Imatges de pÓgina
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Phil. iv. 6. I Thel. v. 17. I Tim. ii. 8. Add to these, that Christ's reproof of the oftentation and prolixity of pharifaical prayers, and his recommendation to his disciples of retirement and fimplicity in theirs, together with his dictating a particular forin of prayer, all presuppose prayer to be an acceptable and availing service.

2. Examples of prayer for particular favours by name: "For this thing (to wit, some bodily infirmity, which he calls “ a thorn given him “ in the flesh”) I besought the Lord thrice “ that it might depart from me.” “ Night and

day praying exceedingly, that we might see your face, and perfect that which is lacking in your faith.” 2 Cor. xii. 8. 1 Thef. iii. 10.

3. Directions to pray for national or public blessings : “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.“ Ask ye of the Lord rain, in the time of the lat« ter rain ; fo the Lord Thall make bright clouds, “ and give them showers of rain to every one “ grass in the field.” “ 1 exhort, therefore, that “ first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, “ and giving of thanks, be made for all men'; “ for kings and for all that are in authority, that we may

lead a quict and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesy; for this is good and

accept

acceptable in the fight of God our Saviour." Psalm cxxii. 6. Zech. x. I. 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, 3.

4. Examples of intercession, and exhortations to intercede for others: “And Mofes besought the “ Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy « wrath wax hot against thy people ? Remember “ Abraham, Ifaac, and Israel, thy servants. And * the Lord repented of the evil which he thought “ to do unto his people.” “ Peter therefore was

kept in prison, but prayer was made without

ceasing, of the Church unto God for him." For God is my witness, that without ceasing * I make mention of you always in my prayers.“ Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's fake, and for the love of the ye strive together with in

your prayers for me.

..” “ Confess your faults one to " another, and pray one for anotber, that ye may “ be healed: the effcctual fervent prayer of a " righteous man availeth much.” Ex. xxxii. 11. Afts xii. 5. Rom. i. 9. xv. 30. James v. 16.

5. Declarations and examples authorizing the repetition of unsuccessful prayers : “ And he

fpoke a parable unto them, to this end, that

men ought always to pray, and not to faint." " And he left thein, and went away again, and

" prayed

Spirit, that

me,

prayed the third time, saying the same words." “ For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that “ it might depart from me.” Luke xviii. 1. Matt. xxvi. 44. 2 Cor. xii. 8.*

* The reformed churches of Christendom, sticking close in this article to their guide, have laid aside prayers for the dead, as authorized by no precept or precedent found in scripture. For the same reason they properly reject the invocation of saints ; as also because such invocations suppose in the saints whom they address a knowledge which can perceive what passes in different regions of he earth at the same time. And they deem it too much to take for granted, without the smallest intimation of such a thing in scripture, that any created being poffefses a faculty little short of that omniscience and omnipresence which they ascribe to the Deity.

C H A P.

CH A P. iv.

OF PRIVATE PRAYER, FAMILY PRAYER,

AND PUBLIC WORS III P.

CON

ONCERNING these three descriptions

of devotion, it is first of all to be observed, that each has its separate and peculiar use; and therefore, that the exercise of one fpecies of worship, however regular it be, does not supersede, or dispense with the obligation of, either of the other two.

I. Private prayer is recommended for the sako of the following advantages :

Private wants cannot always be made the subjects of public prayer; but whatever reason there is for praying at all, there is the same for making the fore and grief of each man's own heart the business of his application to God. This must be the office of private exercises of devotion, being imperfectly, if at all, practicable in

aný other. Private prayer is generally more devout and earnest than the fhare we are capable of tak

ing in joint acts of worship; because it affords leisure and opportunity for the circumstantial recollection of those personal wants, by the remembrance and ideas of which, the warmth and earneftness of prayer are chiefly excited. Private

prayer, in proportion as it is usually accompanied with more actual thought and reflection of the petitioner's own, has a greater tendency than other modes of devotion to revive and fasten upon the mind the general impressions of religion. Solitude powerfully assists this effect. When a man finds himself alone in communication with his Creator, his imagination becomes filled with a conflux of awful ideas concerning the universal agency, and invisible presence, of that Being; concerning what is likely to become of himself; and of the superlative importance of providing for the happiness of his future existence, by endeavours to please bim, who is the arbiter of his destiny: reflections, which, whenever they gain admittance, for a season overwhelm all others; and leave, when they depart, a solemnity upon the thoughts that will seldom fail, in some degree, to affect the conduct of life. Private

prayer, thus recommended by its own propriety, and by advantages not attainable in

E

any

VOL. II.

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