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offer our prayers in humble submission, and entire resignation to the will and wisdom of God. Thus our Saviour himself prayed, in view of his approaching sufferings, saying, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." And in that incomparable form of prayer, which he gave as a guide and pattern for his followers, one of the pegiven, that it was rather a prediction, or prophetic declaration, than a prayer. The language is as follows: "And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years but according to my word." This was a solemn assertion, and doubtless prophetic, but the language is not that of prayer, or entreaty. Again when he announced to the king that rain was about to be sent, it was in these words; Elijah said unto Ahab, "Get thee up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of abundance of rain." But neither is this the language of supplication or intercession. The purposes of God's providence, in the above instances, of withholding and of sending rain, being revealed to the prophet, and he being directed to declare them, he would, of course, desire their accomplishment, knowing they must be wise and benevolent; and in this view, he may be said to have prayed, both for the drought, and for the succeeding rain, and God, in fulfilling his purposes in these dispensations, verified the prediction of Elijah according to his desire, or prayer.
In like manner any prayer which falls in with God's purposes, will assuredly in due time be granted, and any prayer which is offered, however sincerely and fervently, which is contrary to God's design, or counsel, or which he sees not to be expedient, will as surely not be granted or fulfilled. For the divine purposes, formed in infinite wisdom, cannot be defective, and therefore admit of no improvement, or variation; and their accomplishment, secured by Almighty power, cannot be prevented.
There are some other declarations in the scriptures relating to the subject of prayer, which have been thought to convey the idea that divine favours are sometimes granted in immediate answer to prayer, and which, but for our prayers, would be withheld, and that, therefore, prayer does have an influence upon God, and induce him to do for us what he otherwise would not do. Among the passages of this sort, are 1 John, iii. 21, 22, and v. 14, 15. The former is as follows: "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God, and whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his command
titions is, that the "will" of our heavenly Father may "be done on earth, as it is in heaven;" which comprehends the entire sum of all possible good to mankind. In this humble, dependant, cheerfully resigned, and submissive temper and spirit may we always offer our prayers, and all our devotions, to the Father of mercies, and the God of all grace.
ments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight." In the latter passage, the statement is thus: "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." A little reflection must make it obvious that these statements, like many others, must be understood in a qualified sense. For it cannot be reasonable to expect that, although we may be assured that the Lord heareth all our prayers, and knoweth all our desires, that therefore, every particular desire of our hearts will be fulfilled, and that every petition we may offer, will be literally granted. It would require a greater degree of knowledge than we can pretend to, to determine always, or perhaps, even at any time, what is good for us, or what would, in reality be for our advantage. Hence, another passage says, “We know not what we should pray for as we ought." We may often think a thing, or an event would conduce to our welfare and happiness, and may ardently desire it; the effect of which, if granted, would be most injurious. Hence, a writer very justly remarks "So frail, so blind, so ignorant is man, that did not Heaven, sometimes in mercy, deny us what we ask, we should be ruined at our own request.'" The natural tendency of prayer is to beget and increase in our minds, a sense of dependance, and also, a confidence in the wisdom and beneficence of our Creator, and heavenly Father, and cheerful submission to his will, and when in this disposition of mind, we offer our petitions, they will be granted either strictly, according to our request, or in substance, and even better than we desired, and at the most proper time; in conformity with the devout and confident ascription of the Apostle, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding, abundantly, above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us," &c. Our prayers should always be in submission to the divine will and wisdom, in agreement with the direction of our Saviour "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven," and according also to his blessed example, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done."
A recommended manner of conducting public worship in the denomination of Universalists, on occasions when no regular Minister of the order is present.
Let some suitable person among the brethren be chosen, or requested, to lead in the services; and let him commence by reading a chapter, or select portion of the holy Scriptures; giving notice where the chapter or portion may be found. This being finished, let him, according to usual custom, read a hymn, and let the same be sung by the choir, or other persons present, as may be convenient. Let the person leading then offer a prayer, either extempore, if he be competent and so disposed, or else in the use of one of the forms of prayer for public worship, set forth in this book; or in the use of one of the forms for public devotion prepared with Responses which follow these suggestions, as may be most agreeable. After this, another hymn may be sung. Then let a printed sermon, previously selected, be read, either by the person conducting the services, or by some other suitable person present. After the sermon, a hymn may again be sung, and the services be closed with a short prayer and benediction, or with the benediction only, as may be thought expedient.
A form of public services, with responses by the people, either for the morning or afternoon.
After the reading of a chapter from the Bible, followed by the first singing, as is customary, the minister, or person leading, may proceed with the services by pronouncing two or three of the following select sentences of Scripture; or such others as he may think appropriate.
"The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him." Hab. ii. 20.
"From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered to my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of Hosts." Mal. i. 11.
"Who is like unto thee, O Lord, amongst the gods? who is like unto thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? The Lord shall reign for ever and ever." Ex. xv. 11-18.
"Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear before thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee." Rev. xv. 3, 4.
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint." Is. xl. 31.
"Rend your heart and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil." Joel ii. 13.
"To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him; neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God,
to walk in his laws, which he set before us." 19 Dan. ix. 9, 10.
"I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." Luke xv. 18, 19.
Seeing that we have a great high-priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. iv. 14-16.
"The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. John iv. 2, 24.
"Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Matt. iv. 10.
The minister may then address himself to the congregation in some such manner as the following:
Beloved brethren, ye see how urgently the Scriptures require it of us, both as a bounden duty, and a most desirable privilege to worship the Lord our God, to reverence and adore him on account of his greatness and the glory of his perfections, and especially for his goodness and mercy, which endure for ever, and are over all the works of his hands; and which have been so graciously and so wonderfully manifested to the children of men.
And as we are assembled together at this time, unitedly to offer our devotions unto him, the Father of our spirits, to confess our sins before him, to render thanks for the great benefits we have received at his hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy word, and to ask those things which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as