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than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than ye have received, let him be accursed."

May "the Father of Mercies, and God of all Comfort," increase our devotions, strengthen our faith, and bring us at length, through its justifying influence, into eternal communion with Him, "who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen nor can see; to whom, with the Son and Holy Ghost, be honour and power everlasting. Amen!"



1 THESS. V. 17.

"Pray without ceasing."

It is evident that this injunction is not to be literally understood; because, as we are enjoined other duties besides prayer, it is clear the Apostle never intended that our whole time should be engaged in this most important occupation. We are therefore to consider the words before us only as an exhortation to frequent, regular, and earnest prayer. We find that St. Luke, at the conclusion of his gospel, says of the disciples, from whose presence Christ had just ascended into heaven—“ and they were continually in the temple praising and blessing God." By which he simply signifies, that they were constantly in the Lord's tabernacle during the appointed seasons of devotion.*

* See Whitby's note on the text.

They who uniformly observed the seasons of prayer, are said, in the expressive language of inspiration, to "pray continually, night and day": or, in other words, they constantly attended in the sanctuary during the time of the morning and evening sacrifice. Enough has been said to establish the meaning of the text; let us, therefore, proceed to consider the necessity of prayer, and the danger of neglecting it.

Its efficacy is frequently exhibited in the sacred writings. I need only recall to your recollections the case of the prophet Daniel, who esteemed prayer to be so paramount an obligation, that the prospect of death, in the most appalling shape, could not deter him from "kneeling upon his knees three times a day, and praying and giving thanks before God." The efficacy of his prayers will appear in that wonderful deliverance which, in the sequel, was extended to him, when the God, to whom he prayed, "shut the mouths of a den of hungry lions, so that they did not hurt him." We are told, that Elijah "prayed earnestly, that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months; and he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit." We perceive in these instances, how fully the Apostle's declaration was confirmed, that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Now, if the prayers of a righteous man are so signally regarded

by the Deity, it is evident, that they must be well pleasing to Him; and whatever we can do that is well pleasing to Him, it must be our duty to perform. He does not, however, grant our petitions only because we address them to Him, but, because we offer them up in the spirit, and after the manner which he has prescribed, and, therefore, approves. "Ye shall call upon me," says he, "and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you; and ye shall seek me, and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart." Here, then, prayer is distinctly enjoined. Through prayer must we seek the Lord, and by prayer only can we find him. The neglect, therefore, on our parts, to do that which is manifestly agreeable to God, must necessarily have an effect directly contrary to what a punctual performance of that sacred obligation would produce.

Prayer is the only becoming mode of petition, from a being utterly dependent to one infinite in power and perfections. Our moral incapacity clearly establishes the necessity of application to such a Being for "grace in time of need,” that we may accomplish those good designs which our better reflections direct us to pursue. And how is such application to be made, but "by prayer and supplication of the spirit"? The Lord God of our salvation expressly tells us-"ask, and it shall be given you." How, then, shall we expect to receive, if we do not ask? Many, no doubt, are ready to affirm,

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that they do ask frequently-nay, unremittingly, yet receive not. But how have they asked? absent hearts, distracted minds, and wandering thoughts; without fervour, without devotion. He who prays fervidly, devoutly, spiritually, shall receive "the righteous man's reward." God promises to such a gracious hearing, and when did his promise ever fail of its accomplishment? "If any of you lack wisdom," says St. James, "let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him: but, let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." Sincerity, intentness of mind, and devotion of heart, are the true features of earnest prayer. Words are the mere signs by which we exhibit our thoughts. They can have no power of themselves in propitiating the good will of Him to whom the most secret operations of the mind are known; and, therefore, if our hearts unite not with our lips, in addressing the Deity, our petitions must ever be rejected, and our prayers will become an abomination.

"In everything," writes the Apostle, "by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." Here, the manner of praying is definitively signified. We are to supplicate. Supplication supposes at once humility of spirit, earnestness of heart, and sincerity of purpose. It supposes an engagement of the whole soul in the supplication made. No mere form of words, therefore, can constitute effectual

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