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the first fruits ; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
3. How glorious to the saints will be the resurrection day? This to them will be a morning without clouds. It will be the beginning of a glorious scene, that will never close. They will now enter upon the felicities of that state, and be introduced into that kingdom, prepared for them from the foundation of the world. The Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall lead them to living fountains of water; and God himself shall dwell with them, and be their God; and all tears shall be wiped away.
4. And lastly, how awful will that day be to unbelievers. They must also rise, but “to the resurrection of damnation.” How unspeakably distressing the condition of those, who shall then be driven to cry to the rocks and mountains, saying, “ Fall on us, and hide us from Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand.”
May the Lord enable such of you as are in a Christless state, to bow to the sceptre of mercy, before it is too late ; before the pit shut its mouth upon you, and repentance be finally hid. den from your eyes. The Lord grant that ye may find mercy in that day, for Christ's sake. Amen.
THE NATURE AND USES OF PRAYER.
PSALM Ixv. 2.
THE being and perfections of God are the foundation of all religion and morality. This principal truth is established by every thing around us, and by the common consent of mankind; and is inseparably connected with many other important principles : such as, the creation of all things ; upholding, preserving and governing all things. That Deity had a certain and very important end in view in bringing into existence such a great variety of beings, cannot be doubted. That that end shall infallibly be accomplished ; in order to which, he governs all things, great and small; the fall of a sparrow, as certainly as the rise and fall of empires. If he did not govern all, his plan might be disappointed. That he hath established in his own mind the means by which his purposes shall be brought to pass. Hence follow other truths : such as, that we are accountable to him; and that there will come a period, when all mankind shall appear before him, to give an account of the things done in the body. To which I add, that the duties of
prayer and thanksgiving also result from this first principle : for if God created and governs all things,
+ Delivered April 7, 1801, being the quarterly day of prayer.
it follows, that we are to ask of him the blessings we need, and to praise him for all those that sur. round us. In this view of things, we learn the dependence that all creation hath on God. To this great source we trace our duties and obligations. The duties in which we are now engaged, arise from it. This David well understood ; hence he begins the psalm with these words: “Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion; and unto thee shall the vow be performed.” He then adds, “O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.” The text naturally in. troduces various considerations, that are suitable to the occasion. David, instead of using any of the common names by which Deity is known in the holy scriptures, addresses him in this endearing language : “O thou that hearest prayer,” and adds, “ to thee shall all flesh come;" that is, in prayer. Let us, on the present occasion, consider, 1. The nature, design, and uses of
prayer. II. The circumstances that urge us to this duty, and our encouragements to engage in it.
1. The nature, design and uses of prayer.
Prayer is, properly speaking, the language of the heart. Hence Paul speaks of praying with the spirit. And we read of some persons who are said to worship God with their lips, but their hearts are far from him. No prayer can be acceptable to God, unless the heart is engaged in it. The most excellent expressions, accompanied with the greatest apparent fervour, are nothing but solemn mockery, unless the heart be duly exercised. For Jehovah looks at the heart, and
we are accepted by him only when that is right in his sight. If so, it follows that those are the best prayers which flow from a heart deeply affected with the holiness of God's character, with a sense of sin, of its own wants, and of Christ's fullness of grace for sinners. Such a heart will naturally dictate the most simple and expressive language. The persons we here describe are, in common, well acquainted with the sacred scriptures; which furnish us with the most proper expressions for prayer. Hence it is, I believe, that very pious people are generally more able in this duty than others; because they pray often, pray feelingly, and are well acquainted with the Bible. It may be truly said, in this case, that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh.”
But though prayer is properly the language of the heart, it is not confined there; for this duty is performed by expressions solemnly addressed to the infinite God.
Even in the closet, many Christians, perhaps most of them, choose to express the feelings of the heart in words. There is this advantage in it, that it tends to keep up the attention of the mind to its duty; and to im. press the heart with the subject with which it is conversant. God knows the secret wishes of the mind; but the good man finds an advantage in expressing these wishes, even when alone. That he may do this without being heard by any one, he chooses places of retirement. In considering the nature of prayer, it is
proper to observe, that it is also a social duty ; to be per. formed in the family with a few, and in the public congregation, with the many. It is a duty of the family. Heads of families, who are really re
ligious, attend to it with seriousness and punctu . ality. “ Let others do as they will,” said Joshua, " as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Every man ought, in some sense, to be a priest in his own house. It must be confessed to be fit, reasonable, and useful, to observe a strict religious order in our families. This part of the subject will come more immediately under consideration in the sequel. I will only say now, that praying families are generally well governed. To worship God in the morning and evening, becomes a habit, and is as much expected by your domestics as their regular meals, or their different daily occupations. And I appeal to the whole assembly, even to the most gay and thoughtless, whether it is not proper, that the God who made us, and who every moment preserves us, should be worshipped ? Is it not improper and criminal to forget him, and to pass each day without becoming thoughts of God, and gratitude to him for his goodness to us? Yet many such families there are, who call not upon the Lord; in which there is no appearance of religion, or of reverence of the infinite God. Let such families remember the following awful passage: “Pour out thy fury upon the heathen, and upon the families that call not upon thy name.”
In better days, when our ancestors came to this country, and long after they had dwelt here, they were very attentive to family religion. In almost every house, prayer was wont to be made. But many of us, their degenerate descendants, not only think we know better than they, but are at times disposed tò ridicule their strict attention