What, then, shall we say to these things? What but this, “There are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all.” Travellers to the same country do not always journey by the same route; and for some of the heavenly pilgrims the Slough of Despond lies on the other side of the Wicket Gate. After all, it is of small moment what brings a man forth from the City of Destruction; enough if he have come out and if now his face is set toward the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
* * * * *
“Who seeketh finds:
what shall be his relief
Who hath no power to seek, no heart to pray,
No sense of God, but bears as best he may,
A lonely incommunicable grief?
What shall he do? One only thing he knows,
That his life flits a frail uneasy spark
In the great vast of universal dark,
And that the grave may not be all repose.
Be still, sad soul! lift thou no passionate cry,
But spread the desert of thy being bare
To the full searching of the All-seeing eye:
Wait—and through dark misgiving, blank despair,
God will come down in pity, and fill the dry
Dead plain with light, and life, and vernal air.”
* * * * *
“What man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?”—MATT. vii. 9-11.
There has been in our day much painful disputation concerning prayer and the laws of nature. Whole volumes have been written to prove that it is possible, or that it is impossible, for God to answer prayer. I am not going to thresh out again this dry straw just now. Discussions of this kind have, undoubtedly, their place; indeed, whether we will or no, they are often forced upon us by the conditions of the hour; but they had no place in the teaching of Jesus, and I do not propose to say anything about them now. I wish rather, imitating as far as may be the gracious simplicity and directness of the argument of Jesus which we have just read, to gather up some of the practical suggestions touching this great matter which are strewn throughout the Gospels alike in the precepts and practice of our Lord.