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strengthening and confirming one another. For as it is the duty of the suppliant to follow out the confession of sin through all the exercises of soul to which it naturally prompts, so should the acknowledgment of God's mercies be pursued in a diligent study of his character, the adora tion of his perfections, the observance of his works, and the special recognition of the mercies, temporal and spiritual, which he has bestowed upon us.

This is the view of prayer given in our Shorter Catechism, "the offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confes sión of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies." It will readily be seen how this definition includes all the parts of prayer usually embraced in more formal and extensive treatises upon it. Generally it has been divided into adoration, confession, supplication, intercession, and thanksgiving. It is well, too, to have these different parts of prayer in the mind, as they produce distinctness of thought and language. and language. But they are all embraced, although not in this order, in the definition that has been considered, while it has some peculiar advantages, being very comprehensive while brief and simple, and most explanatory though not formal.


If there is any idea not so fully brought out in it as might be desired, it is the necessity of the Holy Spirit in prayer. That is understood, but it would have been better had it been expressed. It is only he that can quicken the soul and beget the desires of prayer that can open the mind to just apprehensions of God, its only and great object that can lead to a right understanding of his word, which is the rule of prayer-that can enlighten and humble the soul in just discoveries of its own sinfulness-and that can duly impress it by a sense of the divine mercies. It is, therefore, to be regretted, that the Spirit has not been distinctly recognised in the definition. In the Scriptures he is continually treated of as the Spirit of prayer. "I will pour out the Spirit of grace and sup plication," saith God. We are commanded to " pray in the Holy Ghost." And the apostle distinctly and fully testifies, "the Spirit helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what should we pray for as we ought; but the Spirit it. self maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh


intercession for the saints, according to the will of God." Rom. viii. 26, 27.

II. The obligations of prayer. These are very numerous, but we shall be satisfied, at present, merely to name them.

1. Prayer is natural. It is not more natural for the drowning man to cry for help to those who are at hand to deliver, than for the sinner who feels himself perishing in sin to call mightily upon God. Nor will there be a greater difficulty in finding expression in the one case than in the other. The difficulty of prayer, of which so many complain, arises out of the sinner not being sufficiently alive to a sense of his guilt and danger.

2. It is reasonable. It is an exercise accordant with all we know of God, as a being, infinite in power, wisdom, and goodness; and of man, as a weak, erring, sinful and necessitous creature. Shall the hungry cry for bread, or the man that is athirst for drink? Then let the sinner pray.

3. Prayer is necessary. It is so from the natural connexion between God and man, as the Creator and the creature; more particularly so by reason of their relation as Redeemer and sinner; and there is super-added all the obligation of an express appointment, inasmuch as God has joined together the bestowment of his blessings, and the supplication of those who need them. "For these things I will be inquired of, saith God, to do it for them." 4. He has commanded prayer. "Continue instant in prayer-continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving-pray without ceasing." Whoever acknowledges the authority of God and of his word, must also acknowledge the obligation of prayer.

5. Prayer is profitable. It solemnizes the mind-enlightens the understanding-sanctifies the heart-regulates the temper-governs the life-prepares the man for heaven. He who neglects it, therefore, forsakes his own mercies.

6. It has ever been practised by the most holy men. Abraham was a man of prayer. So was Joshua. Read the Psalms, and learn how largely David partook of its spirit. And Jesus himself has left the example of spending entire nights in this heavenly exercise, as the nearest approach to God and heaven.

7. Prayer is effectual. The fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth mach. Moses prayed, and the Red sea divided its waters, Hezekiel prayed, and fifteen years

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were added to bis life. Daniel prayed, and he was favoured with visions of the Lord. Cornelius prayed, and Peter was sent to teach him. The apostles prayed, and the Holy Ghost was given, as had been promised. This is the messenger that ascends to heaven, and returns laden with blessings. It is the highest privilege man enjoys on earth.

To neglect prayer is to live without God and without hope in the world. It is a denial and a contempt of God, and Christ, and the Spirit, and heaven, and hell. To live in it is to live with God. It is the exact measure of holiness and happiness. It is the key-stone that binds the arch of the devout affections and religious duties; let it be removed, and the soul falls under the first temptation that crosses it; but let it be maintained with stedfastness, and the greater the weight that is laid upon the soul, the more will it be strengthened and able to bear.

III. Some directions for cultivating the Spirit, and rendering effective the practice of prayer. As reasonable beings, we need these, and may derive much profit from attending to them.

1. Let there be particular seasons set apart for prayer. The morning and the evening of every day-the return of the Sabbath-the hours of food-these are times that naturally invite the exercise, and they have been sanctioned by the appointments and examples recorded in Scripture. It is necessary to have stated seasons of prayer, else are we in danger of losing the habit. And these seasons once appointed, we should adhere to them with the utmost constancy, at the same time that we should be on our guard against formality in them.

2. We should not confine our prayers to particular seasons. We should seek to be ever in the spirit of prayer. Every event of life should be used as an excitement to it, either provoking gratitude, or leading us to expresions of humiliation. Especially when by any means the mind is disposed to prayer, we should be careful to encourage and gratify it. Satan will tempt at such a time to neglect the impulse of the spirit; but it is a critical season, and should be watched and improved.

3. When we engage in prayer, we should be at pains to have the spirit of prayer produced in the mind. This will be readily effected by previous meditation. Dwell upon the blessings received, the sins committed, the duties to be


done, and the blessings to be sought, and it will be found the Spirit will own such an exercise, and cause the graces of the soul to flow out in the practice of prayer.

4. We should have variety in prayer. We need this even in our private supplications, in order to guard against formality. But especially is it required of those who lead the devotions of others in the family, the social meeting, or the sanctuary. There should be variety in both thought and language. And this will be obtained by the diligent study of three books, the Bible, the world, and ourselves. None will be at a loss for variety in prayer who reflect on these three things as they ought. Their only difficulty will be to compress their prayers within due limits.

5. We should consider carefully for whom we should pray. This will lead us to consider the special circumstances of ourselves and others-the different members of our family-the members of the church, individually and collectively-magistrates the heathen-the various religi. ous societies-the kings of the earth. “I exhort,” saith Paul," that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority." Let this be done with due consideration and understanding, and it will be found that there is more matter for prayer than we have been accustomed to think.

6. Let us never forget that the spirit of prayer is the gift of the Holy Ghost. This will cause us ever to enter upon its exercise in dependence upon him. And just in the measure in which we acknowledge him, may we expect to be acknowledged by him.

7. We should never engage in any duty without betaking ourselves to prayer. There may not be a moment of time for the exercise exclusively, but the mind is so constituted, and prayer is of such a nature, that in the very act of putting the hand to the work, the soul may be lifted up, and the divine blessing and direction sought and obtained.

Let these few thoughts be attended to, and it will be found they render prayer what it has ever been intended to be the greatest support, and consolation, and benefit of man. We cannot conclude them more appropriately than by annexing the beautiful lines of Montgomery on Prayer, which, thoguh familiar to many of our readers, may not be so to them áll.

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REVIEW of the DISCUSSION on the UNITARIAN CONTROVERSY, between the Rev. J. SCOTT PORTER and the Rev. D. BAGOT, M. A., held in Belfast, on April 14, 1834, and three following days. By ALEXANDER Carson, a.m. W. M'Cомв. P.p. 58. Price One Shilling.

OUR readers will remember, that several months ago, we made a few observations on this admirable little brochure; and having lately, with increased pleasure, given it a more leisurely reading, we cannot refrain from offering some additional remarks. We notice the pamphlet a second time, because we think it is eminently calculated to advance the cause

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