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THE WARRANT FOR PRAYER.
MATTHEW VII. 7—11.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom, if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Ir seems consistent with sound reason to suppose, that between God and his rational creation, there would be some communication and intercourse; that men would naturally and readily seek to communicate with the Almighty mind from which they sprung; and that God would hear them, and answer, and bless them. Yet, on looking into the mind of man, in its natural state, and stripping it
of all the influences direct and indirect of the Scriptural and Christian system; and judging of it as it is before it receives such influences, we find that it has no knowledge of such intercourse with the unseen God; that it has no natural disposition towards it; that mental communion with the Almighty has no interest or attraction for it; and that except as men are brought under the influences of religious education, they do actually live without any attempt at such intercourse with God. Or, if the thought ever enters the mind, that such a thing might be possible, it is turned away from with manifest dislike, and silenced by the ready suggestion of the improbability of such a privilege being permitted, or the uselessness of it, if it were.
All this is very distressing. To one at all awaking from the death-sleep of sensuality and sin, and beginning to exercise his reason on the phenomena of his existence, and the facts of his relation to God, it is melancholy indeed to find the real state of the case; and when he first really asks the question, if God will hear and answer the cry of his creature? to find it answered in the negative, by the habits and impressions of the great majority of mankind, and by the confirmed unbelief of his own heart. It is dreadful indeed, when conscience asks within, "May I pray?" to find our native atheism answering, "No." When conscience asks, "Will God hear?" to have the soul cast down and dispirited with the reply, " No, he will not.”