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can view the throne of grace thus encircled with mercy, and can find his heart properly affected under all these impressions, and yet be at a loss for a suitable manner of making his requests known unto God? Oh! how much we degrade God while we think to honour him! and how grossly do we injure our own souls, and deprive them of their chief pleasure, when we damp the ardour of devotion by such needless and unbecoming apprehensions! Go, my brother, go into thy closet; recollect "who hath made man's mouth, or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind!" Apply the same promise to thyself which the man of God received, to give him confidence in the execution of his commission :-" I will be with thy mouth (said God) and teach thee what thou shalt say." And if you can but feel a real sense of your wants, though the lips be unable to express what the heart sustains, and, like Hezekiah, can only mourn in broken sentences before God; nay, if even the spirit can but bow down in humble silence before Him, the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners must come up with prevailing energy, we are assured, through that channel of acceptance in the great Redeemer's intercession, which never fails. And who knows but, perhaps, at length, like David in a similar situation, "while the heart is musing, the sacred fire may kindle, and at the last you may speak with your tongue."
I hope no one, either designedly or inadvertently, will misconstrue what I say, as if from hence I meant to discountenance books of devotion in public, or social worship.-Such intentions are foreign to my thoughts. I have ever considered, indeed, that the general wants of a congregation assembled for the purpose of divine worship, are best expressed by a form of devotion which may comprehend most advantageously their general necessities and desires; and in a former publication (Misericordia) I have ex
pressed my sentiments more fully upon the subject. But I am here speaking of the private personal devotion of the closet, which I cannot but think, in all cases, and without exception, requires no such aids; but their use tends rather to cramp the spirit of piety and tempt the mind to lean on the form, while forgetting the power of godliness. And the more I consider the subject, the more I am convinced of the propriety of the observation; and I am only astonished that the very obvious reasons on which it is founded do not carry with them the same conviction to every mind. Every possible apprehension arising from a just sense of the infinite perfections of God and the unworthiness of man, and the fear which keeps back the soul in her devout aspirations, are all removed into the consideration of those gracious and encouraging helps which are held forth, inviting us to draw nigh. Since "God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts," we are now enabled to cry "Abba, Father!" Since "we have such an High Priest over the house of God, who is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God," we ought to "draw near, in full assurance of faith." And since " we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus," shall we not, as the apostle recommends, "come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need?" Methinks, the "spirit of bondage again to fear" ought now to give way to the spirit of adoption: and, while that animating voice is heard from the sanctuary (or, which is just the same thing, the call of God in his word) "Seek ye my face," the heart may intuitively reply, "Thy face, Lord, will I seek." And if in this manner you seek the Lord, the promise is absolute, "Thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thine heart and with all thy soul;" "for the Lord is nigh unto them that call upon him; yea, all such
as call upon him faithfully. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him; he also will hear their cry, and will save them." ·
And now, what shall I say more, either in recommendation of the principle of private prayer itself, or of the best method of performing it? I am come, indeed to the last page in my book; and had I any better argument to offer, (which I confess, indeed, I have not) there would be no more room to write it. The thought of this, however, awakens a serious reflection (which in conclusion, I shall beg to leave on the mind of my reader) of the necessity of filling up the pages of the Book of the present Life with every possible improvement, before we come to the end of it, when nothing more can be added. And as you, my indulgent friend (who have been kind enough to accompany me thus far) will shortly enter also upon the last leaf of your own history, as you are now finishing the last leaf of this humble work; suffer me to write the final lines of this little Fragment, and to serve the whole up before you on the knee of prayer: That God in mercy may sanctify it to the improvement of both writer and reader! that it may make us "wise unto salvation, through the faith which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!"