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been the case, that God has greatly enlarged christians to pray for recovery, so as to have no doubt on their minds. Doubtless many of you, my brethren, have had the freedom that gave great encouragement. God does sometimes enlarge for the out-pouring of the spirit, so that those engaged in the duty, have been carried beyond a doubt. Indeed I do not think, that ever God enlarges his people to pray for the up-building of his church, where their prayersøre not heard. God may grant the very thing prayed for, and yet not immediately. Thus the cry of the martyrs that their blood might be avenged, was, as appears from the sacred history, answered hundreds of years afterwards. So all the prayers of the devout for the coming and kindom of Christ in its millenial state, will be answered. God often grants some pledge. I do not recollect an instance of special enlargement in the church, for the conversion of sinners, where there has not been some token for good.
2. To prove that God does in fact answer. We should naturally be led to conclude, that this would be the case, as God has abundantly commanded the duty, and there is not a command in all the Bible, perhaps, which has not directly, or indi. rectly, a promise. The promises are many. “ Ask and ye shall receive : Seek and ye shall find Knock and it shall be opened unto you : Whatsoever
ye ask the father in my name that will I do." We have also striking examples of the efficacy of prayer in Abraham, Elias, and many others..
4. To enforce the duty of prayer in general. Prayer is a most rational and natural duty. It is the expression of dependence on God. It is the devout flow of a gospel spirit. The teinper held up in the gospel, cannot exist without prayer. All blessings come from God: Shall we not then acknowledge the hand that bestows. The duty is abundantly enforced by command, by the example of the Redeemer and of the Godly. We are strongly bound to perform the duty, if nothing more be considered than the privileges attending it. I would also urge the dreadful nature of the punishment which will attend the neglect of it. To live in the habitual neglect of this duty, is to: be guilty of a practical denial of Christ, and to pour contempt on the blood of the Son of God. Indeed, it is nothing less than practical atheism.
In the review of our subject, we see how just God will be in the punishment of sinners, when. he offers them life if they will ask; and yet they will not. In what dreadful light will the prayerless conduct of sinners appear !
The prevalence, or neglect of prayer is a prop er index to show the state of religion, and it apo pears, in this view, very melancholy. How many prayerless families are there among us! How fast is the very form of religion declining! It looks as though some great wrath was kindling, and some heavy judgments preparing. Let me then press this duty, as the way of access to God. There is no forgiveness in any other way. God will be sought unto for pareloning mercy, but it is only in the way of free access in Christ.. This privilege was purchased at an infinite price, and here is an open door. There is no prohibition to any, but the command is to all. If you want grace, if you want the Holy Spirit, if you want pardon and salvation through Christ, there is the highest propriety, that you should put up these desires. Make no delay then in performing this reasonable duty. Seek and you shall find. Behold now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.
And he said onto them all, if any man will come after me, let
him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
U. THOSE passages of seripture are peculiarly important, which point ouf and define the qualifi. cations which are essential to salvation. The due ty enjoined, in the text, of denying self, taking up the cross and following Christ, is indispensibly requisite in one who professes christianity. Our Saviour had a full view of the scene of persecu. tion and trial which was coming on his people, and which, he saw, would be to them a very strong temptation. He says many things to arm and fortify them : He tells them that if they should be ashamed of him and his words, that he would be ashamed of, and disown them in the day of judg; ment:. That if they should, at the expense of the honor of his cause, seek to save natural life, they should lose it : With tender expostulation he en. quires, of what value would this world, with all its . honors, be to any one, when gained at the expence of his soul?. On the other hand he declares, that if they should suffer death in adherence to his cause, it would secure an endless life.. It appears from the connexion of our text, that a compliance with the duties enjoined in it,,is, as it were, the hinge on which salvation turns. If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up bis cross.daily : that is, if any one would come afa ter me, as belonging to me, he must do it in a life: of self-denial:. without, this, he cannot attain to salvation.
1. Explain the duty in the text, of denying self, taking up the cross and following Christ.
II. The great and absolute importance of this duty.
1. I would explain the duty in the text of denya ing self, (2.), taking up the cross, and (3.) follow. ing Christ. To deny self, as here required, supposes supreme love to the cause of God, his glory and kingdom. Whatever sa man may do in foregoing temporal interests, to gratify self in some other way,
there is no true self-denial. Some per form what they call great acts of mortification, to gratify self in another view. There are many among the Roman Catholics especially, who will undertake pilgrimages, and perform what they call penance, in order to obtain future happiness. Same, like hermits, have a secluded themselves. wholly from the world. All this has been done to promote future happiness, without any regard to the cause and interest of Christ. :) 1
The more we surmount fleshly inclinations, and the weaker they are made, the greater is the selfdenial. Some hace supposed that the stronger the lust, the greater the self-denial : But I consider the more we obtain the ascendency over lusts and corruptiots, the more self-denial is there, and the more are we under the influence of be. nevolence.
Self-denial respects all fleshly lusts and selfish propensities. It is in the sneglect of this duty, that men have a disposition to gratify an appetite for food, or
drink, to the dishonor of God and their own hurt. It is thus that men indulge in unsuitable mirth, and froin a thirst for worldly honors, popularity and esteem, greatly conform to the ways of the world. They are afraid to appear in the belief of those doctrines and in that holy life
and practice which give disgust to sinners. : U1der the influence of this feeling, they often have a propensity, in company where serious conversada tion is disused, and reproof for profaner.ess thought uncivil, to hold their peace. Under the influence of this, many neglect to rebuke an of. fending brother. So, also, many neglect religicus duties, in order to pursue the world. It is often the case, when sreatures get into the world, that they may reflect, that they may gair several shillings in the time they would be attending religious worship, and so absent themselves from the house. of God. So, also under the influence of this, .acts of charity are neglected. But the self-denied which Christ enjoins on us, is a hearty mortification and denial of ourselves in all these respects 2. I would show what it is to take up the cross.
The ross, in a literal sense, intended the woodk on which executions of an ignominious kind were performed. As executions of this nature were frequent, the word, cross, came to be used to ex press any kind of sufferings, especially, ignomini. ous sufferings. To make the suffering more igra nominious, those that were to be crucified were compelled to bear their cross. In a religious sense, to take up the cross is to submit to all the reproach and contempt, which may be thrown in our way. Thus, as advocates for the truth, we may be liable to have our names cast out, as evil. We are not to deviate in the least, from jyhat we think to be our duty, whatever reproach and suffering may be in the way. So, as to the practice of serious piety, we are not to neglect to speak! and act for God, because there is a cross.: And to take it up, is to submit to all the consequences of an open, godly life. We are not to go out of the way to: find a cross, nor to shun.it when.in our way.