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with the majesty, holiness, and heart-searching knowledge of God, his own absolute dependence upon him, his relations and obligations to him, and his offences committed against him ; and who is not, in a general way at least, instructed in the way of access for sinners to an offended God, through the atoning blood of his Son, and humbly willing to approach in this appointed way. Such a man draws near with reverential fear and deep self-abasement, confessing his unworthiness, and imploring forgiveness ; encouraged only by believing apprehensions of the rich mercy of God to sinners through the mediation of Jesus. Conscious also of ignorance, weakness, and depravity, in humble sincerity and earnest longings, he pleads the promises of the word of God, and implores the teaching, strengthening, sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit. Faith, repentance, and universal holiness, he longs for, feels his want of, expects, and seeks daily from God in prayer. In all this his words express, but not fully the very meaning of his heart. Daily he thus opens and

pours out his soul unto God,” turning the precepts and promises which he reads or hears from the word of God, into fervent petitions. All his sorrows, anxieties, and perplexities he spreads before the Lord, seeking, in every exigence, support, direction, and consolation from him; subjoining continual thanksgivings for mercies received, and intercessions for all around him; and submissively referring himself, in every case, to the will and wisdom of his heavenly Father. Thus is he“ care“ ful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and “supplication, with thanksgiving, makes his re

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Such prayer

quests known unto God ;” and “ casts his care

upon him, who careth for him." as this cannot be taught by man, but must be the effect of “ the pouring out of the Spirit of grace “ and of supplications ;” who, communicating divine light to the understanding, and holy dispositions to the heart, excites fervent and spiritual desires in the soul, and teaches us to pray with “ groanings that cannot be uttered." It is therefore called in the word of God, praying in, and

by the Spirit;" as opposed to a “ form of godli“ness," or good words spoken with the mouth, without suitable affections and desires in the heart. * He whose words express more than he intends, or heartily desires, prays formally and hypocritically ; he, who means all that his words express, and more than he can find words to express, evidently prays spiritually, and, though he may not be sensible of it, is assisted in prayer by the Holy Spirit.f

But, if nothing, however specious or ostentatious, be prayer, which has not in it something of this nature, (as I trust upon mature examination of the scripture, will be found the case ;) then

* Saul, previously to conversion, was a strict Pharisee, who made“ long prayers ;" yet, when the Lord spoke of his conversion to Ananias, he said, with emphasis, “ Behold he prayeth." Before, he might read or repeat long forms, or pray fluently in extemporaneous language: but now he feels his indigence, dependence, and unworthiness, and really prays with suitable desires and dispositions.

+ I am far from thinking that no prayer is accepted which comes not up to this description; but this is the nature of a sinner's praying for spiritual blessings; to this, in a degree proportioned to the measure of his grace, á believer attains; and every accepted prayer has something in it of the same nature.

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evidently the proud, ungodly, and carnally mindcd, cannot pray aright. Nor can it be deemed strange, if, when a sinner is first seriously impressed with concern for his soul, he has great reluctancy to this spiritual exercise, and knows not how to go about it. For even real Christians, who have arrived at some measure of stability, and have made considerable proficiency in a life of communion with God, meet with considerable difficulty in this grand concern; have need habitually to be humbled for neglects and imperfections; and want continually fresh supplies of divine assistance to excite, teach, and enable them thus to “

pray always and not faint.” Satan also will oppose to the uttermost all his artifices, to prevent a sinner's approaching to the throne of grace: well knowing, that in the critical season, when any person is under serious impressions, if he can be prevailed on to neglect prayer, they will soon wear off, and leave the conscience more insensible than before. The business, pleasures, diversions, and society of the world, and that scorn with which ungodly men treat a life of prayer, combine their influence, in aid of natural corruption and Satan's temptations, to keep the poor convinced sinner from the throne of grace. And, as if these hindrances were not sufficient, even some professing serious godliness (whose intention may be better than their judgment,) extremely increase the difficulty, by strenuously contending, that unconverted persons ought not to pray, or to be exhorted to it. *

* If a man ought not to pray before conversion, he ought to know, that is be sure, of his conversion before he prays : for if

Such, indeed, are the pride and ungodliness of man, that left to himsell, and under Satan's influence, he never will pray in sincerity. Confounding the depraved disinclination with a real want of ability, many thence argue the want of obligation. But this argument, if it prove any thing, proves too much ; and would consequently repeal the law and abrogate the gospel, and furnish the devil himself with an apology, by making inward depravity a justification of outward rebellion ; the desperate wickedness of the heart, for the desperate wickedness of the life. For certain it is, that man is as much disinclined to keep the whole law, or to repent and believe the gospel, as he is to pray; and will never do either one or the

he be not sure of his conversion, he cannot be sure whether he may and ought to pray or not. Thus assurance springs up in a sinner's heart all at once; and now having received he may ask; having found he may begin to seek ; the door being opened he may begin to knock.–Surely, at first glance, every one must see this to be absurd and unscriptural, yea antiscriptural. Truly all ought to pray, but none will in sincerity, until the Holy Spirit in some degree inclines the heart. Then a man feels an inclination to do that, which before was his duty, though he did it not : frequently he knows not from whence this change proceeds: but is encouraged, by such scriptures as that before alluded to, (Matt. vii. 7,8, or Isaiah lv. 6, 7,)“ Seek

ye the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he " is near : Let the wicked forsake his way.” Thus he begins to ask and seek: and in consequence to receive and find; in this way, “ giving diligence he makes his calling and election sure;" and this statement reconciles all the different views which the scripture gives us of this matter. The Lord seeking us when lost, and being found of us when we sought him not, inclines us (though we are not aware whence this inclination comes,) to seek him in prayer; and thus we receive all spiritual and eternal blessings in the way of asking and receiving.

other if left to himself, destitute of the influence of divine grace. But doth this indeed justify all our transgressions of the law, and contempt of the gospel ?

Again, prayer is an important part of that worship and obedience which the law requires : and it is also the grand means of receiving from Jesus the blessings of the new covenant. He then, who prays not, at once breaks the law, and contemns the gospel : and“ he that keepeth the “ whole law, and thus * offendeth in one point, is

guilty of all." op If then a sinner ought not to pray, he is justifiable in breaking the whole law, and equally justifiable in neglecting the salvation of the gospel ! In fact, however, our depraved inclinations are in no respect the measure of our duty, but the direct opposite. “The carnal mind “ is enmity to God; is not subject to the law of “ God, nor indeed can be." The law, to which the carnal mind cannot be subject, is the measure of our duty. This men cannot obey, because of the depravity of their nature; which enhances, instead of extenuating their guilt. Men ought to love God and one another ; having sinned they ought to repent: they ought to believe and pray, to deny themselves, and mortify their lusts : but they do not. What is the reason? They cannot. But in what sense is this true? In fact, because they dislike the service of God, hate his law, reject his authority, despise his gospel, and prefer

* Numbers xv. 30, 31. “ The soul that doeth ought presumptuously, the same reproacheth the Lord-he hath despised the word of the Lord.”

+ James ii. 10, 11. VOL. 1.

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