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king, and bless him and us, with his royal offspring, and all
his family; that he will teach our senators wisdom,
and give his spirit of wisdom, understanding, and king, &c.
justice, to all that are employed in publick affairs, or are appointed to execute justice, or to instruct others in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ:
that he will bless all sorts and conditions of men, For all ftates whether young or old ; setting out in the world, or
in long poffeffion thereof; whether rich or poor ; those that are prosperous in this world, or such as are under afflictions; those that hate, as well as those that love, us. So that,
XII. By this account we have given of prayer, be the only it appears not only that it is a duty that we owe to object of our God, but that it is a duty we owe to him alone, and
that no being in the world besides himself hath right to be prayed unto. Because, if prayer be one of the principal instances of that honour, and an expression of that dependance that we owe to the Creator and Governor of the world; then certainly to be prayed unto is, and for ever will be, one of the rights and prerogatives of his Sovereign Majesty, never to be given to any thing created. Consequently, to invoke, or pray to any creature in a religious way, though it be the highest creature in heaven, whether angel or faint, not excepting the blessed Virgin herself, must needs be an affront done to God, as giving that honour to one of his creatures that is only proper to the Creator.
XIII. David says, the Lord is nigh unto all The power them that call upon him in truth; he will fulfil or efficacy of the desires of those that fear him, he also will hear
their prayers, and will save them : the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers : and our Saviour faith to his apostles, whatsoever
ye îhall alk in my name, that will I do; and again he repeats it, if ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. Yet if it Thould be thought that this promise was made to the apostles only, and doth not concern us, let us hear what St John writes to us; brethren, if our hearts condemn us not, then we have confidence towards God; and whatsoever we ask we receive
of him. Alk, faith he, and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you; for every one that alketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened ; than which promise nothing can be more gracious, nothing more comfortable : which is still enforced most pathetically in the following verse: What man is there among you, whom if his son ask bread will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish will he give him a serpent? If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children ; how much more will your heavenly Father give good things unto them that ask him ? Besides, the holy scriptures not only contain many promises and assurances that God will hear our prayers, but afford us many
instances of his making good those promises at all times, and to all perfons, and that in a most wonderful manner. For,
By prayer Moses quenched the devouring fire. By prayer Elias brought down fire from heaven. By prayer Elisha re, stored the dead to life. By prayer Hezekiah slew an hundred and eighty-five thousand of the Assyrians in one night. By prayer David stopped the destroying angel, when his hand was lifted up to destroy Jerusalem. And by prayer Jonah was delivered out of the fish's belly. Yet,
XIV. Notwithstanding this usefulness, advantage, and necefsity of
prayer ; nay, though God has declared absolutely, that we shall not have the good things Objections. we stand in need of, except we pray for them
; there have been, and doubtless are still, some emiffaries of the devil
, who pretend to argue against the duty and efficacy of prayer ; founding their fophiftry upon the unchangeable decrees of God, and, devil-like, quote scripture to support their own impiety.
Is it not written, say they, that with God there is no variableness nor shadow of turning? This is a mere fallacy. God's hearkning to, or being moved by, the Obj. I. prayers we put up to him, doth not in the least clash with his unchangeable decrees. We grant, when God is pleased to give us those things, which without our prayers he would not have done, there is a change in him or us ; but not in God : "for, God resolved, that if we hum
bly and heartily begged such or such things at his hands, we should have them; but, if not, we should go
without what we want. Therefore, when upon cur prayers we obtain that grace, or that blessing, which we had not before, it is not he that is changed, but we. We, by performing the conditions he required of us, looking with another aspect to him, do entitle ourselves to quite different treatment from hiin, than we could claim before we were changed from our wicked course of life, by making ourselves capable of receiving those benefits, which before we were not capable of.
When this objection has failed, then they rest Obj. II.
upon God's infinite and essential goodness. We grant that the goodness of God is infinite, and that
the world in the best way that is poffible, and consequently, he always will do that which is best, let us behave ourselves never so badly. Yet doth it from hence follow, that we shall have all such things as we stand in need of, without praying for them? No. Because the same God that will do always what is absolutely best for his creatures, knows that it is best for them, that in order to the partaking of his benefits, they should pray for them ; if they do not, why then, he knows it is best that they should be denied such things. Whence the necessity of God's acting for the best, doth not in the least destroy the necessity of prayer in order to our obtaining what we stand in need of; God will do always that which is best ; but we are mistaken if we think it for the best, that we should have our necessities supplied without the use of prayer, the means to obtain it by God's appointment.
XV. And here I must take notice of a fault of Of publick
a great many professors, and even of fome that
have otherwise a sincere sense of religion, that we do not fet that esteem and value the publick worship of God, that, in the nature of the thing, and by the laws of Christ, is required. Some very erroneously think that when they have faid their prayers devoutly in a closet, then they have done enough; all that is needful for the discharge of that part of our duty, which concerns the worship of our Creator. They imagine that the church-prayers may be spared, and the
prayers in our family superseded. These men perhaps now and then
attend the publick worship, yet it is not so much for the sake of the prayers, as for the curiosity of hearing a sermon, or it may be for the avoiding the scandal that their absence at such times would bring upon them : this is a great fault; a wrong and absurd notion of the worship of God : for these readily own, that to serve God in private is It's prefe
rence to pria necessary duty; nay, so necessary, that there is no
vate prayer. living a holychristian life without it: they acknowledge likewise, that as the thing is infinitely reasonable in itfelf, so it is attended with manifold advantages of several kinds. Wherefore,
Let it be remarked, that those prayers are most acceptable to God, and most necessary for us, which are offered in publick assemblies, because they have these advantages above private devotions, that God is most honoured and glorified by such addresses, and a sense of his majesty is maintained in the world, somewhat suitable to his most excellent greatness and goodness; when by outward signs and tokens we publish and declare the inward regard and esteem we have for his divine attributes. And we do hereby declare ourselves members of the body of Christ, which is his church ; which we cannot be to any purpose, without having fellowship with God and one another, in all duties; the chief of which are prayer and praise. Our Saviour promises his special presence to such assemblies, and hath appointed a particular order of men to offer
up our prayers in such places of worship. Besides, we may expect greater success, when our petitions are made with the joint and unanimous consent of our fellow-christians, and when our devotions receive warmth and heat from the exemplary zeal of pious ministers. These considerations should make all good christians frequently attend the publick worship in the house of God. Therefore, it is to be wished, that all christians were constant in attending the said worship on sundays and holidays; because it is likely it would dispose them to repeat such exercises of devotions with greater zealand love. Moreover, considering that as among the Jews there was a morning and evening facrificedaily offered to God at the temple; and that the precepts of the gospel oblige us to pray
always, and to pray without ceasing; and that the antient pro
phets phets expressly declare that there should be as frequent devotions in the days of Christ, as there had been in former times; that prayer should be made to him continually, and daily shall he be praised; they that have opportunities, and are not lawfully hindered, should endeavour so to regulate their time, as to be ableconstantly to attend on prayer, which is such a great advantage to the christian life, morningand evening. Wherefore, as those who have leisure cannot better employ it, fo they must have but little concern for the honour and glory of God, who neglect such opportunities of declaring and publishing his praise before men.
XVI. The next christian duty is family-prayer. Of family. Every master of a family is answerable to God for
the welfare of those souls that are under his care. Nor can I well understand how a sense of religion can be maintained in a family without the exercise of daily devotion in it. By this method we are best able to confirm and establith children and servants in the practice of their christian obligations; and this an admirable means to draw down the blessings of God, when in a body they daily acknowledge his divine perfections, and supplicate his favour for the mercies
they want. Thus devotion must be also rememof blessing, bred at our meals ; for we ought to beg the bles
fing of God upon those good creatures provided for our use; since it is by the word of God and
prayer that they are fanctified to us. Natural religion itself teaches us thankfully to acknowledge the benefits we receive ; and this particular instance of it hath sufficient ground from the example of Christ and his holy apostles, all the Evangelists declaring that our Saviour blessed and gave thanks before meat ; the same St Luke relates of St Paul, and even St Paul himself speaks of it, as the known practice of the church among christians in his time,
Let us upon all occasions approach the Majesty of heaven, with such devout affections and holy dispositions of mind, as are wrought in us by the powerful assistance of the blessed Spirit of God.
For, the constant exercise of prayer, is the best method to get the mastery of our evil inclinations, and to overcome our
or grace at meals.