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what no man but a Christian can feel; his hunger and thirst are therefore blessed: they are a proof that he is alive; they have a promise, that they shall be filled. But he thatasketh not, hungers not; and he that hungers not, has not the wants of a living man.
We are now to consider that every man ought to pray as a sinner; for a sinner he certainly is. In many things we offend all: and if God should be extreme to mark what is done amiss, no flesh should be saved. What shall then become of us, without forgiveness of sin? for this purpose were the morning and evening sacrifices appointed from the beginning, which ought to be daily offered at this time, in their proper signification, to him, without whom there is no remission of sin. All men are guilty of offences which they do know; and of many more, which they do not know. Hence the Psalmist says, who can tell how oft he offendeth? O cleanse 'thou me from my secret faults! Sins of both kinds were equally before the eyes of God, and needed the advantage of the sacrifice. That forgiveness of siii is to be prayed for daily, is manifest from hence; because it is the subject of a petition in the Lord's Prayer, which is daily to be used. But the same was signified by the daily practice of the Church, before that prayer was given: every sacrifice that was offered shewed the necessity of atonement for sin. And the sacrifices of the tabernacle and temple being offered daily in the morning and evening service, the congregation who offered them applied for forgiveness of sin twice a day to God: and less, I think, will not suffice in any family at4his day. We are not departed from the custom of sacrificing, though we do not offer up a bloody sacrifice, as of old; but we offer to the Father his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins upon the Cross. . Twice in the day doth the Church t
direct all its members to put up a petition to heaven, that the Lord would have mercy upon us miserable offenders, according to his promises declared unto mankindin Christ Jesu our Lord. But here it should be well considered, that when we ask forgiveness for our sins, we ask it, on condition that we forgive the sins of others. The words are easily spoken; but what man can fulfil them, without the grace of God to dispose and assist him? for wrath and malice are in the heart of man: the spirit that is in us lusteth to envy; and we thirst for revenge against those who have despised, offended, or injured us. The struggle between duty and passion is often very hard to good men; who cannot bring their minds to calmness, patience and forbearance, till they set before their eyes the patience of Jesus Christ, who pleaded and prayed for his murderers.
But after all that has heen said, the greatest reason for prayer is yet behind. Our duty first calls upon us to pray; next, our wants and necessities; and lastly, our dangers. From the final petitions of the Lord's prayer, we may learn what will certainly become of us, if we do not pray: viz. that we shall, as I observed before, be led into temptation, and not be delivered from evil. The first temptation brought death with k: all temptation aims at man's destruction: and the world is full of it. Every age, every state of life, hath its temptations. How shall we meet them? how shall we overcome them? never, without the help of God; and this I cannot repeat too often: that help he will not find, who does not pray for it. If you would have a prospect of all the dangers to which man is liable, set before your eyes the three great enemiesof his salvation; always endeavouring to draw him into sin. Look at the vain and wicked world, with all its ways and its fashions, its vain pageants and diversions, its corrupt customs and lies; by which it acquires an absolute authority over the unguarded man : it first deceives him, and then domineers over his judgment. Next to this, behold the flesh, with all its appetites; all of which are by nature given to impetuosity, and excess. As the dog goes to his vomit, and the swine to its wallowing in the mire, so doth the natural man, if he has self-indulgence for his rule, lose the understanding of a man, and fall into what is beastly and destructive. Every object which is about us, if our faculties are not duly regulated, tempts us to some abuse of the creatures of God : and, what is worst of all, there is a subtle invisible enemy always at hand, who, being himself evil, turns all things to evil; to the end that those things, which God made for our good, may work together for our ruin; and we are either to be delivered from this enemy, or to be delivered up to him. Where we pray to God, to deliver us from evil, it means rather, from the evil one ; and many of our best divines agree, that the words ought to have been so rendered; deliver us from the evil one, that is, the Devil. Our English version seems to fail in the same way, in another passage where the person of our Saviour is to be understood ; “Who “will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is “good 2" where it ought rather to be, “if ye be “followers, (or imitators) of that good one, Christ?” for the Scripture does not deal much in abstractions. Taking it for granted then, that evil is the Evil on E; we learn from the Scripture, who, and what, he is ; that his work in general is, to overthrow all the designs of God for the salvation of man : that he is a serpent, a liar, a murderer, a destroyer : though modern divinity, if it may be called divinity, says he is nothing. (What? when Christ Came into the world to destroy the works of him ?) We learn also, that with all this he is a spirit, who excels in the strength of a spirit; and is armed with darts of fire; against which there is no defence, but from the shield of faith, which Prayer holds up to guard us against the enemy. It is no shield, until prayer applies it : pray, says our Lord, that ye enter not into temptation. How terrible is that warning, which is given us in the Revelation against this enemy of man; of whom some Christians, not worth reasoning with, now make no serious account! JVoe to the inhabitants of the Earth and of the Sea; for the Devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knozceth that he hath but a short time. His wrath will therefore do all the mischief that can be done in the time: and he hath lately found some new ways of doing great things in a short space: consider then, ye who are careless, that while you neglect him, he does not neglect you: while you lose all your time, he loses none of his. He leads you captive at his will: first into sin, and at last into condemnation: as you will find, when the spiritual world, which is now concealed, and seems to be nothing, shall be opened upon you. If you woxA&jlee from the wrath to come, you must pray: if you would fall into it, then neglect to pray! nothing further is necessary; all the rest will follow of course.
My design in what I have 'already skid on these words, has been to shew the necessity of grayer to those who do not pray: in what follows, I shall speak to those who do pray; with the hope of teaching them how to pray better; by giving them a new method of praying always: which may seem to be a very hard thing; but you are not here to understand, that men are always to be upon their knees: for then the busi
VOL. IV. Z
ness of life could not go forward, as the condition of man in this world requires. To separate the time of business from the time of prayer, stated hours were appointed in old time : and devout persons, who observed them, might be said to pray always ; that is, at all the appointed hours of prayer. I consider Cornelius the Centurion to have been one of these ; and that it is therefore said of him, that he prayed to God always; that is, he prayed with the Church daily, at al! the hours of prayer. The time of the day when he saw the vision agrees with this ; it appeared to him at the ninth hour of the day (one of the hours of prayer) and while he was in the act of prayer: because it is said to him, as to a nan who was praying, thy prayers are come up before God. Peter, in like manner, had his vision, at the sixth hour of the next day: when he went up according to custom, to the house-top, to pray. There are those, who mock at us for praying formally at appointed hours of the day: as if all praying were to be by fits and starts, as man pleases: but if God himself from heaven has paid regard to these times, we are undoubtedly justified in the practice; and it is in conformity to God's will that we should so pray. This custom of praying with the Church at all the regular times of prayer, was one of the methods of praying always. The chapter from which the text is taken shews us another way. A poor widow is represented as praying for justice to an unjust Judge, who, it seems, attended to her petition lest she should weary him by her continual coming. Our Saviour relates the parable, to shew us the certain effect of perseverance in prayer: we should pray without ceasing, till our petition is granted, how long soever it may please God to try our faith and patience, by not granting it so soon as we might hope and expect. We