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tor had reviled him. The spectacle filled them with anguish ; their hearts sunk within them in despondency. All their hopes had vanished. Disappointed, forlorn, dejected, they gazed upon the cross and its bleeding burden, on each other's countenances, and were sad. They trusted that it had been he who should have redeemed Israel. It was not so !
The sad funeral rite was performed for him they loved so well, and the sepulchre closed its doors on one whose death scattered their hopes and overwhelmed them in sorrow. Affectionate regard brought them on the third day to the place of burial to pay the last tribute of regard to the dead body of their Master. They looked in and it was gone! Mary turned to one whom she supposed the gardener, and said in an agony of grief, “Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will go and take him away.” He said to her, “ Mary!" At once the joyful conviction flashed upon her mind that he was her Lord. She recognised in him the person she had seen expire upon the cross, but now a triumphant conqueror over death and the grave. Yes, he had arisen. Rapturous joy took the place of despondency and grief, in the bosom of the disciples. They rejoiced in the sight of him they loved so well, they heard again his animating words, they saw the cloud that bore him to his exalted seat in Paradise, and the day of Pentecost banished all doubt and darkness from their minds.
By the resurrection of Christ his character was fully established. Had he slumbered in the tomb and the event falsified the predictions he had so often delivered, the charge of deception and falsehood would have been fastened upon his name, otherwise so illustrious. That personage who had given such poble testimonies of his claim to credence and affection, must have been regarded as an impostor. But by bursting the bars of death and triumphing over the grave he afforded another and a still more astonishing evidence of his divine commission.
By the resurrection of Christ the resurrection of the dead is fully proved. A subject over which clouds and
darkness had so long hung was divested of all obscurity, and all ground for uncertainty and doubt removed. He that draws near the dark valley of the shadow of death, and sees the lamp of life gradually expiring, needs not fear that it will go out in eternal night. But if a Saviour's love is in his soul, because that Saviour lives, he may possess the joyful assurance of his own immortal existence.
In the resurrection of Christ, the great plan of redemption received its consummation. This was the finishing act of a train of splendid exhibitions of divine power which should result in the salvation of ruined
What a theme for gratitude and praise is the accomplishment of an event upon which the eternai hopes of men depend! What a revenue of praise belongs to that risen Saviour! Well might the inhabitants of the heavenly city throw open the everlasting gates, and bid the King of Glory enter, and well may those streets resound with everlasting anthems to his praise.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet; and, when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret ; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
CHRIST's sermon on the Mount is replete with directions adapted to enlighten the understanding, warm the heart, and govern the life. Nor are those which respect prayer the least important. He reproved the Pharisees for their thirst for human applause, even in their professed devotions and duties. In that day there were stated hours for public prayer in the temple and in their synagogues. At these hours it was common for all the pious among the Jews, either to unite in their social worship or to devote a few moments to say their
prayers at home, while others were censured for that duty. The Pharisees, to make it noticed in them that they were very precise in the performance of this duty and were able and fuent in prayer, would often designedly have the hours of prayer arrive while they were walking the most public streets.
Thus they would then kneel and perform their long and heartless devotions. This they did to be seen of men; and of men they had their reward : for the Searcher of hearts beheld them with a frown.
Our Divine Instructer taught his disciples to act from different motives, and aspire after the approbation of God as their reward. Instead of ostentation and publicity for personal devotion, he directed thein to scenes of retirement, that their devotions might be real communion between God and the soul. The nature of and encouragements to the duty of secret prayer are exhibited in the following language :
66 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray unto thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father, who seeth in secret," &c. We propose, FIRST, to explain the manner in which secret prayer should be attended; and, SECONDLY, adduce motives for its performance.
First. The direction of Christ, “ But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet," does not imply that no prayers are to be offered except there, because he himself prayed publicly, and his disciples were accustomed to do it; and an apostolic precept enjoins, that we should pray without ceasing. These things prove that social, family, and ejaculatory prayer, under certain circumstances, are important duties. But by the language of Christ, we are to understand him as prohibiting all the studied publicity of the Pharisees in their personal devotions, and recommending seclusion from all distracting objects. He directs, “When thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father which is in secret." 6 Closing the door of the closet” is designed to represent secrecy and the exclusion of worldly thoughts and affections. Thus retired, we are to approach the throne of grace with sincerity and holy reverence. It
would be equally vain and unprofitable to use merely heartless expressions of prayer in our closets. There the real desires of the soul are to be spread out 'efore the mercy seat. It is not represented that w enter the closet. as a criminal is dragged before a sien judge from whom he expects nothing but condemnation. We should enter our closets cheerfully and with the highest filial affection towards the Father of our spirits, as a child would delight to repair to the arms of a beloved parent, there to have endearing intercourse together. A dutiful and affectionate child, who could have access to a wise, an able, and an indulgent parent, would frequently repair to him, to ask counsel, to confess faults which had been committed, to return him thanks for favours bestowed, and supplicate others.
Let us keep our minds fixed awhile on the kind of intercourse which a dutiful and affectionate child would have with the best of earthly parents, and use it for illustrating the manner in which the duty of secret prayer should be performed. Such a child would enter his father's presence with reverence for his person, his wisdom, and for his superiority and relationship. The pious soul will, in the closet, approach to his heavenly Father with the deepest rev rence of the great and dreadful God, with adoration in view of his wisdom and his majesty, and with a solemn sense of his obligations to revere God as his Creator and constant Benefactor. The dutiful child would often feel that he needed counsel respecting the best course to be pursued by him, and would repair to this parent for instructions and directions. In our closets we should repair to the Fountain of all wisdom to direct us at all times, and particularly when about to engage in any concerns of more than ordinary importance. The child would ask counsel with an intention to follow it; and it is base hypocrisy to pretend to ask wisdom of God, when, through self-sufficiency, we do not intend to be guided by the instructions of his Word, unfolded by the breathings of his Spirit. It is plain, therefore, that in our closets we should be deeply sensible of our ignorance and foolishness, and earpestly seek of God that wisdom which is from
above. In receiving instruction from an earthly parent, the dutiful child takes great delight. So will the child of God take unspeakable delight in receiving instruction from a heavenly Father.
If an ingenuous and affectionate child have committed faults, he will go to his father, and, with real sorrow, confess them. He will not attempt to cover or to extenuate them. It is in the closet that, in a particular manner, we should make a full confession of all our sins to God with all their aggravations. There we should, like the Prodigal son, ingenuously confess that we have sinned against heaven and in the sight of an omnipresent God, and are unworthy to be called his children or treated as such. There we can confess secret sins and sinful motives and affections, which are unknown to any creature. There we shall take shame and blame to ourselves in ten thousand instances, where our fel. low creatures have no cause to blame us.
The dutiful child would be grateful to an earthly parent for the many favours he was constantly receiving from parental kindness, and when in his presence and alone would delight to speak of those favours with thankfulness. In the closet we have the opportunity of pouring out to God grateful effusions of soul for blessings which it would be less suitable to mention in a social manner.
There we may thank God for all the evidences of sanctifying and comforting grace which he has vouchsafed to us, and may descend to particulars. There we may express our thanks to God for particular favours bestowed upon those entwined about our social affections,
The dutiful child, when admitted to the immediate presence of an indulgent parent, would spread before him his sorrows and joys, his circumstances and neces. sities, and leave it with him what should be done. In like manner in our closets we should bear before our heavenly Father all our sorrows, pour them into his bosom, and thus unburden our hearts, not by murmuring or repining under them, but casting all our cares upon him, believing that he careth for us. We should enumerate our temptations, our dangers, and spread out