Rev Boyle Dean Of Salisbury

"What was it that struck you most in that sermon on the character of St.

Paul?" said Bishop Patteson to a friend at Oxford, who had been with him

listening to a sermon preached before the University by a very

remarkable man, who has now passed away. "Those two sentences," said his

friend, "in which he said there were two great powers in the world, the

power of personal religion, and the power of prayer." When I told this

> many years afterwards to one of the best parish priests I have ever

known, he gave me, from his own experience, some instances of answers to

prayer which are certainly worth reading.

Shortly after he had entered Holy Orders, he joined a clerical society.

He was greatly pleased with three of the younger members, but thought

from their conversation after the meeting that they were too fond of

amusements. As he walked home he spoke of this to an elderly clergyman,

who said, "Let you and me make for them special prayer, that they may

take a more serious view of their calling." Some time afterwards my

friend happened to see one of these three brother clergymen at a time of

great sorrow. He told him that he had resolved to give up certain

amusements, which he thought at one time harmless. Some time afterwards

the other two openly declared that they had taken a similar course, and

my friend did not scruple to avow his belief that the after lives of

these three men, all of high family, and all remarkable for their zeal

as clergymen, was a direct answer to special intercession.

He told me of a still more striking instance. Two men, who had been

friends at college, met after many years abroad. The one said to the

other, "When you were at Oxford, you told me you were very indifferent

as to religion, so I suppose you will not go with me this morning to the

English service." "But I certainly will," said his friend. "I have given

up all that sort of thing; I left off praying for years, in the belief

that as God knows everything it was needless to pray, but an impulse

came upon me after hearing Baron Parke's account of a sermon he heard

Shergold Boone preach, and I am now a communicant." "Then, dear----,"

said his friend, "I think my prayer is answered, for I have never ceased

since Oxford days to ask that you might have the happiness I enjoy."

These two are surely remarkable instances of answers to special prayer

for spiritual benefit.

What shall be said of the faithful man who, through his own effort,

maintained a small but efficient orphanage? From no fault of his own his

supplies ceased. There came into his mind some words of Edward Irving's

about the Fatherhood of God. He made a special petition for the relief

of his poor children. On his return home he found a letter containing a

request that the future welfare of his home should be ensured by a

permanent endowment.

"How could you keep your temper through all the vexatious dispute of

to-night's debate?" was the question asked of Lord Althorpe by his most

intimate friend, after a fierce discussion on the Reform Bill. "I always

ask for strength before going to the House," was the answer; "and to-day

I asked for special strength, for I knew that party spirit ran high."

Many years ago I worked as a curate in the district which had seen the

first labours of the excellent Bishop of Wakefield, whose sudden removal

from active work will long be deeply mourned by the Church of England.

When he left Kidderminster for a country parish, he gave a New Testament

to a young man who had at one time promised well, but who fell into bad

company. "I shall make you the subject of special prayer," said the

Bishop, on wishing him good-bye. Some years afterwards I told the Bishop

that his advice had not been thrown away, and his words were, "I humbly

hope my prayer was heard."

Bishop Mackenzie told a friend of mine that he had asked for some change

in the life of two favourite pupils at Cambridge. They were not in the

habit of going to University sermons, but they went to hear one of

Bishop Selwyn's famous series in 1854. One of them became an eminent

clergyman, and the other died a missionary in India.

One more instance will suffice. An attack upon the divinity of Christ

was published some years ago by one who had been trained in a very

different way. His former tutor, who had a very great love for him,

asked a few friends not to forget him. As the tutor was dying, he had

the satisfaction of hearing that the man he had known and loved from

childhood had returned to the faith of a child.

I believe that all who have had considerable experience in parochial

work could give many instances of special answers to prayer. In recent

years many have come forward to offer themselves for labor at home and

abroad. The present occupation of many minds with the difficulties of

belief, the revelations made by earnest thinkers like Romanes, the

questions raised in such lives as the late Master of Balliol's, the

earnest longings for some reconciliation between the men of science and

the men of faith, may all surely be accepted as in some degree answers

to the prayers and aspirations of all who hope that in the Church of the

future there may be found a simple faith, an enduring charity, and a

belief in the unchangeable strength of an unchangeable Saviour.