells us—"ask, and it shall be given you.” How, then, shall we expect to receive, if we do not ask? Many, no doubt, are ready to affirm,