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titude away, he went up into a moujt* tain apart to pray, and when evening was come he was there alone. Mark I. 35. And in the morning rising up a great while before day, he departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. Luke V. 16. And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed. Luke VI. 12. And it came to pass in those days that he went out into a mountain to pray, and he continued all night in prayer to God. Some persons indeed translate the latter part of this verse differently; and what our translators have rendered, he continued all night in prayer to God, they render he continued all night in a proseucha of God, i. e. in a house of prayer, dedicated to the service of God. Perhaps this may be the truer rendering; and supposing it is, it will not prejudice my argument j for if our Saviour was all night in a house of prayer, 'tis reasonable to suppose that he employ'd a great part of that time in prayer. Therefore, since our blested Lord exercised himself so much in this duty, let us go and do likewise. He hath left us an example that we should follow his fleps. We cannot pretend that we have less reason to pray than he.- Our
necessities perhaps may not equal those of our blessed Saviour; for he having an extraordinary work to go through, needed an extraordinary assistance. Yet I cannot but take notice, that there is one thing which he never wanted and we always want; and that is pardon of sin; However, whether our necessities are greater or less than those of our blefled Lord were; this I am sure of, that our power to relieve them is vastly inferior. Therefore if the Son of God pray'd, much more should we. But we must not rest here. If prophesying in Christ'* name, and casting out devils in his name, will not bring men to heaven j much less will the mere praying in his name. We must watch as well as pray, that we enter not into temptation. And if we do both these, we need not fear obtaining the victory over our spiritual enemies j and at last we shall receive the reward of our labours in a glorious immortality.
Constant thanksgiving the christian's duty.
i Thess. V. i 8.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ "'Jesus concerning you.
O reasonable man will deny that it is his duty to give thanks; for this is a law of nature: but that he mould give thanks in every things may perhaps seem strange and unaccountable. Nature itself dictates to us to be thankful for blessings and favours; but to be thankful for afflictions and calamities, seems to contradict our natural notions of things. 'Tis natural to thank God for a sound and healthful constitution of body, and for any happy endowments of mind; for a plentirful fortune and a fair character and reputation; for comfortable relations, and kind and faithful friends: but it seems contrary to nature to thank him for sickness of body, and meanness of parts,
death of relations and friends. These things are matter of deprecation rather than of thanksgiving. We are by nature so strongly averse from them, that 'tis -impossible we mould give thanks for them. The apostle Paul himself did not thank God for afflictions. When there was given unto him a thorn in the jiejh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him, he did not thank God for it 5 on the contrary, he besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from him; 2 Cor. XII. 8. What then can be the meaning of this precept: In every thing give thanks f I answer:
reproach, and for the
K 1. That
1. That there is no necessity of reading the words as they are in our translation: for the word thing is not in the original; that is supplied by the translators. And, I think, we may supply another word as well ; viz. the word time or season. In every time give thanks, will be as just a translation as, in every thing give thanks. And if this is admited, then there is no great difficulty in the precept: for most certainly it is our duty to give thanks at all times and seasons, not only in prosperity, but even in adversity; for there is no man so wretched and miserable, but he hath still some mercies to bless God for. If we receive evil at the hand of God, we also receive good: and we may, and ought to thank him for the good, tho we cannot for the evil.
But, 2. If we take the words as they are in our translation, yet still they will bear a very good meaning. In every thing give thanks: that is, for every mercy both temporal and spiritual ; and tho not for affliction itself, yet for the benefit and advantage that accrues to you from it. It would be absurd for me to thank God because I am sick, and because I am poor j but