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I have not Time to infift upon this Matter.

Having thus confidered Prayer as a Duty, or an Act of Religion refpecting GOD, I now come to confider it as an Inftrument, or a Means that GOD hath appointed for the obtaining Benefits to ourselves; which is the Second Point I am to speak to.

Here then my Bufinefs is to treat of the Efficacy of Prayer, to fhew that it is not any vain unprofitable Advice that the Apostle here gives us, by Prayer and Supplication to make our Requests known unto God in every thing that we need; but that Prayer, whenever it is put up as it ought to be, will be really effectual for the obtaining what we want; that it will be a Means to fupply us with the good Things we defire, or to prevent the evil Things we fear, when all our other Cares and Endeavours will not. For Prayer is not Breath spent in vain, fuch as when it is out of our Mouths mingles for ever with the common Air, but it pierceth the Clouds, and reacheth the Ears of the King of the World, and opens his Hand to difpenfe his Bleffings upon thofe his Servants that fent it.

This is a Point that all of us ought to fix deeply in our Hearts, and as firmly to believe it as we believe any thing that fo in all Conditions, and upon all Occafions, we may be encouraged to have recourfe to this Expedient of Prayer, and


may put up our Prayers likewise with the greater Faith, and Hope, and Conftancy. I fhall therefore, at this time, offer fomething for the Confirmation of your Faith in this Matter.

I meddle not here with the atheistical Crew: A Set of Men, in this profane Age, that endeavours to jeer all Devotion out of the World, making the whole Business of the Returns and Anfwer of Prayer, which pious Men fo much talk of, a mere Piece of Fancy, the Effect of an over-heated Brain, attributing all the Events that come either upon the Good or upon the Bad, either to Chance or Neceffity, or mechanical Powers, as blind as that; and faying in the Language of those learned Perfons which Job mentions, Chap. xxi. 15. What is the Almighty that we should ferve him, and what Profit fhould we have if we should pray unto bim? With thefe, I fay, I here meddle not, both because I hope there are no fuch Perfons here present, and because it is not now my Work to enter upon a Point of the first Principles of natural and revealed Religion; as for Inftance, the Being of a God, his Providence over the World, his difpenfing Rewards or Punishments to Men according to their good or evil Actions, and the Truth of the Holy Scriptures, which are the Grounds upon which our Belief of the Efficacy of Prayer is founded.


Those that I now apply myself to are fuch as own both natural Religion and Christianity, as I hope all of you here do. And my Defign is to endeavour to poffefs you with as lively a Senfe, as is poffible, of GOD's Readinefs to hear all your Prayers, and to grant all the Requests you put up to him, if you go to work heartily and feriously, and with the Obfervation of all thofe Conditions and Requifites the Holy Scripture hath prefcribed to you in this Matter. I might here largely infift on the general Belief and Practice of all Mankind, in all Ages, for the proving the Point we are now upon. No fort of Men that ever owned God, or profeffed any Religion, but they conftantly thought that they received Benefit by the Sacrifices and Prayers they put up to GOD; and accordingly the main of their Religion was always made up of thofe Exercises.


I might likewife largely infift on the many illuftrious Inftances and Experiences that good Men in all Ages have had, and still daily have, of the Efficacy of their Prayers, teftified in fuch Mercies and Deliverances, and they fo circumftantiated, that there is no Room for any Doubt that they were owing purely to the Goodnefs of God, that heareth the Supplications of his People.

I fay, thefe Things might very well be infifted on in this Argument; but I rather chufe

chufe to confine myfelf to the Holy Scriptures, as affording Matter the moft effectual, both for our Conviction and Encouragement.

And Four Things we may there take notice of, very pertinent to our Purpose.

Firft, That God hath in the Scriptures made the most exprefs Promises, that he will hear his People when they pray unto him.

Secondly, He hath, in all Times, most remarkably made good thefe Promises, as appears by many Instances and Examples.

Thirdly, He hath given other Testimonies what mighty Force and Power the Prayers of his Servants have with him.

And Fourthly, Left we fhould think it was all one whether we prayed or no, he hath declared that our Prayer is fo neceffary in order to the obtaining the good Things we ftand in need of, that without it we shall not have them.

Of these Four Things very briefly.

First of all, GOD hath in Scripture given fuch express Declarations of his Willingness and Readiness to hear and answer the Prayers that are put up unto him, nay, hath tied up himself by the most folemn Promises fo to do. The Lord (faith the Pfalmift) is nigh unto all them that call upon him in Truth; he will fulfil the Defires of thofe that fear him, he also will hear their Prayer, and

will fave them, Pfal. cxlv. 18. The Eyes of the Lord are over the Righteous, and his Ears are open to their Prayers, Pfalm xxxiv. 15. And accordingly one of the Attributes that is given to God in Scripture is, That he is a God that heareth Prayers, and therefore to bim fhall all Flesh come, Pfal. lxv. 2. And accordingly he himself invites every Creature fo to do, promifing Deliverance upon their Application to him: Call upon me, (faith he in the Fiftieth Pfalm quoted before, call upon me) in the Day of Trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shall glorify


Thus much for the Old Teftament: And then for the New, hear what our Saviour faith to his Apostles, John xiv. 13. Whatfoever ye shall afk in my Name, that will I do; and again he repeats it, If ye shall ask any thing in my Name, I will do it. But if it fhould be thought that this Promise was made to the Apostles only, and doth not concern us, let us hear what St. John writes to all Chriftians, John iii. 21, 22. Brethren, If our Hearts condemn us not, then we have Confidence towards GOD; and what foever we ask we receive of him. And again, our bleffed Saviour in those Words of his in the famous Sermon upon the Mount, which concerns all Chriftians to the End of the World; Afk, faith he, and it fhall be given you, feek and ye fhall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you; for every one that afketh receiveth,


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