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Jesus Christ.' And if he is fallen, and, at the same time, afraid that he shall never be able to rise again, and recover what he has lost, there is another promise in Psal. xxxvi. 24, 28. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. The Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints:' And God also says, in Heb. xiii. 5. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.'

(7th,) If a believer be under divine desertion, which he may be, and yet kept from apostacy; if he is mourning after the Lord, and earnestly desiring that he would return to him; he may take encouragement from that promise in Psal. xlii. 5. Why art thou cast down, O my soul; and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.' And, in Jer. xxxi. 13, 14. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: For I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice 'from their sorrow. And I will satiate the soul of the priests ⚫ with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord.'

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(8th,) Is he cast down under a sense of the guilt of sin, and afraid of the punishment that will ensue? there are many promises in the word of God that respect the forgiveness of sin, in Psal. ciii. 3. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities who ⚫ healeth all thy diseases.' And, in Psal. cxxx. 4. There is 'forgiveness with thee, that thou mayst be feared.' And, in Isa. xliii. 25. I, even I am he that blotteth out thy transgres'sions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.'

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(9th,) Is a believer afraid of the last enemy, death, by reason of the fear whereof he is all his life-time subject to bondage: Heb. ii. 15. and Psal. xlviii. 14. This God is our 'God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even unto 'death.' And, in Psal. xxiii. 4. Yea, though I walk through 'the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for 'thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.' And, in Psal. xxxvii. 37. Mark the perfect man, and behold 'the upright; for the end of that man is peace.' Thus we have considered the promises of God as suited to every condition, and, consequently, as affording matter of encouragement to us in drawing nigh to him in prayer.

5. Those reproofs for sins committed, and threatenings which are contained in the word of God, as a means to deter from committing them, may be improved for our direction in prayer.

(1.) As we are hereby induced to hate sin, beg strength to subdue and mortify it, and deprecate the wrath and judgments of God against those that commit it.


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(2.) We are hereby led to see our desert of punishment, while we confess ourselves to be sinners, and to bless God that he has not inflicted it upon us; but especially if he has given us ground of hope that he has delivered us from that condemnation which was due to us for sin.

(3.) They will be of use to us in prayer, as we are thereby led to have an awful sense of the holiness and justice of God, and to draw nigh to him with fear and trembling, lest we should provoke his wrath by our unbecoming behaviour in his presence, and thereby bring on ourselves a curse instead of a blessing.

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6. The word of God is of use for our direction in prayer, as it contains many examples of the performance of this duty in a right manner by the saints, whose graces, and the manner in which they have drawn nigh to God, are proposed for our imitation in this duty: Thus we read of Jacob's wrestling with God, and his great importunity, when it is said, in Hos. xii. 4. He had power over the angel, and prevailed; he wept and 'made supplication unto him;' as referring to what is mentioned in Gen. xxxii. 26, 28. The angel,' that is, Christ, says, let me go, for the day breaketh,' q. d. cease thy importunity, which thou hast maintained to the breaking of the day; during which time I have given thee no encouragement that I will grant thy request. Jacob persists in his resolution, and says, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me;' that is, I will not leave off importuning thee, till thou givest me a gracious answer: Upon which, our Saviour says, as a prince hast thou power with God,' that is, with me, and with men,' to wit, with Esau thy brother, and hast prevailed:' So that he shall do thee no hurt, in ver. 28. but his heart shall be turned toward thee.

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Again, we read of Abraham's humility in prayer, when he says, in Gen. xviii. 27. Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes. And, in ver. 30. Oh! let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak.' We also read of David's sincerity, in Psal. xvii. 1. ' Attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer that goeth not out of feigned lips; and of Hezekiah's addressing himself to God with tears in his sickness; upon which, he immediately received a gracious answer, in Isa. xxxviii 3, 5. and when he was recovered, he gives praise to God, in ver. 19. The living, the living, he shall praise thee as I do this day: The Father 'to the children shall make known thy truth.'

We have an instance of Jonah's faith in prayer, when his disobedience to the divine command, had brought him into the utmost distress, in Jonah ii. 2, 4. Out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. Then I said, I am cast out ' of thy sight; yet will I look again toward thy holy temple.'

We have also an instance of Daniel's drawing nigh to God with an uncommon reverence, and awful fear of his divine Majesty, and an account of the manner in which he addresses himself to him, with confession of those sins which Israel had been guilty of, in Dan. ix. 4, 5. ' I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant, and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments: We have sinned, and committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts, and from thy judgments.' And we have this humble confession and supplication, continued to ver. 19. and then an account of the success thereof, in the gracious answer that God sent him by an angel from heaven.

We also read of Joshua's interceding for Israel, when he • fell upon his face before the ark of the Lord, with his clothes ' rent,' Josh. vii. 6. and we have the plea that he makes use of in ver. 9. What wilt thou do unto thy great name.'

We have also an instance of fervency in Moses, (when pleading for the people, after they had worshipped the golden calf,) who prefers God's glory to his own happiness; and had rather have no name in the church, or be blotted out of the book which God had written, than that his wrath should wax hot against Israel, to consume them; of which we have an account in Exod. /xxxiii. 10, 11, 31, 32. (a)

There are many other instances of this nature mentioned in scripture; which, for brevity sake, I pass over; and, indeed, the whole book of the Lamentations is of use to direct us in prayer, under pressing afflictions, either feared or undergone; and the book of Psalms is a directory for prayer to the believer, suited to every condition which he may be supposed to be in, and of praise for mercies of all kinds, whether temporal or spiritual. And the same may be said of many other parts of scripture. From what has been said concerning the word of God being a direction to us in prayer, we may infer,

(1.) That, as reading the scriptures in our families and closets, is a great help to raise our affections, and bring us into a praying frame: So the application of scripture-doctrines and examples to our own case, will supply us with fit matter and expressions upon all occasions, when we draw nigh to God in this duty.

(2.) The pretence of some that they know not how to pray, or that they cannot do it without a prescribed form, arises, for the most part, from an unacquaintedness with, or a neglect to study the scriptures, to answer this end.

(a) Vide ante vol. I. p. 19. in note.

(3.) Since the word of God is a directory for prayer, we ought not to affect modes of expression, or human strains of rhetoric, which are not deduced from, or agreeable to scripture; but, on the other hand, we are to use such a simplicity of style, and spirituality of expression, as we find contained therein; especially in those parts thereof, as are more directly subservient to this duty.

(4.) It will be of very great use for us sometimes, in the course of our reading scripture, especially in private, to turn what we read into prayer, though it do not contain in itself the form of a prayer; as when we read of the presumptuous sins committed by some, and the visible marks of God's dipleasure that ensued hereupon, we ought to lift up our hearts to him, to keep us from them; or, if we have reason to charge ourselves as guilty of them, that we may be humbled, and obtain forgiveness from him. And when we read, the excellent characters of some of the saints, in scripture, we ought to pray that God would enable us to be followers of them herein; or when, in some parts thereof, believers are represented as praying for particular mercies, we ought, at the same time, to lift up our hearts to God for the same: This will be a means, not only to furnish us with matter and proper expressions in prayer; but to excite our affections when we engage in this duty, in those stated times which are set apart for it. This leads us to consider,

III. That there is a special rule of direction contained in that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called the Lord's prayer. This prayer is mentioned only by two of the evangelists, viz. Matthew, in chap. vi. 8, -13. and Luke, in chap. xi. 2, 3, 4. in which we may observe, that though there be a perfect harmony between them, as there is between all other parts of scripture, as to the matter or sense of them; yet it is obvious to all who compare them together, that there is some difference as to the mode of expression; particularly as to the fourth and fifth petition, (and that not only in the translation, as being sufficiently just, but in the original) which there would not have been, had it been designed for a form of prayer.

1. In the fourth petition, Luke teaches us to say, Give us day by day our daily bread: Whereas, in Matthew, it is expressed, Give us this day our daily bread, in which there are different ideas contained in the respective words. This is very common, when the same sense, for substance, is laid down in different parts of scripture. (a) Give us this day our daily bread, contains a petition for what we want at present; and, Give us

(a) The petition in Luke offered daily, is equivalent to that in Matthew.

this, day by day, implies, that these wants will daily recur upon us, in which it will be necessary to desire a supply from God; and therefore, if both these accounts of this petition be compared together, we are hereby directed to pray, Lord, give us the blessings which we want at present; and let these wants be daily supplied, as we shall stand in need of a supply from thee. (a)

2. In the fifth petition, Luke directs us to pray, Forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us: Whereas, in Matthew, the expression is very different, viz. Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

3. The evangelist Luke leaves out the doxology, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen; which Matthew.adds.

From hence, I conceive, it may be inferred, that our Saviour's design, in dictating this prayer to his people, was not that they should confine themselves wholly to the mode of expression used therein, without the least variation; for then, doubtless, the two Evangelists would have laid it down in the very same words; but he rather designed it as a directory respecting the matter of prayer.

I am sensible it will be objected to this, that the preface, which Luke prefixes to it, is, when we pray, say, Our Father, &c. which seems to intimate that these very words should be used, and no other: But to this it may be replied, that the evangelist Matthew, who beyond dispute, laid down this prayer more fully than Luke does, says, by way of preface to it, After this manner pray ye; which seems to be an intimation that it was designed rather to be a directory, as to the matter of prayer, than a form of words to be used without the least variation; and therefore I cannot but think, that what Luke says, when you pray, say, &c. imports nothing else but, pray after this manner.

It farther appears, that our Saviour principally designed this. prayer as a directory, respecting the matter of our petitions, rather than a form; because it does not explicitly contain all the parts of prayer, nor particularly, confession of sin, or thankful acknowledgment of mercies. I say, it does not contain these explicitly, but only implicitly, as a deduction, or inference from the petitions themselves; as when we say, Forgive us our debts, or sins, this supposes that we acknowledge ourselves to be sinners. It cannot be denied, but that there are some expressions which contain matter of thanksgiving; as when we pray, Hallowed be thy name, it implies, a thankful acknowledgment of all those instances in which God has sanctified his name, as well as a desire that he would do it, q. d.

(a) is found only in this prayer, and rather means necessary.

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