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right views, either of God or of ourselves, we shall feel infinitely below him. He is in heaven, we are on earth. The most exalted intelligent creatures worship him, with the greatest humility. The seraphims are represented as covering their faces with their wings, when in the divine presence, as if unworthy to behold his glory or to be employed in his service. His infinite holiness, and our pollution, on account of sin, should induce us to offer our requests to him, with the lowest abasement. As dependant beings we have nothing but what is derived from him. As frail, dying creatures we wither away and are brought to nothing. In the book of Job man is compared to a leaf that is easily broken and driven to and fro, or to stubble that can make no resistance against the pursuing wind. And the psalmist, speaking of man in general, says, “ What is man that thou takest knowledge of him, or the son of man that thou makest account of him.” And elsewhere it is said, “ What is man that thou shouldst magnify him, or that thou shouldst set thine heart upon him.” These are humiliating considerations ; our sense of unworthiness will be still increased, when we view our. selves as sinful, guilty creatures, worthy to be abhorred by God, who might justly reject us, and refuse to hear and answer our prayers. We are nothing before the Majesty of heaven and earth. We are vile dust and ashes. Our
foundation is in the dust, and we are making haste to the grave. But God inhabits eternity; the High and Lofty One, who dwells in the high and holy place. A low and abasing sense of unworthiness appears in the best of the people of God, in their approaches into his sacred presence : Abraham, when plead. ing for Sodom, expresses himself thus, “ Behold now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, who am but dust and ashes.” Jacob says, “ I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies, and of all the truth which thou hast shewed unto thy servants." David, tho' a king, is another remarkable instance of humility in prayer, on divine record, “ I am a worm and no man.” And the publican dared not even to look up to God. “And the publican standing afar off would not so much as lift up his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful unto me a sinner.” We are, then, to draw near to God with a humble frame of spirit, with deep contrition and penitence of heart, on account of our sins. Further,
An affecting sense of our wants, as well as sins, should accompany our prayers. We ought to look upon ourselves as indigent creatures, utterly insufficient for our own happiness, divested of that glory and those ornaments which were put on man, at first, in his state of innocence; wholly destitute of the divine moral image as we are born into the
world, and of all those things which are essens tially requisite for our happiness, and, of consequence, that we must be lost for ever unless God be pleased, out of his mere self-moving goodness, to supply our wanis-renew us by his Holy Spirit-forgive our trespasses, and grant us an interest in his special friendship. Feeling that we are sinners, conscious of the guilt which we have contracted, and of the punishment to which we have exposed our: selves, we must draw nigh to God, through a Mediator. Under a sense of the stain and pollution of sin, we must fall down before the foot-stool of the throne of grace, with the greatest degree of self-loathing. We are to realize how much we are enslaved to sin how much we have been inclined, and how prone we are, at all times, to forsake the truth; to neglect duty ; to serve divers lusts and pleasures, and to walk according to the course of this worid, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. We are moreover to consider sin as deeply rooted in our hearts, debasing our affections, defiling our consciences, and captivating our wills, The longer we live in it, the more it will grow and increase, rendering us more and more indisposed to that which is good, and setting us at a greater and still greater distance from God and holiness. As dependant, frail, dying creatures, we need the power and goodness of God to protect us; his bounty, patience, and continued care. As sinners, we are in a perishing condition, and want all spiritual blessings. A prayer acceptably offered to a merciful and gracious God, is offered in the exercise of a penitential frame of mind. Lot it be added,
That faith nust, likewise, accompany our addresses to the mercy-seat. Faith in the blood of the atonement is necessary to the acceptance of our prayers. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Faith seems to be essens tial to our keeping up a daily intercourse with the Father of our spirits. This principle will lead us to commit ourselves, and all our concerns, into a Saviour's hands, depending on :) his merits and mediation for the supply of all our wants, viewing him as having purchased, and as being authorized to apply all the bene. fits of the covenant of grace, which are the subject-matter of our supplications to him, Thus we are instructed by the apostle Paul in respect to the manner of our prayer, “ I wilt therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” It is the will of God that all men, all persons, of every age, class, and station in life, attend, statedly and constantly, upon the duty of prayer. And they are to pray from holy views, and to have no angry, unforgiving,' and vindicrive passions. All malice, ill will, and hatred are in themselves unfit and sinful, and unbecoming the duty.
It will, again, be obvious to reflect, that we must attend upon the duty with diligence and sincerity. We are not to intermit or be unsteady in it, through worldly-mindedness or a pretext of urgent temporal business. God is to have our first thoughts, best services, and choicest affections, as being infinitely worthy of all our love, homage, adoration, gratitude, and praise. Prayer to him is therefore a duty incumbent on all, high and low, and must be performed with sincerity and constancy. Every day, without suifering any worldly transactions to hinder, morning and evening, should our voice ascend to our heavenly Father, for his smiles on our persons, our substance, our friends, the church, our nation, and the whole world of mankind. It is as needful as our daily bread, and we cannot be the friends of God, while we live in the allowed and habitual neglect of it. “ Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” But we are commanded to pray, and therefore cannot customarily omit it, and be the friends of God. Some will pray occasionally when under divine frowns, bereaved of dear comforts, and sorely afflicted ; but in their prosperity, forget and neglect God. Those, however, who are infrequent and unsteady in the duty, have no warrantable grounds to expect the divine approbation and acceptance. We are to be diligent, sincere, and persevering in calling upon the name of God.