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tion 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 seven." How strange it is, that after this, a backsliding Christian can ever hesitate to come back at once after he has wandered, 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, there is one-young, green and slender,-which a rude blast has broken. Its verdant top is drenched in the water which bathes 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 acquire 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, which 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.




"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,

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My son, be faithful; do your duty; and you will be happy. Remember your parents-the efforts they have made, and the affection they now feel for you. against temptation, and shun it. I will supply all your wants. When you wish for any thing, write to me and 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 fietion 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 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, if you will let me know it, 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 pocketmoney, 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 case the father would undoubtedly refuse, and no one would imagine that he was breaking his promise. The boy, if he had done right, would not have asked.

2. He may ask something which, if granted, would interfere with the rights or happiness of others. There was a watch, we will imagine, hanging up in his father's house, used by all the family, the only time-piece accessible to them. Now supposing the boy, growing selfish and vain, and thinking that his importance among his comrades would be a little increased by a watch, should write to his father to send that to him. Who would think that his father would be obliged to comply on account of his parting promise to his son to supply all his wants? Christians very often make such selfish requests, and wonder why their prayers are not heard. A farmer who has one field which needs watering will pray for rain, with great earnestness, forgetting that God has to take care of the ten thousand fields all around his own, and that perhaps they need the sun. A mother who has a son at sea, will pray for prosperous winds for him, forgetting that the ocean is whitened with sails, all under God's care,

and that the breeze which bears one onward must retard another. But more on this subject presently.

3. He may ask in an improper manner. Suppose the father should take from the post-office a letter in his son's handwriting, and on breaking the seal, should read as follows.

“ Dear FATHER,—

You must let me come home next week to Christmas. I wanted to come last year, but you would not let me, and now I must come. I want you to write me immediately, and send it back by the driver, telling me I may come.

I am your dutiful son,

Who would think that a father ought to grant a request made in such a way as this? It is to be feared that Christians sometimes bring demands instead of requests to God.

I have mentioned now three cases in which the father might, without breaking his promise, refuse the requests of his boy. Where it would be injurious to him, unjust to others, or where the request is made in an improper manner. All promises of such a sort as this are universally considered as liable to these exceptions.

Our Saviour tells us, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will do it." This is common language; such as men address to men, and is to be understood exactly in the same way,-in just such a sense and with just such exceptions. The language means, if it is honestly used, not that every one of our requests will, in ordinary cases, have a real influence with the Creator, in regard to things entirely beyond our control. It must mean that, generally, all our proper requests will be granted. At the same time, it must be liable to the exceptions above stated, which apply in all similar cases. God must reserve the right to deny our requests, when they are made in an improper spirit, and when they ask what would injure us, or interfere with the general good. If any of you have, in accordance with the views I presented in the two preceding chapters, confessed your past sins, and chosen Jesus Christ for your friend, you will take great pleasure in bringing your requests to God. And you may, in doing this, sometimes pray for success in some enterprise when God sees that it is, on the whole, best that


you should fail. A man may ask that God will place him in some important station of influence or usefulness, when the eye that can see the whole discovers that the general good will be promoted by another arrangement. Thus, in many similar ways your prayers may sometimes come within the excepted cases, and then God will not grant them. These cases, however, you will generally avoid, and in a vast majority of instances your prayers will be heard. There is even among Christians a great deal of distrust of the power of prayer. Some think it exerts a good influence upon their own hearts to pray, and thus they continue the practice, without, however, having any very cordial belief that they are really listened to and granted as requests by the great Jehovah. Many persons imagine that efficacy in some such way as this. A man asks God to protect and bless him in his business. By offering the prayer every day, he is reminded of his dependence, he thinks of the necessity of his own industry and patient effort, and thus, through the influence of his prayer, the causes of prosperity are brought to operate more fully in his case, and prosperity



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But this is not granting a request. This natural, inevitable consequence of the petition, as an exercise of the man's mind, is not and cannot honestly be considered as God's granting the request. "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father, he shall do it." The Father shall do it. This is a promise that God shall do something which we ask him to do,—not that the natural effect of our asking will be favourable in its influence upon us.

There is another way in which it seems to me there is a great deal of want of faith in God in regard to the efficacy of prayer. It is often said that requests may not be granted in the precise form in which they were offered, but that they are always answered in some way or other. A mother, for instance, who has a son at sea, prays morning and evening for his safe return. Letter after letter comes, assuring her of his continued safety, until at last the sad news arrives that his ship has been dashed upon a rock or sunk in the waves. Now, can it be said that the mother's prayer was granted? Suppose that she was, by this afflicting providence, weaned from the world and prepared for heaven, and thus inconceivably benefited by the event. Was this, in any common or correct use of lan

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