« AnteriorContinuar »
will be in danger of walking on still in darkness. The Scriptures are the best source of patience and consolation. If you neglect them, where can you look for support and comfort, under the changes and chances, the many sorrows and calamities of this mortal life? The Scriptures, finally, are able to make you wise unto salvation. If you neglect them, are you not guilty of neglecting the offer of salvation, of putting from you the gift of eternal life?
Let me then again exhort you to the diligent and constant, the daily, study of the word of God. Pray earnestly to him to enlighten your understanding, and warm your hearts by the influence of mat Spirit, by whose inspiration the Scriptures were given. In the words of the excellent Collect of our Church, humbly beseech God, who " has caused all holy Scriptures ^ to be written for our learning, to grant "that we may in such wise hear them, "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest "them, that by patience and comfort of "his holy word, we may embrace, and "ever hold fast, the blessed hope of ever"lasting life, which he hath given us in "our Saviour Jesus Christ*."
d May I be permitted to suggest, that in reading the Scriptures, we should read those parts especially which are most applicable to ourselves, and most suited to our comprehension. Those who are young in years, or young in understanding, will comparatively derive little edification from great part of the prophetical writings; and from those parts of the books of Moses which relate to the building and service of the temple, to the Levitical rites, and to the municipal laws and regulations of the Jews; i. e. the latter part of Exodus, nearly the whole of Leviticus, and part of Numbers and Deuteronomy. Some of St. Paul's Epistles relate in great measure to questions and customs peculiar to the time in which they were written; and the doctrinal parts of his writings contain many things hard to be understood by young and unlearned persons. The twelfth and thirteenth chapters of Romans, the thirteenth chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, and the three last chapters of Ephesians, all persons would do well to commit to memory.
1 Thess. V. 17Pray without ceasing.
ONE of the most effectual means of maintaining a principle of religion in our hearts is prayer. In discoursing on this duty, I shall endeavour to set before you, First, some of the principal arguments for, or motives to, prayer; Secondly, the frame and disposition of mind with which our prayers ought to be accompanied; and, Thirdly, the times at which they should be offered up; to point out to you, in short, 1st, why we ought to pray; 2dly, how we ought to pray; and, 3dly, when we ought to pray.
I. One great argument for prayer, is drawn from the consideration of the many necessities of our nature, for the supply of which we depend entirely on the bounty of that Being,, to whom our prayers are to be addressed.
Of the body, the wants are numberless, and continually returning. We stand in constant need of food and clothing, of the protection of some roof to shelter us from the weather, of preservation from all kinds of evil accidents; and often of recovery from pain and sickness, or of fresh strength to enable us to bear it. As, for the supply of all these wants, we are to put our whole trust in the goodness of God, so we are to seek such supply by devoutly calling upon him in prayer. Thus, when the apostle directs us to " be careful," or over-anxious, "for nothing;" he immediately adds, " but "in every thing by prayer and supplication, "with thanksgiving, let your requests be "made known unto God." And our blessed Lord, in the same discourse in which he teaches us for our food and raiment to depend upon him, who feeds the fowls of heaven and clothes the grass of the field, instructs us daily to pray for whatever is essential to life, to implore God to give us, day by day our daily bread*. ,
But if the wants of the body furnish a strong motive for prayer, a still stronger * Matt. vi.
one is furnished by the wants of the soul. Such is the nature of man since the fall of Adam, that we cannot serve God acceptably without his grace, without the aid of his Holy Spirit. This grace, however, this assistance of God's good Spirit, is promised to us in answer to our prayers. "Ask, and "ye shall have," says our Lord; "seek, "and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be "opened unto youb." And that when he said this, he had particularly in view those spiritual assistances of which I have just spoken, may be inferred from what follows. "If ye being evil know how to give good "gifts unto your children, how much more "shall your heavenly Father give his Holy "Spirit to diem that ask him." The argument is shortly this. We shall be lost for ever, if we do not receive the assistance of the Holy Ghost, and in order to receive it, we must seek it in diligent prayer.
Another argument for prayer is drawn from the tendency which it has in its own nature to preserve us from sin. One of the principal and most constant topics of our supplications to the throne of grace, is
bMatt. vii. 7, 11.