Page images

Shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgement. Thus if thou make conscience of this duty, thou wilt tread in the steps of the father of the faithful, and receive tokeps of the divine approbation, by the Lord's blessing thy family, and prospering thy outward concerns, and be an example to others to excite them to their duty. This will be the ready way to have dutiful and affectionate children, and obedient and careful servants.

4. Consider the engagements which thou tookest on thee at the baptism of thy children, to train them up in the good and holy ways of the Lord; to inform them of their natural depravity, impotency and aversion to what is good, of the method of salvation by the o. bedience and death of Chrift ; and to press them to yield themselves to the Lord, by taking hold of his covenant by faith. Thou became then engaged to instruct there in the principles of our holy religion, to shew them their duty to God and man, and to observe his ordinances and commandments. And canst thou fulfil these thy engagements, unless thou be at pains to intirụct them, and especially to stir them up to the practice of secret prayer?

5. Lastly, Their souls are conimitted to thy charge; and if they perish through thy neglect, their blood will be required at thy hand. Ah! my friepds, Pa. pists and others will rise up in judgement against you, who take more pains on their children to breed them up in their falle and corrupt doctrines, and their ido. latrous and superstitious courses, than ye to instruct them in the pure doctrines and precepts of religion. If thou now neglect their religious education and instruction, thy loft children and servants shall curse the day that ever they saw thy face, who tookest no more care of them than of thy beafls. Oh! let this melancholy consideration excite and stir thee up to thy duty now, left thy children and servants rise up in judgement against thce, and be a dreadful addition to thy condemnation.

What shall we do then? may ye fay. 1. As soon as they can speak perfectly, give then à few words to speak to God upon their kudes every morning and evening, and see that they do io.

Let these words consist of a bort confession of fin, an acknowledgement of God's goodness in preservation, and an application for pardon through the blood of Jesus.

2. When they advance farther in years, give them the help of a forin, composed chiely in fcripturewords, and particularly that which Christ taught his disciples. And be sure to vary and enlarge any form you give thein, from tiine to time; and in a little time by reading the Bible, and duly conlidering their own case and wants, they will be able to pray without a set form : for it is often observed, that where young ones make conscience of practising the helps that are given them, and take pleasure in the duty, the Holy Spirit strikes in with his allistance, and lays suitable matter of prayer before them; fo that even some very young persons have been found to pray with great fluency and fervour to the admiration of those who happened to over-hear them.

3. Pray frequently with your children ; which will be an.excellent means, to instruct them both as to the matter and manner of the duty, and have a powerful influence upon them to induce them to pray for them felves. And indeed I must say, if parents made more conscience of this practice, in praying with their children, the young ones would not discover fuch aversion to the duty as many do; nor would there be such a numerous fry of young prayerless finners among us, who, though they have not learned to pray, yet are great proficients in speaking vain and idle words, and in curling and swearing:

4: Furnish them daily with proper materials of prayer, which ye can extract from the Lord's word, your own observation of the ttate and temper of your fouls, the disposition and inclination of your children,


[ocr errors]

the fins and vanities they are most addicted to, your knowledge of their peculiar wants and desires, and what appears to be suitable to their circumstances and situation.

5. Lastly, Carefully observe, whether they perform this duty or not; that you may encourage them when they do well, and check and rebuke them when they neglect it. Shew them that you are influenced by a regard to the command and authority of God, and are actuated with a hearty zeal and concern for the falvation of their fouls, in all you do in this matter, whether respecting the encouragements and advices you give them, or the rebukes and chastisements you administer to them, in case of non-compliance, neglect, or careless performance of the duty enjoined. This will have no finall influence upon them to comply with your instructions and directions, and by degrees conquer their aversion to the exercise; and

you may come, through the divine blessing, to see the hapру

fruit of your labours and endeavours.

Thus I have endeavoured, as briefly as I could, to Jay before you the nature, importance, and necessity of this excellent duty of secrer prayer, and have removed the most material objections that can be made against it. If any of you then shall continue in the labitual neglect of this exercise, and so perilh, your blood will be on your own head, for I have delivered my own soul.

But I hope better things of you, and things that accompany ialvation, though I thus fpeak. And I hope chere will no inore henceforth te a prayerless person among us : which God, of his infinite mercy, grant.

[ocr errors]

MATTHEW vi. 9. After this manner therefore pray ye, Our Father, &c. UR Lord Jesus Christ, in, his fermon on the

mount, whereof this chapter is a part, retrieves religion from the false doctrines, and the corrupt and hypocritical practices, which the scribes and Pharisees brought into it. They were not wanting in the matter of external duties, but they were far from the right manner of performing them. Wherefore in the first four verses he teaches them the right manner of doing alms. In the next place he teaches them the right manner of praying. He taxes two faults in the manner of praying. (1.) Hypocritical oftentation, ver. 5. and points them to the right manner in this point. (2.) Idle multiplying of words, ver. 7. 8. . In the text, for helping of this fault and others about prayer,

the Lord, being to give us a prayer to serve for a pattern, and to direct us in praying, bids us pray after this manner, i. e. in the manner following in the form of prayer here set down ; not binding us to the very words, but to the manner of it, that we mus pray after this manner and to this purpose.

The right manner of performing the duty of prayer is what God requires, and we thould be concerned for. The Lord knows his people's weakness, and how ready they are to go wrong in this, and how much they need direction, and therefore gives this form and pattern of prayer, for their direction in that weighty duty: After this manner address yourselves to God in prayer. He had not left them without direction altogether before: they had the word formerly written, but this is added as a special rule of direction,

The text offers this doctrine.

Doct. “ Though the whole word of God is of use " to direct us in prayer, yet the special rule of direc

"stion is that form of prayer, which Christ taught his

dilciples, commonly called the Lord's prayer.
Her I fall Thew,
1. That we need direction in prayer.

1. What rule God hath given for our direction thrrein.

III. Whether these rules are sufficient to enable us to pray acceptably.

IV. Deduce some inferences.

I. I am to few that we need direction in prayer. This is evident from,

1. God's greatness. It is to him who dwells in heaven that we must address ourselves in prayer : therefore be not rash with thy mouth, says Solomon, nor let thine heart be bafty to utter any thing before God : for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few, Eccl. v. 2. Rafh and fearless approaches fpeak unt coming thoughts of God, and low thoughts of the throne in heaven which one presents hiintelf before. And to such may be said, These things hast thou done, and I kept filence ; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself: but I will and set them in order before thine eyes, Psal. I. 21. Who of us approaching the pretence of our prince to present our petition before him, would not seek direction as to the right and acceptable manner of doing it? How much more should we, who have petitions to present to bim who is God. of gods, and King of kings, ask direction as to the right manner of pretent. ing our petitions ?

2. Our own guiltiness, Luke xviii. 13. Whoever would be rash or careless in approaching his prince's presence, one would think that a rebel, a traitor, and à criminal would fee well to the manner of his ad. dress, and would be very cautious. This is our case, and therefore that thould be our way. Therefore the prodigal thinks before-hand what he will say to his oftended father, Luke xv. 18. 19.

« PreviousContinue »