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THE pious and excellent Dr. Watts has observed, that "the Bible is a book of such transcendent worth, and so happily suited to all the purposes of the Christian life, that it cannot be too much recommended to the world:-every thing that allures the world to peruse it is a blessing to mankind." Encouraged by this valuable and important remark, as well as by various other considerations, and anxious to accomplish what has long been a very sincere desire of his heart, the compiler of the " Achievements of Prayer" ventures to lay it before the World, in humble confidence that it may place in a new and endearing light, many of the most sublime and gracious portions of the Holy Scriptures. For its ultimate acceptance and utility, he reposes all his hopes on the Lord, being fully persuaded, that unless the influence and blessing of that Divine Spirit, who has ever taught His people how to pray and what to pray
for, be vouchsafed, it cannot effectwhat he fervently anticipates.
But before entering upon the consideration of this work, it will be necessary to reflect, that we have turned aside to behold the " glory of the Lord," and to see the "great sight" of "the bush burning, but not consumed." - May we therefore "take off our shoes from off our feet," remembering that the ground whereon we stand is holy and in the spirit of meekness and prayer draw nigh unto this hallowed spot, assured that if we have approached it with a sincere desire to receive instruction, we shall retire from it not only instructed, but strengthened and refreshed, exclaiming with joy and gratitude—“ Blessed be the Lord who hath not turned away our prayer, nor his mercy from his people."
The first gracious character presented to our view on commencing the subject is, the Patriarch Abraham, that ennobled individual whose name sheds so bright a lustre over the pages of the inspired volume, who was the father of the faithful, and the friend of God. We see him holding sweet converse with his God and friend; pleading for the promised seed; intreating a blessing on Ishmael; and interceding for Sodom; teaching us by his example, first, to seek the blessings of salvation for ourselves, next for our
families, and then for all the families of the world. We feel ourselves thus admitted, as it were, into the communion of Abraham, of Isaac, and Jacob, and “the general assembly of the church of the first-born which are written in heaven," and we behold their afflictions and their triumphs while they sójourned here below. How often, alas! they experienced the bitterness of sorrow, and mingled their sighs with their groans;-how often "they hanged their harps upon the willows, and sat down and wept:" yet were they strengthened and sustained in all their trials and in all their afflictions, "and made more than conquerors" for "the arms of their hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob." In their trouble they cried unto the Lord, and he delivered them out of their distresses." "At the voice of their cry he was very gracious unto them. When he heard it,
he answered them."
Delightful as it would be, were we afforded an opportunity of continuing our remarks on the scenes and events which successively claim our attention, we are discouraged from attempting it, lest we should be detaining our readers at the streams instead of conducting them at once to the fountain. But it may be proper to remark generally on the advantages, which, it is hoped, may be derived from devoting our exclusive attention to the bright and
splendid victories, and the mild and glorious conquests, which have been obtained through the medium of believing prayer. And the first consideration is, that by presenting in one view, Prayer and the Answer to Prayer, in the words in which they are recorded, and by leading us to examine into the circumstances, the situations, and the trials which were peculiar to those gracious and distinguished characters who were so eminently honoured by their Lord, may have a tendency, through the divine goodness, to promote a spirit of prayer, causing us thereby to imbibe the fervour of their spirit, and the deep piety of their hearts: and that we may become more acquainted with the transcendent excellency and the exquisite beauty of the Holy Scriptures, and be enabled to gather into our bosoms those rich spiritual consolations which lie infolded in every portion of the Word of God.
That seeing what mighty deliverances, and what an immensity of blessings have been obtained, even by individuals, through the medium of believing prayer, and the numerous encouragements which are held out to us by their example, to
delight ourselves in the Lord," we may in all our trials and afflictions, as well as in happier seasons, "when the candle of the Lord shineth upon us, when the Almighty is yet with us, when our
children are about us," and when our cup runneth Over with mercy, repose our entire confidence in the Lord, so that we may have "our mouths filled with arguments," to plead boldly at the throne of grace, for the fulfilment of those gracious promises on which He has caused us to hope.
That seeing also what judgments have been averted, what mighty deliverances have been wrought, and what an immensity of temporal and spiritual blessings have been conferred on Congregations, on the Church, and on the World, through the fervent and united prayers of the People of Godwe may no longer restrain prayer before him, but unite in earnest supplications for the fulfilment of those gracious promises for which the Lord has said "I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them."
But there are considerations which pre-eminently claim our regard. The blessings of salvation are to be sought for by prayer; nay, even salvation itself, for it is written, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Prayer, the offspring of faith, is the first evidence that we are born again, that we are partakers of spiritual life," Behold he prayeth!" The increase of the kingdom of the Lord is to be sought for by daily prayer. And our Lord has taught