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May the spirit of prayer come, as the wind steals over the fainting, thirsty traveler, cooling and refreshing him. May the spirit of the living God, which is the creative principle in the nature without us, come to us to-day in restoring power, soothing all that are troubled, strengthening all that are weak, healing all that are sick, giving to minds confused and trembling the peace of God.
We pray Thee this day that, with the breath of God coming sweet and fragrant through door and through window, there may be to us a thought which is deeper than other thoughts, a consciousness of a presence which is within us, which is giving color to our thought, sweetness to our song, and strength to our endeavor. Help us to think of Thee less and less in terms of man, as with voice that speaks and hand that touches, and more and more as the Presence that fills all living things, that gives to everything its strength, its goodness and its beauty. When shall we know that our lives are in Thee, as the life of a bird is in Thee, as the life of a flower is hid in the mysterious depth of nature?
When shall we know that our thought, goodness, love, joy, and peace come from Thee? "Thou, 'Thou, God, seest us," we heard of old, and perhaps to us thought came as of one who looks at us angrily and jealously. But we know, in the larger, newer thought, that God looks lovingly upon everything we do, as fathers and mothers look upon playing children, the work of the day done and the evening meal ta released from care and free from fear, the children Play. Thou lookest upon us to love us; Thou lookest pon
us to strengthen, and to guide us; to dissipate the clouds of ignorance in which all doleful noises are heard and all unkindly forms come.
Thou sweepest away all clouds of fear from men's spirits. Little by little the old, dreadful forms of thought take their place back in the past, drawing away from men's minds all fear and doubt. We no longer see Thee as a jealous God, looking upon us as one angrily watches, but we look upon Thee as the spirit of life that maketh all things new. We see Thee now in the person of some physician who is by a bed of fever, helping those who are thus prostrated. And now Thou standest by the bed of pain, where a little child with broken limb is trying slowly to feel its way back to life again. And now Thou art with those. who mourn, and goest with them to the little grave where the body lies, once so dear. And Thou art with young men and women, inspiring them with lofty endeavor and glorifying all their thoughts. Thou art with men in business, giving them strength and wisdom. Thou art in all the affairs of the world. Thou art here always, the spirit of life and goodness and joy and truth.
We meet to-day to praise Thee in silence or in song, to let our spirits find their way to Thee. Thou who art not far away from any one of us! 18! We love the little children whom thou hast lent us, we take upon our hearts the cares of others, and in the spirit of thy Christ preach the good news of God's justice and kindness, and go about healing all manner of sickness and dissipating all manner of fear. So we share with Thee in the work of thy world, are busy about thy business, and enjoying thy life. Amen.
THE BUSINESS OF THE FATHER.
"Jesus said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? that I must be about my Father's business?''
LUKE ii, 49.
HIS incident, familiar to us by frequent reading, has often been treated by the poet, the painter and the preacher, but it never loses its hold upon the affections. It never loses its place in the imagination. You are to imagine a boy twelve years old, for the first time going up to the national capital, the very center of national life, enshrined in the affections of a people once great, once free, now practically enslaved. You are to see this boy tread these streets over whose stone pavements have gone those whom he delights to honor; whose walls have re-echoed the sounds of great voices; along whose ways Isaiah had gone; from whose hill David had sung; from the throne of whose magnificence Solomon had ruled. Great Saul had once been here, and here had come many another lesser name, but perhaps greater spirit.
There is no more important thing in the education of a boy or girl than the great memories that cluster about a nation's history, and that even embody themselves in the marble and stone of its buildings and streets. The very silence becomes vocal, if one listens well; and he who has been nourished on his nation's history may well be fit in time to assume a part in
Wist ye not