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which they need in exhaustless profusion. If they are weak, he is strong; and if they have nothing, he has all things. At the same time, they are taught to believe that he loves them, and is a Father to them.He is a better Father infinitely, than any created being could be. He has patience to bear with their frequent provocations, and grace to come over the mountains of their sins.-Is not this view of the character and perfections of God a comforting one to his needy people? And does it not furnish them with high encouragement to go to him in humble prayer? When they approach the mercy seat of such a Being in a holy, fervent, and proper manner, can it be that he will reject them? Can it be that he will frown them from his presence, and send them unpitied and empty away?
2. The fact that God invites, exhorts, and commands his people to pray to him, not only makes it their duty to pray, but furnishes them with strong encouragement to pray. What is prayer? It is the act of going to God with affection and earnestness, and asking him to bestow a needed favor. Now this act, God graciously requires and exhorts his people to perform. He virtually says to them, "Come, my people, to me, your heavenly Father-make known to me your wants -tell me freely your cares and sorrows pour your complaints into my bosom. Whatever you need, either for yourselves or others, come with boldness to my throne, and present your requests."-Expressions similar in import to these are frequent in the Scriptures; and is it not necessarily implied in each of them, that God will listen to the cries of his people-that he will hear and answer prayer? Why should he encourage them to pray, if he did not mean to hear them? Why should he com
mand them to draw near to him, and tell him their wants, and ask his help; if he did not intend to afford them a supply?
3. Saints have strong encouragement to pray, arising from the fact that God has heard and answered prayer in all past ages. Do any doubt this fact? The Scripture is filled with instances, which I need not here repeat, in which prayer has brought down blessings in abundance for the people of God, and judgments on his foes. We have also the testimony of holy and inspired men, that God has heard and answered their requests. "In my distress," says the Psalmist, "I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God; he heard my voice out of his holy temple, and my cry did enter into his ears."-"I will praise thee, for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.""I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."-" I cried by reason of my affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me ; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice."-Nor for testimony of this nature are we indebted to the scriptures alone. Multitudes have lived since the days of the Psalmist and the Apostles, who have received not only temporal deliverances but spiritual blessings in answer to prayer; and who have been able to say with joy and confidence, that the Lord hath heard the voice of their supplication, and hath pitied and saved them in a day of trouble.But all these instances are so many encouragements to the christian to continue in prayer. With God there is no "respect of persons." If he has heard and answered the cries of his people in other ages; he doubtless may be expected to do the same now.
4. The numerous promises of God that he will hear and answer prayer afford his people the highest
encouragement in this duty.-Promises of this de-
These promises are but a specimen of perhaps hundreds, of similar import. And they are all of them, it will be recollected, the promises-not of a changeable fellow creature, but of an unchangeable God; not of one who, with upright intentions may be prevented from fulfilling them by unforeseen casualties, but of him to whom no casualties can be unforeseen, and whose truth and faithfulness never fail. Certainly then they must afford high encouragement to praying souls. They afford, it would seem, all possible encouragement to the children of God, to continue instant and fervent in prayer.
5. We have another source of encouragement, not indeed more strong than this, although it may be more palpable and impressive. It is the facts, which are actually exhibiting-the events actually taking place before our eyes.-The enemies of our religion have sometimes raised objections to the promises of Scripture, pretending that they are inconsistent with facts. "We hear it alleged," say they," that Christians have great encouragement to pray-that God has promised, if they will only ask, they shall receive and has represented himself as ever ready to bestow his favors on those who seek them. But we have heard Ministers and Christians praying year after year for particular blessings; and yet those blessings have not been bestowed, and no benefits so far as we can see, have resulted. To what then does this boasted encouragement in prayer amount? What are these promises of Scripture worth? Or if the promises are not worthless, the prayers must be ; for the blessings prayed for have not been bestowed."
The more effectually to refute objections such as these, I think it may be satisfactorily shewn, that existing facts, so far from being inconsistent with the promises of God, serve if possible to confirm them; and so far from detracting any thing from the encouragement which praying souls derive from these promises, they even add to this encouragement.-For what, I ask then, have the people of God been most fervently praying? For what have we heard them, during the last twenty or thirty years, lifting up their voices and their hearts to heaven ?-They have been praying, among other things, for a spirit of prayerthat this spirit might be generally diffused-and that' real Christians of every name might be prepared to unite in supplicating the grace of their common Fath
ér. And is not this request most literally granted? Has not a spirit of prayer been bestowed and felt? And have we not for several years enjoyed the satisfaction-a satisfaction which our fathers were not permitted to enjoy of meeting month after month, with our brethren and sisters of every name, and bending the knee with them before the mercy seat of God?-Saints have been praying for the outpouring of the Divine Spirit, and that revivals of religion might be increased and multiplied. And are we not receiving intelligence almost daily from different parts of our country and world, that the Divine Spirit is actually poured out; that revivals of religion are increased and multiplied; and that God is glorifying himself in the enlargement and prosperity of his Zion? It has been stated on the best authority, that there have been, during the last year, not less than "four hundred revivals of religion in our own country"-resulting in the hopeful conversion of about twenty seven thousand persons"!!-Christians have been praying that the Bible might be translated into the languages of the heathen, and circulated among them in their own tongue. And we have lived to see this prayer literally accomplished. The Bible is translated, wholly or partially, into a multitude of heathen languages, and is read in almost every part of the world. The people of God. have been praying that Missionaries might be raised up and sent forth, to scatter the light of truth in regions of darkness, and proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ to those who are perishing in superstition and sin. And Missionaries in great numbers are raised up and sent forth, for this high and holy purpose. Hundreds and hundreds have already entered on their work, and are "jeoparding their lives in the