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acts? Who can shew forth all thy praise? Thou, O Lord, hast led me, and kept me amidst snares and dangers; thou hast daily loaded me with benefits. I would abundantly atter the memory of thy great goodness, and sing of thy righteousness. Thanks be to thee for thy unspeakable gift; for the Sun of Righteousness, which thou hast made to rise upon a dark world, with healing under his wings; for the sure mercies of David, in thy holy and everlasting covenant; for the glad tidings of salvation; for the great and precious promises, which are able to make me a partaker of the Divine nature; for the grace of the Holy Spirit, and a lively hope of the inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away, reserved in heaven. O God, guide me by thy counsel, and strengthen me with all might, by thy Spirit, in the inward man;sanctify me through thy truth, and fill me with joy and peace in believing ;-be my helper and refuge in trouble, my trust and stay in the valley of the shadow of death, and my portion for ever.
ON THE DUTY OF PRAYER.
In the weighty concerns of religion, it is of great importance to examine not only what we do, but also why we do it. There is an immense distance between the high ground of conscience, and the low ground of worldly convenience. There is a striking difference in the same actions, considered with reference to their motives; and it is wrong to confound such as rise from the steady dictates of sound principle with such as flow from the variable impulse of feeling or fancy. Is it not a very great honour, put upon frail sinful creatures, to have the liberty of access to the divine Mercy-seat?an unspeakable privilege for degenerate mortals to hold communion with the first, the greatest, the best of Beings? But prayer, though considered apart from the honour and favour inseparably connected with it, must be enforced as a point of duty. It is not one of the things which may be done, or left undone, according to circumstances; it is not to be numbered
among those dubious matters, upon which the mind can with safety remain undecided. Nor is it to be viewed as a thing of secondary or inferior moment. “ Prayer," says Nicole, a pious foreign writer, ought to be esteemed the chief and most important part of our duty. Of a Christian prince, it ought to be said, that he is a man who prays, and governs a kingdom; that a general prays, and conducts an army; of a magistrate, that he is a man who prays, and administers justice; that a Christian tradesman is a man who prays, and labours in his business; that a farmer is a man who prays, and cultivates the earth; and that the mother of a Christian family is a woman who prays, and superintends her domestic concerns. Prayer enters into every vocation and condition, and sanctifies them all."
Our Lord expressly declares, that men ought always to pray. Whatever we ought to do cannot be neglected without committing sin, and incurring danger. Unless, therefore, we will oppose, or supersede, the authority of Christ, we must own the solemn obligation under which we are laid-to be found in the ' exercise of prayer. When the path of duty is once made plain, it must be pursued, though it should not be always pleasant; but to turn from it when our own interest and the will of God are combined, and both point the same
way, is to add folly to disobedience. Considering then prayer as a duty, I shall,
I. State the grounds of this duty, and shew that it is universally obligatory.
1. One of the reasons which prove prayer to be our duty, is taken from the relations in which men stand to God. Is he not our Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor? Are we not fearfully and wonderfully made-graciously and incessantly upheld by him? The frame and members of the body, the nature and faculties of the soul, the intimate union and mutual influence of matter and spirit in the same person, evince the infinite wisdom and power of God. The connexion of visible effects with their causes in the world, conducts the thinking mind, step by step, to the invisible hand, which first formed and still supports all things. He who rules in heaven and in earth, “ hath not left himself without witness; seeing he sendeth fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” It is therefore impossible not to admire the just sentiment which breathes and burns in the exclamation of the Psalmist : “ O come, let us worship, and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” When
it is once granted, that man is a creature perpetually dependent upon God, and that a lively sense of this dependence ought to be always maintained, it cannot be denied that prayer is an important and indispensable duty.
Of all the relations in which God stands to us, there is none so familiar and endearing, none so early and so easily understood, none so deeply felt, and so warmly cherished, as that of a Father. The great Teacher, who well knew what was in man, did not lose sight of this relation, but brought it into full view, and set it in a clear and strong light. In that fine model, and comprehensive summary of prayer, which he gave his disciples, he has taught us to begin with saying, “ Our Father, who art in heaven." Is it needful, by argument, to prove that a child ought to honour a wise and tender parent, in every way which can possibly be expressive of submission, deference, and affection? Does not duty, in this case, rise so naturally out of the relation itself, as to be at once obvious to all? And should a son become ungrateful and rebellious, indulging vicious passions, and contracting evil habits, though he may break through a thousand restraints, he cannot possibly be released from the obligations of filial obedience. He still owes what he basely refuses to pay. We need only trace up and follow out this idea to attain