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: Object. 1. I have no time for secret prayer, for my
work and business. Anf. 1. This is thy greatest work, even the salvation of thy soul, in comparison of which all thy other work is a mere trifle: and wilt thou take time for thy other work, and not for this work, that challenges thy utmost care and attention ? 2. Fools haite is no speed. To rise out of the bed, and to go immediately to secular work, is foolish cursed halte. How canst thou look for a blessing on thy work without prayer? 3. Rise the fooner every morning, that you may not be scrimped as to time for this exercise, as our blessed Lord did, Mark i. 35. How wilt thou answer to God at the great day, for spending that time in sleep, which thou shouldst have spent in secret prayer? Daniel would not omit this exercise, though at the hazard of his life.
Object_ 2. We are so wearied with our work through the day, that we are not able to pray in the evening. Anf. 1. What difference is there betwixt you and the beasts that take their ease when their work is done, without any more ado? 2. You will take your meat for your bodies, though ever so weary; and why will ye not think of and provide meat for your perishing fouls ? 'John iv. 6. 32. 3. Notwithftanding ye may be tired, do what ye are able. We are not commanded to tell you to make your prayers short or long ; but by no means to neglect secret prayer altogether, which is very dangerous. But I suppose, that when you say your body is not able to subsist with secret prayer, that yet if ye . could gain a'sixpence at that very time, you would spend twice much more time for that paltry gain ; and yet flight the concerns of your souls, under this frivolous pretence.
Object. 3. We have no convenient place for secret prayer, Ans. Find out once a willing heart for this exercise, and I fhall engage you for it you shall find a place. Are there not barns, byres, out-houses, and fields, for you to retire to? Will not these rise up and witness against thee that neglectest this duty, at the great day? For my part, I would rather go to prayer, even within a dwelling-house, in the place where the beasts stand, or behind a bed, or at the back of a house, ere I should neglect it. God requires all men to pray, but he does not require all men to have chambers and closets.
Object. 4. But there are prayers in our family, and I join therein; what needs more!' Ans. Poor soul! halt thou no
more to say of thyself to God, but what the master of the family fays ? Alaş ! thou knowest not thyself, and the dreadful case thou art in by nature ; which if thou didft, thou wouldst not think joining in prayer with others enough. Thou thinkest it fufficient that the master of the family pray for thee, and the other members of his family, and thou liest by without concerning thyself about duty for thyself : wilt thou think it enough, that he go to heaven for thee, and thou be shut out for ever?
Object. 5. But (says the master of the family) I pray with my family, and I hope that is enough for me. Ans. In this coinmand in the text, Christ has not excepted thee, neither dare I. Again, dost thou so well discharge family prayer, that thou haft no escapes or failures to be matter of secret prayer? I tell you plainly, that God will not have his worIhip halved: He will have either the whole or nothing. Being conscientious in family-prayer is good, but can never excule the neglect of secret prayer, which is as much thy duty. Yea, the more thou art helped to discharge familyduty, the more wilt thou be inclined to the practice of fecret duty. The false mother was for dividing the child, not the
Ribicitu cilt Object. 6, Some women that have children to nurse and wait on, think that frees them from this duty. Ans. It is a sad observation of many women, who, while they are unmarried, and are not involved in the cares and troubles of a family, have some profession and practice of religion ; but as soon as they get a house to manage, and have the care of young children especially, they cast off all religion, as if they had no more concern therein. But surely the very fight of the child whom thou hast conceived in fin, and brought forth in iniquity, should remind thee of thy original guilt and corruption, and incite thee to apply to the blood and Spirit of Chrift for pardon and cleansing, and be a powerful spur to
set about this great duty of secret prayer. And remember, that the welfare of thy own foul, and that of the child, is more than that of the child's bodily welfare, wbich deserves but the second care in comparison of the other. I would not have you by any means to cast off the care of the young one's temporal welfare ; but thou mayst so observe times and seasons, as thou mayst take time for this duty morning and evening, though it be not immediately after
thoù rifest, or before thou liest down. Thou mayst even do it when thou art rocking the cradle, or fuckling the child. Alas! it had been telling many, that they had had the womb that never bare, and the paps that never gave fuck. RCH 14
Object. 7. God knows the heart, and what needs so much ado about praying in fecret, as if God knew not what 'we wanted, or what we would be at, till we sit down on our knees, and tell him? Anf. God knows the heart of such an objector to be a graceless heart, and his 'end to be destruction, Matth. vii. 15. 20.; and his heart to be a foolish athe. cistical heart, that will not call upon God, Psal. xiv. 1. Again, what is this but to argue God's command to be foolish? He bids you pray, and you say it is needless. O daring prefumption! Though the Lord not only knows your heart, - but has a mind to give blessings to poor finners, he will have you seek them by prayer: “ For these things,” says he, 156 will I be inquired of by the house of Israel, that I may do yit for them,” Ezek. xxxvi. 37. God never confers fignal - mercies on his people, without first pouring out on them the
Spirit of faith and prayer, and determines them to seek arsdently the very thing he has a mind' to grant them. And this method is for the glory of his name, and for our real benefit...?! s ci Object. 8. Age and infirmity will not suffer me to go about that duty. Anf. Will it suffer you to do your business in sthe world, and will it not suffer you to manage your soul's e business, which is of infinitely greater importance ? It would
feem, that the nearer we draw to the grave, the more active "we fhould be in preparing for it. It were good, that old
people would mind heaven more, and the world lefs, as they shave fo short a time to stay here. The concerns of the other world should mainly ingrofs their care and attention, and 1 they should then redouble their diligence in improving their ofpan of time, and doing that which perhaps they too much - negle&ted in the days of health and vigour. “ The hoary shead is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way steousnefs,” Prov. xvi. 31.; Idred years old shall be accursed,” II. Ixv. 20. Let this found can alarm to all the old finners among yon, that ye may yet apply to the merciful Redeemer, who fets even some to work in the vineyard at the eleventh hour. It is sad to be tottering under the miseries and infirmities of old age, and yet to
of righhave no prospect of a happy landing. Fly then to Christ, thou old decrepit finner, while his call reaches thee, left thou speedily perish without remedy.
Object. 9. I am too young to mind secret prayer. Anf. You are too old never to have entered on God's service. Remember that Josiah, when he was but eight years old, began to seek the Lord God of his father David. Obadiah, Ahab's steward, feared the Lord greatly from his youth. John Baptist was fanctified from the womb; and so was the prophet Jeremiah. Timothy knew the holy fçriptures from a child. You can never begin to be religious too foon. None ever repented that they fought the Lord; but all have repented that they did not begin to seek him sooner. You are as liable to death as the oldest person here, have a foul as precious as theirs, and as much need to mind your best and eternal interests as they. Up then and be doing, without putting off a moment longer.
Object. ult. I cannot pray. Ang. The truth is, thou wilt not pray, Psal. x. 4. If thou hadst a will to the duty, thou wouldst foon learn. But if thou wouldst learn to pray, go to God, that he may teach thee, as Christ taught the disci. ples; and consider the absolute need thou haft of divine inItruction in this matter. Use the one talent, and God will increase it. Wherefore set about this weighty duty, and neglect it not. Think seriously with yourselves, whether thofe who are now in hell, and when they lived neglected secret prayer
you, would do so still if they were in the world again. I scarce think they would. Pray now, therefore, left ye repent your neglect, when it will be too late, and yé are tormented in the lake of fire and brimstone. Again, think with yourselves how you
this criminal neglect digested on a death-bed, when ye are ready to leap into eternity, without having once prayed for God's mercy through Christ to your souls; and how you will get it digested before the awful tribunal of God, when he will drive you from his blefled presence for ever. Think with yourselves how precious time is, and what a fad business it is to spend it in pursuing the world and lying vanities, and neglecting communion with God, wherein lies the life of the soul. What! will ye delay it yet a while ? O do it not! for delays are dangerous. Will
be fo foolish as to venture all to two or three words on a fick-bed or death-bed ? Perhaps you will not get one, but may be hurried away in a moment. Consider that awful passage, Prov. i. 24.-28." Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded ; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh ; when your fear cometh as desolation, and
your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me.”
Exhort. 2. Be frequent in this duty, morning and evening at least, and at other times when your conveniency will allow, and go not only to it now and then. Consider,
1. God's express command, which iies you to pray always, continually, and without ceasing. This does not mean, that you should do nothing but pray, or spend your whole time in this exercise. No; but denotes frequency, and embracing every opportunity that offers for so delightful and profitable a duty. It says you should be always in a praying frame, never having your minds so much ingroffed in worldly concerns, as to be indisposed to call upon God in prayer.
2. Frequency in ihis duty is a good sign of a good frame, and an excellent mean to maintain and preserve it. They who are not frequent in this exercise, do thereby thew that their frame and disposition is not spiritual, but carnal, much under the conduct of sense, and attachment to sensible things. Whereas, if a person were frequent in this duty, it would be a token of a heart weaned from the world, and much corversant in the things of God.
3. Lastly, It is dangerous to grow flack and remiss in this duty, as mournful experience has testified in the case of many. They who having been for years frequently employed in this heavenly exercise, do at last turn careless, restrain prayer before the Lord, or but now and then bow a knee before him, do thereby declare they have lost the life and relish of the power of
religion, and are in the high road to apostasy. There are not wanting instances of such having returned with the dog to his vomit, and with the fow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. Others have been made signal monuments of judgment, and set up as beacons to backsliders. And some who have had the root of the matter in them, have had such a storm raised in their consciences, as has made