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what is vain man, that he should talk of repenting hereafter ; when perhaps, while the words are in his mouth, the earnest of death is in his head, or heart, or bowels; and a thousand unlooked-for accidents may presently put an end to all his thoughts of repenting hereafter, and render it impossible for ever?
Let us therefore consider seriously, that the present time only is in our power, and that we may be called out of this world, not only when old age comes upon us, but perhaps in the midst of our days, or even in our early bloom and youth; that the time to come is entirely in God's hands; and that therefore when we defer our repentance and our duty to the time to come, we do (as it were) cast lots for our souls, and venture our everlasting hopes upon a contingency, which it is not in our power to dispose of.
For all we know, this may be the evening of our day of trial; and if it be, our life and eternity depends upon what
we are now doing. Wherefore if we have any regard for our own everlasting safety, let us take care to order our matters with so much prudence and consi deration, that we may be ready at what hour foever our Lord shall call us,
I JOHN V. 14. This is the confidence that we have in him,
that if we ask any thing according to his will, be heareth us.
TF we consider all those blessings, which
God hath promised to this duty of - prayer, we shall presently be induced to conclude, that a man who can make use of it, can stand in need of nothing. For so abundantly hath God engaged himself to all supplicants, and so comprehensive the promises which he has made to our prayers; that we may seem to have it in our power, to have every thing for asking. The Lord is nigh unto all them, says
David, that call upon him in truth*. And in another place, Thou, Lord, art good and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy to all that call upon theeuf. And our Saviour says, Ak, and it all be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it Shall be opened unto you II. . .
Thus ample and munificent, full and comprehensive, are those promises which God has made to our prayers. "If we want pardon for our sins, he bids us ask, and we shall have it. If we need strength and aid to overcome temptations, he orders us to seek it at his hands, and we shall find it. If we want any mercy, either spiritual or temporal, he directs us to address ourselves to him for a supply, and binds himself to grant what we defire of him. | But yet notwithstanding all these valuable and extensive promises, which God has made to our prayers; we daily fee, that vast numbers of men, who pray to God, are not thus bettered or supplied by them. For how many are there in the world, who pray for pardon of their fins,
Pfal. cxlv. 18. + lxxxvi. 5. 1 Matt. vii. 9.
and yet will be eternally condemned and punished for them ? How many are frequently and importunately asking grace, and strength to overcome temptations, who are still overpowered by them? They pray for sobriety; but yet they continue intemperate. They fue for meekness; but still they are fierce and passionate. They ask for peace; but yet they remain unruly and turbulent. They beg humility, contentedness, charity, and several other virtues; and, after all, they reft ftill as proud and covetous, wrathful and contentious, as ever.
Now here God's promises are not performed, and men's prayers are not answered; so that it is certain, there must be a failure somewhere. Either God doth not give men, what he promises; or they do not ask as they ought to do, who should receive. Some fault there is, either in God's faithfulness, or our prayers, which renders them so unsuccessful, and makes them so often bring down nothing to us, where they are promised so much.