Page images

whose various Combinations arife Storms and Tempests, fruitful or barren Seafons, fickly or healthful Years. Both these Causes, I say (the free as well as the neceffary Agents of this World), these invisible Ministers of God so dispose, and direct, and order, as that they shall produce fuch Events as GOD fees-fittest for Mankind, whether it be by way of Judgment, as a Punishment for their Sins, or by way of Mercy, as a Testimony of God's Acceptance of them; and all this, too, comes to pass in a natural Way, that is, in the common and usual Method of God's Providence, in the Government of the World: But then I add further, Whenever there happens a just Occasion for God to exert his. extraordinary Power abové or against the Course of Nature, he will not fail to do that likewise ; and abundance of Instances of that in his Gos vernment of the World he hath given us, and, for any thing I know, doth yet give us.

These Things considered, we have no Reason to imagine, that, becaufe Things are commonly dispensed to us by tlre Miniftrýi of Second Causes, of which we can give some natural Account, that therefore. God had no Hand in bringing such Things to pass in the World, but that they come fortuitously or necessarily, and cannot be hindered or forwarded by the Prayers and Endeavours of Mankind. No, certainly; tho? the Effect, whatsoever it was, was produced:

[ocr errors]


. immediately. by. Second Causes, yet it was God, that, by the Ministry of His Providence, laid the Train of these Causes, and so ordered and managed them, as that righteouis and good Ends should be served by the Effects that they produced ; so that, as our blessed Saviour hath told us, not so much as a Sparrow doth fall to the Ground, but that it may be truly faid, it is. by the Will of our Heavenly Father. Every Event that comes upon us is from him ; and, if it be beneficial to us, it is, and ought to be accounted, a Blessing of His, let it come what way it will, whether by seeming Chance, or our own Industry, or, the Help of Friends.

On the other side, whatever comes cross to us, His Hand is even in that allo; that is, fo far as to suffer it to fall upon us as a Punishment for our Sins, and a Means to awaken us to our Duty. : From whence it follows, that it is so far from being needless and impertinent to pray unto God for the Things of this present Life, as the Objection would conclude, that, on the contrary, it is absolutely necessary, in order to our Well-being ; for, God being the fole Governor of the World, and the absolute Disposer of all Events, however they be administered by Second Causes, it would be absurd not to depend upon Him, and to pray -to Him continually for every good Thing we want or desire, or for the Removal of every evil Thing that lies upon us. ". [ 4


Thus have I gone thro' all the Objections that are made against Prayer, and, I hope, I have given such full Answers to them, that all of you will join with me in this Conclufion; namely, That, notwithstanding any thing that is urged in any of them, we not only may, but we ought to adhere to these Rules and Precepts, which are so often pressed upon us by Christ and his Apostles; that is to say, that we should always pray, and not faint, that we should ask that we may receive, that we should seek that we may find, that we should knock that it may be opened unto us, that we should pray without ceasing, pray continually, that we should every-where lift up holy Hands, and watch unto Prayer with all Perseverance ; and lastly, that we should be careful for nothing; but in every thing, by Prayer and Supplication, with Thanksgiving, still make our Requests known unto God. Sure I am, all those that have ever seriously and heartily, for any competent time, applied themselves to this Practice, will bear Testimony, that these Things are not in vain, but that they produce real Effects; that, besides the Comfort and Satisfaction that is reaped by these Exercises, and which is inexpressibly greater than any Enjoyment of this World can afford us, there is a real Blessing that does attend them, and that all good Mens Prayers are answered effectually, if not always in the particular Manner they pray for, yet in Mercies, and Blessings, and Benefits, that are much more useful for them, and more befitting their Circumstances. Nay, I doubt not to affirm, that it is as much by our Prayers, as by any other Endeavour, that not only particular Persons and Families, but also Cities, and States, and Kingdoms, are preserved and supported.

And so much for this Argument. Consider what you have heard, and the Lord give you Understanding in all Things !

[ocr errors][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

í Tom. II. 1, 2. I exbort therefore, that, first of all, Supplications, Prayers, Interceßions, and Giving of Thanks, made for all Men; for Kings, and for all that are in Authority.

YA HE Design of this Epistle is, to give T il Instructions to Timothy, how he

ought to execute the Episcopal Ball Office, which was committed to him in the Church of Ephesus : And the first Injunction that is given him about that Matter, is, that he ihould order publick Supplications, and Prayers, and Intercessions, and Thanksgivings, to be made for all Men; for Kings, and all that are in Authority : I say, that he should order these Things publickly to be done ; for that these Words are to be expounded of the publick Devotions


« PreviousContinue »