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No XXII.

On Prayer.

Easily may faith admit, that all
The good which we enjoy, from heaven descends ;
But that from us aught should ascend to heaven
So prevalent as to concern the mind
Of God high blest, or to incline his will,
Hard to belief may seem ; yet this will pray’r,
Or one short sigh of human breath, upborne
Ev'n to the seat of God! For since I sought
By prayer th' offended Deity to appease,
Methought I saw him placable and mild,
Bending his ear!- -Peace return'd
Home to my breast..

- MILTONi..

If religious meditation be acknowledged to: be a powerful mean of grace, shall we not also, in obedience to the reason of man, and the will of our Creator, seek those blessings. which are distributed from above, by another channel derived from the same source, even by the medium of pruyer? To subdue those irregular inclinations which are apt to sea K.5.

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duce us from our duty, and to produce in our hearts an habitual and confirmed devotion to the Supreme Being, and a proper sense of our obligation to that Saviour who came to rescue us from inisery and sin, we must apply to those remedies which the bounty of a kind Providence bestows upon

To be able to open an immediate intercourse with heaven, appears to be as much above the sphere of humanity as any other miracle in nature. Yet even the heathens believed the possibility of this intercourse. But as heathens are not the objects of this meditation, I shall be allowed to assume it as part of the faith of the Christian, that the prayer which ascends to the throne of grace from an heart fully impressed with a sense of the divine goodness, and offered through the merits and mediation of Christ, will not fail to procure such an accession of graces and blessings, as will produce the completest peace of soul, and the most comfortable assurances of immortal happiness.

Many are the arguments which present themselves on the efficacy of prayer, many

are

are the passages of scripture which assure us, that “the effectual fervent prayer of a “ righteous man availeth much.” To scripture indeed I would refer, as offering the purest motives for the performance of this duty. Our religion is a religion of faith ; and if we have no doubts concerning the authenticity of our religion, we can have none concerning the efficacy of prayer. In the history of the Author of our religion, we frequently behold him moved by the fervency of his devotions. “ And being in " an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and “ his sweat was, as it were, great drops of * blood falling down to the ground.” His precepts too, enjoin this communication with heaven, which are enforced with this strong motive, peculiar to the religion which he taught, that he will give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him. When we thus reflect on prayer as a' christian duty, this end will appear most desirable to our souls. It is to the sacred impression of the Holy Spirit on our hearts, to which we must look for that peace of mind which is to console us under a thousand troubles, and to antiK 6

cipate cipate within our breast the happiness of heaven.

Who that has experienced the fervours of an animated devotion, but must know how superior such feelings are, to the cold and lifeless reasonings of mere philosophy! What warm emotions are excited by so near an approach to the divine presence! What pleasure, to losc oneself, as it were, in the contemplation of God's goodness! What gratitude and love to meditate on his mercies and deliverances! And when we reflect on these blessings as closely united with the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ, how can we forget in every action of our lives to cement the holy union ?

Were we truly sensible that “ The Lord is in every place, beholding the evil and “ the good,” we should easily perceive that prayer is a rational and proper introduction to his presence, if we use it with sincerity, humility and faith. When these are the principles with which we pray, there can be no doubt but that the Spirit of God will rest upon us, and that the blessings arising from $o carnest and sincere a supplication, will

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fall on our heads like the genial dews of heaven.

No man ever prayed with more fervour than David, “ His psalms,” as an amiable interpreter of them observes," " have been the manual of the Son of God “ in the days of his flesh ;” and of himself he says that “ he has never failed to expe“ rience the unspeakable benefit of them “ both in public and private, and would

wisi, if it so pleased God, that death

might find him employed in meditations “ of this kind." The Psalms of David indeed are a rich treasury for a pious mind: and it is impossible to peruse them with an eye bent on him whom David represents, without feeling the force of every sentiment, and improving the natural disposition of the heart..

As we pass through the vale of human life various are the sensations which we experience in our souls, as various as the circumstances from whence they spring. Sin and misery, too closely attached to the nature of man, produce dejection of spirits

and

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