Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
You are never truly changed, till your hearts be changed; and the heart is not changed, till the will or love be changed. Fear is not the man; but usually is mixed with unwillingness and dislike, and so is contrary to that which is indeed the man. Though fear may do much for you, it will not do enough: it is oft more sensible than love, even in the best, as being more passionate and violent; but yet there is no more acceptableness in all, than there is will or love. God sent not soldiers, or inquisitors, or persecutors, to convert the world by working upon their fear, and driving them upon that which they take to be a mischief to them: but he sent poor preachers, that had no matter of worldly fears or hopes to move their auditors with; but had authority from Christ to offer them eternal life; and who were to convert the world by proposing to them the best and most desirable condition, and showing them where is the true felicity, and proving the certainty and excellency of it to them, and working upon their love, desire, and hope: God will not be your God against your wills, while you esteem him as the devil, that is only terrible and hurtful to you, and take his service for a slavery, and had rather be from him, and serve the world and the flesh, if it were not for fear of being damned. He will be feared as great, and holy, and just; but he will also be loved as good, and holy, and merciful, and every way suited to be the felicity and rest of souls.
If He join me with those on His left hand, I shall have nothing to complain against His justice; if He enrol me with those on the right, to His grace must I attribute it, not to any merits of mine. In truth, O Lord, my life is in Thy will. Right well, then, may your soul expatiate in His love; for, though He might well have pronounced on you the sentence launched against the wicked, He has chosen rather to unite you with the just, that He may save you.
– St. Anselm, St. Anselm’s Book of Meditations and Prayers
Search the Scriptures, and consider how happy the saints of God are there described. Think what it is, to have a purified, cleansed soul; to be free from the slavery of the flesh and its concupiscence; to have the sensitive appetite in subjection unto reason, and reason illuminated and rectified by faith; to be alive to God, and disposed and enabled to love and serve him; to have access to him in prayer, with boldness and assurance to be heard; to have a sealed pardon of all our sins, and an interest in Christ, who will answer for them all and justify us; to be the children of God, and the heirs of heaven; to have peace of conscience, and the joyful hopes of endless joys; to have communion with the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit, and to have that Spirit dwelling in us, and working to our further holiness and joy; to have communion with the saints; and the help and comfort of all God’s ordinances, and to be under his many precious promises, and under his protection and provision in his family, and to cast all our care upon him; to delight ourselves daily in the remembrance and renewed experiences of his love, and in our too little knowledge of him, and love to him, and in the knowledge of his Son, and of the mysteries of the gospel; to have all things work together for our good, and to be able with joy to welcome death, and to live as in heaven in the foresight of our everlasting happiness…This taste may help you to see what you lose, while you abide in an unconverted state.
Sit down sometimes, and well bethink you, what recompence the world or sin will make you, for your God, your souls, your hopes, and all, when they are lost and past recovery? Think what it will then avail or comfort you, that once you were honoured, and had a great estate; that once you fared of the best, and had your delicious cups, and merry hours, and sumptuous attire, and all such pleasures. Think whether this will abate the horrors of death, or put by the wrath of God, or the sentence of your condemnation; or whether it will ease a tormented soul in hell? If not, think how small, and short, and silly a commodity and pleasure it is, that you buy so dear; and what a wise man can see in it, that should make it seem worth the joys of heaven, and worth your enduring everlasting torments. What is it that is supposed worth all this? Is it the snare of preferment? Is it vexing riches? Is it befooling honours? Is it distracting cares? Is it swinish luxury or lust? Is it beastly pleasures? Or what is it else that you will buy at so wonderful dear a rate? O lamentable folly of ungodly men! O foolish sinners! unworthy to see God! and worthy to be miserable! O strangely corrupted heart of man, that can sell his Maker, his Redeemer, and his salvation, at so base a price!
Jesus Christ, God’s Leader and Commander of His people, lived and suffered under this law of prayer. All His personal conquests in His life on earth were won by obedience to this law, while the conquests which have been won by His representatives since He ascended to heaven, were gained only when this condition of prayer was heartily and fully met. Christ was under this one prayer condition. His Apostles were under the same prayer condition. His saints are under it, and even His angels are under it. By every token, therefore, preachers are under the same prayer law. Not for one moment are they relieved or excused from obedience to the law of prayer. It is their very life, the source of their power, the secret of their religious experience and communion with God.
Real praying lies at the foundation of all real success of the ministry in the things of God. The stability, energy and facility with which God’s kingdom is established in this world are dependent upon prayer. God has made it so, and so God is anxious for men to pray.
The highest form of religious life is attained by prayer. The richest revelations of God–Father, Son, and Spirit–are made, not to the learned, the great or the “noble” of earth, but men of prayer. “For ye see your calling, brethren, that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called,” to whom God makes known the deep things of God, and reveals the higher things of His character, but to the lowly, inquiring, praying ones. And again must it be said, his is as true of preachers as of laymen. It is the spiritual man who prays, and to praying ones God makes His revelations through the Holy Spirit.
Blessed, indeed, are those disciples whom Jesus Christ, in this day, calls into a more intimate fellowship with Him, and who, readily responding to the call, are found much on their knees before Him. Distressing, indeed, is the condition of those servants of Jesus who, in their hearts, are averse to the exercise of the ministry of prayer.
There is considerable talk of the coming revival in the air, but we need to have the vision to see that the revival we need and the only one that can be worth having is one that is born of the Holy Spirit, which brings deep conviction for sin, and regeneration for those who seek God’s face. Such a revival comes at the end of a season of real praying, and it is utter folly to talk about or expect a revival without the Holy Spirit operating in His peculiar office, conditioned on much earnest praying. Such a revival will begin in pulpit and pew alike, will be promoted by both preacher and lay-man working in harmony with God.
Our Lord is the pattern for all preachers, and, with Him, prayer was the law of life. By it He lived. It was the inspiration of His toil, the source of His strength, the spring of His joy. With our Lord prayer was no sentimental episode, nor an afterthought, nor a pleasing, diverting prelude, nor an interlude, nor a parade or form. For Jesus, prayer was exacting, all-absorbing, paramount. It was the call of a sweet duty to Him, the satisfying of a restless yearning, the preparation for heavy responsibilities, and the meeting of a vigorous need. This being so, the disciple must be as his Lord, the servant as his Master. As was the Lord Himself, so also must be those whom He has called to be His disciples.