Page images

thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison with thee: I desire thee with my strongest affections, and I delight in thee above all delights : My soul stands in awe and fears before thee ; and I rejoice to love such a God, who is almighty, and the object of my highest reverence."

4. A profession of our humble and holy resolutions to be the Lord's forever. This is what is generally called a vow. Now, though I cannot encourage Christians to bind themselves, in particular instances, by frequently repeated vows, and especially in things that are in themselves indifferent, which oftentimes proves a dangerous snare to souls; yet we can never be too frequent, or too solemn in the general surrender of our souls to God, and binding our souls by a vow to be the Lord's forever: To love him above all things : to fear him, to hope in him, to walk in his ways, in a course of holy obedience, and to wait for his mercy unto eternal life. For such a vow as this is, is included in the nature of both the ordinances of the gospel, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Such a vow as this is, is comprehended almost in every act of worship, and especially in solemn addresses to God by prayer. I might add

In the last place, That, together with this profession or self-dedication to God, it is necessary we should renounce every thing that is inconsistent herewith ; and that under each of the four preceding heads: “As I am thine, O Lord, and I belong not to this world, I have given myself to thee, and I have given myself away from sin and from the creature: I'have renounced the world as my portion, and chosen the Father. I have renounced all other saviours, and all my own duties and righteousnesses as the foundation of my interest in the favor of God, and chosen Christ Jesus as my only way to the Father. I have renounced my own strength as the ground of my hope; for my understanding is dark, my will is impotent, and my best affections are insufficient to carry me onwards to heaven: I now again renounce dependence upon all of them, that I may receive greater light, and strength, and love from God. I am dead to the law, I am mortified to sin, I am crucified to the world, and all by the cross of Jesus my Saviour. I bid Satan get hinı behind me; I renounce him and his works : I will neither fear him nor love him, nor lay a confederacy with the men of this world; for I love my God; for I fear my God; in my God is my eternal help and hope ; I will say, what have I to do any more with idols! And I will banish the objects of temptation from my sight. Thus I abandon every thing that would divide me from God, to whom I have made a surrender of myself.And shouldst thou see fit to scourge and correct me, O my God, I submit to thine hand; shouldst thou deny me the particular requests I have presented to thee, I leave myself in thy hands, trusting thou wilt choose the better for me. And because I know my own frailty of heart, and the inconstancy of my will, I humbly put all these my vows and solemın engagements into the hands of my Lord Jesus, to fulfil them in me, and by me, through all the days of infirmity, and this dangerous state of trial.”



The seventh part of prayer consists in Thanksgiving. To give thanks is to acknowledge the bounty of that hand whence we receive our blessings, and to ascribe honor and praise to the power, the wisdom and the goodness of God upon that account. And this is part of that tribute which God our King expects at our hands, for all the favors we receive from him. It very ill becomes a creature to partake of benefits from his God, and then to forget his heavenly benefactor, and grow regardless of that bounty from whence his comforts flow. The matter of our thanksgivings may be arranged under these two heads; we must give thanks for those benefits for which we have prayed, and for those which God hath conferred upon us without praying for.

1. Those benefits which God hath bestowed on us without asking, are proper to be mentioned in the first place; for they are the effects of his rich and preventing mercy; and how many are the blessings of his goodness with which he has presented us! “We praise thee, O Lord, for thine original designs of love to fallen man; that thou shouldst make a distinction between us and the angels that sinned; What is man, that thou art thoughtful about his salvation; and sufferest the angels to perish forever, without remedy; that thou shouldst choose a certain number of the race of Adarn, and give them into the hands of Christ before all the worlds, and make a covenant of grace with them in Christ Jesus, that their happiness might be secured: that thou shouldst reveal this mercy in various types and promises to our fathers, by the prophets, and that in thine own appointed time thou shouldst send thy Son to take our nature upon him, and to redeem us by his death? We give glory to thy justice, and to thy grace for this work of terror and compassion, this work of reconciling sinners to thyself, by the punishment of thy Son: we praise thee for the gospel which thou hast published to the world—the gospel of pardon and peace : and that thou hast confirmed it by such abundant testimonies, to raise and establish our faith. We give glory to that power of thine which has guarded thy gospel in all ages ; and through ten thousand oppositions of Satan, hath delivered it down safe to our age, and proclaimed the glad tidings of peace in our nation. We bless thee that thou hast built habitations for thyself amongst us, and that we should be born in such a land of light as this is: it is a distinguishing favor of thine, that among the works of thy creation, we should be placed in the rank of rational beings ; but it is more distinguishing goodness, that we should be born of religious parents, under the general promises of grace. We give thanks unto thy goodness for our preservation from many dangers, which we could never foresee, and which we could not ask thee to prevent. How infinitely are we indebted to thee, O Lord, that thou hast not cut us off in a state of nature and sin, and that our portion is not at this time amongst the children of eternal wrath! That our education should be under religious care, and that we should have so many conveniences and comforts of life conferred upon us, as well as the means of grace brought near to us ; and all this before we began to know thee or sought any of the mercies of this life, or of the other, at thine hands!"

2. We must give thanks for the benefits we hare received as an answer to prayer.-Whatsoever blessings we have sought at the hands of God, demand our acknowlegments to his goodness, when we become receivers. And here there is no need to enlarge in particulars; for we may look back upon the fourth part of prayer which consists in petition; and there read the matter of our thankfulness. There we learn to give glory to God for our deliverance from evils, temporal and spiritual, and our hopes of deliverance from the evils that are eternal; for the communication of good for soul and body, and our comfortable expectation of the eternal happiness of both; for mercies bestowed upon churches, on nations, on our governors, on our relatives and friends, as well as ourselves. And we should rejoice in our praises, and say to the Lord, “Verily thou art a God that hearest prayer, and thou hast not despised the cry of those that sought thee; we ourselves are witnesses, that thou dost not bid thy people seek thy face in vain."

All these our thanksgivings may be yet further heightened in prayer, by the consideration of the multitude of the mercies that we have received, of their greatness, and of their continuance: By the mention of the glory and self-sufficiency of God the giver, that he is happy in himself, and

« PreviousContinue »