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XIV.
“ THE POWER OF PRAYER."

2 Kings xix. 14.

“ And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.”

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HEZEKIAH was a man of God, and consequently he was a man of prayer. The present was indeed a season when even the ungodly “cometh to his sanctuary to pray,” Isa. xvi. 12; for such “ pour out a prayer when God's chastening is upon them,” but not thus immediately, thus instinctively do they as Hezekiah did, “ spread their case before the Lord.” He appears to have had no other thought; as the child to its mother's arms, as the fowl to the covert of its parent's wings, as the pursued to the stronghold, so this one betakes himself to his God: threatening was the message, great the danger, but the descendant of David knew the truth of that Psalmist's words, “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before Him: God is a

Refuge for us,” Psa. lxii. 8. “ He reccived the letter," he read it, he carried it to Him who would Himself answer it, “ Hezekiah went up

into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.”

Oh! that the Holy Spirit may so impress the subject on our minds, that we“may go and do likewise.”

Let us first notice,

I. Hezekiah's Difficulties. II. Hezekiah's Resource.

were

I. Hezekiah's Difficulties. These many and great; the forces of the mighty kingdom of Assyria were opposed to him, his own people were few in number, and already had they been invited by promises of plenty and of safety, to deliver up the city, and now the imperious summons is sent calling on the king at once to yield. There are points here, in which Hezekiah's temporal difficulties will bear comparison with our own spiritual necessities; we would mention some of these points.

1. Life-Safety-Kingdom, all were at stake. A powerful enemy, irritated by the resistance offered, was now once more advancing, and destruction is threatened unless the terms proposed are complied with: such was Hezekiah's case; and is there not with us a contest going on in which life or death, salvation or destruction, are involved ? not temporal indeed, but eternal; not concerning the life of the body, but the destiny of the soul. What though the many are careless when they should be diligent, what though the many are feasting, when they should be “ fighting the good fight of faith,” this alters' not the solemn fact that, “the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour,” that the battle is raging though we be sleeping, and that “ the end of all things is at hand;" blessed are they who know Hezekiah's resource and are seeking wisdom and counsel of the Lord! We observe further,

2. The interest of many were concerned.--His subjects looked up to Hezekiah for decision, and, perhaps, only waited his permission to open the gates and yield themselves to the foe; on him, then, depended the lives of others as well as his own life, and his responsibility was thus increased. Do we not mark herein a likeness between Hezekiah's circumstances and our own! The interests of others are linked in with us, “ One sinner destroyeth much good," Eccles. ix. 18; evil words, evil actions spread like a pestilence; “ Because iniquity shall abound,” saith our Lord, Matt. xxiv. 12. “the love of many shall wax cold." The fall of one lays a stumbling-block in the path, and may cast down others also. The godly man, in like manner, liveth not to himself, he is “a city set upon a hill,” “ a light in the world,” “ the salt of the earth ;" he “provokes” others to love and to good works; he is a blessing to the household as a servant, Gen. xxxix. 5; to his family and dependants as a master, Gen. xviii. 19; to his country as a king, 2 Kings xix. 35. Not one of us is there, brethren, but hath a responsibility towards others which we are too apt to forget. Oh that we may “so walk with God,” that others may own us as His workmanship, and be constrained to follow us as we follow Christ.

3. Mark, too, in Hezekiah's difficulties, that the matter was urgent as to time. . The letter is received, the answer must be returned and that instantly; no season was it to send an embassage to some distant land ; not this the hour to add to the fortifications ; even now must the decision be made on which so much depended. Brethen! apply this yourselves, you know that it comes home to each and all. To what is our life likened in Scripture ? to

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“the grass,

a sleep,

12 « a tale that is told,” 3 “

a vapour that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away."4 To day, and hardly “to day” can you reckon on.

Oh awake my fellow sinner! put away shadows for substance, dreams for realities, God calleth for thy decision, “ Behold! I stand at the door and knock.” Delay not the reply ; eternity is at stake, and the hour glass is running out. Oh say not in youth, I will decide in manhood ; say not in manhood, I will decide in old age; “Now is the accepted time, now is the day salvation.” “ To day while it is called to day harden not your hearts.”

But having noticed Hezekiah's Difficulties, let us dwell next on

II. Hezekiah's Resource.- “And Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord.” Alas! we must with sorrow observe, that similarity though there is between ourselves and Hezekiah in our difficulties, the many know not his resource ; it is to other help they flee, other remedies they seek. 1. I charge it on the many

that
prayer

is not their resource.

Cares oppress, trials come, Satan tempts, sin attracts, you receive“ the "1 Peter i. 24.

2 Psa. xc. 5. Psa. xc. 9.

James iv. 14.

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