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à nothing as thou so inordinately lovest, as to cleave to it in preference to the will of God-a nothing, which thou wilt despise in words, in order to frame an excuse for thy non-observance of it; but in the ground, it is a nothing which thou holdest fast, against the will of God, and which, if continued in, will bring thee to ruin.
Despising small things does not, as some assert, arise from greatness of mind, but far otherwise, from a shortsightedness, esteeming things small, which in their tendency and consequences have a very extensive reach and effect. The more we discover ourselves inclined to indifference in small things, and the more we find it a trial to us to pay attention herein, the more we ought to fear and become jealous, yea, and to cast up bulwarks against a spirit of indifference and carnal security-he that despises little things, will certainly fall by little and little. Be not afraid of a constant watchfulness of mind in small things : a godly resolution is necessary in the beginning, and the exercise and suffering thou endurest, thou hast well deserved, it being very necessary for the perfecting of thy peace and security, out of which there is nothing but disquiet and backsliding. God will render this path more and more sweet and pleasant. True love is watchful and attentive without great and painful resstraint of spirit.
Augustine saith, “ little things are little things, but fo be faithful in little things is something great.”
FROM SEVERAL AUTHORS.
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Matt. vi. 5, 6, 7, 8.
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hyposrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father which is in secret ; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall re. ward thee openly.
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
Be not ye, therefore, like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.
Matt. xxvi. 41.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.
MARK xii. 37.
What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
Prayer is a devout, sincere, and hearty address, or application of the soul, to the adorable majesty of God, under the influence and assistance of the Divine Spirit; in which only the soul hath access to him, and acceptance with him; and therefore an inward retirement to the Divine Grace is essential to a right performance of true prayer.
We must always bear in mind the purity and holiness of God, how unmeet and unfit we are to draw nigh to him in an unholy frame of lieart : Our hearts must be washed, and made clean. We must
cease to do evil, and learn to do well;" for “ without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” How unacceptable are all dead, dry, and formal religious performances, not proceeding from a pure heart, influenced and quickened by the Holy Spirit.
On the contrary, how acceptable to Him are the sacrifices and offerings of a clean heart, enlightened and guided by the Divine Spirit! What delight and comfort doth the soul feel! What returns of love from the Divine Presence! What times of refreshing come from Him! What new life and vigour is the soul inspired with, to abandon all the ways of vice, and persevere in virtue and the love of God! How is the heart“ enlarged to run the way of God's commandments !"* and indeed, “ blessed are the
pure in heart, for they shall see God.”† These come "into his courts with praise.”[
The learned and judicious Dr. Robert Gell, who lived in the reign of King Charles the First, and preached a sermon before bim at Newmarket, in the year 1631, saith, — Words conceived only in an earthly mind, and uttered out of the memory by the man's voice, which make a noise in the ears of flesh and blood, are not, nor can be accounted a prayer before our Father which is in Heaven.' Vol. i. fol. 156.
And therefore, devotion is said to be a moving of the mind and will towards God; which may be in manifold acts; as holy meditation, resignation, or lifting up the heart by prayer and thanksgiving unto God.
Ibid. 544. What do we clse, but betray dur Lord with a kiss, when, in praying and praising and singing and preaching, we draw near unto him with our lips, but our hearis are far from him? Ibid. 307.
Dr. Smaldridge, late Bishop of Bristol, in the 16th folio of his Sermons, says, – Prayer doth not consist either in the bending of our knees, or the service of our lips, or the lifting up of our hands or eyes to heaven; but in the elevation of our souls towards God. These outward expressions of our
* Psal. cxis. 32.
+ Matt. y. 8. Psal. c. 4,