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establish our resolution more than any thing else. Faith is the root, fear the guard, and hope the spur of all our virtues. Faith convinces us what is our duty; fear makes us impartial, diligent, and watchful; hope, resolved and active in the prosecution of it. It being thus clear what our spiritual strength consists in, it will be easy to difcern by what means we are to gain it. But I can here only suggest those hints and intimations which the reader must upon occasion, as he needs, enlarge and improve.
i. Meditation is the first thing necessary. We must often survey the grounds and foundations of our faith; we must consider frequently and seriously the scripture topicks of hope and fear, such are the death of Jesus, a judgment to come, the holiness and justice, and the omnipresence of God: we must diligently observe the wiles and stratagems of Satan, the arts and insinuations of the world' and flesh, and mark the progress of fin from its very beginning to maturity ; and all this with a particular regard to the corruption of our own nature, and the deceitfulness of our own hearts. We must often ponder upon the beauty and peace of holiness, the love of God and of Jesus, the virtues, sufferings, and crowns of martyrs. And, finally, if we will increase in strength,
we must practise this duty of meditation often, and we must not fuffer our felves to be withdrawn from it, or be prevailed with to intermit it on any flight and trivial pretences. And because we are not always masters of our own affairs, nor consequently of our time; therefore ought we to have ever ready at hand, a good collection of texts, which contain, in fem words, the power and fpirit of gospel motives, the perfe&tion and beauty of duties, and 'the substance of advice and counsel: and to fix these so in our memory, that they may ferve as a field for us to opposé, as our Saviour did, against the darts of the devil, and as a supply of excellent and useful thoughts upon á fudden : fo that in all the little interruptions of bufiness, and the many little vacancies of the day, the mind, which is an active and busy spirit, may never want a proper subject to work upon; much lefs lofe it self in wild and lazy amusements, or defile itlelt by vain or vicious thoughts. But we must not only take care that meditation be frequent, but also that it be not loose and roving. To which end it will be necessary to study our felves as well as the scriptures, and to be intimately acquainted with the advantages and disadvantages of our constitution, and our state; fo chat in our meditations on the
Scriptures, fcriptures, we may more particularly have an eye to those vices we are most obnoxious to, and those virtues which are either more necessary, or more fecble and undergrown.
Next after meditation must follow prayer, Great is the power of prayer in promoting Christian strength and fortitude; whether we consider its prevalence upon God, or its natural influence upon our felves. It we consider the latter, what divine force and energy is there in the confidences of faith, the joys of hope, the earnest longings and desires of love, the tender forrows of contrition, the delight of praises and thanksgivings, the adorations and self-depreffions of a profound humility, and the resolutions and vows of a perfect abhorrence of, and holy zeal and indignation against lin! how do these things mellow and enrich the foul! how do they raise it higher and higher above the corruption which is in the world through lust ! how do they renew it daily, and make it a partaker of the divine Nature! the repetition of the fame acts naturally begets an habit; an habit is the strength and perfection of the soul; for it is a dispolition ri- . pened and confirmed by custom. How naturally then must prayer fortify the mind, ripen good difpofitions, or add strength and perfection to good habits! since it is
nothing else but a repeated exercise of almost all the graces of the gospel, repentance, faith, hope, charity, and the like: and it ought to be observed, that prayer gives us a frequent opportunity of exercising those virtues, which we should not otherwise be fo often obliged to do. If, secondly, we enquire into the prevalence of prayer with God, we shall have further reasons yet to resolve, that it is a moft effectual means of increasing our spiritual strength. What will God deny to the prayer of a righteous man? He may deny him temporal things, because they are not good for him. He may refuse to remove a temptation, because this is often an occafion of his own glory, and his servant's reward; but he will never refuse him grace to conquer it. He will no more deny his Spirit to one that earnestly and fincerely begs it, than the natural parent will bread to his hungry and craving child. And no wonder, since grace is as necessary to the spiritual life as bread to the natural; the goodness of God is more tender and compassionate than any instinct in human nature ; and the purity and perfection of God more zealously follicitous for the ho liness and immortality of his children, than earthly parents can be for a sickly perishing life of theirs. Thus then 'éis plain, that prayer contributes wonderfully to the
Atrengthening and establishing the mind of man in goodness. But then we must remember, that it must have these two qualifications; it must be frequent and incelsantly importunate. 1. It must be frequent. I would have this rule complied with as far as it may, even in our stated, regular, and solemn addresses to God. But because business, and several obligations we lie under to the world, do often press hard upon us ; therefore must I give the same counsel bere, which I did before under the head of meditation; that is, to have always ready and imprinted in our memory several texts of scripture, containing the most weighty and important truths, in the most piercing and moving language ; that we may be able to form these on a sudden into ejaculations, in which our fouls may mount up into heaven, amidst the ardours and transports of desires and praise, as the angel did, in the flame of Manoab's facrifice. 2. Prayer must be incessantly importunate. Importunate it will be, if the soul be prepared and disposed as it ought; that is, if it be disengaged from this world, and possessed entirely with the belief and earnest expectation of a better; if it be humbled in itself, disclaim all strength and merit of its own, and rest wholly on the goodness and all-sufficiency of God. I add incessantly, in conformity