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in using this Form of Words, but also renounce all Hopes or Claim of Pardon from God, if what we then profess, we do not indecd intend.
All the Benefits of God which we implore by Prayer, proceed from his own Beneficence, and are undeserved by Men. If he vouchsafes to grant them, he may well be allowed to affix what Conditions himself pleaseth to them. He might have commanded some very difficult Preparation, some extraordinary return of Thanks; but when he hath resolved all into a Condition so easy, so agreeable to our Nature, so much conducing to the Happiness of Mankind, as the mutual Remission of Injuries; he hath left Men without Excuse, and manifested that all the Duties exacted by him are designed rather for their Benefit, than the increase of his own Glory.
If it seems a hard Condition to forgive those many Provocations and Injuries, which one Man may receive from another, without
any Compensation or Satisfaction; we ought to consider, how much greater Provocations, and more numerous Injuries the best of Men have offered to God, and how much more they stand in need of his Pardon. We are injured by others, who are our Equals, who possibly have no Dependance on us, have received no Obligations from us, and may have been provoked by us; but we by our Sins offer Violence to
our Creator, by whom we subsist, on whom we depend, who hath conferred on us already eminent Benefits, and intends yet greater. We may have been injured once or twice ; but whocver calls to mind the wandring Thoughts, the impure Defires, the vain Imaginations, and perhaps the more flagrant Sins of any one Day, will find, that he hath more grievously offended God in that little time, than by all the Injuries of other Men he can have been provoked in his whole Life. If then it be necessary to deprecate the Anger of God for the Sins of any one Day, and much more for the Sins of a whole Life; and Pardon be of. fered by God upon no other Condition than Freedom from Wrath and Hatred. it will be no less our Interest than our Duty, to lift up holy hands in Prayer, without wrath.
III. To this Condition the Apostle adds in the last place, that Prayer ought to be offered wiihout doubting. The Word in the Original significth a Disputation and Reasoning in the Mind concerning an Opinion, and in this Place concerning that Opinion, which all true Believers ought to entertain of the Efficacy of Prayer. This Doubting may relate either to the whole System of Religion, or to the peculiar Promises concerning Prayer, or
to the particular Worthiness of the Supplicant.
In the first Case it is evident, That doubt. ing overthrows the Success of Prayer. He that cometh to God, must first believe that God is, and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him: That is, he must be fully persuaded of it. If he doubts, he difhonoureth God, and cannot perform the Ef. sential parts of Prayer. For shall he be faid to commit himself entirely to God, who questions his Existence? Or can he rely upon God, who is not satisfied that he is Infi. nite or Almighty? The least mixture of Doubt herein taketh off so much from that Submission, Reliance, Subjection, and Deyotion, which ought to intervene in every Ad of Worship, and more particularly in Prayer ; which thereby ceaseth to be perfect and sincere.
So also in the Articles' of Christian Re. ligion, upon which the Efficacy of Chriftian Prayers are chiefly placed ; in vain doth he plead in the Name of Christ, who is not well assured of the Dignity and the Merits of Christ. Audience of Prayer is promised as a Reward of Faith, which cannot consist with doubting It is the Confidence and Assurance which we have in God and Christ, which procureth Acceptance to our Prayers; if we firmly believe it, because he hath faid it, if for the sake of his Authority we esteem things future as present to us, which is the Condition laid down by our Lord, Mark xi. 24. What foever things ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. This made the Prayers of the ancient Saints and Patriarchs so successful, as is at large described, Hebr. xi. That having seen the Promises afar off, they were persuaded of them, and embraced them; and, as a sure Testimony of their Persuasion, quitted their present Pleasures and Possessions in exchange for future Rewards.
It is said of our Lord while conversant on Earth, that he could not do many mighty works among the Galileans, because of their unbelief: and himself required it as the
previous Condition of his miraculous Cures; believe, and thou shalt be made whole. Not that it was impossible to his Almighty Power to have wrought Miracles without the concurrent Belief of Men; but that he wrought not upon them, as them, as upon
many Machines, but dealt with them as with rational Beings, and therefore distributed his Favours in
pro: portion to their Faith. And herein an imperfect Faith, or a cold Persuasion, will not luffice, St. Peter demonstrated much more, when he adventured himself upon the Water at the Command of Christ; yet because he still retained fome Doubt and Fear, our Lord permitted him to sink, that so he might reprove the Imperfection of his Faith: a
thou of little Faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
A second sort of Doubting, is a Diffidence concerning the peculiar Promises of Success and Advantage consequent to Prayer; when the Existence or the Power of God is not called in question, but his Will disputed; and it seems incredible that such an Almighty and most perfect Being, having no need, and receiving no Benefit from the Service or Prayers of Men, should condescend so far as to beftow such eminent Favours, and so readily, at the Petition of mean and unworthy Creatures.
To overcome this Doubt, it is sufficient to manifest, that God hath indeed promised such favourable Audience to the Prayers of Men; and for the Truth of this, (because I speak to those convinced of the Authority of Scripture) to remit
Promiles contained in the Gospel. The Places are numerous and evident. I will now insist but on one of them, namely, the Parable of the unjust Judge, Luke xviii. delivered as the Evangelist faith for this end, that Men ought always to pray, and not to faint, not to doubt of Success. There the unjust Judge is represented as granting that to the Importunity of a poor Widow, which neither the Justice of her Cause, nor the Fear of God, nor the Regard of
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