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wrath, and hell, and judgment are, and what sin you have committed, and what duty you have omitted, and failed in, and what wants and corruptions are yet within you, and what mercy and grace you stand in need of, and then all this will make you pray, and pray to purpose with all your hearts. But when men are wilful strangers to themselves, and never seriously look backwards or inwards to see what is amiss and wanting; nor look forwards, to see the danger that is before them, no wonder if their hearts be dead and dull, and if they are as unfit to pray, as a sleeping man to work e.
Direct. VI. See that you hate hypocrisy, and let not your lips go against or without your hearts; but that your hearts be the spring of all your words: that you love not sin, and be not loath to leave it, when you seem to pray against it; and that you truly desire the grace which you ask, and ask not for that which you would not have and that you be ready to use the lawful means to get the mercies which you ask;' and be not like those lazy wishers, that will pray God to give them increase at harvest, when they lie in bed, and will neither plough or sow; or that pray him to save them from fire, or water, or danger, while they run into it, or will not be at the pains to go out of the way. O what abundance of wretches do offer up hypocritical, mock prayers to God! blaspheming him thereby, as if he were an idol, and knew not their hypocrisy, and searched not the hearts? Alas, how commonly do men pray in public, "that the rest of their lives hereafter may be pure and holy," that hate purity and holiness at the heart, and deride and oppose that which they seem to pray for? As Austin confesseth of himself before he was converted, that he prayed against his filthy sin, and yet was afraid lest God should grant his prayers. So many pray against the sins which they would not be delivered from, or would not use the means that is necessary to their conquest and deliverance." "Let him that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity f." "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear mes." Alas, how easy is it for an ungodly person to learn to
* Bias navigabat aliquando cum impiis, et quum navis tempestate, quateretur, illique Deos invocarent; silete, inquit, ne vos hic illi navigare sentiant. Diog. Laert. lib.i. sect. 86. p. 55.
Psal. lxvi 18. See Ezek. xiv. 3, 4, 14.
say a few words by rote, and to run them over, without sense of what he speaketh; while the tongue is a stranger to the heart, and speaketh not according to its desires.
Direct. VII. Search your hearts and watch them carefully, lest some beloved vanity alienate them from the work in hand, and turn away your thoughts, or prepossess your affections, so that you want them when you should use them.' If the mind be set on other matters, prayer will be a heartless, lifeless thing. Alas, what a dead and pitiful work, is the prayer of one that hath his heart ensnared in the love of money, or in any ambitious or covetous design? The thoughts will easily follow the affections.
Direct. VIII. Be sure that you pray for nothing that is disagreeable to the will of God, and that is not for the good of yourselves or others, or for the honour of God: and therefore take heed, lest an erring judgment, or carnal desires, or passions should corrupt your prayers, and turn them into sin.' If men will ignorantly pray to God to do them hurt, it is a mercy to them if God will but pardon and deny such prayers, and a judgment to grant them. And it is an easy thing for fleshly interest, or partiality, or passion to blind the judgment, and consequently to corrupt men's prayers. An ambitious or covetous man will easily be drawn to pray for the grant of his sinful desires, and think it would be for his good. And there is scarce an heretical or erroneous person, but thinketh that it would be good that the world were all reduced to his opinion, and all the opposers of it were borne down: there are few zealous Antinomians, Anabaptists, or any other dividers of the church, but they put their opinions usually into their prayers, and plead with God for the interest of their sects and errors: and it is like that the Jews that had a persecuting zeal for God", did pray according to that zeal, as well as persecute as it is like that Paul himself prayed against the Christians, while he igno rantly persecuted them. And they that think they do God service by killing his servants, no doubt would pray against them, as the Papists and others do at this day. Be espe cially careful therefore that your judgments and desires be sound and holy, before you offer them up to God in prayer. For it is a most vile abuse of God, to beg of him to do the devil's work; and, as most malicious and erroneous persons
h Rom. x. 2.
do, to call him to their help against himself, his servants and his cause.
Direct. Ix. Come always to God in the humility that beseemeth a condemned sinner, and in the faith and boldness that beseemeth a son, and a member of Christ : do nothing in the least conceit and confidence of a worthiness in yourselves; but be as confident in every lawful request, as if you saw your glorified Mediator interceding for you with his Father.' Hope is the life of prayer and all endeavour, and Christ is the life of hope. If you pray and think you shall be never the better for it, your prayers will have little life. And there is no hope of success, but through our powerful Intercessor. Therefore let both a crucified and glorified Christ, be always before your eyes in prayer; not in a picture, but in the thoughts of a believing mind. Instead ofa crucifix, let some such sentence of Holy Scripture, be written before you, where you use to pray, as John xx. 17. "Go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." Or Heb. iv. 14. "We have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God:" ver. 15, 16. " that was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin: let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy," &c. Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast, and that entereth into that within the vail; whither the fore-runner is for us entered," "He is able to save to the uttermost them that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." If ye ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” Christ and the promise must be the ground of all your confidence and hope.
Direct. x. Labour hard with your hearts all the while to keep them in a reverent, serious, fervent frame, and suffer them not to grow remiss and cold, to turn prayer into liplabour, and lifeless formality, or into hypocritical, affected, seeming fervency, when the heart is senseless, though the voice be earnest.' The heart will easily grow dull, and customary, and hypocritical if it be not carefully watched, and diligently followed and stirred up. "The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." A cold prayer sheweth a heart that is cold in desiring that which is prayed h Heb. vi. 9. 20. i Heb.vii. 25
John xiv. 13, 14.
James v. 16.
for, and therefore is unfit to receive the mercy; God will make you know that his mercy is not contemptible, but worthy your most earnest prayers.
Direct. XI. For the matter and order of your desires and prayers, take the Lord's prayer as your special rule; and labour to understand it well m' For those that can make use of so brief an explication, I shall give a little help.
A Brief Explication of the Method of the Lord's Prayer.
I. To whom
1. Who he is: GOD: not Creatures, Saints, or Angels.
1. Our Owner, or Absolute Lord.
2. Our Ruler, or Supreme King.
3. Our Benefactor and chief Good, and
so our Felicity and our End.
In this one word is these attributes of not only implied all God, but also our hearts are directed
whither to look for their relief and direction now, and their felicity for ever, and called off from earthly dependances, and expectations of happiness and rest;
and to look for all from heaven, and at last in heaven.
1. By Creation: so all are:
2. By Redemption: as all
3. By Regeneration: and so
1. His Own; 2. His Subjects:
3. His Beloved and Beneficiaries, that live upon him and to him, as their End.
1. Loving God, as
is signified in the
m of the method of the Lord's Prayer, see Ramus de Relig. Christ. lib. iii.cap.
3. and Ludolphus de vita Christi, Part i. cap. 37. and Perkins in orat. dom. and Dr. Boys on the Liturgy, pp. 5-7.
II. The Prayer, or Petitions, in two parts: of which,
I. The first Part is according to the order of estimation, intention, and desire; and is,
II. The se
cond Part is according to the order of execution, and is for ourselves, beginning at
the lowest, and ascending, till the end first intended, be last attained: and it is,
1. For the end simply, which is GOD; in the word 'THY' repeated in every petition.
2. For the end
3. For the lower
1. The highest or ultimate, that is, the glo
ry of God; HALLOWED BE THY
II. The highest means of his glory, 'THY
this; 'THY WILL BE DONE,' that
end, even the subject of these means; which is the public good of mankind, the world and church: IN EARTH,' that is, let the world be subjected to thee, and the church obey thee; which will be the greatest blessing to them: ourselves, being included in the world. And the measure and pattern is added, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN,' that is, let the earth be conformed as near as may be to the heavenly pattern. So that this part of the Lord's Prayer, proceeding in the order of excellency and intention, directeth us I. To make God our ultimate, highest end; and to desire his interest first, and in this order, (1.) His glory, (2.) His kingdom, (3.) Obedience to his laws. II. To make the public good of the world and the church, our next end as being the noblest means. III. To include our own interest in and under this, as the least of all; professing first our own consent to that which we desire first for others. 1. For the support of our nature by necessary means: 'GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD:' this being God's first gift, presupposed both to grace and glory. GIVE,' signifieth our dependance on God for all. US,' our charity, that we desire relief for ourselves and others. DAILY' (or substantial) BREAD,' our mo deration; that we desire not unnecessaries or superfluities. "THIS DAY,' the constancy of our dependance, and that we desire not, or care too much for the future, and promise not ourselves long life.
For clearing us from the guilt of all sin past (repentance and faith being here presupposed); where is (1.) The Petition: AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS' (trespasses or sins). (2.) The motive from our qualification for forgiveness: AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS.' Without which God will not forgive us.
3. For future preservation: (1.) From the means,' LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION:' that is, though thou mayst justly try us, yet pity our frailty, and neither cause or permit us so to be tried, as may tempt us to sin and ruin. (2.) From the end, BUT DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL:' that is, 1. The Evil One, Satan (and his instruments). 2. The evil thing: 1. Sin. Misery, which are Satan's end. He that would be saved from hell and misery, must be saved from sin; and he that would be saved from both, must be saved from satan and from temptation. Quest. But where are the requests for positive holiness, grace and heaven? Answ. 1. Repentance and faith are supposed in the petitioner. 2. What he wanteth is asked in the three petitions of the first Part, that we with others may sanctify God's name, and be the subjects of his kingdom, and do his will, &c. Christ and a state of grace, are finally in the first petition, formally in the second, and expressively in the third.