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no prayer can be accepted of God where this, I cannot but call it rain, repetition is omitted.
III. Whether are these rules fufcient to enable us to pray acceptably? Anf. They are sufficient in their kind, i. e. as external directions and helps. But be fides, the inward grace and aslistance of the Spirit art necesary for that end, Rom. viii. 26 *.
I thall conclude with a few inferences.
Inf. 1. How gracious and ready to hear prayer is our God, who has been pleased himself to direct us how to pray to him! We ought to be duly thankful to him for his great goodness in this matter, and diligently attend to the excellent rules he has given us on this head.
2. Let us acquaint ourselves with the blessed word, that contains luch a full rule of practice as well as faith; and study the holy scriptures, that we may be the better instructed to pray. The Bible is a noble guide for prayer, both for the matter and manner thercof; and if we diligently study it, we will not be in hazard of uttering any thing contrary to or inconfiftent with it, or ot using the words he has given us without knowledge and understanding.
I kofe who neglect prayer on any pretence, and particularly on that pretence that they cannot pray, or those who stick by a mere torm, without endeavouring to improve in the duty, are highly culpable and inexcusable, as they have so many and Tuch excellent heps scattereel throughout the whole word of God. Hurein they lin against God, and wrong their own fouls.
I aftly, See the absolute necefsity of prayer in the Chritian life. Be convinced, that ye cannot be wichout that which the Lord is at lo much pains to bring
* The author afterwards preached a course of excellent sermons on this fubject iron the text here quoted, which may afterwards
be públished, if vue encouragement be given; and will be a very proper aren is to this and the fubfequent virouris.
you to, by not only teaching you what to pray, but promiling his Holy Spirit to aflilt you therein. Apply yourselves diligently to this duty, that you may be often with God, guiding yourielves therein by the direction of the word; and plead importunately for the quickening power and influence of the Holy Spirit, for his help and affittance. He will shew thee thy wants, to give thee matter of petition ; thy fios, to give thee matter of confession; the mercies and blesings of God, to yield thee matter of thanksgiving; and the church's miseries and neceflities, to furnith thee with matter of interceflion.
MATTI E W vi.
9. U Pri Our Father which art in beaven. HE Lord's prayer consists of three parts, the
preface, petitions, and conclufion. The preface is in the words which I have read, designing the object of worship, and particularly of prayer, namely, God himself. And we are directed to address our. selves in prayer to him, (1.) As a Father, (2.) As our Father, and (3.) As our Futher in heaven. The words afford this doctrine,
Doct. If we would pray acceptably, we must address ourselves to the Lord in prayer, as cur Father which is in beaden. Here I fail fhew,
1. What our being directed to call God Father in prayer doth teach us.
ll. What our being directed to call God oựr. Father teaches us.
III. What we are taught by our being directed to address ourselves to God as our father in heaven,
LIV. De uce some inferences...to:13 otpuh india
vb"; ! interno 1). I am to shew what our being directed to call God Father in prayer does teach us. It teaches, '!)
1. The®children of God to be those who only can or are capable to pray acceptably.' For they only can indeed call God Father. We cannot pray acceptably unless he be our Father, and we his children, namely by regeneration and adoption, John ix; 31. How can one plead the privileges of the family, if he be fone of the members thereof, but of his father the devil, a stranger to the covenant of promile?- Therefore, if we would pray aright, our state muft first be changed, Jam. v. 16.
Queft. May none pray then, who cannot calb God Father? Ans. There are two forts of these. 12:13
(1.) Unregenerate persons, who are yet in the state of black nature, who have no ground to plead this saving relation to God. They may, yea ought to pray, though they cannot pray acceptably; because prayer is the natural duty of all, which all are bound to, and the neglect of which God will punish them forj: Jer. X. uit. And prayer is not a fin, but a duty, thoughfas it is hy them managed, it is turned into lin, as all other duties are. But the neglect of it is a greater fin.
Object. But it is needless for them to pray, since they cannot çray acceptably. Anf. No: for it is 'a mean of grace, and an ordinance of God; and though God have no retpect to it as it is their performance, yet he -may have refpct to it, as it is his own ordinance, and
do good to them by it. The matter lies bere ; they are neither to continue in their sinful state, nor to satisfy themselves with their praying in that condition, but come out of it, and join theinselves to God's family, and so they will come to pray acceptably. ja (2.) The children of God, who cannot discern their relation to him. Theie not only may pray, but pray acceptably, Psal. ciii. 13. Likeas a: Father pitiet b bis children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. But it
is their duty to endeavour to assure their hearts before him, to advance their hunger and thirst after him, to an actual acceptance of God to be their Father in Christ, and thereupon to believe he is their Father. TL 2. That it is through Jesus Christ we have access to God in prayer, Eph.ji. 18. because it is through him alone that God becomes our Father; by him for his fake we are adopted into the family of heaven, John it2. When we hear that a company of guilty creatures, who stood before God as their terrible Judge, strembling for fear of his sentence of condemnation, change their note, and call him by the kindly name of Father, and confidently apply to him as children, we muft own this to be owing to the mediation, obedience, and death of his Son, John xx. '17... And therefore, ** 3. That coming to God in prayer, we must come in the name of this Son, as the alone foundation of all
our confidence in and expectation from God, John rxiv. 13. Being married to the Son, we call God Father, and make bold in his house by virtue of our Telation to him, through our Lord and Husband. And on the continuance of this relation to Chritt depends the continuance of this relation to his Father; and blefled be our immortal Husband, that the marmiage with him can never be diffolved. * 4. That the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of Christ in his people, is the principle of all acceptable praying to God; for by him it is that we are enabled to call God Father, Gal. iv. 6.; and therefore it is called in, Wrought, prayer, Jam. v. 16. He it is who excites, his people to pray, moves them to go to fod with their whole cafe, Plal. xxvii. 8. He furnishes them with acceptable matter of prayer, Rom. viii. 26. and, with praying graces and affections, ib. And without the Spirit dwelling and acting in us we cannot pray acxceptably; and the more we have of the Spirit, we will pray
5. That we should draw near to God in prayer with childlike dispositions and affections towards him.
(1.) Though he be very kind, and admit us iato familiarity with him, yet we must come with a holy Teverence, Mal. i. 6. If I be a Father, where is miné honour? Familiarity must not breed contempt. The character of a father bears not only kindness, but reverence and fear in it. It is a mixture of love and awful authority; and the ingenuous child will regard both. Slavish fear is to be laid aside, but childlike re: verence is necessary, Heb. xii, 18.
(2.) Though we have offended God, and be under the marks of his displeasure, we muft come with confidence, whatever we want, whatever we need, Epli
. lii. 12. While he bids us call him Father, he requires of us confidence in him for the fupply of all our wants. For fatherly affection is tender is the child's trouble touches the Father nearly, and his interest is the Father's interest, which is ground of confidence, Psal. c. 1 3. forecited. Il. Ixii. 9. Surely, they are my children. Zech. ii. 8. He that toucbeth
you, toucheth the apple of his eye.
(3.) That God is ready and willing to belp us, and we hould come to him in that confidence, Matth. vii. 11. If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts
: 19 your children, how much more snall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that afk kim? We should pour out our hearts into his bosom, in full confidence of his pity. Whom can a child, expect help of, if not of a father? But no father has the bowels of compassion that God has towards his own. If the mother's tenderness towards the child be ordinarily greater than that of the father's, yet the Lord is still inore, Il. xlix..15, 16. Can a woman forget her fucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of ber womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me. And there is no such present help as he is,