Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings
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An Unusual House of Prayer

from "The Poor Man's Portions" by Robert Hawker


"And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made."- Acts 16:13

What, they had no church, no synagogue, no house of prayer, in all the city? Was it like another Athens, wholly given to idolatry? My soul, think of your privileges, and learn rightly to prize them, and use them to the glory of the great Giver. It was "on the Sabbath day." What a mercy to poor fallen man is the Sabbath? And yet what multitudes slight, despise, and never profit by it! My soul! Think again, in this view also, of your mercies; and bow down to the dust in the deepest humiliation of soul and body, that the Sabbath is precious to you. "Who makes you differ from another?" Eventually you will enter into the everlasting Sabbath of heaven.

There is something very interesting in what the apostle here says of going out "by the riverside." Probably it was in the memory of the church, that in Babylon, where the people were captives, the Lord made the river Chebar famous for visions to one prophet, and Hiddekel to another. But, blessed be God! Though our land is so sinful, we are not given up to captivity; and while many of the nations around have their churches turned into stables, amidst the din and horrors of war, our candlestick is not yet removed out of its place.

Precious Jesus! Wherever prayer is commonly to be made by your people, let my soul delight to be found. Let me hear your voice inviting to communion: "Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon." Yea, Lord, I would follow the Lamb wherever he goes. I would follow you to the assemblies of your people. I would wait to see the goings of my God and King in his sanctuary. I would have my whole soul athirst for you, as the hart for the cooling streams. And while I join your people in the great congregation, where prayer is habitually to be made, I pray your grace, and the influences of your blessed Spirit, to fire my soul with foretastes of that glorious assembly, which are keeping an eternal Sabbath above, where the everlasting praises of God and of the Lamb will engage and fill my raptured soul with joy unspeakable and full of glory to all eternity.

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