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warded through the merits of Christ with everlasting happiness. Our blessed Lord, who gave us an example that we should follow his steps, was a pattern to us in this as in all other instances. We read repeatedly of his earnestness in prayer, and that he continued whole nights in prayer to God. His chosen followers were distinguished like their divine Master for the fervency of their devotions; and yourselves well know, that earnest and persevering prayer has always been a leading feature in the character of the true servants of God.
II. I proceed now in the second place to consider the qualifications, the disposition of mind, with which our prayers ought to be accompanied, in order to their being accepted of God; in other words, to point out how we ought to pray..
One of the first requisites of acceptable prayer, is a sincere wish and endeavour to get the better of our sins. For, what is it but an instance of gross hypocrisy, an insulting mockery of God, to pray with our lips that he would enable us to overcome our corruptions, while we feel in our hearts no real wish, and in fact do not try to be delivered from them? Thus it is said, “ He " that turneth away his ear from hearing " the law, even his prayer shall be an abo65 mination k," and again, “ the sacrifice of “ the wicked is abomination to the Lord?." Where you will observe, that it is not the having sinned, or the feeling much of sin still remaining within us, that should prevent our praying to God:~this sense of sin, if attended with an earnest desire to be delivered from it, is one of the strongest. arguments for prayer;—but it is the persevering boldly in wickedness, without any endeavour to amend.
Again; our prayers to be acceptable must be offered in faith. 65 Let a man ask in « faithm,” says St. James; and our Saviour, us whatsoever ye shall ask in my name believe "ing ye shall receive"." Our prayers must proceed from a firm belief that God is, and that he is a God that heareth prayer; from a full persuasion that his ear is ever open to receive our supplications, and that he will grant them, if not immediately, yet in his own good time; provided, that is, that * Prov. xxviii. 9. Prov. xv. 8. - James i. 6. * Matt. xxi. 22. .
they are offered according to his will, and that the granting them will be for our own real benefit. This faith, this belief, is founded upon the promises of his Son, to which I have already referred : “ Ask and
ye shall have, seek and ye shall find, “knock and it shall be opened unto you." From this promise, and many other passages in holy writ, we know, as the apostle asserts, that “if any man ask according to 16 God's will, he heareth him."
Nearly allied to this qualification of prayer, if indeed it is not rather to be considered as a branch, or part of it, is the precept that our supplications be offered in the name of Christ. Our iniquities you know had separated between us and our God. Christ however, by bearing in his own person the punishment of our sins, has reconciled us to his Father, and stands ever ready to make intercession for us, and, as our Mediator and High Priest, to present our prayers before the throne of the Most High. 6. No man can come unto the Fa- ther,” he tells us, “ but by him;” and it is “ through him that we have access to
• Matt. vii. 7.
66 the Father.” He therefore enjoins us to offer all our prayers in his name. “ Whatever ye shall ask the Father in my “ name, he will give it youp.”
Humility and contrition of spirit form another very important qualification of prayer. When we address ourselves to God, we should “ fall low on our knees before his “ footstool,” penetrated with a deep sense of our unworthiness, and grieving at the remembrance of our numberless transgressions. 66 To this man will I look, saith the 66 Lord, even to him that is poor and of a “ contrite spirit;" and again, “a broken and “ a contrite heart God will not despise 4.” Thegracious acceptance which attended the lowliness of the poor publican in the parable is familiar, I trust, to most of you.
It is indispensably requisite, when we call upon God in prayer, that we should be attentive to what we are about. If while we pretend to be praying to him, we wilfully suffer our thoughts to wander to any earthly vanity, we certainly are in some degree chargeable with the guilt of drawing near to God with our lips, while our hearts
P John xiv. 13. 9 Isaiah lxvi. 2.
are far from him. Let not, however, any one be discouraged by this expression. The best men, who are most exemplary in their devotions, are not at all times able entirely to conquer this wandering, this distraction of the mind. It is an instance of human weakness,, which, it may be, will cling to us as long as we continue to be clothed in mortality, We must lament it as such, and strive and pray against it. If we wilfully give way without thus contending against it, it is no doubt highly blameable; and we must bear in mind, that in proportion as this wandering of the mind in prayer is suffered to prevail, so far are we wanting in genuine piety, so far do we fall short of that holiness, the attainment of which ought to be the great object of our lives.
But we must not only be attentive in our devotions, we must also be earnest, impor, tunate, and fervent. The spiritual bless ings for which we ought principally to pray are blessings of the greatest importance, blessings without which we shall be lost for
We should therefore sue for them with no little warmth and earnestness. We