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thus with every one that is born of the Spirit? Such Objections are the Effect of nothing but Short-fightednefs and want of Thought!

But tho' Prayer hath Efficacy with God for the obtaining Bleffings both Spiritual and Temporal, it is only upon Suppofition that it is rightly qualified, i. e. that we afk for proper Things with proper Difpofitions. We fee this among ourselves, that all Prayers are not alike. A Man will grant a Favour to a Friend, which he will deny to an Enemy, or to a Stranger; and be it to Friend or Foe, there are fome Favours which he will think reasonable, others not fo. Even thus it is with God, who as he is good, fo he is alfo wife; tho' he has a Compaffion for our Wants, yet 、 he has likewife a Regard to his own Honour. It is fuppofed all along in the Argument, that GoD is the Being to whom our Prayers are to be addreffed, and not any Creature; and therefore concerning the Object of Prayer, I fhall fay no more than this, that God being made known to us under the Chriflian Revelation as three Perfons, each acting diftin&tly, and hearing his proper Part in the Difpenfations of his Providence towards us; the Father as Creator, the Son as Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost as Sanctifier; Care fhould be taken, that each Perfon has his proper Honour given him. But for the Matter of our Prayers, and the Difpofition with which we ought to pray, they are Subjects of larger Enquiry. Let us confider thefe Points a little diftinctly. And,

1. As to the Matter of our Prayers; a Thing is fit for us to afk, which is fit for God to give; and nothing is fit for him to give, but what is agreeable to the Perfection of his Nature. Therefore, in the first Place, we should be fecure that what we ask is lawful; for, to afk of God unlawful Things, is to afk him to be unjust, which is a Difparagement to his Holinefs. This would be the Cafe, if a Man fhould be engaged in unlawful Attempts against his Neighbour, and pray to God for Help; not fo, if any one fhould be engaged in the like Attempts against him, and he should


pray for Deliverance, even though it should end in the Deftruction of his Enemy. If a Man makes his own Destruction neceffary to my Safety, I may kill him in my own Defence; and therefore praying for Help in fuch Cafes, is only appealing to God for Juftice. I will go farther, and fay, that when Iniquity greatly prevails, it is very confiftent with the Character of a good Man to pray that God would interpofe, to correct, punish, or even to extirpate wicked Doers, for the Honour of his Laws, and the making his Power and Providence the more vifible among Men. For this is only asking God to do an Act, which he himself hath declared he has a Right to do, and will do, whenfoever he thinks fit. There are many Prayers in the Book of Pfalms that are penn'd with this Spirit; and which came fo much more properly from the Mouth of David, as he was a publick Perfon, and food at the Head of a Commonwealth, that was established upon Temporal Promises. But in these, and in all other Matters which concern this Life only, whether it be that we pray for Deliverance from Evil, or for the obtaining of Good, one Caution fhould never be forgotten, which is, that we do it with perfect Refignation to the Will of God. We have an excellent Pattern in that Prayer which our Saviour made in the Garden, a little before his Paffion, when (as the History reports) his Soul was exceeding forrowful even unto Death. O my Father, if it be poffible, let this Cup pafs from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou vilt, Matt. xxvi. 38, 39 And to fhew us how neceffary a Circumftance this is in all Cafes, he hath drawn the Substance of it into that Prayer which he hath left us for ftanding Ufe: Thy Will be done. The Reafon is, that in thefe Things more efpecially, we know not what to pray for as we ought. God is good, and cannot therefore fend hurtful Things to good Men, as our Saviour intimates, upon this very Cafe. If a Son fhall afk Bread of any of you that is a Father, avill be give him a Stone? Or if he hall ofk a Fijh, will be for a Fb give him a Serpent? Or if he fall of an

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Egg, will be offer him a Scorpion? Luke xi. 11, 12. And yet, fhould God grant us every Thing we ask (fuch is our Igno ance in our own true Good) he would act in this Manner, and do by us what a good Fa-. ther cannot do by his Children; he would fometimes give us a Stone for Bread, a Serpent for a Fish, Scorpion for an Egg. That is good which is fo upon the whole, or cur principal (that is, our eternal) Intereft confidered. But in this refpect it is many Times neceffary that God fhould cross our Inclinations; not to mention that even in the Things of this World, we are not always the best Judges of our own Interest ; for our moft hopeful, and, in the first Inftances, the moft fuccefsful Projects, fometimes fail us in the long Run, and turn upon us to our own Prejudice: In all which Cafes the Goodness of God is fhewn, not in giving us what we afk, but in denying it.

Scrupulous Minds are apt to give themselves great Disturbances for want of obferving this neceffary Caution. When Things prefs hard, it is natural for us to look out for Help; and if we are religiously difpofed, we thall as naturally have Recourfe to God, as to him in whom all our Hopes must center. Thus far all is well. But if, from our Unfuccefs fulness in Prayer (as we may efteem it) we draw Inferences in Difparagement of our Virtues, and conclude, that because God anfwereth not our Requests in the particular Way we` defire, therefore we have done fomething or other to forfeit his Favour and Bleffing, we reafon extremely ill. To affure his Heart before God, every Man hath a proper Rule, which is to compare his Behaviour with the Law of God; and tho' he may be partial to himfelf in many Cafes, yet, if he is confcious of nothing but common Failings, and ftands clear of all wilful habitual Sins, fuch a Knowledge of his general State as this will always be a much better Reafon for him to hope well, than the Unfuccefsfulness of his Prayers can be to defpair; because if a Man is ever fo good, it will not thence follow, that he is not to be exercised with Afflictions. Whom the Lord loveth he chafteneth,


and Scourgeth every Son abhom he receiveth, Heb. xii. 6. We are accustomed to call our Prayers unsuccessful, when we are difappointed of the particular Things we ask by Prayer. But though they are unsuccessful in that Point, they may not be fo upon the whole; for though God granteth not that Thing, he may grant us fomething that is better, and he will not be the lefs, but the more good for fo doing. This World only confidered, it is a good Thing to be delivered from great Trials; but if we carry our Views to the next, it is a much better Thing to obtain that Help and Affiftance from God, which will enable us to bear them patiently.

When religious Scruples have laid faft hold upon the Mind, it is a hard Matter to fhake them off; especially, if (which is frequently the Cafe) they fall in with a melancholy Conftitution of Body. And therefore, to prevent Miftakes of this kind, I think it would generally be a good Rule, as much as is poffible, to avoid Particularities in our Prayers. I have great Authority for this Advice. Chrift hath taught us to pray for our daily Bread, which is only afking fuch a Supply of temporal good Things, as God fhall fee fit for us, fo long as it thall please him to continue us in this World, which is the leaft we can ask, if we pray at all. But fhould it come into any one's Mind to pray for Wealth, or Honour, or Power, he would do it without Warrant either from Scripture or good Senfe, and there would be no End of Men's Doubts and Fears, if they should make an Estimate of their Intereft with God by their Success in fuch Prayers as these. Not that these are not very good Things, when Men have Virtue and Difcretion to use them well; but it is an Offence to common Decency to take upon ourselves to be our own Carvers, and to direct God in what Way he is to provide for us. The Reason of the Cafe is the fame as to the Evils of Life; for we know no more what it is proper for us to fuffer, than what it is fit for us to have; and therefore here too, general Requests, to the Purpose of what we find in


the Lord's Prayer, lead us not into Temptation, but deliver us from Evil, will be for the most Part beft; and I believe that a wife and a good Man would be no more inclined to be earnest with God for the Removal of this or that particular Affliction which he fuffers, than to be urgent for the obtaining any particular Bleffing which he may defire, if it were not that it is much harder to bear Pain, than it is to fuffer Want in Things which are not neceffary for us. It is our Impatience that makes us run out into Particularities; which is our Infirmity: And I am not the more afraid to call it fo, because we have our Saviour's Example for it, in afking that the Cup (by which he meant the Sufferings that he was to bear for our Sakes) might pass from him; for he was a Man, and had the common Feelings of Human Nature. But if we will take our Saviour's Example, let us take it throughout, and we shall ftill be right; that is, let us never prefume to afk of God Deliverance from Afflictions (how hard foever they may be for Flesh and Blood to bear) but with this Referve, fecret or expreffed, Nevertheless, not my Will, but thine be done.

In a few Words: The fingle Thing which we may abfolutely afk of God, because we may be abfolutely fecure it is not unfit for him to give, is the Grace of his Spirit to affift us in well-doing. And this is what our Saviour intimates to us in the Paffage before cited, where having first fhewn us our Ignorance as to temporal Good, by the Comparison of a Son's asking a Stone for Bread, a Serpent for a Fish, &c. he directs in the Conclufion, to that which we may afk of God with full Affurance not to fail. If ye then being evil know bow to give good Gifts unto your Children, how much more jkall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that of it? He does not fay, that because a Father will give his Son Bread, or a Fish, or an Egg, therefore God will do fo too; but he says, that God will give his Holy Spirit, which is equivalent to all the Gifts of his Providence put together; which will always be good and profitable for us, though the Blef

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