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and of our unwillingness to accept it, his goodnefs and our graceletnefs, his infinite condescension and our carelefness and folly, than by rewarding fo easy a duty with fo great blessings.
Motives to Prayer.
I cannot say any thing beyond this very consideration and its appendages to invite Chriftian people to pray often. But we may consider that, 1. It is a duty commanded by God and his holy Son. 2. It is an act of grace and higheft honour, that we dust and ashes are admitted to fpeak to the eternal God, to run to him as to a Father, to lay open our wants, to complain of our burthens, to explicate our fruples, to beg remedy and eafes fupport and counfel, health and safety, deliverance and falvation. And, 3. God hath invited us to it by many gracious promises of hearing us. 4. He hath appointed his most glorious Son to be the precedent of Prayer, and to make continual intercession for us to the throne of Grace. 5. He hath appointed an Angel to present the Prayers of his Servants. And, 6. Chrift unites them to his own, and fanctifies them, and makes them effective and prevalent ; and, 7: Hath put
it into the hands of Men to rescind or alter all the decrees of God, which are of one kind, (that is, conditional, and concerning ourselves and our final estate, and many Instances of our intermedial or temporal) by the power of Prayers. 8. And the Prayers of Men have faved Cities and Kingdoins from ruine : Prayer hath raised dead Men to life, hath stopped the violence of fire, shut the mouths of wild Beasts, hath altered the course of nature, caused rain in Egypt, and drought in the sea; it made the Sun to go from Weft to East, and the Moon to ftand ftill, and Rocks and Mountains to walk; and it cures Diseases without phyfick, and makes phyfick to do the work of Nature, and Nature to do the work of Grace, and Grace to do the work of God, and it does Miracles of accident and event; and yet Prayer that does
all this, is of itself nothing but an afcent of the mind to God, a defiring Things fit to be desired, and an expression of this desire to God as we can, and as becomes us. And our unwillingness to pray is no thing else but à not defiring what we ought paffionately to long for ; or if we do desire it, it is a chufing rather to miss our satisfaction and felicity, than to ask for it.
'There is more to be said in this affair, but that we reduce it to practice according to the following Rules.
Rules for the Practice of Prayer. 1. We muft be careful that we never ask any thing of God that is finful, or that directly ministers to fin: for that is to ask of God to dishononr himself, and to undo us. We had need consider what we pray for before it returns in blessing it must be joined with Christ's interceffion, and presented to God. Let us principally ask of God power and assistances to do our duty, to glorifie God, to do good Works, to live a good Life, to die in the fear and favour of God, and eternal Life: these Things God delights to give, and commands that we shall ask, and we may with confidence expect to be answered gracioully: for these Things are promised without any reservation of a secret condition; if we ask them and do our duty towards the obtaining them, we are sure never to miss them.
2. We may lawfully pray to God for the Gifts of the Spirit that minifter to holy ends, such as are the gift of Preaching, the spirit of Prayer, good Expression, a ready and unloofed
Tongue, good Understanding, Learning, Opportunities to publish them, &c. with these only restraints. 1. That we cannot be so confi. dent of the event of those Prayers as of the former,
That we must be curious to secure our intention in these defires, that we may not ask them to serve qur own ends, but only for God's glory; and then we shall have them, or a blessing for defiring them. In
be treated on between Golour Souls 3 14.
order to such purposes our intentions in the first desires cannot be amissz because they are able to fan&tifie other things, and therefore cannot be unhallowed them felves. 3. We must submit to God's Will, defiring him to chuse our employment, and to furnish our Persons as he shall fee expedient.
3. Whatsoever we may lawfully defire of temporal things, we may lawfully ask of God in.Prayer, and we may expe&t them as they are promisode 1 WhatLoever is necessary to ourlife and being is promised to us : and therefore we may with certainty expect food and raiment ; food to keep us alive, cloathing to keep us from nakedness and shame : so long as our life is permitted to us, so long all Things neceffary to our life shall be ininiftred. We may be secure of maintenance, but not fecure of our life; for that is promifed, not this; only concerning food and raiment we are not to make accounts by the meafure of our de fires, but by the measure of our needs. 2. Whatsoever is convenieiit for us, pleasant, and modestly delectable, we may pray for : fo we do it, 1. with fubinisi fion to God's Will; 2. without impatient defires; 3. that it be not a trifle and inconsiderable, but amatter fo grave and concerning, as to be a fit matter to
that we ask it not to spend upon our lufts, but for ends of justice, or charity, or religion, and that they be em
ployed with fobriety. s Johń 3. 22.
4. He that would pray with effect, muft live with yohn R. 31. çare and piety. For although God gives to Simers ifa. 1. 15. & and evil Persons the comụnon blessings of life and Mal 3. 10. chance; yet either they want the comfort and blessing 1. Tim. 2. 8. of those blessings, or they become occafions of fadder Flal, 4. 6. & accidents to them, or ferve to upbraid them in their
ingratitude or irreligion: and in all cases, they are not the effects of Prayer, or the fruits of promise, or instances of a Father's love ; for they cannot be expected with confidence, or received without danger, or used without a curse and mischief, in their com pany. * But as all Sin is an impediment to Prayer, to some have a special indisposition towards accepta
tion, fuch are Uncharitableness and Wrath ; Hypo-
All Prayer must be made with Faith and Hope: Mark 11.24 that is, we must certainly believe we shall receive the Jam. 1. 6, 7. Grace which God hath commanded us to ask; and we must hope for such things which he hath permitted us to ask; and our Hope' fhall not be in vain, though we miss what is not absolutely promised, becaule we shall at least have an equal blefling in the denial as in the grant. And therefore the former conditions must first be secured ; that is, that we ask things necessary, or at least good, and innocent and profitable, and that our Perfons be gracious in the eyes of God : or else what God hath promised to our na, tural needs, he may in many degrees deny to our perfonal incapacity: but the thing being secured, and the person disposed, there can be no fault at all; for whatToever else remains is on God's part, and that cannot possibly fail. But because the things which are not commanded cannot possibly be secured, for (we are not sure they are good in all circumstances) we can but hope for fuch things even after we have secured our good intentions. We are fure of a blessing, but in what instance we are not yet assured.
6. Our Prayers must be fervent, intense, earnest and Rom. 12.12. importunate, when we pray for Things of high con- & 15. 30. cernment and necesīty. Continuing inlt ant in Prayer: Ther3.10. striving in prayer : labouring ferien-ly in prayer: night Ephef.6.18. and day praying exceedingly : praying always with all 1 Pet 4.7: prayer] lo St.Paul calls it:[watching unto prayer] lo St. Tam. s. I do Peter: [praying earnestly] fo St.James. And this is not all to be abated in matters fpiritual and of duty; for according as our defires are, fo are our prayers, and as our prayers are, so shall be the
and as that is, fo Thall be the measure of glory. But this admits of degrees according to the perfection or im
perfe&tion of our state of life: but it hath no other
7. Our desires must be lasting, and our prayers fre-
assiduous and continual : not asking for a Bleffing once, and then leaving it : but daily renewing our fruits, and exercising our hope, and faith, and patience, and long-suffering, and religion, and resignation, and self-denial in all the degrees we shall be put to.
This circumstance of duty our bleffed Saviour taught, Luke 18. x. saying, [that Men ought always to pray, and not to faint] * 21. 36. Always to pray fignifies the frequent doing of the duty
in general : but because we cannot always ask several
the precept comes home to this very circumstance, & Thef.s.17. and St. Paul calls it [praying without ceasing.] and
himself in his own cafe gave à precedent, [For this
And the Philippians were reniembred by the Apostle,
And thus we must always pray for the pardon of our