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hould always be remembered, that it is a Throne of Grace, because the Seat of Judgment, not any of us is able to stand before; that Mercy is the only Thing we can pretend to, and that even this is, in no Degree, due to us for our own Sakes, but purely upon the Account of another, who pur-. chased it for us at the Price of his own Blood; that therefore, if we obtain our Petitions, this is an Excess of Bounty ; but if we wait long, or be denied, God is Master of his Favours, and may do what he will with bis own. So that every Thing that may conduce to the laying us low in our Thoughts, every Thing that may help to speak our Modesty, and Reverence, and Submission, is all little enough for Creatures fo despicable by Nature, and by Sin so deteftable as we, suing for Blessings, that they deserve not, and for Mercies, that they have no Right to.

5. One Condition more of the final Success and Validity of our Prayers is. Patience and Perseverance : For though God, for the Trial of our Faith, and the Improvement of our Humility ; for the Manifeftarion of our Trust in him, and Submission to his Will; for the Increase of the Value of his Blessings, and the clearer Demonstration of our intire Dependence on his Goodness and Bounty; may think it proper sometimes to delay the Answer to our Prayers ; yet muft we not, upon that Account, despair of the Acceptance of our renewed Addresses. The Relenting of the unjust Judge stands upon Record in Scripture, as a plain Initance of the irresistible Force of Perseverance in Prayer. He neither feared God, nor regarded Man ; and yet, because this Widow troubleth me, faith he, I will avenge her, left, by her continual Coming, she weary me. Now, though it were think that God acts upon the same Motives with this unjust Judge ; yet this we may learn from the,


Nacure of the Parable, that if a Man, who neither fears God, nor regards Men, who hath neither any Sense of Religion or Humanity, may be supposed to be so far prevailed uponi, by the earnest Prayer of a miserable necessitous Person, as to grant the Request made to him, and to adminifter Relief to the Supplicant, merely upon the Account of the Continuance and Importunity of the Peti. tions that are put up : How much more ought we to think, that God, who is infinite Goodness itself; who is always kind and bountiful to his Creatures ; who delights to do them good, even without their desiring it; and who is able to do them good with much less Pains, than they request it : How much more ought we to think, I say, that this God, upon our earnest and hearty Prayer to him, for any Thing we stand in Need of, will return us a kind Answer, and grant us such Supplies as are proper

for us ? But then we are to remember, that we pray always, and faint not ; that we be diligent, importunate, and persevering in our Devotions; otherwise, we are not to expect any more favourable Return of them, than the Judge, in the Parable, made to the Widow, upon her first or second Application to him.

These are some of the chief Qualifications that give Wings to our Prayers, and Strength to our Addresses : And, that they may never fail of a kind Acceptance, we must be mindful at all Times to offer them up in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Having therefore not only a gracious God, who beareth Prayers, when offered up in a due and regular Manner, but a merciful Redeemer likewise, through whom we have Access to the Father ; let us draw near with a true Heart, in full Asurance of Faith, having our Hearts Sprinkled from an evil Conscience : And praying always with all Prayer and Sup



plication in the Spirit, let us watch thereunto with all Perseverance.

2. Of publick and private Prayer.

F we consider the Matter of Prayer, we may


er for temporal good Things ; or into Prayer for ourselves, and Interceffion for others : If we confider the Manner of Prayer, we may distinguish it into mental, which is, when we pray only with our Hearts, without uttering or expressing any Words ; and vocal, which is, when we express in Words, and utter with our Mouths the Defires of our Hearts : But the only Distinction that we shall at present insist on, is that of publick Prayer, which is, when we join with others in putting up our common Petitions ; and secret Prayer, when, retired from all Company, we put up our private Petitions to God; and these, though for Matter and Substance the same, are yet two diftin&t Duties, and both necessary to be performed, as Occasion calls for them.

The Church is God's House, the Place on Earth of his immediate Residence, and he hath promised, that, when two or three are met together in his Name, be bimself will be in the Midst of them: In the Clofet however we do not shut ourselves up from his all-feeing Eye ; fince our Saviour hath assured us, that, if we pray in secret, our Father, which feeth in secret, shall reward us openly. The fittest Place to acknowledge publick Mercies, and implore the common Blessings of Life, is in publick, where the united Prayers of a Congregation are supposed to be more prevalent with Heaven, than single Petitions : But there are some Favours we want, which it does not become us there to alk; fome Wounds to be healed, which are not to be exposed to pub

lick View ; common Decency instructs us to reserve these for our private Hours : Nor can we ever properly descend into ourselves, to know the true State of our Souls, but when we commune with our Hearts in our Chamber, and are still. In the Church, general Mercies are implored, and general Blessings acknowledged ; but then there is no confefsing

our Guilt in all its Circumstances, or affecting our Souls there with that holy Grief, which can only work a thorough Repentance : Whereas, in the Closet, we are at Liberty to indulge ourselves in all the Expreffions of Sorrow ; and the pious Soul may let itself loose to all the Fervour of Devotion, which, at the Altar, is so far from being praife-worthy, that it is highly blameable and indecent: For every Thing that is fingular in publick, every Thing that draws the Eyes and Obfervation of others upon us, favours of Hypocrify and Oftentation, and is forbidden by our Saviour's Command of not performing any Duty, that we may be feen of Men. But when we are under the Inspection of no Eye, but that of God, who spies out all our Ways, and understands our Thoughts, long before they are formed, the more fervent our Devotions are, the more acceptable they are to him, because there can be no Reason to suspect the Sincerity of them : For we can never entertain such unworthy Notions of God, as to imagine, that we can, by any Artifice, deceive him, and make him believe that we honour him with our Lips, when we know ourselves, that our Hearts are far from him. So that, though by a false Zeal, and pretended Sanctity in publick, we may prevail upon others to have a better Opinion of us, than we really deserve ; yet there is no Fear but that we shall act sincerely, when we address ourselves in private to God; and then our Zeal cannot be too high, nor our Devotions top much inflamed, so long as they proceed from Sin

cerity, cerity, and are equally tempered with Fervour and Humility.

There is this farther Advantage of Retirement, that it is of singular Use to fix our Attention, which, by the Variety of the Objects we meet with in publick, is often broke and divided ; and that we are less subject to spiritual Languors, when we are at Liberty to make Use of our own Thoughts and Expressions, to leave off when our Attention flags, and return to it again, at a more favourable Opportunity : But then we want in the Closet that aweful Reverence, that Solemnity of Devotion, with which the Church inspires us. Tbere the Beauty of Holiness appears in its brightest Lustre, charms the Eyes, and inflames the Hearts of all Beholders. For what a decent, what an agreeable, what a ravishing Sight is a well-ordered Congregation, offering up their Prayers, with one Confent, and with one Voice, to their great Creator ; laying aside all Distinctions of rich and poor, mean and noble, and resolving all their Differences into a pious Emulation of excelling each other in the Love of God, and Zeal for his Service ? Certainly, if we could form to ourselves any faint Image or Representation of Heaven here on Earth, we must draw the Model of it, though in an infinite lower Degree, from the Uniformity and Order, the Reverence and Devotion of religious Allemblies; which, besides their Resemblance, have so necessary a Dependence on the other, that, to frequent the Service of the Sanętuary, to join in the religious Exercises of the Church militant on Earth, is the best Means to fit and prepare us to be worthy Members of the Church triumphant in Heaven.

But here a Question may arise, “ In what Man4

ner it is most expedient for us to make our Ad“ dresses to God in the publick Congregation ; " whether in set Forms, or extemporary Inventions ;

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