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ments of worlds. Shall we, through ignorance, fondly hope, by the virtue of our prayers, to effect a change in counsels which were of old, and are faithfulness and truth? Let us be still, and know that he is God. It is our privilege to petition, but it is his prerogative and glory to reign. And were every prayer answered, it would go to dissolve God's moral government, and stay the course of his righteous administration. If the Prophet's prayer for his impenitent countrymen had been heard, it would have been to dissolve the connexion which God hath ordained betwixt crime unrepented of, and adequate punishment. And on the same principles, we may easily understand why our intercessions for others are often unavailing, while, at the same time, intercession is not the less our duty. “Moreover, as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray

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you," said Samuel to the men of Israel; and while they continued in the fear of God, no doubt, the Prophet was often hearkened to in their behalf. But in a more apostate age, the intercession of Samuel had been ineffectual. For the Lord said to Jeremiah, in such an age, “ Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward

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this people; cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.” ”

And not only may our prayers for others be intercepted by their iniquity, but, on the same principles, may be rendered ineffectual by our own. “If I regard iniquity in my heart," said the Psalmist, “the Lord will not hear me.” When the three friends of Job had incurred the divine displeasure, it was said to them, “Go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt-offering, and my servant Job shall pray for you; for him will I accept.” It is the fervent prayer

of a righteous man that availeth much, James v. 16. And in this view, there is great emphasis in the Apostle's calling our heavenly Advocate, “ Jesus Christ the Righteous.”

IV. It is not always in wrath, however, that our prayers for others are not heard, but often in mercy to them. In our fond attachment to children or to friends, we would detain them from God and glory, to suffer amid the evils of time. In our ignorance, we ask things detrimental for ourselves as well as for others. In labour, poverty, and trouble, we seek ease, and

peace, and competency, and freedom from affliction ; but it may enter into God's plan for preserving and perfecting us,

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to withhold from us health and a prosperous state. The Apostle of the Gentiles had a thorn in the flesh assigned him, and he besought the Lord thrice to have it removed. It was signified to him, however, that this grievous thing was intended for his good, and sent expressly to prevent selfexaltation, on account of the greatness of his privileges and gifts. And we easily judge in his case, that a thorn in the flesh with humility, was better for him than a sound frame with high-mindedness. But we do not so readily exercise a like judgment on our own trials; for often when we feel bodily pain, the pressure of poverty, the hostility of the world, and the disappointment of our schemes, we are tempted into irritation or despondency. We cry for deliverance; and if it come not speedily, we complain of unavailing prayer. Yet, if our trials be needful in the judgment of God, in his love to us will he not remove them, though we pray. He perfects that which concerns his people, but in his own way; and his way is wise and perfectly good, even when it leads us through much tribulation. In the sequel, we are made to see and own the divine reasonableness of God's way; and feeling the happy effects

of his afflictive dispensations, we confess, to his glory, that it was good for us to be afflicted. Meanwhile, if we can apprehend the promise given to the Apostle, in answer to his prayer—“My grace is sufficient for thee-my strength is made perfect in weakness,” we shall not, though thorns and briers impede our course, with humbling annoyance, cry impatiently, that God shutteth out our prayer.

And besides, the thing we desired may be refused, in order to give us something better than we sought. O what need there is of the Spirit to help our infirmities ! for we know neither what we should pray for, nor as we ought. As Christ said to his disciples, respecting a particular request of theirs, “ Ye know not what ye ask;" so may it be said, perhaps, of many of the desires which we express to God in prayer. The disciples aspired after a temporal kingdom, and an earthly throne;~a heavenly kingdom and a crown of immortality were conferred instead. Were they not gainers in the issue ? Thus, God, in mercy, denies a lesser, for the sake of enriching us with an incomparably greater good. We asked things temporal, and he gives us things eternal. How often have we gone away from the throne of

grace, sorely discouraged, and much disappointed, because God had not hearkened to our cries in some matter of temporal request, which we deemed essential to our good, and have travelled but a little way onward in the progress of life, when it was made apparent to us, how much mercy was concerned in the refusal of our suit ? In all these cases, therefore, the want of a direct answer to prayer, instead of impugning the divine faithfulness, or detracting from the perfection of infinite goodness, rather confirms the promise, and illustrates the benignity and the glory of the all-wise Creator, who is blessed for ever, and to be blessed, both when he graciously gives, and wisely denies. But,

V. When we pray to God, it becomes us to remember the infinite distance betwixt the creature and the glorious Creator ; and though earnest, let us beware of being wilful and peremptory. Such is the condescension of God in Christ, that he bears with much in his praying children ; and, we believe, often hears and answers prayer made in the extremity of distress, though there be little grace in exercise, and though the afflicted spirit utters its complaint, like the

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