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Thirdly. The truly pious, benevolent, devout man would not desire, or even dare, to pray to God for any thing, if he were changeable, and disposed to alter his purpose and plan, in order to grant his petitions. Therefore he never does pray to any but an unchangeable God, whose counsel stands forever, and the thoughts of his heart to all generations. He is sensible that he is a very imperfect creature; that his heart, his will, is awfully depraved and sinful; that he knows not what is wifest and best to be done in any one instance ; what is best for him, for mankind in general, for the world, or for the universe; what is most for the glory of God, and the greatest general good; and that it would be infinitely undesirable and dreadful to have his own will regarded so as to govern in determining what shall be done for him or any other being, or what shall take place. If it could be left to him to determine in the least instance, he would not dare to do it, but would refer it back to God, and say, “ Not my will, but thine, be done.” But he could not do this, unless he were certain that the will of God was unchangeably wise and good, and that he had decreed to do what was most for his own glory, and the greatest good of the whole ; at the fame time infallibly knowing what must take place, in every instance, in order to answer this end ; and consequently must have fixed upon the most wise and best plan, foreordaining whatsoever comes to pass. Therefore, whatever be his petitions for himself, or for others, he offers them to God, and asks, on this condition, always either expressed or implied, If it be agreeable to thy will : for otherwise he would not have his petitions granted, if it were possible. And he who asks any thing of God, without making this condition, but fets up his own will, and desires to have it gratified, whether it be for the glory of God, and the greatest good of his kingdom, or not; and would, were it in his power, compel his Maker to grant his petition, and bow the will of God, to his own will; he who prays to God with such a disposition, is an impious enemy to God, exercises no true devotion,

and

and cannot be heard, and it is desirable to all the friends of God that he should be rejected. Resignation to the will of God always supposes his will is unchangeably fixed and established, which it could not be, unless he has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

Thus it appears that if God were changeable, and had not foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, there would be no foundation for religious worship, or reason for praying to him; or that there can be no reason or encouragement for prayer and petition to any but an unchangeable God.-- I proceed to observe,

2. There is good reason, and all desirable and possible encouragement, to pray to an unchangeable God, who - has from eternity determined what he will do, in every. instance, and has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

This will doubtless be evident, to him who will duly consider the following particulars.

First. Prayer is as proper, important and necessary, in order to obtain favour from an unchangeable God, as it could be were he changeable, and had not foreordained any thing.

Means are as necessary in order to obtain the end, as if nothing were fixed and certain. Though it was decreed that Paul and all the men in the ship should get safe to land, when they were in a storm at sea ; yet this must be accomplished by means, and unless the failors had assisted in managing the ship, this event could not take place, and they could not be saved. Prayer is a means of obtaining what God has determined to grant ; for he has determined to give it in answer to prayer, and no other way. “Alk, and ye shall receive,says our Saviour. When God had promised to do many and great things for Ifrael, he adds, “Thus faith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Ifrael, to do it for them :” [Ezek. xxxvi. 37.] The granting the favours, which God had determined to bestow, was as much suspended on their asking for them, as if there had been nothing determined and fixo ed about it. There is as much regard had to prayer in

granting granting favours, and the prayer is heard, and God gives them, as really and as much in answer to it, as if there were nothing determined and foreordained respecting them : for the decree includes and fixes the means, as much as the end; the method and way by which events are to take place, as much as those events themselves. The one depends on the other, as much as if there were no decree, and nothing fixed; yea, much more: for the decree fixes the dependence and connection between the means and the end : whereas if there were no decree, and nothing fixed, there would be no established connection, but all would be uncertain, and there would be no reason or encouragement to use means, or do any thing to obtain an end.

Surely, then, there is as much reason and encouragement to pray to an unchangeable God, and this is as important and necessary, as if there were nothing fixed by the divine decrees, and much more : yea, the unchangeable purposes of God are the necessary and only proper ground and reason of

prayer. Secondly. Though prayer is not designed to make any change in God, or alter his purpose, which is impossible ; yet it is suited and designed to have an effect on the petitioner, and prepare him to receive that for which he prays. And this is a good reafon why he should pray. It tends to make the petitioner to feel more and more sensibly his wants, and those of others for whom he prays, and the miserable state in which he and they are : for in prayer these are called up to view, and dwelt upon : and prayer tends to give a sense of the worth and importance of the favours asked It is also suited to make persons feel, more and more, their own helplessness, and entire dependence on God for the favours for which they petition, of which their praying is an acknowledgement; and therefore tends to enhance them in the eyes of the petitioner, when given in answer to prayer, and to make him more fenfia ble of the free, sovereign goodness of God in granting

them.

them.* In fum, this is suited to keep the existence and character of God in view, and impress a sense of religious truths in general on the mind, and to form the mind to universal obedience, and a conscientious watchfulness and circumspection, in all religious exercises.

Thirdly. It is reasonable, and highly proper and important, and for the honour of God, that the friends of God should express and acknowledge their entire dependence on him, and trust in him, for all they want for themselves and others, and their belief in the power, wisdom and goodness of God; and all this is acknowledged, expressly or implicitly, in prayer to God. It is also reasonable and proper that they should express their dejre of those things which are needed by themselves or others, and which God alone can give or accomplish : and such desires are exprefled in the best way and manner by petitioning for them. And in asking for blessings on others, and praying for their enemies, they express their disinterested benevolence, which is an advantage to themselves, and pleasing to God, even though their petitions should have no influence in procuring the favours which they alk. And in praying that God would honour himself, and advance his own kingdom, and accomplish all the great and glorious things which

he

* A kind and wife father, who designs to give his child some particular favour, will bring the child to ask for it before he bestows it, and will suspend the gift upon this condition, for the benefit of the child, that what he grants may be a real advantage to him, and a greater than if it were given before the child was better prepared to receive it, by earnestly and humbly asking for it; and that the father may hereby receive a proper acknowledgement from the child, and be treated in a becoming manner. And in this case, the petition of the child is as really regarded, heard and granted, and the child's application and prayer to the father is as much a means of obtaining the favour, and as proper, important and necessary, as if the father had not previously determined the whole affair. And when the children of such a father know that this is his way of bestowing favours on them, they will have as proper motives, and as much

encouragement, to ask for all they want, as if he had not determined what he would do antecedent to their asking him; yea, much more.

he has promised to do for his own honour, and the good of his people, they do not express any doubts of his fulfilling his promises, but are certain he will grant their petitions ; but they hereby express their acquiescence in these things, and their earnest desire that they may be accomplished; and also profess and express their love to God, and friendship to his people and kingdom ; and do that which the feelings of a pious, benevolent heart will naturally, and even neceffarily, prompt them to do.

We have many examples of such petitions and prayers for those things and events, which the petitioners, antecedent to their prayers, knew would certainly be accomplished. We have a decisive and remarkable instance of this in David, the King of Israel, in the following words : “ And now, O Lord God, the word that thou haft spoken concerning thy servant, and concerning his house, establish it forever, and do as thou hast said. And let thy name be magnified forever, faying, The Lord of hosts is the God over Israel :: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee. For thou, O Lord of Hofts, God of Ifrael, haft revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house: therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer before thee. And now, O Lord God, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodnefs unto thy fervant. Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue forever before thee; for thou, O Lord God, haft ipoken it, and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed forever :" [2 Sam. vii. 25–29.] Here David not only prays God to do that which at the same time he knew and acknowledges God had promised to do; and therefore it was established as firm as the throne of the Almighty, and decreed that it should take place; but he says that this promise of God, making it certain, was the reason, motive and encouragement to him to make this prayer : “ Thou, O Lord, haft revealed to thy servant, faying, I will build thee an

house.

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