Luke 18:1
Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray at all times and not lose heart:
Sermons
Man's Difficulty Concerning PrayerGeorge MacDonaldLuke 18:1
Self-InspectionS. Baring-GouldLuke 18:1
The Word of Jesus on PrayerGeorge MacDonaldLuke 18:1
Three Kinds Op PrayingAlexander MaclarenLuke 18:1
Continuance in Prayer: Divine DelayW. Clarkson Luke 18:1-7
Answers to PrayerLuke 18:1-8
Belief in Prayer the Outcome of Need RealizedG. Macdonald, LL. D.Luke 18:1-8
Christ Looking in Vain for FaithJ. Vaughan, M. A.Luke 18:1-8
Constant Exercise in PrayerLuke 18:1-8
God Hears the Prayers of His ElectI. Saunders.Luke 18:1-8
God's Response to the Cry of the ElectLuke 18:1-8
Hindrances to PrayerE. W. Shalders, B. A.Luke 18:1-8
Hours Spent in PrayerLuke 18:1-8
Loss of Faith in the Christian VeritiesM. F. Sadler.Luke 18:1-8
Men Ought Always to PrayJ. J. Wray.Luke 18:1-8
Necessity of PrayerBishop Boyd Carpenter.Luke 18:1-8
Oriental JudgesProf. Isaac H. Hall.Luke 18:1-8
Parable of the Importunate WidowJ. Thomson, D. D.Luke 18:1-8
Patient PrayerJ. G. Forbes.Luke 18:1-8
Perseverance in Prayer: Or, Strike AgainLuke 18:1-8
Petitioners At the Court of Heaven EncouragedLuke 18:1-8
Pray Without CeasingJ. A. Alexander.Luke 18:1-8
PrayerA. H. Currier.Luke 18:1-8
Prayer Answered After DeathC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 18:1-8
Prayer is ManlyT. R. Stevenson.Luke 18:1-8
Shall We Pray, or Shall We NotJ. Kennedy, D. D.Luke 18:1-8
The Adaptability of Nature to PrayerProf. J. P. Gulliver.Luke 18:1-8
The Church's WidowhoodH. Bonar, D. D.Luke 18:1-8
The Duty of Persevering in PrayerTheological Sketch-bookLuke 18:1-8
The Faith of the ChurchJames Owen.Luke 18:1-8
The Importunate WidowC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 18:1-8
The Importunate Widow a Type of God's Elect PeopleJ. Stratten.Luke 18:1-8
The Nature and Duty of PrayerEssex RemembrancerLuke 18:1-8
The Necessity of PrayerW. H. Hutchings, M. A.Luke 18:1-8
The Necessity of Praying Always, and not FaintingT. Boston, D. D.Luke 18:1-8
The Search for FaithC. H. Spurgeon.Luke 18:1-8
The Strange Weapon-All-PrayerC. S. Robinson, D. D.Luke 18:1-8
The Unjust Judge and the Importunate WidowT. Guthrie, D. D.Luke 18:1-8
Times Adverse to PrayerBishop Boyd Carpenter.Luke 18:1-8
Times Unfavourable to PrayerBishop Boyd Carpenter.Luke 18:1-8
Universal PrayerJ. D. Wray.Luke 18:1-8
Lessons in PrayerR.M. Edgar Luke 18:1-14
We have first to consider what is -

I. THE ARGUMENT IN THE TEXT. It is one from the less to the greater, or rather from the unworthy to the worthy. If a bad man will, for a poor reason, accede to the request of one for whom he cares nothing, how much more certainly will the Righteous One himself, for a good reason, espouse the cause of those who are so dear to him! The reasons for confidence in God's faithfulness and interposition are therefore threefold.

1. If an unprincipled judge amongst men will finally do justice, assuredly the righteous Judge of all the earth will do so. His character is something which cannot fail; we may build on that as on the most solid rock.

2. If justice is granted by us for so poor a reason as that of fearing vexatious annoyance, surely God will listen and will respond to reverent and believing prayer. He is far more certain to be won by that in us which pleases him than is an unjust judge by that in his appellant which annoys him. And our approach to him in prayer, our reverent attitude, our faith in his goodness, our trust in his Word, - all this is very pleasing unto our Father.

3. If a man will yield a demand made by one to whom he does not feel himself related, and in whom he is absolutely uninterested, how confident we may be that God will interpose on behalf of those who, as his own sons and daughters, are dear to his parental heart, and who, collectively, constitute "his own elect " - those who are most tenderly and intimately related to him in Jesus Christ his Son!

II. THE SERIOUS FACT OF THE DIVINE DELAY. "Though he bear long with them" (ver. 7), or, "and he delays [to interpose] in their cause" (Dr. Bruce). It is certain that, from our point of view, God does delay to vindicate his people; his answer does not come as soon as we expect it; it is held back so long that we are ready "to faint" (Lose heart). Thus was it many times in the history of Israel; thus has it been frequently in the history of the Church of Christ. How many times have suffering bands of noble martyrs looked up piteously and despondently to heaven as they cried, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood?" Thus has it been in multitudes of individual instances; men have been oppressed, or they have been embarrassed, or they have been disappointed, or they have been otherwise afflicted; they have appealed to God for his delivering grace; and they have looked long in vain for the Divine response. They say, "O my God, I cry,... but thou hearest not" (Psalm 22:2).

III. THE EXPLANATION THAT WILL BE FOUND. The time will come when we shall understand why God did delay to answer us. But we may be quite sure that when it comes it will be seen:

1. That it was not in him - not in his absence from us, nor his indifference to us, nor his unreadiness to help us.

2. That it, was in us - in our unreadiness to receive his interposition, or in the misuse we should make of it, or in the greater and truer good to be gained by our patience than by our relief; and thus in the ultimate gain to our own well-being by his withholding.

IV. THE BLESSED FACT THAT IT IS ONLY A DELAY. "I tell you that he will avenge them speedily."

1. It is probable that when God does manifest his power he will work speedy and overwhelming destruction to the guilty; he will avenge "speedily," i.e. quickly, instantaneously. "How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image" (Psalm 73:19, 20).

2. It is certain that in his own time and way God will defend his people, that he will relieve his children, that he will redeem and bless his "own elect." His faithfulness to his Word; his love for them that love him; his intimacy of relation to those who are "in Jesus Christ;" - this is a sure and absolute pledge that the appeal to him cannot be and will not be in vain. Men ought continuously, perseveringly, to pray, and never to lose heart. The day of Divine appearing is entered in the books of God. - C.







Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.
While Christian was in the Palace Beautiful, they showed him all the remarkable objects in the armory, from the ox-goad of Shamgar to the sword of the Spirit. And amongst the arms he saw, and with some of which he was arrayed as be left the place, was a single weapon with a strange, new name — "All-prayer." When I was a child, I used to wonder much what this could have been — its shape, its use. I imagine I know something more about it in these later years. At any rate, I think Bunyan found his name for it in one of the New Testament Epistles: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:18). It so happens, also, that we have two parables of our Lord given us in the eighteenth chapter of Luke to one end, "that men ought always to pray, and not to faint." One of these parables teaches the lesson of importunity, the other teaches the lesson of sincerity. And it does not need that we draw from this collocation the subtle suggestion that want of importunity and want of sincerity are what weaken the weapon of all-prayer, and render faint the heart of the Christian who wields it. We know that we do not pray always, and that we do not always pray.

I. Let us take up this matter of IMPORTUNITY in the outset. At first sight it gives perplexity to some students of the Bible. We must notice that Christ does not identify His Father, the "Hearer of Prayer," with this judge in the parable in any sense whatsoever. The very point of the illustration turns upon his superiority. God is just, and this man was unjust. This petitioner was a lonely widow and a stranger; God was dealing with His own elect. The woman came uninvited; Christians are pressed with invitations to ask, and knock, and seek. The unjust judge never agreed to listen to the widow; God has promised, over and over again, that it shall be granted to those that ask. The judge may have had relations with this woman's adversary which would complicate, and, in some way, commit him to an unnecessary quarrel in her behalf, if his office should be exercised in defence; God is in open and declared conflict, on His own account, with our adversary, and rejoices to defeat his machinations, and avenge His own chosen speedily. Hence, the whole teaching of the story is directed towards our encouragement thus: If we would persist with a wicked judge that regarded nobody, God nor man, then surely we would press our prayers with God. What is the duty then? Simply, go on praying.

II. Let us move on to consider, in the second place, this matter of SINCERITY in prayer, suggested by the other parable. To men of the world it must be a subject of real wonder and surprise, to use no more disrespectful terms, why so many petitions offered by the people of God prove fruitless. To all this, Christians ought to be able to reply that prayer follows laws and respects intelligent conditions, just as every other part of God's plan of redemption does. We are accustomed to say to each other that God always hears prayer. No, He does not. The wisest man that was ever inspired says distinctly, "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." And in the New Testament the apostle explains the whole anomaly of failure thus: "Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss." For one thing, self-conceit destroys all sincerity in prayer. For another thing, spits against others destroys all sincerity in prayer. Listen to the Pharisee's preposterous comparison of himself in the matter of money and merit with the publican almost out of sight there in the corner. Inconsistencies in life also destroy sincerity in prayer. Purity from evil is a prime condition of success.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Theological Sketch-book.
I. OUR DUTY. That which is here inculcated implies that we pray —

1. Statedly.

2. Occasionally. There are many particular occasions which require us to pray.(1) Prosperity, that God may counteract its evil tendency (Proverbs 30:9).(2) Adversity, that we may be supported under it (James 5:13).(3) Times of public distress or danger, to avert the calamity (2 Chronicles 7:14).

3. Habitually. We should maintain a spiritual frame of mind. To pray thus is our duty; "We ought," etc.(1) It is a duty we owe to God. He, our Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer, has commanded it.(2) We owe it also to our neighbour. The edification of Christ's mystical body depends, not only on the union of every part with the head, but on the whole being fitly framed together, and on every joint supplying its proper nourishment (Ephesians 4:16: Colossians 2:19). But if we be remiss in prayer, we shall be incapable of administering that benefit, which other members have a right to expect from us.(3) We owe it to ourselves. A "spirit of supplication" is as necessary to the soul, as food to the body. Nor can we feel any regard for our souls, if we do not cultivate it.

II. THE DIFFICULTIES THAT ATTEND IT. When we set ourselves to the performance of it, we shall find difficulties —

1. Before we begin to pray. Worldly business may indispose our minds for this employment. Family cares may distract and dissipate our thoughts. Lassitude of body may unfit us for the necessary exertions. We may be disabled by an invincible hardness of heart. A want of utterance may also operate as a heavy discouragement.

2. While we are engaged in prayer. The world is never more troublesome than at such seasons. The flesh also, with its vilest imaginations. will solicit our attention. Nor will Satan be backward to interrupt our devotions.

3. After we have concluded prayer. When we have prayed, we should expect an answer. But worldliness may again induce a forgetfulness of God. Impatience to receive the desired blessings may deject us. Ignorance of the method in which God answers prayer may cause us to disquiet ourselves with many ungrounded apprehensions. Unbelief may rob us of the benefits we might have received (James 1:6, 7). Whatever obstructs God's answers to prayer, disqualifies us for the future discharge of that duty.

(Theological Sketch-book.)

Essex Remembrancer.
I. THE NATURE OF PRAYER.

1. An expression of our sense of God's infinite superiority.

2. An expression of our dependence upon God.

3. A declaration of our obligation to God.

4. A declaration of our faith in God's ability to grant us anything our circumstances may require. There are several things necessary to constitute true prayer, and which form its constituent parts.

(1)Faith is one essential.

(2)Sincerity is another ingredient in true prayer.

(3)Humility.

II. We notice THE DUTY OF PRAYER. Prayer is a duty, if we consider it —

1. As a Divine injunction.

2. It appears a duty, if we consider God as a prayer-hearing God.

3. It is a duty, if we consider the beneficial effects of prayer.

(1)Prayer brings great benefits to ourselves. It brings us into closer communion with Christ.

(2)Prayer is a powerful antidote to, and one of the most effectual safeguards against, worldly-mindedness.

(3)By prayer we get divinely enlightened.

(4)Prayer brings with it advancement in personal holiness.

(5)Prayer is a powerful stimulant to every Christian grace. He who lives in the habitual exercise of sincere and earnest prayer cannot remain in a lukewarm, inactive, lethargic state.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

Why?

1. Because the King wills it. Because it is an edict of eternal wisdom and truth, the command of absolute righteousness and justice, the direction of infinite goodness and love.

2. Because it is an instinct and faculty of our nature, part and parcel of our mental manhood; and as the all-wise Creator has endowed us with the power, and not only the power, but the tendency to pray, we cannot and do not fulfil His will, or rightly use our capabilities, unless we pray.

3. Because it is a privilege, a precious privilege conferred. The maker of the machine can mend and manage it; and He who created us — body, mind, and spirit — invites us to bring our bodily needs, hunger, thirst, aches, pains, and infirmities; our mental cares, griefs, doubts, perplexities, and depressions; our spiritual wants, fears, forebodings, sins, and weakness — to Him in prayer.

4. Because our state and condition is one of perpetual peril, and weakness, and need. The sin on our conscience condemns us, and we cannot undo it. We all get the heartache, and we cannot cure it. We can neither condone our offences, nor lighten our conscience, nor carry our sorrows, nor hush our complainings, nor dry our tears!

5. Because in the infinite love and mercy of God to poor sinners a new and living way hath been opened for us into the presence of God, so that not only doth the sinner gain a hearing, but he has an infinite guarantee that his prayers shall prosper, and his petitions shall be fulfilled.

6. Because our needs, our perils, our personal insufficiency, are "always" with us; because the throne of prayer is always accessible, and the Hearer of prayer is always willing; and because the power and privilege of prayer has a direct connection with the whole sphere of our daily life, and the whole circle of our daily needs.

7. Because no really earnest and reliant prayers can possibly be in vain. We are apt to faint in our petitionings if the gift we seek is long delayed.

(J. J. Wray.)

The "ought" of Christ outweighs all the objections of infidelity, and is stronger than the adverse conclusions of a material science.

1. Prayer should be constant. "Can we, indeed," says , "without ceasing bend the knee, bow the body, or lift up the hands?" If the attitude and the language of prayer were essential to its being truly offered, the command of Christ would seem to be exaggerated. But understand it as the soul's attitude to God, and it is no exaggeration. "That soul," says Dr. Donne, "which is ever turned toward God, prays sometimes when it does not know that it prays." The testimony of the Christian father accords with this. After admitting that formal, oral prayer must have its pauses and intermissions, Augustine says, "There is another interior prayer without intermission, and that is the longing of the heart. Whatever else thou mayest be doing, if thou longest after the Sabbath of God, thou dost not intermit to pray." Thus the whole life becomes, what conceived the life of the Christian should be, "one great connected prayer." The importance of constancy in it arises from the place it holds in man's spiritual life. Prayer is to the soul what the nerves of the body are to the mind — its medium of communication with a world that else were unperceived and unrealized.

2. Prayer should be earnest. There is danger of our prayer degenerating into a dead form, or perfunctory service — worse than no praying at all. The simple remedy is to deepen the desire or sense of need which prompts to prayer, and is the essence of prayer. "If thou wishest not to intermit to pray," says one of the Christian fathers, "see that thou do not intermit to desire. The coldness of love is the silence of the' heart; the fervency of love is the cry of the heart." This warmth of desire is the product of a clear persuasion of the value of prayer as a means of help and strength.

3. Another quality of true prayer is, patient confidence in God. "Shall not God avenge His own elect which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them." There are two sure and solid grounds of confidence. One is found in God's righteous character, by which He is constrained to rectify wrong and establish the right; and the other is found in His positive love for the suppliant.

4. One other quarry should mark true prayer, namely, humility.

(A. H. Currier.)

Our Lord Jesus Christ, has kindly intimated to all that have business at the court of heaven the necessity of so managing themselves that they still hang on there, and not faint, whatever entertainment they meet with during the dependence of their process.

I. The first thing to be considered, is, OUR LORD'S KIND INTIMATION OF THIS WAY OF HIS FATHER'S COURT.

1. I shall show the import of Christ's making this intimation to petitioners at His Father's court.(1) The darkness that is naturally on the minds of poor sinners, with respect to heaven's management about them. We may say, as Jeremiah 5:4, "Surely these are poor, they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God."(2) Christ's good-will to the sinner's business going right there (Exodus 28:29).(3) That our Lord sees sinners are in hazard of fainting from the entertainment they may meet with during the dependence of their process (Hebrews 12:3).(4) That they that shall hang on, and not faint, shall certainly come speed at length.

2. The weight and moment of this intimation. This will appear, if it is considered in a fourfold light.(1) Jesus Christ, who makes it, has experienced it in His own case. Now, if this was the manner with the great Petitioner, how can we expect it should fare otherwise with us?(2) He is the great Prophet of heaven, whose office it is to reveal the manner of the court to poor sinners.(3) He is the only Intercessor there, the Father's Secretary, the Solicitor for poor sinners there.

II. The second thing to be considered, is, THE WAY OF THE COURT OF HEAVEN, IN TRYSTING PETITIONERS WITH SOME HARDSHIPS, DURING THE DEPENDENCE OF THEIR PROCESS. Here I shall give you —

1. A swatch of that way; and —

2. Some reasons of that way, whereby to account for it in a suitableness to the Divine perfections.

1. (1) Oft-times there is deep silence from the throne (Matthew 15:23).(2) Oft-times they get a very angry-like answer. The woman of Canaan got a couple of them, one on the back of another: "But He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs" (Matthew 15:24, 26).(3) Disappointed expectations are a piece of very ordinary entertainment there: "We looked for peace, but no good came: and for a time of health, and behold trouble" (Jeremiah 8:15).(4) Many a time, looking for an answer, Providence drives a course apparently just contrary to the granting of their petition; so is fulfilled that Psalm 65:5, "By terrible things in righteousness wilt Thou answer us, O God of our salvation."(5) Oft-times the Lord, instead of easing the petitioner, lays new burdens on him: "We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble" (Jeremiah 8:15). Instead of curing the old wound, there are new ones given.

2. (1) This way is taken with petitioners in the court of heaven; for thereby God is glorified, and His attributes more illustrated than otherwise they would be. In this view of it, Paul welcomes it in his own case, though it was hard to sense: "And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9).(2) Hereby the state of petitioners is tried, and a plain difference constituted between hypocrites and the sincere: "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13).(3) Hereby the graces of believing petitioners are tried, both as to the reality and strength of them; particularly their faith and patience (1 Peter 1:6, 7).(4) Hereby believers are humbled, and taught that they hold of free grace. The exalting of grace is the great design of the whole contrivance of the gospel.(5) This way is taken for honour of the word: "Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name" (Psalm 138:2).(6) It is taken to make them long to be home.

III. The third thing to be considered, is, THE DUTY OF THE PETITIONERS TO HANG ON, AND NOT TO FAINT, WHATEVER THEY MEET WITH. We may view it in these things following.

1. They must never lift their process from the court of heaven: "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life" (John 6:67, 68).

2. They must never give over praying, but "pray always." And Satan sometimes plies distressed souls to give up with it, as what they may see they will do no good with, for that God will not hear them. But that is a deceit of hell which ye must never yield to.

3. They must carry all their incident needs in new petitions to the same throne of grace, where the former petition may have been long lying, and still unanswered; and so pursue all together. The latter must not drive out the former, nor the former keep back the latter. It is one of the ways how the Lord keeps His people hanging about His hand without fainting, by sending them several loads above their burden; which loads He takes off soon at their request; and so makes them go under their burden the more easily. These short incident processes, that get a speedy answer, confirm their faith and hope in waiting on for the answer of the main.

4. They must continue in the faith of the promise, never quit the gripe of it; but trust and believe that it shall certainly be accomplished, though the wheels of providence should seem to drive out over it and in over it (Romans 4:19, 20).Consider —

1. If ye faint and give over, your suit is lost, ye have given up with it.

2. He is well worth the waiting on.(1) Though He is infinitely above us, He has waited long on us.(2) The longer you are called to wait for a mercy, ye will readily find it the more valuable when it comes.(3) His time will be found the due time (Galatians 6:9); the best chosen time for the mercy's coming; witness the time of Isaac's birth.(4) Ye shall be sure of some blessed of fallings, while ye wait on (Psalm 27:14).

3. They have waited long, that have lost all, by not having patience to wait a little longer (Exodus 32.; 1 Samuel 13:8, 10). Therefore "let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing" (James 1:4); "for in due season ye shall reap, if ye faint not" (Galatians 6:9).

(T. Boston, D. D.)

I. First, I SHALL SHOW WHAT IS THAT TREATMENT PETITIONERS MAY MEET WITH AT THE COURT OF HEAVEN, UNDER WHICH THEY WILL BE IN HAZARD OF FAINTING. I mentioned several particulars at another occasion; I offer now only three things in general.

1. The weight and pressure of their heavy case itself, whatever it is, may be long continued, notwithstanding all their addresses for help.

2. There may be no appearance of relief (Psalm 74:9).

3. They may get incident weights laid on them, as a load above their burden (Psalm 69:26). These are like drops poured into a full cup, ready to cause it run over; like smart touches on a broken leg, inclining one readily to faint.

II. The second thing to be spoke to, is, WHY PETITIONERS ARE IN HAZARD OF FAINTING FROM SUCH TREATMENT AT THE COURT OF HEAVEN.

1. Natural weakness. "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field" (Isaiah 40:6). On this very view the Lord "pities His children" (Psalm 103:13, 14).

2. Conscience of guilt: "My wounds stink, and are corrupt; because of my foolishness" (Psalm 38:5, 6). Guilt is a mother of fears, and fears cause fainting.

3. Unacquaintedness with the methods of sovereignty: "Thy way is in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known" (Psalm 77:19).

4. A strong bias to unbelief and walking by sense, quite contrary to our duty and interest (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are apt to be impressed more with what we see and feel in Providence, than what we hear from the Word.

III. The third thing to be considered is, WHEREFORE THE LORD GIVES SUCH TREATMENT TO ANY OF HIS PETITIONERS. Negatively.

1. It is not for mere will and pleasure. Satan will be ready to suggest this, and pose the party with such questions as these, For what use is all this delay?

2. It is not because He has no pity on you, nor concern for you under your burden.

3. It is not to signify to you that you should give it over, and trouble Him no more with your petition; as the hasty unbelieving heart is ready to take it, and to give over duty because there is no sensible appearance of success: "I said I will not make mention of Him nor speak any more in His name" (Jeremiah 20:9).

4. Lastly, It is not because He is resolved not to hear you at any rate, cry as long as ye will. But positively, in general, it is for holy, wise, becoming ends; it is necessary for His glory and your case.But particularly —

1. It is for the honour of the man Christ. It contributes to it —(1) In that thereby the petitioners are conformed to His image, in the suffering part thereof.(2) Thereby He gets the more employment as the great Intercessor, and is more earnestly applied to than otherwise He would be. Longsome pleas give the advocates much ado; and longsome processes at the court of heaven bring much business to the Mediator, and so much honour.(3) It affords Him the most signal occasion of displaying His power in combating with and baffling the old serpent, next to that He had on the cross (2 Corinthians 12:9).

2. To magnify the promise.

3. To keep up the mercy, till that time come, that, all things considered, will be the absolutely best time for bestowing it (John 11:14, 15).

IV. The fourth thing to be spoke to is, WHAT IS THE IMPORT OF THIS INTIMATION MADE FOR THIS END? It imports —

1. That sinners are ready to take delays at the court of heaven for denials.

2. That importunity and resolute hanging on, and repeated addresses for the supply of the same need, are very welcome and acceptable to Christ and His Father. There is no fear of excess here; the oftener ye come, the more resolute ye are in your hanging on, the more welcome.

3. That the faith of being heard at length, is necessary to keep one hanging on without fainting (Psalm 27:13).

4. That the hearing to be got at length at the court of heaven is well worth the waiting on, be it ever so long. It will more than counterbalance all the fatigue of the process, that is kept longest in dependence.

V. The fifth thing in the method is, THE CERTAINTY OF SUCH PETITIONERS BEING HEARD AT LENGTH.

1. They are doubtless God's own children, elect believers, whatever they think of themselves (Luke 17:7).

2. The nature, name, and promise of God, joins to insure it. He is good and gracious in His nature (Exodus 34:6-9).

3. Such prayers are the product of His own Spirit in them, and therefore He cannot miss to be heard (James 5:16).

4. Our Lord Jesus has given His word on it, and so has impawned His honour they shall be heard: "I tell you that He will avenge them speedily."

VI. Sixthly, How THEY SHALL BE HEARD TO THEIR HEART'S CONTENT.

1. They shall at length see that their prayers have been accepted. I do not say they shall at length be accepted, but they shall see they have been so.

2. They shall get an answer of their petitions to their heart's satisfaction (Matthew 15:28). "The needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever" (Psalm 9:18).

3. They shall be fully satisfied as to the long delay, and the whole steps of the procedure, however perplexing they were before (Revelation 15:3).

4. They shall get it with increase according to the time they waited on, and the hardships they sustained during the dependence of the process. The fruit of the promise, the longer it is a-ripening, the more bulky it is.

5. Lastly, their spiritual enemies that flew thick and strong about them in the time of the darkness, shall be scattered at the appearance of this light (1 Samuel 2:5).

VII. Seventhly, How IT SHALL BE SPEEDILY, NOTWITHSTANDING THE LONG DELAY.

1. It shall be speedily in respect of the weight and value of it when it comes: so that the believer looking on the return of his petition, with an eye of faith perceiving the worth of it, may wonder it is come upon so short onwaiting (2 Corinthians 4:17).

2. It shall come in the most seasonable nick of time it can come in (Galatians 6:9), when it may come to the best advantage for the honour of God and their good: and that which comes in the best season, comes speedily. To everything there is a season; so fools' haste is no speed.

3. It shall come as soon as they are prepared for it (Psalm 10:17).

4. It shall not tarry one moment beyond the due and appointed time (Habakkuk 2:3).

5. Lastly, it will be surprising, as a glaring light to one brought out of a dungeon, though he was expecting it.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

I. With regard to the necessity of prayer, THE GERM OF THIS AS OF OTHER REVEALED DOCTRINES, IS TO BE FOUND IN OUR NATURE, and affords one illustration of the truth of that profound exclamation, "O testimony of a soul, by nature Christian!" Of moral truth there is an inward engraving, a light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. "The virtues," says a modern writer, "were like plants half developed in some gloomy shade, till Christ poured His sunshine upon them, and made them flourish with luxuriance." It is important, then, to ground the necessity of prayer on the dictates of nature as well as on the teaching of Revelation, thereby resting it on a double authority, each of which lends support to the other. For anything to be original in our nature, it must possess certain properties; in looking back to the beginning of our race it 'will present itself without any external origin, and it will continue to exist under conditions most diverse and at all times. We examine, then, the history of the past, we take up the book which contains the first records of our race in order to discover whether this communing with God existed from the first — to see what the first human souls did. All the elements of prayer were present in Adam's intercourse with his Maker; man, rational and dependent; God, Almighty, Omniscient, and Good; and — communications between the two. We trace the instinct of prayer continuing in fallen man, else it might have been supposed that it was a part of his supernatural equipment, and had no foundation in his natural life. In Adam's sons this instinct survived; Cain and Abel offered sacrifices, and sacrifices are the outward expression of prayer; there was an ascent of the mind to God, a real ascent at least in one case, for "by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." In an unfallen state, the instinct of the soul was to turn to the Author of its life, with joy and thankfulness; in a fallen state, the instinct of the soul is to turn to Him through its need of pardon and its sense of weakness; but in both states there is the instinct to turn to Him, though the leading reasons for doing so may be different. Looking back, then, into the past by the light of the only record which can safely guide us, we find the practice of prayer from the first without any external command or origin, and therefore it preserves one mark of an instinct of nature. But an instinct to be acknowledged must not only be able to claim antiquity on its side but also universality. That which is a genuine part of human nature will always be a part of human nature. If that which marked human life in its earlier stages, disappears in times of advanced civilization and culture, it may be doubted whether it was a pure instinct of our nature, and be attributed either on the one side to an original revelation or on the other to a defective or barbarous condition. It must, however, be admitted that in matters of religion, the mark of antiquity in an instinct has a special value; we can see in it "natural religion" before it has been tampered with. If we want to learn the habits of an animal, we must see it in its native freedom, and not only after it has been trained and domesticated. The instinct of prayer, however, does not lack the second property, universality; we find it both in the highest and lowest states of civilization, in places and races widely sundered both in position and circumstance. If we examine the practices of barbarous nations; if we turn to the ancient religions of the East; if we look at Greece and Rome in the plenitude of their intellectual power, we find that in some form or shape the necessity of prayer and homage to a superior Power is admitted, and in no nation is the instinct entirely obliterated. In the root of human nature there is a sense of dependency, and a sense of guilt; natural religion is based on these two, the correlatives of which are prayer and atonement — the actions respectively proper to the frail, and to the sinful. It is useless to speak of the instinct of prayer as of something imported into our nature: that which is simply imported does not make its home so fixed and sure, that no lapse of time or change of circumstances has the power to dislodge it. I have dwelt at some length on the instinctive character of prayer, because on it I first ground its obligation; we ought to pray out of deference to an instinct with which God has endowed us, for by our higher intuitions and instincts He expresses His will, and to neglect to act in accordance with them, is to disobey His voice within us. Moreover, this instinct of prayer is an imperious one; it is one which will assert itself, even when it has been set aside, and its presence denied. There are moments in life when men are superior to their own principles, and human systems fail to silence the deep cry of the heart; when men pray who have denied the power of prayer. "That men ought always to pray," then, is the teaching of nature, and prayer as a matter of natural religion is an express duty.

II. We pass now from the sphere of the natural to the super-natural, from nature to grace, TO FIND ANOTHER BASIS FOR THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER. Prayer meets us with a two-fold claim in the domain of revealed religion; it is necessary as a means of grace, it is necessary also as a fulfilment of an express command of God; these are two sides, the one objective, the other subjective, of the same truth. It will be observed, that the necessity of prayer viewed in this connection is derived from the prior necessity of grace. "Every man is held to pray in order to obtain spiritual goods, which are not given, except from heaven; wherefore they are not able to be procured in any other way but by being thus sought for." In the New Testament, that grace is a necessity for the supernatural life is an elemental truth. Grace is to that life what the water is to the life of the fish, or the air to our natural life — something absolutely indispensable. "Being justified freely by His grace." "By grace ye are saved." "By the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain." "Grow in grace." "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it." In following the operations of grace from the commencement of the spiritual life to its end, five effects have been enumerated — it heals the soul, it produces a good will, it enables the good which was willed to be brought about in action, it makes perseverance in good possible, it leads to glory. Thus grace is, from first to last, the invisible nourishment of the soul's life, and prayer is the means in man's own power of gaining grace; it is through prayer that the different effects of grace are wrought in us. We ask God for spiritual healing — "Heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee." "O cleanse Thou me from my secret faults." We need Divine help for resisting temptations — "When Christ was baptized and prayed, the heavens were opened, showing that after Baptism prayer is necessary to man in two ways, to overcome the inward proneness to evil, and the outward enticements of the world and the devil." Temptations to be resisted with sanctifying effect must be resisted in the power of prayer; slight temptations may perhaps be vanquished by natural effort, or overthrown by an opposite vice, but such victories are not registered in heaven. Again, in order to advance in the spiritual life, in the development of virtues, prayer is a necessity — the apostles prayed, "Lord, increase our faith." The increase of the interior life simply consists in the growth of different virtues and graces, and these virtues are formed by the combined action of grace and free-will; these are the two factors, the raw material so to speak, from which the fabric is manufactured. A continual supply of grace is needed for the increase of each virtue, and therefore prayer is needed, not only in general, but also with definite reference to the support of the virtue which we have to exercise, or in which we are most conscious of defect. He says "prayer and grace are of the same necessity; grace is necessary for salvation, hence it ought to follow that prayer also is necessary; but why should prayer be ordained in relation to eternity, unless it he for the sake of obtaining grace?" There are, however, two limits to the power of prayer which we must not forget in its relation to grace. Prayer is itself dependent on grace in the spiritual life, and an act of prayer for grace is a correspondence with a grace which has been already given. "The Spirit," St. Paul says, "also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought." "Grace," St. asserts, "precedes our prayers always." The good thought or desire is a touch from another world; the angels of God descended as well as ascended on "Bethel's Stair." The beginnings of life, whether natural or supernatural, are from God; but the continuation and increase of life depend also on human co-operation. Again, prayer as a means of grace must not take the place of Sacraments. The revelation which proclaims the necessity of the one, also asserts the obligation of the other. Prayer is the respiration of the soul; Sacraments, its medicine and food; both alike necessary, though the one constantly, the other occasionally.

III. The obligation to pray is NOT, however, TO BE VIEWED SIMPLY IN REFERENCE TO OUR OWN BENEFIT. Prayer is also an act of religion, an act of obedience to a Divine precept which we should be bound to perform, even if no grace came to us from its performance. This objective view of the necessity of prayer is one less familiar, but hardly less important. Now from this doctrine flow two results. The omission and neglect of prayer involve not only a loss of grace, but constitute a distinct sin; it is a sin against religion, and against charity. Religion is a moral virtue, whose province it is to show due honour and reverence to Almighty God; to cease to pray therefore, is to fail to exercise a moral virtue, and that the highest. What justice is towards the creature, religion is towards God — that by which we seek to give Him His due. To neglect prayer, is also to sin against charity. Charity presents three objects — God, ourselves, others — all of whom are to be loved: but when prayer is omitted we fail in the exercise of the love of God, for we desire to hold converse with those whom we love; the love of our neighbour we fail in also, for he needs our prayers; and the love of our soul we fail in, by the neglect of a duty upon which our spiritual life depends. It remains for us to notice when this precept of prayer is binding, so that the omission of it becomes a sin. When Christ says, "men ought always to pray," it is evident that He does not mean that no other duty should be fulfilled; but that at all times, whatever we are doing, the spirit of prayer should be preserved.

IV. We have now to view THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER AS A TRANSFORMING INFLUENCE. Those who do not admit that prayer has power with God, yet acknowledge that it has power with us, and allow that it possesses a reflex influence on those who use it. The soul by communing with God becomes like God, receives from His perfections supplies of light, of power, and love according to its needs. The subjective effects of prayer are as manifold as the Divine perfections. It is said that constant intercourse between creatures causes them to resemble one another, not only in disposition and habits, but even in features. Old painters always made St. John like unto his Master in face. They instinctively imagined, that closeness of communion between the beloved disciple and his Lord had occasioned a likeness in features and expression. The first basis of its obligation will remind us that we must not regard our nature as entirely corrupt, and its voice as always misleading, but that in it, fallen as it is, there are vestiges of its original greatness, and intuitions and instincts which are to us an inward revelation of the mind and will of God. The second reason for the necessity of prayer, will explain perhaps the cause of weakness in the hour of temptation — our lack of grace. Further, we must be careful to regard prayer not only as a means of grace but as a duty, and thus fulfil it without reference to our own delight or profit in the act. If, again, we complain of our earthliness and worldliness, and the difficulty which we have in fetching our motives of action from a higher sphere, may it not be that we have failed to realize the importance of prayer in its subjective effect upon character, and have thought to gain a ray of heavenly brightness without the habitual communing with God upon the Mount?

(W. H. Hutchings, M. A.)

Prayer is natural to men. The knowledge of our own weakness is soon forced upon us, but with this conviction there comes another, the sense of dependence on One — great, loving, and wise. Out of these springs the necessity of prayer, which is the language of the frail to the mighty — the confession of need, and the instinct of trust. Every known religion attests this irresistible impulse to pray. Men, indeed, will be found to deny, or to undervalue the evidence of this instinct of prayer; but there are times which wring prayer from prayerless lips; times of danger, when all classes find prayer the most appropriate and natural utterance of their lips; times of heartfear, when the whole spirit sends up from the depths of confusion and darkness an exceeding bitter cry, wherein terror and doubt mingle with the unquenchable instinct of prayer; times when, perhaps, death is approaching, and the dark, unexplored confines of the other world begin to loom vast and vague upon an awakening conscience, and the firm citadel of stoutly maintained unbelief is swept away, and prayer rushes forth in such a despairing shriek as burst from the lips of Thistlewood — "O God, if there be a God, save my soul, if I have a soul!" It is not the approach of danger or the feeling of fear only which calls forth prayer. The irresistible disposition is experienced under the influence of feelings widely different from fear. The contemplation of the universe, and the incomprehensible Being who embraces all things, so wrought upon the mind of Rousseau that, in the restlessness of his transports, he would exclaim, "O great Being! O great Being!" The majesty and splendour of nature, brightening and kindling under the beams of the sun, rising upon the rocky heights of Jura, and circling the sky with flame, filled the soul of Voltaire with such awe that he uncovered his head, and, kneeling, he cried, "I believe — I believe in Thee! O mighty God, I believe!" If the language of prayer is thus natural to all men, and forced at times from reluctant lips, it is natural, with an inexpressible sweetness, to hearts accustomed to communion with God. The cultivated instinct becomes a rich enjoyment, and an unutterable relief. The high duty becomes the highest privilege.

(Bishop Boyd Carpenter.)

There are times when prayer is natural to the most careless; but there are also times when all things tend to deaden the spirit of prayer in the most thoughtful and prayerful of God's children. Such times are times of great and extensive activity, when pleasure is busy, and even enjoyments are full of toil. In the ceaseless industry of business and gaiety, amusement becomes hard work. Hard work brings weariness, and weariness is followed by an indisposition for any exertion of the spirit. Such, too, are times of a widespread feeling of uneasiness, when a vague apprehension seems to have seized hold upon the minds of all classes, and a strange sense of insecurity begets an unreasoning and universally felt fear. Such are times of noisy religionism and demonstrative piety, when the minds of men are galvanized into an unnatural activity through the spirit of an unwholesome rivalry; when convictions are degraded into opinions, and toil dwindles into talk, and organized Christian effort is strangled in discussion; when an impracticable tenacity of trifles and a stupendous disregard of principles throws the appearance of vitality over a degenerate and dead pietism. In such times the lulling influences of a strained activity, an undefined terror; and a selfasserting, heart-distracting zealotism steal over the spirits of the most watchful of Christ's servants, and often diminish insensibly their vigilance and earnestness in prayer. A convergence of such times into one period Christ described, and on the description He founded His warning that "men ought always to pray."

(Bishop Boyd Carpenter.)

One day, returning home from a morning meeting of the Holiness Convention, I came across a little boy standing at a house door, and crying bitterly. I tried to comfort him, but he only cried the more. Just then his mother came out, and when I inquired what was wrong with him, I found he was crying because his mother would not give him his breakfast before the right time. Similarly, we, as God's children, often make bitter repinings, and have hard thoughts about the Lord, because He does not answer our prayers at the time, and in the way that we expect. His ways are not as our ways, nor is His time always our time; but that in some way or other, and in the right way, and at His own time — not a moment too soon, not a moment too late — He will perform that which is good for us and to His glory.

(J. G. Forbes.)

When a pump is frequently used, but little pains are necessary to obtain water; the water pours out at the first stroke, because it is high; but if the pump has not been used for a long time the water gets low, and when you want it you must pump a long while, and the water comes only after great efforts. It is so with prayer. If we are instant in prayer, every little circumstance awakens the disposition to pray, and desire and words are always ready. But if we neglect prayer it is difficult for us to pray.

? — A distinguished man of science, an Englishman, was reported in the newspapers the other day to have said to an assembly in the American capital, "I am not a praying man." He was not bemoaning himself, or making confession of sin, or even uttering regret. If he did not speak boastfully, he certainly spoke without any sense of shame, and apparently with some degree of superiority over the commonplace and lag-behind people who still think it right to pray. Another distinguished man, an Englishman likewise, not a man of science, but a man of profound thought, was asked on his deathbed how he felt, and his reply was, "I can pray, and that's a great thing." In his judgment prayer was the highest service to which a whole man can give himself; not something to be left to the ignorant and feeble, but to be risen to, and aspired after by the greatest intellect and the most illumined mind. Which of the two was right? Which of them possessed the truest conception of the whole duty and privilege of man?

I. Let us see WHAT MAY, JUSTIFIABLY OR UNJUSTIFIABLY, INDUCE A MAN TO TAKE THE POSITION INVOLVED IN THE AVOWAL, "I am not a praying man."

1. He may take this position who is conscious of no want which scientific study and material good cannot satisfy. But what shall we say of such a man as this? Is he a true type of our common humanity, or of our most educated humanity? Or, rather, is he not less than a man — only part of a man? The intellect is not the soul, and intellectual pleasure cannot satisfy the soul, or, if there be some souls which profess to be satisfied with it, it only proves how untrue souls may be to their own highest capacities.

2. He may take this position who is separated from mankind by the non-possession of anything of the nature of a religious faculty. An old Greek said, "You may find peoples without cities, without arts, without theatres; but you can find no people without an altar and a God." An Englishman, not a believer in Christianity, said that upon accurate search, religion and faith appear the only ultimate differences of man" — those which distinguish him from a brute.

3. He who has ascertained that God cannot, consistently with His own laws, or will not, for some other reason, hear prayer, may take the position implied in the saying, "I am not a praying man." But where is such a man to be found? To know that God cannot answer prayer consistently with His own laws, implies a knowledge which is properly Divine.

4. He who would justify his position must be conscious that he has no sins to be forgiven. And if any one should aver that his conscience acquits him, we should say (1 John 1:8, 10).

5. The man who would justify himself in saying, "I am not a praying man," must have already attained all moral excellence, or be conscious of power to attain it by his unaided efforts. In this matter we discern the blindness that has fallen on men. They can see very clearly the power that is needed to produce physical results, but not that which is needed to produce moral. And in this they only prove how much sense has acquired dominion over them.

II. THE REASONS FOR NOT PRAYING WHICH MEN, IF HONEST ABOUT THEMSELVES, WOULD AVOW.

1. Prayer is distasteful to them. They have no heart for it. This is a sure sign of being spiritually out of health. Seek the aid of the Healer of souls.

2. They feel that prayer is inconsistent with their habits of life. Then change those habits. "Wash you, make you clean."

(J. Kennedy, D. D.)

1. There Is the objection that, God having infinite wisdom to determine what is best, and almighty power to accomplish His decree, there is nothing for His creatures to do but submit with reverence and trust. If prayer cannot change His mind, it is useless, and, moreover, an impertinence; if it could, it would be a loss, since it would involve a sacrifice of greater wisdom to less — a result which can only be conceived of as a punishment. The answer to this is, that God in giving human beings a real freedom, a power to choose whether certain events shall be one way or the other, has really, so far as we can see, for wise purposes, limited His own. In short, there is a margin of greater or less good, of manageable error, of permissible evil, which God can set apart for our freedom to exercise itself in, without the world escaping His control. The premise, therefore, from which this objection starts, that "whatever is, is best," is not true in the large sense of those words. Whatever is best under all the circumstances, under the circumstances of our crime, negligence, or error, but not the best that might have been had we reached forth our hand to take what lay within our power. It may be better if we do not pray, that we should miss some blessings God has in reserve for those who seek Him in love and trust, but this is not the best that might have been. It is the will of God in relation to our negligence; but our trust and importunity would have called into action a higher and more generous law of His loving nature.

2. The next objection is that of the imagination filled and overpowered by the thought of the vastness of the material universe. "Do you suppose," men ask, "that a petty, individual life, a worm crawling on the surface of one of His smallest planets, can be an object of particular consideration and interest to the Almighty Creator?" Why not? Is the Almighty Ruler compelled to distinguish between imperial and provincial cares like an earthly monarch? Because He is here with some suffering infant, taking its inarticulate moan into His mighty and pitiful heart, is He less in the planet Neptune, or is His power withdrawn from the glowing masses of future worlds? There is no egotism in thinking that man — any man — is more important in the Divine regard than a mass of matter, however long it has lain under the Creator's eye, and however much it may impose upon our imagination.

3. Practical hindrances to prayer are found where the speculative barriers we have been considering do not exist. Mental indolence is one .of the greatest of these hindrances, and mental indolence is a much more prevalent and serious fault than bodily indolence. No one can really pray without using his understanding, engaging his affections, and making an effort of will. Prayer is work, and hard work. We must go to the Saviour, and ask His aid. "Lord, teach us to pray."

(E. W. Shalders, B. A.)

As to the so-called scientific challenge to prove the efficacy of prayer by the result of simultaneous petition. A God that should fail to hear, receive, attend to one single prayer, the feeblest or worst, I cannot believe in; but a God that would grant every request of every man or every company of men, would be an evil God — that is no God, but a demon. That God should hang in the thought-atmosphere, like a windmill, waiting till men enough should combine and send out prayer in sufficient force to turn His outspread arms, is an idea too absurd. God waits to be gracious, not to be tempted. "But if God is so good as you represent Him, and if He knows all that we need, and better far than we do ourselves, why should it be necessary to ask Him for anything?" I answer, What if He knows prayer to be the thing we need first and most? What if the main object in God's idea of prayer be the supplying of our great, our endless need — the need of Himself? What if the good of all our smaller and lower needs lies in this, that they help to drive us to God? Hunger may drive the runaway child home, and he may or may not be fed at once, but he needs his mother more than his dinner. Communion with God is the one need of the soul beyond all other need; prayer is the beginning of that communion, and some need is the motive of that prayer. Our wants are for the sake of our coming into communion with God, our eternal need. In regard, however, to the high necessities of our nature, it is in order that He may be able to give that God requires us to ask — requires by driving us to it — by shutting us up to prayer. For how can He give into the soul of a man what it needs, while that soul cannot receive it? The ripeness for receiving is the asking. The blossom-cup of the soul, to be filled with the heavenly dews, is its prayer. When the soul is hungry for the light, for the truth — when its hunger has waked its higher energies, thoroughly roused the will, and brought the soul into its highest condition, that of action, its only fitness for receiving the things of God, that action is prayer. Then God can give; then He can be as He would towards the man: for the glory of God is to give Himself. We thank thee, Lord Christ, for by Thy pain alone do we rise towards the knowledge of this glory of Thy Father and our Father.

(G. Macdonald, LL. D.)

A waterfall is a scientific object only in a very rude way. But when every drop of its waters has been manipulated and controlled by the human will till the mills of a Lowell or a Lawrence display from every spindle and shuttle the presence of human intelligence and power, then the untamed river begins to sparkle with the brilliancy of science, and to murmur its praises from every ripple. That is, the more mind-power is mingled with matter-power, the more scientific is the compound result. The uniformity of the waterfall is far less scientific, than the diversity of the waterwheel. Automatic mechanisms, machines that adjust themselves to change, throwing themselves out of gear at the least obstacle or breakage, ringing a bell as a signal of distress, increasing or diminishing combustion, changing position, as in the case of a lathe to meet all the convolutions of a gun-stock, have a far higher scientific character than a carpenter's drawing-knife, or a housewife's spinning-wheel, which display less of diversity and more of uniformity. It was once supposed that the solar system is so balanced that the loss of a grain of weight, or the slightest change of motion, would dislocate and destroy the whole system. It was a higher science, not a lower, that has since taught us that exact uniformity is by no means necessary to the stability of the system, but that oscillation and change are fully provided for in the original plan. The principle holds good that the modifications of a mind power introduced into a material mechanism advance its scientific rank, and increase rather than diminish the proof of the presence of law and order in its working. I was riding, a few years since, about one of the rural cities of the State of New York with one of the most distinguished preachers at the metropolis. We were speaking of the curious fallacies involved in Tyndall's famous prayer-gauge conundrum. Just then we drove up to the city water-works. I told him that if he would go in with me I thought we could find a good illustration of the manner in which God may answer prayer without interfering with any of the laws of nature. The point, let us remember, is, that the power of an intelligent will can be so introduced among the forces of matter as to have perfect uniformity in the working of those forces, while diversity appears in their results. The building we entered was furnished with a Holley engine. As we stood by the steam gauge we observed constant and considerable changes in the amount of steam produced. As there was no cause apparent in or about the engine itself, we asked for an explanation. "That," said the engineer, "is done by the people in the city. As they open their faucets to draw the water the draft upon our fires is increased. As they close them, it is diminished. The smallest child can change the movements of our engine according to his will. It was the design of the maker to adjust his engine so that it should respond perfectly to the needs of the people, be they great or small." Just then the bell rung, the furnace-drafts flew open, the steam rose rapidly in the gauge, the engineer flew to his post, the ponderous machinery accelerated its movement. We heard a general alarm of fire. "How is that?" we asked. "That," he said, "was the opening of some great fire-plug." "And how about the bell? What did that ring for?" "That," he said, "was to put us on the alert. You saw that the firemen began to throw on coal at once. A thousand things have to be looked after when there is a great fire. It won't do to leave the engine to itself at such times." In a moment there came a lull. The great pumps moved more deliberately. In another minute a roar of steam told us the safety-valve had opened, and soon the great engine had returned to its ordinary, sleepy motion. "Wonderful," said my friend; "the whole thing seems alive. I almost thought it would start and run to the fire itself." "I think this one of the grandest triumphs of science," said the engineer, as he bade me good-bye. The illustration is a good one, but others of the same sort are at our hand on every side. The uniformity of nature is, in fact, one of its lesser attributes. Its great glory is in its wonderful adaptability. Its greatest glory is its unlimited capacity to receive mind-forces, and to mingle them with its matter-forces in perfect harmony, and in infinite variety of combination. If human science has been able to do so much to overcome the eventless uniformity of nature in its wildness and crudeness, shall we deny to the Divine omniscience the power to effect the slightest modifications necessary in answering the prayers of His children? Nay, shall we deny to Him the power so to adjust the original mechanism of the universe that prayer with its appropriate action may directly modify that mechanism, as the child's thirst and his little hand can open a faucet and change the action of the great water-works miles away. Or, is it at all unscientific to believe that other intelligent agents may, in answer to prayer, be "caused to fly swiftly," as the little bell aroused the engineer. Or can science offer any valid objection if we say that God Himself holds the forces of nature in His own hand; waiting, for high moral reasons, "to be inquired of by the house of Israel to do these things for them "?

(Prof. J. P. Gulliver.)

Let me tell you that if any of you should die with your prayers unanswered, you need not conclude that God has disappointed you. I have heard that a certain godly father bad the unhappiness to be the parent of some five or six most graceless sons. All of them as they grew up imbibed infidel sentiments, and led a libidinous life. The father who had been constantly praying for them, and was a pattern of every virtue, hoped at least that in his death he might be able to say a word that should move their hearts. He gathered them to his bedside, but his unhappiness in dying was extreme, for be lost the light of God's countenance, and was beset with doubts and fears, and the last black thought that haunted him was, "Instead of my death being a testimony for God, which will win my dear sons, I die in such darkness and gloom that I fear I shall confirm them in their infidelity, and lead them to think that there is nothing in Christianity at all." The effect was the reverse. The sons came round the grave at the funeral, and when they returned to the house, the eldest son thus addressed his brothers: — "My brothers, throughout his lifetime, our father often spoke to us about religion, and we have always despised it, but what a sermon his deathbed has been to us! for if he who served God so well and lived so near to God found it so hard a thing to die, what kind of death may we expect ours to be who have lived without God and without hope?" The same feeling possessed them all, and thus the father's death had strangely answered the prayers of his life through the grace of God. You cannot tell but what, when you are in glory, you should look down from the windows of heaven and receive a double heaven in beholding your dear sons and daughters converted by the words you left behind. I do not say this to make you cease pleading for their immediate conversion, but to encourage you. Never give up prayer, never be tempted to cease from it.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

"Men ought to pray." Let none misunderstand us when we lay stress on the word "men." Of course, Christ does not mean one sex merely; He immediately afterwards speaks of "a certain widow." His reference is to the human race at large. We are assured by Paul that in Him there is "neither male nor female." Nevertheless, we eagerly take advantage of the word thus used by our Saviour that we may affirm and maintain the manliness of prayer. The assertion is far from unnecessary, and every one who is acquainted with public opinion will, we think, agree with us. Is there not a notion abroad that prayer is a somewhat feeble, sentimental, effeminate pursuit? Are we not often reminded by travellers on the continent of the fact that churches and cathedrals are chiefly filled by women? Sandy Mackaye, in "Alton Locke," describes a certain congregation as made up of "babies and bonnets," and we know what the inference is. Dr. J. Martineau felicitously speaks of those who regard it "a fond superstition and womanly weakness to ask God anything." Don't we all recollect the account given of Tom Brown when, on arriving at school, he was pelted, chaffed, and ridiculed, because he kneeled beside his bed? Perhaps the last-named incident is more significant than any or the whole of the preceding ones, since there is nothing about which boys are so ambitious as to seem manly. The occurrence is, therefore, a feather which, as it flies, shows the way of the wind. The idea that prayer is unworthy of us as men is utterly unreasonable and untrue. Is it not manly to do right? No one disputes it. We get our word virtue from the Latin vir, a man; to be moral is to be manly. By parity of argument, to do right generally must be manly; prayer is right, God would not will it were it not; therefore it is manly.

(T. R. Stevenson.)

Remember, you can pray for any need — for lengthened life, as Hezekiah did; for help, as Daniel did; for light, as Bartimeus did; for mercy, as David did; for rain, as Elijah did; for a son, as Hannah did; for grace, as Paul did. You can pray, too, anywhere; in the deep, like Jonah; on the sea or the house-top, like Peter; on your bed, like Hezekiah; in the mountain, like Jesus; in the wilderness, like Hagar; in the street, like Jairus; in a cave, like David; on the cross, like the dying thief. You can pray, too, anyhow; short, like Peter and the publican; long, like Moses at the consecration of the Tabernacle, or Solomon at the dedication of the Temple. You can pray in silence, as Hannah did in the Temple; in your secret thoughts, as Nehemiah did before Darius; or aloud, like the Syro-Phenician woman; in tears, like Magdalen; in groans, or songs, as David did. You can pray any time. In the morning, like David; at noon, like Daniel; at midnight, like Silas; in childhood, like Samuel; in youth, like Timothy; in manhood, like the centurion; in age, like Simeon; in sickness, like Job; or in death, like Jacob and the dying Christ. And all of them were heard by the Hearer of prayer. I pray you, learn to pray! Link yourselves to the throne of God. Prayer will stand you in good stead every day of your mortal life! will make you joyful in the hour of death; and by the power of prayer you shall scale the mount of God! Pray!

(J. D. Wray.)

"God's seasons are not at your heel: If the first stroke of the flint doth not bring forth the fire, you must strike again. That is to say, God will hear prayer, but He may not answer it at the time which we in our own minds have appointed; He will reveal Himself to our seeking hearts, but not just when and where we have settled in our own expectations. Hence the need of perseverence and importunity in supplication. In the days of flint and steel and brimstone matches we had to strike and strike again, dozens of times, before we could get a spark to live in the tinder; and we were thankful enough if we succeeded at last. Shall we not be as persevering and hopeful as to heavenly things? We have more certainty of success in this business than we had with our flint and steel, for we have God's promise at our back. Never let us despair. God's time for mercy will come; yea, it has come, if our time for believing has arrived. Ask in faith, nothing wavering; but never cease from petitioning because the king delays to reply. Strike the steel again. Make the sparks fly and have your tinder ready: you will get a light before long.

In reply to the question, "What place has prayer for temporal blessings in your system of natural law in the spiritual world?" Professor Drummond, as reported, said, in one of his talks at Lakeview: — A large, splendidly equipped steamship sailed out from Liverpool for New York. Among the passengers were a little boy and girl, who were playing about the deck, when the boy lost his ball overboard. He immediately ran to the captain and shouted, "Stop the ship; my ball is overboard!" The captain smiled pleasantly, but said, "Oh no, my boy; I cannot stop the ship, with all these people, just to get a rubber ball." The boy went away grumbling, and confided to the little girl that it was his opinion the captain didn't stop the ship because he couldn't. He believed the ship was wound up some way in Liverpool, and she just had to run, day and night, until she ran down. A day or so afterward the children were playing on deck again, when the little girl dropped her doll down into the engine-room, and she supposed it, too, had gone overboard. She said, "I'll run and ask the captain to stop the ship and get my dolly." "It's no use," said the boy; "he cannot do anything. I've tried him." But the little girl ran on to the captain with her story and appeal. The captain came and peeked down into the engine-room, and, seeing the doll, said, "Just wait here a minute." And, while the ship went right on, he ran down the stairway and brought up the little girl's doll, to her delight, and to the boy's amazement. The next day the cry rang out, "Man overboard!" and immediately the bell rang in the engine-room, by orders from the lever in the hands of the captain; the great ship stood still until boats were lowered and the life rescued. Then she steamed on until she reached her wharf in New York. As soon as the ship was tied up the captain went up town and bought the boy a better ball than the one he had lost. "Now," said the professor, "each of the three prayers was answered. The little girl received her request without stopping the ship; the little boy by a little waiting received his also; and yet for sufficient reason the ship was stopped by a part of the machinery itself, not an afterthought, but something put into the ship when it was made."

One is bowed down with shame to read of the long hours spent day by day in prayer by many holy men whose lives are given to us. Nor is it less humiliating to know of the extraordinary delight experienced by some good men in these long hours of prayer. It is related of St. Francis de Sales that in a day's retreat, in which he continued most of the day in prayer, he was so overwhelmed with the joy of this communion with God that he exclaimed, "Withdraw Thyself, O Lord, for I am not able to bear the greatness of Thy sweetness!" and the saintly Fletcher, of Madeley, on one occasion prayed for less delight in prayer, fearing it would become more of an indulgence than of a duty.

There was in a city a Judge which feared not God, neither regarded man
1. There are points of resemblance between God's people and this widow. In Satan, have not we also an adversary to be avenged on? Are not we also poor and needy? She had known happy days; and so also had man. By death she had lost her husband; and by sin we have lost our God. Poor and friendless, she had no means of avenging, of righting herself; no more have we — we were without help when Christ died for the ungodly. "The sons of Zeruiah," cried David, "are too many for me"; and so are sin and its corruptions, the world and its temptations, the devil and his wiles, for us.

2. There are likewise some points of resemblance between God and this unjust judge. Long had he stood by and, without one effort on her behalf, seen this poor woman spurned and oppressed; and long also God seemed to stand by when His people were ground to the dust in Egypt; in old Pagan and in more modern Popish times, when their cruel enemies shed the blood of His saints like water, and, immured in dungeons, bleeding on scaffolds, hiding in the caves of our mountains, His elect cried to Him day and night, and the Church, helpless as a widow, implored Him, saying, "Avenge me of mine adversary!" And this is true also of His dealings with individual believers. How long in their corruption are the messengers of Satan left to buffet them? Weary of the struggle with some besetting sin, and hating it as a slave his cruel tyrant, they cry, "How long, O Lord, how long?" how often, all but despairing, are they ready to exclaim with Paul, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

3. But there are important points of disparity between this judge and our God: and in these I find assurance of final victory, and the highest encouragements to instant, constant, urgent prayer. A bad man, with a heart cold as ice and hard as iron, was he moved by importunity to redress the wrongs of one for whom he felt no regard, whose happiness or misery was nothing to him? — how much more will God be importuned to grant our prayers! Just, and more than just, He is merciful and gracious, long-suffering and slow to wrath, abundant in goodness and in truth.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

I. First, then, consider our LORD'S DESIGN IN THIS PARABLE — "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint."

1. Our Lord meant by saying men ought always to pray, that they ought to be always in the spirit of prayer, always ready to pray. Like the old knights, always in warfare, not always on their steeds dashing forward with their lances in rest to unhorse an adversary, but always wearing their weapons where they could readily reach them, and always ready to encounter wounds or death for the sake of the cause which they championed. Those grim warriors often slept in their armour; so even when we sleep, we are still to be in the spirit of prayer, so that if perchance we wake in the night we may still be with God.

2. Our Lord may also have meant, that the whole life of the Christian should be a life of devotion to God. Men ought always to pray. It means that when they are using the lapstone, or the chisel, when the hands are on the plough-handles, or on the spade, when they are measuring out the goods, when they are dealing in stocks, whatever they are doing, they are to turn all these things into a part of the sacred pursuit of God's glory. Their common garments are to be vestments, their meals are to be sacraments, their ordinary actions are to be sacrifices, and they themselves a royal priesthood, a peculiar people zealous for good works.

3. A third meaning which I think our Lord intended to convey to us was this: men ought always to pray, that is, they should persevere in prayer.

4. I cannot leave this part of the subject without observing that our Lord would have us learn that men should be more frequent in prayer. Prayerfulness will scarcely be kept up long unless you set apart times and seasons for prayer.

5. Our Lord means, to sum up the whole, that believers should exercise a universality of supplication — we ought to pray at all times.

II. In enforcing this precept, our Lord gives us a parable in which there are TWO ACTORS, the characteristics of the two actors being such as to add strength to His precept. In the first verse of the parable there is a judge. Now, herein is the great advantage to us in prayer. Brethren, if this poor woman prevailed with a judge whose office is stern, unbending, untender, how much more ought you and I to be instant in prayer and hopeful of success when we have to supplicate a Father! We must, however, pass on now to notice the other actor in the scene — the widow; and here everything tells again the same way, to induce the Church of God to be importunate. She was apparently a perfect stranger to the judge. She appeared before him as an individual in whom he took no interest. He had possibly never seen her before; who she was and what she wanted was no concern to him. But when the Church appears before God she comes as Christ's own bride, she appears before the Father as one whom He has loved with an everlasting love. And shall He not avenge His own elect, His own chosen, His own people? Shall not their prayers prevail with Him, when a stranger's importunity won a suit of an unwilling judge?

III. The third and last point: THE POWER WHICH, ACCORDING TO THIS PARABLE, TRIUMPHED.

1. This power was not the woman's eloquence, "I pray thee avenge me of mine adversary." These words are very few. Just eight words. Verbiage is generally nothing better in prayer than a miserable fig-leaf with which to cover the nakedness of an unawakened soul.

2. Another thing is quite certain, namely, that the woman did not prevail through the merits of her case. He does not say, "She has a good case, and I ought to listen to it." No, he was too bad a man to be moved by such a motive — but "she worries me," that is all, "I will attend to it." So in our suit — in the suit of a sinner with God, it is not the merit of his case that can ever prevail with God. If thou art to win, another's merit must stand instead of thine, and on thy part it must not be merit but misery; it must not be thy righteousness but thy importunity that is to prevail with God. However unworthy you may be, continue in prayer.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. Consider THE PARABLE ITSELF.

II. Inquire, WHAT IS MEANT BY IMPORTUNITY IN PRAYER.

1. Attention.

2. Ardour.

3. Frequency.

4. Regularity.

III. Let us next consider WHY IMPORTUNITY IS SAID TO PREVAIL WITH GOD.

1. Because it consists in the exercise of pious and amiable feelings.

2. Because the frequent exercise of such feelings has a tendency to form pious and virtuous habits; and such habits are qualifications for higher society and purer happiness than this world affords.

3. Because the frequent excitement of such feelings fits us for receiving the blessings we ask.

IV. We may shortly observe, from what our Saviour has said in the seventh and eighth verses, that HE SEEMS TO INSINUATE THAT SOMETHING LIKE A STATE OF PERSECUTION WILL TAKE PLACE ABOUT THE TIME OF HIS SECOND COMING. For why should the elect be represented as crying to God day and night, unless they were in a suffering state?

1. We may conclude that many will despond and cease to believe that God will interfere in their favour.

2. It also necessarily follows that, after the second coming of Jesus, God will avenge His elect, and that suddenly and completely.

(J. Thomson, D. D.)

How can the conduct of this selfish tyrant to a helper sufferer be any illustration of a just and merciful God's dealing with "His own elect?" One thing, at least, is certain, that in this, and, by parity of reasoning, in all like cases, it does not follow, because two things are compared in one point, that they must be alike in every other. The only points of contact are the mutual relation of the parties as petitioner and sovereign, the withholding of the thing requested and its subsequent bestowal. In all the rest there is, there can be no resemblance; there is perfect contrariety. Why, then, was this unsuitable image chosen even for the sake of illustration? Why was not the Hearer of Prayer represented by a creature bearing more of His own image? Because this would not have answered our Lord's purpose, but would only have taught feebly by comparison what is now taught mightily by contrast. The ground of confidence here furnished is not the similitude of God to man, but their infinite disparity. If even such a character, governed by such motives, may be rationally expected to take a certain course, however alien from his native disposition and his habits, there can be no risk in counting on a like result where all these adverse circumstances favour it. The three main points of the antithesis are these — the character, the practice, and the motive of the judge — his moral character, his official practice, and his motive for acting upon this occasion in a manner contrary to both. His official practice is intimated by the word "unjust" applied to him near the conclusion of the parable. The interior source of this exterior conduct is then described in other terms. He feared not God. He neither reverenced Him as a sovereign, nor dreaded Him as an avenger. Among the motives which may act upon this principle, not the least potent is the fear of man. This may include the dread of his displeasure, the desire of his applause, and an instinctive shrinking even from his scorn. Shame, fear, ambition, all may contribute to produce an outward goodness having no real counterpart within. This is particularly true of public and official acts. They can consent to risk their souls, but not to jeopard their respectability. There would thus seem to be three grounds for expecting justice and fidelity in human society, and especially in public trusts. The first and highest is the fear of God, including all religious motives — then the fear of man or a regard to public sentiment — and last, the force of habit, the authority of precedent, a disposition to do that which has been done before, because it has been done before. These three impulsive forces do not utterly exclude each other. They may co-exist in due subordination. The same is true of a regard to settled usage, or even to personal habit, when correctly formed. Indeed, these latter motives never have so powerful an influence for good, as when they act in due subordination to the fear of God. It is only when this is wanting, and they undertake to fill its place, that they become unlawful or objectionable. And even then, although they cannot make good the deficiency in God's sight, they may make it good in man's. Although the root of the matter is not in them. a short-lived verdure may be brought out and maintained by artificial means. The want of any one of these impulsive forces may detract from the completeness of the ultimate effect. How much more the absence of them all! In other words, how utterly unjust must that judge be who neither fears God nor regards man. If this widow has not the means of appealing to his avarice, how clear it seems that his refusal to avenge her is a final one, and that continued importunity can only waste time and provoke him to new insult. I dwell on these particulars to show that, in their aggregate, they are intended to convey the idea of a hopeless case. She hopes against hope. An indomitable instinct triumphs over reason. She persists in her entreaties. The conclusion which we have already reached 'is, that the widow in the parable did right, acted a reasonable part, in hoping against hope, and still persisting in her suit when everything combined to prove it hopeless. She would have had no right to sacrifice the comfort and tranquillity, much less the life or the salvation of her children to her own despondency or weariness of effort. But let us suppose that he had been an upright, conscientious, faithful judge, whose execution of his office was delayed by some mistake or want of information. How much less excusable would she have then been in relinquishing her rights or those of others in despair! Suppose that, instead of knowing that the judge was in principle and habit unjust, she had known him, by experience, to be just and merciful, as well as eminently wise. Suppose that she had been protected by him, and her wrongs redressed in many ether cases. How easy must it then have been to trust! How doubly mad and wicked to despair! There seems to be room for only one more supposition. Exclude all chance of intellectual or moral wrong. Enlarge the attributes before supposed, until they reach infinity or absolute perfection. What, then, would be left as the foundation or the pretext of a doubt? The bare fact of delay? If she was wise in hoping against hope, what must we be in despairing against evidence? If she was right in trusting to the selfish love of ease in such a man, how wrong must we be in distrusting the benevolence, the faithfulness, the truth of such a God! Every point of dissimilitude between the cases does but serve to make our own still worse and less excusable, by bringing into shocking contrast men's dependence on the worst of their own species, with their want of confidence in God.

(J. A. Alexander.)

There is a rude sense of right in most men's breasts; and the appeal of outraged helplessness is not often made in vain. But this judge was in his very nature incapable of understanding or feeling the force of such an appeal: he was an unjust judge. Again, even in cases where man have no natural and conscientious sympathy with righteousness, the instinct of retribution frequently arouses a fear of God, which impels them to acts of justice; but in the case of the unjust judge there seemed no avenue for the approach of such a feeling: he feared not God. Nor was he moved by that which, as a last motive, is powerful in the most debased natures, the regard for the opinion of other men. He was of that cold, hardened, and unaccommodating character that he neither feared God nor regarded man. What did our Master intend by thus sketching the judge?... The unjust judge is not the portrait of what God is, but of what, owing to circumstances of trial, and misrepresentations of unreasonable and wicked men, the suffering, waiting people of Christ will be almost tempted to think Him. All about them they hear a language which haunts them with hideous dread; the voice of the enemy and the blasphemer are heard whispering, "Is there knowledge in the Most High? He will never regard it"; or deepening into the hoarse utterance of half wish, half fear — "There is no God!" Harassed by doubts, wounded and terrified by the oft-reiterated assaults and assertions of her enemies, driven to despair at the seeming unbroken stillness of the unanswering heavens, the Church of Christ is as the lone helpless widow, powerless and povertystricken. But she is mighty. Though this hideous portraiture of grim and impassive godhead is thrust upon her, she will have none of it. She will not abandon her plea, or accept the description. With this picture of hard, inexorable justice before her, she will not abandon her plea. If it be so, that she is thus weak and poor, and dealing with one whom no cries for pity, or claims for justice, can arouse, and no aspect of misery touch and soften; then nothing remains for her but the might of her weakness in its unceasing supplications, which will take no denial; nothing remains but to weary Him out into compliance.

(Bishop Boyd Carpenter.)

"A judge" in an Oriental city must not be regarded precisely as a judge among us, nowadays, nor yet with all the peculiar powers and duties of the ancient judges of Israel, whose powers somewhat resembled that of a king. Those ancient judges, more like ancient kings than anything else, were yet officers or rulers of such a peculiar sort, that the Romans transferred the name of their dignity into Latin — at least of their Carthaginian counterparts. Out of the Shemitic shofet they made suffetes. But in the time of Christ the judge, where not a Roman official, had still some power equivalent to that of the sheriffs of our country. He was head judge and head executioner of his sentences. Never till our own times, or those of two of three generations ago, has the world worked out the problem of wholly separating the legislative, the judicial, and the executive functions. Nor is it always accomplished by a nominal separation; nor can that separation ever be entirely actual, even as much so as required by theory. As long as the legislative or judicial power has anything to do, it must be gifted with some slight executive powers. But this is only one instance in the physical and metaphysical universe of the failure of human divisions to cover all that the one Spirit has made or is working. The prayer of the widow to the unjust judge — and here "unrighteous" is better; for attention is directed not very closely to his merely judicial function — regards rather his executive function than anything else. She does not call — in words at least — for a hearing of her cause, but for an order of enforcement. In modern times that would be by sending a zabtieh or two, soldier police, to apply the necessary force. This might be done even without hearing, or before hearing, the case. To this day, in the East, it is necessary for poor suitors to be very importunate. It would be easy to give examples; but it might be tedious. A woman will frequently beg and beg a judge to attend to her case, or to execute a decree in a case he has passed upon and rendered judgment, and generally promise or ask to kiss the judge's feet. But a little money from the other side will effectually stop the judge's ears.

(Prof. Isaac H. Hall.)

A widow
This parable sets before us, under the figure of a widow — a feeble and injured widow — the true character and standing of the Church of God on earth, during the present age. In numbers she is few — a mere election, a gathering out, no more; in power, slender; in honour, little set by; in alliances, little courted. That such is the case, nay, that such must be the case, appears from such things as these: —

1. The Father's purpose concerning her. That purpose has great things in store for her, in the ages to come; but at present her lot is to be weakness, poverty, hardship, and the endurance of wrong.

2. Her conformity to her Lord. He is her pattern, not merely as to character, but as to the whole course of life. In Him she learns what her lot on earth is to be. He, the rejected one, even among His own, she must be rejected too.

3. Her standing by faith. It is the world's unbelief that so specially makes it the world; so it is the Church's faith that makes her what she is, the Church. "We have known and believed the love that God hath to us."

4. The condition of the world out of which she is called. It is an evil world.

5. Her prospects. She is an heir of God, and a joint heir with Christ Jesus. The world loves not the faithful widow, and would fain seduce her to a second marriage — a marriage with itself. Decked in costly array, it would admire her, and give her its willing fellowship. But dressed only in the widow's mournful garb, it cannot tolerate her. Her faithfulness to her Lord condemns it. Her seclusion and separation rebuke it. Her continuing in supplication and prayers night and day it cannot away with. The widow's cry sorely disturbs the world's peace, and, ringing nightly through its glittering halls of pleasure, turns all its music into discord. Nor less does Satan dislike the widow's weeds and the widow's cry. For they remind him that his day is short, and that he who is to bind him in chains, and cast him out of his dominions, will soon be here.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

I. GOD HAS AN ELECT PEOPLE IN THE WORLD, scattered up and down among men found in various places, and in almost all communities, as his chosen ones. Men may take this principle in a light which does not belong to it, and affirm that they can deduce conclusions from it which in the Bible are directly and distinctly denied. There are, I might observe, two things which always make it appear to me, not only in a light that is harmless, but in a light that is most beneficial.

1. The one is, that it is never separated from its moral influences. "Predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son." "Chosen that we may be blameless and harmless, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation." And here, in the passage before us, it stands allied with a devotional character and with a praying habit of mind: and we are sure of this, that, practically felt in the mind, it does humble, prostrate, purify, inspire, and awaken within the lowest gratitude, and, at the same time, the loftiest and the holiest joy.

2. The other thing that I would wish to remark respecting it is, that it interferes not in any degree with the universal invitations of the gospel.

II. THE ELECT OF GOD ARE DISTINGUISHED BY THEIR DEVOTIONAL CHARACTER — THEIR PRAYING FRAME OF MIND. "Shall not God avenge His own elect who cry day and night before Him?" The evidence that we are chosen of God, called into His Church, made partakers of His mercy, is in this, that we recognize His providence; that we live in daily dependence upon His bounty; that we lift up our hearts to Him in supplication; that believing we pray, and that praying we confide. Then I would add, that an elect and praying people are beautiful in the eyes of God, and His ears are ever open to their cry.

III. Their prayers particularly regard THE RETRIBUTION UPON THE ENEMY, AND THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM. "Shall not God avenge His own elect, who cry day and night unto Him?" There is emphasis on the word "cry." "Abel's blood did cry; there was a shrill, piercing, importunate voice in it." Just before God came down to deliver the Israelites in Egypt, on account of their bondage and oppression, it is said they did "sigh and cry": and we find the Church, when distressed and in anguish by reason of the enemy, is said to "cry." A widow, a desolate person, sustaining injury, bleeding under injustice, cries, and asks the judge for justice; and precisely in the same way the Church is said to cry to God for justice. And against whom? The answer is, against Satan, the great adversary, who has established a tyranny and an usurpation in this world, who has built up his kingdom amidst darkness, and violence, and blood. And we ask for justice upon him, and pray God to bruise him under our feet, and to do it quickly. The Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil; and we call on the Son of God in the exercise of His supremacy to do His work.

IV. THE PRAYER OF THE ELECT CHURCH FOR JUSTICE SHALL BE HEARD AND ANSWERED WHEN THE LORD COMETH. I am not sure that the word "avenge" here is the right one: if the widow had asked vengeance on her enemy, peradventure the judge would not have granted it; but it means more properly "justice." "Though He bear long with them," says the text. A very learned critic, on the authority of many ancient manuscripts, observes it ought to be "though He compassionate them": that is, while they cry, though God appeareth not to attend to them, yet He does hear them and tenderly compassionates them. If we take it as being correctly "avenge," I beg to remark that the world and the wicked have had their time of vengeance. Here is a picture! "All that pass by clap their hands at Thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem." With ferocious face they clapped their hands, and hissed, and wagged their heads, "saying, Is this the city that men call the perfection of beauty, the icy of the whole earth? All Thine enemies have opened their mouth against Thee: they hiss and gnash the teeth: they say, We have swallowed her up: certainly this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it." Unholy vengeance! Revenge, in the true and strict sense of the expression, awful to contemplate! That was man's day; that was the day of the adversary: and God stood silent by. But God has His day: the day of the Lord cometh: and this is referred to in the text.

V. We come to the last thing, when the Lord shall come to execute His justice, FAITH WILL BE AT A LOW EBB ON THE EARTH. "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh shall He find faith on the earth?" when He cometh to execute justice. It is very observable that in almost every great and signal instance in which God has remarkably come for a purpose specified in the passage, it has been suddenly, in a moment, and when there is no belief of it.

(J. Stratten.)

I. GOD HAS AN ELECT PEOPLE IN THE WORLD, WHO ARE A PRAYING PEOPLE. This character of a praying people is confined to them.

II. "GOD WILT AVENGE HIS OWN ELECT, WHO CRY DAY AND NIGHT UNTO HIM." Though men see not, He is in the world; though men see Him not, He is not far from any one of us; though men see not His work, He is carrying it on; He has been building up His Church, and establishing its progress.

III. THE STRIKING REBUKE WHICH CHRIST UTTERS: "When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith upon the earth? " What a thought; how we ought to humble ourselves!

(I. Saunders.)

Alexander Peden, one of the Scotch covenanters, with some others, had been at one time hard pursued by Claverhouse's troops for a considerable way. At last, getting some little height between them and their pursuers, he stood still and said, "Let us pray here, for if the Lord hear not our prayer and save us, we are all dead men." He then prayed, saying, "O Lord, this is the hour and the power of Thine enemies; they may not be idle. But hast Thou no other work for them than to send them after us? Send them after them to whom Thou wilt give strength to flee, for our strength is gone. Twine them about the hill, O Lord, and cast the lap of Thy cloak over the poor old folk and their puir things, and save us this one time, and we will keep it in remembrance, and tell to the commendation of Thy goodness, Thy pity and compassion, what Thou didst for us at sic a time." And in this he was heard, for a cloud of mist immediately intervened between them and their persecutors, and in the meantime orders came to go in quest of James Renwick, and a great company with him.

Shall He find faith on the earth?
I. THE IMPORTANCE ATTACHED BY CHRIST TO THE FAITH OF HIS PEOPLE. The faith of the Church is important, because it is at the root of all Christian activity and zeal. What wonder is it, then, that Christ attaches such importance to the faith of His people?

II. THOUGH THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH IS TRIED BY THE DELAY OF THE DELIVERANCE, YET THERE ARE ABUNDANT REASONS WHY IT SHOULD HOLD ON. There is nothing mere remarkable in the history of Christ than the calm faith which He had in His own mission — in its success and ultimate triumph. He stood alone; and to be alone in any enterprise or sorrow is to most men hard and trying. Truth is truth if only embraced by one; truth is not a whir more true when ten thousand believe it. But we like sympathy. No one in the wide world understood His mission; but His faith never wavered for a moment. He was not careful to engrave His words on stone, or write them on parchment; He simply spoke. A spoken word — it stirs the air, it is like a pebble thrown into the ocean of air, causing a few ripples to spread, and it is soon lost like a pebble. Christ flung His words into the air, spoke on the mountain, by the sea-shore, in the Temple, in the synagogue, in the village, by the grave; and He knew that His words were living, and would continue to live, that they were not "like a snowflake on the river, a moment white, and then gone for ever," but that they were destined to spread and to revolutionize the world. We learn, however, that notwithstanding His unshaken faith, He could see clouds in the future, persecution, corruption, iniquity, abound. ing, love waxing cold, eras of apparent retrogression and failure. And seeing all this, He asks, "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find this faith on the earth?"

III. He supposes THAT THE CHURCH MAY BECOME WEARY OF THE DELAY.

(James Owen.)

Faithfulness is established in the very heavens: but what of faithfulness upon the earth?

I. I notice with regard to our text, first, that IT IS REMARKABLE IF WE CONSIDER THE PERSON MENTIONED AS SEARCHING FOR FAITH. "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?"

1. When Jesus comes He will look for precious faith. He has more regard for faith than for all else that earth can yield Him. Our returning Lord will care nothing for the treasures of the rich or the honours of the great. He will not look for the abilities we have manifested, nor the influence we have acquired; but He will look for our faith. It is His glory that He is "believed on in the world," and to that He will have respect. This is the jewel for which He is searching.

2. When our Lord comes and looks for faith, He will do so in His most sympathetic character. Our text saith not, When the Son of God cometh, but "When the Son of Man cometh, will He find faith on the earth?" It is peculiarly as the Son of Man that Jesus will sit as a refiner, to discover whether we have true faith or not.

3. Further, I would have you note well that the Son of Man is the most likely person to discover faith if it is to be found. Not a grain of faith exists in all the world except that which He has Himself created.

4. Besides, faith always looks to Christ. There is no faith in the world worth having, but what looks to Him, and through Him to God, for everything. On the other hand, Christ always looks to faith; there never yet was an eye of faith but what it met the eye of Christ.

5. The Son of Man will give a wise and generous judgment in the matter. Some brethren judge so harshly that they would tread out the sparks of faith; but it is never so with our gracious Lord; He does not quench the smoking flax, nor despise the most trembling faith. The tender and gentle Saviour, who never judges too severely, when He comes, shall even He find faith on the earth?

6. Once more, I want to put this question into a striking light by dwelling on the time of the scrutiny. "When the Son of Man cometh," etc. I know not how long this dispensation of longsuffering will last; but certainly the longer it continues the more wantonly wicked does unbelief become.

7. "I want you to notice the breadth of the region of search. He does not say, shall He find faith among philosophers? When had they any? He does not confine His scrutiny to an ordained ministry or a visible Church; but He takes a wider sweep — "Shall He find faith on the earth?" As if He would search from throne to cottage, among the learned and among the ignorant, among public men and obscure individuals. Alas, poor earth, to be so void of faith!

II. Let us somewhat change the run of our thoughts: having introduced the question as a remarkable one, we will next notice that IT IS EXCEEDINGLY INSTRUCTIVE IN CONNECTION WITH THE PARABLE OF WHICH IT IS PART. When the Son of Man cometh shall He find upon the earth the faith which prays importunately, as this widow did? Now, the meaning is dawning upon us. We have many upon the earth who pray; but where are those whose continual coming is sure to prevail?

III. In the next place, our text seems to me to be SUGGESTIVE IN VIEW OF ITS VERY FORM. It is put as a question: "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?"

1. I think it warns us not to dogmatize about what the latter days will be. Jesus puts it as a question. Shall He find faith on the earth?

2. This question leads us to much holy fear as to the matter of faith. If our gracious Lord raises the question, the question ought to be raised.

3. As far as my observation goes, it is a question which might suggest itself to the most hopeful persons at this time; for many processes are in vigorous action which tend to destroy faith. The Scriptures are being criticized with a familiarity which shocks all reverence, and their very foundation is being assailed by persons who call themselves Christians. A chilling criticism has taken the place of a warm, childlike, loving confidence. As one has truly said, "We have now a temple without a sanctuary." Mystery is discarded that reason may reign.

4. Do you not think that this, put in a question as it is, invites us to intense watchfulness over ourselves? Do you not think it should set us scrutinizing ourselves as our Lord will scrutinize us when He comes? You have been looking for a great many things in yourself, my brother; let me entreat you to look to your faith. What if love grow cold!

IV. My text is very IMPRESSIVE IN RESPECT TO PERSONAL DUTY. "When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" Let faith have a home in our hearts, if it is denied a lodging everywhere else. If we do not trust our Lord, and trust Him much more than we have ever done, we shall deserve His gravest displeasure.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

If I venture for a moment to look into the reasons of these things, perhaps I might particularize the following: It is always in the indolent and grossser nature of man to prefer the present and the visible, to the future and the unseen. The heart gravitates to practical materialism as a stone gravitates to the ground. It is always a special act to make a man feel the invisible, live in the invisible. For in fact, all faith is miracle. And days of great science, such as these, are always likely to be days of proportionate un-belief-because the power of the habit of finding out more and more natural causes, is calculated, unless a man be a religious man, to make him rest in the cause he sees, and not to go on to that higher cause of which all the causes in this world, are, after all, only effects. And familiarity, too, with Divine things — which is a particular characteristic of our age, has in itself a tendency to sap the reverence, which is at the root of all faith. But still more, the character of the age we live in is a rushing selfishness. The race for money is tremendous; men are grown intensely secular; the facilities are increased, and with them, the covetousness. You are living under higher and higher pressure, and everything goes into extremes; all live fast. And the competition of business is Overwhelming, and the excitement of fashion intoxicating. How can "faith," which breathes in the shade of prayer and meditation — live in such an atmosphere as this? Let me just throw out one or two suggestions to you about faith. Remember "faith" is a moral grace, and not an intellectual gift. It lives among the affections; its seat is the heart. A soft and tender conscience is the cradle of faith; and it will live and die according to the life you lead. If you would have "faith," you must settle with yourself the authority, the supremacy, and the sufficiency of the Bible. Then, when you have done that, you will be able to deal with promises. Feed upon promises. We take the spiritual character of what we receive into our minds, just as the body assumes the nature of the food it eats. Act out the very little faith you have. Faith is a series of continual progression, and each fresh step is accompanied by a moral effort which reacts to make another. Take care that you are a man of meditative habit. There cannot be faith without daily, calm, quiet seasons of thought.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

I cannot but think that this "faith" is the faith once delivered to the saints, the faith of the gospel, and the creeds — the faith in Christ, the eternal Son of God Incarnate, crucified, risen, ascended, and returning. This faith will be in the pages of Scripture, and in the creeds of the Church. It may not, perhaps, be denied, but it will not be held. And yet without the realization of these great eternal verities there can be no faith, in the New Testament sense of the word. Already this faith grows weaker and weaker. It has been said that faith is "turned inward," and a miserable "turning" it is: for what is there within the sinner to raise him up to God and unite him to the Supreme? It is the exhibition of the love of God in His Son which breeds faith in the soul, It is the same exhibition which sustains it, and the same which perfects it.

(M. F. Sadler.)

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