« PreviousContinue »
filled. Though events may often look dark to us, they are light to him. Though his blessings may seem to linger, and we may be unable to discover the reasons of his dispensations; he knows what he is doing, and he will ultimately satisfy all the saints, of his truth, his faithfulness, and love. Let us then be encouraged and engaged, in the service of so good and glorious a Being that we may be admitted at last to some humble place, among the promoters of his triumph, and the servants of his throne. Amen.
ON WHAT IS IMPLIED IN PRAYER FOR THE SUGCESS OF THE GOSPEL.
Matthew vi. 10.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."
Thy kingdom come.
THESE words are a part of that prayer which our Saviour taught his disciples, and which he commanded them to adopt, as a suitable pattern, in their future devotions. "After this manner," says he, "pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." The kingdom of God here spoken of, is no other than the empire of true religion. When this kingdom is fully come, the holy religion of the gospel will be universally diffused, and the will of God" will be done on earth” in some good degree "as it is done in heaven." For the coming of Christ's kingdom in this important sense, or for the universal prevalence of their religion, Christians are taught in the text continually to pray. And that the petition under consideration is here so explicitly mentioned, and so solemnly enjoined, is evidence of its high importance, and that it should be offered up by all Christians with peculiar fervor.
In discussing this subject, I propose to shew,
I. That it is the duty of Christians to pray fervently for the coming of Christ's kingdom; or, for the universal prevalence of the religion of the gospel.
II. What is implied in such prayer.
In support of the duty under consideration, nothing can in fact be more decisive than the text itself. Here we have, not only a prayer of the Saviour, but a prayer which he dictated for the imitation and the constant use of his disciples and followers. We have therefore, not only his example, but his express and solemn command, to pray for the coming and the ultimate triumph of his holy kingdom.
It may be observed, however, that this command, and the duty enforced by it, are in strict accordance with the whole spirit of the gospel, and with the views and practice of real Christians in all ages.
Prayer for the universal diffusion of the religion of Christ accords entirely with the great law of love. -We are taught in the Scriptures, that to love God, with all the heart and our neighbour as ourselves, is the sum of our duty. In a due exercise and exhibition of this impartial, disinterested love, the whole law is fulfilled. But if a person loves God with all his heart; will he not have a heart to pray that God may be glorified, in the universal extension of his religion and kingdom? And if he loves his fellow men as he does himself; will he not pray for them, that they all, as well as himself, may enjoy the privileges and blessings of the gospel, both here and hereafter? It is as certain then as that Christians ought to obey the law of love, that they ought to offer the prayer in the text they ought to pray with constancy and fervor for the coming and universal prevalence of their Redeemer's kingdom.
The example of Christians in all ages, is a farther confirmation of this important duty. It will not be doubted that the primitive disciples remembered the
words of Christ, and prayed in substance as he had directed them. Engaged as they were for the diffusion of the gospel, they could not neglect or forget to accompany their efforts with their prayers. And at what period since, have similar prayers not been offered up by the people of God? at what period have they ceased to pray, "Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven"? At what period have they ceased to pray, and so far asthey have been engaged, to pray with fervor, for the spread and triumph of the religion of the Saviour?
In addition to these several considerations it may be observed, that the duty here insisted on is perhaps universally admitted. Who disputes that christians ought to pray, and to pray with fervor, for the general prevalence of their religion? Who does not admit, at least in words, that this is their duty ?It is evidence of the agreement of christians relative to this subject, that Christian Magistrates and Rulers, in their appointments of special religious observances, so generally require those under them to pray for the coming of the Redeemer's kingdom. In the course of my Ministry, I have received and read nineteen Proclamations for public Fasts and Thanksgivings; and in each of them, without an exception, we have been directed by our different chief Magistrates, to pray for the universal spread of the gospel. The constant recommendation of this prayer by those in authority, proves that in their estimation it is a very important one; and the uniform acquiescence of the people, if we may be allowed to take silence for acquiescence, is proof that they are of the same opin
But though it is so plainly the duty of Christians to pray for the extension of their religion; and al
though this duty is so commonly admitted; still, there are many who seem not to consider what is implied in such prayer. At least, there are many who conduct themselves as though they did not consider this. It is important, therefore, that I endeavour to shew,
II. What is implied in constant and fervent prayer for the general diffusion of the gospel. And,
1. Such prayer obviously implies that we earnestly desire the diffusion of the gospel." Prayer is the offering up of our desires to God, for things agreeable to his will." Plainly therefore, if it is our duty to pray, and to pray earnestly, for the universal spread of the christian religion; it is our duty to desire, and to desire earnestly, the same event; and to make a pretence of praying without such desires, would be no better than hypocrisy and mockery.
2. Fervent prayer for the universal spread of the gospel, implies that we take a deep and joyful interest in all exertions for the advancement of this end. -Apply the subject, my brethren, to any other case. Here is a person who prays much, and with great earnestness, for the conversion of a beloved child, or of a dear and valued friend. At the same time, he knows that exertions are making to arrest the attention of this friend, convince him of sin, and bring him to repentance. Will he now feel no interest in these exertions? Will he not, on the contrary, take a deep and joyful interest in them? Will he not, with feelings almost indescribable, watch their progress, and wait for their successful and happy result?-Fervent prayer for any object, necessarily supposes that we earnestly desire it; and such desires and prayers as necessarily suppose, that we take a deep and joyful interest in every thing which has a tendency to