C. H. Spurgeon Forty Addresses



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Only A Prayer Meeting
By

C. H. Spurgeon

Forty Addresses

At

Metropolitan Tabernacle



And

Other Prayer-Meetings.

Contents

Contents ......................................................................................................................................... 2

Prefatory Note. ............................................................................................................................... 4
I. Addresses on Prayer and Prayer-Meetings ................................................................................. 4

1 “Only a Prayer Meeting............................................................................................................. 4



2 Prayer-Meetings;- As They Were, And As They Should Be ........................................ 10

3 Business Prayers. .................................................................................................................... 13

4 God's Willingness To Bless Saints And Sinners...................................................................... 16

5 Confession of Sin ...................................................................................................................... 21

6 “I Pray You fasten Your Grips. ............................................................................................... 26
II. Expositions of Scripture .......................................................................................................... 31

7 The First Public Worship In The World. Genesis 4:26........................................................... 31

8 Concerning The Dropping Of Honeycombs. Genesis 15:1........................................................ 35

9 “Do Not Sin Against The Child. Genesis 42:22.................................................................... 37

10 Fighting And Praying. Exodus 17:8, 9. ............................................................................... 42

I. To Begin With, We Want Much Of The Joshua-Service. .................................................... 43

II. The Second Part Of The Subject Is Full Of Interest. It Is The Moses-Service, ................ 45

11 Another Spiritual Honey-Drop. Exodus 33:14 ................................................................... 48

12 The Three Thens of Leviticus 26. ................................................................................ 50

13 An Address For Sad Times. Psalm 61:2................................................................................. 54

14 Honey Out Of The Rock. Psalm 81:16............................................................................. 59

15 The Prevalence Of Evil - An Argument In Prayer. Psalm 119:126........................................ 61

16 The Three Thens Of Isaiah's Temple Vision. Isaiah 6:1-8................................................ 65

17 Pruning The Vines. John 15:2. ............................................................................................... 69

18 “Write The Name Of Jesus On All Your Crosses. John 19:19. ................................................ 72

19 Pentecost And Whitsuntide. Acts 2:1-6. ................................................................................. 75

20 The Pastor's Need Of The People's Prayers. 2 Cor. 1:11. ............................................................ 79

21 Why We Have Not. James 4:2. .............................................................................................. 82
III. Incidents And Illustrations. .................................................................................................. 88

22 An Interruption Improved ............................................................................................................................... 90

23 Fishing ..................................................................................................................................... 90

24 “Trespassers, Beware! ............................................................................................................ 94

25 The Silent Steam-Roller. ....................................................................................................... 96

26 The Steam-Roller And The Stone-Roller.............................................................................. 98

27 Two Common Dangers. ......................................................................................................... 101

28 A Little Sermon From The Painter's Brazier. ........................................................................ 104

29 A Life-Belt For Daily Use. ................................................................................................... 106

30 The Eye, An Emblem Of Faith............................................................................................ 109

31 “Nothing To Say.................................................................................................................... 112

32 Fasting And Backsliding. ........................................................................................................ 115
IV. Miscellaneous Addresses. .................................................................................................... 116

33 Preaching To Sinners. ............................................................................................................. 116

34 A Full Christ For Empty Sinners And Saints........................................................................... 118

35 “Steal Away To Jesus. ....................................................................................................... 124

36 An Address To Sunday-School Teachers............................................................................. 127

37 Fellowship With God's Greatness.......................................................................................... 129

38 Timely Cautions...................................................................................................................... 133

39 “Tempted Of The Devil......................................................................................................... 137

40 “We Shall Get Home; We Shall Get Home. .............................................................. 141

C. H. Spurgeon's Hymn For An Early Morning Prayer-Meeting................................................... 144
Prefatory Note.
Mr. Spurgeon long ago had the intention of collecting into a volume a selection from the Addresses delivered by him at the Metropolitan Tabernacle and other Prayer-meetings, but the opportunity of carrying out that idea never came to him. It is hoped that the publication of the forty Addresses here gathered together will be helpful to others who have the responsibility of conducting Prayer-meetings, as well as interesting to readers in general because of the variety of subjects discussed in them.
In his first volume of Lectures to my Students, when speaking upon The Faculty of Impromptu Speech MR. SPURGEON said:- Ever since I have been in London, in order to get into the habit of speaking extemporaneously, I have never studied or prepared anything for the Monday evening Prayer-meeting. I have all along selected that occasion as the opportunity for offhand exhortation; but you will observe that I do not, at such times, select difficult expository topics, or abstruse themes, but restrict myself to simple homely talk about the elements of our faith. When standing up, on such occasions, one's mind makes a review, and enquires, 'What subject has already taken up my thought during the day? What have I met with in my reading during the past week? What is most laid upon my heart at this hour? What is suggested by the hymns or the prayers?'
One of the Addresses in this volume - the exposition of Psalm Ixxxi. 16 - was delivered at a Prayer-meeting in New Park Street Chapel in 1857; but most of them were given in the Metropolitan Tabernacle, at those wonderful Monday-evening gatherings, concerning which MR. SPURGEON once wrote in The Sword and the Trowel :- A Wesleyan minister lately said that he was never more surprised in his life than when he dropped into the Tabernacle, and found the ground-floor and part of the gallery filled at a Prayer-meeting. He believed that such a thing was almost without a parallel in London, and that it accounted for the success of the ministry. We concur in his impartial judgment. Will not all the churches try the power of prayer?
The second chapter in this book is the only one that was not delivered as an address; but it so well sets forth Mr. Spurgeon’s opinions of what Prayer-meetings should be, that it is included in order to make the volume as complete as possible. Other of Mr.Spurgeon’s Prayer-meeting addresses have been published in his volumes entitled The Bible and the Newspaper, Be of Good Cheer, Till He come, and The Soul-Winner.
I. Addresses on Prayer and Prayer-Meetings

Only a Prayer Meeting


What a company we have here to-night! It fills my heart with gladness, and my eyes with tears of joy, to see so many hundreds of persons gathered together at what is sometimes wickedly described as only a prayer-meeting. It is good for us to draw nigh unto God in prayer, and specially good to make up a great congregation for such a purpose. We have attended little prayer-meetings of four or five, and we have been glad to be there, for we had the promise of our Lord's presence; but our minds are grieved to see so little attention given to united prayer by many of our churches. We have longed to see great numbers of God's people coming up to pray, and we now enjoy this sight. Let us praise God that it is so. How could we expect a blessing if we were too idle to ask for it? How could we look for a Pentecost if we never met with one accord, in one place, to wait upon the Lord? Brethren, we shall never see much change for the better in our churches in general till the prayer-meeting occupies a higher place in the esteem of Christians. To mix it up with the week-night lecture, and really make an end of it, is a sad sign of declension. I wonder some two or three earnest souls in such churches do not band themselves together to restore the meeting for prayer, and bind themselves with a pledge to keep it up whether the minister will come to it or not. But now that we have come together, how shall we pray? Let us not degenerate into formality, or we shall be dead while we think we live. Let us not waver through unbelief, or we shall pray in vain. The Lord saith to His Church, Open thy mouth, wide, and I will fill it. Oh, for great faith with which to offer great prayers! We have been mingling praise and prayer together as a delicious compound of spices, fit to be presented upon the altar of incense through Christ our Lord; may we not, at this time, offer some special farreaching petition? It is suggested to me that we pray for a true and genuine revival of religion throughout the world. I am glad of any signs of life, even if they should be feverish and transient, and I am slow to judge any well-intended movement; but yet I am very fearful that many so-called revivals have, in the long run, wrought more harm than good. Places which have had the most of religious excitement are frequently the most difficult to move. Men's minds have been baked hard in the oven of fanaticism. A species of religious gambling has fascinated many men, and given them a distaste for the sober business of true godliness. But if I would nail down counterfeits upon the counter, I do not therefore undervalue true gold. Far from it. It is to be desired, beyond measure, that the Lord would send a real and lasting revival of spiritual life. We need a work of the Holy Ghost of a supernatural kind, putting power into the preaching of the Word, inspiring all believers with heavenly energy, and solemnly affecting the hearts of the careless, so that they may turn to God, and live. We would not be drunk with the wine of carnal excitement, but we would be filled with the Spirit; we would not leap upon the altar, and shout and cry, O Baal, hear us! but we would behold the fire descending from Heaven in answer to the effectual fervent prayers of righteous men. Can we not entreat the Lord our God to make bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the people in this day of declension and vanity?
We want a revival of old-fashioned doctrine. Our fear is that, if modern thought proceeds much further, the fashion of our religion will be as much Mohammedan as Christian; in fact, it will be more like infidelity than either. A converted Jew, staying in London, went into a dissenting chapel which I could mention; and when he returned to the friend with whom he was staying, he enquired what the religion of the place could be, for he had heard nothing of what he had received as the Christian faith. The doctrines which are distinctive of the New Testament may not be actually denied in set terms, but they are spirited away; familiar phrases are used, but a new sense is attached to them.
Certain modern preachers talk much of Christ, and yet reject Christianity. Under cover of extolling the Teacher, they reject His teaching for theories more in accord with the spirit of the age. At first, Calvinism was too harsh, then Evangelical doctrines became too antiquated, and now the Scriptures themselves must bow to man's alteration and improvement. There is plenty of preaching, in the present day, in which no mention is made of the depravity of human nature, the work of the Holy Ghost, the blood of atonement, or the punishment of sin. The Deity of Christ is not so often assailed, but the Gospel which He gave us, through His own teaching and that of the apostles, is questioned, criticized, and set aside. One of the great Missionary Societies actually informs us, by one of its writers, that it does not send out missionaries to save the heathen from the wrath to come, but to prepare them for the higher realm which awaits them beyond the river of death. I confess that I have better hopes for the future of the heathen than for the state of those who thus write concerning them. The heathen will derive but small advantage from the Gospel which such triflers with the Scriptures are likely to carry them. I know not a single doctrine which is not at this hour studiously undermined by those who ought to be its defenders; there is not a truth that is precious to the soul which is not now denied by those whose profession it is to proclaim it. The times are out of joint, and many are hoping to make them more and more so. To me, it is clear that we need a revival of old-fashioned Gospel preaching like that of Whitefield and Wesley; to me, preferably that of Whitefield. We need to believe: the Scriptures must be made the infallible foundation of all teaching; the ruin, redemption, and regeneration of mankind must be set forth in unmistakable terms, and that right speedily, or faith will be more rare than gold of Ophir. We must demand from our teachers that they give us a Thus saith the Lord; for, at this time, they give us their own imaginations. To-day, the Word of the Lord in the Book of Jeremiah is true: Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord. They say still unto them that despise Me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. (Jer. xxiii. 16, 17.)
Beware of those who say that there is no hell, and who declare new ways to Heaven. May the Lord have mercy upon them! Urgently do we need a revival of personal godliness. This is, indeed, the secret of church prosperity. When individuals fall from their steadfastness, the church is tossed to and fro; when personal faith is steadfast, the church abides true to her Lord. We have in and around our own denomination many true-hearted servants of Christ, who are hardly put to it to know what to do. Their loyalty to their Lord and to His truth is greater than their love to sect or party, and they know not whether to abide in their present position, and fight out the great question, or to lift the old banner, and quit their apostatizing associates. Do whichever they may, it is upon the truly godly and spiritual that the future of religion depends in the hand of God. Oh, for more truly holy men, quickened and filled with the Holy Spirit, consecrated to the Lord, and sanctified by His truth! What can be accomplished by worldly professors, theatre-going churchmembers, semi-infidel teachers, and philosophical preachers? Nothing but ruin can follow from a preponderance of these. Their presence is grievous to God, and disastrous to His people. Brethren, we must each one live if the church is to be alive; we must live unto God if we expect to see the pleasure of the Lord prospering in our hands. Sanctified men are the necessity of every age, for they are the salt of society, and the saviours of the race. The Lord has made a man more precious than a wedge of gold,- I mean, a decided, instructed, bold, unswerving man of God. We deeply want a revival of domestic religion. We have been saddened at the terrible accounts of the impurity of this city; but, doubtless, one cause of this state of things is the neglect of household religion among Christians, and the entire absence of common decency in many of the lodgings of the poor. The Christian family was the bulwark of goodness in the days of the Puritans; but, in these evil times, hundreds of families of so-called Christians have no family worship, no restraint upon growing sons, and no wholesome instruction or discipline. See how the families of many professors are as dressy, as gay, as godless as the children of the non-religious! How can we hope to see the Kingdom of our Lord advance when His own disciples do not teach His Gospel to their own sons and daughters? Have we not need to repeat the lament of Jeremiah? Even the sea monsters draw out the breast, they give suck to their young ones: the daughter of my people is become cruel, like the ostriches in the wilderness. How different this is from the father of the faithful, of whom the Lord said, I know Abraham, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord!
The surest way to promote godliness abroad is to labour for it at home. The shortest method for the overthrow of priestcraft is for every man to be the priest in his own house, and to warn his sons against deceitful men. May our dear children be so well taught from infancy that they may not only escape the common vices of the age, but grow up to become patterns of holiness! This is a great difficulty to our poorer friends in this loathsome city, which is becoming as polluted as heathendom. A good sister, who lives close to this house of prayer, came up from a country town with her little boy, and she was horrified before long to hear him use profane language, being evidently unaware of its meaning. He had picked it up in the street close to his mother's door.
Where are the children of working-folks to run if they are not able to walk the streets? All around us, vice has become so daring that a blind man may almost be envied; but even he has ears, and will, therefore, be vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked. Good people say to me, What are we to do?I wish those who live in the breezy country village would stop there, and not come into our close streets, and lanes, and courts, which reek with blasphemy and dirty talk. Why do working-men so often think it necessary, in their ordinary conversation, to use such abominable expressions, which have no useful meaning, and are simply disgusting? If ever Christian people should be pure, and should watch over their children with a holy jealousy, now is the time, and this is a worthy subject for daily prayer.
I would sooner have the doctrines of grace revived, individual piety deepened, and family religion increased, than I would watch a frantic crowd parading the street with noisy music, and harsh clamour. I see no special virtue in drums and tambourines. Make what noise you will to attract the careless if you afterwards give them sound instruction in the truth, and make them to know the meaning of the Word of the Lord; but if it be mere stir, and song, and swagger, what is the good of it? If Gospel truth is not taught, your work will be a building of wood, hay, and stubble, soon to be consumed. Quick building is seldom permanent. Gold, silver, and precious stones are scarce material, not easily found; but then they endure the fire. What is the use of religion which comes up in a night, and perishes as soon? Ah, me! what empty bragging we have heard! The thing was done, but then it was never worth doing; soon things were as if it never had been done; and, moreover, this sham way of doing it made it all the harder toil for the real worker.
O Christian men and women, be thorough in what you do, and know, and teach! Hold truth as with an iron grip; let your families be trained in the fear of God, and be yourselves holiness unto the Lord; so shall you stand like rocks amid the surging waves of error and ungodliness which rage around you. We want, also, more and more, a revival of vigorous consecrated strength. I have pleaded for true piety; I now beg for one of the highest results of it. We need saints. It may be that all cannot attain unto the first three (1 Chr. 11:21); but we cannot do without champions.
We need gracious minds trained to a high form of spiritual life by much converse with God in solitude. These are the standard-bearers of the army: each one is a king's son. There is an air about them, humble as they are, as of men who breathe a purer atmosphere. Such was Abraham, who, by his communion with God, acquired a more than royal bearing. The king of Sodom shrinks into insignificance in the presence of the high-minded sheik who will not take of his lawful spoils from a thread to a shoe-latchet, lest the heathen king should say, I have made Abraham rich. Saints acquire nobility from their constant resort to the place where the Lord meets with them. There, also, they acquire that power in prayer which we so greatly need. Oh, that we had more men like John Knox, whose prayers were more terrible to Queen Mary than ten thousand men! Oh, that we had more Elijahs, by whose faith the windows of Heaven should be shut or opened! This power comes not by a sudden effort; it is the outcome of a life devoted to the God of Israel. If our life is all in public, it will be a frothy, vapoury, ineffectual existence; but if we hold high converse with God in secret, we shall be mighty for good. The Puritans were abundant in meditation and prayer; and there were giants on the earth in those days. He that is a prince with God will take high rank with men, after the true measure of nobility. May the Lord send us many self-contained Christians, whose godliness leans on God for itself, and is not a second-hand affair! We see too many Christian people depending upon one another, like houses run up by jerry-builders, which are so slenderly built that, if you were to pull down the last one in the row, they would all follow. Beware of being a lean-to; endeavour to rest on your own walls of real faith in the Lord Jesus. I tremble for a church whose continuance depends upon the talent and cleverness of one man. If he is removed, the whole thing will collapse: this is a wretched business. May none of us fall into a mean, poverty-stricken dependence on man! We want among us believers like those solid, substantial family mansions which stand from generation to generation as landmarks of the country; no lath-and-plaster fabrics, but edifices solidly constructed to bear all weathers, and defy time itself. Given a host of men who are steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, and then the glory of God's grace will be clearly manifested, not only in them, but in those round about them. The Lord send us a revival of consecrated strength, and heavenly energy! May the weakest among us be as David, and David as the angel of the Lord!
As for you who are not converted to God, many of you will be caught in the great wave of blessing, if God shall cause it to break over us. When saints live unto God, sinners are converted to God. I was converted, said one, not by hearing a sermon, but by seeing one. How was that? he was asked. My next-door neighbour was the only man in the street who went to a place of worship; and, as I saw him go out as regularly as clockwork, I said to myself, 'That man regards the Sabbath, and the God of the Sabbath, and I do not.' By-and-by, I went into his house, and I saw that comfort and order reigned in it, while my room was wretched. I saw how his wife and children dwelt in love, and I said to myself, 'This home is happy because the father fears God.' I saw my neighbour calm in trouble, and patient under persecution. I knew him to be upright, true, and kind, and I said to myself, ' I will find out this man's secret,' and thus I was converted. Preach by your hands if you cannot preach by your tongues. When our church-members show the fruits of true godliness, we shall soon have enquiries for the tree which bears such a crop.
Dear friends, at our prayer-meetings of late, our Lord has very graciously spoken to one and another of the unconverted among us. What a mercy that they were so far interested as to come! We have not said very much to them, but we have been praying for them; and we have talked of the joys of our holy faith, and one after another they have quietly given their hearts to God while in the prayer-meeting. I feel very glad about it; it was all that we needed to make these meetings the gate of Heaven. Such conversions are specially beautiful, they are so altogether of the Lord, and are so much the result of His working by the whole church, that I am doubly delighted with them. Oh, that every gathering of faithful men might be a lure to attract others to Jesus! May many souls fly to Him because they see others speeding in that direction! Why not? The coming together of the saints is the first part of Pentecost, and the ingathering of sinners is the second. It began with only a prayer-meeting, but it ended with a grand baptism of thousands of converts. Oh, that the prayers of believers may act as loadstones to sinners!
There are a few among us who are not saved, and but a few. I do not believe they will long escape the saving influence which floods these assemblies. We have made a holy ring around certain of them; and they must soon yield to our importunity, for we are pleading with God as well as with them. Their wives are praying for them, their brothers and sisters are praying for them, and others are in the devout confederacy; therefore they must be brought in. Oh, that they would come at once! Why this reluctance to be blessed? Why this hesitation to be saved? Lord, we turn from these poor foolish procrastinators to Thyself, and we plead for them with Thine all-wise and gracious Spirit! Lord, turn them, and they shall be turned! By their conversion, prove that a true revival has commenced tonight! Let it spread through all our households, and then run from church to church till the whole of Christendom shall be ablaze with the Heaven descended fire! Let us pray.
Prayer-Meetings;-

As They Were, And As They Should Be.
Among the faults, which have largely disappeared from prayer-meetings as they used to be conducted in my early days, these were the principal ones. First, the excessive length of the prayers. A brother would fix himself against the table-pew, and pray for twenty minutes or half-an hour, and then conclude by asking forgiveness for his shortcomings,-a petition which was hardly sanctioned by those who had undergone the penance of endeavouring to join in his long-winded discourse. A good cure for this evil is for the minister judiciously to admonish the brother to study brevity; and if this avail not, to jog his elbow when the people are getting weary. This fault, which is the ruin of all fervency, ought to be extirpated by all means, even at the expense of the personal feelings of the offender.
Cant phrases were another evil. We would not rush into Thy presence as the unthinking horse into the battle. As if horses ever did think, and as if it were not better to exhibit the spirit and energy of the horse rather than the sluggishness and stupidity of the ass. As the verse from which we imagine this fine sentence to be derived has more to do with sinning than with praying, we are glad that the phrase is on its last legs. Go from heart to heart as oil from vessel to vessel. This is probably a quotation from the nursery romance of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, but as destitute of sense, Scripture, and poetry as ever sentence could be conceived to be. We are not aware that oil runs from one vessel to another in any very mysterious or wonderful manner; it is true it is rather slow in coming out, and is therefore an apt symbol of some people's earnestness; but surely it would be better to have the grace direct from Heaven than to have it out of another vessel,-a Popish idea which the metaphor seems to insinuate, if indeed it has any meaning at all.
A very favourite description of the suppliant was, Thy poor unworthy dust-an epithet generally applied to themselves by the proudest men in the congregation, and not seldom by the most monied and grovelling, in which case the last two words are not so very inappropriate. We have heard of a good man who, in pleading for his children and grandchildren, was so completely beclouded in the blinding influence of this expression, that he exclaimed, O Lord, save Thy dust, and Thy dust's dust, and Thy dust's dust's dust! When Abraham said, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes, the utterance was forcible and deeply expressive; but in its misquoted, perverted, and abused form, the sooner it is consigned to its own element, the better. Very many other perversions of Scripture, uncouth similes, and ridiculous metaphors, will recall themselves to the reader; we have neither time nor patience to recapitulate them; they are a sort of spiritual slang, the offspring of unholy ignorance, unmanly imitation, or graceless hypocrisy; they are at once a dishonour to those who constantly repeat them, and an intolerable nuisance to those whose ears are jaded with them. They have had the most baneful effects upon our prayer-meetings, and we rejoice to assist in bringing them to their deserved and ignoble end.
Another evil was, mistaking preaching for prayer. The friends who were reputed to be gifted indulged themselves in public prayer with a review of their own experience, a recapitulation of their creed, an occasional running commentary upon a chapter or Psalm, or even a criticism upon the Pastor and his sermons. It was too often quite forgotten that the brother was addressing the Divine Majesty, before whose wisdom a display of our knowledge is impertinence, and before whose glory an attempt at swelling words and pompous periods is little short of profanity; the harangue was evidently intended for man rather than God, and on some occasions did not contain a single petition from beginning to end. We hope that good men are leaving this unhallowed practice, and are beginning to see that sermons and doctrinal disquisitions are miserable substitutes for earnest wrestling prayers, when our place is before the mercy-seat, and our engagement is intercession with the Most High. Monotonous repetition frequently occurred, and is not yet extinct. Christian men, who object to forms of prayer, will nevertheless use the same words, the same sentences, the identical address at the commencement, and the exact ascriptions at the conclusion. We have known some brethren's prayers by heart, so that we could calculate within a few seconds when they would conclude. Now this cometh of evil. All that can be said against the prayers of the Church of England, which were many of them composed by eminent Christians, and are, some of them, as beautiful as they are Scriptural, must apply with tenfold force to those dreary compositions which have little virtue left, since their extempore character is clearly disproved. Oh, for warm hearts, burning with red-hot desires which make a channel from the lip in glowing words; then, indeed, this complaint would never be made,- What is the use of my going to the prayer-meeting, when I know all that will be said if So-and-so is called on? This is not an uncommon excuse for staying away; and, really, while flesh is weak, it is not so very unreasonable a plea; we have heard far worse apologies for greater offences. If our (so-called) praying men drive the people away by their constant repetitions, one-half at least of the fault lies at their door.
Most of these diseases, we trust, are finding their cure; but the man would be hardy, not to say fool hardy, who should affirm that there is now no room for further improvement. Advance must still be our motto, and in the matter of the prayer-meeting it will be found most suitable. Our brethren will excuse our offering them advice, and must take it only for what it is worth; but having to superintend a large church, and to conduct a prayer-meeting which scarcely ever numbers less than from a thousand to twelve hundred attendants, we will simply give our own notions as to the most efficient method of promoting and sustaining these holy gatherings.
1. Let the minister himself set a very high value upon this means of grace. Let him frequently speak of it as being dear to his own heart; and let him prove his words by throwing all his vigour into it, being absent as seldom as possible, and doing all in his power to give an interest to the meeting. If our pastors set the ill example of coming in late, of frequently staying away, or conducting the engagements in a drowsy, formal way, we shall soon see our people despising the exercise, and forsaking the assembling of themselves together. A warm-hearted address of ten minutes, with a few lively words interposed between the prayers, will do much, with God's blessing, to foster a love tor the prayer-meeting.
2. Let the brethren labour after brevity. If each person will offer the petition most laid upon his heart by the Holy Spirit, and then make room for another, the evening will be far more profitable, and the prayers incomparably more fervent than if each brother ran round the whole circle of petition without dwelling upon any one point. Compare the subjects of prayer to so many nails; it will be better for a petitioner to drive one nail home with repeated blows, than to deal one ineffectual tap to them one after another. Let as many as possible take part in the utterance of the church's desires; the change of voice will prevent weariness, and the variety of subjects will excite attention. Better to have six pleading earnestly, than two drowsily; far better for the whole meeting that the many wants should be represented experimentally by many intercessors, than formally by two or three. As a general rule, meetings in which no prayer exceeds ten minutes, and the most are under five, will exhibit the most fervour and life; in fact, length is a deathblow to earnestness, and brevity is an assistant to zeal. When we have had ten prayers in the hour, varied with the singing of single verses, we have far oftener been in the Spirit, than when only four persons have engaged in supplication. This is an observation confirmed by the opinion of our fellow-worshippers; it might not hold good in all cases, but it is so with us, and therefore we thus witness.
3. Persuade all the brethren to pray aloud. If the younger and less-instructed members shrink from the privilege, tell them they are not to speak to man, but to God. Assure them that it does us all good to hear their groans and ineffectual attempts at utterance. For our own part, a few breakdowns generally come very sweetly home; and, awakening our sympathies, constrain us to aid the brother by our more earnest wrestlings. It gives a reality and life to the whole matter, to hear those trembling lips utter thanks for new life just received, and to hear that choking voice confessing the sin from which it has just escaped. The cries of the lambs must mingle with the bleating of the sheep, or the flock will lack much of its natural music. As Mr. Beecher well says, Humble prayers, timid prayers, half-inaudible prayers, the utterances of uncultured lips, may cut a poor figure as lecture-room literature; but are they to be scornfully disdained? If a child may not talk at all till it can speak fluent English, will it ever learn to speak well? There should be a process of education going on continually, by which all the members of the church shall be able to contribute of their experiences and gifts; and in such a course of development, the first hesitating, stumbling, ungrammatical prayer of a confused Christian may be worth more to the church than the best prayer of the most eloquent pastor. Every man, feeling that he is to take part in the meeting at some time or other, will become at once interested, and from interest may advance to love. Some of those who have now the best gifts of utterance, had few enough when they began.
4. Encourage the attendants to send in special requests for prayer as often as they feel constrained to do so. These little scraps of paper, in themselves most truly prayers, may be used as kindling to the fire in the whole assembly.
5. Suffer neither hymn, nor chapter, nor address, to supplant prayer. We remember hearing seven verses of a hymn, ending with He hates to put away, until we lost all relish for the service, and have hardly been reconciled to the hymn ever since. Remember that we meet for prayer; and let it be prayer; and, oh, that it may be that genuine, familiar converse with God which shall drive out the formality and pomposity which so much mar our public supplications!
6. It is not at all amiss to let two or even three competent brethren succeed each other without a pause, but this must be done judiciously; and if one of the three should become prolix, let the pause come in as soon as he has finished. Sing only one verse, or at the most two, between the prayers, and let those be such as shall not distract the mind from the subject by being alien from the spirit of the meeting. Why need to sing about the temptations of Satan just after an earnest prayer for the conversion of sinners; and when a brother has just had joyous fellowship with Christ in intercession, why drag him down by singing, ’Tis a point I long to know? Of course, we ought to have said all manner of good things about the necessity of the Holy Spirit; but upon that matter we are all agreed, knowing right well that all must be in vain without His presence. Our object has rather been to gather out the stones from the way than to speak of that Divine life which alone can enable us to run therein.
Business Prayers.
Dear Friends,- I think that many of these Monday evening meetings for prayer will never be forgotten by us who have been privileged to be present at them. Perhaps, even throughout eternity, we shall gratefully recall the hallowed hours that we have spent here around the throne of grace. I know that, very often, as I have gone home, I have felt that the spirit of prayer has been so manifestly poured out in our midst that we have been carried right up to the gates of Heaven on the wings of believing supplication, and the sacred anointing which we have received from the Holy Spirit's gracious influences has left a blessed perfume and holy savour upon us long after we have left the assembly.
If we are to receive such a blessing to-night, and whenever we meet together in the Name of Jesus, for prayer and praise, we must sincerely desire it, confidently expect it, and go straight to God and ask for it. There is no need for us to go beating about the bush, and not telling the Lord distinctly what it is that we crave at His hands. Nor will it be seemly for us to make any attempts to use fine language; but let us ask God, in the simplest and most direct manner, for just the things that we want for ourselves, or for others, or for His cause and Kingdom. Then let us remember our Lord's words, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them; and, at the close of the meeting, let us go on our way rejoicing, and thankful for what we have received.
I believe in business prayers,-I mean, prayers in which you take to God one of the many precious promises which He has given us in His Word, and expect it to be fulfilled as certainly as we look for the money to be given to us when we go to the bank to cash a cheque or a note. We should not think of going there, lolling over the counter, chatting with the clerks upon every conceivable subject except the one thing for which we had gone to the bank, and then coming away without the coin we needed; but we should lay before the clerk the promise to pay the bearer a certain sum, tell him in what form we wished to take the amount, count the cash after him, and then go our way to attend to other business. That is just an illustration of the method in which we should draw supplies from the Bank of Heaven. We should seek out the promise which applies to that particular case, plead it before the Lord in faith, expect to have the blessing to which it relates; and then, having received it, let us proceed to the next duty devolving upon us.
There are many requests, which have been sent to us for presentation this evening. Among them is one from a venerable clergyman, who has often entreated us to remember him in prayer, and who still suffers from such deep depression of spirit that he is unable satisfactorily to discharge the duties of his sacred office. Then there are letters from friends who are in various stages of spiritual sickness, and who desire us to bring their cases before the Lord in believing and sympathetic supplication. We will pray that the mental affliction of this dear servant of Christ may be removed in God's own time, and that the soul maladies of these other tried ones may also be cured by the great Physician. Verily, there is a God that heareth prayer. Do any of you doubt it? If so, you will not receive answers to your petitions, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. I must, however, by way of warning, just mention that I have known some persons who, with altogether wrong motives, have tried to use for very improper purposes the fact that God hears prayer. They have set their hearts on something which they fancy that they want; and although they cannot reasonably expect that God will do what they ask, because there is no real need that it should be done, they keep on praying, and are sorely disappointed because they are not heard. If you were to say to your child, I will give you anything you like to ask for, you certainly would not be so unkind as to let him have a dose of prussic acid for breakfast, or a razor to cut his throat with, however, earnestly he might plead for such things. In your promise, there is always implied the natural reservation that, if your boy asks foolishly, you will refuse to give him what he asks.
If God had ever given to me absolute power in player, He would practically have put the reins of universe into my hands, and I should very soon want to kneel down, and cry, O Lord, wilt Thou not take away from me such a dangerous weapon? If it is left in my hands, I fear that I shall be very likely to use it for that which is directly opposed to my own best interests and to Thy glory. We are not to take the place of God, or to make a god of ourselves. God will attend to the cry of His children, but He will be their Father, and will only comply with their petitions if He sees that they are right and proper.
When you tell your child that you will give him anything he asks for, it is clearly understood that his requests must be reasonable if they are to be granted. You do not mean that your boy is to be master of the family, and that his will is to rule the whole household; but you mean that you will give him anything that a loving and obedient child ought to ask for, and that his prayer must be rational, and the right kind of petition to come from the mouth of your son.
God has never given an absolutely unconditional promise to hear every prayer that may be presented to Him; but, side by side with the promise, He has put other things which qualify and explain it. For instance, in one of our Lord's last addresses to His disciples, He said, If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and He teaches us how to pray, and what to pray for.
David knew enough of the will of God to be able to say, Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Do not imagine that the Lord will give you the desires of your heart unless first you delight in Him. If a man really, in his inmost soul, does delight in the Lord, his mind and God's mind will be in harmony, and he will ask in prayer what God will be able and willing to grant. If his delight is in God Himself, and not merely in God's gifts, he will say, Bless His dear Name, let Him do what He will with me, I will still be satisfied, and will praise Him both for what He bestows and what He withholds. If you delight more in God's gifts than in God Himself, you are practically setting up another god above Him, and this you must never do. Even when a man truly loves the Lord Jesus Christ, there may be within Him something which is very like idolatry. There is even a danger of loving some things which are associated with Christ as much as we love Christ Himself; and we must be on the watch against such a feeling as that. Love Him, dear friends, even when you do not realize His presence; love Him even when you do not feel His love; if you cannot walk in the light of His countenance, hide beneath the shadow of His wings; and, under all circumstances, let it be your joy still to say, He is worthy to be praised, He is ever to be blessed, whatever He does with me. Ask your Lord so to teach you by His gracious Spirit that no prayer shall come from your lips, and that no desire shall be formed in your heart, except that which is in accordance with His holy will.
It would be wise for you to pray in this fashion, Lord, do not take the least notice of any petition of mine if I ask for anything that is not for Thy glory and for my own and others' good! The very best of us are often only like sick people, and you know how they get strange notions into their heads, and talk all manner of nonsense, and have a lot of curious and foolish whims and fancies. I would like to say to you now that, if I have you for my nurse in any illness that may come upon me, and I then make strange and unreasonable requests, be so good as to thwart me when I want that which would do me harm. Be so kind as to be cruel to me sometimes. Understand that this proviso of mine shall override all the petitions that I may put up when I am suffering from fever. Do not mind what I say then; do not give heed to me when I talk nonsense; but let me have only what I ask for when I am in my right senses, when I am my inmost, truest, healthiest self. Ask my physician what you should do, and believe that my wish is for you to do with me and for me exactly as he directs.
It seems to me that such prayers as these which we are asked to present to-night may be offered. I cannot say as much as that for all the requests that I receive, for some of them are foolish, if not worse than that. When a person, who is in want of money, prays to God that I may give him a hundred pounds, I can assure him that I shall not do anything of the kind. If God tells me to give him a hundred pounds, that will be another matter. I should long ago have been in the bankruptcy court if I had granted half the demands of that sort which have been made upon me; and some other requests which I have received have not been much more reasonable. A young man comes to me, and wants to preach in the Tabernacle, because he says that the Lord has told him that he is to take my place one Lord's-day morning. My reply is, Yes, of course I will let you preach when the Lord tells me to do so; but it is a lop-sided revelation as it now stands, for the Lord has not revealed to me my share in the transaction; and the young man goes his way disappointed because his prayer is not answered! Do not any of you pray that which is manifestly nonsense; pray for something reasonable and sensible, and then you may have your prayers answered if they are according to the will of God.
I feel all the more free to speak thus to you, dear friends, because you are about as sensible a lot of people as I can ever hope to find; yet, every now and then, some poor crooked, cranky soul gets in amongst us, who sadly misreads or misapplies God's Word, and then begins to doubt God's faithfulness in fulfilling His promise. He makes the Lord seem to say what He never said, and never meant to say. Let no one act so foolishly, but let us exercise common sense concerning our prayers, and in all things submit our will to the wise will of our Heavenly Father.
God's Willingness To Bless Saints And Sinners.
We have been pleading with God. Prayer after prayer has knocked at Heaven's gate, entreating for the conversion of souls, and the upbuilding of the church. I have no doubt that our prayer has been, in itself, acceptable with God, through Jesus Christ. It is in itself a form of worship to which our gracious God hath much respect. The golden vials of the elders before the throne are said to be full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. Prayer is typified by sweet incense, because God delights in it. He loves to see our desires for the accomplishment of His purposes. It is very pleasing to a father, as you who are parents can testify, to see his child in full sympathy with him, and anxious to help him in his work. Though he can do but little, and that little feebly and faultily, yet his eagerness to work with his father, and for his father, gives his father joy. Even thus does our Heavenly Father take pleasure in us, and in our desires for His glory. Thou didst well in that it was in thine heart, said the Lord to David, even when He did not accept what David proposed to do; and I believe there may be glory brought to God, not only by those prayers which are manifestly answered, but by those which for wise reasons the good Lord is pleased to lay on one side. We are nothing better than children even in prayer, and therefore it is not every request that is wise; but yet we are children, and therefore the cries which come from our hearts touch the heart of our great Father in Heaven. Our desires that souls may be saved, and that the church may prosper, are so much in accordance with the mind of God that they must be a sweet savour unto Him. Therefore, brethren, let us pray on as long as breath remains. If prayer pleaseth God, it should always please us.
There are two things, however, which sometimes puzzle us. One is, to see a child of God anxious to bring others to Christ, and perseveringly using the ordained means, and yet success is not given him, and men are not brought to Jesus; at least, they are not brought in such numbers as the eager worker desired and expected. Strange sight! Are we really more anxious to save souls than God Himself is? It would be a marvellous spectacle if it were actually the case! It certainly looks so. This is the appearance upon the surface. Our earnest spirits long for the salvation of men. If we could save them, we would save them at once. If it were possible for us, when we speak, to convince and convert every sinner within hearing, it should be done. It looks, for the moment, as though we were, more merciful than the All-merciful, more compassionate than He is of whom it is written, God is love. Ah, my brethren, it only seems to be so: we humbly ask pardon for yielding to the illusion even for an instant! It is our ignorance of our own hearts which makes us think ourselves so supremely kind and loving. Somewhat of pride mingles with this fond conceit of our own goodness. I fear that, if we were weighed in the scales of the sanctuary, it would be found that we do not possess all that agonizing pity which we suppose ourselves to possess. Too often our compassion shows itself in spasms, and is not a matter of fixed principle. Our zeal comes and goes; but if we felt it as intensely as we think we do, or as intensely always as we do sometimes, then we might have more reason for our complaining and wondering. For the present, we may rather blush for ourselves than complain of our God. We have not yet done all that lies in our power, and therefore we have no ground upon which to complain of our God.
If we are disappointed about our success in Christ's work, what shall we say? Shall we not first look for the cause within ourselves? From observation and experience, I have learned to look very hopefully upon dissatisfaction and anguish when they are seen in Christian workers. It gives me no sorrow to see my brethren unhappy and miserable because others are not saved. It would be a far sadder thing to see them useless and yet contented. If ever I have been satisfied with what I have done for the Lord, I have invariably found my service to prove barren. Pangs go with birth, and anguish precedes success. So far as I am able to judge, it does not seem that the Lord can wisely bless people who are satisfied with themselves, and with their own efforts. It would not be safe to trust the conceited with any large measure of success: they might be injured for life by such honour. Certainly God Himself would have small honour, for the individual would steal every bit of it, and wear it himself. When you get to feel, I am not satisfied, for God is not blessing me as I long to be blessed, and therefore I fear something must be hindering the blessing; then you are advancing towards a right condition, - a condition favourable to success.
The Lord is always willing to bless us up to the measure of our fitness to be blessed; and sometimes it is absolutely necessary that we should be distressed, broken-hearted, and brought to an agony of prayer, before we can hold the choice gift of the God of grace. I am sure it is so. We are straitened in ourselves. Our own unfitness turns aside the Divine benediction. The Lord will have us know the value of the blessing before He gives it to us; and He will also have us know our own inability, apart from His Holy Spirit, to perform any good work, or bring forth any holy fruit. Our God takes care always to have security that, if He works a great work by us, we shall not appropriate the glory of it to ourselves. He brings us down lower and lower in our own esteem, until we feel that we are nothing at all, and then He condescends to use us. Some trumpets are so stuffed with self that God cannot blow through them. Some pitchers are too full of their own muddy water for God to pour the water of life into them. However much we may wish for a blessing, God will not set the seal of His blessing to work which is begun and carried on in the power of self.
Besides this, the Lord wants us to be more thoroughly in sympathy with Himself. He has two designs in making use of us in His service, not only to save souls, but also to bless us as the instruments of such salvation. There are always two edges to God's sword; so that, while He kills sin in the hearer, He strikes a blow at sin in the preacher also. God has a way of killing two birds with one stone; or, if I may use such an expression, of making two birds alive with one quickening word. He has a way of blessing the very channel through which the blessing comes, as well as the people who receive the blessing. It was grace to the Gentiles to be preached to; but Paul called it grace to be permitted to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. The Lord intends to educate us by non-success as well as by success, and therefore He causes us to sigh and cry until His Spirit puts forth His power.
It is a natural law in the spiritual world that joy is not born without sorrow. We must travail in birth before Christ will be formed in men's hearts. There is no reaping in joy without a previous sowing in tears. As Christ Himself suffered to make us blest, so, in our measure, must we endure pain of heart in order to give men peace of mind. We must die that others may live. We must agonize that the tempted may rest. We must mourn that mourners may rejoice. It is a noble thing for a Christian man to act as a priest before the Lord, and, in a certain manner, to take upon himself the sins of the people, confessing them as though they were his own, and mourning over men's hardness of heart as though it were his own hardness of heart. We do well to take the sinner's place in prayer even as our Lord took that place in sacrifice. It is ours to lay ourselves before God, and cry out of the depths of our souls, as Moses did, If Thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast written. Moses was now in a prepared state to see the nation saved. Some try to make out that Moses did not mean what he said; but he did mean it, and the Lord did not rebuke him for excess of zeal or unguardedness of speech. Remember that, for speaking unadvisedly with his lips on another occasion, Moses was shut out of the land of promise, yet for this language he received no check whatever, but prevailed with the Lord to turn away His anger from Israel. He felt, in the compassion of His soul, much more than could be justified by reasoning in cool blood, even as Paul did when he wrote, For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
If you ever reach such a stage of compassion, you will feel ready, if it were possible, as it were, to put your own soul in pawn for the souls of others; and you will express yourself in words which others may call fanatical. When it comes to that pass with you, the Lord will hear you. If you cannot live without a blessing, you shall not live without it. He who weeps for souls shall before long weep for joy. When we live, men will live; when we are quickened to fulness of life, the living waters shall flow out of us. Perhaps we have to reach a higher point of grace and love before we shall receive the fulness of the blessing. At any rate, I put the case very strongly on purpose that you may see the wrongfulness of the supposition that the fault of our non-success lies with the Lord. It cannot be that God is less willing for men to be saved than we are; it cannot be that we have outrun love itself on its own ground. We cry, Arm of the Lord, awake! and He replies, Awake, awake, O Zion! The slumber is with us, and not with Him. We must not think that the Lord has set a barrier in the way of our efforts, but we must be encouraged to feel that, if we love the souls of men, the Lord must love them more; and that, if we would do anything and everything in our power to secure their salvation, we may depend upon it that the Lord is not slack in grace.
A second matter equally causes a difficulty in people's minds, and that is, to see sinners more willing to be saved than God is to save them. I have often seen this to be the case apparently. Apparently, I say, for it could never be really so. According to the statement of the anxious, it is the case; but their statements are born of confusion, and not of the truth. It cannot be that a sinner should be eager for reconciliation, and the Lord be hard to bring to terms. Did you ever hear of a flock of sheep in the Highlands travelling all over the hills, and roaming down the glens, trying to find their shepherd? Have you seen reports in the newspapers of the efforts made by the lost sheep to discover their shepherd, when he has been buried in the snow, and needed to be dug out? You smile, but the parable is to the point. I have observed several singular facts in natural history, but I have never heard of anything so remarkable as sheep seeking out their shepherd, and tracking his wandering footsteps in the cloudy and dark day. Yet this is what we might expect if it be true that sinners seek after the Lord Jesus, and cannot find Him. They say, I have sought the Lord, and He has not been found of me; I have cried to Him in prayer, and He has not regarded me. Alas, I have hungered and thirsted for Christ, but He is not willing that I should enjoy Him! What singular spectacles! A sheep seeking its straying shepherd! A piece of money searching for its mistress! A prodigal son rejoicing over his lost father! The supposition is altogether too absurd. Is it not? Can it be that, in this race of love, you, a poor, dead sinner, have outstripped the living Saviour? We sometimes sing,-
No sinner can be beforehand with Thee,

Thy grace is most sovereign, most rich, and most free;-
and I believe it. If I were to see a needle running across a table all by itself, I should know that under the table a magnet was at work out of sight. When I see a sinner running after Christ, I feel certain that Divine love is drawing him: the cords may be invisible, but we are quite sure that they are there. If you are seeking Christ, it is because He is seeking you. The desire for grace is caused by the very grace which we desire. You must not dare to charge the Lord Jesus with unwillingness to save, seeing He has laid down His life to prove His eagerness to redeem. No, it is not possible that there can be any backwardness with the Saviour; the backwardness lies with you. Get rid of the unbelieving and dishonouring notion that Jesus is unwilling to forgive, and at once throw yourself into His arms. He thirsts to bless men; it is His meat and His drink in this respect to do the will of Him that sent Him. You are being drawn by His loving hands; those warm desires for salvation are created in you by His Holy Spirit: believe this, and thus recognize the bond which unites you to the Lord; by faith, that bond will become consciously stronger from day to day. Trust wholly in Jesus, and the work is done. Trust Him simply; trust Him solely; trust Him without hesitation, and you are saved. It is remarkable that, very often, the most commonplace things that we say in our preaching strike attention and convey blessing. An evangelist, some time ago, while he was explaining faith, took up a book, and handed it to a friend. Now, said he to his friend, suppose this to be salvation; I freely present it to you. Have you got it? Yes, I have it. How did you get it? Did you buy it? Did you work for it? Did you make it? No, you gave it to me, and I took it. I gave it to you, and you took it; and that is how we receive salvation from the Lord. He gives it to us freely, and we take it by faith; that is all. Did the friend wash his hands, or put on kid gloves, before he took the book? No. If he had done so, he would not more surely have received the book; his hand did very well just as it was. It is just so with the gift of God. If a very poor man asks you to help him, and you offer him a shilling, he does not say, Please, sir, I cannot accept your money, for I am not dressed in good enough clothes. He is not so foolish; he asks no questions, but gladly takes what is freely given. Even so, let us accept Christ as the gift of God. The worse we are, the more we need Jesus; and the more unprepared for Christ it seem, the more prepared we are for Him, in the unquestionable sense that need is the best preparation for receiving charity. When the housewife looks over the linen for the laundry, she does not say This garment is too dirty to be washed. No, No. As she looks over the household linen, there if be a piece or two so little soiled that she questions whether she shall send them to be washed; but if one piece is worse than the rest, she is quite sure that: is fit to go, and she puts it without a question in the bag.
O my sinful friend, your sinfulness is the reason why you should go to Christ for cleansing! Did you ever know a man siip away from dinner because he was hungry? Did you ever say, I must not drink because I am thisty? Do men say, When I am not quite so thirsty, then I will drink; when I am not quite so faint, then I will eat? Does any sick man say, I am so ill that I shall not send for a doctor till I am better? We do not talk in this fashion about other rulers; then why do we talk so about our souls? Jesus Christ asks nothing of us except that we will believe Him; and He presents Himself to us freely. We say, There is nothing freer than a gift, so there is nothing freer than the grace of God. This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Jesus and His salvation are matters of pure gift; then why will you not have them? Do you say, Oh, that we might receive them? Do you still say that you are more willing to receive than God is to give, when God has already given, and you have not received? You know the message of the king who had invited many guests to his son's wedding-feast, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. It was pitiful that everything should be prepared, and yet the guests should not come. My good sister, how would you feel if you had invited your friends to see you, and then, when everything was ready, you found that nobody came to partake of your feast? Would you not cry, What am I to do? Here is everything ready, but no one to eat it! One thing, however, would be clear, nobody could say that you were unwilling that they should come. All things are ready, and everything will be spoiled if there are no guests: the hostess longs to see every seat at the table filled.
Jesus Himself, that great provision of God, will be of no use if sinners do not come to Him to be saved: the substitutionary sacrifice will be an eternal waste if men are not redeemed thereby: the provisions of atoning love will be a superfluity if the guilty do not come and partake of them. My oxen and my fat-lings are killed. Then, if nobody comes to the wedding, all my preparations will be in vain. The king must have guests for his feast, and therefore he said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. When this was done, and there was still room, he said to his servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. A mingled company sat down to the feast. You fancy that they appeared very odd and out of place. Poor people, picked from the streets, how would they appear at a royal table feasting upon dainties? Ah, you make a great mistake if you imagine that they looked to be a motley crew! The spectacle was magnificent; they were all dressed as ladies and gentlemen, for they had put on wedding-garments furnished by the giver of the banquet. As they sat at table, they looked like courtiers, for they were all dressed in robes worthy of the great occasion. They hardly knew themselves, or one another. One of them would look across the table to a man who used to be his companion in poverty, and he would say, Is that you? And the other would reply, It is, and it is not. I have undergone a great change. I have put off my rags, and I am covered with beauty. If you come to Christ, the poorest of you shall be made to sit among princes. You, who are covered with leprosy and pollution, may come just as you are, and the Lord will welcome you, will heal you, and bid you be at home at His table, where fat things full of marrow prove the splendour of His love. Come to Jesus, and see if it be not so.
Some of you seem to me like the poor dogs that go about muzzled; if there is a bone, they cannot get at it. It seems as if the devil had muzzled some of you, so that you dare not take the good things of the Gospel to yourselves. O Lord, be pleased to take the muzzles off these poor dogs! Oh, that they could but get a taste of what the Lord has prepared for them that love Him! You may have any and every Gospel blessing if you dare to take it. Make a dash for it. Believe that Jesus Christ is able to save you. Trust Him, and He has saved you. Do you say that you will not now believe, but will wait till your own heart is better, and you feel more inward encouragement? How foolish! You will wait in vain. Did you ever hear of the deaf man who waited to hear the ticking of a sun-dial? He was as wise a man as you are. Cease to look within, and begin to look up. Jesus saves all those who trust Him to save them. End all questions and delays, and be saved at once.
Confession of Sin

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