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against; but it signifies a Strength and Fervency of Desire, as becometh those that are sensible of the Value and Importance of the Blessings they pray for. And surely it is not reasonable for us to expect, that our Prayers shall be excepted and answered, when we pray as if we did not care whether we were heard or not. It also signifies
persevering Constancy and Affiduity in the Exercise of this Duty: And the same Reafons that make it proper for us to pray at all make it proper that we should be constant and perfevering in it. And, to engage us to this, our Lord proposeth two Parables, in a very plain familiar Way, accommodated to the meanest Capacities.
The one is Luke xi. 5-9, where when his Disciples applied to him to teach them to pray, after he had again repeated to them that excellent Form and Pattern of Prayer, commonly called the Lord's Prayer, which he had recommended before in his Sermon on the Mount; the better to encourage them to a persevering Importunity and Earnestness, he propounded a Parable concerning a Man that came to his Friend at Midnight, to desire three Loaves of him, to entertain one that was just come from a Journey; which the other, though loth to rife, granted him at laft, because of his Importunity. All that our Saviour intend
eth in this Parable is only, by a familiar Comparison drawn from common Life, to thew the good Effects of earnest and importunate Prayer : And that, if Men are often prevailed upon by a continued Earneftness to do even what otherwise they are unwilling to do, we may be sure that God, who is, of himself, fo ready to affift us, full of Compassion and gracious, will mercifully hear and answer the Petitions of his Children, when offered to him in Sincerity and Earnestnefs of Desire, for Things agreeable to his Will; and, when they continue to wait upon him with Patience, and an humble Affiance, according to his own Appointment.
The same is the Intention of that other Parable, Luke xviii. 27, which we are told he spake to this End, that Men ought always to pray, and not to faint. It is concerning an unjust Yudge, who feared not God, nor regarded Man; and yet was wrought upon by the Importunity of a poor Widow, that applied to him for Justice against one that had wronged her. Our Saviour's Application of this Parable we have, Ver. 6, 7, The Lord said, Hear what the unjust Judge faitb; and Mall not God avenge his own Ele&t, which cry Day and Night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that be will avenge them Vol. IV.
Speedily, i. e. he will do them Justice, when oppressed by their Adversaries and Persecutors. The Argument is strong and cogent, that, if even an unjus Judge, who had no Inclination, of himself, to do that which is right, was prevailed upon to do it by the unwearied Importunity of a poor Widow that earnestly follicited him, we may be infinitely certain, that an holy and righteous God, who loveth Justice and Judgment, will do Right to his faithful Servants that apply to him by continued earnest Prayers and Supplications; which is the way he himfelt hath appointed, in order to their obtaining Deliverance. The several Circumstances in these two Parables are not to be pushed too far, as if God could be
prevailed upon by mere Dint of Importunity to do any Thing which otherwise is not agreeable to him; but the Intention of them is plainly this, to represent the Success that our Prayers, if we persist in them with an humble Faith and becoming Earnestnefs, according to the Will of God, Tall be attended with, though the Answer of
seem to be delayed for a while. And this certainly is a very important Instruction, and a great Encouragement to the persevering Exercise of this Duty.
Sixthly, I would observe, in the last Place, That as it is of great Consequence
to us to watch as well as pray; to exercise a constant Vigilance over ourselves, in Expectation of the Coming of our Lord at Death or Judgment; so to engage us to this is the excellent Design of several of Christ's Parables. This Watching includes both a being upon our Gaard against the Temptations to which we are exposed, and the employing ourselves in the faithful Difcharge of the Duties required of us. And what can be more encouraging this Way than the Representations he makes of the Blessedness of those Servants whom their Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching ? Luke xii. 35, 36, 37, 38. Let your Loins be girded about, and your Lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto them that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the Wedding ; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those Servants whom the Lord, when he cometb, mall find watching. And so he
goes on to describe their Blessedness, and the Honour that shall be put upon them, in very beautiful and significant Expressions. And, on the other Hand, Nothing can have an apter Tendency to roule us out of our Negligence and Security, and to keep us from suffering ourselves to be feduced by the fatal Charms of sensual Pleafures and worldly Allurements, than the
S 2 Representation
Representation that is made of the misera. ble Condition and Punishment of the Servant that abused the seeming Delay of his Lord's Coming, to Infolence and Sloth, and to the Indulgence of his sensual Lusts : But and if that Servant say in his Heart, My Lord delayeth his Coming ; and shall begin to beat the Men-Servants and Maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; the Lord of that Servant will come in a Day when he looketh not for him, and at an Hour when he is not aware, and will cut bim in sunder, and will appoint him bis Portion with the Unbelievers. Ver. 46, 47.
These Parables, as appears from St. Luke, were spoken by our Lord, while he was yet in Galilee : But, as the Matter they were designed to recommend was of great Importance, he repeated them again, in very near the same Expressions, at JeruSalem, a little before his Passion. See Matt. xxiv. 45–51.
Thus have we considered those Parables of our Saviour that seem to have some one principal religious or moral Instruction in View, which it is the special Design of those Parables to inculcate and inforce: And it highly concerneth us to lay to Heart the important Lessons set before us. frequently review the several useful and excellent Parables that have been mention