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bakers" to add the salt and leaven, or mayhap the spice and the exotic condiments, and make a sermon or an essay as the case might be.
To its author the exposition was a blessed toil; but he could not foresee the wide acceptance and growing favour which awaited it. He could not anticipate that the most powerful minds of after ages should be its most ardent admirers, or that the panegyrics should be passed on it which we know that Ryland, and Hall, and Chalmers have pronounced. Still less could it occur to him that the kindness with which contemporaries received it should be a hundredfold exceeded by a generation so fastidious and book-surfeited as our own. But could its subsequent history have been revealed to his benignant eye, the circumstance which would have elicited the gladdest and most thankful sparkle would have been to behold it in thousands of Christian families, the Sabbath-companion and the household-book.
It is not only through the glass doors of stately book-cases that its gilt folios shine, nor on the studyshelves of manses and evangelical parsonages that its brown symbol of orthodoxy may be recognised; but in the parlour of many a quiet tradesman, and the cupboard of many a little farmer, and on the drawers'-head of many a mechanic or daylabourer, the well-conned quartos hold their ancestral station, themselves an abundant library, and hallowed as the heirloom of a bygone piety. In the words of a beloved relative, who has done as much as any man to promote the modern circulation of Henry's Commentary, "It has now lasted more than one hundred and forty years, and is at this moment more popular than ever, gathering strength as it rolls down the stream of time; and it bids fair to be The Comment for all coming time. True to God, true to nature, true to common sense, and true to the text, how can it ever be superseded? Waiting pilgrims will be reading it when the last trumpet sounds, Come to judgment !"
"I WILL DIRECT MY PRAYER UNTO THEE."
“E will direct my prayer unto Thee.”
When I pray unto Thee I will direct my prayers; and then it denotes a fixedness of thought, and a close application of mind, to the duty of prayer. We must go about it solemnly, as those who have something of moment much at heart, and much in view therein, and therefore dare not trifle in it. When we go to pray we must not give the sacrifice of fools, who think not either what is to be done, or what is to be gained, but speak the words of the wise, who aim at some good end in what they say, and suit it to that end; we must have in our eye God's glory, and our own true happiness; and so wellordered is the covenant of grace, that God has been pleased therein to twist interests with us; so that, in seeking His glory, we really and effectually seek our own true interests. This is directing the prayer, as he that shoots an arrow at a mark directs it, and with a fixed eye and steady hand takes aim right. This is engaging the heart to approach to God, and in order to that, disengaging it from everything else. He who takes aim with one eye shuts the other; if we would direct a prayer to God we must look off all other things, must gather in our wandering thoughts, must summon them all to draw near and give their attendance, for here is work to be done that needs them all, and is well worthy of them all; thus we must be able to say with the Psalmist, 'O God, "my heart is fixed, my heart is fixed."
When I direct my prayer, I will "direct it to Thee." And so it speaks
1. The sincerity of our habitual intention in prayer. We must not direct our prayer to men, that we may gain praise
and applause with them, as the Pharisees did, who proclaimed their devotions as they did their alms, that they might gain a reputation, which they knew how to make a hand of: "Verily they have their reward," men commend them, but God abhors their pride and hypocrisy. We must not let our prayers run at large, as they did who said, "Who will shew us any good?" nor direct them to the world, courting its smiles, and pursuing its wealth, as those who are therefore said not to " cry unto God with their hearts," because they "assembled themselves for corn and wine" (Hosea vii. 14). Let not self, carnal self, be the spring and centre of your prayers, but God; let the eye of the soul be fixed upon Him as your highest end in all your applications to Him; let this be the habitual disposition of your souls, to be to your God for a name and a praise; and let this be your design in all your desires, that God may be glorified, and by this let them all be directed, determined, sanctified, and, when need is, overruled. Our Saviour has plainly taught us this in the first petition of the Lord's prayer, which is, "Hallowed be thy name;" in that we fix our end, and other things are desired in order to that; in that the prayer is directed to the glory of God in all that whereby He has made Himself known-the glory of His holiness; and it is with an eye to the sanctifying of His name that we desire His kingdom may come, and His will be done, and that we may be fed, and kept, and pardoned. A habitual aim at God's glory is that sincerity which is our gospel perfection; that single eye which, where it is, the whole body, the whole soul, is full of light. Thus the prayer is directed to God.
2. It speaks the steadiness of our actual regard to God in prayer. We must direct our prayer to God—that is, we must continually think of Him as one with whom we have to do in prayer. We must direct our prayer, as we direct our speech, to the person we have business with. The Bible is a letter God has sent to us-prayer is a letter we send to Him; now
PRAYER, REVERENTIAL AND FILIAL.
you know it is essential to a letter that it be directed, and material that it be directed right; if it be not, it is in danger of miscarrying, which may be of ill consequence. You pray daily, and therein send letters to God; you know not what you lose if your letters miscarry; will you therefore take instructions how to direct to Him?
Give Him His titles, as you do when you direct to a person of honour; address yourselves to Him as the great Jehovah, God " over all, blessed for evermore;" the "King of kings, and Lord of Lords;" as "the Lord God, gracious and merciful;" let your hearts and mouths be filled with holy adorings and admirings of Him, and fasten upon those titles of His which are proper to strike a holy awe of Him upon your minds, that you may worship Him with reverence and godly fear. Direct your prayer to Him as the God of glory, with whom is terrible majesty, and whose greatness is unsearchable, that you may not dare to trifle with Him, or to mock Him in what you say to Him.
Take notice of your relation to Him as His children, and let not that be overlooked and lost in your awful adorations of His glories. I have been told of a good man, among whose experiences, which he kept a record of, after his death this, among other things, was found that such a time at secret prayer, his heart at the beginning of the duty was much enlarged, in giving to God those titles which are awful and tremendous, in calling Him the Great, the Mighty, and the Terrible God; but going on thus, he checked himself with this thought, "And why not my Father?" Christ has, both by His precept and by His pattern, taught us to address ourselves to God as "our Father;" and the Spirit of adoption teaches us to cry, "Abba, Father." A son, though a prodigal, when he returns and repents, may go to his father, and say unto him, "Father, I have sinned;" and though no more worthy to be called a son, yet, humbly bold, may call him "father."
When Ephraim bemoans himself "as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke," God bemoans him as a "dear son," as a "pleasant child" (Jer. xxxi. 18, 20); and if God is not ashamed, let us not be afraid to own the relation.
Direct your prayer to Him in heaven; this our Saviour has taught us, in the preface to the Lord's prayer, " Our Father, which art in heaven." Not that He is confined to the heavens, or as if the heaven, or the heaven of heavens, could contain Him; but there He is said to have prepared His throne-not only His throne of government, by which His kingdom ruleth over all, but His throne of grace, to which we must by faith draw near. We must eye Him as God in heaven, in opposition to the gods of the heathen, which dwelt in temples made with hands. Heaven is a high place, and we must address ourselves to Him as a God infinitely above us; it is the fountain of light, and to Him we must address ourselves as the Father of lights; it is a place of prospect, and we must see His eye upon us, from thence beholding all the children of men; it is a place of purity, and we must in prayer eye Him as a holy God, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness; it is the firmament of His power, and we must depend upon Him as one to whom power belongs. When our Lord Jesus prayed, he lifted up His eyes to heaven, to direct us whence to expect the blessings we need.
Direct this letter to be left with the Lord Jesus, the only Mediator between God and man; it will certainly miscarry if it be not put into His hand, who is that other angel who puts much incense to the prayers of saints, and so perfumed presents them to the Father (Rev. viii. 3). What we ask of the Father must be in His name; what we expect from the Father must be by His hand; for He is the High Priest of our profession, who is ordained for men, to offer their gifts (Heb. v. 1). Direct the letter to be left with Him, and He will deliver it with care and speed, and will make our service acceptable.