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him, it may be his pleasure still to try the sincerity and constancy of our affection, we know not. It may be for years, it may not be another day; but however long, or however brief may be the period, death will come at last and put an end to this warfare in our own individual case; and then we shall, according to the choice we have ultimately made, be translated either without hope of further trial, or without fear of further danger, into the woeful regions where Satan reigns supreme, or into the happy kingdom where God alone is the Lord of all, and sin and temptation and misery shall never enter.

But as long as we are in the flesh, dwelling in this “earthly tabernacle" (as the apostle calls it,) the important combat is still going on within us, and each man is, in his own case, not only a party engaged, but (as it were) the umpire by whose decision it is to be settled :-his willing attachment to the one side or to the other turns the scale, and his salvation or his ruin is the inevitable consequence. Shall we then, my brethren, be so bold as to think of fighting the battle by ourselves? Shall we refuse the aid of so mighty an auxiliary as the Holy Spirit of God, and challenge our enemies to the trial of our single strength? See what a formidable host is arrayed against us. Satan with all his devices is against us,--the world with all its temptations is against us,- the flesh with all its corruptions is against us,- our own hearts with all their deceitfulness and desperate wickedness are against us. And what is there on our side? What remains but the feeble voice of conscience, and the weak arguments of reason, to oppose to this powerful combination ? Have we any hope of triumphing against these fearful odds? Nay, we must call in more effectual aid, if we would engage in this contest with any prospect of success. That aid is most liberally offered, and ever ready to be applied, if we will pray for it with earnestness, and with the sincere intention to avail ourselves of it, when granted; for “if ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

But observe, we must ask him;" ask and ye shall have, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” The omniscient God, who knoweth all our wants and infirmities much better than we know them ourselves, could easily give us every thing that is necessary to our growth in grace, without needing our petitions to inform him in what respects his assistance is required. But he will give us nothing without prayer, because he desires that men should be sensible of their wants, before he will undertake to remedy them. He has appointed that his favours shall only be obtained by prayer, for the express purpose that men may, by examining themselves, find out their own deficiencies and necessities, and learn to depend on him for help. Here we are in his presence, our hearts naked to his sight, their inmost recesses exposed to his all-seeing eye. He perceives all our wants ;—he observes in one heart the absence of devotional feeling, in another the spirit of pride, in another the confidence of self-righteousness, in another impure affections and lusts, in another a fondness for worldly pleasures, in another an uncharitable temper; and he beholds Satan indefatigably employed in adding strength to the besetting sin of each, and sowing the seeds of others with unsparing malice. He sees all this, and he could correct it in a moment by one breath of his renovating spirit: but yet he suffers it.

he suffers it. We remain formal, and proud, and confident, and impure, and worldly, and uncharitable, and exposed to the machinations of the enemy, though our sins and frailties are noticed, and help is so easy and so near at hand. Why is this? Why, but because God will have men detect their own imperfections, and acknowledge him as the author and giver of all good things, and fly to him for assistance in their difficulties, and for refuge in their dangers ? As our God and our Father he will have us feel our need of him, our weakness and peril and misery without him, our strength and safety and happiness in his protection.

Is this unreasonable? Is it unreasonable that he should desire to have the trust, and love, and praise, and gratitude of the receivers of his favours ? What portion of this affection would be be likely to obtain of us, if we were not conscious of the favours he bestows, or of the necessity that existed for them ? Should we not be apt to forget him altogether, and to say, “this is our goodness, this is our strength, this is our courage, this is our piety, these are our conquests over sin, and the reward of heaven is ours by right of victory, and in recompence for our own holiness?” But no, my brethren, “we are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God;" and as without his help we are lost, so without prayer for his help we are lost equally ; for that is the very method by which his blessings are to be obtained.

Let me ask you to what end prayer is commanded in the gospel, if the divine favours are to be expected without it? Is it not a vain and superfluous ceremony, or unnecessary work of

supererogation? And yet the scriptures insist upon it in the strongest terms. “Pray without ceasing." Men ought always to pray and not to faint."

“ In every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” " Whatsoever he shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." And Christ himself, while on earth, spent whole nights in prayer, and “ being in an agony prayed the more earnestly.” Nay, and he still prays, even in heaven, while mediating on behalf of his servants, and the Holy “Spirit also maketh intercession for us,” furthering our weak petitions by combining with them his own more earnest and effectual supplications. Surely then prayer can be no useless form, when so enjoined by positive command, and so recommended by high example. And what is it that we are chiefly taught to pray for? Riches, and health, and long life, and earthly blessings? No, but for spiritual gifts. That very prayer, which Christ has left us as a short model of our devotional addresses to God, contains but one brief sentence which can be considered as a petition for a temporal good, and even that is but the expression of a most moderate desire, “give us this day our daily bread ;” all the rest are supplications for the supply of our spiritual wants alone.

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