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voutly, for the gifts and graces of the Spirit, by which alone our hearts can be sanctified, and our affections weaned from the world. We must pray


repentance, for repentance is the gift of God. We must pray for faith, for that saving faith in the merits of our Redeemer's death, by which alone our souls can be justified in the sight of God. And with regard to our temporal state, let our petitions be, that, in whatever station or circumstances we are placed, we may be saved from the snares which are spread around our walk of life ; that we may be preserved from the seared heart which prosperous fortune too often brings; and the chill cold gloom of despondency and discontent, which hangs so frequently over the cottage of the poor.

A second point, to which our attention should be directed, in considering the nature of this sacred privilege, is, that we must not imagine that God is deaf to our intreaties, if we do not immediately receive the blessing for which we pray. I am not speaking now of supplications made for worldly advantages, but of those which are preferred for spiritual mercies. Persons whose prayers are not quickly answered, are apt to suppose, that, because the strength and comfort for which they pray is not instantly given, God has cast them off, and will for ever withhold his compassion. Now this is a great and perilous error.

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True indeed it is, that a man possessed of so perverted a spirit as this, may never be a sharer in those good and perfect gifts which come down from above; but if he is so bereaved, it will be, not because God has forsaken him in his need, but because his own sinful and wilful mistrust has hardened his heart, and led him to forsake the means of grace which have been set before him. The Scriptures contain many striking admonitions against such a temper of mind as this ; many powerful exhortations to persist in our supplications to heaven. Our Lord himself, in his thrice repeated prayer in the garden, gave us a lesson, that we should never faint because our first requests are not followed by an immediate blessing. And he sets this point in the clearest possible light, by the remarkable parable of the importunate widow, related in the 18th chapter of St. Luke's gospel. If there could be any doubt as to the design of this parable, such doubt would be at once removed by the manner in which the evangelist commences the narrative: “ And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” The words which follow are most striking in their application, and although they are made by our Lord to bear a particular reference to the Jewish nation, and the fearful destruction then impending over it; vet is it evident, both from the tenour of the parable itself, and also from the observation of St. Luke; that it was designed to be of general use. “ There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, avenge me of mine adversary: and he would not for a while: but afterwards he said within himself, though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them ?"

It was before observed that our Saviour has illustrated his parable, by applying it to the prayers offered up by the Christian converts, for relief from the persecutions and troubles to which they were exposed from Jewish and Gentile adversaries. But on another occasion, he has adopted a similar channel of conveying an encouragement to perseverance in prayer, and has deduced from the parable an admonition of universal importance. In the 11th chapter of St. Luke's gospel, we find this instructive passage thus recorded. "And he said unto them, which of

you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey

is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him. And he from within shall answer and say, trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I

say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” It seems evident then, from this language of our Lord, that continual and fervent



powerful with God; that he does frequently withhold for a season his mercies, that he may try our faith in his power and goodness, and in the end convince us, that though he may seem to be far off, he is yet ever near to help such as call upon him faithfully. The disciples and apostles of Christ felt this precious truth, and they are instant in exhorting their converts to persist in their supplications to the throne of grace. without ceasing," is the injunction of St. Paul to the Thessalonians. And the Romans also he urges to continue “instant in prayer."

Here then, my brethren, we have every encouragement that a Christian can desire, to induce is to pray to God,—in the undoubting assurance, that, if we ask him sincerely and faithfully for spiritual blessings, although they may be for a

“ Pray


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time delayed, yet, if we persevere in our requests, we shall not sue in vain. To every humble and penitent Christian then, who feels his need of aid from above; who desires to become a partaker in that strength and comfort, which the true knowledge of the Saviour's mercies never fails to impart; but who has not hitherto received that inward peace and gladness, with which the trae servants of the Redeemer are strengthened and cheered, I would speak in the blessed words of the pious Psalmist,“ Wait on the Lord : be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

The consideration of the necessity of perseverance in prayer, leads us by a very natural consequence, to enquire into the second part of our subject, namely, the efficacy of prayer. For on our conviction of God's readiness to listen to our sincere and constant petitions, must depend our hope and confidence in his goodness to hear us in the end. Now here we stand upon the most triumphant ground. We have in the Scripture such extraordinary instances given of the power of prayer, that we are almost unable to conceive, that God should so condescend to listen to the voice of his frail creatures of the dust. Take the words of the text for example: and hear the Almighty sovereign of the universe, almost, as it were, requesting his feeble servant not to inter

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