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WAS IT A MIRACLE? -A PRAYER…

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WAS IT A MIRACLE? -A PRAYER FOR WARMER WEATHER. We have been requested to publish the following re- markable extract from a sermon, lately preached in a North Shropshire church in the diocese of Lichfield, on Sunday, from James v., 17 and 18:â "Was it a miracle or not that the windows of heaven were thus shut and opened ? According to the popular belief it was a miracle, and according to the same standard miracles have long ago ceased. Both these be- liefs, my brethren, are wrong; but they contain a particle of truth in them. They are wrong because the conclusion they lead to is, that what happened in Elijah's time with respect to rain cannot happen now; and the particle of truth contained in the popular belief is, that miracles as such are not wrought now tolthe same extent and exactly in the some manner as formerly. Yet who dares boldly to assert that they have altogether ceased ? The point that we are concerned with now is this, that just what happened in the time of Elijah, according to our text, may happen any day now-nay does, indeed, often happen now, and is traceable to exactly the same cause. Just mark well, my brethren, the Apostles' words, and note how it was that for three years and six months there was JO rain on the earth. It was in consequence of the extreme wickedness of Ahab, who then sat on the throne of Israel, that the cessation ,f rain and consequent famine were sent upon the land by God; it was sent as a punishment; the instrument for carrying out this punishment was the prophet Elijah, and it war. accomplished by his prayerâ1 Kings xvii. We read, "Elijah the Tisbbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, 'As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before Whom I stand, there shall not be dew or rain these years, but according to my word. He spake prophetically-but the apostle says he prayed for it-" he prayed earnestly it might not rain," so it would seem that in some sense prayer and prophecy are convertible terms, and sometimes mean the same thing, and doubtless they do. The primary meaning of prjphecy is to flpeak out, and what is earnest prayer but the language of the heart ? A speaking out, a making known, a pouring out of our requests to God? So Elijah prophesied or prayed, and for three years and six months not a drop of rain fell. And it came to pass after many days that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, go, show thyself unto Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth." You will remember the circum- stances under which the prophet showed himself to the King, and how, as it would seem in the very presence of the wicked monarch, the honour.,of the One God was vindicated by fire from Heaven descending on Elijah's sacrifice in answer to his prayer, as he stood alone, a prophet of the Lord, on Carmel's Mount. At the conclu- sion 8f that ever memorable scene Elijah addressed Ahab thus, "Get thee up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of abundance of rain." In the meantime the Heaven was black with clouds and rain," and Elijah sent his ser- vant to Ahab to say, Prepare, get thee down, that the rain stop thee not." Thus, my brethren, according to the latter portion of our text, He prayed again, and the Heaven gave rain," and the famine ceased. Now, my brethren, I may tell you plainly, as plain as words can make it, that Precisely what happened in Elijah's time, and by his instrumentality, is constantly happening now, though men know it not, and heed it not. And why should it not happen now? The Apostle tells us expressly in the first portion of the 17th verse, "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed." Why dodS the Apostle thus write, except it were to tell us that we might look for the same results as took place in Elias's time, if we used the same means as he did that there was nothing supernatural either about Elijah himself or his deedsânothing, at least, which is not to be found in man now, or which man cannot do ? Prayer and faith were used and exercised by Elijah, and they are requisite now, and when used in sub- jection to the will of God, will effect similar results. O ye of little faith," do ye doubt it? Well, then, I will tell you what happened the other day, and, to borrow the language of St. Paul, "I[knew ajman in Christ,' who only last week, for the first time during the late severe weather, prayed for rain, or at least for a complete change in the weather, and almost before the prayer was gone from his lips, the answer, a favourable answer, was sent. We have been suffering, as you know, my brethren, from a very severe frost and long protracted winter. su, 'i as has not been known for many years. It has not lasted as Elijah s drought did, three years and six months, but taking into consideration the mild winters we have for some years been accustomed to, and the length of time which, in ordinary seasons in the countries of the East, elapses between the fall of rain (even in some parts of South Africa rain is not looked for more than once or twice a year) the late frost and snow was proportionately as long on the ground this year as the Jewish land was without rain in Elijah's time. I am able to tell you that we have just witnessed the oc- currence of a case almost exactly parallel to that men- tioned in our text. Of all bitter evenings during this long frost and cold, I take it that last Sunday was the worst. The wind blew, the snow fell; the frost seemed harder than ever as we came out of church last Lord's day evening. Was it not so ? But I knew a man in Christ. He was a priest in Christ s Church, who had on that very day prayed that the frost might cease, and warmer weather prevail, and he prayed for this earnestly" just as Elijah did, for he prayed for it while he offered the holy sacrifice at the early celebra- tion. As Elijah, on Mount Carnel, at the set time offered a sacrifice and prayed for rain, so this priest, in God s house at the time of the morning sacrifice, prayed that the frost might be removed, and fair weather sent. You know what the result was. Although, as,1 have said, last Sunday evening was the most severe of all, the most winterly in appearance, and when, as far as human eye could see, the prayer of the priest saemed least likely to be answered, in an instant, without warning, the heavens became overcast, rain foil, a rapid thaw set in, and when we arose from our beds on Monday morning the whole face of the earth was changed, and, without an ex- ception, every one said that the day was glorious and so it wasâand everyone else almost said something else they said it was too bright, it would not last, the glass was too high, there would be severe frost again in the nightâand, humanly speaking, they were right, all por- tended a return of the severe cold. But the priest, who had offered the holy sacrifice for fine weather, had faith, and he prayed several times during the day and during the night that the frost might be stayed-and it was stayed-and has not since returned, and we are rejoicing in renewed, renovated nature. Will any one that hears me now say that prayer has lost its power, that the ears of our God have become deaf to His creatures' cries, or that Elijah's experience is not the experience now of men of prayer? It is true, we may have frost again, so also there has, I take it, been many a drought since Elijah's prayer for rain was offered; but even if it be so, and the frost and snow return, the prayer of the priest has been answered, and we all have been partakers of the benefit.

. MONTGOMERYSHIRE (LOWER END)…

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MR. COTES, M.P., AND MR. ROBERTSON,…

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A REPORTER REFUSED ADMISSION…

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