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attention is, however, requested to the following excellent remarks on prayer by the judicious Hooker.
« Prayer proceedeth from want, which being seriously laid to heart maketh suppliants always importunate; which importunity our Saviour Christ did not only tolerate in the woman of Canaan, but also exhort and invite thereunto, as the parable of the wicked Judge sheweth. Our fervency sheweth us sincerely affected towards that we crave: but that which must make us capable thereof is an humble spirit; for God doth load with His grace the lowly, when the proud He sendeth empty away: And therefore, to the end that all generations of the world might know how much it standeth them upon to beware of all lofty and vain conceits when we offer up our supplications before Him, He hath in the gospel both delivered this caveat, and left it by a special chosen parable exemplified. The Pharisee and Publican having presented themselves in one and the same place, the temple of God, for performance of one and the same duty, the duty of prayer, did notwithstanding in that respect only so far differ the one from the other, that our Lord's own verdict of them remaineth (as you know) on record, they departed home, the sinful publican, through humility of prayer, just; the just pharisee, through pride, sinful, so much better doth He accept of a contrite peccavi, I have sinned, than of an arrogant Deo gratias, God I thank thee."'*
We proceed now to consider the matter of our request. We solicit Divine regard with a view to a specific end which is afterwards
* Hooker's Works, vol. 3, p, 589, Oxford edition.
mentioned. But, it may be said, Doth not God ós look upon” all His creatures : Is He not Omniscient and Omnipresent? Are not His “ eyes in every place, beholding the evil and “ the good ?” “ Can any hide himself in secret “ places, that the Lord shall not see him? « Doth not He fill heaven and earth ?” “ Is “ not hell naked before Him, and destruction “ without covering?" Yes: “ His eyes are “ upon the ways of man, and He seeth all his “ goings." " There is no darkness nor shadow “ of death, where the workers of iniquity may " hide themselves.” “ The Lord looketh from “ heaven: He beholdeth all the sons of men. - From the place of His habitation He looketh “ upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He « fashioneth their hearts alike; He considereth “ all their works.” “Great in counsel and “ mighty in work, His eyes are open upon all “ the ways of the sons of men, to give every “ one according to his ways, and according to “ the fruit of his doings." What need then, it may be asked, is there of soliciting Divine notice, since God cannot but know and regard us? Is not the request superfluous and impertinent? By no means. For it is not a naked regard, but a favourable and fruitful attention which we implore-not the notice of an indifferent spectator, but that of an interested friend. It is a gracious interference in our behalf which we beseech God to shew. ::
There is a consciousness in the bosoms of all God's people, that, were He to “ look upon” them in a way of strict justice, His observance of their state and conduct would be followed by: their destruction. For they know that they have to do with a just and holy God, 'who is
ts of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot “ look on iniquity,” and who “ will by no “ means clear the guilty.” They know së that " their God is a consuming fire," and that “it “ is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the • living God.". And therefore the habitual remembrance of God which they maintain is accompanied with a consideration of His mercy, and a grateful affiance in the Mediator through whom it flows. “ Enter not into judgment with “ thy servant, O Lord, for in thy sight shall no “ man living be justified,” is the constant language of the awakened bosom. With this the sensibilities of those who enter into the spirit of our petition concur, while they “beseech Al“ mighty God mercifully to look upon His “ people."
The ungodly heart that is conscious of guilt, but at the same time is unsubdued, unhumbled, and unacquainted with Divine mercy, wishes to have nothing to do with God. All unconverted persons « say unto God," in their hearts if not with their lips, “ Depart from us, for we " desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What “ is the Almighty that we should serve Him? “ And what profit should we have if we pray “ unto Him?" They comfort themselves in their state of alienation from God with the delusive hope that “ the Lord will not see, nei" ther will the God of Jacob regard.” If an unwelcome thought of God intrude, that is in any degree of accordance with those attributes which are ascribed to Him in His word, it is necessarily productive of terror and dismay, and dismissed with all possible speed. But the kind regard of Almighty God is essential to the comfort of His own people. Instead of saying,
« Depart from me,” they cry, “ Hear me, o “ Lord, for thy loving kindness is good : turn “ unto me according to the multitude of thy “ tender mercies. And hide not thy face from “ thy seryant, for I am in trouble: hear me “ speedily. Draw nigh unto my soul, and re“ deem it: deliver me because of mine enemies." The Omniscience and Omnipresence of God constitute, in connection with His grace, the source of all the satisfactions of His people. “ In Him," with respect to natural and spiritual life, “they live and move and have their being."
The objects to whom Divine regard is implored in our collect are the people of God. Thereby the congregation when offering up this petition inean themselves, and with themselves associate all their brethren, who together with them “ worship God in the spirit, rejoice “ in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in " the flesh.” For it is Divinely ordained that prayer should be made - for all men," and especially for “them who are of the household “ of faith.”
But are we indeed the people of God? Is our language accurate when we so denominate ourselves? The question is of the last importance; for “ God hath respect unto the lowly, but the “ proud he knoweth afar off:” and lowliness of heart is one of the grand characteristics of His people, whereby they are distinguished from all other persons. - To this man will I look," saith He whose favourable regard we implore, “even “ to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit " and that trembleth at my word.” Reader, are the distinguishing features of the people of God visible in you and me? There are other properties assigned to His people, which cannot be mistaken, the mention of which may assist our inquiry into our own personal relation to God. His people believe in Him, fear Him, love Him, hope in Him, obey Him, submit to Him, derive their happiness from Him, and rejoice in that relation in which they stand to Him. Are we then His people or not? For the comfort of the timid believer it may be observed, that all who cordially wish to be His people are certainly such. For that cordial wish implies, in proportion to its vigour, all those characteristic properties which have been enumerated. They are “ Israelites indeed, in * whom there is no guile."
Taking it for granted that the reader has legitimately reckoned himself among the people of God, I must desire him to recall to his remembrance some things which are naturally suggested by the title which he hath assumed.
How humiliating is the thought, which our collect suggests? “ We are a chosen genera“ tion, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people, " that we should shew forth the praises of Him or who hath called us out of darkness into His “ marvellous light; which in time past were not " a people, but are now the people of God; " which had not obtained mercy, but now have « obtained mercy.” Let us recollect what we were by nature, and what we are become through grace. By nature, “ we lay among “ the pots,” in a state of the lowest servility and degradation; through grace, we are become “ as the wings of a dove, covered with silver, " and her feathers with yellow gold.” By nature, we were in a state of perdition; but “God “ hath redeemed our lives from destruction, and “ crowned us with loving kindness and tender