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called ; and for which therefore we all of us ought to be fortified and prepared.
And ist. We may learn from him, what is the best and wisest course we can take under
any sort of affliction : namely, that like him, we should beseech the Lord, that we should fast, and weep, and pray. This was his constant practice in all his troubles : 6 When I am in heaviness,"
“ I will think upon God; when my heart is vexed, I will complain”un" to him. I will pour out my complaint “ before him, and shew him my trouble."
* And this practice of his is certainly agreeable to our natural notions of Godi For, to whom else should we apply in the day of our distress, than to the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort? '
Prayer likewise is a means of God's own appointing, and therefore certainly the best means we can use of obtaining his favour and assistance. Thus our Lord directs us :
“ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find.”. Thus U 2
likewise St. Paul: “ Let your requests be " made known unto God.” And so St. James : “ Is any among you afflicted ? "Let him pray.” And again he assures us, that “ the effectual fervent prayer of “ a righteous man availeth much.” es
We may learn farther from the example of David, that we are only to pray for any blessing, whilst things are yet in suspence, and there is nothing contrary to the ordinary course of nature in the petitions we make: But, when all is over, and we cannot be relieved without a miracle, it is highly improper and presumptuous to beg of God, that he would change the established order of his Providence in our behalf, David, whilst the child was alive, besought God for him: For there was nothing miraculous in his request: it was no unprecedented thing that a sick child should recover: and therefore he might hope, that God would be gracious unto him, and hear his prayer. But, when the child was actually dead, as he himself reasons, “ Wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again ?” And, though there was something particular in this case of David, namely, that the prophet of the Lord had assured him that the child should die, yet, as he well knew that God might; if he pleased, revoke any of his threats before they were executed ; especially as there was generally a tacit proviso annexed to them, that those against whom they were denounced did not repent, (as in the case of Hezekiah ; the city of Nineveh, &c.) so he humbly hoped, that his prayers and tears might turn away the wrath of the Almighty, and prevail on him to spare that life, which he had threatened to take away. And, thus likewise, we may very lawfully pray to God, to free us from any evil or calamity, from which he has often been pleased to deliver the sons of mën? Or, again, we may deprecate any judgment which he has threatened to our sins; provided we use at the same time all the proper means which God has appointed, and do all in our power to free ourselves from the evil we groani under, or to avert the judgment we dread.
But, on the other hand, to beg of God to work a miracle for us, such as the bringing our dead friends to life again, or any thing else, which is as much out of the course of nature; or, for example, to desire him to relieve us, either in sickness, or in poverty, whilst we refuse to use that temperance which is necessary to preserve our health, or that diligence and industry, which are the natural methods of supplying our wants: Or lastly, to pray that God would not inflict upon us any of those judgments, which he has denounced against our sins, without our repenting of and forsaking them; in all these cases, our prayers are only vanity and folly, and in most of them, they become an abomination to the Lord, and will be charged to the account of our sins,
، ، 49. Such are the reflections we may draw from David's conduct, under the general afflictions of human life. Let us now see what instructions we can derive from it, under circumstances more immediately similar to his own.
eS1st. Then, Do we fear to lose a beloved child, or any other near and dear friend? We
may, like David, without offence fast and weep, and earnestly. beseech God, that he would mercifully spare them, and continue them a longer blessing and comfort to us. But here it may be proper to observe, that if the tears we slied be occasioned solely by the grief and anxiety we are under on account of our child or friend, though there be nothing displeasing to God in them, whilst they are moderated
reason, as being the natural express sions of those tender passions which he has implanted in us, yet there is nothing meritorious, nothing of God or religion in them, and therefore nothing can be expected from them.” They may give a vent to our 'sorrow, but can do nothing to wards removing the cause of it, nothing towards procuring the favour of the Almighty. The tears, which will move him to help us, are those alone, which are shed for our sins. We must, with David, not only weep, but we must also fast and pray. We must
We must weep for our iniquities : we must confess and bewail our fvickedU 4