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not constant and uniform in fulfilling their own engagements, and in obeying the divine commands. But if they are imperfect, it is to be expected, that they will manifest the inconstancy of their right affections, and discover some wrong feelings towards God, and their fellow men. This has always been the case, with respect to the best saints, whose characters are recorded in Scripture. They were not constant and uniform in their obedience to God, but sometimes felt and acted like sinners. The same thing is still to be expected of those, who are now the real, but inconstant friends of God. Though they are inconstant, yet they are sincere; though they have some perfectly wrong, yet they have some perfectly right affections. They really love and obey God, though they fall far short of that perfection in holiness, which they ought to have now, and which they will most certainly attain hereafter. It is, therefore, no less unreasonable, than dangerous, for sinners "to eat up the sins of God's peo ple," and build their hopes, as well as form their excuses upon the criminal defects and imperfections of the excellent of the earth.

INFERENCE 11-Since all saints are imperfect in the present state, they have abundant reason for hu miliation and self-abasement. They have been extremely inconstant, inconsistent, and criminal in their views and feelings. Though they have had some right affections and sincere desires to glorify God; yet they have been as unstable as water, in their good purpo ses, resolutions and designs. Their imperfections have attended them every day and every where, in all their secular employments, and religious duties. How, many worldly affections have crept into their hearts, while they have been necessarily engaged in worldly concerns? How much have they been conformed to the

manners and spirit of the world, while they have been called to mix and converse with the men of the world? How often have their remaining corruptions disturbed their thoughts and affections, in the devotions of the closet, of the family, and of the house of God? Could the contrariety and inconsistency of their feelings and conduct be painted to their own view, as they have actually appeared to the Searcher of hearts, they would blush and be ashamed not only of their hours of labor and amusement, but of their most solemn seasons of retirement, meditation, and prayer. Their sins are not only great and numerous, but exceedingly aggravated. They have broken the most sacred and solemn obligations, and greatly injured those whom they ought to have treated with a peculiar affection and regard. Such criminal imperfections call for deep humiliation and self-abasement. They ought to loath and abhor themselves, when they reflect how much they have offended God, how much they have wounded Christ in the house of his friends, how much they have resisted and grieved the Holy Spirit, how much they have weakened the hands and discouraged the hearts of their fellow-christians, and how much they have robbed themselves of the most solid peace and self-enjoyment. They ought to walk humbly and softly before God every day. They ought to keep their hearts with all diligence, and guard against the assaults of Satan and the snares of the world. They ought to grow in grace, and forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, to press toward the mark of sinless perfection.




For as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

THOUGH all christians agree in maintaining the duty of prayer; yet many find a difficulty in reconciling this duty with the divine character. They suppose God is perfectly good, infinitely wise, and absolutely immutable in all his purposes; and upon this ground, they cannot easily conceive what influence prayer can have, either to procure his favors, or to avert his frowns. It is the design of the ensuing discourse, therefore, to remove this difficulty, by pointing out the nature and tendency of prayer. And the words I have read, taken in their proper connexion, directly lead us to the considération of this serious and practical subject.

As Jacob was returning from Padan-Aram to his native country, he sent messengers to his brother Esau, to acquaint him with his intended visit, and to concil. iate his favor. But the messengers brought back information, that his brother was on his way to meet him, with four hundred men. This news was extremely alarming to Jacob, who knew his brother's resentment, and his own weakness. In this critical situation, he acted the part of a pious and prudent man. He first attempted to appease his brother's wrath, by a noble and princely present. But lest this precaution should fail of success, he ordered his servants to conduct his family and flocks over the brook Jab

bok, whilst he himself remained alone, to supplicate the divine favor and protection. At this season of solitude and devotion, he wrestled with God and prevailed. The account is extremely solemn and instructive. "And Jacob was left alone: and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh: and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh: and he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? and he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou porer with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for 1 have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." Here it is very evident, that Jacob wrestled with a Divine Person: and that his wrestling principally or wholly consisted, in pleading and crying for mercy. So we find it represented by the prophet Hosea. "Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him." The sincerity, fervency, and importunity of his prayers, moved God to hear and answer his requests. Both the letter and spirit of the text suggest this general observation:

That it is the design of prayer to move God to bestow mercy.

This will appear, if we consider,

1. That prayer properly and essentially consists in pleading. Though it may be divided into distinct parts or branches; yet all these ultimately unite and centre in supplication. In adoration, confession, petition, and thanksgiving, we ultimately plead for divine mercy. When we petition our fellow men, we

always mean to move them to grant our requests. And in order to prevail, it is common to make use of various modes of supplication or pleading. This is the method, which a penitent child would take, to obtain the forfeited favor of his father. He would acknowledge the rectitude of his father's government; he would confess the injury he had done to his father's character; he would thank him for his past favors; and pathetically plead for his forgiving love. He would naturally employ all these modes of address, in order to move his father to pardon his faults. So when we praise God for his perfections, thank him for his mercies, confess our trespasses against him, and present our petitions to him, we do all this with an ultimate aim to move his heart, and obtain the blessings we implore. Indeed, we never supplicate any being without an ultimate intention of prevailing upon him, to do or grant what we desire. And any address, which does not express or imply a design of moving the person addressed, cannot deserve the name of petition or prayer. So far, therefore, as prayer signifies "the offering up of our desires to God for things agreeable to his will," just so far it necessarily implies our design and desire of moving God to bestow the favors we request. There are no two words in our language more nearly synonymous, than praying and pleading. And since praying always implies pleading, it must necessarily imply a desire and design of moving God to shew mercy.

2. It appears from the prayers of good men, which are recorded in Scripture, that they meant to move God to grant their petitions. Abraham's intercession for Sodom carries this idea. He earnestly desired and prayed, that God would graciously spare that degenerate city. And he was so fervent and importu

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