For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us. Acts 15:28.
The Holy Ghost is here,
Where saints in prayer agree,
As Jesu's parting gift He's near
Each pleading company.
Not far away is He,
To be by prayer brought nigh,
But here in present majesty,
As in His courts on high.
He dwells within our soul,
An ever welcome Guest;
He reigns with absolute control,
As Monarch in the breast.
Our bodies are His shrine,
And He th' indwelling Lord;
All hail, thou Comforter divine,
Be evermore adored.
Obedient to Thy will,
We wait to feel Thy power,
O Lord of life, our hopes fulfil,
And bless this hallowed hour.
Blessed be Thy Name, Thou ever-living God. Our neighbours die; friend after friend departs; few of us have not lost someone dear to us; but Thou abidest the same, and of Thy years there is no end. We come to Thee. Thou art this day as strong to deliver as in our fathers' time; as true to Thy promise, and as mighty to perform Thy Covenant as when Thou spakest unto Abraham at Mamre, or didst work mightily in the field of Zoan for the Children of Israel. Thou, O God, art for ever strong and mighty. Never can Thine arm know palsy, nor can Thy brow decay. We look up to Thee with joyful confidence, knowing that Thou art an inexhaustible fountain of every good thing, and believing that Thou wilt supply our need out of the riches of Thy fullness of glory by Christ Jesus. Wilt Thou refresh our souls. We come as the Children of Israel came to the wells of Elim, and we would now sit by the palm-trees thereof. Let our souls gather strength. Give comfort to the mourners; give rebuke to those that slumber, and a word in season to everyone. As for the minister, may he be as one that bringeth forth out of the treasury things new and old. May there be food fitted for strong men, as well as milk for babes, and may we all of us retire from the Master's house feeling that He has satisfied us with good things, and made us rejoice in Himself. Our Father, hear and bless us for Jesus' sake. Amen.
April 19 (Morning), 1863.
Permit us, Lord, to behold again the light of Thy countenance. May our glad spirits approach again to the Throne of Grace, receiving grace from the Throne enabling us so to do. Oh that Thou wouldst have a word with our heart! May the truth be mighty; may it pierce into the conscience, may it reach the inner man. May those who are born again, and those who are afar off, receive some good thing. Vain is the help of man. The preacher depends on nothing of his own, but behold, here he is at Thy feet. Speak through Thy servant to this great assembly, and let not a word fall to the ground; neither may there be a deaf ear nor a hard heart. God Almighty, glorify Thy Son Jesus by Thy Holy Spirit. We ask it for His sake. Amen.
April 19 (Evening), 1863.
Gracious God, preserved by Thy goodness, we are permitted to come up to Thy house. We desire here to pay our vows in the midst of Thy people. We hail the Sabbath as a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable. We delight to find ourselves in the place where prayer is wont to be made, and we humbly hope that this day our supplications will be heard in heaven. Let our praise be accepted at the Throne, and that there will be for each of us a portion of meat in due season. Oh for the bedewings of the Holy Spirit upon every plant of the Lord's right-hand planting. Let every soul be nourished in this house to-day. As trees planted in the courts of the Lord, so may we flourish and bring forth fruit.
May this be a day to be remembered by us. May Thy people, especially, be in the Spirit on the Lord's Day. And though they may not, like John in Patmos, behold the Lord with their visible eyes, yet may they see Him spiritually, and rejoice in the glory of His presence. Bless the Word this morning. The burden of the Lord is upon us. Help us to deliver Thy Word with power. Oh, that Thou wouldst enable us to plead with sinners. We have sought to plead with God for men; now may we plead with men for God.
Throughout the whole service may a deep solemnity rest on every mind. May those who know the art of prayer be holding up Thy servant's hands as did Aaron and Hur. May they be praying, like Moses on the mountain, while we, like Joshua, fight in the plain. Let the Spirit come down upon the unconverted this morning, and save them with a great salvation. We ask it for the Saviour's sake. Amen.
July 5 (Morning), 1863.
O God, our hearts are up unto Thee. We want to feel that Thou art here. We cannot expect this if we ask so great a blessing in our own name, but we ask it through the merits of Jesus Christ. Divine Saviour, Thou hast said, "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." Be here now, for we are more than two or three. Thou hast been pleased to give us Thy Holy Spirit to be the Comforter that shall abide with us for ever; may He abide with us to-night.
We have to confess that sometimes we go through the service as a mere matter of routine. We are afraid that many of Thy people do not join as they should do in prayer, nor does their heart go up with the sacred longing. May it not be so now. May there be real worship the whole service through.
When we come clustering round the Table, may we be hungering and thirsting after Jesus, who is the Bread of Heaven, and may we eat of His flesh, and drink of His blood. The Lord give us His help. We are perfect weaklings. There is nothing else that we are perfect in. Lord, give us the perfect strength, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
July 5 (Evening), 1863.
O Lord, Thou delightest to dwell in the midst of Thy people. Where Thy saints gather themselves together in the Name of Jesus there art Thou in the midst of them. Let us feel Thy presence here throughout all the services of to-day. Nothing short of this can satisfy us. It is in vain that we see the minister in his place, or that we are enabled to join in the customary voice of song. We want to feel that Thou art here. Our heart panteth after Thee as pants the thirsty stag for the water-brooks. Come and refresh our spirits! Earth shall be made like heaven if Thou wilt be with us, and if Thou art absent Thy house becomes but as other houses, and the sanctuary itself has lost its power to bless.
Father, forgive our sins. Help us to wash our hands in innocency, and so to compass Thine altar. Our Father, draw us near to Thyself. Let the attractions of heaven overcome the lesser attractions of earth. Close to Jesus may we come this day. Beneath that cross where once did hang our hope, there let us find our joy. May there be to-day in the hearts of many of Thy people a renewed consecration to Thy service. May there be a giving of the Spirit afresh to Thy people, and oh, let sinners be converted to-day! While we try to cast the net, do Thou bring them to it. Make the hands strong that shall draw the bow, and do Thou direct it so exactly that the arrow may find out the joint in the harness. O Spirit of God, be not absent from us, but from the first opening prayer to the last amen, may Thy power be revealed, for Christ's sake. Amen.
August 16 (Morning), 1863.
Our Father, delight Thy children with Thy presence. Indulge us with Thy smile. For a little longer we are spared in this vale of tears; but soon we hope to see Thy face behind the curtain, in the land of the blessed, in the home of Thy people. Till then, refresh our waiting spirits. Give us drops of heaven's glory before we come to bathe our souls in it. Refresh us with heaven's manna before we sit at the heavenly table. Let us have the clusters of Eshcol before we go up to take possession of this goodly land, and may Thy people, despite the weakness of the flesh and the infirmities of nature, be so filled with grace that like Moses they may climb to the top of Nebo and have a vision across the stream. Our Father, which art in heaven, we are persuaded that our great request is none too great for Thee. Bring us up to heaven now. Illuminate our eyes that we may behold Thyself in Thine own light, through Jesus Christ. Be thou a help to the speaker and to every hearer. For Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
August 16 (Evening), 1863.