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take time for thy other work, and not for this work, that challenges thy utmost care and attention? 2. Fools hafte is no speed. To rife out of the bed, and to go immediately to fecular work, is foolifh curfed hafte. How canft thou look for a bleffing on thy work without prayer? 3. Rife the fooner every morning, that you may not be fcrimped as to time for this exercife, as our bleffed Lord did, Mark i35. How wilt thou anfwer to God at the great day, for fpending that time in fleep, which thou fhouldst have spent in fecret prayer? Daniel would not omit this exercife though at the hazard of his life.

Obj. 2. We are fo wearied with our work through the day, that we are not able to pray in the evening. Anf. 1. What difference is there betwixt you and the beafts that take their eafe when their work is done, without any more ado? 2. You will take your meat for your bodies though ever fo weary; and' why will ye not think of and provide meat for your perifhing fouls? John iv. 6. 32. 3. Notwithstanding ye may be tired, do what ye are able. We are not commanded to tell you to make your prayers fhort or long; but by no means to neglect fecret prayer altogether, which is very dangerous. But I fuppofe, that when you fay your body is not able to subsist with fecret prayer, that yet if ye could gain a fixpence at that very time, you would fpend twice much more time for that paltry gain; and yet flight the concerns of your fouls, under this frivolous pre


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Obj. 3. We have no convenient place for fecret prayer. Anf. Find out once a willing heart for this exercife, and I fhall engage for it you fhall find a place. Are there not barns, byres, out-houses, and fields for you to retire to? Will not these rife up and witness against thee that neglecteft this duty, at the great day? For my part, I would rather go to prayer, even within a dwelling-houfe, in the place where the beafts ftand, or behind a bed, or at the VOL. III. 3 N

back of a houfe, ere I fhould neglect it. God requires all men to pray, but he does not require all men to have chambers and closets.

Obj. 4. But there are prayers in our family, and I join therein; what needs more? Anf. Poor foul, haft thou no more to fay of thyfelf to God, but what the mafter of the family fays? Alas! thou knoweft not thyfelf, and the dreadful cafe thou art in by nature; which if thou didft, thou wouldst not think joining in prayer with others enough. Thou thinkeft it fuffi cient that the mafter of the family pray for thee and the other members of his family, and thou lieft by without concerning thyfelf about duty for thyself: wilt thou think it enough, that he go to heaven for thee, and thou be hut out for ever?

Obj. 5. But (fays the mafter of the family) I pray with my family, and I hope that is enough for me. Anf. In this command in the text Chrift has not excepted thee, neither dare I. Again, doft thou fo well difcharge family prayer, that thou haft no escapes or failures to be matter of fecret prayer? I tell you plain. ly, that God will not have his worship halved: he will have either the whole or nothing. Being confcien tious in family-prayer is good, but can never excite the neglect of fecret prayer, which is as much thy duty. Yea, the more thou art helped to discharge family-duty, the more wilt thou be inclined to the practice of fecret duty. The falfe mother was for di viding the child, not the true one.

Obj. 6. Some women that have children to nurse and wait on, think that frees them from this duty. Anf. It is a fad obfervation of many women, who, while they are unmarried, and are not involved in the cares and troubles of a family, have fome profeffion and practice of religion; but as foon as they get a house to manage, and have the care of young children espe cially, they caft off all religion, as if they had no more concern therein. But furely the very fight of the child whom thou haft conceived in fin, and

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brought forth in iniquity, fhould remind thee of thy original guilt and corruption, and incite thee to apply to the blood and Spirit of Chrift for pardon and cleanfing, and be a powerful fpur to thee to fet about this great duty of fecret prayer. And remember, that the welfare of thy own foul and that of the child, is more than that of the child's bodily welfare, which deferves but the fecond care in comparison of the other. I would not have you by any means to caft off the care of the young one's temporal welfare; but thou mayft fo obferve times and feafons, as thou mayit take time for this duty morning and evening, though it be not immediately after thou rifeft, or before thou lieft down. Thou mayft even do it when thou art rocking the cradle, or fuckling the child. Alas! it had been telling many, that they had had the womb that never bare, and the paps that never gave fuck.

Obj. 7. God knows the heart, and what needs fo much ado about praying in fecret, as if God knew not what we wanted, or what we would be at, till we fit down on our knees, and tell him? Anf. God knows the heart of fuch an objector to be a graceless heart, and his end to be deftruction, Matth. vii. 15. 20. and his heart to be a foolifh atheistical heart, that will not call upon God, Pfal. xiv, 1. Again, what is this but to argue God's command to be foolith? He bids you pray, and you fay it is needlefs. O daring prefumption Though the Lord not only knows your heart, but has a mind to give bleffings to poor fin ners, he will have you feek them by prayer: For thefe things, fays he, will I be inquired of by the house of If rael, that I may do it for them, Ezek. xxxvi. 37. God never confers fignal mercies on his people, without first pouring out on them the Spirit of faith and prayer, and determines them to feek ardently the very thing he has a mind to grant them. And this method, is for the glory of his name, and for our real benefit.

Obj. 8. Age and infirmity will hot fuffer me to go about that duty. Af. Will it fuffer you to do your

bufinefs in the world, and will it not fuffer you to manage your foul's bufinefs, which is of infinitely greater importance? It would feem, that the nearer we draw to the grave, the more active we should be in preparing for it. It were good, that old people would mind heaven more, and the world lefs, as they have fo fhort a time to ftay here. The concerns of the other world should mainly ingrofs their care and attention, and they fhould then redouble their diligence in improving their fpan of time, and doing that which perhaps they too much neglected in the days of health and vigour. The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteoufnefs, Prov. xvi. 31. But the fin ner being an hundred years old fhall be accurfed, If. lxv. 20. Let this found an alarm to all the old finners among you, that ye may yet apply to the merciful Redeemer, who fets even fome to work in the vineyard at the eleventh hour. It is fad to be tottering under the miferies and infirmities of old age, and yet to have no prospect of a happy landing. Fly then to Chrift, thou old decrepit finner, while his call reaches thee, left thou spee dily perifh without remedy.

Obj. 9. I am too young to mind fecret prayer. Anf. You are too old never to have entered on God's fervice. Remember that Jofiah when he was but eight years old, began to feek the Lord God of his father David. Obadiah, Ahab's steward, feared the Lord greatly from his youth. John Baptift was fanctified from the womb, and fo was the prophet Jeremiah. Timothy knew the holy fcriptures from a child. You can never begin to be religious too foon. None ever repented that they fought the Lord; but all have repented that they did not begin to feek him fooner. You are as liable to death as the oldeft perfon here, have a foul as precious as theirs, and as much need to mind your beft and eternal interefts as they. Up then and be doing, without putting off a moment longer.

Obj. ult. I cannot pray. Anf. The truth is, thou

wilt not pray, Pfal. x. 4. If thou hadst a will to the duty, thou wouldst foon learn. But if thou wouldst learn to pray, go to God, that he may teach thee, as Chrift taught the difciples; and confider the absolute need thou haft of divine inftruction in this matter. Ufe the one talent, and God will increase it. Wherefore fet about this weighty duty, and neglect it not. Think seriously with yourselves, whether those who are now in hell, and when they lived neglected fecret prayer like you, would do fo ftill if they were in the world again. I scarce think they would. Pray now therefore, left ye repent your neglect, when it will be too late, and ye are tormented in the lake of fire and brimftone. Again, think with yourselves how you will get this criminal neglect digested on a deathbed, when ye are ready to leap into eternity, without having once prayed for God's mercy through Chrift to your fouls; and how you will get it digefted before the awful tribunal of God, when he will drive you from his bleffed prefence for ever. Think with yourfelves how precious time is, and what a fad business it is to spend it in pursuing the world and lying vanities, and neglecting communion with God, wherein lies the life of the foul. What! will ye delay it yet a while? O do it not; for delays are dangerous. Will ye be fo foolish as to venture all to two or three words on a fick bed or death-bed? Perhaps you will not get one, but may be hurried away in a moment. Confider that awful paffage, Prov. i. 24.-28. Because I have called, and ye refufed, I have ftretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have fet at nought all my counfel, and would none of my reproof: I alfo will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as defolation, and your deftruction cometh as a whirlwind; when diftrefs and anguish cometh upon you. Then fhall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall feek me early, but they shall not find me.

Exhort. 2. Be frequent in this duty, morning and e

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