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We are to pray against the evil of fin, especially when we are in most danger of falling into it; and against the evil both of spiritual and temporal punish
Of fins. ment; with this caution, to be earnest in our prayers, that God would not be angry with us, nor withdraw Of punilshis grace, nor punilh us with eternal damnation. ment. But in temporal afflictions we must always pray with resignation to his divine will, according to the example of our blessed Saviour: who, when under the greatest afflictions, said, Not my will, but thine be done.
A fourth part of prayer is interceffion, or praying for others: therefore the apostle appoints us to make supplications for all saints, that all men may be saved
micro by the knowledge of the truth; that he will convince and convert all atheists, deifts, infidels, and all others, who are out of the way of truth, scoff at his word and ordinances, and disgrace christianity by their vice and immorality; that he will not forsake nor forget our nation in time of publick danger and distress; that he will continue among us the gospel in its purity, and the means of grace according to his own holy ordinance; that he will continue our outward peace and tranquillity, liberty and plenty; that he will prosper our trade, and bless the fruits of the earth for our use; that he will protect and preserve all those to whom we bear any relation, as our king, all his royal family, our parents, husbands, wives, children, friends, benefactors, &c. that he will teachour senators wisdom; and give his fpiritof wisdom, understanding, and justice, to all that are employed in publick affairs, or are appointed to execute justice, or to instructothers in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ: that he will bless all sorts and conditions of men, whether young or old; setting out into the world, or in long poffefsion thereof; whetherrich or poor; those that are profperous in this world, or such as are under afflictions; those that hate, as well as those that love us.
* In the last place we must also grateíully acknowledge his goodness towards us; which acknowledgment, Posile and though it can add nothing to his glory, heis pleased ibankjgiza to accept of, and reckons himself glorified by it, inge
if it comes from an heart that is humbly sensible of its own unworthiness to receive any favour from him ; and values the gifts, and loves the giver of them all. We must thank him for all his mercies both spiritual and temporal to us and all mankind in general, for all his goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men, and in particular for our creation, preservation, and all the bleisings we have received at his ħands; and aboveall, for his inestimablelove, in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and the hopes of glory in the world to come. : II. Having thus given you the several parts of prayer, the next thing to be considered is, WHERE we ought to pray : and here it will be found our duty to pray both in publick and Of bublick private. Those prayers are most acceptable to prayers in God, and most necessary for us, which are offered ibe church. in publick assemblies; because they have these advantages above private devotions, that God is most honoured and glorified by such addresses: and a sense of his majesty is maintained in the world, somewhat suitable to his most excellent greatness and goodness, when by outward signs and tokens we publish and declare the inward regard and esteem we have for his divine attributes : because private prayer is only piety confined within our breasts; but publick prayer is piety exemplified and displayed in our outward actions : it is the beauty of holiness made visible; our light shines out before men, and in the eye of the world; it enlarges the interests of godliness, and keeps up a face and sense of religion among mankind. Our Saviour promises his fpecial presence to such assemblies, and hath appointed a particular order of men to offer up our prayers in such places of worship. Besides, we may expect greater success, when our petitions are made with the joint and unanimous consent of our fellow-christians, and when our devotions receive warmth and heat from the exemplary zeal of pious ministers. Whoever thinks justly must be sensible, that private religion never did in fact subsist, but where some publick profession of it was regularly kept up: he must be lensible, that, if publick worship were once discontinued, an universal forgetfulness of that God would ensue, whom to remember
is the strongest fenfe and preservative against vice; and that
The next christian duty is family prayer. Every master of a family is answerable to God for the welfare of family of thofe fouls that are under his care. Nor can I prayer. well understand how a sense of religion can be maintained in à family without the exercise of daily devotion in it. Families are but little focieties, as societies are larger families: and therefore religion, which is confessedly the best bond and cement of union in states and larger communities, is likewise fo in little domestick governinents. It is therefore incumbent upon thofe, who preside over a family, to impressa sense of religion upon those who are beneath them. By this method we are best able to confirm and establish children and fervants in the practice of their christian obligations. If ever then you would have your children to be dutiful, and your fervants faithful: If ever you desire your small community here should join hereafter with the great congregation of
ui ucportinent out of church be correspondent prayers.
men and angels in heaven; be sure to cultivate the spot of ground committed to your care; teach them to look up to God in every step of their conduct; impress upon them, and keep alive in them, by repeated prayers, a manly, serious, and devout frame of mind. From a neglect of doing this, it comes to pass, that our youth, as soon as they launch out into the world, fall an easy defenceless prey to those professors of iniquity, who go about seeking whom they may devour ; that they become proselytes, from the best religion the world was ever blessed with, to no religion at all; and that those, who should be the flower of the nation, are too often At meals.
the very dregs of it. This devotion must be also
" at madalse remembered at our meals : for we ought to beg the blessing of God upon those good creatures provided for our use; since it is by the word of God and prayer that they are fanctified to us. ' Natural religion itself teaches us thankfully to acknowledge the benefits we receive; and this particular instance of it hath sufficient ground from the example of Christ and his holy Apostles, all the evangelists declaring that our Saviour blessed and gave thanks before meat; the fame St. Luke relates of St. Paul; and even St. Paul himself speaks of it, as the known practice of the church among christians in his time.
III. But this performance of publick prayer can by no Of private means excuse a man from the other duty of private prazer. prayer, which is that praying to our Father in secret, commanded by our Saviour; and to which in particular he has proinised a reward. And when a man does thus approach to God in private he ought to be nore particular, according to his pretiing necessities, than it may be convenient for him to express himself in publick. This duty God hath established as a means, whereby we are to obtain whatever we want in relation to our souls and bodies; we are to ask before it shall be given, we must seek before we shall find, we must knock before it will be opened untous. The mind of man naturally affects independence: To check this temper, God has obliged us to alk for the assistance of his holy spirit; our being cbliged to ask continually reminds us of (what we are very apt to forget) the dependence we have on him for our
fpiritual as well as natural abilities. Were, indeed, what we receive a matter of strict debt, then we might say, Who is the Lord, that we should pray unto him? But, as our enjoyments are the effects of his undeserved mercy, it becomes us to ask if we would receive. What we could receive without petitioning for it, we should look upon as intirely our own acquisition, exclusively of our Maker. This seems to be the most obvious reason, why God has annexed the promises of his grace to the performance of this condition : that prayer might be a perpetual memorial of our reliance on him, calling us to such a state of humility, that, whenever we do well, we should in the words of the Psalmist acknowledge: Not unto us, not unto us, O Lord; but unto thy name be ascribed the glory. And whenever we do iil, we should in the words of Daniel confess: To thee, O Lord, belongeth righteoulDess; but unto us confusion of face: And he hath promised the assistance of his holy Spirit to help us in the performance of our prayers; and hath appointed his Son to intercede by virtue of his merits for their adinislion. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that we should live in the con- Os frequena stant exercise of prayer; and in so doing we cannot cy in prayer. fail of attaining the end we aim at, our souls salvation. None can be virtuous that live without praying. Let people boast never so much of the great effect of a good resolution, they must at last confess, that there is no getting such a victory over their lusts and corruptions, no living such a christian life as the Gospel requires of us, without the practice of earnest and ardent prayer to God, and a constant attendance to reading and meditation, and other such-like devout exercises. Though we have formed our purposes, as we think, never so strongly, and doubt not but that we shall be able to refift every temptation; yet if we do not daily apply ourselves to the throne of grace for strength and influenceand support, there can be little hopes that we shall make any great progress or advancement in christianity; but, on the contrary, it is much to be feared that such a neglect will bring us infenfibly into a state of carelesness and indifferency to these matters, if not intirely to a worldly, sensual, or vicious life.