Billeder på siden

late hour, and chooses some refreshment now, rather than wait till morning.

Your neighbor hears your story, and begs you not to disturb him on so small an occasion. It is midnight, when sleep is sweet and profound: His doors are shut, and he chooses not to open them at this time of night: His family too are in bed, and he cannot rise without disturbing them, as well as himself. And he tells you not to trouble him any farther. But you do not desist: You feel a desire to obtain a supply: You repeat, and press your application, and at last prevail. Now though he will not rise and give you on the score of friendship, yet, because of your importunity, he will rise, and give you as much as you need.

You place much confidence in human goodness. If you need any thing which a neighbor can easily spare, you go and ask it of him. If your request is not promptly granted, you repeat it, in hope that importunity will succeed. Why then will you not apply to God; and apply to him often? Why will you not be fervent in your application? You certainly have a better prospect of success at his throne, than at your neighbor's door.

That we may perceive the force of this argument, let it be considered,

1. That there is infinitely more goodness in God, than there is in men.

There is, indeed, some goodness in men; else there would be an end of all mutual confidence. Natural compassion will prompt men to relieve distress, even in a stranger, and sometimes in an enemy. Friendship will do more: It will encounter difficulties, and run hazards in discharge of its offices. Parental affection will do much more than common friendship. But our Savior says, that parents, with all their goodness, are but evil in comparison with

God. "If ye, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to them, who ask him ?"

God manifests his goodness in his common providence. "His tender mercies are over all his works." "The whole earth is full of his riches." Can we doubt of success in applying to that Being, whose kindness and bounty are every where displayed before us? Consider the fowls of heaven, and the beasts of the field. God hears them when they cry, and feeds them when they are hungry. Will he not much rather hear our humble prayers, and satisfy our reasonable desires?

A still more wonderful proof of his goodness has he given in the grand scheme of our redemption by Jesus Christ. "And he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

2. God sustains a nearer and more important relation to us, than man sustains to man.

In the parable under consideration, the applicant hoped to succeed on the foot of friendship. God condescends to own us, not as friends merely, but as children. He is our Father in a more eminent sense, than any human being can be. He has not only brought us into this world, but given us our existence-created us from nothing. If a man will voluntarily do offices of kindness for particular friends-if a parent will attend to the urgent necessities of children; surely God will have a desire to the works of his own hands..

3. We are encouraged to prayer by the commands and promises of God.

The man, who applied to his neighbor for bread, pleaded no invitation before sent to him-no promise. previously made to him. We may plead both,

liver you." ye shall find."

"Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will de"Ask and ye shall receive, seek and God hath not said to us, " Seek ye "None that trust in him shall be

me in vain."


4. God can grant our requests without trouble to himself.

The man in our story could not relieve his friend's wants without some disquietude and selfdenial. It was midnight, his doors were shut, and his children were with him in bed; and he says, trouble me not. And yet he was prevailed upon by importunity. God clearly discerns our wants. He hears us in every place, and whenever we call. He does good to us with infinite ease to himself. There is no night in heaven. He never slumbers nor sleeps. The door, which leads to his throne is opened at our call, There is with him a full sufficiency for all his creatures. He gives without diminishing his store. He can do for us exceeding abundantly above all that we ask; and for as many as ask he can do the same, without withholding from us, May we not place confidence in such a Being?

5. The things for which we pray are more impor tant in themselves, and more necessary for us, than that, which the man requested of his friend.

This was not a remedy for sickness, or food for his children, but refreshment for a traveller, The things which we ask of God, are direction in duty, defence in temptation, mercy to pardon our sins, and grace to fit us for heaven. These are matters of indispensible necessity. If one neighbor will give another the conveniences, which he asks; may we not believe, that a God of infinite goodness will hear our prayers, when we seek the things which are really needful?

In every view of the case, we have vastly more encouragement to go to God in prayer, than the man in this parable had to go to his neighbor for bread. He succeeded by importunity. Surely our importunity at the throne of God will not be rejected.

We have stated our Lord's argument. We will now attend to the instructions, which the story suggests.

1. Our Savior here recommends importunity in prayer. This implies earnestness and perseverance. These will usually accompany each other. The man in the parable repeated and urged his request, after he seemed to have met with a denial. Thus he prevailed. We are directed to pray always, and not to faint; to continue instant in prayer, and to watch thereunto with all perseverance. In the application of the parable, our Savior says, "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you." To express earnestness in prayer, Christ uses the metaphor of knocking, in allusion to his preceding story of the man, who called' and knocked at his neighbor's door, until he gained admittance.

It will, perhaps, be asked, "Does not God know our wants? And is he not infinitely good? What need then of importunity in prayer ?" But as well may it be asked, What need of any prayer? If we are dependent on God, our supplies must come from him, And if we believe our dependence, our desires must be dirested to him. If we ought to desire the things, which we need, we ought to direct our desires to God, from whom comes every good gift; that is, we ought to pray for them. If the things which we desire, are great and important our desires should be earnest, and our prayers urgent and persevering. To express warm desires in a cold, indifferent prayer, is impossible. is impossible. Where there is

[ocr errors]

earnestness of desire, there will be perseverance in prayer. As long as the mercy is withheld, and hope remains, the application will be continued.

God has so constituted things in this world, that the diligent use of means, in conjunction with prayer, is necessary to our obtaining the gifts of providence and of grace. Where means are in our hands, we are not to expect the end merely by prayer, without using the means. And the same earnest desire, which awakens importunate prayer, will excite our diligence in the duties, which ought to accompany it. If there is indifference in the former, there will be negligence in the latter.

If you ask, "What need of importunity in prayer?" you may as well ask, what need of diligence in your labors? You say, "God is good, and will do good without importunate prayers." Why do you not also say, God is bountiful, and will supply your wants without your diligent labors? Certainly he could as easily feed and clothe your bodies without your labors, as save your souls without your prayers. His goodness does not induce you to relax your labors for obtaining the things of this world; why should it supersede your prayers for obtaining the things of another world?

The truth is, God has required diligent labors, and fervent prayers, and both are useful in their place: And we are not to expect his favor in the neglect of the one, more than in the neglect of the other.

2. We are here taught, that our prayers should be for such things, as we need.

To illustrate God's goodness in hearing prayer, Jesus relates the story of the man, who in compliance with his neighbors importunity for bread, gave him as much as he needed. He here signifies, that the things which we may ask and expect from God, are

« ForrigeFortsæt »