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tion, to retire to a mountain for this express purpose, to withdraw himself a short distance from his companions, to kneel down, to pass the whole night in prayer, or in a place, devoted to prayer. Let all, who feel their hearts impregnated with religious fervor, remember this example: remember, that this disposition of the heart ought to vent itself in actual prayer; let them not either be afraid nor ashamed, nor suffer any person, nor any thing to keep them from this holy exercise. They will find the devout dispositions of their souls strengthened, gratified, confirmed. hortation may not be necessary to the generality of pious tempers; they will naturally follow their propensity, and it will naturally carry them to prayer. But some, even good men, are too abstracted in their way of think
, ing upon this subject; they think, that since God seeth and regardeth the heart, if their devotion be there, if it be within, all outward signs and expressions of it are superfluous. It is enough to answer, that our blessed Lord did not so think. He had all the fulness of devo
tion in his soul, nevertheless, he thought it not superfluous to utter and pronounce audible prayer to God; and not only so, but to retire and withdraw himself from other engagements; nay even from his most intimate and favored companions, expressly for this purpose.
Again, Our Lord's retirement to prayer appears commonly to have followed some signal act and display of his divine powers. He did every thing to the glory of God; he referred his divine powers to his father's gift; he made them the subject of his thankfulness, inasmuch as they advanced his great work. He followed them by his devotions. good gift cometh down from the father of lights. Whether they be natural, or whether they be supernatural, the faculties, which we possess, are by God's donation; wherefore any successful exercise of these faculties, any instance, in which we have been capable of doing something good, properly and truly so, either for the community, which is best of all, for
, our neighbourhood, for our families, nay even for ourselves, ought to stir and awaken our gra
titude to God, and to call forth that gratitude into actual devotion; at least, this is to imitate our blessed Lord, so far as we can imitate him at all: it is adopting into our lives the principle which regulated him.
Again, It appears, on one occasion at least, that our Lord's retirement to prayer was preparatory to an important work, which he was about to execute. The manner, in which St. Luke states this instance, is thus :-“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God; and when it was day, he called unto him his disciples, and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.” From this statement I infer, that the night passed by our Lord in prayer, was preparatory to the office, which he was about to execute; and surely, an important office it was; important to him; important to his religion; important to the whole world. Nor let it be said, that our Lord, after all, in one instance at least, was unfortunate in his choice: of the twelve one was a traitor. That choice
was not error; a remarkable prophecy was to be fulfilled, and other purposes were to be answered, of which we cannot now speak particularly. "I know,” says our Lord,
« whom I have chosen.” But let us confine ourselves to our observation. It was a momentous choice: it was a decision of great consequence: and it was accordingly, on onr Lord's part, preceded by prayer; not only so, but by a night spent in prayer.
“He continued all night in prayer to God;" or, if you would rather so render it, in a house, set apart for prayer to God. Here, therefore, we have an example given us, which we both can imitate, and ought to imitate. Nothing of singular importance; nothing of extraordinary moment, either to ourselves or others, ought to be resolved upon, or undertaken, without prayer to God, without previous devotion.
It is a natural operation of piety to carry the mind to God, whenever any thing presses and weighs upon it: they, who feel not this tendency, have reason to accuse and suspect themselves of want of piety. Moreover, we have, first, the direct
example example of our Lord himself; I believe also, I may add, that we have the example and practice of good men, in all ages of the world.
Again, We find our Lord resorting to prayer in his last extremity, and with an earnestness, I had almost said, a vehemence of devotion, proportioned to the occasion. The terms, in which the evangelists describe our Lord's devotion in the garden of Gethsemene, the evening preceding his death, are the strongest terms that could be used. As soon as he came to the place, he bid his disciples pray. When he was at the place, he said unto them, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation.” This did not content him: this was not enough for the state and sufferings of his mind.
He parted even from them. He withdrew about a stone's cast, and kneeled down. Hear how his struggle in prayer is described.
Three times he came to his disciples, and returned again to prayer; thrice he kneeled down, at a distance from them, repeating the same words. Being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly: drops of sweat fell from his body, as if it had been