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ning and morning, and at noon will I pray, and cry aloucl.(m) Sea ven times a day will I praise thee.(n) I will bless the Lord at all times : his praise shall be continually in my mouth.(0) How did Moses, Job, Samuel, Elijah, Daniel, the apostles and primitive christians pray? How did Jesus Christ pray, night and day, while he tabernacled in Aeshi, offering up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, unto Him that was able to save him?(p) Are ye not under indispensable obligations to follow these examples ? know ye not, that if any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his? If ye will not be followers of those who inherit the promises, ye certainly can never inherit with them.
But further, be persuaded to pray from a consideration of the advantages of prayer. These are not only great and numerous, but they are lasting as eternity. Prayer is a direct address to God, as omniscient and omnipresent, as directing and governing all creatures and things in heaven and in earth. It is an offering up of our desires to him, in the name of Christ for things agreeable to his will. It is an explicit acknowledgment of his being and perfections, and that he is the God of all grace and consola. tion. It is a fixed and solemn ineditation on him, his goodness and glory, as in his very presence. In this view, it is one of the most important of all means to impress the mind with a deep sense of the certainty of his existence, of the glory of his majesty, that he is always with us, that his eye is always upon us, and to keep him always in our minds, and before our eyes. By praying without ceasing, morning and evening, in secret and in private ; by addressing him in short petitions and thanksgivings at noon, and by presenting the desires and feelings of our hearts before him, in mental ejaculations, an habitual sense of God, of our dependence on him, and obligations to him are fixed in our minds, and we are led to the most venerable and adoring ideas of his infinite majesty: While in this solemn manner, we meditate on him and his infinite perfections, it is most happily adapted to humble us before him, to begei confidence in his wisdom, power and goodness; a holy reverence of him, and a sense of the blessedness of having such a God for our eternal father and portion. At the same time, it is calculated to impress the heart with an awful sense of the danger and dreadful consequences of his displeasure. In this way the saints 2cquaint themselves with God, advance in peace, comfort and sanctification. Beholding as in a glass the glory of God, they are chunged into the same image, froin glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord.(9)
(m) Psal. lv. 16. (n) Psal. cxix. 164. (0) Psal. xxxiv. 1. (p) Heb. v.7. (9) 2 Cor. iii. 18.
FURTHER, prayer has a happy tendency to familiarize to our minds the principal doctrines of religion, and to establish us in the truth. While we confess our apostacy and exceeding sinfulness ; wbile we pray for pardon, adoption, sanctification, and eternal life, through the atoning death and perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, and ask all blessings, and offer all our praises in his name, the whole tendency of it is to fix deeply and habitually in our hearts, the belief of the great doctrines of original sin, of our inexcusable wickedness, of the necessity of regeneration, of justification, adoption and sanctification wholly through a Redeemer. It confirms us more and more in this, that Jesus is the Christ, that he is mighty to save, and that there is salvation in no other. While we supplicate divine help to perform the du. ties of piety, righteousness, charity, forgiveness, patience and sobriety, it is calculated to keep alive a sense of these duties in our hearts, and to establish us in the practice of them. Our supplications not to be led into temptation, but to be delivered from evil, have a powerful tendency to make us afraid, and cautious with respect to sin, and to make us flee the very appearance of evil. Our acknowledgments of the divine mercies are adapted to keep them in continual remembrance, and to make us always thankful.
I'RAYER is also an ordinance in which God's people obtain release from guilt, distress and sorrow, and experience great comfort and joy. The Psalmist bears witness that it is good to draw near to God.(r) What comfort and deliverance did Jacob obtain by prayer, when he had power with God and prevailed, and the Lord delivered hiin from his brother Esau ? What sweet release from guilt did David experience in prayer ? His bones waxed old by reason of his roaring all the day; but when he acknowledged his transgression, God forgave the iniquity of his sin. For this, says he, shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found.(s). How was Hannah comforted and blessed in prayer? She had been a woman of a sorrowful spirit; but in prayer she was comforted, and her countenance was no more sad. (t). What blessings did Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Daniel, the apostles and primitive christians obtain by prayer? How was Israel saved by prayer, when the Lord was about to come up into the midst of them, and consume them in a moment? What deliverance and victories did they obtain for the church of God? When Moses held up his hands, how was Amalek discomfited ? When Samuel cried into the Lord, how did He thunder upon the enemies of Israel, and save his people? How did they obtain victories, stay, and open the bottles of heaven, stop the mouths of lions, shake the foundations of prisons, and open the gates of iron ? What blessings have been obtained for individuals, for families and the church of God by prayer? Is it
(r) Psal. Ixiii. 38. (s) Psal. xxxii. 3, 4, 5, 6. (t) 1 Sam. i. 15, 18; not through prayer, that Zion prospers and enjoys peace? Is it not through this, that she is established ? That her righteousness shall go forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burneth? That Jerusalem shall be made a praise in the earth! The effectual fervent prayer of every righteous man availeth much. Whenever God's people draw near to him, he will draw nigh to them, in a way of special grace, to deliver them in danger, to comfort them in sorrow, to increase their faith, and love, and hope and joy, and all the fruits of their righteousness. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he will hear their cry and save them.(u) He gives all new covenant blessings, even eternal salvation in answer to prayer. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (v)
The more christians pray with the spirit of adoption, the more they are habituated to it; the more sweet and sensible is their communion with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ : the more they edify themselves and grow in grace; the more they edify their families, the Church of God, and all with whom they have occasion to pray: The more they avert the divine judg. ments, and turn away wrath from a people ; and the more they call down blessings upon themselves, and families, and the Israel of God, the greater also will be their reward in the day of the appearing and kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. For every prayor offered in his name will receive a divine, an everlasting reward. Even the prayers which have been made in the most se. cret apartments shall be rewarded openly. How vast and numerous, in these views, are the advantages of prayer? They are not merely temporal, but spiritual and eternal. What motives does this sketch of the advantages of prayer exhibit, to engage all to arise without delay, and call upon the name of the Lord ? To pray always and not to faint ?
But there are still other motives of great consideration, by which I would persuade and press you to the duty of prayer. These are the encouragements which God hath given you to pray. These are indeed many and great beyond calculation.All the advantages of prayer are so many encouragements to pray. The goodness of God is a vast encouragement to pray to him always. The greater the goodness of a prince, or benefactor is, the more easy of access, the greater is the encouragement to ask his favour. But God is infinitely and unchangeably good, and most easy of access. He is always nigh unto them who call upon him in truth. The poorest, the vilest, the most helpless and forlorn may approach unto him, through Jesus Christ, and be accepted in him. They may pray to him at all times, in all pla. ces, and upon all emergencies. They may make known unto him all their wants, and he will supply them. He is rich unto
all who call upon him. What encouragements are these to pray!
MOREOVER, God's erecting a throne of grace, and opening a way to the mercy seat, at the expence of the precious blood of his own Son, is a further encouragement. He, who hath done so much tut sinners might have access to him, must be most ready and willing to hear their prayers, and to communicate all blessings to them through a Redeemer. He who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ? (w) Further, that if any man sin, we have such an advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous, is of vast encouragement to pray. But as though all these encouragements were not sufficient to shew his wila lingness to hear, he has represented himself as a God who heareth prayer; as though it were his very name and nature to hear prayer. Othou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.(x) With this representation his promises perfectly correspond. This is the general tenor of them, And shall it come to pass that before they call I will answer, and whilst they are yet speaking I will hear.(y) Ask and it shall be given you : for every one that asketh receiveth: and he that seeketh firdeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.(z) Not one humble, praying soul ever once prayed in vain. No, not one ; however guilty, and despised in this world, ever went, in the name of Jesus, to the throne of grace, and departed unheard and unblest. It is written, I said not to the seed of Facob, seek ye me in vain.(a) If ye shall ask any thing in my time, I will do it for you.(b) God is more ready to give his holy Spirit, heaven with all its digni. ties, to those who ask him, than the kindest parents are to give bread to their dearest offspring: If ye then, being evil, know how. to give good gifts unto your children ; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy Spirit unto them that ask him (c) He giveth liberally, and upbraideth not.(d) He does for his peoa ple exceeding abundantly above all that they ask or think.(e) What encouragements are these to pray? To pray always and not to faint ?
HAVING thus laid before you the duty of prayer and family religion, your duty to pray always with all prayer and supplica, tion, and to be abundant in the religious instruction of those Bommitted to your care, the advantages of doing these duties,
(w) Rom. viii. 32. (x) Psalm lxv. 2. (y) Isa. Ixv. 24.
to yourselves, to your families and the church of God; and the encouragements which he hath given you faithfully to discharge them, what shall be said more to persuade and engage you in the practice of these duties! Will ye rebel against the light of reason and the express and repeated commands of God? Is he not your king and lawgiver? Are ye not his creatures ; and hath he not a most perfect right to command you, and to receive your entire obedience ? Be intreated to consider how ye can answer it, if ye will disregard his commands and infinite authority? Can ye endure the penalties of his Law? Who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered ? Are neither the wrath nor the favour of God, worthy of your regard ? Hath he nothing to give; is there nothing which he can do for you, and your faniilies, worth your seeking? Is there nothing in kim, nothing which he bath done for you, or yours, which demands your love, thanksgiving and obedience? Shall his wondrous goodness and condescension in erecting a throne of grace, and allowing sinners to lift up their faces before him, in giving you all your family blessings, and in all the promises he hath mada to the supplicants of his mercy, have no effect upon you ? Shall the love of Jesus in dying for us, so that if any man sin, he might have an advocate with the Father, have no constraining iniluence upon your hearts? Shall I ead this infinite love with you in vain ? Shall all the advantages of prayer, and all the encour. agements given you to pray, the examples of the saints, and even the examples of our blessed Saviour stand for nothing with you ? I beseech you, and pray Gud, of his infinite mercy, that they may not i beseech you by the united weight and influence of all these considerations, that none of you, whether old or young, would case off fear, and restrain prayer before God. Be persuaded most seriously to consider this address, those scripture passages to which I have referred you. Consider them as the words and commands of God which shall judge you at the last day. Consider the clear light and weighty motives which are here set before you, and let them command your hearts and conduct. This address will doubtless come to thousands of you without money and without price.* It will come to you from those who have been long labouring, watching and pray. jng for your souls : from those who have never seen most of you, but have for many years been employing their money, time and labours for the best interests of yourselves and of your chil. dren, and are longing for your salvation in the bowels of Christ: from those who never expect to see you until we shall meet together before his judgment seat. It will come to you from those who can expect no worldly compensation for all their
* This address was published in a pamphlet in the year 1804, addressed particularly to the inhabitants of the new settlements ; to a large number of whom they have been gratuitously distributed.