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spiritual, and, like Moses, brings back a bright shining from the mount".
4. And not only thus, by a natural influence, doth prayer work this advantage, but even by a federal efficacy, suing for, and upon suit obtaining, supplies of grace, as the chief good; and besides all other needful mercies, it is a real means of receiviny; Whatsoever you shall ask, that will I do, says our Saviour". God having established this intercourse, and engaged his truth and goodness in it, that if they call on him, they shall be heard and answered. If they prepare the heart to call, he will incline his ear to hear; and our Saviour hath assured us, that we may build upon
his goodness, and the affection of a Father in him; that he will give good things to them that ask, says one Evangelist“; and the Holy Spirit to them that ask it says another, as being the good indeed, the highest of gifts, and the sum of all good things, and that for which his children are most earnest supplicants. Prayer for grace doth, as it were, set the mouth of the soul to the spring, draws from Jesus Christ, and is replenished out of his fulness, thirsting after it, and drawing from it that way.
And for this reason it is, that our Saviour, and from him, and according to his example, the Apostles recommend prayer so much; Watch and pray, says our Saviour'; and St. Paul, Pray continuallys. And our Apostle here particularly specifies this, as the grand mean of attaining that conformity with Christ which he presses ; this is the highway to it, Be sober, and watch unto prayer. He that is much in prayer, shall grow rich in grace.
He shall thrive and increase most that is busiest in this, which is our very traffic with heaven, and fetches the rnost precious commodities thence. He that sets oftenest out these ships of desire, that makes the most voyages to that land of spices and pearls, shall be sure to improve his stock most, and have most of heaven upon earth.
But the true art of this trading is very rare. Every b Exod. xxxiv. 29, 30.
© John xiv. 13. d. Matt. vii. 11. é i Luke xi. 13. f Matt. xxvi. 41. 8 1 Thess, v, 17.
trade hath something wherein the skill of it lies; but this is deep and supernatural, is not reached by human industry. Industry is to be used in it, but we must know the faculty of it comes from above; that Spirit of prayer, without which learning, and wit, and religious breeding, can do nothing; Therefore, this is to be our prayer often, our great suit for the Spirit of prayer, that we may speak the language of the sons of God by the Spirit of God, which alone teaches the heart to pronounce aright those things, that the tongue of many hypocrites can articulate well to man's ear; and only the children in that right strain that takes him, call God their Father, and cry unto him as their Father. And therefore many poor unlettered Christians far outstrip your school-rabbies in this faculty, because it is not effectually taught in these lower academies ; they must be in God's own school, children of his house, that speak this language. Men may give spiritual rules and directions in this, and such as may be useful, drawn from the word, that furnishes us with all needful precepts; but you are still to bring these into the seat of this faculty of prayer, the heart; and stamp them upon it, and so to teach it to pray, without which there is no prayer ; this is the prerogative royal of Him that framed the heart of man within him.
But, for advancing in this, and growing more skilful in it, prayer is, with continual dependence on the Spirit, to be much used. Praying much thou shalt be blest with much faculty for it. So then, askest thou, what shall I do that I may learn to pray? There be things here to be considered, that are expressed as serving this end; but for present this, and chiefly this, “by praying thou shalt learn to pray.” Thou shalt both obtain more of the Spirit, and find more the cheerful working of it in prayer, when thou puttest it often to that work for which it is received, and wherein it is delighed; and as both advantaging all graces, and the grace of prayer itself, this frequency and abounding in prayer is here very clearly intended, in that the Apostle makes it as the
main of our work, and would have us to keep our hearts in a constant aptness for it; Be sober and watch; to what end? unto prayer.
2. Sobriety is recommended; Be sober. They that have no better, must make the best they can of carnal delights. It is no wonder they take as large a share of them as they can bear, and sometimes more. But the Christian is called to a more excellent state, and higher pleasures ; so that he may behold men glutting themselves with these base things, and be as little moved to share with them, as men are taken with the pleasure a swine hath in wallowing in the mireb
It becomes the heirs of heaven to be far above the love of the earth; and in the necessary use of any earthly things, still to keep within the due measure of their use, and to keep their heart wholly disengaged from an excessive affection to them. This is the sobriety to which we are here exhorted.
It is true, that, in the most common sense of the word, it is very commendable, and it is fit to be so considered by a Christian, that he fly gross intemperance, as a thing most contrary to his condition, and holy calling, and wholly inconsistent with the spiritual temper of a renewed mind, and those exercises to which it is called, and its progress in its way homewards. It is a most unseemly sight to behold one, simply by outward profession a Christian, overtaken with surfeiting and drunkenness, much more to be given to the vile custom of it: all sensual delights, even the filthy lust of uncleanness, go under the common name of insobriety, intemperance, åxonasia ; and they all degrade and destroy the noble soul; are unworthy of man, much more of a Christian; and the contempt of them preserves the soul, and elevates it.
But the sobriety here recommended, though it takes in that too, yet reaches further than temperance in meat and drink. It is the spiritual temperance of a Christian mind in all earthly things, as our Saviour joins these together'; Surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life: and under the cares are comprehended all the excessive desires and delights of this life, which cannot be followed and attended without distempered carefulness.
h 2 Pet. ii. 22.
Many that are sober men, and of temperate diet, yet are spiritually intemperate, drunk with pride or covetousness, or passion ; drunk with self-love, and love of their pleasures and ease, with love of the world, and the things of it, which cannot consist with the love of God, as St. John tells usk; drunk with the inordinate unlawful love even of their lawful calling, and the lawful gain they pursue by it. Their hearts are still going after it, and so reeling to and fro, never fixed on God and heavenly things, but either hurried up and down with incessant business, or, if sometimes at ease, it is, as the ease of a drunken man, not composed to better and wiser thoughts, but falling into a dead sleep, contrary to the watching here joined with sobriety.
3. We are to consider the remaining duty of watchfulness; Watch. There is a Christian rule to be observed in the very moderating of bodily sleep, and that particularly for the interest of prayer; but watching, as sobriety here, is chiefly the spiritual circumspectness and vigilancy of the mind, in a wary waking posture, that it be not surprised by the assaults or sleights of Satan, by the world, nor its near. est and most deceiving enemy, the corruption that dwells within, which being so near, doth most readily watch unperceived advantages, and easily circumvents us'. The soul of a Christian being surrounded with enemies, both of so great power and wrath, and so watchful to undo it, should it not be watchful for its own safety, and live in a military vigilancy continually, keeping constant watch and sentinel, and suffering nothing to pass that may carry the least suspicion of danger ? Should he not be distrustful and jealous of all the motions of his own heart, and the smilings of the world? And in
i Luke xxi. 34. 1 John ii. 15. Heb. xii. 1.
relation to these, it will be a wise course to take that word as a good caveat, Be watchful, and remember to mistrust”. Under the garment of some harmless pleasure, or some lawful liberties, may be conveyed into thy soul some thief or traitor, that will either betray thee to the enemy, or at least pilfer and steal of the most precious things thou hast. Do we not by experience find how easily our foolish hearts are seduced and deceived, and how apt they are even to deceive themselves ? and by things that seem to have no evil in them, yet are drawn from the height of affection to the highest good, and from communion with God, and study to please him; which should not be intermitted, for then it will abate, whereas it ought still to be growing.
II. We proposed to consider the mutual relation of these duties: Now, this relation is clear ; they are each of them assistant and helpful to the other, and, in their nature, inseparably linked together, as they are here in the words of the Apostle. Sobriety is the friend of watchfulness, and prayer of both. Intemperance, doth of necessity draw on sleep; excessive eating or drinking, sending up too many, and so gross, vapours, surcharge the brain ; and when the body is thus deadened, how unfit is it for any active employment ? Thus the mind, by a surcharge of delights or desires, or cares of earth, is made so heavy and dull, that it cannot awake; hath not the spiritual activity and clearness that spiritual exercises, particularly prayer, do require. Yea, as bodily insobriety, full feeding and drinking, not only for the time indisposes to action, but, by custom of it, brings the body to so gross and heavy a temper, that . the very natural spirits cannot stir to and fro in it with freedom, but are clogged, and stick as the wheels of a coach in a deep miry way; thus is it with the soul glutted with earthly things; the affections bemired with them, make it sluggish, and inactive in those that are spiritual, and render the motions of the spirit lifeless; and, obstructed thus,
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