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supply to our several necessities? Look at the
poorest beggar which ever haunted the rich man's gate for charity! Suppose, when he has knocked at the door, as soon as it is opened to him, and he hath made known his request, he should hasten away without waiting for an answer, what should we think of the absurdity of such conduct ? and how should we condemn the inconsistency of his behaviour ? Could the beggar in this case expect, or would he be capable of receiving the alms he implored?--and yet in fact does not every man the same who knocks at the gate of heaven, and implores mercy at the throne of grace, but waits not the event of his application ? Surely, we are all beggars in this sense before God, and are infinitely more inexcusable than him who asks for alms of his fellow-creatures upon earth, if we use less importunity in our petitions, or are tired of waiting in our prayers, when we draw nigh the great Father of mercies, who is always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and wont to give, more than either we desire or deserve.
Indeed, as a farther proof of the importance of this great duty of watchfulness, and as an additional motive to the performance of it, may it not be said that the blessings we ask from God are, in a certain sense, suspended upon our expectation and faith in receiving them ? For when the great Redeemer promised that “if we ask we shall receive, if we seek we shall find, and if we knock at the gate of mercy it shall opened," he connects with it the necessity of depending upon God to receive the blessings we implore; and adds, that all things whatsoever we ask believing, we shall receive; so that from hence we are taught, that the reception of the mercies we implore doth not depend so much upon the divine disposition to give as on the frame of our mind for receiving. things (as Christ elsewhere observes) are possi
ble to him that believeth.” To the same purport is the direction of his apostle John.“ This is the confidence," says he, “that we have in Him, that if we ask any thing according to his will he heareth us; and if we know that he heareth us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desire of him ; and yet, if possible, more express to the point is the apostle James. He is speaking indeed of one particular gift of God; but which may, be a parity of reasoning, be applied to all :—" If any of you,”says he," lack wisdom, let him ask of him that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him; but let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. Let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of God." From all which nothing can be more clear and evident, than that the great duty of watchfulness, or humble waiting upon the Lord, forms a very considerable part in the faithful discharge of devotion; and if we hope to receive any thing from God, the blessings and mercies we ask for through grace must be looked for in watchfulness.
It ought not to be omitted also, as a conclusive argument in favour of the duty recommended, that it is impossible to praise God with a thankful heart for the innumerable mercies he is unremittingly bestowing upon mankind, or bless him for his promises when fulfilled, but in the exercise of it. By virtue of the divine promises it is that we are encouraged to make application to heaven with the confidence of success; and as by the promises the Lord graciously condescends to become a debtor (if the expression be warrantable) to his creatures, it certainly is an act of justice, as well as duty, to watch and observe, when at any time these promises are fulfilled, in order that a proper acknowledgment may be made accordingly.
Can we in fact ever make a suitable return without it? Ought not God to be as much regarded when completing his gracious promises, as the obligation between man and man, when fulfilled, is confessed and allowed ?—and shall this bountiful hand be for ever' stretched forth in performing acts of grace agreeably to his divine promises, and yet be for ever hidden from our inattentive view, unobserved and unacknowledged ? Surely, it must be the duty, and it ought to be the highest comfort to every just and grateful mind, in those who are daily and hourly petitioning at the throne of grace, to watch also in their prayers, by way of making daily and hourly acknowledgements for mercies received ; and it is a conduct so truly right and becoming, that, like all others, where duty and advantage are blended together, it brings with it its own reward; and it is a maxim of unquestionable truth never to be forgotten, that he who thus watches providence will never want a providence to watch him.
It will be a matter of real joy to the heart of the author of this Fragment, if any thing here said shall, under the divine blessing, serve to instruct any gracious soul in the great duty of watchfulness in prayer, and lead him more closely to the practice of it. Reader, how art thou affected with these things ? and what is thy conduct concerning this duty ? Bring home the observations here offered thee to thine own experience; and may He, who is the Giver of all grace, enable thee“ to continae constant in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving !”
“There are no images or figures hore below, sufficiently expressive to describe the solid and substantial pleasures of private devotion. Neither can language adequately convey the happiness that soal experiences, who, by constant communion with God, hath learned to realize the Divine Presence in all the occurrences of life."