« AnteriorContinuar »
to lock ps up under God's protection at night. By it we prevail with God, screen ourselves from wrath, and put satan to flight. In a word, prayer is a key to liean ven, a thield to the foul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to the devil.
4. It is the way to make up and preferve acquaintance with Gad, which will be of great use to you in the time of trouble, ar at the hour of deach: It is no small encouragement to you to address one for help with whom you have had long acquaintance and famin liarity, and of whose kindness you have had frequent experience. But, prayerless man, it will be a mott melancholy case, when you are going out of the world, to be put to cry to that God you have been an uiter tranger to all your life; or to be forced to appear before that God you never loved, or desired to converse with or to be fain to challenge acquaintance with him, who will utterly disclaim you, and say, “ Depart from me, I never knew you." But, O praying foul ! that haft acquaintance with God, death will have another view to thee; thou mayît look on it, as Jacob did on the waggons sent to carry him to his friend Joseph, and say, “Now I am going to God, whom I know, I am gom « ing to meet with that Friend, with whom I have had « a long acquaintance, to whom I have paid many a "visit, and with whom I have had sweet secret con“ verse, and whom I have longed to fee, and who will " embrace me in his arms, and welcome me to glory." ::: 5: Consider what a mercy it is, o man, that God is yet calling thee to prayer, and continuing thee in the land of prayer, when so many thousands, as deserving, are beyond prayer, and lost for ever. Othen pray now, while thou hast time to pray, health to pray, helps to pray, and encouragement to pray. Read the gracious promises of life and salvation to you, if you do it, Pfal. lxix. 32. Rom. x. 43. Make this world: a tine for prayer, and the next shall be a feason for praise. Doft thou think to be faved without prayer ? Dost thou expect to have thy life without begging it at God's hands? 0. what oil will it add to thy flames in helly when confrience will tell thee, If thou hadit prayed, thou hadit
Tot been there? Well ther, now thou halt a feason for prayer ; but, remember, it will not always last : If thou improve it not, expect that God will turn a deaf ear to you in the day of your calamity, at a death bed, or a tribunal Read, and tremble at that word, Prov. i. 20. 27. 28. God says, “ He will not hear you when you cry." And, if he refuse to hear you, then, who will hear you? Angels will not, faints will not, nearest relations will not, hills and mountains will not : And, what i wretched, forlorn and forsaken creature wilt thou be? There will be none to own thee then, if thou acquaint not thyself with God by prayer now. See the anfwer the foolish virgins got, when they came after the door was fhut. Matth. XXV. See what an answer the rich man got, when he begged for “a drop of cold water to cool his tongue,” Luke xvi. " Seek God, then, while he may be found ; call on him while he is near :" Otherwise your late untimely cries will not be regarded." **Objec7. “ O, say some, we have not the gift of pray: er, we cannot pray."
Ans. I have said encugh in answer to this a little ben fore. I shall only add one word; Art thou a Christiani, O man, and canst not pray? Thou mayst as well say, thou art a scholar, but canit not read; a soldier, but canft not fight. Prayer is as effential to a true Chrifa tian, as breath is to the body: Why ? prayer' is the very breathing of the soul to God. So it is called, Lain. jji.'56. O man, hare you nothing to say in prayer? then go to God, and tell him fe ; sit down on your knees, and say, “ Here à poor igncrant creature, that cannot pray; Lord, teach me to pray." The publican made a very short prayer, Luke xviii. "God be mer: ciful to me a finner;" yet it was accepted, since it came from a humble heart: O! if your heart be broken, your words will be accepted, althcugh they be broken and few. The fillieft beggar will find something to say at your docr, though he expect but a crumb; and can you find nothing to say at God's door, when you have a soul to fare, a hell to thun, and Jesus Christ and a kingdom in your view ?
But, befides that sort of fecret prayer which is more ftated and folemn, there is prayer that is more sudden and ejaculatory, when we lift up our hearts to God with some short petitions, on any occasion or emergency. Ejaculatory prayers are ufeful on every day, but you should have them more frequent on the Sabbathday: For, since on this day you must not think your own thoughts, or find your own pleasures,"? heavenly breathings and pious ejaculations should issue forth con, tinually. By seeking pardon for such a sin, ftrength a. gainst such a lust, victory over such a temptation, and grace to spend Sabbath time suitably. Are you going to the church, or returning from it? Are you reading, hearing, communicating, praising, or about any other duty ? be frequently making use of this kind of prayer, particularly begin and end every duty with it; look up before for assistance, and look up after it for acceptance, and that infirmities in it, for Christ's fake, may be parz doned. These prayers, of all others, are the freelt of distraction, they being put up and over before ever fa. tan be awakened to tempt us. As for other prayers, our preparations to them, though only by the alteration of our posture, give notice to fatan what we are about to do ; but ejaculatory prayers are so quickly darted up to God, that they will be in heaven before satan can fhoot any of his darts against us. They are used to keep up communion with God in the intervals of other duties, and for keeping the heart in the fear of God all the day long. As the priests under the law were not only to offer up the morning and evening facrifice dulys” but “ to keep the fire burning on the altar all the day;" so we must not satisfy ourselves with solemn and ftated duties only, but should study to keep in the fire always by holy thoughts and ejaculations, Christ faith of the spouse, that her lips drop as an honey comb, which is either still dropping, or in a continual forwardness to drop. Some of God's people have more devotion this way in their shops, than others have in their closets; and while walking in the streets, or working in the fields, than others have when praying on their knees: They have stricter communion with God this
way at their common tables, than others have at a com: munion table. A second secret Duty on the Lora’s Day is reading of the
D Scriptures and other good books. ' . : This is a duty necessary every day, but especially on the Lord's day : It is the character of the bleffed man, that “ his delight is in the law of the Lord, and he meditates therein both day and night," Psal. i. This should be particularly verified of us on the Sab: bath. Read the word, that you may be taught what to believe of God, what duties you owe to God, and what sins you are guilty of against him. Who can set forth the excellency and usefulness of it? It is a glass to difcover our spots, a lamp to guide us in the dark, a fire to warm our cold affections, a magazine to supe ply us with armour against our fpiritual enemies. It is a physic garden, wherein grow all sorts of medicinal herbs for our spiritual maladies : The promises are as fragrant flowers and spices in this garden; believers take many a pleasant walk among these beds of spices. It is an apothecary's shop, out of which we may have eye-salve for our blindness, sovereign cordials in all our soul distresses. David found this to his sweet experience, Psal. cxix. 50.“ This is my comfort in my affliction, for thy word hath quickned me." Here are suite able cordiałs for all our various cafes, be it desertion, temptation, poverty, sickness, reproach, persecution, &c. Here are the waters of the fanctuary for cleansing us from our pollutions : Here is the heavenly rain, for making soft and tender our hard hearts.' The scriptures are both food and physic to our souls; here is meat for strong' men, and milk for babes. : « The two Teftaments (as Augustine faith) are the two breasts which we must luck for spiritual nourishment." And there is none of God's children that will call them dry breasts or empty cifterns; they have often afforded them strength, nourishment, light, life, and comfort: O how highly have God's people in all ages prized God's holy word, and the liberty of reading it! It hath been “sweet as honey to their taste.". I have read of one, who being a prisoner in a dark dungeon, when light was allowed him for a short
time to take his meat, he would take his Bible, and read a portion of it, saying, “ He could eat without light, but he could not read without it.” I am persuaded there is no better way in this world for improving the faculty of fight, and benefit of light, than by reading the word of God. So far as time can allow you upon the Sabbath, I judge it very profitable to read other good books also, such as our Confession of Faith, Vincent's Catechism, Vincent on the last Judgment Guthrie's trial of a saving interest in Christ, Allan's Alarm, Baxter's Call to the Unconverted, Piarse's Preparation för Death, Fox's Time and the end of Time, Doolittle's Call to delaying Sinners, Baxter's Sints everlasting Rest, his Poor Man's Family-book, Gray's Sermons, Flavel's Touch-stone of Sincerity, his Saint indeed, Mead's almost Chriftian, the Treatises of Doolittle, Campbell and Henry upon the Sacrament, Ruther. foord's Letters, the Fulfilling of the Scriptures, Clark's Martyrology, Beard's Theatre of God's Judgments. These, and such like books, next to the Holy Bible, I recommend to the perusal of all private Christians, as being easy and plain to common capacities, and some of the most generally useful, instructing, awakening, soul-searching, and heart-warming pieces, that I have feen among human writings, and which have been blefled to the edification of many thousands.
A third secret Duey on the Lord's Day, is meditation upon a !
This duty is proper every day, much more on the Sabbath, which is sequestrated for divine employments. It is the character of the blessed man, that “ he meditates in God's law day and night," Pfal. i 2. It is an useful and necessary duty; it excites the affections, and quickens the graces; it strengthens faith, Pfal. cxix. 92. It nourisheth hope, and inflames our love ; deep muling makes the fire to burn Meditation is a great help to every duty, Psal. cxix. 59. It helps to read and hear the word aright, and to know the truths thereof practically ; it helps to pray, and yields matter to the tongue,