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and composes the soul, and administers comfort and tranquillity under troubles and disappointments. Therefore Saint James recommends it to such as are in affliction ; chap. V. 13. Is any among you affli&ted, let him pray. A man who lives in the neglect of this duty, tho otherwise he may be skilful and prudent enough in the management of his affairs, yet when he hath used all the skill that he is master of, is liable to a great deal of anxiety and sollicitude ; and is apt to be restless., and uneasy within himself, for fear the event should not answer expectation, and things should not succeed in proportion to the care and diligence which he hath used about them: and if at last he be disappointed, he loses all patience, and has no longer the command of himself. But a pious and devout man is anxiously sollicitous a'bout nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication makes known bis requests unto God. And the fruit of it is this, that he hath the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, to keep his heart and mind through Christ Jesus.
Thus prayer is useful to ourselves. But besides that, it also makes us useful to others. A praying christian is a
publick bleffing: he obtains mercies, not only for himself, but also for his relations and friends, and for the land of his nativity. Abraham's prayers avert. ed the judgments of God from Abimelech and his family, when he had offended in his conduct with regard to Abraham's wife; as you may read in the XXth chapter of Ġenesis. The wrath of God was kindled against the three Friends of Job, because they had not Spoken concerning him the thing which was right : but on Job's praying for them God forgave them, and received them again into favour ; as you may read in the XLIId chapter of job. Móses by his prayers often appeased the wrath of God againft the rebellious IlTaelites : and I question not but many a nation, and ours in particular, has been faved from ruin by the prayers of the righteous men who were in it. Let us not then be remiss in the practice of a duty whereby we may become fo extensively ufefúl. The meanest christian may be serviceable by his prayers as well as the greatest. A poor man may pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and pray as acceptably too, as the richest; for God regards not the prayer of the
rich more than the prayer of the poor. *. 2. I will exhort you to prayer from the confideration of the easiness and pleasantness of it. There are some duties of religion which are very harsh and unpleasant. 'Tis hard to mortify our lufts, and to govern our passions ; to live in a tempting ensnaring world, and yet to keep ourselves unspotted froni it ; to converse with things below, and yet fet our affection on things above ; to be rich and powerful, and yet humble and lowly; to be poor and despised, and yet contented and thankful; to be patient in tribulation, and joyful in persecution; to love our enemies ; to bless them that curse us; and do good to them that hate us; to bate father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and filters, yea, and our own lives also, and to bear our cross and come after Christ. These things, how just and reasonable foever they may be, yet are very difficult to be practised, because they thwart the appetites and inclinations of men, and oppose their temporal interests. But what is there in prayer that should make men averso from the practice of it ? Surely, it is
no such hard talk to declare our wants, and humbly pray for the supply of them : an illiterate christian may perform this duty as well as a learned one, it requires nothing but'à fincerity of heart and every body may be sincere if he please. There is no great labour and fatigue in it, it need take up but little of four time : a short prayer is berter than a long one, because it is more likely to be accompanied with the heart and affections. Whilst our devotions are contracted within a little room, there is some strength and solidity, some life and spirit in them ; but when they are drawn out to a prodigious length, they ļofe all their nerves, and grow dull and flat, weak and languid. .
And as prayer is easy to be performed, fo it is pleasant and delightful too. Can : there be a more delightful exercise than to converse with God? Men generally take pleafure in the society of their friends on earth, who are attended with many frailties' and imperfections : how much greater pleasure must that man feel, who' maintains friendship and communion with the best and most perfect being? Indeed to vicious m'en it may seem á paradox, that there should be any
pleasure felt in communion with a being who is not the object of any of our senses. But it is no wonder that men who are immersed in sensual pleasures have no notion of those which are 1piritual. And it no more follows that there are no pleasures to be found in exercises of religion, because a wicked man has no idea of them, than it follows that there are no colours in the world, because a man born blind has no idea of them. Therefore let impious men deride communion with God as much as they please ; a devout person will resolutely maintain his intercourse with heaven, despising their scoffs as much as they despise his joys : for they Speak evil of the things which they know not, and in a question which must be decided by experience, peremptorily determine without making the experiment.
3. And lastly: I will exhort you to prayer from the example of Christ. We profess to be his disciples; therefore we Thould imitate his virtues. Now devotion was a very shining part of our Lord's character whilft he lived upon earth. See the XIVth chapter of Matt. ver. 23. And when he had sent the mul