« AnteriorContinuar »
or cannot understand the difficulties and trials which he
finds in his way.
Suppose now that such a teacher should say to himself— and suppose he could, by some magic power, carry the plan into effect—I will become a little child myself, and go to school. I will take these same lessons which I assign to others, and endeavour to keep myself the rules which I have been endeavouring to enforce. I will spend two or three weeks in this way, that I may learn, by actual experience, what are the difficulties, and temptations, and trials of childhood.' Suppose he could carry this plan into effect; and, laying aside his accumulated knowledge, and the strength of moral principle which long habit has formed, should assume the youth, and the spirits and the feelings of childhood. He toils upon a perplexing lesson, that he may know by experience what the perplexity of childhood is. He obeys the strictest rules, that he may understand the difficulty of obedience; and he exposes himself to the unkindness or oppression of the vicious boys, that he may learn how hard it is patiently to endure them. After fully making the experiment, he resumes his former character, and returns to his station of authority. How much better is he now able to sympathize with his pupils in their trials! and with what confidence can they come to him with all their cares!
Now we have such a Saviour as this. "The Word was made flesh," i. e. became man, and dwelt among us. He took not on him the nature of angels, but the nature of "Wherefore it behoved Him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High-priest." "We have not an High-priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are.”
My reader will doubtless observe, that this case is somewhat similar to that of Howard, which I imagined in the
former part of this chapter; and perhaps you may imagine, that, if my paragraphs had been well arranged, this supposition would have come in connexion with that. But no: I was then upon the subject of sympathy with suffering. I imagined Howard to become a prisoner, that he might understand and sympathize with the sufferings of prisoners. Now I am speaking of the subject of temptation and struggle against sin; and I imagine the teacher to become a child, that he may appreciate the trials and temptations of childhood.
We may trust in the sympathy of our Saviour in this last respect, as well as in the other. His disposition to feel compassion and sympathy, rather than indignation, at those who have brought themselves into difficulty by doing wrong, was very often manifested while he was upon the earth; and we may be sure his character is not, in this respect, altered now.
But it is time that I should bring this chapter to a close. The sum and substance of what I have been endeavouring to illustrate in it is this: If you confess your sins, and seek forgiveness in the way which the Gospel points out, resolving henceforth to lead a life of piety, you will need a friend and helper: you will want sympathy, both in your sufferings, and in your struggles with sin. Jesus Christ will sympathize with you, and help you, in both. I once knew a benevolent gentleman, whose fortune rendered him independent, but whose medical knowledge and skill were of a very high order; and he practised constantly without fee or reward, for the simple purpose of relieving suffering. The only things necessary to secure his attention, were, to be sick, to need his aid, and to send for him. He did not wish his patients to become convalescent before he would visit them, nor did he inquire how often they had been sick before. There was one poor lad who took cold, I believe by breaking
through the ice in the winter, and was rendered a helpless cripple for years; and yet this gentleman, or some of his family, visited him almost daily, during all this time; and, instead of getting tired of their patient, became more and more interested in him to the last. Now, our Redeemer is such a physician. He does not ask any preparation before we send for Him; nor does He get tired of us, because he has helped us back from our wanderings, to duty and happiness, a great many times. Some one asked Him once, how often he ought to forgive his brother after repeated transgressions. "Shall I forgive him seven times?" was the question. "Forgive," said the Saviour, "not only seven times, but seventy times How strange it is, that, after this, a backsliding Christian should ever hesitate to come back, with an assurance that God will forgive!
'He will not break the bruised reed.'-'How beautiful and striking an illustration of our Redeemer's kindness to those who have sinned! A planter walks out into his grounds; and among the reeds growing there, is one— young, green, and slender-which a rude blast has broken down. Its verdant top is drenched in the waters which bathe its root; and perhaps he hesitates for a moment, whether to tear it from the spot, and throw it away. But no: he raises it to its place, carefully adjusts its bruised stem, and sustains it, by a support, till it once more acquires its former strength and beauty. Now, Jesus Christ is this planter. Every backsliding humbled Christian is a bruised reed; and, oh! how many are now thriving and vigorous, whom His tenderness, in the hour of humiliation, has saved!
Come, then, to this Friend, all of you! Bring all your interests and hopes and fears to Him. He will sympathize in them all. And, whenever you wander, never hesitate
a moment to return.
The Absent Son.-The Father's Promise-Its implied limitations.-Improper Requests.-Requests in an improper manner.-The Letter.-Our Saviour's Promise.-Prayers denied.-Power of Prayer.-Granting Requests in another form. -The Boy asking for a Knife.-The Sick Man unexpectedly cured.-Submissive Spirit.-Prayers of the Young.-The Packet-Description of the Packet-The Calm-The Christian Traveller-Books and Tracts-The Long Passage-The approaching Storm--they watch the Light-The Storm increases-Going about -Splitting of the Topsail-Danger-Protection never certain.-Object of Prayer in Danger.-Socrates-his Peace of Mind.-True Composure in Danger.-The Prayer at Sea-Effects.-Sincerity of Prayer.-Ardour in Prayer.-All can pray who wish it.
A Difficulty about Selfishness.-Reply.-Invitation to the Weary.-The Prodigal.— The Nobleman.-The Desk.-The Father's Refusal.-Real Selfishness.-Importunate Prayer.-The Unjust Judge.-Prayer of Faith.-The Morning PrayerMeeting. The Young Christian's Difficulty.-The Mother.-God decides.-A favourable Answer to Prayer never certain. — - Danger of Perversion. The Humble Teacher.-Conclusion.-Story of the Ship concluded -The Storm subsides-They arrive safely at Province-town.
"Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, He will do it."
As I have on this subject many separate points to discuss, I shall arrange what I have to say under several distinct heads, that the view presented may be the better understood and remembered.
I. The power of prayer.-This subject may be best illustrated by describing a case.
A kind and affectionate father, whose son had arrived at an age which rendered it necessary for him to prepare for the business of life, concluded to send him from home. Their mutual attachment was strong; and, though each knew it was for the best, each looked upon the approaching separation with regret. The father felt solicitous for the future character and happiness of his boy, as he was now to go forth into new temptations and dangers; and the son was reluctant to leave the quiet and the happiness of his father's fireside, for the bustle of business, and the rough exposures of the crowded city, where he was for the
future to find a home. The hour of separation, however, at last arrived: and the father says to him, at parting :
"My son, be faithful; strive to discharge your duty, and you will be happy. Remember your parents-the efforts they have made, and the affection they now feel for you. Watch against temptation, and endeavour to shun it. I will supply your wants. When you wish for any thing, write to me, and, as far as I am able, you shall have it. And may God bless you, and keep you safe and happy!"
My reader will observe, that this language-which is not fiction, but fact, for it has in substance been addressed in a thousand instances, under the circumstances above described―contains a promise to send the son whatever he shall ask for. But the meaning of it is not—and no boy would understand it to be-that every possible request which he might make would be certainly granted. Although the promise is made in the few simple words, "Whenever you want any thing, write to me, and you shall have it;" yet the meaning expressed fully would be, "Whenever you wish for any thing, which, as far as you can see, is proper for you, let me know, and I will send it; unless I see that it is better for you not to have it; or unless there are other special reasons which prevent my complying."
There are a great many ways in which such a boy's requests might be refused, and the father would not be considered by any person as breaking his promise.
1. He may ask something which the father knows would, in the end, injure him.-Suppose he should request his father to supply him with double his usual quantity of pocket-money, and the father should see clearly that the effect of granting the request would be to cultivate in him careless and extravagant habits of expenditure, and to divert his attention from his business. In such a