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necessity. And we may guess at the degrees of importunity by the insinuation of the apostle: " Let the married abstain for a time,” ut vacent orationi et jejunio," that they may attend to prayer;" it is a great attendance, and a long diligence, that is promoted by such a separation; and supposes a devotion, that spends more than many hours : for ordinary prayers, and many hours of every day, might well enough consist with an ordinary cohabitation; but that which requires such a separation, calls for a longer time and a greater attendance, than we usually consider. For every prayer we make, is considered by God, and recorded in heaven; but cold prayers are not put into the account, in order to effect and acceptation; but are laid aside like the buds of roses, which a cold wind hath nipped into death, and the discoloured tawny face of an Indian slave: and when in order to your hopes of obtaining a great blessing, you reckon up your prayers, with which you have solicited your suit in the court of heaven, you must reckon, not by the number of the collects, but by your sighs and passions, by the vehemence of your desires, and the fervour of your spirit, the apprehension of your need, and the consequent prosecution of your supply. Christ prayed kpavyais ioxvpaís “ with loud cryings,” and St. Paul made mention of his scholars in his prayers " night and day.” Fall upon your knees and grow there, and let not your desires cool nor your zeal remit, but renew it again and again, and let not your offices and the custom of praying put thee in mind of thy need, but let thy need draw thee to thy holy offices; and remember, how great a God, how glorious a Majesty you speak to; therefore, let not your devotions and addresses be little. Remember, how great a need thou hast; let not your desires be less. Remember, how great the thing is, you pray for; do not undervalue it with any indifferency. Remember, that prayer is an act of religion; let it, therefore, be made thy business: and, lastly, Remember, that God hates a cold prayer : and, therefore, will never bless it, but it shall be always ineffectual.
3. Under this title of lukewarmness and tepidity may be comprised also these cautions: that a good man's prayers are sometimes hindered by inadvertency, sometimes by want of perseverance. For inadvertency, or want of attendance to the sense and intention of our prayers, is certainly an
effect of lukewarmness, and a certain companion and appendage to human infirmity; and is only so remedied, as our prayers are made zealous, and our infirmities
into the strengths of the Spirit. But if we were quick in our perceptions, either concerning our danger, or our need, or the excellency of the object, or the glories of God, or the niceties and perfections of religion, we should not dare to throw
away our prayers so like fools, or come to God and say a prayer with our mind standing at distance, trifling like untaught boys at their books, with a truantly spirit. I shall say no more to this, but that, in reason, we can never hope, that God in heaven will hear our prayers, which we ourselves speak, and yet hear not at the same time, when we ourselves speak them with instruments joined to our ears; even with those organs, which are parts of our hearing faculties. If they be not worth our own attending to, they are not worth God's hearing; if they are worth God's attending to, we must make them so by our own zeal, and passion, and industry, and observation, and a present and a holy spirit.
But concerning perseverance, the consideration is something distinct. For when our prayer is for a great matter, and a great necessity, strictly attended to, yet we pursue it only by chance or humour, by the strengths of fancy, and natural disposition ; or else our choice is cool as soon as hot, like the emissions of lightning, or like a sunbeam often interrupted with a cloud, or cooled with intervening showers : and our prayer is without fruit, because the desire lasts not, and the prayer lives like the repentance of Simon Magus, or the trembling of Felix, or the Jews' devotion for seven days of unleavened bread, during the Passover, or the feast of tabernacles : but if we would secure the blessing of our prayers, and the effect of our prayers, we must never leave till we have obtained what we need.
There are many that pray against a temptation for a month together, and so long as the prayer is fervent, so long the man hath a nolition, and a direct enmity against the lust; he consents not all that while; but when the month is gone, and the prayer is removed, or become less active, then the temptation returns, and forages, and prevails, and seizes upon all our unguarded strengths. There are some desires which have a period, and God's visitations expire in mercy
at the revolution of a certain number of days; and our prayer must dwell so long, as God's anger abides; and in all the storm we must outcry the noise of the tempest, and the voices of that thunder. But if we become hardened, and by custom and cohabitation with the danger lose our fears, and abate of our desires and devotions, many times we shall find, that God, by a sudden breach upon us, will chastise us for letting our hands go down. Israel prevailed no longer than Moses held up his hands in prayer; and he was forced to continue his prayer, till the going down of the sun; that is, till the danger was over, till the battle was done. But when our desires, and prayers, are in the matter of spiritual danger, they must never be remitted, because danger conti
ever, and, therefore, so must our watchfulness, and our guards. “Vult enim Deus rogari, vult cogi, vult quadam importunitate vinci,” says St. Gregory; “God loves to be invited, entreated, importuned, with an unquiet restless desire and a persevering prayer.” Xρή αδιαλείπτως εύχεσθαι της Tepi tò Seiov Opnokelaç, said Proclus. That is a holy and a religious prayer, that never gives over, but renews the prayer, and dwells upon the desire; for this only is effectual. Andúvovil βροτώ κραιπνοί μάκαρες τελέθουσι, « God hears the persevering man, and the unwearied prayer.” For it is very considerable, that we be very curious to observe; that many times a lust is sopita, non mortua,ʻit is asleep;' the enemy is at truce, and atquiet for a while, but not conquered, ‘not dead;' and if we put off our armour too soon, we lose all the benefit of our former war, and are surprised by indiligence and a careless guard. For God sometimes binds the devil in a short chain, and gives his servants respite, that they may feel the short pleasures of a peace, and the rest of innocence; and perceive, what are the eternal felicities of heaven, where it shall be so for ever; but then we must return to our warfare again; and every second assault is more troublesome, because it finds our spirits at ease, and without watchfulness, and delighted with a spiritual rest, and keeping holyday. But let us take heed; for whatsoever temptation we can be troubled withal by our natural temper, or by the condition of our life, or the evil circumstances of our condition, so long as we have capacity to feel it, so long we are in danger, and must " watch thereunto with prayer” and continual diligence. And when
your temptations let you alone, let not your God alone; but lay up prayers and the blessings of a constant devotion against the day of trial. Well may your temptation sleep, but if your prayers do so, you may chance to be awakened with an assault that may ruin you. However, the rule is easy: Whatsoever you need, ask it of God so long as you want it, even till you have it. For God, therefore, many times defers to grant, that thou mayest persevere to ask ; and because every holy prayer is a glorification of God by the confessing many of his attributes, a lasting and a persevering prayer is a little image of the hallelujahs and services of eternity; it is a continuation to do that, according to our measures, which we shall be doing to eternal ages : therefore, think not, that five or six hearty prayers can secure to thee a great blessing, and a supply of a mighty necessity. He that prays so, and then leaves off, hath said some prayers, and done the ordinary offices of his religion; but hath not secured the blessing, nor used means reasonably proportionable to a mighty interest.
4. The prayers of a good man are oftentimes hindered, and destitute of their effect, for want of praying in good company; for sometimes an evil or an obnoxious person hath so secured and ascertained a mischief to himself, that he that stays in his company or his traffic, must also share in his punishment : and the Tyrian sailors with all their vows and prayers could not obtain a prosperous voyage, so long as Jonas was within the bark; for in this case the interest is divided, and the public sin prevails above the private piety. When the philosopher asked a penny of Antigonus, he told him it was too little for a king to give;' when he asked a talent, he told him 'it was too much for a philosopher to receive;' for he did purpose to cozen his own charity, and elude the other's necessity, upon pretence of a double inequality. So it is in the case of a good man mingled in evil company; if a curse be too severe for a good man, a mercy is not to be expected by evil company; and his prayer, when it is made in common, must partake of that event of things which is appropriate to that society. The purpose of this caution is, that every good man be careful, that he do not mingle his devotion in the communions of heretical persons, and in schismatical conventicles ; for al
though he be like them that follow Absalom in the simplicity of their heart, yet his intermedial fortune, and the event of his present affairs, may be the same with Absalom's; and it is not a light thing, that we curiously choose the parties of our communion. I do not say it is necessary to avoid all the society of evil persons; "for then we must go out of the world;" and when we have thrown out a drunkard, possibly we have entertained a hypocrite; or when a swearer is gone, an oppressor may stay still; or if that be remedied, yet pride is soon discernible, but not easily judicable: but that which is of caution in this question, is, that we never mingle with those, whose very combination is a sin; such as were Corah and his company that rebelled against Moses their prince; and Dathan and Abiram that made a schism in religion against Aaron the priest: for so said the Spirit of the Lord, “ Come out from the congregation of these men, lest ye perish in their company;" and all those that were abused in their communion, did perish in the gainsaying of Corah. It is a sad thing to see a good man cozened by fair pretences, and allured into an evil snare; for besides, that he dwells in danger, and cohabits with a dragon, and his virtue may change by evil persuasion, into an evil disposition, from sweetness to bitterness, from thence to evil speaking, from thence to believe a lie, and from believing to practise it;-besides this, it is a very great sadness, that such a man should lose all his prayers to very many purposes. God will not respect the offering of those men, who assemble by a peevish spirit; and therefore, although God in pity regards the desires of a good man, if innocently abused, yet as it unites in that assembly, God will not hear it to any purposes of blessing, and holiness : unless" we keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," we cannot have the blessing of the Spirit in the returns of a holy prayer; and all those assemblies, which meet together against God or God's ordinance, may pray and call, and cry loudly, and frequently, and still they provoke God to anger; and
many times he will not have so much mercy for them, as to deny them; but lets them prosper in their sin, till it swells to intolerable and unpardonable. But when good men pray with one heart, and in a holy assembly, that is, holy in their desires, lawful in their authority, though the