Obrázky na stránke

18. 1xxxvi. v. Mat, xxi. 22.

111. 22.


whereby God governs the World, are sufficient Motives to prevail upon us to approach the Throne of his Majesty. But left his Greatness, and the Sense of our own Unworthiness, should make us afraid, and keep us at a Distance, God hath been graciously pleased to excite us to the Performance

of this Duty, by Promises of Success ; that he will Psal . cxlv. be nigh to all those that call upon bim : That he is

ready to forgive, and plenteous in Mercy to all that call upon bim : That whatever we shall ask in Prayer, believing we shall receive.

Q. Upon what Conditions bath God promised to hear

our Prayers ? 1 John v. A. The great Confidence of our being beard must

be laid in asking according to his Will, and in foliciting his Favour upon such Terms as he hath promised to grant it. Which implies, that when we beg Pardon for our Sins, we must resolve to

forsake them; for the Prayer of the Wicked is an xxviii. 9: Abomination to the Lord: "That we be ready to

forgive those that trespass against us, because it Mat. v.7. is the merciful Man Mall obtain Merry: That

when we ask for any Virtue, we must be sure diligently to seek and endeavour after it: That when we crave the Help of divine Grace, we must be

ready to co-operate and concur with it; for 10 bim Markiv. that þath shall be given, and from him thai baih not,

Mall be taken oway even thai which he hath: That
when we pray for any temporal Blessings, we take
all prudent and lawful Means to acquire them, and
refign ourselves entirely to the Wisdom of his Pro-
vidence, to give such Success to our Endeavours, as
'he Thall think most conducing to our Salvation and
the Good of others : And that all these Petitions
for spiritual and temporal Wants be offered to God
through the Merits and Mediation of Jesus Chrift
6. In ubat Manner ought we to pray?

A. With


" A. With such Lowliness of Mind, such reverent and serious Deportment, as may plainly testify the Respect and Veneration we have for God's infinite Majesty. With that Intenseness and Application of Thought, as to engage our Hearts as well as our Lips in his Service. With such Fervency of Affection, and such a Measure of Importunity, as may · Thew how desirous we are of the Mercy we request, and how highly we value and eftcem what we alk for. With such a Faith as consists in firmly believing we shall receive the good Things we desire, when we have performed those Conditions upon which God hath promised to bestow them. Το all which we must add Constancy and Perseverance ; taking all Opportunities for it, and spending much Time in this Duty, than which none of all the Duties enjoined by the Christian Religion will turn to a better and more comfortable Account, if our Hearts and Lives be but answerable to our Prayers.

Q. Is it posible to avoid all wandering Thoughts in Prayer?

A. Considering the Frame and Constitution of our Natures, and the close Connexion there is between the Body and Soul, it is impossible but that when we are at our Prayers, our Thoughts may be diverted, and our Intentions interrupted by the former Impressions of Study or Business. All we can do is to itrive against these Distractions, to bewail this Weakness, and to compose our Thoughts to all that Seriousness our Temper and Circumstances will permit; to recall our Minds as soon as we perceive they run out upon other Objects, and immediately to throw away all such Thoughts as are foreign to our present Employment. What makes these Distractions criminal, is when we wil. lingly entertain them, and indulge ourselves in thinking upon other Objects without Restraint ;


when we keep our unreasonable Passions under no Government, and when we take no Care to compose ourselves to a serious Temper by considering in whose awful Presence we appear.

Q. What Prayers are most acceptable to God, and most necessary for us?

A. Those that are offered in public Assemblies, which 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 exellent Greatness and Goodness, when, by outward Signs and Tokens we publish and declare the inward Regard and Esteem we have for his divine Perfections: 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, of which Prayer and Praise are the chief. To such Assemblies our Saviour promises his special Presence, and hath appointed a particular Order of Men to offer up our Prayers in such Places. 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 their exemplary Zeal. Which Confiderations should make all good Christians frequently attend the public Worship.

Q. Is this Obligation sufficiently discharged by going to Church on Sundays and Holy-Days ?

A. It is to be wished, that all Christians were conftant in attending the public Worship on Sundays and Holy-Days, because it is likely it would dispose them to repeat such Exercises of Devotion with greater Fervency. But considering that among the Jews there was a Morning and Evening Sacrifice daily offered to God at the Temple ; and that the


Psal. lxxii. 15.

Precepts of the Gospel oblige us to pray always, and to pray without ceasing, and that the ancient Luke xxi. Prophets expressly declare, that there should be as i Theff. v. frequent Devotion in the Days of Christ, as there 173 had been in former Times; that Prayers shall be made unto bim continually, and daily shall be be praised : Considering these Things, I say, as Prayer, the Christian Sacrifice should be offered Morning and Evening in public Assemblies; so they that have such Opportunities, and are not lawfully hindered, should endeavour so to regulate their Time, as to be able constantly to attend such a great Advantage to the Christian Life. And as those who have Leisure cannot better employ it, so they must have but little Concern for the Honour and Glory of God, who neglect such Opportunities of declaring and publishing his Praise.

Q. Is Family Prayer a Duty incumbent upon him who is the Master of it?

A. A Master of a Family being answerable to God for the Welfare of those Souls that are under his Care, I cannot well understand how a Sense of Religion can be maintained in such a Family, without the Exercise of daily Devotion in it, as such a Society. This is the best Method to confirm and establish his Children and Servants in the Practice of their Christian Obligations, and 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 stand in need of. Nor may this Dea votion be neglected at our Meals, for we ought to beg the Blelling of God upon those good Creatures provided for our Use, since it is by the Word of God and Prayer that they are sanctified to us. 1 Tim. iv. The Principles of Natural Religion teach us thank- 5. fully to acknowledge the Benefits we receive; and this particular Instance of it had sufficient Ground


19. Mark 41. Luke ix. 16.

35. Rom. xiv.

[ocr errors]

Mat. xiv. from the Example of Christ and his holy Apostles,

all the Evangelists declaring that our Saviour blessed

and gave Thanks before Meat ; the fame St. Luke John vi. relates of St. Paul; and even St. Paul himself Hae sxvii. Ipeaks of it, as the known Practice of the Church

among Christians.

Q. Wherein consists the Spirit of Prayer, or when may we be said to pray by the Spirit ?

A. When we approach the Majesty of Heaven, with all such devout Affections and holy Dispositions of Mind, as are wrought in us by the powerful Aslistance of the blessed Spirit. When we confess our Sins with hearty Sorrow and Shame, and with firm Resolutions of better Obedience. When we beg God's Mercies with a lively Sense of our own Wants, and with an entire Confidence in his infinite Goodness. When we resign our Wills to him, and depend upon the Wisdom of his Provi. dence in all those temporal Blessings and Deliverances we expect from him. When we shew forth his Praise not only with our Lips, but in our Lives, by giving up ourselves to his Service As for the Inspiration of the Matter, and the Expressions of our Prayer; that was an extraordinary Gift, only temporary, and long since ceased, and intended only, as other miraculous Gifts were, for the first Propagation of the Gospel.

Q. What are the great Advantages of the frequent and devout Exercise of this Duty?

A. The constant Exercise of Prayer is the best Method to get the Mastery of our evil Inclinations, and to overcome our vicious Habits. It preferves a lively Sense of our Duty upon our Minds, and fortifies us against those Temptations that continually assault us. It raises our Souls above this World, by making spiritual Objects familiar to them; and supports us under the Calamities and Croffes of this Life, by fanctifying such Alictions.

« PredošláPokračovať »