Imatges de pàgina

for favours already received, and also apply to him for those which we still want; not forgetting, however, to express the most entire acquies, cence in his will, whether he should think proper to grant our requests or not. Now, this is certainly the very part that a prudent and wise parent would take with a child, though with respect to himself, both the acknowledgments and the requests of the child were ever so unnee cessary.

In the Old Testament history, we find prayer to be the constant practice of all good men ; and so far was there from being any doubt concerning the propriety of it, that it is mentioned by Eliphaz as the greatest aggravation of the wickedness which he ascribed to Job, that he even “ cast off fear, “ and restrained prayer before God,” Job. xv. 4. It is mentionedas the characteristic of God, that “ he heareth prayer,” Pf.lxv. 2. “ O thou that “ hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.” Solomon also says, Prov. xv. 8. “That the “ prayer of the upright is his delight;" and Da. vid, Pf. cxlv. 18. “ The Lord is nigh unto all “ them that call upon him. He will also hear their “ cry, and will save them.”

Our Saviour recommends frequent prayer to his disciples. He also gave them a variety of particular instructions, and was himself a pattern for them, with respect to it. For we not only read of his


praying upon particular occasions (several of which prayers are recorded by the Evangelists) but it is said, upon one occasion, that he spent even a whole night in prayer to God, Luke vi. 12. as if he who received the most from God, and who was there. fore the most dependent upon him, thought it necessary to be more particularly careful to express that dependence. Our Lord even encourages great earneftness and importunity in prayer ; one of his parables being particularly calculated to excite men “ always to pray, and not to faint.” Luke xviii. 1. &c. " What man is there of you,” says .be, addressing himself to a great multitude, Matt. vii. 9. &c. " whom, if his son ask bread, will he “ give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he “ give him a serpent ? If ye then, being evil, us know how to give good gifts unto your chil« dren, how much more shall your father who is “ in heaven give good things to them that afk “ him?”

Our Lord is very careful, however, to inculcate a right disposition of mind in prayer, and particularly cautions his disciples to avoid the oftentation of the Pharisees, and the clamorous repetitions of the heathens úpon that occasion, Matt. vi. 5. &c. " When thou prayeft, thou shalt not be as the “ hypocrites are: for they love to pray ftanding in -“ the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, " that they may be seen of men, Verily, I say « unto you, they have their reward, But thou,

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“ when thou prayeft, enter into thy closet, and “ when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy fa“ther who is in secret, and thy father who “ seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. But “ when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the “ heathen do: for they think that they shall be “ heard for their much speaking. Be not ye, “ therefore, like unto them: for your father know“ eth what things ye have need of, before ye ask 6 him.” To these excellent admonitions, he subjoins that pattern of prayer which we usually call the Lord's prayer, which is admirably simple and expressive; and as the most important of all our petitions is that which we make for the forgiveness of our sins, he is particularly careful to infist upon it, that we make that request with a heart thoroughly reconciled to all those who have offended us. Matt. vi. 14. &c. « For, if ye forgive men their « trespafles, your heavenly father will also forgive “ you. But if ye forgive not men their tref*“ paffes, neither will your father forgive your “ trespasies."

The apostles also, upon a great variety of occafions, most earnestly recommend frequent prayer, 1 Thes. v. 17. “ Pray without ceasing." Rom. xii. 12. « Rejoicing in hope ; patient in tribu“ lation ; continuing instant in prayer.” Philip. iv. 6. • Be careful for nothing : but in every " thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanks

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“ giving, let your requests be made known unto o God.” I Tim. ii. 1. &c. " I exhort that “ supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving “ of thanks, be made for all men: for kings, and “ for all that are in authority.” This apostle does not fail, however, to recommend a proper temper of mind in prayer, when he adds, v. 8. “ I will " that men pray every where, lifting up holy “ hands, without wrath and doubting.”

When persons are under affliction, they are more especially disposed to have recourse to prayer. Seeing no other hope, they fly to God, as their all-fufficient Saviour, and friend; and this natural propensity of the mind is particularly encouraged by the apostle James, v. 13. " Is any among you « afflicted ? let him pray."

Though the greatest stress is laid, in the scriptures, upon private devotion, it is by no means so much so, as to set aside the obligation of social worship, which is also much insisted upon in them. The sacrifices which were appointed to be made every morning and evening in the Jewish tabernacle or temple, were offered in the name of the whole nation; and as many persons as conveniently could, did usually attend during the ceremony, and offered up their prayers, while the priest went into the temple to burn incense. Luke i. 10. " And the "whole multitude of the people were praying withs out at the time of incense.”. Davis expresses K 5


the highest satisfaction which he received from those opportunities of public worship in several of his psalms, as Pl. xxvi. 8. " Lord, I have loved “ the habitation of thy house, and the place where " thine honour dwelleth.” Pr. cxxii. 1. "I “ was glad when they said unto me, Let us go "s into the house of the Lord.” And Pf. lxxxiv. 1. “ How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of " hosts! A day in thy courts is better than a “ thousand.” He also recommends the greatest reverence upon these occasions. Pr. Ixxxix. 7. “ God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the “ faints: and to be had in reverence of all them rs that are about him.”

Though we have no particular accounts of the custom of the Jews, in antient times, with respect to the manner in which they spent their fabbaths, yet since they were commanded to rest from all labour on those days, and were enjoined to read and meditate on their law " at all times,” Deut. vi. 7. we cannot but suppose that they employed those days, in which they had most leisure for that pur. pose, in reading, meditation, and prayer; and feveral passages in the Old Testament feem pretty plainly to allude to such a custom. We find, however, in the time of our Saviour, that syriagogues were established through the whole country of Judea, and in all other countries where the Jews had any settlement; and in these places the books of

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