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1. Do you Pray in Secret ?

I know not how it is with the reader, but I know that many persons are not in the habit of secret prayer. They have no closet, no place of retirement to which they daily resort, and where, when they have shut the door, they pray to their Father which is in secret, and in solitude seek the society of God. I am acquainted with one who for many years neglected this duty, which all religions recognize, and which even nature teaches. Sometimes he read the Bible, and no part of it oftener than the sermon on the mount. Of course he must have frequently read those words of the great Teacher, in which, taking it for granted that his hearer prays, he tells him what he should do when he prays: But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet;" (the person is supposed to have some place called his closet, to which he is accustomed to retire for prayer;) “ and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." He read this, but he gave no heed to it. During all this period he asked nothing, though he received much. God did not nego lect him, though he neglected God; and as he pray


ges not.

ed none, so he praised none. Sometimes, indeed, he said, “ Thank God !” but it was said in so much thoughtlessness, that it was set down profaneness rather than praise. It is true, at that time he would never allow that he was ungrateful; but he was, and now he sees that he was. He lived, and moved, and had his being in God, and yet was without God in the world. Many and precious were the thoughts of God towards him, but in all his thoughts God was not. Not even when he was in trouble did he ask, “Where is God my maker ?" I wonder the Lord had not become weary of bestowing his bounty on such an one. It is because he is the Lord and chan

But for that, the person of whom I speak would have been consumed long ago. There is nothing he admires more than the long-suffering of God towards him, and he hopes to spend eternity in admiring it, and exchanging thoughts with his fellow-redeemed on this and kindred subjects. He

supposes that he is not the only one who has neglected secret prayer. He fears that this neglect is even now the habit of many. They are shy of God. I know not why they should be. He is doing every thing to woo and win them, and to secure their confidence. So much has he done, that he asks (and I cannot answer) what he could have done more. He waits on his throne of grace to be gracious to them, but they come not near to him. He even calls to them to come to him, using too the language of

and we

most affectionate address : “Son, my son;" but they respond not, “ Abba, Father." It is strange they should treat this Father so. They treat no other father so. What child does not, in the morning, salute his father ? and what father does not expect the salutation of each child as they come into his presence? Oh, yes, we love our father who is on earth; remember with gratitude the favors he does us. And does the Father of our spirits, the giver of every good gift, deserve no daily notice from us, no affectionate salutation, no grateful recognition of indebtedness to him? I am certain he expects it, for he says, “A son honoreth his father: if then I be a Father, where is mine honor ?He claims to be a Father; and O, how well he has established that claim! Truly he is a Father, and “ like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth” his. And to the compassion of the father he adds the tender care and untiring mindfulness of the mother. “Can a woman,he asks, " forget her sucking child ?" She may, he says, but He will not. How strange it is that men will not go to the closet to meet and to pray to such a Father)

Surely it is not for want of encouragement. If they have it not in his very nature, yet in his invitations, his promises, and his past acts of unsolicited kindness, they have all they could desire. Nor is it that they have no need of God. Never one of the prayerless will say that. They all know what would

become of them but for that overlooking eye, and that supplying hand, and that supporting arm. And do they not know that God has a heart too—that he can love with all the fervor of a friend? And can they not imagine that in the interchange of affection between God and the soul of man there may, and indeed must be, ineffable delight? And who that looks but a little way forward, does not perceive an exigency when, in the utter inadequacy of earthly and human resources for comfort, he will want "the consolations of God?"

Ah, it is a sad as well as strange thing, that so many enter no closet! seek daily no retirement, either in their houses or elsewhere, where they may be a little while alone with God; where they may look

and meet the light of his countenance as he looks down on them; where they may confess their sins, and receive assurance of his pardoning love; where they may thank him for mercies past, and humbly ask for more; where they may take counsel of him; tell him of their griefs, and have their tears wiped away, and with him leave the weighty burden of their cares.

I know not whether this excites more my grief or my wonder. I am not so much surprised that men should neglect a manifest duty, but when I think what a privilege it is, what a happiness, what an honor, to be on terms of intimacy, and in habits of intercourse with God, it amazes me that they should


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