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A. With such Lowliness of Mind, such reverent and serious Deportment, as may plainly testify the Respect and Veneration we have for God's infinite Majesty. With that Intenseness and Application of Tbought, as to engage our Hearts as well as our Lips in his Service. With such Fervency of Affection, and such a Mealure of Importunity, as may shew how desirous we are of the Mercy we request, and how highly we value, and esteem what we ask for. With such a Faith as consists in firmly believing we shall receive the good Things we desire, when we have performed those Conditions upon which God hath promised to beltow them. To all which we must add Constancy and Perseverance ; taking all Opportunities for it, and spending much Time in this Duty, than which none of all the Duties enjoined by the Christian Religion will turn to a better and more comfortable ACcount, if our Hearts and Lives be but answerable to our Prayers.
Q. Is it possible to avoid all wandering Thoughts in Praver?
A. Confidering the Frame and Constitution of our Natures, and the clote Connexion there is between the Body and Soul, it is impoffible but that when we are at our Prayers our Thoughts may be diverted, and our Intentions interrupted by the former Impressions of Study or Business. All we can do is to strive ag inst these DistraEtions, to rewail this Weakness, and co compose cur Thoughts to ail thac Seriousness our Temper and Circumstances will permit; to recall our Minds as soon as we perceive they run out upon other Objects, and immediately to throw away all such Thoughts as are foreign
to our present Employment. What makes these Distractions criminal, is when we willingly entertain them, and indulge ourselves in thinking upon other Objects without Restraint; when we keep our unreasonable Pallions under no Government, and when we take no Care to compose ourselves to a serious Temper, by considering in whose awful Presence we appear.
Q. What Prayers are most acceptable to God, and most necessary for us?
A. Those that are offered in public Affemblies, which have these Advantages above private Devotions, that God is molt honoured and glorified by such Addresses, and a Sense of his Majeity is maintained in the World, somewhat suitable to his most excellent Greatness and Goodness, when by outward Signs and Tokens we publish and declare the inward Regard and Efteem we have for his divine Perfections: We do hereby declare ourselves Members of the Body of Christ, which is his Church, which we cannot be to any Purpose, without having Fellowlhip with God and one another in all Duties, of which Prayer and Praise are the chief. To such Allemblies our Saviour promises his special Presence, and hath appointed a particular Order of Men to offer up our Prayers in such Places. We may expect greater Success when our Petitions are made with the joint and unanimous Consent of our Fellow Christians, and when our Devotions receive Warmth and Heat from their exemplary Zeal. Which Considerations should make all good Christians frequently attend the publick Worship
Q. Is this Obligation Siefficiently discharged by going to Church on Sundays and Holy-Days
A. It is to be wished, that all Christians were constant in attending the publick Worship on Sundays and Holy Days, because it is likely it would dispose them to repeat such Exercises of Devotion with greater Fervency. But considering that among the Jews there was a Morning and Evening Sacrifice daily offered to God at the Temple; and that the Precepts of the Gof
pel oblige us to pray always, and to pray withLuke 21.
out ceasing, and that the ancient Prophets expreff36. i Thel.5.
declare that there should be as frequent Devo17. tion in the Days of Christ, as there had been in Flal. 72. former Times; that Prayer shall be made unto 15.
bim continually, and daily fall he be praised: Considering these Things, I say, as Prayer, the Chriftian Sacrifice, should be offered Morning and Evening in publick Assemblies; so they that have such Opportunities, and are not lawfully hindered, should endeavour so to regulate their Time, as to be able constantly to attend such a great Advantage to the Christian Life. And as those who have Leisure cannot better employ it, so they must have but little Concern for the Honour and Glory of God, who neglect such Opportunities of declaring and publishing his Praise.
Q. Is Family Prayer à Duty incumbent upon him who is the Master of it?
A. A Master of a Family being answerable to God for the Welfare of those Souls that are under his Care, I cannot well understand how a Sense of Religion can be maintained in such a Family, without the Exercise of daily Devotion in it, as such a Society. This is the best Method to confirm and establish his Children and Servants in the Practice of their Christian Obligations, and an admirable Means to draw down
John6.11. Acts 27.
the Blessings of God, when in a Body they daily acknowledge his divine Perfections, and supplicate his Favour for the Mercies they stand in need of. Nor may this Devotion be neglected at our Meals, for we ought to beg the Blessing of God upon those good Creatures provided for our Use, since it is by the Word of God and Prayer. Tim. 4 that they are sanctified to us.
The Principles 5. of Natural Religion teach us thankfully to acknowledge the Benefits we receive ; and this particular Instance of it hath sufficient Ground from the Example of Christ and his holy Apo- Mat. 14. stles, all the Evangelists declaring that our Sa-19. viour blessed and gave Thanks before Meat; the Mark 6. same St. Luke relates of St. Paul; and even St. 41. Paul himself speaks of it, as the known Practice Luke9.16. of the Church among Christians.
Q. Wherein confifts the Spirit of Prayer, or 35. when may we be said to pray by the Spirit ?
A. When we approach the Majesty of Heaven with all such devout Affections and holy Dispositions of Mind, as are wrought in us by the powerful Affiítance of the blessed Spirit. When we confess our Sins with hearty Sorrow and Shame, and with firm Resolutions of better Obedience. When we beg God's Mercies with a lively Sense of our own Wants, and with an entire Confidence in his infinite Goodness. When we resign our Wills to him, and depend upon the Wisdom of his Providence in all those temporal Blessings and Deliverances we expect from him. When we shew forth his Praile not only with our Lips, but in our Lives, by giving up ourselves to his Service. As for the Inspiration of the Matter, and the Expressions of our Prayer ; that was an extra
ordinary Gift, only temporary, and long since
Q. What are the great Advantages of the fre-
A. The constant Exercise of Prayer is the best Method to get the Mastery of our evil Inclinations, and to overcome our vicious Habits. It preserves a lively Sense of our Duty upon our Minds, and fortifies us against those Temptations that continually assault us.
It raises our Souls above this World, by making spiritual Objects familiar to them; and supports us under the Calamities and Crosses of this Life, by sanctifying such Afictions. It leads us gradually to the Perfection of Christian Piety, and preserves that Union between our Souls and God, in which our spiritual Life consists. Without it we in vain pretend to discharge those Duties that are incumbent upon us as Christians, or to prosper in our Remporal Affairs, which must have God's Blefsing to crown them with Success.
The P R A Y ER S.
Name; I beseech thce mercifully to incline thine our Pray. Ears to me, when I make my Prayers and Sup
plications unto thee ; and grant that I may so