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11. Apply the word. The preacher must apply; but that will be of little use, unless the hearers apply for themselves. Sermons unapplied, like food undigested, do more harm than good. As a bad digestion is a proof that health is wanting, so a bad plication of the word is a proof that the soul is sickly, and out of health.
12. After we have heard let us go away silently, enter into our closets, and a sanctified use of what we have heard. It is shameful after a sermon is ended to hear the people begin to talk about common worldly affairs : nor is it less shameful to see them lounge about the door of a place of worship, as if what they had heard were to be forgotten. Go thou and reduce all to practice. Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.”.
Perseverance in Prayer.
1 Thes. v. 17. Pray without ceasing.
PRAYER to God is a duty in which all men should frequently engage, and a privilege which all may enjoy. The man who neglects it cannot live a religious life : for the body may as easily live without breath as the soul without prayer. Prayer is the breath of the soul; and when we cease to breathe after God, we cease to live to God. Let us then “pray without ceasing."
Two things are clearly taught in this passage: first, we should pray; and, secondly, we should
without ceasing. I. WE SHOULD PRAY.
Let us make a few general observations upon prayer.
1. Prayer should be addressed to God, who is the fountain of all good. Whatever we want, whether it relate to this world or that which is to come, we should
humbly ask ať his bountiful hands. While heathens pray to idols, and deluded papists to departed saints, let us pray to the supreme God, who is our father, and the father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. We should pray in the name of Jesus. God will not suffer us to approach him in our own name.
“I am the way, (saith Christ) and the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me. Prayer offered up in the name of Jesus is successful. “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” How encouraging! How many hinder themselves of a blessing, by neglecting to pray in the name of our adorable Lord!
3. When we consider the vast distance there is between us and God, it will
appear necessary to pray with humility. We address a Being whom angels worship with reverence, and before whom they fall on their faces, as a token of deep humility, When Abraham prayed unto the Lord, upon the plains of Mamre, he said, “I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes.” The deeper we sink in humility, the higher we rise in the esteem of God.
4. All prayer should be offered up in faith. We are expressly commanded to “ ask in faith ;" and it is said, “The
of faith shall save the sick." To
in faith implies a firm belief that God will both hear and answer our prayer; and this belief is founded on a persuasion that we pray according to the divine will. Hence, we must pray only for lawful things: how can we offer 'up prayer in faith when we ask for things which are not lawful? 5. Fervency is necessary
in our affections are languid, devotion loses its soul, and degenerates into a worthless formality. Christ directs us to be importunate in this solemn duty. This will appear highly necessary when we consider that unless we are importunate, we cannot be in earnest; nor do we see the value and importance of the things for which we pray. To make us feel, therefore, God requires us to be in earnest.
6. But our fervour in prayer should always be accompanied with submission. We should submit to the time when God may please to bless; and when he does not see it fit to answer our prayer at all, we should submit. For sometimes we want a blessing noro which may be more fit for us at another time; and sometimes our prayers, though lawful and necessary in our own judgment, may not appear so to infinite wisdom. Submission in prayer is founded upon a persuasion that God knows better than we do both when to bless and what will prove a real blessing. O leave all to him; for he doeth all things well!
7. Pray by the aids of that Holy Spirit who helps the infirmities of good men. Let us ever be found “praying in the Holy Ghost." Prayer, without the divine influence of the Spirit, is cold and formal; but, under his influence, there is that life, vigour, and spirituality, in our prayers, which renders them both profitable to us and pleasing to God. : 8. Sincerity of heart is absolutely necessary in prayer. God looks at the heart. Some draw nigh to him with their lips only; but their prayers cannot be heard. Prayer which is not sincere is an awful mockery of God, and sooner or later will be punished with just severity. Let us then draw nigh with our hearts, and let our words, however plain and simple, express our real desires. Recollect, true sincerity in prayer is far more pleasing to God than polished expressions.
9. Our prayers should frequently be offered up in secret.
* When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” The man who neglects secret prayer is unconcerned about religion; and whatever pro