« FöregåendeFortsätt »
faints; Col. ii. 18. Let no man beguile you of your reward, in a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels. For the merit and fatisfaction of Chrift alone give fuccefs and acceptance to our prayers; Rev. viii. 3, 4. And another angel came, and ftood at the altar, having a golden cenfer; and there was given unto him much incenfe, that he fhould offer it with the prayers of all faints, upon the golden altar, which was before the throne. And the fmoke of the incenfe, which came with the prayers of the faints, afcended up before God, out of the angel's hand. 1 Tim. ii. 5. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Chrift Jefus.
Q3. What is the first property, or quality of acceptable prayer?
A. No prayer can be acceptable to God, except the matter of it be agreeable to his will; James iv. 3. Ye atk and receive not, because ye afk amifs, that ye may confume it upon your Jufts; 1 John v. 14, 15. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we afk any thing according to his will, he heareth us. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we afk, we know that we have the petitions that we desire of him. Q. 4. Is it enough to make prayer acceptable, that the matter is agreeable to God's will ?
A. No, it is not; for the manner, as well as the matter, must be fo too; Pfalm lxvi. 18. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.
Q. 5. What is the first qualification of an acceptable prayer, refpecting the manner of it?
A. That it be fincere, and flowing from the heart of a regenerate perfon; Prov. xv. 29. The Lord is far from the wicked; but he heareth the prayer of the righteous. Jer. xxix. 13. And ye fhall feek me, and find me, when ye thall fearch for me with all your heart.
Q. 6. What is the fecond qualification of prayer, refpecting the manner?
A. It must be performed in the heart of a child of God, by the Spirit of adoption; Gal. iv. 6. And because ye are fons, God hath fent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Rom. viii. 26. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we fhould. pray for as we ou ht, but the Spirit itself maketh interceffion for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Q. 7. What is the third qualification of an acceptable prayer, respecting the manner?
A. It must be fervent and importunate, not cold and formal,
James v. 16.-The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much; Matth. vii. 7. Afk, and it fhall be given you; feek, and ye shall find; knock, and it fhall be opened unto you. Q. 8. Wherein doth true importunity with God in prayer confult?
A. Not in the multitude of words; Matth. vi. 7. But when ye pray, ufe not vain repetitions, as the Heathen do : for they think they fhall be heard for their much speaking. But in an holy earneftness of spirit to be heard; Pfalm cxliii. 7. Hear me speedily, O Lord, my spirit faileth; hide not thy face from me, left I be like unto them that go down into the pit. A prudent choice of prevalent arguments; Job xxiii. 4. I would order my caufe before him, and fill my mouth with arguments. And a refolute perfiftance in our requests, till they be granted; Ifa. Ixii. 7. And give him no reft, till he e stablish, and till he make Jerufalem a praise in the earth.
Q. 9. Do not prayers thus qualified sometimes miscarry? A. God may delay and fufpend the answer of them for a time; Pfalm xxii. 2. O my God, I cry in the day-time, but thou heareft not, &c. But fooner or later God will always anfwer them, either in the very thing we afk; 1 John v. 15.--We know that we have the petitions that we desired of him: Or in that which is equivalent, or better; Gen. xvii. 18, 19. And Abraham faid unto God, O that Ifhmael might live before thee! And God faid, Sarah thy wife fhall bear thee a fon indeed, and thou shalt call his name Ifaac: and I will establish my covenant with him, for an everlasting covenant, and with his feed after him.
Q10 Is there no prayer but what is stated and fixed?
A. Yes, there is fudden occafional prayer, which we call ejaculatory. Such was Jacob's, Gen. xlix. 18. I have waited for thy falvation, O Lord. And this is exceeding useful, to maintain conftant communion with God, and keep the heart in a spiritual frame.
Q. 11. Is all stated and fixed prayer public in the congregation, or church?
A. No; flated prayer ought to be in our families, with those under our charge; and in our closets, betwi. God and us alone; Joh. xxiv. 15.But as for me, and my houfe, we will ferve the Lord. And Matth. vi. 6. But when thou prayeft, enter into thy closet; and when thou haft shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in fecret; and thy Father which feeth in fecret, fhall reward thee openly. ...VOL. VIII,
Q. 12. What do you infer from hence?
A. That the reftraint of prayer is not only a great fin, but at ill fign of a graceless heart; Job vi. 4. Yea, thou cafteft off fear, and restrainest prayer before God. And that which entails a judgment and curfe upon men, and their families; Jer. x. 25. Pour out thy fury upon the Heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not upon thy name.
Q. 13. What is the fecond inference from the ordinance of prayer?
A. That the true reason why we enjoy not the mercies we pray for, is not because God is unwilling to grant mercies, bút because we either neglect prayer, or miscarry in the manner of prayer; James iv. 2, 3. Ye luft, and have not; ye kill, and defire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, becaufe ye afk not. Ye afk, and receive not, becaute ye afk amifs, that ye may confume it upon your lufts.
Of Direction in Prayer.
Hat rule hath God given for our direction in the duty of prayer?
A. The whole word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but the Special rule of direction, is that form of prayer which Chrift taught his difciples, commonly called, The Lord's prayer.
Q. 1. Do men need directions, rules, and helps in prayer? A. They do greatly need them, for in, and of ourselves we know not what to pray for as we ought; Rom. viii. 26. Likewife the Spirit alfo helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, &c. Nor how to pray in a right manner, and for right ends; and a mistake in either fruftrates our prayer; James iv. 3. Ye afk, and receive not, because ye afk amifs, that ye may confume it upon your lufts.
Q. 2. When do men mistake in the matter of their prayer? A. They mistake in the matter of prayer, when they ask of God things that are not lawful, good and agreeable to his will. So the difciples were ready to do, in calling for fire from heaven on the Samaritans; Luke ix. 54, 55. And when his difciples, James and John, faw this, they faid, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and confume them, even as Elias did? But he turned and rebuked them, and faid, Ye know not what manner of fpitit ye are of. Q. 3. When do men mistake in the manner of prayer ? A. They mistake in the manner, when they afk mercies of God for carnal ends, to fatisfy their lufts; James iv. 3. Yeak, and receive not, because ye afk amife, that ye may confume it
upon your lufts. Or in a drowsy and careless manner; Ifa. Ixiv. 7. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee, &c.
Q. 4. What helps hath God afforded us to furnish us to prayer, both in refpect of the matter and manner?
A. The scriptures abundantly furnish us with all forts of helps and directions for the matter of prayer. It directs us, both in confeffion of fins, original and actual; Pfalm li. 4, 5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in fin did my mother conceive me. Against thee, thee only have I finned, and done this evil in thy fight, &c. Petition and thanksgiving; Phil. iv. 6. Be careful for nothing, but in every thing, by prayer and fupplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.
Q. 5. Doth it afford us any help, or direction, as to the manner of prayer alfo?
A. Yes, it doth; and that both as to, (1.) Our fincerity in prayer; Heb. x. 22. Let us draw near with a true heart, in full affurance of faith; having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (2.) As to our humility in prayer; Pfalm x. 17. Lord thou hast heard the defire of the humble; thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear. (3.) As to our faith in prayer; James i. 6. But let him afk in faith, nothing wavering, &c. (4.) As to our fervency in prayer; James v. 6.The effec tual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Q. 6. Are these external rules and directions fufficient in themselves to enable us to pray acceptably?
A. In refpect of external direction they are fufficient, and we need no other outward rules than what the fcriptures fur-; nifh; but befides that, the internal helps and affiftances of the Spirit, are neceffary to the offering up acceptable prayer; Rom. viii. 26. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh interceffion for us, &c.
Q. 7. But doth the fcripture only furnish us with general rules of direction for prayer?
A. No, it furnishes us alfo with an excellent pattern and example of prayer, compofed by Chrift for our direction; Matth.. vi. 9. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father, which art in heaven, &c.
Q. 8. Are Chriftians tied by a neceflity to ufe that form of words? Or was it only intended for a directory to them?
A. That form of words may be lawfully used, but it is plain its intention was to regulate our petitions by it; and therefore they that use it in fpells and charms, as the Papists; or thofe that think nothing is prayer, but that form of words; abufe Chrift's intention in it.
Q. 9. How doth it appear, it was not Chrift's intention ftrictly to bind us to that very form of words in our prayers?
A. Divines give us these reasons against it, (1.) Because this prayer is fet down diverfly by the evangelifts; Matth. vi. 10, 12. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And Luke xi. 3, 4. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our fins; for we alfo forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (2.) Chrift and his apoftles did not always use this form of words afterwards, as appears by his prayer at Lazarus's grave, John xi. and that for his apostles, John xvii. (3.) Because these words, Matth. vi. 9. After this manner, &c. plainly fhew, its ufe was intended for a directory
Q. 10. What is the firft inference from hence?
A. Hence we learn the fulness and completeness of the Scriptures, not only for the guiding and fettling of our faith in things that are to be believed, but also of our whole practice, in every duty we are to perform.
Q. 11. What is the fecond inference hence?
A. Hence we are informed, how neceffary it is to acquaint ourselves with the mind of God, revealed in his word, that wa may guide ourselves in prayer, both for matter and manner thereby; and not utter to God words without knowledge,
Q. 12. What is the last inference from hence ?
A. That those who neglect all prayer, and those that fatisfy themselves with a form of prayer, which they utter without knowledge or affection, do greatly fin against God. And that it is the duty of all Chriftians, from a sense of their own fins, wants, and mercies, to be often with God in prayer, guiding themselves in that fpiritual duty, by fuch inward and outward helps, as his word and Spirit are able to furnish them with.
Of the Preface to the Lord's Prayer.
Hat doth the preface of the Lord's prayer
A. The preface of the Lord's prayer, which is, [Our Father which art in heaven,] teacheth us to draw near to God with all