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Published by glennpease

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Published by: glennpease on May 15, 2013
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THE ADVATAGES OF PRAYER.PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICA TRACT SOCIETY.I BEG serious attention to the subject of these pages.Their design is to show the utilty of prayer, by unfoldingits manifold beneficial tendencies.1. Prayer, more than any other means, is adapted, in itsown nature, to improve all the pioivers and properties of thehuman soul. The different parts of prayer require corre-spondent acts and affections of mind, Avhich comprise thesubstance of all moral excellence, and which prayer, byfrequently calhng them forth, tends, beyond every thingelse, to invigorate and mature.Prayer is adoration ; and when are the divine perfectionsso likely to expand the soul with the ardors of holy loveand delight, as when brought distinctly before her eye inthis heavenly employment ? The philosopher may be inde-vout, while he traces these perfections in the frame of na-ture ; and the theologian may coldly speculate and discourseconcerning them, as exhibited in Scripture ; but he whofixes a firm and single eye on God in prayer, and dwells onone attribute and another with adoring admiration, will notbe long unconscious of that pure flame in which are blendedall the elements of virtue and happiness.Prayer is confession of sin ; and when is sin more apt tomelt the heart into the soft relentings of godly contrition,than Avhen carefully recounted to Him against whom it hasall been committed, with a spirit awed into reverence andsubmission by the pure majesty of the Divine Presence ?You may speak lightly of sin, when your words are directed2 THE ADVATAGES OF PRAYER.to the sinful ear of a creature like yourself ; but get you intosome solitary place, and set the Lord distinctly and imme-diately before you ; and spread out your offences before hisnndefiled eye ; and imder his pure and piercing gaze, layyour heart and life open ; and I see not how you are everto become repentant, if your sorrovfs do not then begin toflow forth.
Prayer is supplication for mercy, grounded upon theblood of Christ, and the promises which in him are yea andamen ; and if ever the heart has advantages for becomingall subdued and possessed by the sentiments and feelingswhich these wonders of divine love should excite, it is now.Men may speak to one another of these subjects with aslittle sensibility as they feel towards common things ; butwhen the soul collects herself, and comes, and, convincedof her guilt, stands trembling and pleading before her greatJudge, and tells him of his professed clemency and gracious-ness, and how his own Son has loved her, and how he him-self has said, and sworn, that for his worthy Son's sake hewill withhold no blessing from any humble contrite sup-pliant — what a resistless tendency has all this to transfusethe soul with confidence, and faith, and full assurance of hope.Prayer, finally, is thanksgiving for favors received : and,sure, if ever gratitude unfeigned and unextinguishable doglow in a mortal's breast, this is the occupation in whichthe ethereal passion is generated and nourished. You maybe reminded that goodness and mercy have followed you allthe days of your life, and look around you upon a thousandwitnesses of the divine benignity still compassing you about ;and your heart still be but little awake to its numberlessand everlasting obligations. But not so, if, in a secret in-terview with your Father in heaven, you yourself tell overto him but some few of the countless mercies which hisTHE ADVATAGES OF PRAYER. 3band has been incessantly bestowing on you since you firstbecame the object of his providential and gracious care.Thus does it appear, how the various excellencies of holycharacter are instrumentally produced and promoted bymeans of this exercise ; and it would appear more convinc-ingly, if our limits permitted more detail. Great, there-fore, and unparalleled is the direct tendency of prayer toimprove the human character. But,2. Its utihty is further manifest in its counteracting in-fluence on whatever tends to injure that character. Thereare many things in tliis world always acting upon the soulwith a most debasing and ruinous tendency ; and there are no
means of overcoming this tendency so efficacious as prayer.To speak first generally, there is an influence in worldlythings so hostile to the things of the Spirit of God, as some-times to make these latter things appear hke empty shad-ows, or cunningly devised fables ; and the mysteries of the everlasting Gospel, as the superstitious stories whichfrighten credulous children ; and judgment and eternity,heaven and hell, as words by which crazed or criminalimaginations have expressed their fictions of happiness andhorror. It needs no demonstration, that this is an influenceutterly subversive of all religion and virtue — adapted tobrutalize man's rational nature ; and of course, if there be afuture state in fact, to involve him in all its untold terrorsand torments. or need I stay long to show to what vastextent this baleful influence has full and domineering as-cendency over infatuated mankind ; how, though there befew professed sceptics and scorners, there are but a fewwhose lives do not preach scepticism from beginning toend ; which practical scepticism is, to all terrible intents, asbad as any other. ow, to overcome this influence, thereis no other way than to have the soul brought under a strongimpression and bearing from spiritual things. You must be4 THE ADVATAGES OF PRAYER.exposed to the action of unseen things, or remain in un-worthy bondage to things which are seen. You must bein such circumstances that the spiritual glories of God andChrist, and the promises and threatenings of Scripture, maypour their peculiar influence on your heart, or else youmust remain the slave of mammon, and sordid drudge of the flesh.ow, it is almost unnecessary to remark, that there areno circumstances in which these objects are so nearly ap-proached, and so deeply felt, as when the soul solemnlybetakes herself to the exercises of prayer. I grant thatreading, and hearing, and conversing about divine things,rightly managed, may make profitable impressions, andshould by no means be omitted. But there are thousandsthat read, and hear, and converse, and though some feelingmay be generated, it passes over their minds as the littlecircles produced by the falling pebble pass over the surfaceof the smooth water. If those persons could be persuaded

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