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be opened.' How gracious is that merciful Father, who by these examples teaches us to continue praying ; and how inexcusable will it be, if, after such an encouragement, we do not persevere in asking for his blessing !
10. BE #UMBLED AND SELF-ABASED,—This spirit should mark all your prayers. " The foundation of prayer," says Paley, " in all cases, is a sense of want. No man prays in earnest, or to any purpose, for what he does not feel that he wants. Know, then, and feel the weakness of your nature.” “ The great mistake of prayer,” says the Rev. Mr. Adam, "is, not praying as poor and destitute creatures; but thinking that we are and have already in some degree what we pray for.” God forgeteth not the cry of the humble. Ps. ix, 12;" X, 17. Even when the wicked king Manasseh humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him, we read that God was entreated of him. 2 Chron. xxxiii, 12, 13. The Saviour himself says, not my will but thine be done. If one grace more than another has God's special approbation, and is attended with multiplied spiritual advantages, it is that of humility. The humble man, being deeply sensible of his own need, the more he receives, the more he feels his indigence: he expects all from mere mercy, and pleads nothing, but his own worthlessness and necessity; and, having a broken and contrite spirit, he waits with patience till God have mercy, thinking the smallest blessing above his deserts. Cultivate, then, a spirit of hu. mility: When we pray for any grace, let us be ready to confess our faultiness in that particular, and acknowledge our utter inability of ourselves to work it in our hearts. Let us remember what an awfully great and holy Being He is, and how sinful we are at the best! and how the glorified spirits veil their faces, fall down
and worship before God. Rev. v, 8–14. Many are the
humble we shall be. • Let us have grace, then, that we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear.' Heb. xii, 28.* .
In conclusion, we are led to remark, that even a cursory view of these rules is calculated to shew us how defective, in every one of them, our prayers bave been and still are. If we examine our past prayers by them, we may learn the reason why we have derived so little benefit from prayer; we may see more of our fallen condition; and be led to apply, without delay, for an ioterest in the only atonement for sin, and for that divine strength which alone can enable us to overcome sin and serve God acceptably.
* Having given the preceding general rules as principally necessary to be attended to, I sum up in a note wbat might farther be said, by extracting from an old writer the following Rules of Practice.
1. Before Prayer. Meditate on the promises and presence of God. Ask his gracious help, and the evidence of his Spirit. Lay aside all malice, guile, envy, hatred, and seek to have thy
heart filled with heavenly love. Remember thy own vileness, and God's awful majesty, Disburthen thy mind of worldly thoughts and cares
2. In Prayer.. Lift up thy heart with thy hands, and place before thee Christ
and his merits. Watch over thy thoughts. Recover thyself from distractions, and improve them to thy further humiliation and watchfulness.
3. After Prayer.
Greater confidence in his love,
A spirit of self examination and circumspection : and when he gives thee thy requests, let it stir thee up to thankfulness, and quicken thee in his way.
But be pot discouraged by the strictness bere recommended, and think that the work of prayer is altogether impracticable, because you cannot discharge it perfectly. Aim high, and you are more likely to attain 10 a good degree in Christian grace, with that humility which ever marks the Christian character; besides, let us never forget what a fountain of spiritual life, what a powerful, gracious, and glorious Saviour we have; a sun whose rays can warm the coldest heart, and whose beams can enliven the dullest spirit. You will find, that nothing is impossible to those united to him by living faith, and abiding in him.
An Exhortation to Constant Prayer. PRAYER being at the root of every other good, marking the commencement of the Christian life, being the pulse by which its strength and vigour may be known, or the hands by which its daily nourishment is obtained and ministered, the reader will bear with me while I attempt still farther to impress this duty on the conscience.
There are two things which will ever bring the Christian to the throne of grace :--a sense of his own wants ; and a desire to enjoy the presence of God..
God having promised to supply all his wants, bis prayers are the importunate wrestling of the soul with God for the blessings of infinite moment. And God being the portion of his soul, he finds in his presence, the
be a sweet and unspeakable repose of the soul on God, bis
of our spirit, the stillness of our thoughts, the rest of
PRAYER, and this in all, or at least in some of its branches. Such persons will often be dissatisfied, complaining of others; and though in the midst, perhaps, of abundance of eartbly good things, yet, would they declare their real state, they would be found discontented and unhappy. And is this to be wondered at ? God is your Creator. He is the Governor of the Universé. He makes men happy ; when he leaves them they are miserable; and 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? 0.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 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.