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congregations, but fuch as were approved and autho ritatively enjoined.

This fingle confideration fhould, it might be fuppofed, be fufficient to place an attendance upon the fervice of the church, when contrafted with that performed in any other place of worship, in too striking a point of view, to render further enlargement on this head neceffary.

But there is an idea which has long prevailed, upon which, though it may be confidered as fcarce furnishing a subject for serious argument, it may be proper, from the confideration of the many that are led aftray by it, to fay a few words. An ignorance with refpect to the meaning of fome particular paffages of the facred writings has given birth to a perfuafion, which enthufiafm, that puts out the eye of reason, and destroys the fobriety of religion, has long been diligently employed in cherishing and fupporting; namely, that to comply with the Apoftolic idea of praying with the fpirit, it is neceffary that all forms fhould be fet afide, as abfolutely incompatible with that infpiration, fuppofed to be appropriate to extemporary effufions. But allowing that the fpirit of God does affift men both in the matter and form of their prayers; it may be asked, whether we have.

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not as much reafon to think, that the public prayers of the church were fuggefted by that fpirit, as the prayers of any private individual? Nay, whether it is not more probable, that a company of learned and pious men, affembled for the purpose of compofing a public liturgy for the use of the church, after having previously invoked the Divine affiftance, fhould be favoured with that affiftance, rather than any particular perfon; who, without premeditation or study, and oft times without any qualification for the work, takes upon himself to deliver an extemporary prayer? Is it to be imagined, that the Holy Spirit fhould give fuch a decided preference to that fervice, upon which least care and attention has been bestowed, as to vouchsafe to it fuch an exclufive title to his affiftance; that in comparison with it the prayer of the church is to be confidered as a lifelefs forın? If reafon tell us that this cannot be the cafe, we shall not hefitate to conclude, that in ufing the liturgy of the church, we pray as much at least (if not more) the prayers of the spirit, than when we accompany any lefs regular fervice.

The judicious HOOKER, who had well confidered this fubject, writes thus decidedly upon it. "Of all helps for the performance of this fervice of prayer,

the greatest is that very set and standing order itself, which, framed with common advice, hath both for matter and form prescribed whatsoever is herein publicly done. No doubt, from God it hath proceeded; and by us it must be acknowledged a work of fingular care and providence, that the church hath evermore held a prefcript form of prayer, although not in all things every where the fame, yet for the most part retaining still the fame analogy. So that if the liturgies of all ancient churches throughout the world be compared amongst themselves, it may be easily perceived, they had all one original mould; and that the public prayer of the people of GoD, in churches thoroughly fettled, did never use to be voluntary dictates, proceeding from any man's extemporal wit. To him which confidereth the grievous and scandalous inconveniences, whereunto they make themselves daily fubject, with whom any blind and fecret corner is judged a fit houfe of common prayer; the manifold confufions which they fall into, where every man's private fpirit and gift (as they term it) is the only bishop that ordaineth him to this miniftry; the irkfome deformities, whereby, through endless and fenfelefs effufions of undigested prayers, they often times difgrace in most insufferable man

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ner the worthiest part of Christian duty towards GOD; who herein are fubject to no certain order, but pray both what and how they lift; to him, I fay, which weigheth duly all these things, the reasons cannot be obfcure, why GOD doth, in public prayer, fo much respect the folemnity of places where the authority and calling of perfons by whom, and the precife appointment, even with what words or fentences, his name should be called on amongst his people. The best stratagem that SATAN hath, who knoweth his kingdom to be no one way more fhaken than by the public devout prayers of God's church, is by traducing the form and manner of them to bring them into contempt; and fo to shake the force of all men's devotion towards them. From this, and from no other forge, hath proceeded a strange conceit, that to serve God with any fet form of common prayer is fuperftitious. As tho' GOD himself did not frame to his priests the very speech wherewith they were charged to bless the people: or as if our LORD, even of purpofe to prevent this fancy of extemporal and voluntary prayers, had not left us, of his own framing, one which might both remain as a part of the church liturgy, and serve as a pattern whereby to frame all other prayers with efficacy, yet without fuperfluity of words."*

* HOOKER'S Eccl. Pol. book v.

But after all, it will perhaps be found, that this prevailing idea respecting spiritual prayer, in the sense in which it is too generally taken, has been grounded upon a misunderstanding of the Apostle's, meaning upon this fubject. "I will pray," fays the Apostle, " with the spirit, I will pray with the understanding alfo." 1 Cor. xiv. 15. To comprehend the meaning of the Apostle on this occafion, it is necessary to advert to the particular object he had in view. The Apostle then, it is observed, is here speaking of the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, which were graciously vouchfafed to the infant church, for the purpose of effecting the more fpeedy and general propagation of the Christian caufe. Among these gifts, that of praying by the Spirit was confeffedly one. But, alas! through the infirmity of human nature, these spiritual gifts, defigned for the edification of the church, were not always employed to that purpofe. Vanity and oftentation in the exercife of them fometimes took place of better motives. To correct this notorious abufe of Divine grace, and to regulate the exercise of fpiritual gifts in fuch a manner, that they might prove beneficial to the parties for whofe fake they were originally granted, was the object the Apostle had in view in writing this part of his epistle.

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