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^Jock-us up under God's protection at night*-. J|y' -it we prevail with God, screen ourselves from wrath, and put satan to Might. In a word, prayer is a key to heaven, a shield to the suu), a sacrisice to God, and a scourge to the devil. '•. i •.
4. It is the way to make up and preserve acquaint auce with Gad, which will be of great use to you id the-time of trouble, or at the hour of death: It is no small encouragement tp you to address one for help, with whom you have had long acquaintance and samiliarity, and of whose kindness you have had- frtqaeat experience. But, prayerless man, it will be a moll melancholy case, when you are gohig out of the world* to be put to, cry to that God you have been an utter 8ra-a. ger to all your lise; or to be forced to appear before that God you never laved, or desired to converse with? or .to be sain to challenge acquaintance with htm, who will utterly disclaim you, and say, " Depart froramc, I never knew you.'' But, O praying foul! that hast acquaintance with God, death will havq another view to thee; thou mayst look on it, as J^cob did on the waggons sent to carry him to his friend Joseph, and say, *V jSew I am going to God, whom I know; I am go
jug to meet with that Friend, with whom I have had "a long acquaintance, to whom I have paid many a ,l- jtisir, and with whom I have bad sweet secret coa
verse., and whom I have longed to see- and; who will "embrace me in his arnas, and welcome roc to glory.?
5, Consider what a mercy it is, O rpan, that God is yet casing thee to prayer, aud continuing thee in the laad of prayer, when fa nian.y thousands, a6 deserving, are beyoud prayer, and lost for ever. O then pray now, while thou hast time to ptay, health to pray, helps to pray, and eneouragt ment tq pray. Re aid the gracious promises- of lise arid salvation to you, if you do it, Psal. lxix. 32. Rooa. x, j-j. Make this world a titno for prayer, and the next fhall be a seasun for praise. Dost thou think to. be saved without prayer I Dust thou expect to have t.lijt lise without begging it at God's hands-? O. what oil will-it add to tby flames in hell, when conscience will tell thee, If thou liadst pcay-cd, thouhftdst
^StTjeen there r Well then, now thou hast'a season for prayer ;T>ut, remember, ft will not always last's''"Iftft'dti WprdVe it not, expect that God'will turn a deaf'ear to joW W tries day of your calamity, at a death bed, or a tribunal',' Read, and tremble at that word,Prov!i. 2<5. ^fiti'-^oA fays, " He will not hear you when you erf? "And, if he resuse to hear you, then, who will heair you? Angels will not, saints will not, nearest relatioWwill riot, hills and mountains will not: Arid, what a wretched, forlorn and forsaken creature 'wilt thdti be? There will be none to own thee then, if thou acquaint not thyself with God by prayer now. See the answer the foolish virgins got, when they cajne aster the' dr6r was shut. Matth. xxr. See what an answer the rich man got, when he begged sor " 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 riot be regarded.
Object. " O, say some, we have not the gift of prayer, we cannot pray." . ^
Ah/. I have said enough in answer to this'a littte-before. I fhall only add one word; Art thou a Christian^ O man, and canst not pray? Thou mayst as well say, thou art a scholar, but canst not read; a soldier,- bujt canst not sight. Prayer is as essential to a true Chris-' t:an, as breath is to the body: Why? prayer is'"the very breathing of the foul to God. So it is called, Lam. iii. 56. O man, have you nothing tor say in prayer? then go to God, and tell him so; sit down on your knees, and say, " Here a poor ignorant creature, that cannot pray; Lord, teach me to pray." The publican mzde a Very short prayer, Luke xviii. ." God be mercisul to me a sinner ;" yet it'was accepted, since it came from a humble heart. O! if your heart be broken, your words' will be accepted, although they be broken and sew. The sil!i;st b:ggar will sind something to say at your doer, though he expect but a crumb; and can you sird nothing to say at God/s door, when you have a soul to save, a hell to shun, and JesuS Christ and a kingdom in your view? ^ But, But, besides that sort of secret prayer which is more ted and solemn, there is prayer that ii more sadden 'ejaculatcry, when we list up our hearts to Gpd some short petitions, on any occasion or emergenEjaculatory pnyers are usesul on every day, but i mould have them more frequent on the SabbathFor, since on this day you must" not think your ithoughts, or sind your own pleasures•" heavenly ^things and pious ejaculations should issue sorth conlally :.By seeking pardon for such a sin, strengt" tnst such a lust, victory over such a temptation, ice to spend Sabbath time suitably. Are you g< the church, or returning from it? Are you read hearing, communicating, praising, or about any other duty i be frequently making use of this kind of prayer, particularly begin and end every duty with it; look up besore for assistance, and look up aster it for acceptance, and that insirmities in it, for Christ's sake, may be pardoned. These prayers, of all others, are the freest ot they being put up and over besore ever fakened to tempt us. As sor other prayer;, our preparations to them, though only by the alteration of our posture, give notice to satan what we are about t6 do; but ejaculatory prayers are so quickly darted up to God, that they will be in heaven besore satan can slloot any of his darts against us. They are used to keep up communion with God in the intervals oi other duties, and for keeping the heart in the sear of God all the day long. As the priests under the law were not only to" osser up the morning and evening sacrisice duly," but " to keep the sire burning on the altar ast.the day;" so we must not satisfy ourselves with solemn and stated duties only, but should study to keep in the sire always by holy thoughts and ejaculations, Christ r of the spouse, that" her lips drop as an honey cc which is either still dropping, or in a continual tor\._ ness 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 sields, than others have when praying on their : stricter communion with God this IV." T way
way at their common tables, than others have at a communion table.
A second secret Dutv on the Lorals Day it reading of the
-' Scriptures and other good boots.
This is a duty necessary every day; but especially on the Lord's day: It is the character of the blessed 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 verisied of us on the Sabbath. Read the word, that you may be taught what to believe of God, what duties you owe to God, and what sin1! you are guilty of against him. Who can set forth the excellency and usesulness of it? It is a glass to discover our spots, a lamp to guide us in the dark, a sire to warm our cold assections, a magazine to supply us with armour against our spiritual enemies. It is a physic garden, wherein grow all forts of medicinal hefbs for our spiritual maladies: The promises are as fragrant flowers and spices in this garden; believers take rnany a pleasant walk among these beds of spices. It is an apothecary's shop, out of which we may have eye-salve sor our blindness, sovereign cordials in all our foul distresses. David found this to his sweet experience, Psal. cxix. 50. " This is my comsort in my affliction, sor thy word hath quickned me." Here are suitable cordials sor all out various cases, be it desertion, temptation, poverty, sickness, reproach, persecution, &c. Here are the waters of the sanctuary 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 Testaments (as Augustine saith) are the two breasts which we must suck for spiritual nourishment" And there is none of God's children that will call them dry breasts or empty cists rns; they have often assorded tiiem strength, nourishment, light, lise, and comsort: O how hignly 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 wa9 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 petsuadfd there is no better way in this world for improving the saculty of sight, and benesit of light, than by reading the word of' God. So far as time cm allow you upon trie" Sabb-ith, I judge it verv prositable to read other good books also, such as our Consession of. Faith, Vincent's Catechism, Vincent on the last Ju.lgmeijt Guthrie's trial of a savin;: interest in Christ, Allan'-. Alarm, Baxter's Ca|l to the Unconverted, Pfarse's Preparation For Death, Fox's Time and the end of Time, Doolittle's Call to delaying dinners, Baxter's S.ints everlasting Rest, his Poor Man's Family-book, Gray's Sermons, Flavel's Touch-stone of Sincerity, his Saint indeed, Mead's almost Christian, tjie Treatises of Doolittle, Campbell and Henry upon the Sacrament, Rutherfoord's Letters, the Fulsilling 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 hieing ,easy and plain to common capacities, and some pf the most generally usesul, instructing, awakening, foul-searching, and heart warming pieces, that I have seen among human writings, and which have been blessed/ to the edisication of many thousands.
.'..!'' £ third secret Duty on the Lord's Day, is meditation upon
fj,t ijt;si.:£?':- •. ; v divine subjeBs.-. ..
a'...: v: , - . r.• . - .
This jduty 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," Psal. i. 2. It is an usesul and necessary duty ; it excites the assections, and -quickens the graces; it strengthens faith, Psal. cxix. 92. It nourisheth hope, and inflames our love; deep muting makes the sire to burn. Meditation is a great help to e-very 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, i: T 2 ...... - Psal.