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Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory, for ever, Amen.g
Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling, and present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour be glory and majesty, dominion and power, now and for ever, Amen.h
Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb for ever and ever, Amen.i
g 1 Tim. i. 17
? Jude 14, 25.
i Rev. v. 13.
ON THE NATURE OF THE DUTY OF
P R A Y E R.
IT is proposed, in these few pages, to lay before the
reader, some thoughts and observations on the important subject of prayer. And the thoughts which will be suggested, are intended to illustrate the nature of the duty--the foundation of it-the ends and design of it-the manner in which it is to be performed--and the great and powerful encouragements to the stated and constant practice of it.
"THE nature of the duty of prayer, will I now be attempted to be explained.
Prayer is essential to religion ; and of course, no person, who lives in the allowed omission of it, can have any good grounds to hope for the divine favor, or for a seat at last, in the mansions of peace above. It is a duty, likewise, of the greatest importance in itself, and more than any other, tends to keep alive in us, a sense of the presence of God of our need of his mercy-of our eptire dependance on him and the high obli. gations, under which we are to him for his kind care over, and rich goodness towards us. It is in truth, the great medium of communion and intercourse with him. Had we no revelation from heaven to instruct us, in the right way thither, the light of reason alone would oblige us to be constant and devout in calling upon the name of God. It is a piece of respect and homage so exactly consonant to the natural ideas, which all men have of the Supreme Being, that it is certain that those who live without prayer, live without God in the world. mouths, or only offer the thoughts of the heart. Prayer is expressing a constant religious dependance upon his wise and good Providence, gratitude for the benefits which we recieve, a patient submission to his will under afflictions, an ingenuous trust in him and relying on his gracious assistances to help our sincere endeavors. And it is either public in the house of God, or private in our families, or secret in our closetsmor ejaculatory, often ascending to the Supreme throne, through all the business of the day, and silence of the night, upon all emergencies and occasions. The times, when it is to be preformed are eminently, morning and evening, at the opening and closing of each revolving day. There must be the morning and evening sacrifice. Nature and reason, aś well as the ordinance of heaven, in the Jewish worship, point out the commencement and close of every day, as the fit and proper stated seasons of family, and closet devotion. We are commanded to pray continually; and without ceasing, allu:ling to the morning and evening oblations under the ancient dispensation--the daily sacrifice. The meaning cannot be that we should spend our whole time in this duty, because there are other duties and concerns to be regarded, of equal mo. ment ; but that we should, constantly and diligently, attend upon the duty, every day, as our state and condition shall permit; and
What, then, is the nature of the duty ? The scriptures speak of it, under the idea of our drawing near to God-lifting up our souls to him-pouring out our hearts before him and seeking his face. It is a religious calling upon God founded upon the belief, both of his infinite knowledge, power, and presence, and of his abundant goodness and tender mercy in Jesus Christ : in consequence of which, he is always ready to hear and receive our prayers ; perfectly acquainted with all our needs, and fully able to supply them. Prayer, therefore, is the solemn offering up de. vout acknowledgments and the desires of the heart to God for things agreeable to his will,' through the Mediator. It is the lifting up of the mind to God, by whatever way it is made, whether we utter our requests with our