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Judge, were expressly delivered in order to teach us, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. And the instance of the Canaanitish Woman, who would not desist from her entreaties, till, by dint of an uncommon faith and assiduity, The had as it were wrested a miracle from the hands of our Lord, is demonstrative in this case. Add, moreover, that faith is frequently insisted on by Christ and his Apostles, as a necessary ingredient to effectual prayer.
It is not indeed to be conceived that any should pray without some degree of faith, without believing at least that God is, and that He can hear the prayers of men: At the same time it is much to be suspected that the invisibility of the divine nature, together with the seemingly undistinguishing distribution of temporal favours, do in great measure strike a damp upon devotion ; and occasion that coldness and inattention, so observable in the publick places of worship. But although we are not to expect miracles under the established light of the gospel, and though the ordinary methods of God's dealings with mankind be confef-. sedły reserved and mysterious to carnal apprehension ; yet if we believe any thing as Christians, we must be satisfied that Christ is at all times as really and powerfully present with his Church, as even then when he healed all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people; when he opened the eyes of the blind, and made both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak. And if faith was necessarily required in those fupplicants (as we find it was) in order to qualify them for such blessings from him on Earth, no doubt the prayers of the faithful continue to be a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling favour, acceptable to him in Heaven ; and, whatever may be VÒL. II.
the event of things here, will in no wise lose it's reward.
Let not however any deceive themselves by entertaining a wrong notion of this faith ; which must be properly understood as including a good habitual disposition to moral obedience. For otherwise a mere lifeless faith will little avail us in our prayers; since the Devils themselves believe and tremble, and would possibly pray too, could they obtain their ends by so doing.
3. Another requisite therefore to the rendering our prayers accepted with God, is a penitent heart — I say a penitent heart, because this is all that any man can pretend to, there being no one who liveth and sinneth not: And because too repentance through Christ is regarded in the stead of innocence at the Court of Heaven; where there is joy over every finner that repenteth.
There cannot be a greater mockery of the divine majesty, nor any thing more offensive to his holiness, than for a man to draw near Him with his lips, and to have his heart far from Him. This is absurdly as well as impiously to play the hypocrite with that omniscient Being, who knoweth the bearts of all the children of men. “We are, it is true, taught and encouraged,' in confidence of our allpowerful Intercessor, to ask daily forgiveness, together with grace to amend our lives. But in a formal manner to supplicate the Almighty, that He would be pleased to pardon our past crimes, though at the same time we are set upon it, whenever our worldly interests, or our pleasures invite, to repeat them ; is to turn our very prayers into fin, and to call down vengeance upon our own heads. Hence the pious resolution of the Psalmist-I will wash my hands in innocency, O Lord! and so will I compass X' 2
thine altar. For, as he elsewhere obo serves,— If I regard iniquity in my beart, the Lord will not bear me. And the reasoning of the poor man in the gospel, in favour of the Blessed Jesus who had opened his eyes, was certainly well worthy the attention even of a Jewish Sanhedrim ; Now we know, says be, that God beareth not finners, but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth bis will, him He heareth.-Indeed the truth is so obvious both from reason and scripture, that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, that it needs not any longer to be insisted on : Especially since the wicked themselves (to their shame be it spoken) betray an unhappy conviction in the point ; either by totally neglecting this sacred ordinance, unless, as was before obferved, in the article of distress; or by an unseemly performance of it. But the prayer of the upright, faith the wise man, is the Lord's delight. He both