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the kingdoms of our God, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever.
Observe the fulness of each of these expressions. Surely they foretel the universal spread of Christianity. To deny this would, as Edwards has observed, be in effect to say, that it would have been impossible for God, if he had desired it, plainly to have foretold any thing that should absolutely have extended to all the nations of the earth. To suppose that these are merely high-wrought figures, and that events answerable to them are not likely to take place, is little short of supposing an intention to mislead others.
We may, then, rejoice in the delightful prospect which the Bible thus opens before us.
But these promises involve a duty, as well as convey a cheering prospect; the duty of exerting ourselves to promote the coming of this kingdom.
Among other means of doing so, the duty of prayer is of the first importance.
This subject is so little noticed in general, and yet forms so large a part of that prayer which our Lord teaches his disciples daily to use, that, though it has already been in some measure anticipated, when stating the subject of Intercession in the chapter on Private Prayer, it justly calls for distinct consideration.
While it is clear, from various promises, that the kingdom of Christ shall universally prevail, it is no less manifest that there are difFICULTIES WHICH ONLY A DI
VINE POWER CAN OVERCOME.
There are many opposing powers of a nature that no arm of flesh can subdue. Man may contend with man, with some hope of success; but in contending“ with principalities and powers, with the rulers of the darkness of this world, and with spiritual wickedness in high places,”
we want divine aid. We must pray with the prophet, " Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord.” How can Satan be dethroned from his palace, the heart of man, “till a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him ?”
All men's natural inclinations and corrupt opinions also oppose the reception of the gospel. Nothing is more absurd to him who knows not the Bible, and the power of God, than to imagine that the blinded Hindoo, enchained in his caste; the acute and licentious Mahomedan, reverencing his false prophet; the savage and degraded African, and the barbarous New Zealander, should give up their various notions, and embrace the pure, holy, and humbling truths of the gospel of Christ.
The means also by which this change is to be effected appear to man utterly inefficient. The preaching of the cross of Christ is still, "unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;" and it is evident, to make these means effectual, we must look for the power of God, and the wisdom of God. No arm of flesh can help us here: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts."
MANY OF THE great PROMISES of Scripture, relative to that happy period of which we have been speaking, seem to CALL FOR THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER.
Observe the determination of the Saviour and his Church"For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory :" (Isa. Ixii, 1, 2.) and then notice how this determined
zeal in seeking to promote the light and glory of the church is approved and required ; “Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence; and give him no rest till he establish and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
Ver. 6, 7. The INTERCESSION OF OUR LORD HEAVEN is much on this subject. It is one part of his prayer, " that the world may believe that thou bast sent me.” John xvii, 21. And he so earnestly desires the salvation of man, that it is called the travail of his soul. In the 2d Psalin, the Father is described as addressing the Son thus : “ Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth fo: thy possession.” Ps. ii, 8. Doubtless the Son has fulfilled this, as he has fulfilled
every other part of his blessed office as a Saviour.
Hence we have more encouragement from his intercession to pray for the conversion of the heathen, than for almost any other object. We are sure that the Son of God intercedes for us in this particular thing, and offers up our prayers.
And as our Lord thus intercedes himself for the enlargement of his kingdom, so his Word is full of directions and examples to encourage us to do the same.
Observe THE DIRECTIONS TO PRAY.–Our Lord, seeing the harvest to be great and the labourers few, instructed his disciples to use this means of obtaining them: “ Pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into the harvest.” Matt. ix, 35. One half of the prayer which he has taught us daily to Use, relates to this : “ Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” Doubtless when « all the ends of the world shall remem
ber and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before” bim, (Ps. xxii, 27.) those petitions in the Lord's prayer, with its simple, but sublime and magnificent conclusion, “ Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever," will receive a more manifest accomplishment than ever they have yet done. We are told in Isa. xlv, 11. “ Thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, ask of me things to come, concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.” St. Paul thus earnestly presses this duty: “I exhort, therefore, that first of all,” (as a matter of chief inportance) “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men :" and he afterwards adds, “ for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.” i Tim. ii,1-3. And again
Brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord
may have free course and be glorified, as it is with you." Observe the PROPHECIES RESPECTING THIS SPIRIT OF
It shall yet come to pass that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities; and the inhabitants of one city shall go unto another, saying, let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of Hosts. I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord.” Zech. viii, 20-22.
We have also EXAMPLES to encourage us thus to pray: David
prays, “ Have respect unto the covenant, for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.” Ps. Ixxiv, 20. " Peace be within thy walls, and plenteousness within thy palaces.” Ps. cxxii, 7.
Esther, when the peculiar people of God were on the point of destruction, sends to all the Jews to fast and pray with her and her maidens; and their united prayers are heard. Daniel's prayer for the Church, when in captivity, is well worthy of imitation. Dan. is, 9, 16, 17. It is probable, that on the very evening of the day on which our Lord directed his disciples to pray for more labourers, he himself went into a mountain and continued all night in prayer to God; and after thus praying all night, on the following morning he chose his twelve Apostles ; Matt. is, 36–38. X, 1-5. compared with Luke vi, 12-16. The Apostles, after his ascension, « all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication;" and at length, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost was given. “ The Lord gave the word, and great was the company of those that published it.” Ps. Ixviii, 11. The Church of Antioch fasted and prayed, and then sent forth Barnabas and Saul on that great mission to the Gentiles, the benefits of which ultimately reached even to England. Acts siii, 3.
And to come to more modern times. We find that holy men have ever, as they have more advanced in religion, felt more for the perishing state of mankind. Baxter thus expresses himself in some reflections at the close of his life: “ My soul is much more aflicted with the thoughts of this miserable world, and more drawn out in a desire for its conversion than heretofore. I was wont to look little further than England in my prayers ; but now I better understand the case of mankind and the method of the Lord's prayer. No part of my prayer is so deeply serious, as that for the conversion of the infidel and ungodly world.” It is worth while reading the life of ihe Missionary Brainerd,* only to observe the
* See also tbe life of Henry Martyn,-just published.