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Where let it be remarked, our whole duty is made up but
of three things; that a man live soberly, with reles necedily. spect to himself; righteously, with respect to his neighbour; and piously, with respect to God. Supposing now, that a man takes care of doing his duty to himfelf and his neighbour; yet, if he makes no conscience of piety towards God; in what sense can this man be faid to have done his duty, or to live virtuously; truly in no sense. Because, as to one third partof his duty, he is a notorious offender. For, though he be not unjust, though he be not debauched; yet, wanting piety towards God, he is impious; and this will as certainly damn him, as either of the other fins. Therefore, either one of these two things must be made appear, that is to lay, that there may be luch virtue as will recommend us to God without piety; or that there may be piety without ever praying to or worshipping God: neither of which I be-. lieve was ever imagined: or, it will follow, that where there is no praying, there is no virtue, and consequently no salvation for such as neglect that duty. Devotionisas neceffarya means to preserve the union between the souland God, in which our fpiritual life consists, as meat and drink is to preserve theunion between our souls and bodies, by which our natural lifeis fupported. So we may every whit as reasonably expect to keep our bodies alive without the constant and daily use of When to be eating and drinking, as we can expect to keep our ujed. souls alive to God, without the constant and daily exercise of prayer. But as to the proper time in which this duty ought to be more particularly performed, that must be regulated according to the leisure every one can find from the duty of his necessary business or calling; yet this duty must never be neglected in morning and evening, and we may all lift up our hearts to God in some pious ejaculation in every work throughout the whole day.
Such as make a conscience of saying their prayers freThe adwan. quently and heartily, and continue so to do, though tages of they be not good at the present, yet it is impossible prayer. for them long to continue in bad habits; they will at last certainly get the victory over all their lusts, and attain to the favour of God, and their own salvation. And the
benefits and advantages that do accrue to us from it are innumerable. It is the most proper means to enno-, ble and refine, and spiritualise our natures in the home
the Honour. new birth. If our daily converse with material objects are not balanced by prayer, it would make us wholly sensual, and flesh would destroy the works of the spirit; the constant exercise of prayer is the best method to get the mastery of our evil inclinations, and to overcome our vicious customs: By this we preserve a lively fenfe of our duty upon our minds, and are fortified against many temptations that the benefits continually assault our souls and bodies: By this of prayer. our souls are raised above this world, and spiritual objects are made familiar to us: By this our affections are sanctified, and we are supported under the calamities and crosses of this life: And by this we are led gradually to the perfection of
christian piety, and preserved in a strict union between God · and our souls; in which consists our spiritual life. Every vice
is checked and every virtue kept alive by a fixed awakened sense of the Deity, by a due regard for, and fear of him. In fine, without this we in vain pretend to discharge those duties that are incumbent upon us as christians, or to prosper in our temporal affairs; which must have God's blessing to crown them with advantage to us. Prayer secures the blesfing of God, both upon our persons and upon our labours ; upon our basket and store; uponour families; upon our employments; and upon all that we do, have, or desire: it turns all the actions of our natural or civillife, however indifferent they be, into actions of religious worship. By that every thing that we have, or comes to us, is made a blessing from God, which without it, perhaps, might have been an affliction and cross. It is true, God will grant us what is fit; but then it is as true, that it is not fit he should prostitute his favours upon those, who will not pray for them with an humble sense of their dependence, and receive them with a grateful sense of his goodness. Prayer is that by which e. very thing and every action is fanctified to believers.
This duty requires no labour ; the feeblest and most dif pirited body that can but lift up an heart to heaven,, and direct wishes thither, doth it as effectually as"
' Its ease. M 3
the most vigorous. This duty doth not go against the grain of any natural inclination ; nor put the body to any pain or inconveniency. This duty puts us to no charge or expence in the world, fave that of our thoughts, which are hereby fixed on things in heaven, This duty in no wise consumes our time, for we may attend this work, when we are doing the business of our calling. So that there is no objection against it; it is one of the most easy, natural, and inoffensive duties that God injoins his creatures,
Besides, it is the most pleafantand delightful exercise of all Pleasant- the pleasures of the soul. We may talk of pleasures 1efs. and enjoyments; butnoman ever truly found them, till he became acquainted with God, and was made sensibleof his love, and partaker of his fpiritual favours, and lived in an intire friendihip and communion with him; which is chiefly, if not only, both expressed and maintained by prayer and other exercises of a devout and spiritual life. There can be
therefore no better reason assigned for the great The reasons of its femmes neglect of this duty, than either a luftful heart, ing others which confines its desires and hopes within the narquife. row bounds of carnal pleasures, and the drofs of a perishable world; or a want of practising it, or using thereof; for there are many things which seem uneasy at the first trial, which upon custom become delightful.
SUNDAY VII. PART II, IV. Let our prayers be ever fo frequent and fervent, they The reanis must be rightly qualified: and these requisites or conFates of ditions of prayer are either such as concern the matprayer. ter of our prayers, or the things we are to pray for ; or such as concern the manner of our prayers, or the qualifications with which they are to be attended. And,
First, the things, which weajk, must be such as are lawful To alle no. and agreeable to the will of God. Now, whatsorbing up ever is not just is not agreeable to the will of God, lawful and confequently ought not to be prayed for; as foy example, to pray for revenge upon our enemies, to desire God to prosper us in our wicked courses, and the like, is not lawful.' Again, things may be very just in themselves, but
yet yet it will be very unjust in us to ask them; namely, when we ask good things, but to evil purposes, then we ask and re-a ceive not, because we ask amiss : and why so? we ask, that we may consume them upon our lufts. Again the matter of our prayers may be lawful in itself, and we may ask with honest and innocent designs, and yet the things we ask may not be according to God's will; because God perhaps sees they are not convenient for us, or he sees that some other things will better suit our circumstances of body or foul : This is the case of all those worldly blessings, commonly so called.
Secondly, we must ask in faith. This is a condition ordered byour Saviour to his apostles; All things (faith he) To all in whatsoever ye shall alk in prayer, believing, ye faith. shall receive; which implies no more than the praying with a hearty belief both that God is able to grant the requests I put up to him, and that, for the sake of Jesus Christ, he will do it, supposing that it will be for his glory and my good: and also supposing that I perform all the conditions that are required on my part towards the obtaining thereof : so that to pray in faith is to pray to God with a full purpose of heart (let what will come) to believe and to live like a christian, not to use any indirect means, or to depart from the sincerity of my christian profession, for the gaining even of the whole world. These conditions must be accompanied with constancy and perseverance.
Thirdly, our prayers should be always offered up in an humble acknowledgmentofourown unworthiness. With bumi For the proud, and those that are full of them- liny. selves, are the most unfit for prayer, and the most offensive to God. When they make addresses to him in any manner, he resisteth them, he beholdeth them afar off, as the scrip. ture expresseth it, with an eye of scorn: but he giveth grace to the humble; nor will he despise the broken and the contrite heart. We may put up our requests for any lawful thing, but then it must constantly be with this condition, if God sees it fit for us, and it be agreeable to the will of his divine majesty. Though we may peremptorilyask all spiritual blessings in particular, and be assured, if the other requisites of our prayer do concur, we shall obtain them: And, at all
times, our great care should be to endeavour to dispossess all With atten- wandering thoughts at the time of devotion; for tion. this is drawing near to God with our lips, when our hearts are far from him; and they that thus Wight and despise the dreadful majesty of God they come before, will more likely bring a curse than a blessing upon themselves. But if this cannot be perfectly done, let not a fewinterruptions damp a truly devout prayer; for, considering the frame and constitution of our natures, and the close connection between soul and body, when we are at our prayers, our thoughts may be diverted, and our intentions interrupted by the impressions of study or business of this world. This I thought necessary to observe, because some weak men of a fanguine complexion are apt to be elated upon the account of those short-lived raptures and transient gleams of joy, which they feel within themselves; and others of a phlegmatick coniti, tution to despond, because they cannot work themselves up to such a degree of fervour. Whereas nothing is more precarious and uncertain than that affection, which depends upon the ferment of the blood: it naturally ceases, as soon as the spirits flag, and are exhausted. Men of this makesometimes draw near to God with great fervency; and at other times are quite estranged from him. A steady, regular, consistent piety is more acceptable to that Being, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of change; than all the passionate sallies, and short intermitting fits, of an unequal. devotion. Therefore, all we can do is to watch and strive Watchfula against these distractions, to bęwail this weakness,
and to compose our thoughts to all that seriousness our temper and circumstances will permit; to recall our minds as soon as we perceive they run out upon other objects, and immediately to throw away all such thoughts as are foreis to our devotions, and
beg God's pardon and assistDifraeli ance; remembering always, that what makes these ons, when distractions criminal is when we willingly entertain criminal. them and indulge ourselves in thinking upon other objects without restraint; when we keep our unreasonable passions under no government, and take no care to com: