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casts himself wholly upon the sovereign mercy of the offended Creator. The principal topics of prayer, in connection with the present important subject, should be, (1.) The confession of your sorrow on account of sins, so many and aggravated that you can never fully express them. (2.) You ought to desire of God a still deeper and more just sense of the evil of sin, as committed agains the purity, majesty, justice and goodness of God. (3.) Your most earnest entreaties should be put up for strength in your soul to forsake all sin, and to render it increasingly hateful and loathsome to
Another condition essential to the acceptance of your prayer, is, that you should come to God in the name, and only in the name, of Jesus Christ his beloved Son. It is certain, for it is revealed to us, that no man cometh to God but by Christ Jesus ;* and that no prayer of ours can ever be heard with acceptance, that is not offered to God through this medium. In the name of Jesus Christ you may ask for the divine gift of faith, by which you will be enabled to lay hold upon the atoning sacrifice ; for hope, as the anchor of your soul; for humility, submission, peace of mind, and joy in the Holy Ghost. “I am the way,” said our divine Teacher and Saviour. And the apostle Paul declares, “ There is one mediator,” intending to imply that there is no other, “ between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”+
These being the essential conditions on which you are to avail yourself of the privilege of prayer, I will now proceed to point out more iully what should be the special characteristics of such
* John xiv. 6.
f 1 Tim. ii. 5.
prayer as should be offered by one wishing for converting grace. It must, then, be particularly directed to a full and frank confession of your sin. Your own reason will convince you, that God is perfectly acquainted with your numerous and ag. gravated transgressions, that his eye has watched and marked all the depraved workings of your heart and actions of your life. It is, therefore, but reasonable that you should confess your sins fully to him, who knows them, and who requires the confession of them, not to inform him, but to prove your own true conviction of your guilt, and to affect your own heart with a deeper sense of its pollution and misery. Any other kind of confession but this will be unavailing. You will but defeat your own object in praying at all, if you do not make the fullest, frankest, and most humble acknowledgment of sin. It will serve no purpose but the aggravation of your guilt, to conceal or palliate any thing. There must be no extenuation, no concealment; but all must be fully confessed, and truly, sincerely, and penitently deplored by you. Be neither ashamed nor afraid to confess your sins by name to him that seeth in secret: let their multitude, as the sands on the sea shore, be told ; let their aggravation be felt; let their enormity be deplored—all, all will fall short of the reality. You never can enough consider, enough regret, enough confess and repent of your sins. They are, and they ought to be felt as crimes against God and your own soul; crimes which no tears, no repentance, no sufferings of yours can ever wash away.
Remember, also, that you have no plea, no argument, no name to mention, why God should forgive your sins, but that name, that plea, which
God has himself furnished. The merit of Christ is to be your only plea, and by this alone can you urge your suit before God. Therefore, this must become the foundation of your hope, the great consideration which you are allowed to mention, because God, for Christ's sake only, forgives sin. His precious blood is everywhere in the Bible set forth as affording hope to the guilty, that they shall be forgiven and accepted. He says, "Look unto me, and be ye saved :” “Behold the Lamb of God :" 66 Christ suffered for sins, the just for the unjust:" x The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."* It is not so much my object, in this place, to explain the great doctrine of the Christian atonement, as to impress upon your mind the important fact, that you will find true peace with God by pleading it, and only by pleading it; for all other efforts of your desire, or hope, or faith, or repentance, will be unavailing for your acceptance, till you say, with the fervour of true penitence, “Behold, O God, our shield, and look
the face of thine anointed.”+
That my Redeemer felt;
And answer for my guilt.” In connection with your Saviour's atonement for sin, it is necessary you should devoutly confide in the efficacy of his mediation. The doctrine is taught you in the Bible, that “ he ever liveth to make intercession.”That he pleads for those who come to God in his name, and condescendingly takes up their suit, and says, “ Father, for. give them."'S He has “entered into heaven, now
* Isa. xlv. 22; John i 29; 1 Pet. iii. 18; 1 John i. 7. † Ps. lxxxiv. 9. # Heb. vii. 25. § Luke xxiii. 34.
to appear in the presence of God for us, great High Priest, who has entered into the heavenly sanctuary with his own blood. Upon this subject, if you are not already well-informed, you should read what is recorded in the Epistle to the Hebrews, chap. ii. 10–18; iv. 14–16; the whole of chap. v. and viïi. Until
realize the great doctrine of Christ's mediation, set forth in these chapters, and implore the mercy of Christ, and his gracious, all-prevailing intercession, your prayers cannot come up with acceptance. We wish you to feel that there is no one beside Christ to intercede for you; and that this office he has willingly undertaken, and will faithfully perform. Beseech him to raise your mind to a full assurance of his successful interposition. If you come to God only by him, making mention of his name, and of his only, then you will be accepted in the Beloved.
“Give him, my soul, thy cause to plead,
Nor doubt the Father's grace." Address him in language like this:“O blessed Saviour, by thy tender love, and by the riches of thy mercy to sinners, I beseech thee, give me thy grace,
that I may grieve for my sins, and trust in thy atonement for their pardon. Soften this stony heart; enlighten this dark mind; subdue my flesh to the dictates of thy Spirit; subject my reason to the authority of thy word; and let my joy be found in thy forgiving love. Pour into my heart the precious streams of thy grace; speak peace and pardon to my guilty conscience, and leave me not to my unbelief, my guilt, my darkness. Let thy precious blood cleanse me from all my sin and heal all my wounds. Then will I rejoice and bless thy name for everniore.”
• Heb. ix. 24.
There is one more important consideration, and but one more, in reference to prayer, which I will here lay before you. This, however, it is essential to press upon your attention. Your prayers must contain the earnest expression of your
de. pendence upon the influence of God's Holy Spirit, to work in your mind all the requisite dispositions. For you will probably feel, even in the duty of prayer, considerable distrust and uncertainty, whether you possess any right dispositions, or whether you have at all experienced divine grace. Suspicions of your own heart will arise ; and Satan will endeavour either to prevent you from feeling aright, or to persuade you, that whatever your feelings have been, they are of no importance, because they are not gracious; or that they are merely the effect of fear, and not of love and true penitence; and will, therefore, prove unacceptable to God. Let me entreat you, therefore, to depend upon, and to implore, the aid of God's Spirit, both to excite right feelings, to give them power and strength in your heart, and to render them permanent. For it is the doctrine of the divine word, that you can do nothing effectually of yourself; that no saving change can take place without God's assistance; and that every good purpose, good feeling, and righ: prayer, must be wrought in you by the operation of the divine Spirit. You will
, perhaps, distress'ngly feel the weakness of your own heart, and will be left to experience the inefficiency of all purposes made in your own strength, unless He strengthens you with his strength in your soul, and enables you both to will and to do according to his good pleasure. Therefore, let this truth be ever present to your mind in all your prayers,