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gagements, as you profess the name of christian, as you would walk as becometh your profession, as you would shew forth the sincerity of your surrender to Christ by the discharge of your seyeral relations in life, as you would have your conversation in heaven, I beseech you be diligent in private prayer ; else you will dishonour your vocation, you will walk in disobedience, as do others, you will have your conversation upon earth, you will be a slave to the world ; and notwithstanding all you may do besides, your fall will be more dreadful, and your ruin most inevitable. You must pray or perish.
3. The word of God is another great means to keep us from falling. Herein we must exercise ourselves day and night. Out of it we must be taught the way wherein we must go. This must be the guide to our feet, and the lanthorn to our paths; and in our course to glory, be our inap and chart. Communion seasons are places of refreshment in the way, to strengthen us for our journey : Christ in the word is the way itself, in which after such refreshment we are to walk. To the word therefore you must apply, to know more perfectly the mind of God, that you may follow it more faithfully; and if you have been sincere with Christ, you will do so; I gnade haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments; you will keep the scriptures upon your heart, rising up and lying down; they will be daily in your hands at any season of leisure, and particularly before you set yourself to the exercise of prayer. This is the way to be taught of God, and instructed in the way that you should go. You will find thus your heart built up, more determined for Christ, and more stedfast in his service; having set his commandments
ever before you, and being stedfastly purposed through grace not to sin against them.
4. Lastly. The company of lively christians is a choice means and wonderous help to keep alive the serious impressions made upon the soul. As iron sharpeneth iron, so doth the countenance of a man his friend, Esperience will best confirm the truth of this observation. Man is by nature social, needing the help one of another; and christians more so than other men, who have new and stronger bands than nature to unite them, and have many enemies that none others know. To associate therefore for the purposes of religious improvement, is not more comfortable than necessary ; How can one bewarm alone? says the Prophet. But when we join to exhort, reprove, rebuke, and admonish one another, then the fire catches from heart to heart, each receives some quickening, or consolation, or correction from the other's experience and conversation ; and thus the communion of saints before the Lord is still maintained, till the season returns when we shall come together again in God's house, and renew the bonds of union and fellowship one with another. Let me therefore recommend it to you to seek the company of those, whose course and contact is most holy, heavenly, and zealous ; to be free one with another; to open your hearts, as christians, in that mutual confidence, which none but real christians have any experience of, to delight in social prayer, and be desirous to join' in it whenever you have opportunity. A conduct indeed, which, to those who know nothing of beart-religion, is always offensive and disliked; but which all, who have seriously set their souls to seek the kingdom of God in the first place, have found both most necessary to keep alive their holy purposes, and most. conducive to the comfort as well as edification of their souls.
In this way you will always be going forward, and be growing in graće as in days, riper for glory as you advance towards it. You will be walking in an holy conformity to your profession, and approving your fidelity to Christ your Master. And thus from eating and drinking at Christ's table below, you will shortly go to drink with him the new wine of eternal consolation in the kingdom of your Father.
Directions for Prayer. PRAYER is the desire of the soul after God, arising from a sense of want, and expressing a dependance on his promises for a supply according to our' necessities.
It is evident that the heart must be engaged, or there can be no prayer. The words of the lip, or the bending of the knee, are hypocrisy without this. The finest produce of the understanding, whether the composition of others or our own, is no better than sounding brass or a tink." ling cymbal, if the spirit of prayer be wanting. Whilst, on the other hand, the simplest expressions, yea perhaps the most ungrammatical language, may convey the fervent desires of effectual prayer most acceptably, before the God who trieth the heart and the reins.
The most natural method of prayer is the artless language of the soul, dictated by want, and warmed with desire ; and I suppose every soul, really awakened to feel his necessities, will be able, for the most part, to speak what he feels,, without any, assistance,
I commend extempore prayer, because I have not only my own experience, the experience of all living christians, but the very reason of the thing to plead for it. Yet there are cases and circumstances wherein we may, no doubt, receive assistance from the labours of others; as Aaron was a mouth to Moses, so there may be helps to such as are slow of speech.
In secret we should not exclude forms of prayer, though for the most part they are rather a clog than a help to devotion, when solely made use of. They seem useful,
1. When used as a directory we place it before us, liaving first considered it as applicable to our state, and, in the exercise of prayer, enlarge upon the particular circumstances we are in.
2. At times we may find such a want of expression, as to need assistance of that kind, and may experience our hearts more quickened by it. Here the end of prayer being considered, what most promotes that is certainly best.
3. At first, having never been used at all to pray before, we may make use of the mouth of our neighbours to express our own case, and teach our lips a language, which the heart wants to utter.
But the great use of forms of prayer seems to be in social worship.
As prayer is the duty of every individual for himself in secret, so is it also enjoined on all christians in their social relations. The master of every family is bound by the religion of Jesus to make his house a house of prayer. When christians meet together in private as well as in the congregation, prayer is the most proper and natural employment. Abundant evidence of this occurs in the New Testament.
The gifts of God are variously dispensed.
Some have a facility of expression, and readiness of elocution, which is denied to others. Hence some can speak for others, without the assistance of a form of prayer, and this is undoubtedly the most profitable ; for.in this case, the knowledge of the peoples' state gives the person who prays an opportunity of adapting his requests more exactly to the case of those who join with him ; besides, that there is something much more enlivening to devotion in such exercises, when done with propriety and judgment, than in the best composed forms.
But as these gifts of knowledge and utterance may not be possessed by many, who yet desire to pray with and for each other, there the spiritual assistance of some experimental christian's prayer may be of the most abundant usefulness, * . I confess I cannot but wish that some who take upon them to be mouths of others, had greater diifidence of themselves. To hear a man before others praying absurdly, improperly and incoherently, is as offensive to inen, as it must be displeasing to God; and can serve only to shew the pride, not the humility of the speaker, and the folly, not the teachableness of the hearers. Prayer must be ever a reasonable service, it ceases, to be so when in such hands.
But the sloth of some, and too great concern of others, about the manner. of acquitting them-selves in prayer, are equally sinful. Instead of iinproving their gifts and graces, they continue servilely bound to a form, however in itself good. .............................................................'
* As many sincere people, who stand in need of helps, either for private or social prayer, may be at a loss for proper forms, I would therefore recommend Dir. Jenis Devotions, as by far the most aniinaied and spiritual of any lever: met with, and best suited both for families and the staies and exigencies of particular christians. There are also in that Manual some excellent rayers and ined tations for the assistance of pious coinmunicants, and a very, sweett and devout paraphrase upon the creed..