“But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.” — 2 Corinthians 1:9.
OUR FATHER, blessed be Thy name for ever and ever. Oh that we praised Thee more! We must confess we never bless Thee as we ought, and our life is far too full of murmuring, or at the best too full of self-seeking, for even in prayer we may do this; and there is too little of lauding, and adoring, and praising, and magnifying, and singing the high praises of Jehovah.
Oh God, wilt Thou teach us to begin the music of heaven! Grant us grace to have many rehearsals of the eternal Hallelujah. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name.” Grant us grace that we may not bring Thee blessings merely because Thou dost feed us, and clothe us, and because we receive so many mercies at Thy hand; but may we learn to praise Thee even when Thou dost put us under the rod, and when the heart is heavy, and when mercies seem but scant. Oh that when the flocks are cut off from the stall, and there is no harvest, we may nevertheless rejoice in God.
Oh Lord, teach us this very morning the art of praise. Let our soul take fire, and like a censor full of frankincense, may our whole nature send forth a delicious perfume of praiseful gratitude unto the ever blessed One, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Oh Lord, our chief desire this morning before Thee is to be right with Thee. Oh make us right with Thee, great Father. There are some in Thy presence who are not right with Thee at all; Thy countenance they cannot behold, and Thou canst not accept their offering, for it is true of them, as of Cain, “sin lieth at the door.” Oh God roll every sin away, but we know they must first feel the burden of it, they must come to Thee and confess it, they must accept the great Substitute and rest in Jesus. And our prayer shall be, Father, if our sin be not forgiven, we would put our head into Thy bosom and sob out, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before Thee and am no more worthy to be called Thy son.” Grant the kiss of forgiveness to each of Thy children this morning, and may we feel that Thou art faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness; and in the joy of this, may we feel peace with Thee.
But Lord, many of us have been forgiven years ago. We have walked with Thee now, with holy joy and confidence, some of us; for a quarter of a century, and others for more; yet Lord there may be something between us and Thee even now, and if there be, “shew me wherefore Thou contendest with me.” If Thou seest in Thy servants any wrong thing encouraged, any evil desire cherished; if there be anything that we delight in that Thou dost not delight in; if we have any habit which grieves Thee; if in anything we vex Thy Holy Spirit, our Father, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; and then point out to us the trespass, and teach our feet to keep the ways of Thy commandments, and to trespass no more; for our heart is right towards Thy statutes and we desire holiness.
Oh we desire perfection. We know what it is to make a conscience of our every thought. We have looked upon every act of our lives and desired that in all things we might be conformed to Thy will, and Thou knowest this makes us walk very tenderly at times, and with much brokeness of spirit before Thee, because the more we look into our lives, the more we see to lament; and in proportion as Thou dost make us holy, in that very proportion do we spy out our unholiness, and find nests of sin where we never dreamt that the loathsome things had been. Father, cleanse us from secret faults. Purge us! Thou hast purged us with hyssop once, and we are clean; now wash us with water, even as Thou, blessed Jesus, didst wash Thy disciples’ feet, and make us clean every whit, that we may be Thy priests and kings, sanctified wholly; and make us a people zealous of good works.
Bless, Lord, this; our church, and let nothing spring up in this church that would grieve Thy Holy Spirit. We know that there are some among us that walk not after Thy commandments, some that grow cold, some that are negligent in prayer, some that add nothing to the strength of Thy service.
But Lord, is it not so with all the churches? Oh wilt Thou not still continue to look upon the faithful, and to make them yet more faithful; and to look upon the wandering, and the backsliding, and to restore then blest they be an occasion of grief unto Thine Israel, as Achan was who had hidden away the goodly Babylonish garment, and the wedge of gold in his tent.
If Thou hast prospered any among us who may have grown rich, and have forgotten the God who gave them everything; or if Thou hast brought any into poverty and in their poverty they have not acted as they should; or if Thou hast heft any brother to his own heart, and he has found out that he is a fool; if any of us have grieved Thee, oh lay not this; sin to the charge of Thy church, and lay it not to the charge of the offender either, but let a sweet forgiveness be bestowed, let a restoration be granted by Thy Spirit, and let the church be right with God. Oh how we pray for this!
Lord, Thou hast not taken away Thy blessing from us. We do rejoice in this every day dost Thou aid us, and this month Thou hast sent us perhaps more than ever — glory be to Thy name! And Thou dost provide for all the work of the church, and send prosperity to it in every part and quarter of it; and therefore do we fear and tremble because of all the goodness which Thou dost make to pass before us; and our heart is jealous with a godly jealousy, lest in anything we should vex the Spirit of God. Oh Lord, grant us to be holy, grant us to be accepted in the Beloved, and Thou shalt have all the praise.
Now we have but one other prayer; and that is, if we are right with Thee, help us to be right in all the transactions of daily life. Help us to be right with regard to Thy providential dealings with us. Lord give much patience to those that are tried. Give a holy resignation both to the sick and to the bereaved, and to such as are brought into poverty. Be very gracious to Thy dear children that they may never dishonor Thee when they are in affliction.
And wilt Thou keep Thy people right with regard to the world. Oh that the witness that we bear might be an unstained one. Oh grant to us to be a light in the world, that we may never cast darkness instead of light over the minds of men. Help us to live out Christ’s life. Oh Lord, help us to be so consumed with zeal, that it may eat us up; and may we be so full of love, that those who are round about us may know that if we write a harsh letter, or say a strong word, love alone dictates it. May we in everything be Christly, Godly; for God is love. Conquer our tempers, subdue our passions, rule us in body, soul, and spirit. Make us so to live that, when death shall close our life on earth, heaven itself, shall be but a continuance of the same life, because even now we have the beginnings of heaven in the earnest of the Spirit.
And now Lord, bless Thy universal church, and grant to it mercy and favor. Gather together Thine elect from under all heaven. Let the company of the faithful be accomplished and the universal reign of Christ established.
Bless our own dear country. God save and bless the Queen with every mercy; and our rulers do Thou guide, uphold, sustain and direct. Let them be guilty of no folly; but the Lord teach our senators wisdom.
And may it please Thee Lord, to bless other countries too; especially those lands which love our common Christ, and speak our mother tongue; and, indeed, all the nations where Jesus Christ is known, do Thou visit with a revival. And heathen, and Mahometan, and Popish lands; Oh let the light break in upon their midnight, let the day dawn and Christ be glorified.
What more can we ask we ask all in His dear name, dear to us and dear to Thee, Oh our Father and unto the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Ghost be glory everlasting. Amen. SERMON: No. 1536. (May 2, 1880.)\par SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 1.HYMNS: 125, 624, 741.