"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our
infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought:
but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings
which cannot be uttered."—-Bomans viii. 26.
What deep need have we that the Spirit of God should
help us, surrounded as we are by infirmities at all times, and
especially in our attempts to pray! "Sins, negligences, and ignorances
hinder vis in our approaches to God; we know neither what we should pray
for, nor how we ought to pray; hut, blessed be God, we are not left to
grope our way in this darkness of nature, the Holy Spirit himself not
only invites us by the word of promise, He Himself condescends to be our
Guide, and "maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be
uttered." We should not rest content in prayer without this heavenly
help; we should ask and expect Him to aid us whether in public or
private prayer; He is not a God afar off, He is ever willing to assist
us, He often draws us by breathing desires after God into our
minds ; oh, let us beware lest we quench the Spirit by
inattention to that voice of love! Let us pour out our hearts to God
whenever He breathes the wish upon our souls. Let us pray for ourselves
or others at whatever moment the thought or desire to do so comes upon
our minds. Even then He may be waiting to be gracious, and to answer the
prayer He has Himself inspired.
"Oh, pray—pray on, ye souls that weep
Some loved one dead in sins;
'Tis God that prompts those pleadings deep
Before His work begins!"
"Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then
face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I
also am known."—1 Con. xiii. 12.
In how many things do we feel that in this world we
see through a glass darkly! "With regard to the ways of God we see
darkly; His providences perplex us—
"He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides^upon the storm;"
and seems often to say to us, while we stand amazed
at His doings, "Be still, and know that I am God." And when we read this
verse in the light of the whole chapter, I think we must feel that, not
only in regard to the ways of God, but as respects the ways of men
also, we see darkly—very darkly sometimes, in this world, and
therefore need charity! There is great danger of judging wrongly
and harshly, if we judge our brethren, for "we know in part."
"Judge not, that ye be not judged." "We see through a glass darkly
now, but it shall not be always so. Our present state should make us
wish for the future when there will be no darkness; but while seeing
through the glass on earth, grant me, O Lord, faith to trust in Thee,
hope to look forward to seeing Thee, and fervent charity towards all
"When this passing world is done,
"When has sunk yon glaring sun,
"When I stand with saints in glory,
Looking o'er life's finish'd story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe."
"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered
them in her heart."—Luke ii. 19.
"While the shepherds made known abroad all that was
told them concerning the infant Saviour, his mother kept these things in
her heart. Both did right: the shepherds were called to bear witness
at the time to the wonders they had seen; Mary's was a time of
silence and patient waiting on her Lord, who was also her Son, till He
should reveal Himself. Never had woman so much to ponder in her heart as
she had, for never was woman so highly favoured; but the favour shewn
did not turn her from her simple course, and from the quiet fulfilling
of her duties. It was not for her to become a preacher; she had to
minister to an infant, and that infant her Lord! "Well might she
ponder that great mystery of godliness! The Lord gives various
duties to His people : some are to preach—others are to ponder. May I
seek to know His will, and to do it, whatever He may call me to. May I
so meditate on the marvellous work of God in sending His own Son, in the
likeness of sinful flesh, that my heart may be filled with love, and
praise; and, if not called to declare His wonders abroad among men, like
the shepherds, may I, by my whole life and conversation, declare that I
have received Christ the Lord as a Saviour born to redeem me.
"Yet, Lord, Thou wilt my dwelling share,
And for Thyself a couch prepare,
To rest for ever in my heart,
That I from Thee may never part."
"Glory ye in his holy name; let the heart of them
rejoice that seek the Lord."—Psalm cv. 3.
"Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say unto
you rejoice."'—Phil. iv. 4.
The hearts of those that seek the Lord are
called upon to rejoice,—how much more the hearts of those that
find Him? Who should rejoice if not they? "Who has so much to
make them rejoice? It is true they have also many a time much to make
them weep; but the command, "rejoice in the Lord alway" stands
for them as steadfast as any of the ten; and He gives no commandment
which He does not mean us to obey, and which He will not give us
strength to obey when we ask Him for it. Hundreds, nay, thousands, of
His people have been enabled to rejoice in the Lord when they had
nothing else to rejoice in; and if we would not seek so much to find our
joys apart from Him, we might find it easier to obey this command, and
to rejoice when He calls us to do so; but we too often look for
happiness far away from Him—the things on which we found (for joys
perish; and when we would again open our hearts to our heavenly joy, we
find, perhaps, to chasten us for our sin, He has withdrawn Himself and
is gone! And thus we learn that we need the work of His own Spirit to
make us rejoice in Him, for the "fruits of the Spirit are love, joy,
and peace." Keep close to Christ if you would share His joy!
"Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy
glory unto their children."—Psalm xc. 16.
There seems to be a contrast here between these two
clauses—the prayer for the work, and that for the glory.
"We pray for a present work; we ask that the work of the Lord may appear
now to us "Thy servants;" and we pray that the glory, the full
accomplishment of the work, may come hereafter—"Let Thy glory appear
unto their children." Not that these two are inconsistent, or that we do
not also wish the glory to appear to us, and the work to continue during
future generations; but it seems to me that there is here a lesson of
patience, the prayer of a patient spirit willing to go on with the work,
the great work of promoting God's kingdom, even though the perfect
accomplishment of it may never bo seen in our day, and the glory may
appear only in a future generation. How often in the missionary work is
this the case! "We ought to take encouragement from this verse to pray
for the work, and go on with it hopefully, though we may never in
this life sea the glory!
"Waft, waft ye winds His story,
And you ye waters roll,
Till like a sea of glory,
It spreads from pole to pole.
"Till o'er our ransom'd nature,
The Lamb for sinners slain,
Redeemer, King, Creator,
In bliss return to reign."
"Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel
strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his
word." — Psalm ciii. 20.
Human beings are not God's only servants, He has
hosts of pure unfallen angels to do His will, with all the excellent
strength of free spirits, that have never been enslaved by sin like
ourselves. For anything that we can know to the contrary, there may be
as many ranks of spiritual beings above us, as there are ranks of
inferior animals below us in the grand scale of creation. And
these elder sons of our heavenly Father, created long ages before Adam
had life given to him, have been going on without wavering in their
allegiance, doing His will, all through the time of the wonderful
history of man's fall by sin, and redemption by Christ. They are not
indifferent to what passes on earth; "the angels desire to look into"
these things, and no doubt they sympathise in the progress of Christ's
kingdom, for we are told that there is joy in heaven "in the presence of
the angels of God over one sinner that re-penteth." David in this psalm
calls upon the angels that excel in strength to join in praising God, as
if he felt that the tongues of men and of angels were all too weak to
utter worthy notes of thanksgiving to so good and glorious a God.