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destroy the works of him?) We learn also, that with all this he is a spirit, who excels in the strength of a spirit; and is armed with darts of fire ; against which there is no defence, but from the shield of faith, which Prayer holds up to guard us against the enemy. It is no shield, until prayer applies it: pray, says our Lord, that ye enter not into temptation. How terrible is that warning, which is given us in the Revelation against this enemy of man; of whom some Christians, not worth reasoning with, now make no serious account ! Woe to the inhabitants of the Earth and of the Sea; for the Devil is come down to you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. His wrath will therefore do all the mischief that can be done in the time: and he hath lately found some new ways of doing great things in a short space : consider then, ye who are careless, that while you neglect him, he does not neglect you: while you lose all time, he loses none of his. He leads you captive at his will: first into sin, and at last into condemnation : as you will find, when the spiritual world, which is now concealed, and seems to be nothing, shall be opened upon you. If you would flee from the wrath to come, you must pray: if you would fall into it, then neg
lose all your
lect to pray: nothing further is necessary; all the rest will follow of course.
My design in what I have already said on these words, has been to shew the necessity of prayer to those who do not pray: in what follows, I shall speak to those who do
with the hope of teaching them how to pray better ; by giving them a new method of praying always:
which may seem to be a very hard thing; but you are not here to understand, that men are always to be upon their knees : for then the business of life could not go forward, as the condition of man in this world requires. To separate the time of business from the time of prayer, stated hours were appointed in old time : and devout persons, who observed them, might be said to pray always; that is, at all the appointed hours of prayer. I consider Cornelius the Centurion to have been one of these : and that it is therefore said of him, that he prayed to God always ; that is, he prayed with the Church daily, at all the hours of prayer. The time of the day when he saw the vision agrees with this; it appeared to him at the ninth hour of the day (one of the hours of prayer) and while he was in the act of
prayer: because it is said to him, as to a man who was praying, thy prayers are come up before God.
Peter, in like manner, had his vision, at the sixth hour of the next day : when he went up according to custom, to the house-top, to pray. There are those, who mock at us for praying formally at appointed hours of the day: as if all praying were to be by fits and starts, as man pleases: but if God himself from heaven has paid regard to these times, we are undoubtedly justified in the practice; and it is in conformity to God's will that we should so pray. This custom of praying with the Church at all the regular times of prayer, was one of the methods of praying always. The chapter from which the text is taken shews us another way. A. poor widow is represented as praying for justice to an unjust Judge, who, it seems, attended to her petition lest she should weary him by her continual coming. Our Saviour relates the parable, to shew us the certain effect of perseverance in prayer ; we should pray without ceasing, till our petition is granted, how long soever it may please God to try our faith and patience, by not granting it so soon as we might hope and expect. We ought therefore to pray always, without fainting, or being wearied out ; and this is the sense of praying always, according to the text. But there is another way, which to me seems the most excellent
with them at Emmaus, “abide with us, for the day is far spent."
The elements and the changes of the weather will supply us with more matter of the same sort. If there cometh rain to water the earth, let us be thankful, not only for that, but for the grace of God, and the word of truth, which cometh down from heaven as the rain : that the soul of man may be fruitful in works of righteousness. As the earth is parched in a time of drought, and cracked with dryness, so should man open his mouth, and say with the Psalmist,“ my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh also longeth after thee, in a barren and dry land where no water is.” If there cometh thunder, we should listen to it, as to the voice of God; which, what noise soever men may make below, will be heard above all. How insignificant do the word and power of man appear, whenever God is pleased to shew himself, and his lightning shines from one end of heaven to the other! This appearance should always remind us, that the Lord will at last be revealed in flaming fire. What will then become of us, if we have never thought of his judgments, till they are upon us, and the great account is to be given by all sinners? He who lives by the rule I am now giving, will never be surprized. He sets the Lord
always before him, therefore he shall not be moved : if his heart is ready, he will in every place find matter for prayer or for praisé. If he is in a garden, he thinks on Paradise : how it was lost by the first Adam, who ate in sin; and how it was regained by the second Adam, who fasted in the wilderness. If he is in the fields or meadows, by the river-side, and sees the flocks and herds feeding, he remembers, that he himself belongs to God's pasture: he prays, that the Lord, the keeper of Israel, who is his Shepherd, will convert and bring him back, when he strays from the paths of righteousness, and will lead him forth beside the waters of comfort: under these circumstances he may be disposed to repeat the twenty-third Psalm ; and he will then feel the force of it.
The husbandman, who is employed in the works of the field, has many opportunities beyond other men; all his works are of such a sort, as may suggest religious thoughts, and lead his mind to devotion: our blessed Saviour took one of his finest parables from the labours of the field; where the ground, good and bad, is the heart of man ; the seed is the word of God; the wheat the righteous; the tares the ungodly; the harvest the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels. Who can have these