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ridicule, or love of ease, or any other cause, as a mere temptation, and resist the devil, and he will flee front you. This evil spirit will be cast out by prayer and fasting. Matt. xvii, 21. Does he present to you various difficulties? Remember, that nothing escellent is obtained without effort and difficulty. Remember, men pursue human schemes of great difficulty, amidst every opposition ; they go through the most arduous enterprizes, without any certainty of success, or any promise of Divine help. In seeking communion with God, you are sure to succeed, and have his faithful promise that he will help you. Will you not be condemned by the conduct of men in general, respecting the things of this world, if difficulties should deter you from endeavouring to obtain a good which, as a Christian, you must acknowledge to be the greatest and most profitable that can be gained in the present life? Difficulties give way to real efforts.

Prayer is in its nature a kind of wrestling and striving for a victory, which pre-supposes an opposition." This opposition of Satan will be vanquished by a steady resistance in the strength of your Saviour.

4. BEWARE OF A SELF-RIGHTEOUS SPIRIT, or any thing like fancying because you have said your prayers, and especially, if you have prayed with more than ordinary freedom and affection, that therefore you deserve any thing from God, or are holy and righteous in his sight. Such a view of yourself, provokes God to withdraw his Spirit, and leaves you to your own natural barrenness and dryness. Nay, if you trust in your prayers, and put them in the place of your Saviour, they will as much ruin your immortal soul as the grossest sins. Our Loril said to the self-righteous Pharisees, The publicans and


the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. Nothing is more natural to us, than, when we have been greatly assisted, and our heart softened, and our mind enlarged in prayer, to flatter ourselves, and trust in our performance. But as in the flood, peither the tallest tree, nor the highest mountain saved any of the ungodly world who were shut out of the ark, the only refuge; so Jesus Christ alone can save us. The directions of the pious Anselm to the sick man, are in point here. “See, then," he says to him," while life remains in thee, that thou repose thy confidence only in the death of Christ,-trust in nothing else ; commit thyself wholly to his death,-cover thyself with this alone. And if the Lord will judge thee, say, 'Lord, I cast the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, between myself and thy judgment, otherwise I will not engage in judgment with thee.' And if he shall say unto thee, Thou art a sinner!' say, • I place the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, between me

sin. And if he shall say, “Thou hast deserved damnation !' say, ' Lord, I cast the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between me and my evil deserts, and I of fer his merits for that merit which I ought to have had, and have not.” One good man said, “I am more afraid of my duties, than of my sins, for my duties make me often proud, but my sins make me always humble.” Though an expression of this kind may be somewhat unguarded, it may shew us, in a striking way, a danger which many Christians hardly even suspect. O rest not, then, in any duties; put no confidence at all in them as grounds of salvation ; “Count all things but loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ," and rest wholly on him. Let prayer be the way by which you gain an interest in him and his salvation, and not be a means of keeping you from a sole trust in him.

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Sinful motives are apt perpetually to mingle with and defile all we do. Let not the procuring an esteem for sanctity, conscientiousness, and spirituality, for great parts or gifts, for readiness and copiousness of invention, memory, and judgment, be your motives to pray. One prayer is worth ten thousand fine thoughts. Let not our design be to shew that you can pray much, and are well furnished with matter; nor yet to manifest that you are good Church-goers, never miss prayers, and can pray with an acceptable or pleasing delivery or voice. Let not the vain-glory of praying long, and frequently in every place, “as the hypocrites standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men,” (Matt. vi, 5.) whom our Lord reproved, let not this be the end for which you pray. Rather pray desiring thereby to be disposed and enabled to serve God and the world, to live profitably and comfortably, and at last to obtain an immortal and everlasting reward. And remember, that the glory of God should be the ultimate end at which you aim in all your prayers. Our design in asking any thing from God should be to render it again to him: and while we propose this to ourselves, we are the more likely to obtain our requests. It has been said, “ Wicked and unthankful men are but like vapours and exhalations drawn up out of the earth, which do but eclipse the sun that raises them : so when God raises up wicked men by his bounty and goodness, they only serve to stain and eclipse bis glory in the world. Whereas godly men are like rivers, which, as they receive all their streams from the sea, so they return all again into the sea: so whatever truly devout persons receive from God, they improve all for, and return all again unto him.” And therefore they may

well hope to speed, who beg mercies at the hand of God, that they may return all again to his glory.

6. TAKE HEED OF SPIRITUAL PRIDE. Let us reinember, God hath respect to the lowly, but the proud he knoweth afar off. Ps. cxxxviii, 6. One reason why we do not receive more help from God, may

be this-we could not have it without danger to our souls. It is justly observed, “When the heart is enlarged in prayer, and good espressions come with great fluency from the lips, how apt is he that prays to have high conceits of himself and of his performances! His mind is prone to wander, and think what others think of him, and is sinfully pleased in the imagination, that they are admiring him. Such thoughts as these-- How well do I pray ! How broken for sin do I appear! How fervent in spirit do I seem ! What credit and applause shall I get by this performance! What an excellent saint shall I be accounted! Such thoughts are apt to hover about an enlarged heart; but if they are not kept out with an utter detestation of them, the heart will be distracted with pride, how heavenly soever are the expressions of the mouth.»* We want more Christian simplicity and humility; a more entire sense of our own nothingness, of our emptiness of all good ; and then we should neither fancy ourselves to be any thing, nor fancy that we are more devout than others. " If a man thinketh himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” A right knowledge of the true character of your best prayers will rather lead you to the deepest humility, and will incline you to look more simply for the power of the Spirit, and to the intercession of Christ. 7. NEGLECT NOT THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.

disregard the word of God, when he speaks, you cannot

If you

* Vincent on Distractions,

expect that he should attend to you, when you are speaking to him. ~ Remember what is said ; “ He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." Or again, “because I have called and ve refused-ye have set at nought all my counsel—they shall call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.” Prov. i, 24-28. Is not neglect of the Scriptures one great reason of the Christian's barrenness in devotion ? The word of God is a rich mine of devotional feeling and expression. Become, then, more acquainted with it. They cannot be devout who are ignorant of the state of their own souls, and of the truths of the Bible. It is not want of ability to express ourselves, but want of feeling that is the greatest difficulty to be overcome; and while you are unacquainted with those truths of the word of God, which would discover to you your own character and state ; while you know not the perfections of God, his holy precepts, and his precious promises, and the prospects which his word sets before you respecting another state, how can you feel aright on these subjects? You necessarily want the great food of prayer. Those who have but poor abilities, have often been enabled by knowledge of the Scriptures, most impressively to pray to God. Were our minds more imbued with the sacred truths of the Bible, we should never be in want of matter for confession, petition, intercession, and praise. All its prohibitions and threatenings would give you expressions of confession ; all its precepts, of petition; and all its promises, of thanksgiving. A right knowledge of the Bible is one of the best helps to devotion. It would be well when you read that sacred book to extract any passage affecting your mind for prayer.

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