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That attendants upon a Divine ordinance should be benefited by the minister of it, it was abfolutely neceffary that they should understand what they heard. To this end, he who had the gift of tongues, if he prayed in a tongue unknown to his hearers, is re quired by the Apostle to interpret at the fame time, that his congregation might be benefited as well as himself. "I would," fays the Apostle, " that you all spake with tongues; (that you all partook of that miraculous gift whereby you might be enabled to speak languages you had never learned;) but rather that you prophefied; for greater is he that prophefieth, than he that fpeaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may be edified." "Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue, pray that he may interpret." And for the following very evident reafon: "for," continues the Apostle, "if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful:" not unfruitful to myself, but to my congregation. As if he had faid, if I pray in an unknown tongue, without at the fame time interpreting my prayer, the fpirit within me prayeth, it is true; or I may be faid to pray by the fpirit; but my meaning being unintelligible must of course be unprofitable to my hearers.

"What is it then? I will pray with the fpirit, I will pray with the understanding alfo." In other words; if therefore I do make use of that gift bestowed upon me, of praying by the spirit, I will make use of it in a manner that I may be understood by my hearers; that they, not lefs than myself, may be edified by my prayer. That fuch is the fenfe in which praying by the fpirit is here to be understood, we conclude from what the Apoftle has fubjoined in the following verfes: "Elfe when thou shalt blefs with the fpirit, how fhall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned fay Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou fayeft; for thou verily giveft thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my GoD, I fpeak with. tongues more than ye all; yet in the church I had rather fpeak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others alfo, than ten thoufand words in an unknown tongue." 1 Cor. xvi. 19.

Hence we fee, that by praying by the fpirit is here meant, praying in a language unknown to the congregation; and by praying with the understanding, praying in a language with which they are acquainted. And to convince us of the little value the Apostle fet

upon this gift of praying by the fpirit, compared

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with the more important confideration of edifying his hearers, he tells us, that he had rather speak five words in the church to be understood, that by his voice he might teach others, than ten thousand words in an unknown language, though that language were dictated by the spirit..

But praying by the fpirit, in the fenfe in which enthusiasts now understand that phrafe, is not one of those extraordinary gifts with which the primitive Chriftians were furnished, but fomething very different; for it is rather an acquifition of art, attained by habit and practice, and dependent in a great measure for its fuccefs upon the particular genius and abilities of the party, rather than an infpired gift.

Confidering it in this light, in which found fenfe has ever confidered it, we do not hesitate to prefer a fettled form to any extemporary exertion of the mental faculties, for the following obvious reasons: In the first place, certain it is, that fo far as the congregation are concerned, the extemporary prayer of the minifter is to them as much a form as any other. If, then, the congregation must have a form in either cafe, it remains only to be confidered, what form is beft calculated for their edification. Upon this head, it is prefumed, there can be little difpute. For on

the one hand, we have an excellent form of prayer, compofed with great judgment and piety, which the congregation may, and which it is defigned they fhould, make their own, by joining in it; on the other, we have (generally speaking) an imperfect and unconnected form, in which they cannot join, because, on account of its being ftrange to their ears, they muft, in a great degree, be unprepared to accompany it. Without meaning, therefore, to reflect upon the abilities of teachers out of the church, or to impute to all the improprieties of which fome have been notoriously guilty; I think it may be faid, that the only choice left to the hearers upon this fubject, is, whether they will have a good form or a bad one; a form of found words, with which they are previously acquainted, on the one hand; or, on the other, a form, upon the propriety of which they cannot at any time depend: experience having proved, that both the words and matter of it are ofttimes ill digefted, fometimes indecent, and occafionally unfound.

Taking the fubject, then, in this light only, it appears, that, fo far at least as the edification of the congregation is concerned, the change that enthufiafin has introduced into the public worship of Christians,

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has been much for the worfe; and that the Chriftian, in leaving the established service of the church, has gained nothing to balance against the effential advantages he has loft.

But there is this further confideration attached to an established form of prayer in preference to any

other, namely, the promise. of favourable attention

being paid to it by the DEITY; a confideration which, it is probable, may never have been taken into the account. "If two of you fhall agree upon earth, (fays our bleffed SAVIOUR) as touching any thing that they fhall afk, it fhall be done for them of my FATHER which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them." Matt. xviii. 19, 20. On which ORIGEN makes this comment: "This is the cause we are not heard when we pray, in that we agree not in all things. For as in mufick there must be harmony and agreement of voices, or else it delights not the hearers; fo in the church* an affent

* The unreasonableness of private prayer in public will appear, by confidering, that all prayers offered up to God in public must be publicly known, confented to, and agreed upon, by all them that join therein. Thus it ever was in the church of CHRIST-the faithful knew what they prayed for. "You that are faithful (fays ST. CHRYSOSTOM, Hom. vi. on Tim.) know what things are to be

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