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age, know it.
gether with that tie of love and anxious sympathy which so intimately connected the fellowship meetings of the primitive Church (1 Cor. xiv. 19-20). See how the young converts in the apostle's time, strengthened their faith by their often assembling for prayer, praise, and conversation (Acts ii. 44.)
Mark too, the greater blessings promised to united prayer and effort (Matt. xviii. 19), “If any two of you shall agree to ask,” &c. And in many parts of Scripture great stress is laid upon unity, and peculiar blessings are promised to united effort, as if God purposed to render everything a means of promoting the fellowship of his people. Union in prayer is strength in prevailing. Well did godly Daniel know this (Dan. f. 7–18); and well do all that are like him, in every
Think again of the increased efficacy thus given to the ordinances of the sanctuary, and the extension of Christ's kingdom, by united prayer.
Think of the revivals that owed their origin and continuance to it.
This is a field where all can labour, women as well as men, young as well as old; and those who cannot descend into the valley of Rephidim, to the battle, can here hold up prevailing hands on the mount of prayer. No one is exempted from this duty, or incapable to perform it; the strong must work, the feeble pray. The weakest warrior on the field is a prince in the closet, having power to prevail with God; and who can sufficiently estimate the vast importance of this privilege, when we thus think of its universal application ?
If the blessings conferred by fellowship and united prayer be estimated, on the other hand, by their effects on the world at large, of what magnitude do they appear. There is the benefit of united wisdom, in devising plans for the improvement of the several localities in which we are placed, the united effort to avert, by prayer and labour, the evils that wickedness
would bring upon us, and the hallowing influence of example diffused around by the love and Christian fellowship of the saints. Whether we work or sbine, united effort is ever the more effective agency ; but, even from mere union alone, beams forth a light that gathers many to its brightness. Now, as in bygone times, seeing our love and good works, glorify God, and now, as among the first Christians, the peace and fellowship of the Church is its increase and glory (Acts ii. 47).
It is a mighty work; but you have mighty power. Band together, ye soldiers of the cross, unfurl the banner of union. United, no enemy can resist you; divided, you are at the mercy of every foe. Speak to each other as those did of old, when the earth was defiled with crime; pray together as the disciples did in primitive times, when they brought angels from heaven to throw open their prison gates. Gaze not helplessly upon the confusion and ruin around; but to your altars, and stand between the living and the dead.
Time is short, be all the more arduous. Be believing, importunate, and watchful, and you will hasten the coming of that glorious day, when no one shall teach his neighbour to know the Lord, but all shall know Him; when, not one of a family and two of a city shall go together to call on the Lord, but the whole earth shall rejoice in righteousness.
AND THEN ?
FILIPPO NERI was living at one of the Italian Universities, when a young man whom he had known as a boy, ran up to him with a face full of delight, and told him, that what he had been long wishing above all things in the world, was at length fulfilled; his parents having given him leave to study the law, and that he had come to the law school at this University on account of its fame; and meant to spare no pains nor labour in getting through his studies as quickly and as well as possible. In this way he ran on a long time, and when at last he stopped, his friend, who had been listening to him with great patience and kindness, said, “ Well! and when you have got through your course of studies, what do you mean to do then ?"
“ Then I shall take my doctor's degree," answered the young man.
“And then ?" asked Filippo Neri again.
" And then," continued the youth, “ I shall have a number of difficult and knotty cases to manage; shall catch people's notice by my eloquence and zeal, and gain a great reputation."
“ And then ?” repeated the other.
“And then,” replied the youth,“ why then, there can't be a question, but that I shall be promoted to some high office or another; besides, I shall make money
“ And then,” pursued the young lawyer; "then, I shall live comfortably and honourably, in wealth and dignity, and shall be able to look forward quietly to a happy old age.”
"And then ?” asked his attentive auditor.
" And then," said the youth, “and then—and then -then I shall die."
Here Filippo lifted his voice, and again asked, “ And then ?" To which the young man made no answer, but looked embarassed, and went away. This last “ And then ?” had pierced like a flash of lightning into his soul, and he could not get rid of it. Soon afterwards, he gave himself to the service of Christ, and spent the remainder of his days in making Him known to others,
Now, it is highly probable, dear reader, that you are as ardent and hopeful in your dreams of the future, as was this youthful student. Enthusiastic and sanguine, you wish, and you expect to get a fair proportion of earthly pleasures and comforts, and to obtain the rewards for which you are willing to work; you draw many a lovely picture of your success in life; of your home joys; of your celebrity amongst men. I have often sketched such imaginary scenes for myself, and am not disposed to find fault with your glowing anticipations. It is not wrong to “look forward;” it is sometimes necessary to do so ; but the error into which all persons, whether in the morning or the meridian of life are prone to run, is that of not looking far enough. Surely, to dwell with eagerness on the incidents of a hasty pilgrimage, and care nothing about the occupations of an everlasting existence; to plan and purpose for time, while we make no preparation for eternity; is, to say the least of it, both thoughtless and unwise! Yet thousands stop short in this way. Their mental vision seldom takes in more than twenty, thirty, or forty years; and if they sometimes give an unwilling glance towards the close of life, they are careful not to look beyond it. But is such conduct right? is it rational? is it worthy of an immortal being? Is it manly or prudent, to live in practical forgetfulness of the real future; and to turn a deaf ear to the important inquiry,“ And then ?” Now, this subject is neither welcome nor attractive
It depresses your feelings, and throws a damp over your spirits, to be asked,
as you point one after the other to the bright prospects looming in the distance, " And then ? And then ?” Therefore, you strive to put from you all thoughts of death and eternity; and to live now as if there were no hereafter. You would like to be a Christian just before you die, in order that you may share in the felicities of heaven; but you do not wish to attend to religion
so long as you can do without it, because it would, as you imagine, curtail your pleasures, and alter your pursuits. Like St. Augustine, the prayer of your heart is, “ Lord, convert me, but not yet.
Has it never struck you, that with feelings and emotions like yours, the happiness of heaven, even could you attain it, would be no happiness to you? Heaven is a state as well as a place; and you want meetness for the one, as well as adınission to the other. If you do not love God's service on earth, is it likely that you would delight in it above? A clergyman was conversing with a sick woman of considerable intelligence, who died the next day. After he had finished talking to her, she said, with much expression of distaste, “ If heaven be such a place as you describe, I have no wish to go there.” “Oh, there cannot be a greater folly, than to expect that objects which now fill us with disgust, would in another world, create an interest, or produce enjoyment. On the contrary, their perpetual presence would be a vast aggravation of our dislike.”
The only way, then, in which you can form any just expectation of realizing, or of appreciating the joys of heaven, is by a participation in them now. You must sympathise with the spirit of heaven here, if you would be fully conformed to it hereafter. God's servants
serve Him; some on earth, some in heaven; their talents differ, their work is varied; but each and all are engaged in the promotion of his glory.
Now, I want you to enter upon his service. Nay, God Himself invites you to do so, saying, “Son, go work to-day in my vineyard.” Mind, He says “to-day.' He does not think, if you do, that the last hours of life, or the enfeebled energies of a mind worn out in the employ of another master, are a fitting return for his unceasing goodness towards you. Think what claims He has upon your service. He made, and He