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pose ourselves into a serious temper, by considering in whose aweful presence we appear, when at our devotions.
Fourthly, Our hearts must be possessed with a deep sense of God's majesty, which is infinite and incomprehen- Wihoone fible: let it be deeply impressed upon our minds, of God's" that we pray to no less a person than the sovereign majesty. Lord of heaven and earth, that was from everlasting, and is to everlasting, world without end. And then we oughtmore particularly, in order to the praying as we should do, to get our hearts possessed with a sense of his goodness. And goodThis is that, which, above all other things, will nefs. put life and vigour into our prayers, will both ftir us up to this duty, and support us in the performance thereof. He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Fifthly, We must endeavour to get our minds seriouly affected with a sense of our manifold wants: for O- Witha lente therwise it is impossible we should heartily pray for of our redress and supply; therefore if we desire to bring wants. ourselves to a praying temper, we must often take an account of the state of our fouls, and examine what necessities we have to be supplied, what fins to be pardoned, what evil af, fections to be mortified, what virtues and graces of the Holy Spirit to be attained for our strength and support.
Sixthly, All these conditions must be accompanied with great fervour and constancy; that is, we must, in whom the most hearty, serious, and affectionate man-"
"With zeal, ner, put up our requests to God for his aid; and likewise, in so doing, we must persevere to the end.
Seventhly, It is also required of us, for the preparing and disposing us for the putting up of our prayers as With puriwe should do, that we purify our hearts from all 19. actual affection to sin; that we come not to God with any of our wickednesses about us, but that we do put them away from us, at least in purpose and desire. The necessity of this requisite is so great, that there is no praying where it is wanting. For, if I incline unto wickedness with my heart, the Lordwill not hear me. We know that God heareth not finners; but if any man be a doer of his will, he will hear him.
Therefore, till we can seriously resolve to quit our evil courses, to forsake every known, wilful, open sin that we are conscious to ourselves we live in, let us not think ourselves prepared and qualified to put up our prayers to God, who will not be mocked.
Lastly, To all which requisites we must also add that wore Of bedily ship of the body, which is particularly exhorted by avorship. "the royal Pfalmift, where he says, o come, let us worship and fall down and kneel before the Lord our maker; which neceffarily implies, that the just and devout meaning of our souls should be expressed by suitable, humble, and reverent gestures of the body, in our approaches or prayers to God. And therefore the apostle, knowing that this also is a tribute due from the body of a man to the Creator, commands us to glorify God in our body and in our spirit, which are God's, 1 Cor. vi. 20.
V. By this account we have given of prayer, it appears, not J ah only that it is a duty that we owe to God, but that God muft be the only ob- it is a duty we owe to him alone, and that no beject of our ing in the world besides himself hath a right to be prayers,
* prayed unto. Because, if prayer be one of the principal instances of that honour, and an expression of that dependence, that we owe to the Creator and Governor of the world; then certainly to be prayed unto is, and for ever will be, one of the rights and prerogatives of his Sovereign Majesty, never to be given to any thing created. Consequently to invoke, or pray to any creature in a religious way, though it be the highest creature in heaven, whether angel or saint, not excepting the blessed Virgin herself, must needs be an affront done to God, as giving that honour to one of his creatures, that is only proper to the Creator. For all idolatry naturally leads to other immoralities ; and when men like not to retain God in their knowledge, they are very apt to be given over to a reprobate mind. Besides, will-worship, of what kind soever, evidently derogates from the honour of God; distracting men's devotions; dividing that affection and reliance of mind, which ought to be placed upon God alone; and always leading to superstitious equivalents in the stead of true virtue, which alone can render men acceptable
in the eyes of the all-feeing Judge. Should any one pretend to say that finful men cannot of themselves acceptably approach the supreme throne of God; we have, by divine ap. pointment, a sufficient mediator and advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous : who sitteth continually on the right-hand of God, as our great high-priest and intercer, for, to mediate for us, and to offer up our prayers unto the Father. Through him we have access unto the Father. And our Lord's own direction is: Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he will give it you. Prayer therefore is to be directed to God alone through Christ alone. And as praying to false Gods derogates from the honour of the one true God; so praying by or through the intercession of false and fictitious mediators, derogates in like manner from the honour of Christ, the only true mediator. For as there is but one God, so there is also but one mediator between God and man, even the man Christ Jesus.
As an encouragement for us to pray, David says, The Lord is nigh unto all then that call upon him in truth: qhom. he will fulfil the desires of those that fear him : or efficacy of he also will hear their prayers, and will save them: cur prayers. the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers. And our Saviour faith to his apostles, Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do: and again he repeats it, if ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. Yet, if it should be thought that this promise was made to the apostles only, and doth not concern us, let us hear what St. John writes to us : Brethren, if our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God; and whatsoever we ask we receive of him: Alk, faith he, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you ; for every one that asketh rea ceiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened ; than which promise nothing can be more gracious, nothing more comfortable : which is still inforced most pathetically, in the following verse : What man is there among you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a fcrpent? If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more will your heavenly Father give good things unto them that ask him? Besides, the holy scriptures not only contain many promises and assuran, ces that God will hear our prayers, but afford us many in stances of his making good those promises at all times, and to all persons, and that in a most wonderful manner. For by prayer Moses quenched the devouring fire. By prayer Elias brought down fire from heaven. By prayer Élisha restored the dead to life. By prayer Hezekiah'slew an hundred and eighty-five thousand of the Assyrians in one night. By Prayer David stopped the avenging angel, when his hand was lifted up to destroy Jerusalem. And by prayer Jonah was delivered out of the fish's belly. Yet,
Notwithstanding this usefulness, advantage, and necessity Obiections of prayer; nay though God has declared absoluteagainst ly, that we shall not have the good things we prazer. stand in need of, except we pray for them; there have been, and doubtless are still, some emissaries of the devil, who pretend to argue against the duty and efficacy of prayer ; founding their sophistry upon the unchangeable Da Obječtion I.
decrees of God; and, devil-like, quote scripture tronl. to support their own impiety. Is it not written, say they, that with God there is no variableness nor shadow of Answer I. Ambour turning ? This is a mere fallacy. God's hearken
*ing to, or being moved by the prayers we put up to him, doth not in the least clash with his unchangeable decrees. Wegrant, when God is pleased to give us those things which without our prayers he would not have done, there is a change in him or us; but not in God: for God resolved that if we humbly and heartily beg such or such things at his hands, we should have them ; but if not, we should go with. out what we want. Therefore, when upon our prayers we obtain that grace, or that blessing, which we had not before, it is not he that is changed, but we. We, by performing the conditions he required of us, looking with another aspect to him, do intitle ourselves to quite different treatment from him, than we could claim before we were changed from our wicked course of life, by making ourselves capable of receive ing those benefits, which before we were not capable of.
When this objection has failed, then they rest upon God's infinite and effential goodness. We grant that the Objeftis goodness of God is infinite, and that he governs on IL the world in the best way that is possible, and consequently he always will do that which is best, let us behave
Answer II. ourselves never so badly. Yet doth it from hence follow, that we shall have all such things as we stand in need of, without praying for them? No. Because the same God; that will do always what is absolutely best for his creatures, knows that it is best for them, that in order to the partaking of his benefits, they fhould pray for them; if they do not, why then he knows it is best that they should be denied such things. Whence the necessity of God's acting for the best doth not in the least destroy the necessity of prayer in order to our obtaining what we stand in need of. God will do always that which is beft: but we are mistaken if we think it for the best, that we should have our necessities fupplied without the use of prayer ; because it is the means appointed by God to obtain it..
Ví. To prayer it is necessary to fubjoin the duty of RePentance: a duty which the apostle St. Paul particularly testifies to be due to God; because, all Repentance.. fin being forbidden of God, we never transgress his commands, whether in regard to our neighbour or ourselves, but we incur his displeasure; and must dread his justice, except we repent. Wherefore, says the church; The grant of re• pentance is not to be denied to such as fall into sin after • baptism. After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may
depart from grace given, and fall into fin, and by the grace
of God (we may) rise again, and amend our lives. And • therefore they are to be condeinned, which say, they can
no more sin as long as they live here, or deny the place of • forgiveness to such as truly repent.' * This repentance isan, intire change of heart and mind, which produces tistimi the like change in our lives and conversations ; fo from fin to that to repent of our fins is to be convinced that God." we have done amiss: whence follows hearty sorrow for hava;
Su the 10th Article of Religion.