"be sufficient for us ;" his Holy Spirit shall enable us effectually to do every thing which his word requires.


We may resist his motions; or we may receive them into our souls, and act in consequence of them. Every one hath power enough to do right; Scripture, as well as reason, shows it; only we have it not resident in us by nature; but bestowed on us continually by our Maker, as we want it. In all good actions that we perform, "the preparation of the heart is from the Lord." And that faith, which is the fountain of all actions truly good, "is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God." 7 "But he giveth liberally to "all" who ask him; and therefore no one hath cause of complaint.


It is true, we are seldom able to distinguish this heavenly influence from the natural workings of our own minds; as indeed we are often influenced one by another without perceiving it. But the assurance given in Scripture, of its being vouchsafed to us, is abundantly sufficient; to which, experience also would add strong confirmation, did we but attend with due seriousness to what passes within our breasts.

Our natural freedom of will is no more impaired by these secret admonitions of our Maker, than by the open persuasions of our fellow-creatures. And the advantage of having God's help, far from making it unnecessary to help ourselves, obliges us to it peculiarly. We are therefore to "work out our own salvation, because he worketh "in us both to will and to do."9 For it is a great aggravation of every sin, that, in committing it, we quench the pious motions exerted by the Spirit of God in our hearts; and a great incitement

(4) 2 Cor. xii. 9. (7) Eph. ii. 8.

(5) Acts vii. 51.
(8) James i. 5.
(1) 1 Thess. v. 19.

(6) Prov. xvi. 1. (9) Phil. ii. 12, 13.

to our endeavours of performing every duty, that with such aid we may be sure of success. Our own natural strength cannot increase, as temptations and difficulties do; but that which we receive from heaven can. And thus it is, that we learn courage and humility at once; by knowing that we can do all things," but only" through "Christ which strengtheneth us;"2 and therefore, "not we, but the grace of God, which is with


66 us.' 993

This grace therefore being of such importance to us, our Catechism, with great reason, directs us "at all times to call for it by diligent prayer." For our heavenly Father hath not promised, nor can we hope that he "will give the Holy Spirit "to them who" proudly disdain, or negligently omit to ask him." 4 And hence it becomes peculiarly necessary, that we should understand how to pray to him; a duty mentioned in the former part of the Catechism, but reserved to be explained more fully in this.

God having bestowed on us the knowledge, in some measure, of what he is in himself, and mere especially of what he is to us; we are doubtless. bound to be suitably affected by it; and to keep alive in our minds, with the utmost care, due sentiments of our continual dependance on him, of reverence and submission to his will, of love and gratitude for his goodness, of humility and sorrow for all our sins against him; and earnest desire, that his mercy and favour may be shown, in such manner as he shall think fit, to us and to all our fellow-creatures.

Now, if these sentiments ought to be felt, they ought also to be some way expressed; not only that others may see we have them, and be excited to them by our example, but that we ourselves

(2) Phil. iv. 13.

(3) 1 Cor. xv. 10.

(4) Luke xi. 13.

may receive both the comfort and the improvement, which must naturally flow from the exercising such valuable affections. And unquestionably the most lively and most respectful manner of exercising them is, that we direct them to him who is the object of them; and pour out our hearts before him in suitable acts of homage, thanksgiving, and confession; in humble petitions for ourselves, and intercessions for all mankind. Not that God is ignorant, till we inform him, either of our outward circumstances, or the inward temper of our hearts. If he were, our prayers would give him but very imperfect knowledge of either; for we are greatly ignorant of both ourselves. But the design of prayer is, to bring our own minds into a right frame; and so make ourselves fit for those blessings, for which we are very unfit, while we are too vain or too careless to ask them of God.

The very act of prayer, therefore, will do us good, if we pray with attention, else it is nothing; and with sincerity, else it is worse than nothing. And the consequences of praying, God hath promised shall be further good. "All things what66 soever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye "shall receive." 5 Not absolutely all things whatsoever we desire; for some of our desires may be on several accounts unfit, and some would prove extremely hurtful to us. Therefore we cught to consider well what we pray for; and especially in all temporal matters refer ourselves wheily to God's good pleasure. Nor doth he always grant immediately what he designs to grant, and hath given us the fullest right to ask; but delays it perhaps a while to exercise our patience and trust in him; for which reason our Saviour directs us "always to pray, and not to faint." But what

(5) Matth. xxi. 22.

(6) Luke xviii. 1.

ever is really good, he will, undoubtedly, as soon as it is really necessary, give us upon our request; provided further, that with our earnest petitions, we join our honest endeavours; for prayer was never designed to serve instead of diligence, but to assist it. And, therefore, if in our temporal affairs, we are idle or inconsiderate, we must not expect that our prayers will bring us good success; and if, in our spiritual ones, we wilfully or thoughtlessly neglect ourselves, we must not imagine that God will amend us against our wills, or whilst we continue supinely indifferent. But let us do our duty to the best of our power, at the same time that we pray for his blessing; and we may be assured, that nothing but an injurious disbelief can prevent our obtaining it; on which account, St. James requires, that "we ask in faith, nothing "wavering."

Indeed, without the encouragement given us in Scripture, it might well be with some diffidence, and it should still be with the utmost reverence, that 66 we take upon us to speak unto the Lord, "who are but dust and ashes."2 The Heathens, therefore, addressed their prayers to imaginary deities of an inferior rank, as judging themselves unworthy to approach the supreme one. But our rule is, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, "and him only shalt thou serve.' The affected humility of worshipping even angels," and, therefore, much more saints, (who, if really such, are yet lower than angels4) may, as we are taught, "beguile us of our reward;" whereas we may come boldly to the throne of our Maker's grace, though not in our own right, yet, through the Mediator whom he hath appointed, and who hath procured us the privilege, and instructed us how



(1) James i. 6. (4) P's. viii. 5.

(2) Gen. xviii. 27.
(5) Col. ii. 18.

(3) Matt. iv. 10. (6) Heb. iv. 16.

to use it, by delivering to us a prayer of his own composition, which might be at once a form for us frequently to repeat, and a pattern for us always to imitate.


That the Lord's Prayer was designed as a form, appears from his own words: "After this manner "pray ye;"7 or translating more literally, "Thus pray ye;" and, which is yet more express, "When ye pray, say Our Father," &c. Besides, it was given by him to his disciples, on their request that he would "teach them to pray, as "John also taught his disciples;"9 which undoubtedly was as the great Rabbis amongst the Jews commonly taught theirs, by a form. And, accordingly, this prayer hath been considered and used as such, from the earliest ages of Christianity down to the present.

Yet, our Saviour's design was not, that this should be the only prayer of Christians; as appears both from the precepts and the practice of the Apostles, as well as from the nature and reason of the thing. But when it is not used as a form, it is, however, of unspeakable advantage as a model. He proposes it, indeed, more particularly as an example of shortness. Not that we are never to make longer prayers; for he himself "continued all night in prayer to God;"1 and we have a much longer, made by the Apostles, in the fourth chapter of the Acts. But his intention was, to teach by this instance, that we are not to affect unmeaning repetitions, or any needless multiplicity of words, as if we "thought that "we should be heard for our much speaking."2 And not only in this respect, but every other, is our Lord's Prayer an admirable institution and direction for praying aright; as will abundantly

(7) Matt. vi. 9.
(1) Luke vi. 12.

(8) Luke xi. 2.

(9) Ver. 1.

(2) Matt. vi. 7.

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