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PUBLISHED BY N. BANGS AND J. EMORY, FoR THE METHODIST
NO. 1.] FOR JANUARY, 1828. , [VOL. 11.
IDIVINITY. -oA SERMON ON SECRET PRAYER. - For the Methodist Magazine. As I am not well pleased with long sermons in the Magazine, you are here presented with a short one. If it is worthy of a place, an insertion will please the author, t WILLIAM THAcHER. Trenton, June 30, 1827. “Enter into thy closet, 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.”—Matt vi, 6. Secret devotion may well be esteemed the most important of any one means of grace. In this we may enter, in a peculiar manner, into the presence of God: “your Father which is in secret.” And we may meet him there as our Father and our best Friend. In this service, we feel our nearest access to God, and our closest communion with him. Here we converse reverently with him, and open our inmost souls before him, as our infinitely merciful Father, Saviour, and Comforter; and he, of course, accepts us as his children: we humble ourselves before him ; and he in love “giveth grace to the humble.” We plead our covenant relation in Christ; and God, by the witness of his Spirit, acknowledges our claim : we plead a Saviour's merit; our heavenly Father accepts our plea, and for the sake of Christ, gives us the covenanted blessings. Here we derive strength for the acceptable performance of every service, for victory in every conflict, and fortitude in every suffering. Without secret prayer, no sinner can obtain conversion;* no Christian can keep from backsliding; no progress can be made in religion; none can be sanctified; no probationer saved. Therefore saith our Saviour, “Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.” I. Understand well what it is to pray in secret: coming at the same time, only in the name of Jesus, which is your only medium of access to the Father. “Through HIM we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father,” Eph. ii, 18. It is not a dull formal exercise : this is so unlike real prayer, that it is little less than solemn mockery, or vain repetition. How unbecoming is it before God, to pray so carelessly as to insinuate that God will connive at our hypocrisy " How dare any thus offer such an affront to the Searcher of hearts It is not hurried concatenation of words: who would offer such an address to his governor 2 Would he, saith the prophet Malachi, “accept the blind and the lame at thine hands 2° How awful the Majesty in whose presence we bow,
* In rapid revivals, this may admit of exceptions.