“Then the king said unto him, For what dost thou make request; So I prayed to the God of heaven.” — Nehemiah 2:4.
OLORD, our God, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth! Some of us have to thank Thee for many mercies bestowed. We thank Thee for them, for we feel that we are entirely in Thy hands in all respects. Others of us have been brought very low, bruised full sore, but having a little strength remaining, we desire to praise and bless the Giver of every gift. Thou art good when Thou givest, and Thou art good when Thou takest away. Thou art good when the night gathers heavy about us. Thou art good when the sun shineth and gladdeneth our pathway. Thou art always good and doest good, and blessed be the name of the Lord from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof, and through the night watches let His praise be still celebrated. In the recollection of all that Thou hast done for us Thy people, we are filled with amazement as well as with gratitude, that Thou shouldst have loved us before the foundation of the world, that sovereign love should have pitched upon us poor unworthy ones, that Thou shouldst so love us as to redeem us with the blood of Jesus and give the only Begotten to die for unworthy creatures like to us, that Thou shouldst love us notwithstanding our sins and transgressions, that Thou shouldst love us despite the hardness of our hearts and the rebellion of our nature. It is strange, it surpasses belief at times, yet do we know it to be so. And since the hour when we knew Thy love and learned to say Abba, Father, we do confess we have been unworthy still. We have but little felt Thy goodness, we have often acted very ungratefully, very distrustfully. But Lord, Thou hast not changed, but still doth Thy faithfulness abound to Thy servants; for which again we can only say, Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Especially would we make mention of the goodness of the Lord during another year. Each believer here has trodden a different pathway to some it has been a very smooth road, to others a very rough climb: to some a deep descent into the valley of sorrow and humiliation. But Thou hast led Thy people by a right way. With all the twisting of the wilderness march, we are persuaded that when Thou leadest us about, still we go the nearest way.
Thou knowest best, and oftentimes to retreat is to advance, and to be beaten back is to make surest headway. We would again in the recollection of the whole year, whatever it may have been, lift up the song of grateful praise, raise another stone of help to record the loving-kindness of our God.
And now do we hoist sail and draw up anchor to sail into another year. O Thou blessed Pilot of the future as of the past, we are so happy to leave all to Thee; but in leaving all to Thee we have one wish, and it is that Thou wouldst in the next year glorify the Father’s name in us more than in any other year of our lives. Perhaps this may involve deeper trial, but let it be if we can glorify God. Perhaps this may involve the being cast aside from the service that we love; but we would prefer to be laid aside if we could glorify Thee the better. Perhaps this may involve the ending of all life’s pleasant work and the being taken home — well, Thy children make no sort of stipulations with their God, but this one prayer ascends from all true hearts this morning, “Father, glorify Thy name.” Wilt Thou glorify Thyself, great Father, by making us more holy. Purge us every day, we beseech Thee, from the selfishness that clings to us. Deliver us also from the fear of man, from the love of approbation so far as these might lead us astray.
Help us to be resolute and self-contained: to do, and think, and speak the right at all times. Give us great love to our fellow men. May we love them so that we could die for them if need be.
Above all, blessed Jesus, our Redeemer, let Thy love to us fire us with love to Thee. Stamp Thy dear image on our hearts, and let us never wander from the path of complete obedience to Thy will. Here we stand, asking to be washed again in the open fountain that every sin may be put away; but also begging to be washed in the water “from the river side that flows,” that every wrong desire, every base aspiration, everything contrary to the mind of God may be utterly taken away from us. We beseech Thee strengthen Thy servants, for the battles of another year. Give them courage for all the trials, give them grace for all the joys. Help us to be a holy and a happy people! Let the redeemed of the Lord speak well of His name, and whatever their distress may be at times yet over all may they lift up notes of perpetual joy, glorying in the name of the Lord their God.
We ask Thee, O God, at this time to revive religion in our land. Oh that Thou wouldst be pleased to speak by the Holy Ghost that the gospel’s power may be known: there be many that run away from the truth; Lord, hold us fast to it, bind us to it. May there be a people found in this place, and throughout this land, that will abide by the doctrines of the gospel, come what may. May we not be ashamed to be old fashioned and to be thought fanatical. May we not wish to be thought cultured, nor aim to keep abreast of the times. May we be side by side, with Thee, O bleeding Savior; and be content to be rejected, be willing to take up unpopular truth, and to hold fast despised teachings of sacred writ even to the end. Oh make us faithful, faithful unto death.
And now Lord, bless this people, this our beloved church. Thou hast been very gracious to us; be gracious to us still, Oh that we had health and strength to labor here as our heart desireth may it please Thee yet to give us these! But if not, use what there is of us till the last is gone, and be pleased ever to find some one or other to go in and out before this people, to feed them with knowledge and understanding. “Father, glorify Thy name.”
We ask Thee once more that Thou wouldst, by some means, cause peace to be re-established throughout the earth. Grant that this nation may not be drawn into war. We have been foolish once over it, grant that we may not be so again, but Oh, let Thy Kingdom come without the use of the sword.
Oh angel of war, wilt thou not rest! Oh sword of the Lord, put thyself into thy scabbard and be still; for the sake of the great Prince of Peace we ask it. Amen. SERMON: NO. 1390. (September 9, 1887.)\par SCRIPTURE: Nehemiah 1:1-8, and Nehemiah 2:1-8.HYMNS: 181, 636, 978.
IN Christ I feel the heart of God.
Throbbing from heaven through earth:
Life stirs again within the clod.
Renewed in beauteous birth.
The soul springs up, a flower of prayer, Breathing his breath out on the air.
In Christ I touch the hand of God, From His pure height reached down, By blessed ways before untrod, To lift us to our crown; — Victory that only perfect is Through loving sacrifice, like His.
Holding His hand, my steadied feet May walk the air, the seas; On life and death His smile falls sweet, — Lights up all mysteries:
Stranger nor exile can I be In new worlds where He leadeth me.
Not my Christ only: He is ours; Humanity’s close bond; Key to its vast unopened powers, Dream of our dreams beyond. — What yet we shall be, none can tell; Now are we His, and all is well.