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body or the outward expression of the lip only, but that which is the desire of the heart, offered up to God, through the influences of his spirit, in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, producing a holy intercourse with the sacred Trinity.
"Prayer ardent opens heaven, lets down a stream
Of man, in audience with the Deity."
To dispose us for this great work of Public Worship, the voice of God is first addressed to us. He speaks to us in his word, to whom we are about to speak in our prayers, and they who expect God to hear them must first hear him.
AN ANALYSIS OF THE INTRODUCTORY
1. Admonition to the Negligent, Matt. 3c. 2v.
2. Instruction to the Ignorant, 1 John, 1c. 8 9v. Ezekiel,
3. Caution to the Formal, Joel, 2c. 13v.
Models of Prayer to the Timid, Psalm, 51. 3 9v. Psalm, 143. 2v. Jeremiah, 10c. 24v.
5. Support to the Humble and Contrite, Psalm, 51, 17r. Daniel, 9c. 9 10v. Luke, 15c. 18 19v.
OF THE EXHORTATION.
That the whole congregation may bow the knee in Prayer to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as humble affectionate disciples desirous of seeking his face, learning his
I will more perfectly, obtaining happiness in his favour, inbibing his Spirit, and transcribing the life of Jesus into their own, after the sentences a solemn and seasonable exhortation is given, which may be thus paraphrased.
Dearly beloved, for as such I address you, not by way of idle compliment, but from christian affection and love; which exhortation I pray you not to despise, because coming from sinful dust and ashes, being one of your brethren, for I speak not of my own or of any human authority, but from the word of God, who in the scripture moveth us in sundry places, as well as in these sentences I have now read seriously, to consider our thoughts, words, and actions; and then to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness which we from time to time have so grievously committed against his Divine Majesty, and that we should not dissemble by plausible excuses and evasions, nor cloke them, wishing to make them appear what they are not, ever remembering that we are now in an especial manner before the face of Almighty God, our heavenly Father, unto whom all our hearts are opened, and from whom no secrets are hid; and who by his Almighty power can punish us for our sins, or as a tender Father who pitieth his children, grant us the grace of true repentance. Our duty and our interest being therefore inseperable, let us not hypocritically endeavour to hide our sins, but confess them with an humble, lowly, penitent and obedient heart; to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same, a deliverance from the punishment and the power of sin, being the greatest blessing God can bestow, or man receive; ever remembering we do not
seek this blessing of Blessings, trusting in our own righteousness, but only by his infinite goodness and mercy through the atonement of Christ, which runs like a golden thread throughout his blessed Word, uniting its several parts in the sweetest harmony, and casting the most radiant lustre over the whole,
And although we ought at all times mentally and in our closets, and our families, humbly to acknowledge our sins before God, yet ought we most chiefly so to do, when we assemble and meet together, to render thanks for the great benefits that we have received at his hands, in creation, providence, and grace; to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy word, and to ask those things which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul; for we are compound creatures, possessing bodies that will shortly die, and immortal souls that like the eternal God who made them will endure for ever in endless happiness or woe.
Wherefore, with these solemn considerations upon my mind I earnestly desire not only to win the judgment, but to securè the heart; and I pray and beseech you, as many as are here present, to accompany me with a pure heart, divested of the bane of deceit, and with an humble voice, viz. with a submissive and a subdued enunciation, expressive of the tremulous breathings of the humble penitent, coming unto the throne of the heavenly grace, on which sitteth the King of grace and glory, saying after me.
THE GENERAL CONFESSION.
The parts which are essential in our prayers are compre
hended under the four heads of Confession, Petition, Intercession, and Thanksgiving.
Frayer being the expression of the heart's desire to God, we should with all sincerity open our minds unto him. Confession is one of the most solemn and interesting parts of prayer, and this confession though concise is so comprehensive and full, that it includes every kind of sin. It begins with an acknowledgment of our original depravity in the evil" devices and desires of our own hearts ;" and then refers to actual sin committed under the two heads of omission and commission, and it is profitable when this prayer is read as it ought to be, deliberately, that each individual should make a particular mental confession of those sins known only to God and his own conscience, and which, if he were now on the point of death, would most trouble him.
It is worthy of remark, that in this and in all the following addreses to the Deity, such titles, attributes, and perfections, are selected as are most appropriate to the petitions to which they are prefixed, and best calculated to produce suitable affections in the minds of those who use them.
Amen is originally an Hebrew term, which, with a long train of derivatives, signifies firmness, certainty, fidelity; and is a term used in devotion, by which at the end of a prayer, we mean so be it; at the end of a creed, so it is.
The Jews used it at the end of their hymns and pra
and in the 106th. Psalm the people are particularly charged to use it when they heard it read, say, Amen."
and let all the people
By our Saviour it is often repeated as a strong affirmation, and is translated, verily, verily, He placed it at the end of his own Prayer, Matt. 6c. 13v. and it appears in the Apostles' time they that occupied the room of the unlearned, should say Amen. 1 Cor. 13c. 16v.; and Jerom informs us, that at Rome, the people answered Amen, with a voice so loud that it resembled a peal of thunder,
OF THE PRAYER FOR ABSOLUTION OR REMISSION OF SINS.
"Absolution is derived from the latin word absolvo, which in its primitive signification, is to loose, or to untie : being an act, similar to that of loosing a chain, or untying a cord, with which a person or thing is tied or bound."
Pardon of Sin has justly been considered to be the lifeblood of religion, and the congregation having confessed their sins, look to the promise of God for forgiveness of the same.
A reference to the opinions of the early Christians respecting forgiveness of sins by God only, clearly testifies their opinion of the Divinity of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Basil, in his fifth book against Eunomius says, "It is the property of God alone to forgive sins. He himself declares, I, even I, am he, that blotteth out thy transgressions, (Isaiah