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ning the prayer, which he gave his disciples, with these words, “ Our Father, who art in heaven; " hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy “ will be done as it is in heaven, so on earth.” It may therefore be of use to us, in determining how far our prayers are presented in a right spirit, seriously to ask ourselves, whether the glory of God, the success of the gospel, and the peace, purity, and enlargement of the church, be habitually, and at those seasons especially, the leading desires of our hearts.
Finally, the acceptable prayer, of which we speak, is that of a man, who approaches, as a guilty, polluted, helpless sinner, to a God of infinite majesty and holiness, pleading for every blessing, not “ for his own righteousness," or for that of the persons for whom he supplicates, but “ for the “ Lord's great mercies;” and presenting his requests, in deep humility and lively faith, through the alone meritorious intercession of our great High Priest and Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
Let us briefly recapitulate these particulars. When our prayers are indeed the fervent desires of our heart; when we request the fulfilment of the Lord's express promises; when the spirit of them accords to that of the law of love, and to that of the blessed gospel; when we present them with a due regard to the providence of God, in submission, dependence, and expectation;
when we accompany them with a diligent attention to other duties, and especially to the proper means of obtaining the blessings for which we pray; when our leading desire is that God may be glorified, and the cause of true religion promoted: and when we offer such petitions through the mediation of Christ, by faith in his name and his atoning blood, with a deep consciousness of unworthiness, and an entire reliance on the free mercy of God, to pardon our sins and accept our services: then we may be fully assured, that ours is “ the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous oman which availeth much.”
It may, however, be useful to consider briefly the special objects of those supplications, which accord to the present circumstances of the nation and of the church. Amidst the perils of these critical times, there are persons of different descriptions who seem to think, that they who pray for their country, must of course desire the destruction of thcir enemies, and the gratification of national ambition, rapacity, or resentment, by bloody victories. But indeed to be preserved from invasions, civil wars, and persecutions; and to have the invaluable blessings of religious light and liberty continued to us and to our posterity, and extended to all around us, ought to form the substance of our united requests in this respect. -We should rejoice to hear that the rulers of France had formed plans so beneficial to that
country, and safe to their neighbours; that we could cordially beseech the Lord to prosper them: but while they persist in their avowed purpose of inundating this land with blood, of subverting our government, and of destroying our religion, we must still pray; ' Abate their pride, asswage their . malice, and confound their devices.' It should be gratifying to every one of our hearts, to be preserved from impending danger without a single individual losing his life: but if it please “ the “ LORD God of salvation” to “answer us by terri*ble things in righteousness;" who are we that we should reply against God? Doubtless Hezekiah and Isaiah would have preferred the humbling and softening of Sennacherib's heart to the destruction of his army: but as he continued to boast, menace, and blaspheme; and as the Lord declared that he would “put an hook in his nose, “ and a bridle in his lips, and turn him back by “ the way in which he came,” and at length slew an hundred and eighty five thousand of his men in one night; shall the protected and delivered servants of God quarrel with this awful dispensation, or refuse him their tribute of grateful praise ?
We ought, however, more especially to unite in fervent prayer for the restoration of peace: and how many or great soever the obstacles to this most desirable event may seem; we should, in that case, without doubt, before long be called to join in thanksgivings to God, for having " regarded the Vol. II.
“ voice of our supplications.” In this part of our duty, we should look beyond our own country ; and intercede in behalf of the several regions, which have been ravaged, or kept in perpetual alarms, by the late extraordinary commotions : not forgetting poor, oppressed, and almost desolated France; but earnestly beseeching God to send her inhabitants the blessings of peace, good government, rational liberty, and the gospel of salvation.
But above all, it behoves us to pray, with great fervency and constancy, that, “ the Spirit may be “poured upon us from on high:” that all the ministers of religion, however distinguished, ‘may 'be illuminated with the true knowledge and un
derstanding of the holy word of God; and both • by their life and doctrine set it forth and shew 'it accordingly:' that all, who are called chris'tians, may be led into the way of truth, and hold 'the faith, in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, ‘and in righteousness of life:' that purity in doctrine and practice may adorn every part of the christian church; and that every thing which interrupts its harmony, deforms its beauty, or weakens the energy of its testimony to the truth, may be entirely removed: that labourers and faithful stewards of the mysteries of God may be sent forth and multiplied: that an effectual stand may be made against infidelity, impiety, and every species of heresy and false religion : that
heavenly wisdom, with every blessing spiritual and temporal, may be abundantly conferred on our gracious sovereign, and on all the numerous branches of the royal family; on our nobles, counsellors, ministers of state, senators, and magistrates, and on all who possess power and influence; that each individual, 'in his vocation and ministry, may faithfully and effectually glorify God,' and serve his generation: that the seminaries of publick and private education, (especially those, in which young persons are trained up, on whom the charge of supporting religion, or of conducting publick business, must shortly devolve,) may be so regulated, as best to answer the great ends proposed by them: and that the blessing of God may abundantly attend every plan formed, and attempt made, for the instruction of the children of the poor, for the prevention of crimes, for the reformation of the vicious, for the alleviation of misery, and above all for the propagation of the gospel in every part of the globe.
It seems undeniable that prayers to this effect accord to the scriptures, and may be offered under the special influence of the Holy Spirit: but should some clauses in this compendious statement meet with disapprobation, we intreat those who object, to join with us in this season of danger, as far as they can with a clear conscience. E.ract coincidence is not the object: we only wish to unite the whole body of christians througliout