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fears. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” Ask the Apostle Paul in that case of his which has been already alluded to, and he shall tell you, “ For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” in this latter instance, how prayer is often answered ; not by granting the immediate request, but by bestowing what is equivalent to it, or what is better. And again, answers to our prayers may be delayed, for the trial of our faith, and the exercise of greater fervency and importunity, or to be given at a more suitable time. So that we may assure ourselves of this as a most undoubted truth, that faithful, fervent, persevering prayer will ever receive a favourable regard, and be certainly answered, in such a manner and at such a time as our omnipotent, omniscient, and all-gracious God sees to be best for us.
And now let me earnestly press this great duty upon you all, the duty of prayer.-
Though our heavenly father knows what things we have need of, and though he is more ready to hear than we are to pray, yet he will be entreated by us; and “ in every thing by prayer and supplication we must let our requests be made known unto God.” It is thus that he would have us kept in a dependant frame, conscious that we have nothing of our own, and looking to him for the supply of all our need. In fact there can be no suitable notion of God at all in the mind, if the duty of praying to him be not connected with it. It is the appointed means of grace through which God has promised to bestow his blessings; “ Ask and ye shall have;" “ ye have not because ye ask not.” Take care then to practise this duty. Pray without ceasing, in your private retirements, with your families, in the house of God. Let your knees learn the posture, your tongues the language, and your hearts the spirit of prayer. Approach unto God with deep humility, as undeserving and sinful, and hoping for a gracious reception only through the sacrifice and righteousness of the blessed Jesus. Ask always in his name, and never for your own merits. Be fervent in prayer, and call upon your souls, and all that is within you, to put forth their most vigorous emotions in this holy duty. Continue instant in prayer, and suffer no discouragements or delays, or hindrances of any kind, to cause you to relax. Remember the blind Bartimeus. Remember the Syro-phenician woman. Study these and similar instances in the holy Scriptures, and transfer them into your own practice. So shall you not be sent empty away. God will give you an answer of peace. Your largest desires shall be satisfied. Your prayers shall be turned into praises ; and joyfully shall you say with a man of prayer of old, “ Verily God hath heard me; he hath attended unto the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.”
RECONCILIATION OF JACOB AND ESAU.
GENESIS XXXIII. 4.
And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced
him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him : and they wept.
The divine person, with whom Jacob had wrestled, as we saw in the last sermon, changed his name from Jacob to Israel, which word means a prince, for, he says, “ as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” In that sermon we saw how Jacob had power with God, and in this we shall discover how he had power with man; for the reconciliation between Esau and Jacob is the subject which we now propose to consider. It is evident that the change in Esau's disposition and intentions must have arisen from a secret influence of the softening grace of God upon him. That same God, who had restrained Laban from hurting Jacob by fear, now exerted a milder influence upon the heart of Esau, and filled him with kind and brotherly feelings. Let us remember that the hearts of all men are in the Lord's hand, and he turns them which way he will as rivers of water are turned. His influences are of various kinds, all suited to the peculiar state of the person to whom they are sent. One is driven by fear, another is constrained by love: a remarkable providence makes a strong impression upon one, a passage of Scripture or the instructions of a sermon arrests the attention of another: some become convinced by a long train of argumentative reasoning, others are affected by strong appeals to the heart and conscience. The modes of operation and the medicines used may be various, but the agent is one; " all these worketh that one and the self same Spirit.” He can tame the man who is fierce as a lion ; he can give confidence to him