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actual 60s, fins of omillion, commission, heart, lip, and lie, Pial. li. 4. 5. In a word, all our fins, so far 3; we are capable, (tor who can understand his errors? Pul.rix. 12.), but especially those which most wound the coptcience, we are to be particular in, with their agorarations.
Secondly, Let us consider the necessity of confeffion. (1.) It is necessary to clear the Lord's justice in proceedingagunit us, Psal
. li. 4. Against thee, thee only have Inred, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightst bé setified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou ped get(2.) The nature of the thing requires it, in order to obtain pardoning mercy, Prov. xxviii. 13. 1 compelleth and forsaketh his fins shall have mercy.
Third's, How are we to confess fin ?
1. Fully, without hiding of any thing wilfully, Prox. xxviii. 13. He that covereth his fins shall not profram. God knows all our fins, and all the circumstances of them: fo that it is in vain to mince our confefton), and it speaks a heart not duly humbled.
2. Freely and voluntarily, pouring out the heart like water, and not merely making the confession as excorted. Whenever
Whenever grace touches the heart, it will make it come freely away.
3. Sincerely, confeffing it with shame, sorrow, hatred of it, and a real purpose of reformation ; 0therwise it is but a mock confeffion.
THIRDLY, The third part of prayer is thanksgiving for mercies. Here I shall shortly shew,
1. What is the matter of this thanksgiving.
1. Spiritual mercies, Eph. i. 3. These are mercies for our souls, and lead to everlasting happiness, and herefore are most to be prized. They challenge the ourmett and the most grateful acknowledgements i from who have received them.
Temporal mercies from the womb till now, Pfal."
God upon every
cxxxix. 14. These call for the most thankful acknow. ledgements every day, for they are new every inorn. ing. And we ought to be thankful for mercies con. ferred not only on ourselves, but also on others, particular persons or societies. So did the apostle as to Philemon, Phil. ver. 4. I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers, And so he did as to the Philippians, chap. i. 3. 'I thank
niy remembrance of you.
Secondly, Let us consider the necessity of thanksgiving.
1. It is all that we can render to God for good or benefits received, Hof. xiv. 2. namely, to acknowledge debt and be thankful. Ingratitude among men is reckoned a great sin and scandal, and fixes an odious character on the person : but how much greater a sin and scandalous offence is it to be unthankful to God, for the mercies which we enjoy, and that we never deserved at his bountiful hand! It is the character of Heathens, Rom, i. 21. O let it not be that of Chriftians.
2. It is the way to get more. Unthankfulness mars the course of divine communications, but to the thankful it is opened, Phil. iv. 6. Ingratitude ainong men provokes the liberal person ta with-hold his hand; and so does it provoke the holy God, the giver of all good, to restrain his favours: Alas! it is more natural to us to ask than to give thanks. Among ten seekers (the lepers) whom Christ cured of a very inve. terate disease, there was but one thanker, and he is specially noticed in the gospel history. We should ne, ver beg a mercy from the Lord, without heartily thanking him for all we have formerly received, as this is the ready way to procure more.
Thirdly, How should we give thanks ? With enlarged hearts, wondering at undeserved goodness; with deep humility for mercies conferred on such mean and unworthy creatures; with hearty resolutions to im ; prove them for God's glory and honour; and with
warm desires to receive more favours from the hands of God our bountiful benefactor.
I shall conclude with a few inferences.
1. To live without prayer is a godless and graceless life. It is no better than the life of beasts, unsuitable to the rational nature of man, contrary to the design and end of his creation, and highly unbecoming one who is a candidate for immortality. It exposes the finner to the feverest strokes of God's justice, and perfifted in will land him in hell. O let us all be excited to a life of prayer, remembering that we cannot be Christians without it. To pretend to be a Christian, and not to live a life of prayer, is a palpable contra. diction.
2. The missing of the answers of prayer is our own fault, we pray amiss.. If we always prayed in faith, and in the manner formerly observed, we would not be disappointed. Let us then be induced to pray in a right manner, and wait particularly' on the Lord for gracious acceptance and a favourable answer.
3. It is through Jesus Christ that the communication with heaven is opened and obtained. Let us then pray in his naine, depend upon his interceflion, and prelent all our petitions to God through him : for him the Father heareth always.
4. We need the Spirit of prayer, in order to our praying aright. Let us then cry incessantly for the Holy Spirit, and his influences; for we know not what to pray for as we ought. Let us look for his quickening influences to quicken our dead hearts, and warm our frozen affections, that we may send up our hearts unto God, and wing our desires to hea
5. Be exhorted to give yoursolves unto prayer in all the sorts of it. Be men of prayer, as David was, Psal. cxix. 164. Seven times a day do I praise thee. How may this shame many Christians who pray
but twice a-day? And how does it condemn all who re:
strain prayer before the Lord? O let us be induced to make conscience of this important and delightful du. ty, without the exercise of which we behave no better than the beasts that perish, and are a company
of ungrateful monsters that shall be turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God. Pray evening and morning, and at all convenient seasons. Be always in a praying frame, and be devout and lively in all your applications to the throne of grace. Omit no season of it, not even amidst your daily employments; for even then ye may fend forth pious thoughts towards heaven, and maintain communion with God while
you are engaged in your daily labourse Pray without ceasing.
I might have spoke of occasional and stated prayer; of public, private, and secret prayer; and of ordinary and extraordinary; but I shall drop all these, and only give you next a discourse on secret prayer.
A Discourse on secret Prayer.
MATTHEW vi. 6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and
when thou hast mut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret, fall reward thee openly.
AVING opened up unto you the nature of
prayer in general, before I proceed to the explanation of the Lord's prayer, it will not be improper to discourse a little of that too much neglected duty, secret prayer ; concerning which our blessed Lord gives directions in this passage of scripture. And this he does, negatively, ver. 5. cautioning against performing that important duty with vanity and oftentation, to gain the applause of men. (2.) Positively, in the text.
1. The duty itself urged by the Lord. And in it we may observe,
(1.) The duty supposed, When thou prayeft. That this is to be understood only of secret prayer, is manifest from the text, and the preceding verse. Public prayer cannot be meant, for where else is that to be performed but in the congregation ? Not family-prayer, which is not performed in a closet, and which must be done by more than one. Not ejaculatory prayer, which may be done any where, in any company, and whatever one be doing, as in the case of Nehemiah, chap. ii. 4. Therefore we must understand here folemn. secret prayer, which in the text the Lord takes it for granted that his disciples made conscience of.
(2.) The place to be chosen for it: Enter into thy closet ; that is, a secret place, where you may be out of the view of others; for secret prayers are not to be restrained to secret chambers, as Christ's praying on a mountain does evidence,
(3.) The care that we should take left our secret place become public ; Shut thy door, so as others may not see thee, and so thou fall a facrifice to hypocrisy, vanity, and oftentation.'
(4.) The duty itself commanded; Pray to thy Father which is in secret. Where we have, 1.) The object of prayer; thy Father, namely, in Christ ; intimating to us, that when we go to God, we should go to him as he is our Father in Christ, able and ready to help us, and reconciled to us in him. 2.) A defignation which the Father gets, which is in secret ; who knows as well what thou fayeft in a secret place as what thou fayeft in public ; för he is omniscient and omnipresent,
2. The motive whereby he prefseth fecret prayer, viz. God's reward, who will openly reward service done in fecret, which the world knows not of. And those who make conscience of this duty in tạith and fervency, are no strangers to those rewards and advantages that are to be met with in this heavenly traflic.
The text affords the following doctrinę.