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(1.) The souls being come to Christ in the first place, John xv. 7. “ If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye 'will, and it shall be done unto you. He that would pray aright, must do as those who made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend first, and then made their suit to their king, Acts xii. 20.
(2.) The souls taking its encouragement to pray from Jesus Christ, Heb. iv. 14.-16. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.' The way to the throne in heaven is blocked up by our sins. And sinners have no confidence to seek the Lord. Jesus Christ came down from heaven, died for the criminals, and gathers them to himself by effectual calling. He, as having all interest with his Father, bids them go to his Father in his name, and ask what they need, assuring them of acceptance. And from thence they take their encouragement, viz. from his promises in the word. And he gives them his token with them, which the Father will own, and that is his own Spirit, Rom. viii. 26, 27. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities : for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.'
2dly, It is to direct our prayers to God through Jesus Christ, Heb. vii. 25. · Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Chap. xiii. 15. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name ;' depending wholly on Christ's merit and intercession for access, acceptance, and a gracious re. turn. (1.) Depending on Christ for access to God, Eph. iii. 12. In whom we have boldness, and access with confidence by the faith of him.' There is no access to God but through him, John xiv. 6. “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.' They that attempt otherwise to come unto God, will get the door thrown in their face. But we must take hold of the Mediator, and come in at his back, who is the Secretary of heaven.
(2.) Depending on him for acceptance of our prayers, Eph. i. 6. He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.' Our Lord Christ is the only altar that can sanctify our gift, If one lay the stress of the acceptance of his prayers on his frame, enlargement, tenderness, &c. the prayer will not be accepted. A crucified Christ only can bear the weight of the acceptance of either our persons or performances.
(3.) Depending on him for a gracious return, 1 John v. 14. ' And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.' No prayers are heard and answered but for the Me. diator's sake; and whatever petitions agreeable to God's will are put up to God, in this dependence, are heard,
Secondly, Why must we pray in the name of Christ? The reason of this may be taken up in these two things.
1. There is no access for a sinful creature to God with. out a Mediator, Isa, lix. 2. John xiv. 6. Sin has set us at a distance from God, and has bolted the door of our access to him, that it is beyond our power, or that of any creature, to open it for us. His justice staves off the criminal, his holiness the unclean creature, without there be an acceptable person to go betwixt him and us. Our God is a consuming fire: and so there is no immediate access for a sinner to him.
2. And there is none appointed nor fit for that work but Christ, 1 Tim. ii. 5. It is he alone who is our great High Priest. None but he has satisfied justice for our sins. And as he is the only Mediator of redemption, so he is the only Mediator of intercession, 1 John ii. 1, · If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righ. teous.' The sweet savour of his merit only is capable to procure acceptance to our prayers, in themselves unsavoury, Rev. viii. 3, 4.
FOURTHLY, By whose assistance is acceptable prayer
performed? By the help of the Holy Spirit, Gal, iv. 6. Rom. viii. 26. There are two sorts of prayers. (1.) A prayer wrought out by virtue of a gift of knowledge and utterance. This is bestowed on many reprobates, and that gift may be useful to others, and to the church. But as it is merely of that sort, it is not accepted, nor does Christ put it in before the Father for acceptance. For, (2.) There is a prayer wrought in men by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Zech. xii. 10. I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications:' and that is the only acceptable prayer to God, Jam. v. 16. effectual, Gr. inwrought." The right praying is praying in the Spirit. It is a gale blowing from heaven, the breathing of the Spirit in the saints, that carries them out in the prayer, which comes the length of the throne. Now, the Spirit helps to pray,
1. As a teaching and instructing Spirit, affording proper matter of prayer, causing us to know what we pray for, Rom. viii. 26. forecited; enlightening the mind in the knowledge of our needs, and those of others; bringing into our remembrance these things, suggesting them to us according to the word, together with the promises of God, on which prayer is grounded, John xiv. 26. The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,--shall teach things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatson ever I have said unto you. Hence it is that the saints are sometimes carried out in prayer for things which they had nó view of before, and carried by some things they had.
2. As a quickening, exciting Spirit, Rom. viii. 26; the Spirit qualifying the soul with praying graces and affections, working in the praying person sense of needs, faith, fervency, humility, &c. Psal. x. 17. Thou wilt prepare their heart.' The man may go to his knees in a very unprepared frame for prayer, yet the Spirit blowing, he is helped. It is for this reason the Spirit is said to make intercession for us, namely, in so far as he teaches and quickens, puts us in a praying frame, and draws our petitions, as it were, which the Mediator presents.
This praying with the help of the Spirit is peculiar to the saints, Jam. v. 16; yet they have not that help at all times, nor always in the same measure; for sometimes the Spirit,
being provoked, departs, and they are left in a withered condition. So there is great need to look for a breathing, and pant for it, when we are to go to duty: for if there be not a gale, we will tug at the oars but heartlessly:
Let no man think that a readiness and volubility of ex. pression in prayer, is always the effect of the Spirit's assistance. For that may be the product of a gift, and of the common operations of the Spirit, removing the impediment of the exercise of it. And it is evident one may be scarce of words, and have groans instead of them, while the Spirit helps him to pray, Rom. viii. 26. Neither is every flood of affections in prayer, the effect of the Spirit of prayer, There are of those which puff up a man, but make him never a whit more holy, tender in his walk, &c. But the influences of the Spirit never miss to be humbling but sanc: tifying. Hence says David, "Who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee,' i Chron. xxix. 14; and says the apostle, We have no confidence in the flesh, Phil, ji. 3.
FIFTHLY, For whom must we pray?
1. Not for the dead. David ceased praying for his child when once dead, 2 Sam. xii. 21-23. It is vain and useless; for as the tree falls, it must lie. We have neither precept nor promise about it; and it was raised upon the false opinion of purgatory. But the dead are in an unal. terable state, Heb. ix. 27. It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.'
2. Nor for those who are known to have sinned the sin against the Holy Ghost, 1 John v. 16. for God has declared that sin to be unpardonable. This is very rare, and there. fore one would beware of rashness in this matter.
1. In general, we are to pray for all sorts of men living, • for kings, and all that are in authority,' 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, for Christians, Jews, Mahometans, Pagans, noble and ig. noble, &c. They are capable of God's grace and favour, and we are to desire it for them. But we are not to pray for every particular person whatsoever, 1 John v. 16.
pray for it.'
• There is a sin unto death ; I do not say that he shall
So that it is an unwarrantable petition, that God would have mercy on, and save all mankind, for the contrary of that is revealed. Yea, we should pray for all sorts of men who shall live hereafter, as our Lord did, John xvii. 20. Neither
pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.' But,
2. In particular, we are to pray, not only for ourselves, as Jacob did for deliverance from the hand of his brother Esau, Gen. xxxii. 11. but for,
(1.) The whole church of Christ upon earth. Hence says the text, Praying always with all prayer,--and supplicution for all saints. To no party must we confine the communion of prayers, to whom God has not confined his grace. All the members of the mystical body must share particularly in our prayers, because they are the members of Christ, whatever difference be betwixt us and them in lesser things. The sympathy betwixt the members of the same body of our Lord requires this. And it is a sad sign not to be so affected, Amos vi. 6. “They are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.'
(2.) Magistrates : Kings, and all that are in authori. ty,' 1 Tim. ii. 2. It was about 300 years after Christ ere the magistrates were Christians, nevertheless the apostle bids pray for them because the quiet and peace of the .commonwealth and kingdom depends much on their management ; and infidelity, or indifference in religion, does not make void the magistrates just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to him. Their hearts are in the Lord's hand, Prov. xxi. 1. Their influence is great, so is their work, and so are their temptations ; and if they be evil men, there is the more need to be earn. est with God on their behalf. Let us bless God that we have a Protestant King on the throne, remembering how seasonably the Lord sent him, and how much depends on his safety, and the safety of his royal family.
(2.) Ministers, Col. iv. 3. Psal. cxxxii. 9. There is a near relation betwixt the people of God and their mini'sters. They have a weighty work in their hands, which, if it misgive, will not only be their own loss, but the people's. People may have a minister so straitened, as to do