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» be the Reward of a patient Submission." In such a Case, is it possible for a Person to be impatient, to be dejected after such a Conversation with God? All the black Clouds of Melancholy and Despair are dispelPd by the Light of his Countenance, and a bright Sun-shine ensues. Or, if the Storm be broke, and beats down with the utmost Vehemence, God shelters it under the Wings of his all-saving Mercy; amidst all the Roaring of the Thunders, the Flashes of Lightning, and Rattling of the Rain, an inexpressible Calmness spreads itself over the Mind, a Serenity of Temper refreshes and smooths it, every rising Murmur is hush'd, every repining Thought quash'd, and all the Passions of the Soul discharg'd in a Torrent of Love and Admiration j the most intense Love, the most perfectly satisfying Admiration of God and his Goodness. Can any Exstacy of the Soul equal this? And may not this Enjoyment be attained by Prayer^ by intense and fervent Prayer? Yes, blessed be God's Grace! it may j the truly pious and religious Man knows, and feels, that it may; he is convinced by the sweetest Experience, that Submission to God by Prayer is the highest Delight, that human Nature is capable of enjoying on this side Heaven.—And now, what is the dry Reading, and cold Meditation, recommended to us by the Deists, instead of Prayer, to this animating, this inflaming Exercise? And how can these Hypocrites have the Assurance to expect to be thought Friends to Mankind, when they at-» tempt to deprive them of the most exalted Pleasafe, and the most powerful Remedy for the Evils of Life? Or how can they pretend to serve the Interest of Virtue, while they endeavour to destroy the most effectual Means of supporting it? -'
It were easy to shew, that, without frequent and earnest Prayer, it. is as impossible to bear Prosperity with an even Mind, as it is to, support ourselves under Adversity. I might have laid more, especially, where-it is sudden and unexpected. There are many good Reasons to be assign'd for this. The Mind is more •weakened and enervated by Prosperity, than by Adverjjfyi. When: People are in Distress, they are naturally composed and thoughtful: A Flow of Prosperity dissipates Thought, and puts the Spirits in a Ferptent$ .a&ds a great Quantity of Sail, while it lessens the Balast, and renders the Mind more liable to be overset. Under Adversity, Men have not, either the Inclination, ox the Opportunity to take Pleasure, and gratify their Lusts. Prosperity gives both Appetite and Capacity. A State of Adversity, where there is a tolerable Disposition, softens and humbles the Mind; Prosperity disposes to Pride and an Unconcernedness for others, to Cruelty and Oppression. 1 could lay a great deal more, but the little that I have said, may serve to shew how much the Rich and Prosperous stand in need of the Assistance of Prayert to keep them within the Bounds of Duty. But, , their greatest Misfortune of all is, that the more they stand in need of it, the less they are inclin'd to make use of it. When People are in g a t forlorn Condition they naturally desire; and feet for Help j and if they have no Prospect: of finding it on Earth, they will look up to Heaven for it: But, the Successful and the Wealthy, abounding with every thing, are apt to forget God, their great BenefaSlor, to whom they owe every thing; and, while their Temptations make them the more in want of his Grace, they are the more apt to flight it. But, -3:
Thirdly, The Exercise of Prayer is necesiary in order to the Practice of the Duty of loving our Enemies—Forgiveness of Enemies is a Lesion Which Mankind can hardly learn; it is a Yoke to which they do very unwillingly submit their Necks: There is something within u3 which makes our Hearts rife and swell, and our Blood boili whenever we receive an Injury, or Affront) and it is very difficult for us to subdue this Turbulency, and keep down angry Resentments: But, it is utterly impossible for a mere Man so Far to conquer himself, as to make his bitter Enemy the Object of his Love; to be kind and tender-hearted to, and be willing to do all good Offices for, the Person who has loaded him with Injustice, &c. And, yet, this difficult Thing way? be done, if we ever expect Forgiveness at the Hands of God. It is absolutely required as an express Condition, so that there is a Necessity o£ working ourselves up to this charitable Temper, and such a Principle of universal Love within us, as will make no Exceptions, but equally and constantly exert itself towards Enemies and Friends. Now, this Principle can never be ac4 J quired quired and implanted in our Breasts without the Practice of Prayer; and for two Reasons. For, first, Prayer disposes us to that excellent Frame of Spirit. It is the Corruption of our Flesti, and the Sensuality of our Nature, which cause Resentment, and a Desire of Revenge; and, therefore, when this Principle is weakened, the contrary gathers Strength. When our Nature is spiritualized, those evil Affections cease. Now, Prayer, as I have observed already, is the only Way by which we can refine our Nature, draw off the Dregs of original Sin, purge it from. its Dross, and make it more like God, of an angelic Kind. In the Exercise of Prayer we bewail our own Enmity to God; we beg Him to pardon, and love vs who were, and are still, in some measure his Enemies; Prayer, therefore, has a natural Tendency to soften our Hearts, and dispose us to grant That Forgiveness, of which we, ourselves, stand so much in need. For, what can more naturally tend to make us ready to forgive others, than a frequent Acknowledgement of our own Offences against God? Or, how caw we be extreme to mark what is amiss in our Brother, when, by daily Prayer, we are constantly reminded of our own Sinfulness? Shall we dare to be inexorable, or to meditate Revenge, when we acknowledge that we are Criminal* ourselves, and, perhaps, greater Criminals upon the whole, tho' less culpable in jsarticu
. Uar Articles: Prayer, therefore, in the natural Effetfs of it, will help to make us of a more candid, and forgiving Temper; and, if we do
. .. not lidt feel these Effects in the Performance of % it is because we do not pray with Sincerity.
But Prayer is not Only necessary in some particular Parts of Religion, but all Religion, in generals depends upon it $ which will appear abundantly plain if we consider—That no 4 Man whatsoever can be good without Prayer. •—2. That a Man will necessarily grow bad if he neglects it, and his Neglect be wilful—3. That no Man can long continue bad that takes due Care ?n "praying to God.
1 stt I fay, no Man whatsoever can be good without Prayer> and that for two Reasons.— Firjl, because, as I observed before, the Consideration of God's Attributes, his Omnipresence* Omnipotence, Omniscience, Purity, &c. are the greatest Checks to sinful Inclinations. For, what Person, of common Sense, that gives himself Leisure for a sober Thought, can dare to be very wicked in the Company, and before the Face, of that great God, • who sees, and hates, what he does, and will assuredly punish him for it! Reflections upon these divine Attributes must unavoidably damp a Sinner, and deaden his irregular Passions, unless he be arrived to such a consummate Pitch of Impudence that he cares not for God; or, with the Psalmist's Fool, fays in his Heart, there is no God, tho' he would be thought to acknowledge his Existence and Go* vernment. Now, he that does not pray, does most certainly lose the best Opportunity for serious Consideration upon God's Nature, because be omits that Action, in the due Performance of