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no prayer can be accepted of God where this, I cannot but call it vain, repetition is omitted.
III. Whether are thefe rules fufficient to enable us to pray acceptably? Ans. They are fufficient in their kind, i. e. as external directions and helps. But be fides, the inward grace and affiftance of the Spirit are neceffary for that end, Rom. viii. 26.
I fhall conclude with a few inferences.
Inf. 1. How gracious and ready to hear prayer is our God, who has been pleafed himself to direct us how to pray to him! We ought to be duly thankful to him for his great goodness in this matter, and dili gently attend to the excellent rules he has given us on this head.
2. Let us acquaint ourselves with the bleffed word, that contains iuch a full rule of practice as well as faith; and ftudy the holy fcriptures, that we may be the better inftructed to pray. The Bible is a noble guide for prayer, both for the matter and manner thercof; and if we diligently study it, we will not be in hazard of uttering any thing contrary to or incon fiflent with it, or of ufing the words he has given us without knowledge and understanding.
3. Those who neglect prayer on any pretence, and particularly on that pretence that they cannot pray, or those who ftick by a mere form, without endeavour ing to improve in the duty, are highly culpable and inexcufable, as they have fo many and fuch excellent helps fcattered throughout the whole word of God. Herein they fin against God, and wrong their own fouls.
Laftly, See the abfolute neceffity of prayer in the Chriftian life. Be convinced, that ye cannot be without that which the Lord is at fo much pains to bring
* The author afterwards preached a courfe of excellent fermons on this fubject from the text here quoted, which may afterwards be published, if que encouragement be given; and will be a very proper appendix to tuis and the fablequent difcourfes.
you to, by not only teaching you what to pray, but promiling his Holy Spirit to affist you therein. Apply yourfelves diligently to this duty, that you may be often with God, guiding youríelves therein by the direction of the word; and plead importunately for the quickening power and influence of the Holy Spirit, for his help and affittance. He will fhew thee thy wants, to give thee matter of petition; thy fins, to give thee matter of confeffion; the mercies and bleflings of God, to yield thee matter of thanksgiving; and the church's miferies and neceffities, to furnith thee with matter of interceflion.
MATTHEW vi. 9.
Pris Our Father which art in heaven. eldon's et
THE Lord's prayer confifts of three parts, the preface, petitions, and conclufion, The preface is in the words which I have read, defigning the object of worship, and particularly of prayer, namely, God himself. And we are directed to addrefs ourfelves in prayer to him, (1.) As a Father, (2.) As our Father, and (3.) As our Father in heaven.
The words afford this doctrine,
DocT. If we would pray acceptably, we must addrefs ourfelves to the Lord in prayer, as our Father which is in heaven.
Here I fhall fhew,
1. What our being directed to call God Father in prayer doth teach us.
II. What our being directed to call God our Father teaches us.
III. What we are taught by our being directed to addrefs ourfelves to God as our Father in heaven,
SCIV. De uce fome inferences
I. I am to fhew what our being God Father in prayer does teach us.
1. The children of God to be those who only can or are capable to pray acceptably. For they only can indeed call God Father. We cannot pray acceptably unless he be our Father, and we his children, namely by regeneration and adoption, John is. 31. How can one plead the privileges of the family, if he be none of the members thereof, but of his father the devil, a ftranger to the covenant of promife? Therefore, if we would pray aright, our ftate muft firft be changed, Jam. v. 16.
Queft. May none pray then, who cannot call God Father? Anf. There are two forts of thefe,Mult
(1) Unregenerate perfons, who are yet in the ftate Jof black nature, who have no ground to plead this faving relation to God. They may, yea ought to pray, though they cannot pray acceptably; because prayer is the natural duty of all, which all are bound to and the neglect of which God will punish them for; Jer. x. uit. And prayer is not a fin, but a duty, though as it is by them managed, it is turned into fin, as allother duties are. But the neglect of it is a greater fin.
Object. But it is needlefs for them to pray, fince they cannot pray acceptably. Anf. No: for it is a mean of grace, and an ordinance of God; and though God have no refpect to it as it is their performance, yet he may have refpect to it, as it is his own ordinance, and do good to them by it. The matter lies here; they are neither to continue in their finful ftate, nor to fatisfy themfelves with their praying in that condition, but come out of it, and join themfelves to God's family, and fo they will come to pray acceptably. ord
(2.) The children of God, who cannot difcern their relation to him. Thefe not only may pray, but pray acceptably, Pfal. cii. 13. Likeas a Father pitieth his children, fo the Lord pitieth them that fear him. But it
is their duty to endeavour to affure their hearts before him, to advance their hunger and thirst after him, Ito an actual acceptance of God to be their Father in Chrift, and thereupon to believe he is their Father.
2 That it is through Jefus Chrift we have access to God in prayer, Eph. ii. 18. because it is through him alone that God becomes our Father; by him for his fake we are adopted into the family of heaven, John it?. When we hear that a company of guilty creatures, who flood before God as their terrible Judge, trembling for fear of his fentence of condemnation, change their note, and call him by the kindly name of Father, and confidently apply to him as children, we muft own this to be owing to the mediation, obeIdience, and death of his Son, John xx. 17... And therefore,
3. That coming to God in prayer, we must come in the name of his Son, as the alone foundation of all our, confidence in and expectation from God, John xiv. 13. Being married to the Son, we call God Father, and, make bold in his houfe by virtue of our relation to him, through our Lord and Husband. And on the continuance of this relation to Chrift depends the continuance of this relation to his Father and bleffed be our immortal Hufband, that the marriage with him can never be diffolved.
4. That the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of Christ in his people, is the principle of all acceptable praying to God; for by him it is that we are enabled to call God Father, Gal. iv. 6.; and therefore it is called inwrought, prayer, Jam. v. 16. He it is who excites his people to pray, moves them to go to God with their whole cafe, Pfal. xxvii. 8. He furnishes them with acceptable matter of prayer, Rom. viii. 26.. and, with praying graces, and affections, ib. And without the Spirit dwelling and acting in us we cannot pray acceptably; and the more we have of the Spirit, we will pray the better..
5. That we fhould draw near to God in prayer with childlike difpofitions and affections towards him. rai (1.) Though he be very kind, and admit us into familiarity with him, yet we must come with a holy reverence, Mal.i. 6. If I be a Father, where is mine honour? Familiarity muft not breed contempt. The character of a father bears not only kindness, but re verence and fear in it. It is a mixture of love and awful authority; and the ingenuous child will regard both. Slavifh fear is to be laid afide, but childlike re verence is neceffary, Heb. xii. 18.
(2.) Though we have offended God, and be under the marks of his difpleasure, we must come with confidence, whatever we want, whatever we need, Eph. iii. 12. While he bids us call him Father, he requires of us confidence in him for the fupply of all our wants. For fatherly affection is tender, the child's trouble touches the Father nearly, and his intereft is the Father's intereft, which is ground of confidence, Pfal. ciii. 13. forecited. I. lxiii. 9. Surely, they are my children. Zech. ii. 8. He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye.
(3.) That God is ready and willing to help us, and we fhould come to him in that confidence, Matth. vii.
11. If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more fall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? We fhould pour out our hearts into his bofom, in full con fidence of his pity. Whom can a child expect help of, if not of a father? But no father has the bowels of compaflion that God has towards his own. If the mother's tenderness towards the child be ordinarily greater than that of the father's, yet the Lord is ftill more, If. xlix. 15. 16. Can a woman forget her fucking child, that fhe fhould not have compaffion on the fon ef her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me. And there is no fuch prefent help as he is,