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of all that is convenient, comfortable, and useful? Can there be a more advantageous employ than to present our requests to the Father of mercies, opening our mind to the radiance of his wisdom, and all the faculties of our souls to the communication of his grace?” At a later period of life, the same pious author said, “ Were I to enjoy Hezekiah's grant, and have fifteen years added to my days, I would be much more frequent in my supplications to a throne of grace. We sustain a mighty loss by reading so much, and praying so little.”
ON STATED PRAYER, AS APPROPRIATED
REAL religion suits every station, and is equally calculated to dignify the poor in obscurity, and to defend the rich amidst the snares of rank and splendour. It is neither to be concealed through fear, nor displayed through ostentation. The Christian who fills the highest place, and is most engaged in the world, must not forget the duties of retirement. Labour and rest are reciprocally necessary; and either of them unduly prolonged, becomes injurious. . Prayer is our best employment in solitude, as it fills the void which nothing else can fill. It is not only our safeguard in business, but also our solace in retreat.
I. I shall adduce some arguments, to prove the importance of Closet Prayer.
1. The great importance of closet prayer may be shewn from the authority which enforces it. Reason itself, unbiassed by the flesh, and unbribed by the world, plainly tells us, that prayer is a duty, not less binding upon individuals in secret, than upon communities in public. Why was man formed in the Divine image, and furnished with faculties which raised him so much above the beasts, and placed him in a rank, only a little lower than the angels?—It was, that he might contemn the mean objects of sense, and hold spiritual intercourse with God. And after being involved in guilt and woe, for what purpose was man redeemed by the blood of Christ, a price above all calculation and conception, a ransom which filled angels with astonishment?—That he might have fellowship with the Father, who is the origin and everlasting Fountain of goodness; and with the Son, who is the compassionate Friend and Almighty Saviour of sinners. For what end is the soul-dark, degraded, enslaved, * through sin-called, illuminated, quickened, and sanctified by divine power, accompanying the Word ?-It is, that it may aspire to the inestimable privilege of constantly enjoying the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost. A greater purpose, or nobler end, cannot be conceived ; a higher or richer felicity cannot be desired. If the very first sentiment of religion which rises in the human mind, be, that a God exists, the second is, that this God must be worshipped. The dictates of reason prove, that, as creatures, a suitable and stated tribute of homage, and a humble, devout acknowledgment of dependence, are due from us to Him, in whom we every moment live, and move, and have our being; and both reason and conscience declare, that, as sinful, condemned creatures, confession and supplication are indispensably necessary. He, who has gone so far as positively and daringly to deny the duty or the importance of prayer, is not many steps from the door of Atheism, and in a rapid course to be soon immured in its dark horrid caverns, and eternally confounding labyrinths. And whoever owns the obligation to prayer in general, must do so on principles, which clearly enforce the necessity of secret prayer in particular. We may truly affirm, that devotion is a matter which lies between God and a man's own soul. When this idea is once lost, the outward signs and circumstances of religion are a dead letter, or, at best, a form maintained, for the sake of decency: while this idea possesses the mind, and affects the heart, we feel the vital spirit of religion, and pant for a place of retirement, to indulge its holy aspirations. Secret prayer is a direct appeal to that Being, who fills heaven and earth, to whom all hearts are open, and all desires known, who cannot be deceived, and will not be mocked. In a transaction of such solemnity and importance, surely, every thought should be summoned, every faculty employed, every affection engaged.
But if reason dictates the propriety and necessity of secret prayer, we can refer to higher authority. He who came down from heaven, to reveal the will of God, and accomplish his eternal purposes; who perfectly knew all the powers and infirmities of man, with the dangers, allurements, temptations, and evils of the world, plainly taught us this duty, and recommended it by his own practice. It rests not on vague tradition, or specious theory, but on authority, to which every Christian must bow with implicit deference.
• But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet; and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (Matt. vi. 6.) Though Christ was so much engaged in healing the sick, in casting out demons, and instructing the multitudes that followed him from place to place, yet he did