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It is presumed the sudden death of the Author will sufficiently apologize for the Dedication remaining unfinished. Joo Plunkices
S E R M
James v. i6th.
The effektual fervent prayer of a righteous
man availeth much.
L OR the particular occasion on which I these words were spoken, and the relation they bear to what preceded, I shall refer you to the chapter from whence they are taken, and at present consider them as they stand independently, and assure us, that the duty of prayer, when practised by a righteous man, and offered up in a proper manner, is of great efficacy to avert misVol. IV. B
fortunes, fortunes, and procure blessings; premising only, that, by a righteous man we are not to understand one who is perfectly pure, and free from sin, but one who performs his duty to the utmost of his power, and makes up for any infirmity in his Obedience, by the strength of his Faith, and the sincerity of his Repentance. .
The duty of prayer is in the present age by many entirely neglected, or imperfectly observed, and by some openly decried. There are many who disallow any other application to God than that of the mind, and not a few who, however constant in the outward forms of prayer, do yet by their lives but too plainly shew that their minds are unaffected. Some too there are, who run into the contrary extreme, who are so unwarrantably attentive to the performance of this duty, as to neglect obligations which
are of much greater import, which are more immediately necessary for their own good, and the benefit of society, and which of consequence must be more agreeable to the will, and conducive to the glory, of God.
Whilst mistakes like these prevail, a consideration of the duty of prayer cannot be out of season; it cannot prejudice those who best understand it, and may be serviceable to those who do not.'
· Prayer is a solemn act of worshipping the Supreme Being; wherein we, on the one hand, acknowledge our weakness and indigence, on the other his power and ability to afford us relief; it naturally implies fome defect in him who offers it up, and some authority in him to whom it is offered to pardon and amend it; it suppo-, . . B 2
ses God to be the Maker and Governor of all things, and so gracious and condescending, so potent and absolute in his natưre, as always to be ready to hear, and able to redress the Grievances of his Creatures, fo that this duty is founded on the infinite goodness and power of God; he is infinitely good, and therefore willing, infinitely powerful, and therefore able to relieve us'; and for these reasons he is, and he alone can be, the proper object of our Prayers.
The Heathens themselves, as they were fully persuaded of these perfections in God, and of the great need in which they stood of having them exerted in their behalf, were also convinced that it was their duty to pray to him; and this duty was heartily acknowledged, carnestly recommended, and îtrictly practised by the wisest and soberest among them. The Scriptures, as they