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the will, and conducive to the glory, of God,
Whilst mistakes like these prevail, a confideration of the duty of prayer cannot be out of season; it cannot prejudice those who best understand it, and may be ferviceable to those who do not
Prayer is a solemn act of worshipping the Supreme Being; wherein we, on the one hand, acknowledge our weakness and indigence, on the other his power and ability to afford us relief; it naturally implies fome defect in him who offers it up, and some authority in him to whom it is offered to pardon and amend it; it supposes God to be the Maker and Governor of all things, and so gracious and condescending, so potent and absolute in his nature, as always to be ready to hear, and able to redress the Grievances of his Creatures, so that this duty is founded on the infinite goodness and power of God; he is infinitely good, and therefore willing, infi
nitely powerful, and therefore able to relieve us; and for these reasons he is, and he alone can be, the proper object of our Prayers.
The Heathens themselves, as they were fully perfuaded of these perfections in God, and of the great need in which they stood of having them exerted in their behalf, were also convinced that it was their duty to pray to him; and this duty was heartily acknowledged, earnestly recommended, and ftrictly practised by the wisest and soberest among them. The Scriptures, as they every where abound with earnest and pathetick exhortations to the religious performance hereof, so they afford us many ftrong motives which the Heathens could not have ; they supply us with the names of many great and good men who were exemplary in the performance of it, amongst whom, as in all other works of Righteoufness, our blessed Lord shines with distinguished lustre; they fully instruct us both as to the Object to, and the manner in
which they ought to be offered; they apply themselves to our fears by the most severe threats, to our hopes by the most delightful promises, supplying us with an encouragement to, and laying a foundation for the performance of this duty, which the Heathens could not have, in the veracity of God himself; who hath said and cannot lie; who hath declared and cannot deny himself, that they who ask shall receive.
: The reasonableness of this duty in general appears from the slightest attention to the particular branches of which it consists. If we consider Man merely as a Creature, as just come out of the hands of his Maker, as raised into being from the dust of the earth, and, besides many other, endued with those distinguishing privileges, Reason and Immortality, sure nothing can be more reasonable than for him to pay his most submissive and reverential homage to that Being who employs Omnipotence in conferring Benefits upon him ; to exert his reason in the praise of him who gave it,
and endeavour to recommend himself to his infinite goodness, left he fall under the terrors of his Almighty Power. The ideas of Power are in themselves great and terrible; it naturally inspires us with awe and reverence, even when it is lodged in human hands, whence it is liable to be snatched by innumerable accidents, and where it hangs but on the slender thread of life. What must it do then, when we consider it infinite and unbounded, placed in the hands of a Being, who is subject to no accidents; whose existence is not bounded by any time, but extends itself unlimited, unimpaired through all ages ? What Respect, what Homage, what Adoration can be too great, when paid to such a Being ? Where can we find an office more agreeable to our Reason, where a better employment for our Immortality.
If we consider Man as a Creature immerst in sin, corrupt in his very nature, and prone to all evil, continually tempted by the Devil and the World from without,
and betrayed by his own violent and headstrong passions from within, upon such a. dismal review, sure nothing can be more reasonable, than to have recourse to his Almighty Father, to acknowledge his original weakness and infirmities, his actual fins and transgressions, to express his averfion to, and resolution against them, unto him who is the perfection of Purity and Holiness; to beg Pardon and Forgiveness of him who delighteth in mercy, and desireth not the death of a Sinner; and to pray for the assistance of Grace from him, who giveth to them which ask, who hath promised to send us the comfort of his holy spirit, who delighteth to dwell in the heart of the sincere and contrite.
If we consider Man as subject to all kinds of misery, surrounded with difficulties and troubles which he can neither prevent nor remedy, with dangers which he can neither guard against nor repel, and with wants which he can neither foresee nor relieve, we shall surely see abundant reason for him