« ElőzőTovább »
no person dead in trespasses and sins, no mortal without the quickening motion of the Holy One inducing spiritual life, or, in other words, none but the children of God born of his Spirit, the heirs of his salvation, the living members of Christ's living Body, his Church, can ask, or seek, or desire, the Gift of the Holy Spirit proinised, with all the effects and consequences of this Gift, in order to lift them
up above this present evil world, and to lead them to heaven. It is not, indeed, so easy a thing to pray, as many suppose it to be. An apostle requested the pouring forth of the Spirit of grace and supplication for this purpose, knowing that holy prayer can never spring from a carnal heart, which being uncircumcised is therefore out of the bond of the Covenant, and in full enmity with God. All prayer, without the Spirit of Life, is but a carcase without a soul. Prayer
likewise presupposes the weakness, as well as the indigence, of the creature, respecting the things prayed for ; and of these no sinner in a state of nature is thoroughly aware.
* True and faithful are the words of the pious Archbishop LEIGHTON, 'instructing his readers upon this important subject : " When thou ad, dressest thyself in prayer, desire and depend upon the assistance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God; without' which thou art not able truly to pray. It is a supernatural work, and therefore the principle of it must be supernatural. He that hath nothing of the Spirit of God cannot pray at all. He may howl in his necessity or distress; or may speak words of prayer, as some birds learn the language of men; but pray he cannot. And they, that have that Spirit, ought to scek the movings and actual workings of it in
the particular help of their infirmities, (Hebr, iv. 15,) teaching, both what to ask, - a thing that of ourselves we know not, and then enabling them to ask; breathing forth their desires in such sighs and groans, as are the breath, not simply of their own, but of God's Spirit." Comm. on Peter iii. 12.
them in prayer;
§ 10. This conclusion by no means affects the case of those, who feel a concern to pray, but tlırough dejection of soul, arising from convictions of their own sinfulness, weakness, or other infirmity, are afraid either of praying amiss, or of not being of the kind or number of persons, whom God will vouchsafe to hear. These are the very people, who, of all others, have the strongest symptoms of acceptance in their favour; for, if the desire and anxiety be firm and sincere, it is truly the work of the Holy Spirit upon their hearts, and is that undoubted token for good, which no hypocrite, no Pharisee on the one hand, or antinomian on the other, ever enjoys or understands. Such prayers are indeed from life begun, and shall surely be crowned with blessing in the event; though the person himself, for the time, or under the trial, cannot make that cheerful reflection. For, though
a man can never pray truly and sincerely for spiritual things without the Divine Spirit, yet he may pray, and most really too, before he understands, how, by that holy ageney, his heart hath been drawn to pray. Perhaps, the distress may often arise from a sense of deficiency in suitable expressions; but persons in this case may be assured, that earnest breathings are better than fine words, and that their most pathetic and valuable prayers are those, which have the least utterings of the tongue, and can only be vented from the heart in tears and groans. An infant has life, and cries urgently for nourishment and help with very little comprehension, and no expression, of what it needs, and still less of the manner of its supply; but it doth not cease to cry on earnestly, importunately, continually, till the supply or relief be adıninistered. So is it at first, more or less, with every one that
is born of the Spirit. The prayer of faith (for, prayers like those beforementioned have true faith in them) proceeds as soon as the soul is made alive to God, and will not cease to be poured forth; but the clear discernment of this grace by the reflex act of faith, the perception, the evidence, the demonstration, of its existence, cone afterwards in the progress of spiritual life. By continual supplies from above, perhaps through a great variety of trials and temptations, the Christian increases in wisdom, and stature, and might, by the Spirit in his inner man, and at length becomes fully assured, that it was the Lord himself, who hath wrought and is working the whole in him both for. will and deed of his good pleasure. In this view it was, that the Apostle prayed for the Ephesians, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give unto them