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sensibly than in our devotional exercises. Without it; they are but poor formalities, the service neither of reason
feeling; with it, they are life and strength and peace. St. James plainly attributes the efficacy of prayer chiefly to the faith which accompanies it: “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. Bät let him 'ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed: For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” And our Saviour promised to his disciples, that whatever they should “ask in prayer believing, they should receive.” It may be a question, perhaps, how far these directions are to be applied to each particular subject of our petitions; but there can be no question that at the least they enjoin a deep and sensible conviction of the certainty of heavenly things, of the presence and power and faithfulness of Him whom we address, of the reality of our wants, and the truth of those "blessings for which we ask. Without such a persuasion, and the feelings which belong to it, it is too plain there can be no real devotion. For prayer is the language of the heart; and it is but a' mockery of God, to ask for blessings which we have no anxiety to obtain; or cry to him for assistance, while we are ignorant of the nature of his promises, and perhaps only half convinced of his active, parental, and ever-present providence. Far different are the prayers of the true believer: full of gratitude for the mercies he has received, of humiliation under the sense of his unworthiness, of hope and joy and confidence in his everlasting Father and Benefactor;-full of faith, because flowing from a spirit enlightened and converted
by the sanctifying power of the Gospel, and animated with the blessed assurance that they will be accepted in the Redeemer, and answered by the communication of the best temporal mercies, and of every spiritual blessing.
Faith is the great sustaining principle on which all the religious affections repose. Every sentiment which is directed towards God, or the Redeemer, every feeling which is awakened by the contemplation of that glorious region which is appointed for our eternal rest, necessarily sup: poses a lively faith, the germ from which they spring, and from whence they draw their nutriment. Wherever that root has struck deep into a kindly soil, we shall shortly behold a luxuriant vegetation shooting forth in every form of grace and beauty, and lifting its aspiring brow to hea
How can we more certainly assist its growth, than by feeding and cherishing the source from which it derives its vigour?
Finally, it is faith alone, which, through all the varying scenes of life, can give to us stedfastness of purpose and unity of action. The ancient philosophy sought anxiously for some principle which might secure men against the unsteadiness of their nature, by proposing to them an ultimate object of pursuit sufficiently important to attract and reward their constant attention. But men are too mutable, and this world too imperfect. It belonged to Revela-' tion to fulfil what the loftier minds of earlier days had conceived and prosecuted in vain. Nothing can secure us against the inconstancy of our own tempers and opinions, variable as the forms of every earthly fashion, but a steady regard to Him who is alone for ever unchangeable. The Christian "walks by faith, not by sight;" "he endures as seeing Him who is invisible." He has been cheered with
a view of that glorious city which terminates the long avenue of earthly labours; and, when faint and wearied in his pilgrimage, he can ascend some neighbouring eminence, and refresh his exhausted spirits by contemplating its lastre. The events of this life, indeed, sometimes seem strange to him; but, amidst all the elemental war around, he knows that the laws of nature remain unaltered, that the dominion of wisdom and order is not subverted. He sees a heavenly Hand leading every event to its destined issue, and touching the secret springs of every dispensation. The afflictions which befal him he knows that he has merited, and trusts that the mercy of his God will turn them to his correction and improvement. The sorrows which
may sonietimes assail those who are dear too him, he beholds, indeed, with the deepest sensibility, yet without dismay; for he has learned that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth:” he remembers who they were “of whom the world was not worthy.” He sees that violence and confusion have taken possession of this world, and that each in his turn, during his sojourn here, must suffer something from the general disorder; but he is well assured that “the Lord's hand is not shortened, neither hiş ear heavy;" that “his eyes are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers.” Above all, the Christian fixes his eye with humble, yet stedfast confidence, upon his Redeemer. He has not forgotten the day when that merciful Lord called him out of darkness to see the light of his glorious salvation. All that he recollects of his earliest hours, all that he has experienced during his subsequent pilgrimage, concurs to teach him the sad lesson of his own unworthiness, the consoling knowledge of his Saviour's bounty. To him he renders the willing tribute
of gratitude for the past, the humble offering of confidence for the future, He entirely desires to be devoted to his glory; and whether that glory be advanced by a few years, of happiness or of sorrow, can surely be of little moment. To a mind deeply impressed with the great doctrines of the Gospel, sensible to the value of spiritual strength and consolation, and animated with the cheering hope of a holy, everlasting rest, nothing seems fearful, nothing worthy of a deep or lasting disquietude, but the sense of the power of internal corruption, and the dread that it may yet break forth to the destruction of every hope. Yet the declarations of the Scriptures are full of comfort. “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.” “I am the First, and I am the Last-and have the keys of hell and of death." “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and he that liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.”
“As, then we have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so let us walk in him; rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith." The unreserved surrender of the whole heart to God will bring with it whatever is really necessary for safety or for happiness. In His hands are all the events of all creation; and by Him they are ordained, disposed, employed, to produce the ultimate and inconceivable felicity of his faithful servants. Our part is exceedingly plain and simple: to pray, to watch, to put our trust in Him; to study and to do his will; to live under the constant sense and protecting shadow of his providence; to have a growing love of his goodness, and a cheerful confidence in his unfailing care and kindness; to
be the willing instruments of his power, yielded up in every faculty to his directing influence. Thus, our re, gards fixed on the Redeemer, may we walk with an even step along the rough and twilight paths of life; neither dazzled with the vanities, nor dismayed by the dangers that surround us. Thus shall we be enabled to receive and to survey the changeful events of this world with an heavenly tranquillity; sharing, indeed, its labours, tasting its satisfactions, and sympathising with every sorrow, yet spiritual, cheerful, and serene, And thus, after a few years of mingled joy and suffering, shall we arrive at that land where fear and conflict, where doubt and disappointinent, shall be no more; "into which no enemy enters, and from which no friend departs.”