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they would be found discontented and unhappy. And is this to be wondered at? God is your Creator. He is the Governor of the Universe. He makes men happy; when he leaves them they are miserable; and yet you neglect to seek him. You do not pursue his plans. You do not follow the directions which he has given you for obtaining his blessings, and therefore you have them not. But can you think that you will always have an opportunity of seeking him ? O no! remember, that there is an accepted time, a day of salvation, and that it is our highest duty and our plainest interest to “ seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near.” But, perhaps, you defer seeking God to the close of life, or to a period of sickness. O most dangerous delusion! To be careful about the temporal enjoyment of a day, and to suspend eternal happiness on the most improbable of all chances! It is almost certain that if you do from day to day put off the duty of prayer, deceiving yourself with the intention of calling on God in such a period, God will not in that day, give you either grace or ability to pray to him. You will perish in your sins. There is neither safety nor happiness but in constant prayer. If you would obtain the waters of life, you must come to the fountain. If you would drink of the streams, you must come to the banks of that river which maketh glad the city of our God. Perhaps you think prayer to be needless, or useless. But is not this sad folly? You think it necessary to enquire, “ what shall we eat, and what shall we drink, and wherewithal shall we be clothed? Necessary to seek after the provision of mere temporal wants; and yet you can be careless about the pardon of your sins, the salvation of your soul, the eternal ruin of hell, and the everlasting glory of heaven. Prayer is no more to be esteemed neculess, than eternal bliss is needless. No man ever repented of prayer. Baxter says, “I often repent that I have prayed to him so coldly, and communed with him so negligently, and served him so remissly; but I never repent of the time, care, affection, or diligence employed in this holy work."
2. Some are ASHAMED OF PRAYER. They think that it is the mark of a weak, or superstitious mind. They are afraid of being laughed at and ridiculed by their ungodly companions; and perhaps they have no place to which they can retire to be alone. But is it not the grossest ignorance, weakness, and delusion, to be afraid of the ridicule of a perishing, guilty man, and regardless of the displeasure of the ever-living, and ever-blessed God? Only be firm, and constant, in your devotions, and you will soon put to shame the ridicule of your companions, or God will manifestly appear on your side. Imitate Daniel's noble openness and frankness, his firm decision, and integrity of devotion, (Dan. iv, 35.) and you may expect to be carried through every difficulty. It is not a mark of a weak and little mind, but of the deepest wisdom, of the highest grandeur, and noblenéss of spirit, to hold constant intercourse with the Lord of heaven and earth. The true weakness, the real littleness, is to be afraid of a worm, a creature of a day, mere dust and ashes. *
* The following fact will shew that God's blessing to others may also attend a faithful diecharge of our own duty.
A pious man was once led by sowe commun engagement to associate a whole lay with a minister who bad greatly neglected his sacred duties. Their business took them from home, and they had much conversation together on religious subjects. At night they came to the same Inn, and found that they could only bave one bed room.
'I be minister was soon undressed and in bed, without faying any prayer. llis coinpanion at first besitated whether be should put out the candle, and then pray, or say bis prayers opeo. ly. He thought that bis duiy at that time led lim nuito be asham
-5. There are others who EARNESTNESS AND FERVOUR, BUT THEY HAVE BECOME REMISS OR CARELESS. Some alarming sermons, some terrors of conscience, some dangerous event, and some convictions of sin, once excited you to seek God; but now, both your fears and your prayers have passed away, or at least you are unsteady and negligent. David describes the case, Ps. lxxviii, 34-37. How precious once were the hours of prayer! How delightful a place was your closet! How tears filled your eyes while
you fessed your sinfulness, or thanked God for his mercies! But now, all is cold and dull. Surely your own conscience will most powerfully condemn you, and plead with me when I exhort you to renewed efforts to obtain the spirit of grace and supplication. “Prayer," says Cooke, “is compared to incense; and if the smoke of it ceases to rise up before God, it is a sure sign that the light of divine knowledge and the fire of divine love are both extinguished in the heart.” The exhortation belongs to you-O Israel, return unto the Lord, thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Are the realities of a dying bed and the judgment day, less near, or less important than they once were ? Nay, every day is bringing you nearer and nearer to them. Every day is of more importance, and shortens that little span of life, in which we have to escape the misery of hell, and gain the heavenly mansions. Lose not a moment-plead carnestly for the renewed spirit of prayer. Think not that your sin is beyond forgiveness, and therefore now
ed of prayer, and he prayed, extinguished the light, and went to bed. This faithful discharge of duty was not lost on him who had gone prayerless to bed. The conversation which he had heard, and the example which he had seen, left a deep and abiding impression on his mind, and from that time he became a faithful and laborious minister of Christ.
prayer is of no use. Let not Satan so tempt you. Again seek the presence of God, and it will be a proof that you are not yet given up to a reprobate mind. Even in the wicked city of Nineveh, when they cried mightily unto the Lord, they were spared. Now if God heard the Ninevites crying for temporal blessings, doubt not but he will hear you, when you earnestly implore pardon, peace, and salvation. Yet there is a way open to the throne of grace; and so long as it is open, you need not be miserable, you need not be unbelped.
4. Others are ENDEAVORING TO LIVE IN PRAYER. They need no proof of the obligation, no additional argument, to shew them that it is their duty. But perhaps they are often discouraged and cast down by their difficulties in attaining a constant spirit of devotion. If, however, you are desiring and seeking, Augustine justly says, “ If he seeks, let him not doubt but that the desire of seeking has been received from him whom he seeks.” And may I not say, when you really attain a good measure of the spirit of devotion, you enjoy a peace of God which passeth all understanding; it is your privilege-your happiness. You have free communication with the Lord of Lords, and King of Kings -You are permitted to come near to him on all occasions. He grants all your requests, and supplies all your wants. On account of our corrupt nature it requires indeed watchfulness, patience, and perseverance to maintain this spirit of prayer, but you find it to be its own reward. Let us not then be content with small measures of the grace of supplication, let us seek to attain more and more of this gift, and soon, the work of prayer ended, the never-ceasing song of praise will com
mence, which will endure throughout the boundless ages of eternity.
But let me speak to every reader.
prayer, it is the half of our duty, and that by which we carry on the rest. We will, say the Apostles, give ourselves continually to prayer, and the ministry of the word.The prayers of ministers avail much. We may expect more assistance than others. It is the divine direction for our people—" Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the Church, and let them pray over him.” When Abimelech was threatened with death, he was told to send for Abraham; and the reason given was, “for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live." Should not we, then, abound in prayer?
CHRISTIAN PARENTS ! we next address you. Pray for your children. “Whenever," says Bishop Hopkins, “ thou comest unto the throne of grace, bring these thy dear pledges upon thy heart with thee. Earnestly implore of God that he would own them, and provide for them as his own children : that he would adopt them into the family of heaven, make them heirs of glory, and coheirs with Jesus Christ: that he would give them a convenient portion of good things for this life, that they may serve him with the more cheerfulness and alacrity; and a large portion of spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ Jesus; and at length bring them to the heavenJy inheritance. And know assuredly, that the prayers of parents are very effectual, and have a kind of authority in them to obtain what they sue for.” This is the blessing which holy fathers in Scripture have bestowed on their children. Thus Abraham asked, O that Ishmael might live before thee. Thus Jacob prayed for