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and adorn, their labours to perform and finish. If an idle man is a blank in the world, an idle Christian is a blot in the church, and a blemish on the Lord's mystical body. When we take into account what is required in our particular calling, as men, and in our general calling, as religious characters, there is surely enough for all to do. No one needs groan under a burden of time, which always becomes intolerably oppressive, when not daily laid out in pursuits and engagements, which have some definite end and use.
Now, prayer facilitates the performance of our active duties, by preparing us for them, and animating us in them.
1. Prayer prepares us for active duties.
Nothing contributes so much to despatch, as beginning at the right end; and hence the current maxim—“ What is well begun, is half done." Every thing we undertake should be deliberately weighed, that we may not waste our time and strength in fruitless labours. And, if counsel ought to precede action, prayer ought to precede and guide counsel. It is neither wise nor safe to act upon any plan, however fair and promising it may seem, which has not been first submitted to the scrutiny of that Being, who seeth the end from the beginning.
Perhaps, you say, we cannot find opportunity for prayer, in some cases, because the least delay might be dangerous, and disappoint our hopes. To this I reply, you will lose no time by a short ejaculation: and if you did, the loss would be more than compensated, by the gain it secures. We are too often like children, reluctant to ask advice of the parent at the right season, and, as an inevitable consequence, fall into danger and perplexity, through our own eagerness and impatience. Wisdom is profitable to direct; and if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally, and it shall be given him. Perhaps, it may be said, in doubtful or difficult undertakings, we ought not indeed to take one step, without suitable precautions, and solemn prayers; but surely they cannot be necessary in smaller matters. Let it however be recollected, that things, · apparently small, are often connected with things of great consequence. A man who rides a few miles, to transact some ordinary business, or to visit a friend, thinks it a small matter; but perhaps the horse falls, and the rider is instantly plunged into eternity. When Absalom asked for the company of his brother Amnon at a feast, it appeared only a small thing to David, and he gave his consent: but how dreadful was the issue of that compliance ! We may therefore safely affirm, that every single thread, which is to be woven into the web of human conduct, is the better for having been first steeped and seasoned in the conse• In all thy ways
crated stream of devotion. acknowledge God, and he shall direct thy paths.”
2. Prayer animates us in our active duties.
The old proverb, “prayer hinders no man's journey,” receives a fine illustration in the story. of Abraham's servant, Gen. xxiv.
When we are engaged in any thing arduous and important, the spirits sometimes sink, and a general languor overspreads the whole man. The precept, “ Be not weary in well doing,” may give an impulse, but prayer is the best restorative. It puts a new edge upon the mind, and recruits the exhausted spirits. Prayer rallies our scattered forces, and brings them to act together. Many a great work, when at a total stand, has been carried on with renewed zeal, through the influence of prayer; and many a noble institution, sunk into decay, and buried in the dust, has been raised again by the power of prayer. In a word, prayer, to use the emphatic language of a late prelate, “ moves that hand which moves the world.” Boerhaave, a celebrated Dutch physician, being asked by a friend how be could go through his multiplied engagements with so much calmness and ease, replied, that an hour in the morning devoted to meditation and prayer, gave him spirit and energy for all the business of the day. Upon this subject we have the experience of Dr. Doddridge, as
follows: “ There must be an enlargement of soul previous to any remarkable success; and great diligence in prayer, and strict watchfulness over my own soul, previous to any great and habitual enlargement; and deep humiliation of soul must precede both. When the ground is thus prepared, great and good fruit may arise from small seeds. I find it never well in family worship, when it is not so in secret; never well -abroad, when it is not so at home. The better I pray, the better I study; and when I I pray and meditate most, I work most.”
3. Prayer sweetens all our enjoyments.
We are not bound to a hard master, for “ the Lord taketh pleasure in the prosperity of his servants.” He has not destined us to vassalage, and given us a keen sense of wants, without discovering any source of supply; but he has called us to freedom, and granted us all things richly to enjoy. “ Under the influence of devotion,” says one, we soon see through the corruption of our hearts, the blindness of our appetites, and the vanity of sublunary things. We enter into the world of spirits, and contract, as it were, a familiarity with our Maker. taste, as it were, the pleasures of the new world before we have left the old, and begin to act like angelic and immaterial beings, before we are yet refined and purified from the dregs of matter."
Prayer heightens the relish of common mercies. A devotional spirit throws a lustre over the beautiful and sublime works of nature, which doubles the delight of the beholder. It is the oil of gladness, which diffuses around a lasting fragrance. It is the precious savour, which seasons and sanctifies our daily food, and ministers to the humblest Christian a continual feast. It is the secret charm, which refines and exalts our domestic comforts, and endears all the tender relations of life. A prayerless person may bave the empty froth of mirth, but never drinks the pure stream of joy.
Again, the exercise of devotion heightens the 'relish of spiritual mercies. How sweet is Christian fellowship where prayer diffuses its enlivening influence! Kindred souls meet, and mingle their sighs and supplications, or tune their voices in a concert of harmony, which gives us a faint image of heaven below. How pleasant to peruse the Sacred Book, when prayer has sharpened the appetite to feed on the wholesome doctrine it contains! How pleasant and profitable to hear the Gospel, when we have risen from our knees in the closet to enter the house of God! “Can there,” says Mr. Hervey, “ be a more sublime pleasure, than to dwell in the contemplation of the beauties of the eternal mind, the amiable Author of all that is beauteous, grand, and harmonious ; the beneficent Giver