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Importunate Prayer.

Importunate Prayer.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY THE REV. ROBERT SMITH, D.D., LOCHWINNOCH.

' ' And Jacob said , I will not let thee go except thou bless me : and he blessed him there. " — Gen. xxxii. 26-29.
BY THE REV. ROBERT SMITH, D.D., LOCHWINNOCH.

' ' And Jacob said , I will not let thee go except thou bless me : and he blessed him there. " — Gen. xxxii. 26-29.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on May 08, 2013
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IMPORTUATE PRAYER.BY THE REV. ROBERT SMITH, D.D., LOCHWIOCH.' ' And Jacob said , I will not let thee go except thou bless me : and he blessed himthere. " — Gen. xxxii. 26-29.It is now many years since Mr Stewart of Liverpool called the atten-tion of Christians to the important duty of united and earnest prayerfor the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, for the purpose of reviving truereligion at home, and promoting its dissemination throughout the world.At that time he recommended ministers to preach upon the subject, andin other ways to diffuse information with regard to the person and work of the Holy Ghost. He advised private Christians to spend a portionof time every Lord's day morning in prayer for the Holy Spirit, andheads of families to introduce the subject into their domestic exerciseson Monday evening. On that occasion I have a full persuasion thatmany discourses were delivered on this subject throughout the Church,and I suppose many individuals and families have ever since observedthe seasons of devotion recommended. The subject has not been dropt,but kept alive, and more generally taken up of late years. Mr Stewartcoutinues to call public attention to it at this season of the year.* Andfirst, a society of private Christians, and next, the Commission of theFree Church, have recommended an annual concert for prayer, to last awhole week, including two Sabbaths, and corresponding to the length of time spent by the disciples in devotional exercises in Jerusalem, beforethe Holy Ghost was poured out upon them on the clay of Pentecost. Itwould be wrong to conclude that our united and long- continued suppli-cations have obtained no answer, and produced no effect. Who can tellhow many sinners have been converted, and what an impulse has beengiven to pious affection and benevolent enterprise. There have beenrevivals of religion in various places in the course of the time specified.Scriptural views of the true nature of the Church of Christ have been* This discourse was delivered during the time of Concert for Prayer at thebeginning of this year 1846), which will explain the specialties it contains, and may serve as anapology,if that be wanted, for its not being more bread and general.REV. ROBERT SMITH, D.D. 181unfolded and illustrated, and the most striking displays of religious prin-
 
ciples have been afforded. Men have become more alive to the importantduty of promoting the interests of religion, both at home and abroad,and unwonted success has been experienced in the conversion bothof Jew and Gentile. The most important events have taken place, andothers of still greater magnitude and importance are opening up to theview of attentive and intelligent men. Still much remains to be done.The field expands as you proceed in the survey of it. The more thatis done the more you discover remains to be done. o intelligent andright-hearted man is satisfied with the state of his own soul, nor thecondition of his family, the state of the congregation of which he is amember, or the denomination to which he belongs, the country he in-habits, or the world at large. All, therefore, who have right appre-hensions of these things will join heartily in the prayers which are tobe presented for " the Spirit from on high*' in the closet and in familyworship, in the social assembly and in the house of God, at this impor-tant season. The words of the text are well calculated to afford direc-tion and encouragement in the performance of this duty, in the illustra-tion of which there are three things which demand our attention — I. The objects.II. The manner, andIII. The answer of Jacob's prayer ; or, in other words, the blessingsimplored, the manner in which they were asked, and the answer ob-tained. Allow me, then, to direct your attention — I. To the objects of Jacob's prayer ; or, the blessings implored.It need not be disguised that one of these was the preservation of hisown life, and the safety of his family and substance. By falsehood anddeceit he had obtained the blessing, which Isaac his father intended tobestow on Esau ; and having now got both the birth-right and the bless-ing, he had become his brother's supplanter, as the name Jacob imports.Esau was so enraged that he conspired against his life, and Jacob wasobliged to fly from his father's house to his uncle Laban. This ungodlyand avaricious relative deceived and imposed upon him just as he haddone to Esau, which was an evidence of the righteous retribution of Providence, and a severe reproof to Jacob. At length he was by crueltyand oppression obliged to fly from Padan-aram, and return to the placeof his nativity. In his way thither he was told that Esau, accompaniedby four hundred men, was coming to meet him. Knowing the furioustemper of his brother, and remembering the offence he had given him,he was alarmed, and suspected that he might now take summary ven-geance upon him and destroy the mothers with the children, and takeXo. 120.— Ser. 110. vol. in.
 
182 FREE CHURCH PULPIT.possession of all that he had. In this emergency he disposed of themin the most judicious manner, r,nd adopted the most likely means of ap-peasing his brother's wrath. And then, as his last and best resource,he retired to a secret place, and wrestled with God in prayer till thedawning of the day, that he would avert the sore calamity which liedreaded.It would be doing Jacob injustice, however, to deny that higher ob- jects than the preservation of himself, and of his family and substance,occupied his thoughts and prayers on this critical occasion. The verycircumstances in which he was placed were calculated to call his sins toremembrance ; just as his sons were reminded of their unnatural andcriminal conduct towards Joseph, by being thereby involved in difficultiesin Egypt many long years after their sin had been committed. Jacobbeing reminded of the falsehood and deceit by which he had provokedthe anger and vengeance of his brother, would humbly confess his sinand earnestly pray for the salvation of his soul, whatever might be thefate of his body at this time. Knowing that the souls of his familywere as precious as his own, and remembering the relation in which hestood to them, and the duty that he owed them, he would be very impor-tunate in prayer for their salvation also, though they should fall by thesword of Esau. But he would not despair of their preservation. Hewould remember the covenant of God with his father Abraham, and thepromise that he would make of him a great nation, ai*d that in his seed,which is Christ, all the families qf the earth would be blessed. Similarpromises were made to himself: and, in a special manner, God engagedto be with him in his journey to Padan-aram, and to keep him in all hisways, to bring him back in safety to the land of Canaan, and make of him a great nation. ow, as Moses in every emergency was wont toplead the covenant of Jehovah with the patriarchs, and to intreat him tohave respect to his own honour, as well as the good of his chosen people,Jacob would not fail to make good use of the same plea on the presentoccasion. He would pray that he and his family might live to be wit-nesses for God in a world lying in wickedness, and might introducethe spiritual seed, in whom all the families of the earth were to beblessed.eed I say that in all this Jacob has left us an excellent example forour imitation, especially in present circumstances. I have no objectionto your praying for your own health and safety, and the preservationand prosperity of your family and substance, as Jacob did — ay, and thegood of your kindred and country also. But I do not need to dwell

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