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mired in human friendship. When the same spirit of intercession is again in the world, when christianity has the same power over the hearts of people, which it then had, this holy friendship will be again in fashion, and christians will be again the wonder of the world for that exceeding love, which they will bear to one another,
For a frequent intercession with God, earnestly beseeching him to forgive the sins of all mankind, to bless them with his providence, enlighten them with his spirit, and bring them to everlasting happiness, is the divinest exercise, in which the heart of man can be engaged.
Be daily therefore on your knees in a solemo deliberate performance of this devotion, praying for others in such forms, with such length, importunity and earnestness, as you use for yourself; and you will find all little, ill-natured passions die away, your heart grow great and generous, delighting in the common happiness of others, as you used only to delight in your own.
For he, who daily prays to God, that all men may be happy in heaven, takes the likeliest way to make him wish for, and delight in their happiness on earth. It is hardly possible for you to beseech and entreat God to make any one
happy in the highest enjoyments of his glory to all eternity; andiyet be troubled to see him enjoy the much smaller gifts of God in this short and low state of human life.
For how strange and unnatural would it be to pray to God to grant health and a longer life to a sick man, and at the same time to envy him the poor pleasures of agreeable medicines ?
Yet this would be no more strange, nor unnatural, than to pray to God, that your neighbour may enjoy the highest degrees of mercy and favour, and yet at the same time envy him the little credit and figure he has amongst his fellow-creatures. ... When therefore you have once habituated. your heart to a serious performance of this holy intercession, you have done a great deal to render it incapable of spite and envy, and to make it naturally delight in the happiness of all mankind.
This is the natural effect of a general intercession for all mankind. But the greatest bene. fits of it are then received, when it descends to such particular instances, as our state and condition in life more particularly require of us.
Though we are to treat all mankind as neighbours and brethren, as occasion offers, yet, as we
courteous, civil, and condescending to all about
can live in the actual society of a few only, and are by our state and condition more particularly related to some than others; so when our inter: cession is made an exercise of love and care for those, amongst whom our lot is fallen, or for those, who belong to a pearer relation, it then becomes the greatest benefit to ourselves, and produces its best effects in our own hearts.
If therefore you should always change and alter your intercessions, according as the needs and necessities of your neighbours or acquaintance seem to require ; beseeching God to deliver them from such or such particular evils, or to grant them this or that particular gift, or blessing, such intercessions, besides the great charity of them, would have a mighty effect upon your own heart, as disposing you to every other good office, and to the exercise of every other virtue towards such persons, as have so often a place in your prayers.
This would make it pleasant to you to be
you ; and make you unable to say, or do a rude, or hard thing to those, for whom you had used yourself to be so kind and compassionate in your prayers.
For there is nothing, which makes us love a man so much, as praying for him ; and when you can once do this sincerely for any man, you have fitted your soul for the performance of every thing, which is kind and civil towards him.
If masters, for instance, were thus to rea member their servants in their prayers, beseech , ing God to bless them, and suiting their peti. tions to the particular wants and necessities of their servants ; letting no day pass, without a full performance of this part of devotion ; the benefit would be as great to themselves, as to
No way is so likely as this, to inspire them with a true sense of that power, which they have in their hands, to make them delight in doing good, and become exemplary in all the parts of a wise and good master.
The presenting of their servants so often bey fore God, as equally related to God, and entitled to the same expectations of heaven, as themselves, would naturally incline them to treat them, not only with such humanity, as became fellow, creatures, but with such tenderness, care, and generosity, as became fellow heirs of the same glory. This devotion would make mas.
? 128 ters inclined to every thing, which was good towards their servants, be watchful of their beact observance of the duties of christianity, as of the duties of their service:
How natural would it be for such a master to perform every part of family devotion ; to have constant prayers ; to excuse no one's absence from them ; to have the scriptures, and books of piety often read amongst his servants ; to take all opportunities of instructing them, of raising their minds to God, and teaching them to do all their business, as a service to God; and
upon the hopes and expectations of another life?
How natural would it be for such a one to pity their weakness and ignorance, to bear with the dulness of their understandings, or the per verseness of their tempers, to reprove them with tenderness, exhort them with affection, as hoping, that God would hear his prayers for them?
How impossible would it be for a master, who thus interceded with God for his servants, to use any unkind threatenings towards them, to damn and curse them as dogs and scoun drels, and treat them only as the dregs of creation?