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God, and nothing short of this, qualifies the heart for the service of God.
Again; The duty of submission to God, is one of the clearest dictates of reason, and the light of nature. It receives the approbation of every enlightned conscience. And a hearty compliance with this duty, produces the greatest peace and tranquillity of soul. It is a balm to the afflicted and desponding christian. It gives glory to God, under the sharpest afflictions, and the most bitter reproaches. All are viewed as coming from the hand of an infinitely wise and holy sovereign. All are improved to mend the heart, as well as to glorify God. He who is submissive in heart, relies on the blessed promises of God; and trusts in his faithfulness. He believes, that God will forever glorify his great name, and cause, even the wrath of man to praise him. He believes, that “ all things shall work together for good to them that love God," and are submissive to his holy will. Most gratefully, and joyfully, therefore, does he acknowledge his obligation to submit himself to God. He would not desire to dictate, even the smallest matters, relating to himself. He trusts in the Lord with all his heart, and leans not to his own understanding. “ Blessed is the man that thus trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.”.....AMEN.
Prayer and Praise.
“ Lord, teach us to pray." To this most important request, the Saviour was very attentive ; and the statement which he made, in reply to it, deserves a place at the head of every treatise on the subject of is as follows. «i Luke xi. 1-14. And it came to pass as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one
of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said unto them, when ye pray, say, Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name : Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day, our daily bread. And forgive us our sins ; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation ; but deliver us from evil. 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 n
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. For every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone ? Or if he ask a fish, will be for a fish give bim a serpent ? Or if he ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion ? If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ?"
What an illustrious sketch, or outline of the various topics, belonging to the duty of prayer! The Lord Jesus, fond of giving all needful instruction, on a subject so important, not only taught his disciples the subject matter, but also the inanner and spirit of prayer. He also stated, by a striking similitude, the importance of importunity and perseverance in prayer, and the assurance of a gracious answer: All these things are contained in this noted passage of instruction on the subject of prayer. According to this lesson of instruction in the duty of prayer; we find that it is to be addressed, most respect. fully and devoutly, to our heavenly Father, who is the supreme Lord of the universe; and the great benefactor of the children of men. Prayer itself consists in lifting up our hearts and desires to God, in the name of Jesus Christ; first of all for the displays of his glory; and also for all things desirable in themselves, with a most humble and unreserved submission to his holy will. Accordingly, having devoutly addressed the Father of mercies, the first petition is 6 Hallowed be thy name.”_ Let thy great and holy name be honored and glorified forever. The second petition is, “ Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. In this is contained a devout supplication for the accomplishment of all the gracious promises, respecting the glory and triumph of Christ's kingdom on earth. It is a petition, that the earth may be filled with the knowledge and glory of the Lord; and may, in some good measure, resemble the heavenly state. The third petition is expressive of absolute dependence on God for a supply of our daily wants. “ Give us day by day, our daily bread.” Give us, daily, a competency of the necessaries of this life, and hearts therewith to be content. The fourth petition is for the forgiveness of our sins. « And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.” In this we are taught to exercise a forgiving temper; and we seem not to be allowed to ask God to be merciful, on any other condition than this, that we also be merciful. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any; that your father also in heaven may forgive your trespasses.” To ask forgiveness of God, implies a sense of sin and guilt; and to ask it on such a condition implies great humility of heart ; and in this consists the chief excellency of prayer.
The fifth petition, in this comprehensive prayer is, “ And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” To deprecate temptation, and all natural evils, is as proper, and as important, as to pray for the blessings of nature, or of divine grace. Conscious of the number. less temptations and evils to which we are exposed, and
under which we labour; how important is the privilege of access to God, even to the throne of his
pre: sent our humble plea in the name of Jesus Christ, for all needed succour and deliverance ! * Finally; The example of prayer before us concludes as it begins, with ascriptions of glory to God. “ For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, Amen." This is the general instruction given us by the Saviour, on the great duty of prayer: and the example before us is so comprehensive as to reach, more or less distinctly, every important occasion.
Having considered the nature and spirit of prayer, as they are exhibited by the Saviour, in his example and instruetions to his disciples; we proceed, according to the noted passage quoted as a theme, from the 11th of Luke, to a view of the importance of importunity in prayer. The friend that made application at midnight, for three loaves, was successful, only by his importunity. His importunity was far more availing than his friend ship. Be iinportunate at the throne of grace, day and night, and on all occasions; be instant in prayer; pray without ceasing; pray with all perseverance, abounding therein with thanksgiving; and you shall succeed. Christ, by another parable, urged, in particular, the importance of importunity in prayer. “He spake a parable unto them to
6. this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying " There was in a city a judge, who feared not God, nor 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 afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet, because this woman 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, who cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you, that he will avenge them speedily.” Perpetual application to the Father of mercies, pleading, with submission, for needed blessings, and praying for the prosperity of Zion, must be an acceptable sacrifice to
God. We need not hesitate to pray every day we live, for the same important blessings. How can we too often repeat the Lord's prayer? How can we be too importunate in pleading for the revival of religion, and for the conversion of Jews and gentiles ? Importunity is the life and beauty of prayer.
We come now to the concluding part of the noted instructions of the Saviour, on the duty of prayer. These instructions conclude with strong assurances of being heard ; and of being accepted and answered. “ And I
66 say unto you, Ask and it shall be given you, seek, and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 66 For every one that asketh receiveth." There is no exception in this case. Not a faithful prayer was ever left unanswered. A special characteristic of Jehovah is, that He heareth prayer.
66 0 thou that hearest prayer! unto thee should all flesh come.” To hear, in the emphatical sense, is to answer and do accordingly. When the Saviour said to the Father, “ I know that thou hearest me always ;" the meaning was, that his prayers were answered. That all faithful prayers are abundantly answered, is evident from scripture promises, declarations and facts. 66 Ask and ye shall receive,” is a repeated promise. “ Ask and receive, that your joy may be full.” “Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, I will do it.” God promises to give the Holy Spirit, that most gracious gift, the unspeakable gift, to them that ask him. The promises are particular, with respect to social prayer. “ If two of you shall agree on earth, as touching any thing that they shall ask; it shall be done for them, of my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
From this we may conclude, that associations for special prayer, particularly for the revival of religion, and for the increase and enlargement and purity of the church, are pleasing to God, and are often found to be presages of a work of divine grace.
A very great part of the importunate prayer of Christians has respect to the divine promises; and in praying