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for mercies and benefits received,-or Praise, ascription of glory and honour to God, the Author of every good and every perfect gift.
3. It is to God that all Prayer is to be addressed. Invocation is proper to God: for it is He alone who is the one great object of religious fear, and trust, and worship,-who preserves and rules us by his providence and will,-who of his own good pleasure gave us our existence,-who has conferred upon us every thing that we enjoy in this life, or that may qualify us for endless felicity in another, who infinitely deserves, and constantly demands, all praise and glory which can be ascribed to Him by our feeble tongues, or the more harmonious voices of glorified saints and ministering angels.
It is to God that all Prayer is to be addressed; but sinful as we are, and incompetent to plead worthily with the great Jehovab,-disqualified by the stain of our nature for approaching the throne of a pure and avenging Deity, and incapable of offering to him any such sacrifices as shall of themselves merit his attention, we are graciously instructed in the Gospel how we may gain access to the Father, and how we may render our prayers and praises acceptable in his sight. Through the name and for the sake of Him who is the only Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus,-who in his divine and human nature, sits at the right hand of God, continually making intercession for us, and presenting our petitions before the throne of grace;-through Him, in Him, and for Him, as our Mediator, as our Head, and as our Propitiation, we may come unto God in hope and confidence, that our humble and holy ad
dresses shall be heard and answered. Christ himself, the Redeemer, being God of God, the only begotten of the Father before all worlds, and the Holy Ghost, also, the Comforter, very and eternal God, proceeding from the Father and the Son, are separately and by name, as well as in the unity of the Trinity, to be adored,―to receive the tribute of divine worship,of Prayer and Praise. Each Person of the Godhead being represented in Scripture as assuming peculiar offices, each one ought to be addressed, with especial reference to these, in the language of adoration.
§ 4. Fitness of subject, and a proper frame of mind, are essential to the acceptableness of Prayer. If the desires or thanks expressed be blameable in them. selves, that is, inconsistent with the Moral Law; or if request for right things, and acknowledgement of real mercies, be made in an unbecoming temper, or with a deficiency of those qualifications which are requisite, address to heaven shall not only be in vain, but must be considered as an actual sin, which needs to be repented of. Prayer, therefore, should have respect to those things which are most important to us to spiritual blessings, for which we cannot be too desirous, or too grateful,-in subordination, to temporal blessings; and temporal blessings are to be sought as they may tend to the glory of God, and our eternal salvation. We are commanded to pray and to offer up thanks for the welfare of ourselves, our dependants, our fellow-creatures in general, even for our bitterest enemies, but especially for all fellowchristians, to intreat that all may abundantly reap the fruits of the covenant of mercy in the soul, and be protected by a good Providence from every thing
that may assault and hurt the body, and to return thanks for the innumerable instances in which these benefits have been received,-to present prayer and thanksgiving for all sorts and conditions of men, but especially for all who are delegated by the Ruler of heaven and earth to exercise civil dominion, or to minister in spiritual matters.
That Prayer may be heard, it must spring from the heart, and be uttered in faith, humility, truth, zeal, and perseverance; it must be couched in language reverend, well-considered, expressive of our religious belief, and as scriptural as possible; and still, if it be all this, it will be defective and unavailable, unless the Holy Ghost be sought (and if he be sought he will assuredly be found of us) to sanctify the deed, and to pour into our souls that Spirit of Prayer,—to produce that humble and contrite heart,-which is one of the choicest blessings imparted by his purify. ing and invigorating influence.
$5. Prayer, if it be of the proper description, humble, fervent, faithful, proceeding from a sound mind and a devout heart, tempered by the chastening power of the Spirit of grace and supplication, confident with regard to spiritual mercies, diffident with respect to temporal ones, addressed through Jesus Christ to God the Father;-if it be thus according to the divine will, it will naturally be accompanied, whether in public, in the congregation, or in private in our closets, by such outward signs and postures as best indicate the inward affections which inspire our address, and the reverence and awe with which we stand in the immediate presence of the Omni. potent. And this propriety of posture, which is
dictated by nature, is also matter of scriptural precept and example.
§ 6. Invocation, or calling upon God, may be considered more particularly as it resolves itself into the acts of petition, of thanksgiving, and of praise,— which latter, though necessarily accompanying all acts of adoration, may yet be exercised alone, and seems therefore to demand a separate notice.
In the first part-Petition-we either supplicate for spiritual or temporal mercies-for divine assistance in our probationary course, for pardon of our sins, for that peace of God which passeth understanding-for such earthly advantages and comforts as may seem expedient for us, may enable us to serve God, and to fulfil our social obligations, with greater ability, and benefit to others; or we deprecate evils, especially those greatest evils which can befall us, the wrath of God, and the judgments of his hand, a rigid sentence according to our deserts, and the infliction of punishment due to our transgression,-the being denied by our divine Lord and Master, and the withdrawing of his Holy Spirit, the Guide and Comforter of our souls ; temptation to sin,-a hardened heart,—and a deathbed of remorse and terror: we pray also that we may avoid those comparatively lesser ills, sickness, sorrow, and affliction, a painful and languishing fra me of body, and adverse fortune in our worldly pursuits and lawful callings.
Entreaty for positive benefits, and for deliverance from evil, must properly proceed from a sincere and *practical sense of our own weakness, deficiency, and unworthiness, and of the power, perfection, and pa. ternal love of Almighty God. It implies therefore
faith in God the Father, as the Fountain of all goodness,-in God the Son, as our Mediator and Intercessor, and in God the Holy Ghost as the Comforter, and the Inspirer of every good thought, and the Sanctifier of our wishes and our prayers; it implies a pious trust in the veracity and fidelity of God, that he will perform his promises, recorded in the Gospel, of giving remission of sins to all who repent and believe in his only-begotten Son, and such spiritual and temporal blessings, as they really need, to all who ask for them in the name of Jesus; it implies a belief that God is actually the bestower of every good thing, according to his own free will and pleasure, that they come not by chance, and are not to be obtained by human diligence and wisdom, without the divine blessing or permission;-that God is willing to grant his people all things necessary to their preservation and true happiness. If prayer and supplication be not made in faith, they are deficient in that condition upon which alone they can be accepted; for it is faith alone which embraces the Gospel promises, which assures us that they who seek shall find, that they who ask shall have the assistance of which they stand in need.
§ 7. In the act of thanksgiving, we should render to God humble and hearty acknowledgements for all that he has done for us in our creation, in calling us into existence, enduing us with many excellent faculties, and making us capable of immortality,-in our preservation from helpless infancy to the present day, amidst innumerable manifest and hidden dangers, amidst the changes and chances of this mortal life,in keeping us under his protection, unceasingly observed by the watchful eye, and guarded by the out