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the mind into a spiritual chan-mily prayer, indeed, may not be nel; and has a tendency to excite essential to the character of a true trust and dependence on Divine Christian, but it is surely no hoProvidence.-2. Secret or closet nour to heads of families to have prayer is another kind of prayer it said that they have no religion to which we should attend. It has in their houses. If we consider its name from the manner in what a blessing it is likely to prove which Christ recommended it, I to our children and our domesMatt. vi, 6. He himself set us antics; what comfort it must afford example of it, Luke vi, 12; and it to ourselves; what utility it may has been the practice of the saints | prove to the community at large; in every age, Gen. xxviii. Gen. || how it sanctifies domestic comforts xxxii. Dan.vi, 10. Acts x, 9. There and crosses; and what a tendency

some particular occasions it has to promote order, decency, when this duty may be practised to sobriety, and religion in general, advantage, as when we are enter we must at once see the propriety ing into any important situation; of attending to it. The objection undertaking any thing of con- often made to family prayer is, sequence; before we go into the want of time; but this is a very world; when calamities surround frivolous excuse, since the time us, Isa. xxvi, 20; or when ease || allotted for this purpose need be and prosperity attend us. As but short, and may be easily recloset prayer is calculated to in- deemed from sleep or business. spire us with peace, defend us Others say, they have no gifts ; from our spiritual enemies, excite where this is the case, a form may us to obedience, and promote our soon be procured and used, but it real happiness, we should be should be remembered that gifts watchful lest the stupidity of our increase by exercise, and no man frame, the intrusion of company, can properly decide, unless he the cares of the world, the insinu- make repeated trials. Others are ations of Satan, or the indulgence deterred through shame, or the of sensual objects, prevent us from fear of man: in answer to such the constant exercise of this neces we shall refer them to the declasary and important duty.-3. Fa-rations of our Lord, Matt. x, 37, mily prayer is also another part not|38. Mark viii, 38. As to the seato be neglected. It is true there is son for family prayer, every famino absolute command for this in ly must determine for itself; but God's word; yet from hints, al- | before breakfast every morning, lusions, and examples, we may and before supper at night, seems learn that it was the practice of most proper: perhaps a quarter our forefathers : Abraham, Gen. of an hour or twenty minutes may xviii, 19. David, 2d Sam. vi, 20. be sufficient as to the time.-4. Solomon, Prov. xxii, 6. Job i, 4, Social prayer is another kind Chris5. Joshua xxiv, 15. See also Eph.tians are called upon to attend to. vi, 4. Prov. vi, 20. Jer. x, 25. It is denominated social, because Acts

X, 2, 30. Acts xvi, 15. Fa- | it is offered by a society of Chris. Vol. II.


tians in their collective capacity | repeating a set form, or acquiconvened for that particular pur escing with the prayer of the mipose, either on some peculiar and nister who leads their devotions. extraordinary occasions, or at This is both an ancient and imstated and regular seasons. Spe. portant part of religious exercise; cial praver-meetings are such as it was a part of the patriarchal are held at the meeting and part- worship, Gen. iv, 26 ; it was also ing of intimate friends, especial-carried on by the Jews, Exod. ly churches and ministers; when xxix, 43. Luke i, 10. It was a the church is in a state of unusual part of the temple service, Is. Ivi, deadness and barrenness; when 7. 1st Kings viii, 59. Jesus Christ ministers are sick, or taken away recommended it both by his exby death; in times of public cala- ample and instruction, Matt. xvii, mity and distress, &c. Stated 20. Luke iv, 16. The disciples, meetings for social prayer are also, attended to it, Acts ii, 41, such as are held weekly in some | 42; and the scriptures in many places, which have a special regard places countenance it, Exod. x, to the state of the nation and 24. Psal. Ixiii, 1, 2. Psal. lxxxiv, churches; missionary prayer-meet-11. Psal. xxvii, 4. For the nature, ings for the spread of the Gospel; || necessity, place, time, and attendweekly meetings held in most of|ance on public worship, see WORthe congregations which have a ship. more particular reference to their

IV. Of the matter of prayer. own churches, ministers, the sick, “It is necessary,” says Dr. Watts, feeble, and weak of the flock. “to furnish ourselves with proChristians are greatly encouraged per matter, that we may be able to this kind of prayer from the con to hold much converse with God; sideration of the promise, Matt. to entertain our souls and others xviii, 20; the benefit of mutual agreeably and devoutly in worship; supplications; from the example of to assist the exercise of our own the most eminent primitive saints, I grace and others, by a rich supMal. iii, 16. Acts xii, 12; the an- ply of divine thoughts and desires swers given to prayer, Acts xii, 1 || in prayer, that we may not be io 12. Josh. x. Isaiah xxxvii, &c.;| forced to make too long and indeand the signal blessing they are tocent pauses whilst we are perthe churches, Phil. i, 19. 2d Cor. forming that duty; nor break off i, 11. These meetings should be abruptly as soon as we have beattended with regularity; those gun for want of matter; nor pour who engage should study simpli-out abundance of words to dress city, brevity, scripture language, up narrow and scanty sense for seriousness of spirit, and every want of variety of devout thoughts. thing that has a tendency to editi- || 1. We should labour after a large cation. We now come, lastly, to acquaintance with all things that take notice of public prayer, or belong to religion; for there is that in which the whole con-nothing that relates to religion but gregation is engaged either in | may properly make some part of

the matter of our prayer. A great will furnish us with large matter, acquaintance with God in his na- if we run over the exalting and ture, perfections, works, and word; heightening circumstances of our an intimate acquaintance with our mercies and comforts, viz. that selves, and a lively sense of our they are great, and spiritual, and own frames, wants, sorrows, and eternal, as well as temporal. Our joys, will supply us with abundant petitions and thanksgivings, in a furniture. We should also be special manner, should be suited watchful observers of the deal to the place and circumstances of ings of God with us in every or- ourselves, and those that we pray dinance, and in every providence. with, and those that we pray for. We should observe the working|| -3. It is very proper, at solemn of our heart towards God, or to seasons of worship, to read some wards the creature, and often ex-part of the word of God, or some amine our temper and our life, spiritual treatise written by holy both in our natural, our civil, and inen; or to converse with fellow religious actions. For this purpose, Christians about divine things, or as well as upon many other ac- to spend some time in recollection counts, it will be of great advan- or meditation of things that betage to keep by us in writing some long to religion: this will not only of the most remarkable providen-supply us with divine matter, buit ces of God, and instances of his will compose our thoughts to a mercy or anger towards us, and solemnity. Just before we engage some of our most remarkable car- || in that work, we should be absent riages towards him, whether sins, a little from the world, that our or duties, or the exercises of grace. spirits may be freer for converse -2. We should not content our- | with God.-4. If we find our selves merely with generals; but hearts, after all, very barren, and if we wish to be furnished with hardly know how to frame a praylarger supplies of matter, we muster before God of ourselves, it has descend to particulars in our con- been oftentimes useful to take a fessions, petitions, and thanksgiv- book in our hand, wherein are ings. We should enter into a par-contained some spiritual meditaticular consideration of the attritions in a petitionary form, some butes, the glories, the graces, and devout reflections, or excellent the relations of God. We should patterns of prayer; and, above express our sins, our wants, and all, the Psalms of David, some our sorrows, with a particular sense of the prophecies of Isaiah, some of the mournful circumstances that chapters in the Gospels, or any of attend them: it will enlarge our the Epistles. Thus we may


up hearts with prayer and humilia- our hearts to God in secret, action, if we confess the aggravation cording as the verscs or paragraphs that increase the guilt of our sins, we read are suited to the case of viz. whether they have been com our own souls. This many Chrismitted against knowledge, against tians have experienced as a very the warnings of conscience, &c. It agreeable help, and of great ad

those parts

vantage in their secret retirement. || thoughts, to regulate our expres. -5. We must not think it abso-sions, and dispose of the several lutely necessary to insist upon all parts of prayer in such an order as the parts of prayer in every ad- is most easy to be understood by dress to God; though in our stated those that join with us, and most and solemn prayers there are but proper to excite and maintain our few of them that can be well left own devotion and theirs. This out. What we omit at one time, will be of use to secure us from we may, perhaps, pursue at ano- confusion, prevent repetitions, and ther with more lively affection. guard us against roving digresBut let us be sure to insist most sions. The general rulesof method upon those things which are warm- | in prayer are these three: 1. Let est in our hearts, especially in se- the general and the particular cret. We should le

heads in prayer be well distinof prayer have the largest share inguished, and usually let generals the performance for which our be mentioned first, and particulars spirit is best prepared, whether it follow.-2. Let things of the same be adoration, petition, confession, kind, for the most part, be put or thanksgiving.–6. We should together in prayer. We should suit the matter of our prayers to

not run from one part to anothe special occasion of each par- | ther by starts, and sudden wild ticular duty, to the circumstances thoughts, and then return often of the time, place, and persons to

the same part again, going with and for whom we pray. This backward and forward in confuwill direct us to the choice of pro- sion: this bewilders the mind of per thoughts and language for him that prays, disgusts our felevery part of prayer.-7. We low worshippers, and injures their should not affect to pray long for devotion.---3. Let those things, in the sake of length, or to stretch every part of prayer, which are out our matter by labour and toil the proper objects of our judg. of thought beyond the furniture ment, be first mentioned, and of our own spirit. Sometimes a then those that influence and move person is betrayed by an affecta- our affections; not that we should tion of long prayers into crude, follow such a manner of prayer as rash, and unseemly expressions: is more like preaching, as some we are tempted hereby to tauto-imprudently have done, speaking logies, to say the same thing over many divine truths without the and over again. We are in danger form or air of prayer. Yet it of tiring those that join with us. must be granted that there is no We exceed the season that is al- necessity of always confining our lotted for us in prayer, especially selves to this, or to any other set when others are to succeed in the method, no more than there is of same work.”

confining ourselves to a form in V. Of the method of prayer. I prayer. Sometimes the mind is so “Method,” continues Dr. Watts, divinely full of one particular part "is necessary to guide

guide our of prayer, that high expressions of

gratitude, and of devoting our constrain the dumb to speak. selves to God, break out first. I There is a remarkable instance of am persuaded, however, that if this in ancient history. When Atys, young Christians did not give the son of Cresus the king, who themselves up to a loose and was dumb from his childhood, saw negligent habit of speaking every his father ready to be slain, the thing that comes uppermost, but violence of his passion broke the attempted to learn this holy skill bonds wherewith his tongue was by a recollection of the several tied, and he cried out to save parts of prayer, and properly dis-him. Let our spiritual senses be posing their thoughts, there would always awake and lively, then be great numbers in our churches words will follow in a greater or that would arrive at a good de- || less degree.-2. We should treagree of the gift of prayer, and that sure up such expressions, especialto the great edification of our | ly, as we read in scripture, and churches, as well as of their own such as we have found in other families.

books of devotion, or such as we As to expression in prayer, it have heard fellow Christians make may be observed, that though use of, whereby our own hearts prayer be the proper work of the have been sensibly moved and heart, yet in this present state, in warmed.-3. We should be alsecret as well as in social prayer, ways ready to engage in holy the language of the lips is an ex- conference and divine discourse. cellent aid in this part of worship. This will teach us to speak of the Expressions are useful not only to things of God. It should be our dress our thoughts, but sometimes practice to recollect and talk over to form, and shape, and perfect the with one another the sermons we ideas and affections of our minds. have heard, the books of divinity They serve to awaken the holy we have been conversant with, passions of the soul, as well as to those parts of the word of God we express them. They fix and en-have lately read, and especially gage all our powers in religion and our own experiences of divine worship; and they serve to regu- things. Hereby we shall gain a late as well as to increase our large ireasure of language to clothe devotion. The directions to at- our thoughts and affections.-4. tain a treasure of expressions are We should pray for the gift of utthese : 1. We should labour after | terance, and seek the blessing of a fresh, particular, and lively the Spirit of God upon the use of - sense of the greatness and grace proper means to obtain a treasure of God, and of our own wants, of expressions for prayer; for the and sins, and mercies. The

wise man tells us,

is That the presions of the mind, when they are paration of the heart in man, and moved, do mightily help the the answer of the tongue, is from tongue; they give a natural elo- | the Lord,” Prov. xvi, 1. The quence to those who know not rules about the choice and use of any rules of art, and they almost proper expressions are these: 1. We

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