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splendid talents, lofty expressions in prayer, nor yet in the mere knowledge of divine things. What then is it? It is dwelling in and with God, while God dwells in and with my soul. Those who are indeed blessed with such a communion, have God as the supreme object of love and praise, and desire no other end of existence. Nor is this all. If I commune with God by prayer, I share of his fulness, drink of his pleasures, enter into his joy, and partake of the divine nature. O paradise of love, life of angels, ecstasy of bliss! A soul that communes with God, enjoys his presence, in prayer, in praise, in meditation, and pious ejaculations. Let me tell all my complaints and all my sorrows to my heavenly Father; and let me mourn over all my sins and follies, which so much hinder divine intercourse with him. Let me wrestle, yea, as it were, dispute with him about the blessing. “Let me go. I will not let thee go until thou bless me.” Such a life is heaven upon earth; it is God coming down to men, and men as it were taken up to God.

Now my soul, what thinkest thou? Alas! the remains of sin in me oppose this communion with God, and this prosperity of soul, which I so much want and desire. O that I may be crucified with Christ, and be dead to the world, that I may not perish with it. O may my precious Redeemer be with me, in the closet and the family, in the church and in the world. May he be with me every where, by night and by day, at home and abroad ; that I may work or walk, sail or ride, sleep or wake, live or die, in his presence. O the pleasure and joy of such a life!

“ 'Tis a young heaven on earthly ground,

And glory in the bud.” O let this divine life, to which I am but too much a stranger, be the life which I shall henceforth live in the flesh, while I exercise faith on the Son of God. Let every thing be destroyed that would hinder it. And O my gracious God! as I desire to live with Thee hereafter; so may I live to Thee here, till grace shall be crowned with eternal glory. Amen.


But to resume the subject. The soul that would prosper must persevere in prayer amidst all opposing difficulties. Paul speaks of praying “ with all perseverance.”

The word perseverance here, denotes strength and victory; as some men prosecute their business with unwearied constancy till all difficulties be overcome, and the end be accomplished. Perseverance in prayer denotes that invincible patience, courage, and constancy which believers manifest, in keeping up, under all discouragements, the duty of prayer. It is a perseverance which holds and goes on, till the end is obtained, and an answer is given. We are apt to faint, if an answer be not presently obtained. Patience and courage are apt to fail, and we begin to think, all is in vain. It is hard, then, to hold up our hands, and our heads, as Moses did, “ till the going down of the sun."

The duty may be kept up, and oftentimes we persevere in outward forms, when the heart flags in the exercise. Faith, zeal, and other graces become feeble, as an army may sometimes retain the field,

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though their magazines are exhausted. They stand and set a bold face on the foe, but can hardly do any thing to resist him, or to defend themselves. In affliction, sometimes, the people of God are “ feeble and sore broken,” and can hardly lift up their souls to God. Their fervent desires are weakened, darkness fills their souls, and they exclaim,“ Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech.” But perseverance in prayer surmounts these difficulties, and the sacred correspondence between God and the soul, still goes

Some pray for a while, and if they find the mercy comes, they draw hard, but if the blessing be withheld, their faith fails, and their souls drag on heavily. Lord help us to“ pray without ceasing,” that we may not grow lifeless, as if we expected no



Perseverance in prayer is essential to soul prosperity. Our Lord “ spake a parable to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” God's elect shall not cry unto him day and night without being graciously heard, and answered. He may bear long with them, but when their faith and patience are duly exercised, and tried, “ he will avenge them speedily.” A holy traffic at the throne of grace, will always turn out to the abundant advantage of those who persevere in carrying it on with diligence. Prayer is no uncertain speculation; for the Hearer of prayer“ has never said to the seed of Jacob,” or to any of his creatures, " Seek ye my face in vain.” They that wait on the Lord shall not be ashamed. “ I waited patiently for the Lord and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.” The words here are very strong. In waiting I waited: that is, I waited long, and at last the Lord graciously answered my prayer. This should encourage us. Answers to prayer may be considered a privilege of the covenant, not granted merely to David, and to a few, but to all who truly seek the Lord. It is, as it were, a charter to the whole corporation of the saints, to the end of the world. He will “ regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.'

To continue instant in prayer, is an' evidence of a gracious state. “ The hypocrite will not always call upon God." Some pray by fits and starts, but soon become weary; and especially if they have to wait long for an answer. When at any time we seem to get no answer to our prayers, we should observe our hearts, to see how they are affected. By this means the temper of our minds may be discovered, and our real state will be more evident. Does waiting long blunt the edge of prayer, or render it more keen? This is a question of great importance. Our foolish and unbelieving hearts are apt to restrain prayer before God, and to turn away from the door of mercy, with murmuring and discontent. This is a sad omen.

If our prayer be lawful, we must still persevere; and it is an unquestionable evidence of a gracious state, when our affections are enkindled under delays, and we are led to pray with more courage, and with increasing importunity. By repulses, love is often increased ; and importunity is often doubled when obstructions are put in the way. Sweet are the words of Newton,

“ He bows a gracious ear,

We never plead in vain ;
Yet we must wait till he appear,

And pray and pray again."

He that has said, “ Ask, and ye shall receive,” makes good his promise. “ Every one that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” To encourage our souls in prayer, let us think to whom we offer our requests. It is to the infinite Lord of heaven and earth.* And great and glorious as he is, he waits to be gracious. Shall we then despair of success, if an immediate answer be not returned to our prayers ? Mordecai sat long at the king's gate before he had what he desired. God knows best how to time his mercies ; let us humbly submit to his will, and wait and pray till the light of his countenance be lifted up upon us.

6 I will wait

* Dr. Bates has eloquently said, “ It would tire the hand of an angel to write down the pardons that God bestows upon one penitent believer.”

“ Nor is it pardon only, but it is the gift of the Holy Spirit; it is the inheritance of the saints ; it is everlasting life, which I am about to supplicate. And by what means can I fix in my mind the magnitude of these requests? If we had seen, in former times, a Castilian noble about to enter the Escurial, that he might solicit an appointment to the vice-royalty of Peru, should we not have expected strong marks of ambitious desire and deep concern for the issue of his suit to appear upon his brow? And yet how strikingly would such a sight exhibit the penury and fallaciousness of this world, where, while the object of desire would include an almost regal power, wealth and magnificence, the candidate would yet, in fact, be asking, with all the devotion of his soul, for a bur. den of splendid cares.

“When a christian appears before the King of kings, and asks to be prepared and qualified by divine influence, for “a crown of life,” it is certainly nothing resembling this earthly domination, or selfish glory to which he aspires. His requests are consistent with the deepest bumility and self-renunciation, otherwise, “ he knows not what he asks.” The sum of his requests, when he asks aright, is, that he may be enabled perfectly to glorify God, and be satisfied with his likeness,” while all the praise shall redound to the infinite Giver. But he neither can, nor ought to hide from himself the vastness of these gifts which he is encouraged and commanded to implore. He asks the uncreated energy to renovate and remould within him the very image of divine perfection, and to fit an heir of frailty and transgression, for incorruptible and eternal joys."

Sheppard on Devotion.

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