Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

"and to do;" and that they ought " to work out "their own salvation with fear and trembling;" yea, that they must do it or perish for ever; and when instructed, that God often punishes men for hardening their hearts, and sinning against the dictates of their consciences, and " quenching the "Holy Spirit," by giving them up to be finally hardened; they are led to see things in a far different light. Thus they are frequently brought to recollect and use such prayers as they meet with in the scriptures: "Turn thou me, and I "shall be turned; heal me, and I shall be healed; "save me, and I shall be saved." They are excited to attend to the call, " To-day, if ye will "hear his voice, harden not your hearts;" and to "fear, lest a promise being left of entering into "the heavenly rest, they should seem to come "short of it." Simple dependence on divine grace, fervent prayers, and vigorous exertions result from these views and prayers, and the most happy consequences follow.

I do not say that Calvinists, in general, insist on these points so fully as the holy scriptures do: but the fault is not theirs exclusively: Iliacos intra muros peccatur et extra: and I shall be equally rejoiced to induce Calvinists to reexamine this point accurately, that they may be more scriptural in their exhortations and addresses to their hearers; as to convince Anticalvinists that such exhortations are not inconsistent with our principles. Surely, however, few Calvinists, and fewer in proportion of those called ' evange'lical clergymen,' would be satisfied to call their hearers, in Chrysostom's manner, to ' a little ex'ertion,' ' to do a little,' in a concern of immense difficulty and infinite importance: and, as for those who would be thus satisfied, let them plead for themselves; for I think them fairly deserving of the severest censures which the opponents of Calvinism can bring against them.

Even the prayers, by which assistance from God must be sought and obtained, require something far beyond ' a little exertion.' "Praying "always with all prayer and supplication, and "watching thereunto with all perseverance."l "Continue (irpomapreprfre) in prayer, and watch in "the same with thanksgiving." "Always la"bouring fervently for you in prayer."2 Our Lord "being in an agony prayed more earnestly."3 Concerning this especially, the apostle writes, "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had of"fered up prayers and supplications, with strong "crying and tears, unto him that was able to save "him from death, and was heard in that he "feared."4 It is generally thought that there is in this a reference to the language of Hosea concerning Jacob, " He had power with the angel, "and prevailed; he wept and made supplication "unto him :" 5 and this evidently relates to Jacob's wrestling and prevailing, as recorded by Moses.6 This however is certain, that the scripture every where speaks of " effectual fervent prayer," as striving, wrestling, "lifting up the heart unto "God," and " pouring out the soul before him:" and, when "we pray by the Spirit," "the Spirit

1 Eph. ri. 18. • Col. iv. 2,12. 'Luke xxii. 44.

4 Heb. v. 7. 'Hos. xii. 4. • Gen. xxxii. 24—28.

"himself maketh intercession for us, with groan"ings which cannot be uttered." l All combines to show that true prayer implies vigorous exertion, and that there are obstacles, from within or from without, which cannot otherwise be surmounted. Now he who puts forth, as it were, all the energy of his soul in prayer, especially for assistance and direction from God, for deliverance and victory, by his grace, over sin and temptation, is not likely to be satisfied without following up his prayers, with vigorous efforts, in every other way. "One "thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek "after."2—This, however, may introduce another topic belonging to the general subject.

SECTION X. On Prayer for Ourselves and for Others.

The importance of prayer, supplication, and intercession, public, social, and private, in the whole plan and design of Christianity, is too generally allowed to require any particular proof in this place: neither is the explication of its nature, effects, and tendency, the subject of the present work. I therefore introduce it, only so far as it is connected with our present argument.

It appears to me, as it has done to many others before me, that prayer for spiritual blessings, and intercession for others, especially for the unconverted, cannot be consistently offered from any other principles, than those which are now gener1 Rom. viii. 26. 'Ps. xxrii. 4.

ally called Calvinistic; and that a manual of prayers or a liturgy, on a strictly and consistently Anticalvinistic creed, in every expression contained in it, would be a very singular and curious production. But men often, formally, or from custom, or without accurately attending to the import, use words in prayer, which they strongly object to in preaching. Nay, truly pious persons, who argue against some of our doctrines, frequently lose sight of their previous sentiments, when humbly adoring God, and pouring out their praises before him.—As a friend observed to me, concerning one of this description; 'While he is 'disputing, his head speaks, but when he is praying 'his heart speaks: and that accounts for the incon'sistency which you notice.'

A few passages from our liturgy will fully illustrate my meaning. Prayers cannot properly be composed for the use of those who are not, in any measure or sense, desirous of praying; so that the Jirst source of a desire to pray, comes in our way at the opening of this subject. If the beginning were from ourselves, either wholly or in part, and not entirely from ' preventing grace,' " simplicity "and godly sincerity" would require some notice to be taken of this in our approaches unto God. But to whom are we led in our liturgy, to ascribe even ' the hearty desire to pray?' 'O Lord, we 'beseech thee, mercifully hear us, and grant that 'we, to whom thou hast given a hearty desire to 'pray.'1 When about to ask many other blessings, (for the first collect in the morning service intro1 Third Sunday after Trinity.

duces all the prayers to the end of the litany;) we are taught to begin by thankfully ascribing the hearty desire to pray exclusively to God. In the evening service, this collect is followed by a coincident acknowledgment: 'O God, from whom all 'holy desires, all good counsels, and all just 'works do proceed.'1 Can this consist with a beginning from ourselves, or with any doctrine which doth not unreservedly accord to the following words of another collect?' We humbly 'beseech thee, that, as by thy special grace pre'venting us, thou dost put into our hearts good 'desires, so by thy continual help we may bring 'the same to good effect.'2 Now does not this uniform language of our prayers expound the words of the Article decisively in favour of the Calvinists in this one point, at least ?3

It also accords to the language of scripture: "Thou Lord, hast heard the desire of the humble; "thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause "thine ear to hear."4 When ' a hearty desire to 'pray,' and to pray for spiritual blessings, has been given; repentance will be considered as one thing indispensibly necessary to salvation, and man's bounden duty: "God now commandeth all men "every where to repent."5 But how are we taught to take up this important topic in our liturgy?' Let us beseech God to grant us true 'repentance, and his Holy Spirit, that those things 'may please him, which we do at this present, and 'that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure

1 2 Col. Ev. Serv. 'Coll. East. Sun. 'Art. x.

4Ps. x. 17. 5 Acts xvii. 30.

« AnteriorContinuar »