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For Repetition.-Matt. vII. 24, 25. Reading Lesson.-Matt. v. 7--29. First. ENCOURAGEMENTS TO PRAYER.

In one of the lessons for April 19, (p. 230,) we had the pattern of prayer. It should be simple, sincere, and unostentatious; the utterance of our wants. In the present lesson such prayer is encouraged.

We should know what we want, and we should earnestly seek to obtain it, like a person not only asking alms, but imploring them by importunate and repeated application; or like one who knocks perseveringly till he gets admission.

Such prayer is successful, ver. 8. This is the first encouragement. God hears, and he does not fail to give. Parents would give bread to their children; God is infinitely kinder than even parents are, so that His children will not be allowed to call upon Him in vain, John xiv. 13; Ephes. iii. 30.

Such is offered to a Father who is of infinite wisdom as prayer well as kindness. This is a second encouragement. The child does not always know what would be best for him. That parent exercises his own judgment, and gives accordingly. In like manner, we do not always know what would be best for us to have from God. He knows, and He will give the right thing—indeed, all good things, ver. 11.


Of the many paths which it seems, from people's conduct, they are pursuing, only one is safe and right. It is described as a narrow way, with a strait, or narrow entrance, ver. 13, 14. Only few persons find it and walk in it, chiefly because to enter requires us to part with much that we like; and there are difficulties, such as self-denial, constant watchfulness, and ridicule or opposition to be encountered.

The multitude pursue a broad and seemingly an easy path. It is not, however, this broad and easy path, but the narrow way, that leads to life; the broad way leads to eternal death.


If the fruit is bad, however beautiful a tree may look, the tree itself is bad. Like produces like. The vine produces grapes; the thistle does not grow figs, ver. 16--20. If the heart be unholy, the

conduct will be unholy also; if the heart be renewed, the actions will betoken that renewal. Thus, even in this life, mere pretence may be discovered.

But if it be not discovered in this life, it will be revealed by-and-by. Christ speaks of that day, ver. 22; the day of final judgment. Secrets will then be brought out. Loud pretences will then be of no avail. Persons may have said much in the way of teaching, or done much, apparently, in obedience to Jesus Christ; but he never acknowledged it. He will not acknowledge it then.



No images could set forth more awfully the ruin and bitter disappointment of those who do not really obey Christ's words, than the images in ver. 24--28. A fair, beautiful abode, in a pleasant valley, with a delightful garden; hills on one side and on the other, contribute to the beauty and elegance of the abode. But it has not a foundation. It stands on a sand-plain. The winds rise; the clouds thicken; the rain pours down; the torrents rush over the hill-side, and sweep away everything in the valley. Where now is that pleasant cottage, and that beautiful garden? So false hopes and expectations will perish.

The strong mansion on the hill-side, founded upon a rock, survives the storm, and is even more beautiful afterwards, from its contrast with surrounding desolation. So the hope, the joy, the blessedness of the humble believer, whose faith is proved by his obedience, survive and flourish after storms and peril, and after the terrible scenes of the last day.

PRACTICAL.-Never be weary of earnest prayer. Give devout and fervent attention to the salvation of your souls. Hate and renounce all mere seeming in religion. Listen to Christ's teaching; understand and obey it.

MAY 10TH.-CHRIST AT CAPERNAUM AND NAIN. For Repetition.-Luke vII. 12--15. Reading Lesson.-Luke vII. 1--17. First. THE CENTURION'S FAITH AND ITS RESULT.

Several circumstances indicate the strong faith of this centurion. He had heard of Jesus and of his miracles, ver. 3. He had not seen him perform a miracle, and probably he had not even heard of his performing one on behalf of a Gentile.

It was a servant, perhaps a pagan youth, on whose behalf Christ's power and kindness were sought. Would Jesus be as kind to a heathen as to a Jew?

He had a deep feeling of his unworthiness, so that he sent Jewish elders, not venturing to apply to Jesus personally; and when he heard of the approach of Jesus to his dwelling, he interposed, as if it was too much for him to expect the great honour of Jesus coming in.

He felt assured that the Saviour's word, at whatever distance, would be effectual in restoring his servant to health, ver. 7. Mark the comparison in ver. 8. "I, a subordinate officer, am obeyed by all who are under me; how much more wilt thou be obeyed by disease and death?" Surely he thought of Jesus as more than human. The Spirit of God was his teacher.

Jesus commended his faith as exceeding the faith which he had beheld even in Israel, ver. 9. Jesus had seen some manifestations of faith. That of Nicodemus; that of the Samaritan woman; that of the nobleman whose son he healed; and other instances; but this, he says, was greater than them all.

Remark on the character of this servant, dear to his master; also on the fact of his being dangerously ill; and on his sudden and complete cure. Servants should secure the affection of their employers. Masters should be concerned for the health and welfare of their servants. Believe Christ's power and kindness. Be humbly sensible of unworthiness; yet seek mercy from him.


The second incident in the lesson sets before us a very affecting scene. Perhaps the woman was poor; still she was highly esteemed by her townspeople. Perhaps she had followed other children and her husband to the grave, and now wept with the keener grief at the remembrance of her repeated bereavements.

This was her last son, the only remaining stay of her age. Many shared in her sorrow. The procession was a mournful one. Christ compassionates the mourner. He pitied this weeping widow. But he displayed not pity only. He spoke to her. He made signs to stop those who were carrying the corpse. All stood still and wondered. And then those words of power, ver. 14, and their instant effect, ver. 15. And Christ's giving the young man back to his mother, to comfort and support her old age. Well might the people be astonished. What a lesson to young men on behalf of their mothers! What a display of Christ's infinite power and kindness!


For Repetition.-Luke VII. 47--50. Reading Lesson.-Luke vII. 36--50. First. THE PHARISEE.

What induced this Pharisee to invite Jesus does not appear in the

narrative. Probably he hoped to see him work some miracle, or he might have been laid under some obligation by a miracle already wrought on some friend or relative.

Whatever was the reason, the Pharisee did invite Jesus. The occasion seems to have been a public one, so that even this woman could come in. Simon regarded her more with cruel censoriousness and proud vaunting, than with compassion and desire for her He took no account of her evident recovery from sin and ruin.


And his feelings as to the Saviour were not much better. True, he had invited him as a guest to his table; but he omitted the most common expressions of civility and respect, ver. 44--46. And now that Jesus suffered this woman to approach him, and to touch his feet, Simon's pride was awakened. He cannot be a prophet, he thought, ver. 39, or he would not be so unmindful of this polluting touch. Observe in this Pharisee how pride and supposed personal goodness work. The Pharisee condemned the woman, and suspected


Secondly. THE WOMAN.

She was evidently a bad woman, who probably had heard Jesus preaching, and had been impressed with his words. She had been brought to repentance. She wished for forgiveness; but perhaps she thought such a blessing could never be hers.

Still, when she could, she would be near Jesus. He went to the Pharisee's house, and she followed him there. The Pharisee knew her.

She probably did not possess much, but there was her box of sweet perfume. Could she employ it better than on him whose words had awakened a new feeling in her heart? She stood behind him to hear what He said, perhaps intending to use her ointment in some way upon him. And as she stood she wept. Her tears dropped upon his feet, which she stooped to wipe off with her long tresses. She kissed his feet in grateful affection; and then, to soothe them in their weariness in walking to do good to sinners such as she was, she poured her ointment on them. Observe, in this woman, how true repentance works. Humility and grateful love were evidently her uppermost feelings, Ezek. xvi. 63.

Thirdly. THE Saviour.

At this house of the Pharisee, Jesus appears as the Saviour from sin. Elsewhere he had wrought cures on the body, here he works a moral and spiritual cure-a cure on the heart. He knew what the woman was, and equally what Simon, his supercilious host, was.


He knew how the woman loved him, and why. He knew what contempt Simon felt, and what awakened it. He would instruct and confound the Pharisee; he would awaken hope in the bosom of the weeping penitent. Hence his parable, ver. 41, 42. Hence his application of the parable, ver. 44--47, and hence his gracious words to the woman, ver. 48.

All who were present were surprised; perhaps they felt as some other persons felt on a similar exercise of his mercy, Mark ii. 6, 7. But, however this might be, the weeping penitent must be assured of mercy, ver. 50. By a word he silences their cavil, and her fears; he confirmed to her the comfort of forgiveness, and sent her home rejoicing in his mercy. No sinner's case is hopeless. Pride indicates unforgiven, unsubdued sin. Forgiveness of sin will make us happy.


For Repetition.-Luke xu. 18-21. Reading Lesson.-Luke xu. 1-21. The subject to be dwelt upon to-day, COVETOUSNESS FORBIDDEN, lies in the latter part of the lesson, ver. 13-21. Christ's admonitions were occasioned by an appeal from some one in the company against a brother who would keep all for himself. Though Jesus would not allow himself to be regarded as settling disputes in families and about property, he would lay down principles and rules which, if observed, would prevent these disputes.

Here the rule laid down is directed against covetousness,-the fault probably of the person who made the appeal, and of him against whom the appeal was made.


It is a selfish desire to get and to keep. A desire to be ever augmenting what we have, not that it may enable us to do more good, but merely that we may have it and say we have it.

Covetousness is not always dishonest, though it often prompts to dishonesty. That of which our Lord speaks in the lesson is the mere desire to get and to keep; a purely selfish feeling; a feeling which seeks satisfaction in the mere fact of having.

The parable, ver. 16-21, does not present an instance of injustice. The man's fields were very productive: he was exceedingly prosperous; but he fancied his wealth could make him happy, so that he determined to keep all he could get, never thinking of those who might be in need, and whom out of his abundance he might have helped.

Several reasons are suggested against the vice of covetousness:

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