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than in pride, and pleasure, and pampering the flesh? How could you make shift to forget your endless life so long? Or to sleep quietly in an unregenerate state? What if you had died before conversion, what think you had become of you, and where had you now been? Do you think that any of those in hell are glad that they were ungodly? Or have now any pleasure in their former merriments and sin? What think you they would do, if it were all to do again ? Do you think, if an angel or saint from heaven should come to decide the controversy between the godly and the wicked, that he would speak against a holy and heavenly life, or plead for a loose and fleshly life? Or which side think you he would take? Did not God know what he did when he made the Scriptures? Is he, or an ungodly scorner to be more regarded? Do you think every man in the world, will not wish at last that he had been a saint, whatever it had cost him ?" Such kind of questions urge the conscience, and much convince.
Direct. XVII. 'Cause them to learn some one most plain and pertinent text, for every great and necessary duty, and against every great and dangerous sin ; and often to repeat them to you.' As Luke xiii. 3. 5. " Except ye repent, ye shall all perish.” John iii. 5. " Except a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. So Matt. xviii. 3. Rom. viii. 9.. Heb. xii. 14. John iii. 16. Luke xviii. 1. &c. So against lying, swearing, taking God's name in vain, flesh-pleasing, gluttony, pride, and the rest.
Direct. XVIII. ` Drive all your convictions to a resolution of endeavour and amendment, and make them sometimes promise you to do that which you convinced them of;' and sometimes before witnesses. But let it be done with these necessary cautions. 1. That you urge not a promise. in
any doubtful point, or such as you have not first convinced them of. 2. That you urge not a promise in things beyond their present strength : as you must not bid them promise you to believe, or to love God, or to be tenderhearted, or heavenlyminded; but to do those duties which tend to these, as to hear the Word, or read, or pray, or meditate, or keep good company, or avoid temptations, &c. 3. That you be not too often upon this, (or upon one and the same strain in the other methods) lest they take them but for words of course, and custom teach them to contemn them. But seasonably and prudently done their promises will lay a great engagement on thein.
Direct. xix. * Teach them how to pray, by forms or without, as is most suitable to their case and parts : and either yourself, or some that may inform you, should hear them pray sometimes, that you may know their spirit, and how they profit.' Direct. xx.
• Put such books into their hands as are meetest for them, and engage them to read them when they are alone ; and ask them what they understand or remember of them.' And hold them not without necessity so hard to work, as to allow them no time for reading by themselves : but drive them on to work the harder, that they may have some time when their work is done.
Direct, XXI. •Cause them to teach one another when they are together.' Let their talk be profitable. Let those that read best, be reading sometimes to the rest, and instructing them, and furthering their edification. Their familiarity might make them very useful to one another.
Direct. xxII. · Tire them not out with too much at once; but give it them as they can receive it.' Narrow-mouthed bottles, must not be filled as wider vessels.
Direct. XXIII. " Labour to make all sweet and pleasant to them: and to that end sometimes mix the reading of some profitable history :' as the “ Book of Martyrs,” and “ Clarke's Martyrology,” and his “ Lives.”
Direct. xxiv. · Lastly, entice them with kindnesses and rewards.' Be kind to your children when they do well, and be as liberal to your servants as your condition will allow you. For this maketh your persons acceptable first, and then your instructions will be much more acceptable. Nature teacheth them to love those that love them, and do them good, and to hearken willingly to those they love. A small gift now and then, might signify much to the further benefit of their souls.
Direct. xxv. If any shall say, that here is so much ado in all these Directions, as that few can follow them ; I entreat them to consult with Christ that died for them, whether souls be not precious, and worth all this ado? And to
consider how small a labour all this is, in comparison of the everlasting end; and to remember, that all is gain and pleasure, and a delight to those that have holy hearts; and to remember, that the effects to the church and kingdom, of such holy government of families, would quite over-compensate all the pains.
Tit. 1. Directions for Prayer in General.
He that handleth this duty of prayer as it deserveth“, must make it the second part in the body of divinity, and allow it à larger and more exact tractate than I here intend : for I have before told you, that as we have three natural faculties, an understanding, will, and executive power, so these are qualified in the godly, with faith, love, and obedience; and have three particular rules: the creed, to shew us what we must believe, and in what order: the Lord's prayer, to shew us what, and in what order, we must desire and love : and the decalogue, to tell us what, and in what order we must do; (though yet these are so near kin to one another, that the same actions in several respects belong to each of the rules). As the commandments must be believed and loved, as well as obeyed, and the matter of the Lord's prayer must be believed to be good and necessary, as well as loved and desired; and belief, and love, and desire, are commanded, and are part of our obedience; yet for all this, they are not formally the same, but divers. And as we say, that the heart or will is the man, as being the commanding faculty ; so morally the will, the love or desire is the Christian ; and therefore the rule of desire or prayer, is a principal part of true religion: the internal part of this duty, I partly touched before Part i. chap. 3. And the church part I told you, why I passed by Part ii. it being not left by the government where we live, to private ministers' discussion (save only to persuade men to obey what is established and commanded). Therefore because I have omitted the latter, and but a little touched upon the former, I shall be the larger on it in this place, to which (for several reasons) I have reserved it.
a The Stoics say, Orabit sapiens ac vota faciet bona a diis postulans. Laert in Zenone. So that when Seneca saith, Cur Deos precibus fatigatis, &c. he only intendeth to reprove the slothful, that think to have all done by prayer alone, while they are idle and neglect the means,
Direct. 1. .See that you understand what prayer is. Even the expressing or acting of our desires before another, to move, or some way procure him to grant them. True Christian prayer is, the believing and serious expressing or acting of our lawful desires before God, through Jesus our Mediator, by the help of the Holy Spirit, as a means to procure of him, the grant of these desires.' Here note, 1. That inward desire is the soul of prayer. 2. The expressions or inward actings of them, is as the body of prayer. 3. To men it must be desire so expressed, as they may understand it; but to God the inward acting of desires is a prayer, because he understandeth it. 4. But it is not the acting of desire, simply in itself that is any prayer: for he may have desires, that offereth them not up to God with heart or voice, but it is desires, as some way offered up to God, or represented, or acted towards him, as a means to procure his blessing, that is prayer indeed.
Direct. II. 'See that you understand the ends and use of prayer. Some think that it is of no use, but only to move God to be willing of that which he was before unwilling of; and therefore because that God is immutable, they think that prayer is a useless thing. But prayer is useful, 1. As an act of obedience to God's command. 2. As the performance of a condition, without which he hath not promised
mercy, and to which he hath promised it. 3. As a means to actuate, and express, and increase our own humility, dependance, desire, trust and hope in God, and so to make us capable and fit for mercy, who else should be incapable and unfit. 4. And so, though God be not changed by it in himself, yet the real change that is made by it on ourselves, doth infer a change in God by mere relation or extrinsical denomination; he being one that is, according to the tenour of his own established law and covenant, engaged to disown or punish the unbelieving prayerless and disobedient, and after engaged to own or pardon them that
b Plerumque hoc negotium plus [genscibus] genitibus quam sermonibus agitur. August. Epist. 121. (August. Oper. Benedict. Edit. Vol. i. Epist. 130, p. 390. T. C.)
are faithfully desirous and obedient: and so this is a relative, or at least a denominative change. So that in prayer, faith and fervency, are so far from being useless, that they as much prevail for the thing desired by qualifying ourselves for it, as if indeed they moved the mind of God, to a real change : even as he that is in a boat, and by his hook layeth hold of the bank, doth as truly by his labour get nearer the bank, as if he drew the bank to him.
Direct. 111. ' Labour above all to know that God to whom you pray.' To know him as your Maker, your Redeemer, and your Regenerator; as your Owner, your Ruler, and your Father, Felicity and End; as all-sufficient for your relief, in the infiniteness of his power, his wisdom and his goodness; and to know your own dependance on him; and to understand his covenant or promises, upon what terms he is engaged and resolved either to give his mercies, or to deny them. “He that cometh to God, must believe that He is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." “ He that calleth on the name of the Lord shall be saved: but how shall they call on him, on whom they have not believed d.”
Direct. iv. • Labour when you are about to pray, to stir up in your souls the most lively and serious belief of those unseen things that your prayers have respect to; and to pray as if you saw them all the while: even as if you saw God in his glory, and saw heaven and hell, the glorified and the damned, and Jesus Christ your Mediator interceding for you in the heavens.' As you would pray if your eyes beheld all these, so strive to pray while you believe them : and say to yourselves, Are they not as sure as if I saw them? Are they not made known by the Son and Spirit of God?
Direct. v. ‘Labour for a constant acquaintance with yourselves, your sins and manifold wants and necessities; and also to take an actual, special notice of your case, when you go to prayer.' If
you get not a former constant acquaintance with your own case, you cannot expect to know it aright upon a sudden as you go to pray: and yet if you do not actually survey your hearts and lives when you go to prayer, your souls will be unhumbled, and want that lively sense of your necessities, which must put life into your prayers. Know well what sin is, and what God's
d Rom, x. 13, 14.
e Heb. xi. 6.