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the Bible in order that you may imbibe its real spirit, and come beneath the sanctifying influence of its heavenly doctrines, and gain a conformity to Christ, and shape your course by the rules it affords ; this is that study of God's revealed will which shall qualify for the enjoyment of His presence in glory, and issue in the beholding Him as He is, and the being made eternally blessed.

LECTURE III.

PRAYER.

JOB, xxi. 15.

What profit should we have, if we pray unto Him ?"

prayer considered as

Our subject this morning is prayer

a mean of grace adapted to promote the spiritual welfare. The language of the text is the expression of unbelief,—it is the question of one who denies the efficacy of supplication. We shall give an answer to the question, although not such a reply as it was meant to elicit. We propose to establish, upon conclusive evidence, that there is profit in prayer; so that this exercise may be properly regarded,

not alone as an exalted privilege or an imperative duty, but also as a powerful auxiliary to keep alive and to strengthen, to improve and invigorate, every spiritual grace.

There have been some in all ages impious enough to deny, or rash enough to question, the efficacy of prayer ; men who, in the pride of a false philosophy, aiming to be wiser than God, have affected to dispute the necessity of prayer. They have argued, that since God is a Being of infinite omniscience, therefore it is unnecessary to acquaint Him with the want of which He cannot be uninformed.

Again, they have said that since God is a Being of immutable purpose, therefore it is erroneous to imagine that the cry of a pliant on earth can alter the mind of Him who hath predetermined “all things after the counsel of His own will."

I shall not now occupy time in exposing the fallacy of objections like these ; I will simply say of them, they are both irrational

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and unscriptural; they will neither stand the light of reason nor the testimony of experience; they proceed from the suggestion of Satan, who, knowing too well the efficacy of prayer as a weapon in the hand of the believer, would gladly make it appear to be a weapon of no value at all.

Every argument that can be alleged against prayer is at once refuted by the consideration that God has been pleased to command us to pray. It is not left to our own option whether or not to pray; God has directed us to seek unto Him at all times by diligent supplication, and “in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, to let our requests be made known unto Him."

God, it is true, is an unchangeable Being, no one of the things which He hath determined can fail to come to pass : and yet it is in the power of faithful supplication, for the merit's sake of the Redeemer, to prevail

1 Philip. iv. 6.

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with God. This is not a matter of theory it is a fact which revelation asserts and experience proves; and who can tell but that, in the councils of the Divine Being, even those things which are most determined to come to pass are preordained only with certain conditions, and that one of those conditions

may be the prayer of faith ? To let this pass, however, I assume that we are all convinced of the duty of prayer, and that we also regard it as the believer's high privilege. The point we have to investigate is the efficacy of prayer, as a mean to advance the believer's growth in grace. How does it appear that grace is strengthened or increased by the persevering exercise of faithful supplication

It is my earnest desire to put this truth before you, so as, by the help of God's Spirit, to carry conviction to every heart ; so persuaded am I of the real power of prayer to ensure growth in grace, that I should have the most unbounded confidence,

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