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He had dealt out death to society, and society was pursuing him with death! The grim monster was at his heels, but he was safe the very moment he crossed the threshold of the city gates. The sinner is in danger. No imagination, no figure of language, can exaggerate the magnitude of the sinner's peril. Eternal justice pursues him; thundering, “ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things, written in the book of the law to do them;" “ The soul that sinneth it shall die." But let him enter the Gospel Refuge and he is safe ; he can look out upon the wide-spread universe and exclaim, “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" &c.
WERE ARRANGED SO AS TO
III. THE CITIES OF REFUGE BE AVAILABLE FOR ALL THE MAN-SLAYERS IN THE COUNTRY ; SO IS THE GOSPEL PROVIDED FOR ALL SINNERS. (1) They had capacity enough to secure all. They were never so full as to turn any away.
The Gospel provision is sufficient for all. In John's day, eighteen centuries ago," he saw a great multitude, which no man could number,” &c. Since then, millions have been added, and yet there is room. (2) They lay within the reach of all. The
of ancient Palestine will show us how accessible those places are ;—they were easy of approach to all. How thoroughly the Gospel comes within
Say not in thine heart,” &c. The roads to them were kept good. The rivers were spanned with bridges and the rough places were made plain, so that there was no obstruction to the man who was fleeing for his life. (3) They were pointed out to all. Finger posts were planted along the road, with the word “Refuge-Refuge !” written on them. Every facility rendered. So in this gospel; the path is clear, and “Wisdom is crying in the streets,” &c.
IV. THE CITIES
OF REFUGE WERE THE EXCLUSIVE ASYLUMS FOR SUCH CASES; SO IS THE GOSPEL THE ONLY WAY OF SALVATION. If the homicide halted or ran elsewhere, he was in danger ; no other city could protect him. We may
suppose that some made the trial and would say to themselves, “ Why must I run there, why not here or somewhere else ?" and would make the trial and soon find out the fatal mistake. So with the Gospel :-Nothing else will do. Men, from a perversity of nature, may try something else—works—sacraments -philosophies—but all of no avail. “ There is salvation in no no other.”
V. THE CITIES OF REFUGE WERE ONLY SERVICEABLE TO THOSE WHO BY SUITABLE EFFORT REACHED THEM. What was this effort which the man-slayer had to put forth ? (1) Individual effort. He had not to trust to others to carry him there. He had to use his own limbs and powers. So with the sinner :-he cannot be saved by proxy. (2) Immediate effort. After he had struck the mortal blow, be had not a moment to lose. So with the sinner. “Now is the accepted time.” (3) Strenuous effort. Walking would not do; he had to run to exert himself to the utmost. So with the sinner -agonise to enter in. (4) Persevering effort. If he had stopped an inch before he reached the spot he would no thave been safe. He that endureth to the end shall be saved. “Be thou faithful unto death,” Hasten, then, to the Gospel Refuge. Enter its sacred precincts, and you are secure; secure from the assaults of every enemy, from the force of every adverse circumstance, of every conceivable catastrophe ; secure amidst the agonies of death, the terrors of the judgment, and crashes of a dissolving universe. Enter this refuge, and whilst God's judgments are shaking the globe, you may chant the triumphant song of an old Hebrew saint.
“God is our refuge and strength,
A very pleasant help in trouble;
SUBJECT :-Is the Devotional Part of the Sanctuary Service
usually Profitable ? “Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people.”— Ps. cvii. 32.
“ Take with you words, and turn to the Lord.”—Hosea xiv. 2.
“ And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us : and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.—1 John v. 14, 15.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Fistb.
My subject does not relate to the whole of our sanctuary services. It does not take in the reading of the scriptures, the preaching of the gospel, or include the service of holy song. I wish to look solely at the public prayers offered in connexion with our Lord's day services,—the regular services of God's house. I am being more and more impressed that our devotional services, as a rule, are the least edifying of any part of our public worship. I say as a rule, for there are, I am happy to say, many striking exceptions. It may be well at the outset to observe what I think should characterise the devotional parts of our worship. It is obvious that public prayers to edify some hundreds of devout per. sons, must be different to those that might be profitable and sufficient for a small social service, where several persons are engaged, and where the specific object is the united prayers of the brethren. The Christian minister is so to
that the people assembled may have their varied desires and supplications, with thanksgivings, presented to God. And to do this it is obvious :
I. THAT THE PRAYER MUST BE COMPREHENSIVE. Blessings of all kinds, temporal and spiritual, and for persons in various conditions, must obviously be sought. Forgiveness of sin, deprecation of wrath, pleading for mercy, seeking the renewing, sanctifying, and preserving, grace of God, with all those spiritual comforts and joys which the Holy Ghost sup
plieth. So also there must be prayers offered for the conversion of the sinner, the arousing of the formalist, the reclamation of the backslider, and the quickening of the supine. Public prayers must also be presented for all ranks and conditions of men. For kings and civil magistrates ; for all persons bearing rule and having authority; for those distinguished by rank, or station, or influence. Then the poor, the destitute, and the afflicted, must not be forgotten; neither the orphan, or fatherless, or the widow. Our prayers must be offered for all in peril or suffering; for all the afflicted and bereaved ; for all captives and prisoners; and for all who are sorrowful or desolate.
Prayers must include our respective churches, with their officers, and our fellow-labourers in the Sabbath school, or in the other departments of Christian activity. So, also, we must plead for the peace and prosperity of the Universal Church of Christ; and especially for missionaries laboring in spheres of imminent trial and peril. So, too, our prayers must not exclude our country and all its momentous interests; and finally, they must embrace the whole world and all men. Here there is a wide range, a comprehensive series of persons and blessings to be prayed for. Also, in public worship :
II. THAT THE PRAYER MUST POSSESS VARIOUS PECULIAR CHARACTERISTICS. God must be reverently adored and venerated. His glory must be proclaimed ; His wondrous works and ways celebrated ; His boundless goodness and mercy acknowledged. How important, too, that not only deserved wrath should be deprecated, but His long-suffering and forbearance acknowledged ;—and lofty praise and hearty thanksgiving should be associated with the whole. Such prayers should be profoundly reverent, exhibiting no presumptuous familiarity, and using no light or unseemly terms. The manner and tone of voice, too, must be in harmony with the unworthiness the holiest must feel when in the presence of the Majesty of heaven and earth. Yet all this need not interfere with spiritual confidence, and
a strong faith and hope resting on the divine promises. How needful too :
III. THAT IN OUR PRAYERS WE EVER ASCEND TO GOD THROUGH THE MEDIATORSHIP OF JESUS. And it cannot be enough just cursorily to express this at the end ;-it must be felt throughout: the whole prayer should go up to God, step by step, through Him, who is the spiritual “ladder between heaven and earth,” and the only way to the Father. His person, His work, His office, His merit, must give holy fragrance and spiritual power to every desire presented. Yes! Jesus, the one Mediator, must be as “the scarlet thread" running through all our devotional exercises. Also :
IV. TAAT THE SPIRIT'S AID MUST BE IMPLORED AND EXPECTED, TO ENABLE US TO PRAY WITH ACCEPTANCE. He must excite desire, inflame our earnestness, stir up the gift of prayer within us, and lead the soul into enlarged supplication and intercession. We, too, must give the filial tone, the abased mind, and the longing heart. He must give us holy light, that our prayers may not be confused and dark; He must give life, that our offerings may not be dead and offensive ; He must give us power, that our supplications may be effective ; And He must give skill, that we may plead and present the reasons to God, which His Word has so richly provided ; He must give the heavenly fire, that our corruptions may be purged away, and that we may not regard iniquity in our hearts ; He must be in us also as our advocate, and the helper of our infirmities.
V. THAT THE WORD OF GOD SHOULD SUPPLY US WITH THE CHIEF MATERIALS FOR PRAYER. Here is a rich and varied store; here are the words of the Holy Ghost ; the forms of address which have prevailed with God in bygone generations. From this scriptural arsenal our devotional armour may be amply supplied. Here we see how Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Job, and Samuel, prayed; how the holy psalmist presented