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alone can teach, who has all " the residue of the Spirit," and who alone can teach us to pray, and pray aright. Ah! brethren beloved, I believe that there is such a thing at this moment as spiritual gift, and that in a natural man too; but what we want, is spiritual grace. There is a wondrous difference; the one belongs to those who are unregenerate, and dead in their sins, and the other belongs to the elect of God, who have received the true new covenant blessings, who are the workmanship of the Spirit-the effect of redeeming blood -one of the greatest boons that God's mercy can bestow. Ah! we are little aware how great a blessing it is for a man to know his deep poverty! It is (as dear Owen says) half there; before ever I pray, it is half way to the end. Let me ask what I will, let me beseech God for what I may, it is half way there to feel one's want, to have a deep sense of one's infirmity. It is a heavenly lesson; no one but God can teach it, as no one but God can supply it. Oh! be ye well assured of this, that the earnest longing of the soul after spiritual blessings, is one of the greatest mercies God can ever bestow. "Praying always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit."

Then there is one particular more; it is, "watching thereunto with all perseverance." I do not understand by this a mere watchful state of mind, though it involves it, it is true; but watchful to this peculiar end, to this peculiar object, to this peculiar purpose. "Watching thereunto with all perseverance."

It is hard here to differ from John Newton-that holy man, and that wise man ; be says

Satan trembles when he sees

The weakest saint upon his knees. "

But I do not know that. I think I see sometimes Satan's strongest power put forth, when a saint of God is on his knees; he is never more harassed, and never more assaulted, than in that very position. So much so, that it sometimes occasions him to ask whether he ought, or whether he ought not, to go on in his prayer. But this I know, Satan never hates any posture so much as when he sees a man on his knees. Oh! he hates to see a child of God on his knees.

But, observe, there is watching: and watching unto this very end. My dear hearers, there are many things that should lead us to watch. We should watch for all the circumstances of life, as so many occasions for prayer; all the circumstances of our bodies, of our lives, of our domestic positions, of our vocations in life, all our mental circumstances, personal temptations, and peculiar wants. All are so many reasons wherefore I should watch; and watch lest I should be discouraged; watch, lest I should make excuses for neglect, false excuses, untrue excuses, unsound excuses. Do you

know nothing of these in the morning, as you rise-these false excuses for neglects of God? Answer, as before God, and not as before a fallen creature, who has to lay his own mouth in the dust before Him. Watch we should, lest our excuses be found to be no excuses; lest our excuses be found to be unsound excuses, not real excuses. We should watch, lest we be discouraged and look down, rather than look up; lest there be more of Sinai, than of Calvary; more of slavish fears, than of the welcome of grace cheering our hearts and encouraging our souls. And, my dear hearers, this watching posture seems to imply a waiting: watching for effects, watching for answers, watching for the conclusion. It is the remark of dear Goodwin, on that text-"In the morning I will direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up"-"Instead of that," (says he,)" we look down, we look within, we look at circumstances." How! shall we not expect a blessing if we pray according to the will of God, and our prayer goes up in the name of Jesus, and it is indited by the Holy Ghost? As certainly you shall have an answer, as that there is a God to hear you. We ought then to be looking out for it, waiting for it; we ought to go on our way waiting for it, in God's own time waiting for it. Did not Abraham wait? Did not Moses wait? Did not David wait? They all waited long. So did old Simeon; he waited long before he had the Lord Jesus in his arms; but he found Him at last. So ought we to watch for the effect, and for the answer to our prayers; for certainly God" withholds no good thing," and can deny no good thing. He has given His Son, and with His Son "will He not give us all things," and the very best things? He cannot deny any thing really good. How! did the saints of God forget that when in the prison? "Peter therefore was kept in prison; but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him"-(Acts xii. 5). In answer to their prayer -I have no doubt of it-in answer to their prayer, he was delivered. He was brought forth; and at the first stroke on the door, instead of saying, This is Peter, they could not believe it, they thought it was "his angel." Ah! my dear hearers, how much there is of unbelief when we are surprised that God fulfils His own promises! He came to them unexpectedly, in a way they looked not for; and though He answered them, and fulfilled His promise to them, according to His own faithful Word, yet they were inclined to say, "It is his angel." How much there is of unbelief in our wondering when God fulfils His own precious promises!

And now a few words by way of conclusion. We have gone over the outline of our subject; we have seen generally the stress God's Word lays upon prayer; we have seen the amazing stress laid

upon it in this passage-" Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance." Watching before prayer, watching in prayer, and watching after prayer. Watching for occasions before I pray, watching over my state of mind during prayer, and watching for an answer after prayer. Now there are some few things for your prayerful and serious consideration.

In the first place, we see that the Christian soldier is not to rest in his armour, but in the God of his armour. Here he is armed; he has a shield, he has a sword, he has a breastplate, he has his sandals, he has a helmet, and he has a girdle; and yet he is not called upon to seek his safety in all these things, but having them all, he is commanded to pray that He, whose armour it is, may teach him how to use it, give him strength to use it, that He may give him power to put it on, and power to make use of it. My dear hearers, we are not to live on grace received; it is on Christ received that we are to live, not upon grace received. We are not to live upon what the Christian is, but upon what Christ has done, and upon what Christ has received; upon what He has promised to give, upon what He is to me, and upon what I am to Him; this is what the prayer of faith is peculiarly to be exercised upon, and it is this that forms its greatest element. If I could live upon my own stability; if I could live upon my own holy character; if I could live on my preparedness of spirit, which the Gospel brings wherever it is felt in the power of it, and in direct proportion as it is felt; if I could live on my shield; if I could live by my own sword, then these things would be so many hiders of Christ to me, so many interposers between me and Christ. For I would still glory in that truth of dear Romaine" Whatever I see in myself that is great and glorious, is a positive hindrance to living on Christ for that thing." We are to live in simple dependence upon the Lord Jesus, in poor dependence at the very last, at the very last gasp living upon Christ. The Holy Spirit sees it to be infinitely more safe to show us our spots, than to show to us our beauty; and therefore He takes us perpetually from ourselves to Jesus, that we may live on Jesus. If we had all the grace of the apostle Paul, all his meekness, all his humility, and all that likeness to Jesus that did so glorify God in him, we should still say, "Not I, but the grace of God that is in me”—" not I, but Christ that liveth in me"— "I can do all things," not with the armour, but " through Christ which strengtheneth me." May that be my prayer living and dying; and may that be your prayer.

It reminds us, too, that all our armour perpetually wants refitting; therefore we want to be especially drawn forth in prayer for it. It


which the truth of your Do you think you could

wants readjusting; it wants putting on afresh, clasping around us Our girdle soon gets loose; does it not? Ask conscience. Let me put you-or I will not say let me put you, let me be found with you under some circumstance, in sincerity in all things is put to the test. stand such a test as that when the apostle Peter stood forward with his life in his hand, at one period, and yet as a poor sinner went down to Antioch, and was reproved by the apostle Paul because he did not walk uprightly? Ah! beloved, our girdle soon becomes loose. Our breastplate, too, our holy character, our holy walking: how much cause there is for deep self-abasement before a holy God! Is there not? Ask conscience. The shield-how soon it drops! It did so in Abraham's hand. The helmet-how soon it is moved! It was so even in David's hand: "I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul." The sword-how soon it hangs down! The text that was to me in deep trouble as life from the dead (I read it to-day), it seems clean gone out of my hand. We want the continued movement of the Spirit upon our hearts, to sharpen that sword, to brighten our armour, to keep the helmet strongly on our heads, that He may refit us with it, that He may give us the arm to wield the sword, the arm lifted up. And, beloved, we want our sword to be perpetually kept from rusting itself, and that He may make it bright against God's enemies and against our enemies.


The text gives one vast encouragement to live, expecting great things. What is all this prayer for? why this “ praying always ?" why this supplication in the Spirit ?" why this "watching thereunto with all perseverance ?" Beloved, because prayer is a mighty agent; it has a mighty power. What a mean thing in the eyes of the world, to hear a saint of God pray! Perhaps there is no fluency, no beautiful language; a few disjointed sentences; a cry, a tear, or a longing desire. My dear brother, why, this is the eloquence that God delights in; it is the fruit of His own Spirit. Oh! the power that there is in prayer, we never shall know till we are out of the region of prayer. As I draw near to God in the act of prayer; as I am led by the Spirit to draw near to God, with all my weakness, feebleness, nothingness, ignorance, fickleness and unrighteousness; as I draw near to God in Christ in my prayer, He draws near to me with all His fulness, with all His greatness, with all His mercy, with all His love, with all His tenderness, with all His pity. He draws near to me; 1 engage Him, as it were, on my side in prayer. We know that if a client puts his cause into the hand of his legal adviser, he is no longer answerable for it; he is answerable for the effect of it, so far as gaining it or losing it, and for the expense of it, but he is no

longer answerable for the mode of his defence, for he has put his cause into the hands of his legal adviser. So, if I put my cause into the hands of God, it is no longer my cause, but His cause. See the ground work of prayer, as 1 put my cause into the hand of Omniscience, into the hand of Omnipotence, into the hand of my God in Christ, my God, "God with us," and my portion; and as I draw near to Him, I engage His ear, His heart, His power, and His love. Do you not see, then, what encouragements there are in prayer, and what wondrous encouragements for large expectations.

But I must hasten to my concluding remarks. Oh! how you and I ought to value this wondrous boon that has been given to us, a throne of grace in the midst of such world! All our happiness is there; and if you and I are not walking in the spirit of prayer, nothing can make us happy; and I would say, that if we are walking with God in the spirit of prayer, nothing can make us miserable. This gives us power over our enemies. Amalek could prevail, and he did prevail as long as Moses' hands were hanging down; but when his hands were lifted up, then Israel prevailed. Oh! beware of whatever weakens prayer. Sin will do it; the "men of Ai” will prevail, if the golden wedge be under ground. Beware of worldly entanglement; beware of worldly absorption. Oh! how many there are, as I before said, that are so dried up with the continued press of engagements! Is it needful? I would ask that question. If needful, God can relieve it; but if you make it your own trial through constant want of more, the secret love of money, the pride that besets you with regard to your children or any other object, if thus you dry up yourself, do not wonder if the spirit of prayer is checked in your soul. Beware of whatever weakens prayer. Seek, above all things, a praying spirit. You have all encouragement for true prayer; you have the " groaning of the Spirit" within you, you have the Advocate with the Father, He gives you His heart, He gives you His ear. Expect, then, great things from Him, and ye shall have a great blessing though surrounded by all the hosts of darkness and all the principalities and powers of evil.

May the Lord own, and bless, and pardon, for Christ's sake.

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