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acknowledge God is just if he should do to you as you fear : but because you need a Saviour, and he has commanded
you to accept of him, take him, though with a trembling hand; and having nothing to bring with you, come to get all. Say, Lord, if thou shouldst confound me before all the people, thou art just ; but I plead mercy through Christ; and if thou wilt give me thy grace, I am content to be a monument of grace. I have nothing, but I am content 'to be thy debtor for all. And so you will find a reviving
I shall only say, 1. Examine yourselves as to your state, your frame, your graces, your wants, &c. and know how matters stand with you. Take a look of your former ways, and turn to the Lord with your whole heart.
2. Put away the strange gods that are among you. Look what sin 'has been indulged, and let this be the parting time; for one leak will sink the ship, Psal. lxvi. 18.
S. Employ Christ for suitable preparation. Use the means, but look to him alone for the blessing.
4. Lastly, Do this work that ye would do if ye were to die on the communion-sabbath. Sacranientum et articulus mortis æquiparantur. In death we go to Christ, in the sacrament he comes to us: And who knows but some of us may get our provision there for another world, either in mercy or in wrath? But happy they who set themselves for dying furniture.
THE NATURE OF PRAYER,
EPH. vi. 18.-Praying always with all prayer and supplica
cation in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance, and supplication for all saints.
appointment is one of the chief means by which Christ communicates the benefits of redemption to sinners; and this important duty is enjoined in these words. In which we have,
1. The duty itself, praying. This is recommended and enjoined to all, as ever they would stand, and not be ruined by their spiritual enemies.
2. The amplification of this weighty subject; where notice,
(1.) The time of it, always, or at every season. We must always be in a praying frame, and miss no season wherein God calls for it, but in every season of prayer
be praying, 2 Sam. ix. 7.
(2.) The kinds of prayer, all prayer, i. e. all sorts of prayer, public, private, secret, ordinary, extraordinary, &c. petitioning prayer, for good things, here called prayer in a strict sense ; supplicatory prayer, deprecating evils, called supplication.
(3.) The manner of prayer. [1.] It must be in the Spirit; not with the lip, tongue, and memory only, but with the heart, or inward man, or rather by the Spirit of God, with his assistance. [2.] With watchfulness, keeping the soul in a wakerife disposition for it, and in it, that the heart wander not. [3.] With all perseverance, continuing. instant in it, whatever may occur to discourage us.
4. Those we are to pray for, all saints ; not only for ourselves, but others, especially, though not only, for the children of God.
The text affords the following doctrine. Doct. • Prayer is a duty always necessary to be perform
ed in the several kinds of it, and in the right manner, and in which we are to be conerned, not only for our selves, but for others.'
To discover the nature of prayer, which in our Catechism is said to be an offering up of our desires to God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies,' I will consider the parts of prayer in general, and in particular.
I. Prayer, generally considered, consists of three parts.
1. Petition, or prayer strictly and properly so called, whereby one desires of God the supply of one's wants, begs the good necessary for himself or others, and deprecates evil inflicted or feared. Praying akaays with all prayer, &c.
2. Confession of sin, Dan. ix. 4. It is so very natural that sinners coming to God to ask mercies should make confession, that it is a very necessary part of the sinner's prayer; and prayer is so called, Neh. ix. 3. And the deeper one is in confession, he readily speeds the better in prayer.
3. Thanksgiving for mercies, Phil. iv. 6. God prevents us with his benefits, we are deep in his debt, ere we come to ask of him; and therefore it is necessary that thanksgiving have a place in our prayers. And it also is called ' praying,' Luke xviii. 11.
II. Let us consider the parts of prayer in particular,
1. Prayer properly so called, or petition.
VIRST, Prayer properly so called, or petition.
1. Wherein the formal nature of prayer consists, 9. 1o whom we ate to pray.
3. In whose name we are to pray. 4. By whose assistance acceptable prayer is performed. 5. For whom we must pray. 6. For what we are to pray.
7. How we are to pray, if we would pray rightly and acceptably.
8. Whether all such prayers are accepted, heard, &c.
First, Wherein does the formal nature of prayer consist? It lies precisely in offering up our desires to God, for things that we need. It is a motion of our hearts towards God, to move him as it were to look favourably on us, Psal. Ixii. 8. a pouring out our heart before the Lord; a lifting our soul to him, Psal. xxv. 1. a presenting our sup. plications to him, as petitioners, Dan. is. 18.
We command our inferiors, we demand of our equals; we may by some deed of our own lay an obligation on, and some way excite an inclination in, any man, even our supe. rior, to help us; but none of these ways can work with God. What then remains but a religious and submissive offering of our desires to God, for his help, who knows our hearts? And this is what we call prayer. Hence,
1. There may be prayer made to God without words. The desires of the heart offered to God though not clothed with words, is prayer, truly and properly so called, Exod. xiv. 15. Words are not necessary from the nature of prayer, but on the account of ourselves, to affect us the more, and to honour God with our bodies as well as our souls.
2. There can be no prayer, properly so called, without the desires of the heart going out to God. Prayer without intention, says the Jews, is like a body without a soul. A flourish of the best chosen words, without suitable affections going along with them, is not prayer before the Lord, but the carcase of prayer, wanting the soul and lite.
SECONDLY, To whom we are to pray? We are to pray to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and to God only; not to saints, angels, nor any creature whatsoever. For,
1. Prayer is an eminent part of religious worship, Joel ii. 82. and religious worship is only to be given to God, Matth. iv, 10. - Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, VOL. III.
and him only shalt thou serve.' The holy angels refuse it, Rev. xxii. 8, 9. and the saints also, as in the case of Peter, Acts x. 25, 26.
2. The object of prayer and faith are the very same, Rom. x. 14. For the ground of prayer is faith. There. fore, since we are to believe in God, and not in the creature, we must pray to him only. So our Lord directs us, • Our Father, which art in heaven.'
3. Because God only is qualified (if I may so speak) for hearing of prayer. He only is able to search the heart and know it, 1 Kings viii. 39. He only is omnipresent to hear every where, Psal. Ixv. 2. He only can pardon the sins, and fulfil the desires of his people, Psal. cxlv. 18, 19.
THIRDLY, In whose name are we to pray ? In the name of Jesus Christ, and of no other, neither saint nor angel, John xiv. 13. Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, says he, that will I do.' We must go to the Father, not in the name of any of the courtiers, Col. ii. 18. but in the name of his Son, the only Mediator, 1 Tim. ii. 5. Here consider,
1. What it is to pray in the name of Christ. 2. Why we must pray in his name.
. First, Let us consider what it is to pray in the name of Christ.
1. Negatively. It is not a bare faithless mentioning of his name in our prayers, nor concluding our prayers therewith, Matth. vii. 21. The saints use the words, through Jesus Christ our Lord,' i Cor. xv. 57. but often is that scabbard produced, while the sword of the Spirit is not in it. The words are said, but the faith is not exercised.
2. Positively. To pray in the name of Christ is to pray,
1st, At his command, to go to God by his order, John xvi. 24. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name, says he : ask, and ye shall receive. Christ as God commands all men to pray, to offer that piece of natural duty to God; but that is not the command meant. But Christ as Mediator sends his own to his father to ask supply of their wants, and allows them to tell that he sent them, as one recommends a poor body to a friend, John xvi. 24. just cited. So to pray in the name of Christ is to go to God as sent by the poor man's friend. So it imports,