Imatges de pÓgina


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In every thing by prayer and fupplication, with thankf

giving; let your requests be made known unto God,

MONG the various religious exercises that

, low-christians, there are none more necessary and profitable for all conditions of men, at all times, and in all places, than the constant and humble use of public prayer, and the sacraments administered in Christ's church; for by the first, we ask at God's hands all such things as otherwise we have no right to expect will be bestowed upon us, such as his grace to correct our tempers, the power to subdue our passions, and likewise the gift of every needful. comfort in this life; and by the other, he accepteth us into his houshold, or family, and offereth hirnself to us as our guardian to defend us from the snares of the evil one. Must not they then who wilfully neglect both the one and the other, be strangely perverse and blind? Can such be truly said to belong to


God, or to be Christ's disciples? Was not the whole office of our Blessed Savior employed in bringing us to God? and if we turn our backs on the prayers offered in his Father's house, from any idle or illsupported plea of our own selfis fancy, can we reasonably hope that he will accept our prayers else where? Will any person, pretending to a proficiency in religion, presume to say they love Chrift, and that they wish to be benefited by his precia ous, blood-Thedding, who are indiferent about being baptized in his name? regardless of feeing their children carly initiated into his church, and of partaking of the memorials of that living facrifice which he offered for weak and undeserving creatures; and yet how many are there who are very remiss in these particulars? Will any, having authority and influence over their poorer and ignorant brethren, neglect to enforce these positive duties, and at the same time affect to be zealous christians O vanity of vanities ! fatal crror! We must in all things follow Christ's example and commands, and not in a few of our own fond fancies only, or depend upon it we shall not be able finally to stand the test that will be required of us as his pure disciples. Since then no well informed christian can be at any loss to know how very necessary these holy exercises are to forward our salvation, as the means of grace, yet it may be highly profitable to those not equally well informed in religious knowledge, to give serious attention to the following enquiries :

First, What prayer is, and what a facrament is ; and secondly, how many forts of prayer there are, and how many real facraments. By a plain explanation of each question, you will (by God's blessing upon the endeavour) be better able to understand how to use them to your soul's health. One


of the ancient fathers of the church * gives us this account of these means of grace: These are his words concerning prayer, "Prayer is the devotion or application of the mind to God, or in other words, the turning towards the mighty author of our being, through a pious and humble affection, or difposition, and the ready desire of the foul towards him ;” and in another work + he calleth the facraments, holy signs; and concerning the baptism of infants, he observes most judiciously, that if facraments did not carry a plain resemblance, or likeness of the things whereof they are signs or pledges, they would be no facraments at all; for generally speaking, they convey in their names, the nature of the things they signify; whence, from this father's sentiments, it is very clear that he alloweth the usual description of a facrament, as specified in our excellent Church Catechism, viz. That they are outward visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace, meaning, tokens of such things, as place before our eyes and senses the inward working of God's free mercy, and which in a manner feal in our hearts the promises of God; and in this light Jewish circumcision (in the room of which christian baptism took place) was a sacrament whịch signified or declared to the outward senses, the inward circumcision or cleansing of the heart, and by that act of obedience to God's command, sealed and made fure in the hearts of the circumcised, the promises of God respecting the promised feed they looked for, even the Messiah, the Savior of the world; and in like manner baptism doth seal unto the faithful the gift of the grace of God, and regeneration of the çreature.

* St. Augustine, in his Book concerning the Spirit of Soul of Man.

+ His Book against the Enemies of the Law and the Prophets, in his Epiftle to Boniface, VOL. II.


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We will now proceed to consider how many forts of prayer there are, and the just number of facraments in Christ's church. In scripture we read of three kinds or descriptions of prayer, two of them of a private nature, and one common or public. The first is that of which St. Paul speaketh in his Epistle to Timothy, 1 Ep. iid. ch. 8th ver. and is thus' expressed, I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath or doubting * which seems to imply the devout raising of the mind to God, without expressing aloud the sorrow or defire of the heart, by open voice. Of this sort of prayer we have an example in i Kings, in the case of Anna, the mother of Samuel, when, in the heaviness of her heart, the prayed in the temple, and befought the Lord to make her fruitful. She prayed in her heart, faith the text, but there was no voice heard ; and it is in this sense of prayer that St. Paul exhorteth the Thessalonians ir Eph. v. 17.) To pray without ceasing, not once or twice in a week, or now and then every day, but to lift up the heart often in secret to God: and the same meaning we may safely apply to St. James's assurance (in the vth chap. and 16th ver.) That the fervent prayer of a righteous, or good man availeth much, that is, the continual, humble, earnest, inward supplication to the supreme director of all events, to prosper the charitable desire of the heart for the good of our neighbour, or to accomplish in, or for ourselves, whatever may tend to God's glory.

The second kind of prayer, is that which is described by St. Matth. in the vith chap. and 6th ver. When thou prayeft, faith he, enter into thy closet,

* This, in respect to place, is spoken of private prayer only, and that merely mental, as appears from what follows in the Homily: these words of the apostle cannot therefore be construed as any encouragement to public prayer, and assembling, iu unhallowed places,


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