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In speaking of the spirit of prayer, I have tried to obviate all controversies that have arisen to trouble the church, by giving what appeared to me the most natural exposition of the chief scriptures that refer to this matter; and superadding a reasonable and intelligible account of what hand the Spirit of God may be supposed to have in assisting his people in this part of worbip. At the end of these chapters I have laid down many rules borrowed from reason, observation, and holy scripture, how every christian may in some degree attain these desirable blessings; and I have concluded the whole, with a hearty persuasive to covet the best gifts, and seek after the most excellent way of the performance of this duty.

Perhaps some persons may wonder, that in a treatise that professes to teach the skill of prayer, I should not once recommend the prayer that our Lord taught his disciples as a perfect pattern for all christians. But it is my opinion, that divine wisdom gave it for other purposes; and if this treatise meet with acceptance in the world, I may hereafter venture to expose my sentiments on the Lord's-prayer, if God shall ever give me health to review and finish them, with a short essay or two on the personal ministry of Christ upon earth, which are proper to be joined with them.

These institutions were at first composed for the use of a private society of younger men, who were desirous to learn to pray, and this may excuse the stile and way of address in some parts of the discourse. It bas lain silent by me several years, and resisted many a call to appear in public, in hopes of being more polished before its first appearance. But when I shall have health and leisure to dress all my thoughts to the best advantage, that God only knows, whose hand has long confined me. I am convinced at last, that it is better for me to do something for God, though it be attended with imperfections, than be guilty of perpetual delays in hopes of better pleasing myself.

After all the care I have taken to avoid controversy, and express myself' in such a way as might not be justly offensive to any sober christains; yet if I should prove so unhappy, as to say any thing disagreeable to the sentiments of some of my younger readers. I must entreat them not to throw away the whole treatise, and deprive themselves of all the benefit they might obtain by other parts of it. Nor should they load the whole book with reproaches and censures, lest thereby they prevent others from reaping those advantages toward converse with God, which the more inoffensive pages might convey. An unwary censure, or a rash and hasty word thrown upon a discourse, or a sermon, a preacher, or a writer, hath sometimes done more disservice to religion, than could ever be recompensed by many recantations. Permit therefore the little book, that has an honest design to teach creatures to hold correspondence with their God, permit it to do all the service that it can.

Had I found any treatise that had answered my design, I had never given myself the trouble of writing this at first, nor ventured to expose it now. There are indeed several well-composed forms of devotion in the world, written by ministers of the conformist, and nonconformist persuasion; and these are of excellent use to instruct us in the matter and language of prayer, if we maintain our holy liberty, and do not tie our thoughts down to the words of men. Mr. Henry's method of prayer is a judicious collection of scriptures, proper to the several parts of that duty. Mr. Murrey has composed a volume of addresses to God, which he calls Closet Devotions on the Principal Heads of Divinity, in the Expressions of Scripture. Both these, if rightly used, will afford happy assistance to the humble and serious worship

per. Those six sermons of prayer, published since this was written, are the useful labours of some of my valuable friends, and have many divine thoughts in them; but they take in the whole compass of this subject, in all the inward as well as outward parts of the worship; and therefore could not allow sufficient room to enlarge upon that which is my great design.

It is not necessary to inform the world, that Bishop Wilkins, in his discourse of the gift of prayer, has been my chief assistant toward the second chapter of this book; nor need I tell my reader what writings I have consulted of the learned and pious Dr. Owen, and others that bave written for or against the work of the Spirit in prayer, in order to gain a clearer light, nor what hints I have borrowed from the treatise of a very judicious author, with a fanciful title imposed upon it by an unknown hand, and called the Generation of Seekers, wherein several practical cases about the aids of the Spirit are largely and well handled; though 1 had the opportunity of knowing and consulting it only since this was in the press.

But if there are any advances made here beyond the labours of great men in the last age, I hope the world will excuse this attempt; and if younger christians by perusal of these papers shall find themselves improved in the holy skill of prayer, when they get nearest to the throne of grace, I entreat them to put in one petition for the author, who has languished under great weakness for some years past, and is cut off from all public service. If ever he be restored again, he shall rejoice in farther labours for their good, he shall share in the pleasure of their improvements, and assist them in the work of praise.

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PRAYER is a word of an extensive sense in scripture, and includes not only a request or petition for mercies, but it is taken for the address of a creature on earth to God in heaven, about every thing that concerns his God, his neighbour or himself, in this world, or the world to come. It is that converse, which God hath allowed us to maintain with himself above, while we are here below. It is that language, wherein a creature holds correspondence with his Creator: and wherein the soul of a saint often gets near to God, is entertained with great delight, and, as it were, dwells with his heavenly Father for a short season before he comes to heaven. It is a glorious privilege that our Maker hath indulged to us and a necessary part of that obedience which he hath required of us, at all times and seasons, and in every circumstance of life; according to those scriptures, 1 Thess. v. 17. Pray without ceasing. Phil. iv. 6.-In every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. Ephes. vi. 18. Praying always, with all prayer and supplication.

Prayer is a part of divine worship that is required of all men, and is to be performed either with the voice, or only in the heart, and is called vocal or mental prayer. It is commanded to single persons in their private retirements, in a more solemn and continued method or manner; and in the midst of the businesses of life, by secret and sudden liftings up of the soul to God. It belongs also to the communities of men, whether they be natural, as families; or civil, as corporations, parliaments, courts, or societies for trade and business; and to religious communities, as when persons meet together on any pious design, they should seek their God: it is required of the churches of christians in an especial manner, for the house of God is the house of prayer. Since therefore it is a duty of such absolute necessity for all men, and of such universal use, it is fit we should all know how to perform it aright, that it may obtain acceptance of the great God, and become a delightful and profitable exercise to our own souls, and to those that join with us.

To this end I shall deliver my thoughts on this subject in the following order: I. I shall speak of the nature of prayer as a duty of worship. II. As it is to be performed by the gifts or

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abilities God has bestowed upon us. III. As it must be attended with the exercise of our graces. IV. As we are assisted in it by the Spirit of God: and, V. Conclude all with an earnest address to christians to seek after this holy skill of converse with God.

CHAPTER I.-The Nature of Prayer.

In the discourse of prayer considered as a duty of worship required of us, that we may understand the whole nature of it better, let it be divided into its several parts; and I think they may be all included in these following, namely, Invocation, adoration, confession, petition, pleading, profession or self-dedication, thanksgiving, and blessing; of each of which I shall speak particularly.

SECTION I-Of Invocation,

The first part of prayer is invocation, or calling upon God, and it may include in it these three things:

1. A making mention of one or more of the names or titles of God; and thus we do as it were bespeak the person to whom we pray as you have abundant instances in the prayers that are delivered down to us in holy scripture, O Lord my God, most high and most holy God and Father. O God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims. Almighty God and everlasting King. Our Father which art in heaven. O God, that keepest covenant; and several others.

2. A declaration of our desire and design to worship him. Unto thee do we lift up our souls. We draw near unto thee as our God. We come into thy presence. We that are but dust and ashes take upon us to speak to thy Majesty. We bow ourselves before thee in humble addresses, or such like. And here it may not be amiss to mention briefly one or two general expressions of our own unworthiness.

3. A desire of his assistance and acceptance, under a sense of our own insufficiency and unworthiness, in such language as this is; Lord, quicken us to call upon thy name. Assist us by thy Spirit in our access to thy mercy seat. Raise our hearts towards thyself. Teach us to approach thee as becomes creatures, and do thou draw near to us as a God of grace. Hearken to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for unto thee will I pray; Ps. v. 2. in which words you have all these three parts of invocation expressed.

SECT. II-Of Adoration.

The second part of prayer is adoration, or honour paid to God by the creature; and it contains these four things:

1. A mention of his nature as God, with the highest admiration and reverence: and this includes his most original properties and perfections, viz. his self-sufficient existence; that he is God of and from himself. His unity of essence, that there is no other God besides himself. His inconceivable subsistence in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; which mystery of the trinity is a most proper object of our adoration and wonder, since it so much surpasses our understanding. His incomprehensible distance from all creatures, and his intinite superiority of nature above them, seems also to claim a place here. The language of this part of prayer runs thus:"Thou art God, and there is none else, thy name alone is Jehovah the Most High. Who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord, or who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to our God? All nations before thee are as nothing, and they are counted in thy sight less than nothing and vanity. Thou art the first and the last, the only true and living God; thy glorious name is exalted above all blessing and praise."

2. The mention of his several attributes with due expressions of praise, and with the exercise of suitable grace and affec tion as his power, his justice, his wisdom, his sovereignty, his holiness, his goodness and mercy. Abundance of which sort of expressions you find in scripture in those addresses that the saints have made to God in all ages. "Thou art very great, O Lord, thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Thou art the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings, and Lord of lords. All things are naked and open before thine eyes. Thou searchest the heart of man, but how unsearchable is thine understanding? and thy power is unknown. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. Thy mercy endureth for ever. Thou art slow to anger, abundant in goodness, and thy truth reaches to all generations." These meditations are of great use in the beginning of our prayers, to abase us before the throne of God, to awaken our reverence, our dependence, our faith and hope, our humility and our joy.

3. The mention of his several works of creation, of provividence, and of grace, with proper praises. For as God is glo, rious in himself, in his nature and attributes, so by the works of his hands hath he manifested that glory to us, and it becomes us to ascribe the same glory to him, that is, to tell him humbly what a sense we have of the several perfections, he hath revealed in these works of his; in such language as this, Thou, Lord, hast made the heavens and the earth. The whole creation is the work of thine hands. Thou rulest among the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth thou doest what pleasest thee. Thou hast revealed thy goodness towards mankind, and hast magnified thy mercy above all thy name. Thy works of na

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