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and agreement is neceffary, or elfe God is not pleafed, neither will He hear the voice of our prayers." It is to this agreement in prayer, that denominates our public worship of GOD common-prayer, that CHRIST hath promised his prefence. This promife confe quently feems to belong only to the public prayers of the church; which, by being previously compofed for general use, become confequently the joint prayers of the congregation; a circumftance which furnishes a powerful argument in favour of that practice, which has ever taken place in the Chriftian church. Whereas in other affemblies of Chriftians, where the extemporary prayer of the minister conftitutes the substance of religious worship, the condition upon which this promife of our SAVIOUR is fufpended, cannot, properly speaking, be performed.
There are, indeed, among feparatifts from the church, those who, from an unhappy perverfity of character, which is continually manifesting itself in a
defired in prayer, because all prayer (that is public) ought to be common. It is the exhortation of IGNATIUS, "that we affemble together in one place, and use one prayer common to all." Epift. ad Magn. And the establishment of a public form for public prayer, if not an effe&ual, is at least the best, fecurity that can be devised against falfe doctrine, because it constitutes that public ftandard of the church, to which an appeal is at all times to be made.
fettled oppofition to every thing that is established, carry their objections to fettled modes of worship to that extent, as to reject even the LORD's prayer, because it is a form. To reafon with fuch perfons would, probably, answer no better purpose, than it would have done heretofore to have reasoned with the Scotch covenanter; who, upon the word of command being given in the field to wheel to the right, ftood stock ftill; and upon being queftioned, why he did not obey, gave for answer, that his conscience would not permit him, for the word of command was a form, and they had taken up arms to fight against forms.
It may be proper, however, to fay one short word on this head, for the confideration of those, who, whilft they affect to pray by the fpirit, reject the LORD's prayer, as laying a reftraint upon that Divine impulfe, by which they imagine themselves to be governed. For, in conformity with this idea, the Holy Spirit, whom our SAVIOUR fent into the world for the purpose of bringing all things to the remembrance of his difciples which He had faid unto them, is fuppofed to act in oppofition to a command which CHRIST, when on earth, had given for their direct"After this manner (fays CHRIST to his dif
ciples) pray ye; Our FATHER," &c. Matth. vi. 9. A form of prayer, which, from its conftruction, appears to have been originally defigned for the use of a congregation; and which the church, in confor mity with our SAVIOUR's original direction, has always thought proper to make a part of our religious worship. The conclufion in this cafe is too obvious, it is prefumed, to require being drawn at length.
It may, perhaps, be objected by thofe from whom we differ upon the fubject of extemporary prayer, that our reafoning upon it tends in a great meafure to deny the affiftance of the Holy Spirit. On this head, therefore, we obferve briefly, what we are fully perfuaded of, that whoever is not affifted by the Holy Spirit in prayer, whatever be the form which he may adopt for the purpose, will never pray to effect. But whilft we admit this pofition in its proper fenfe, we at the fame time do not hesitate to differ in opinion from enthufiafts, with respect to what is meant by the fpirit of prayer. With them it means a spirit of ready invention, and extemporary effufion, which is by no means the certain effect of Divine influence. With us it means, what can proceed from God alone, a spirit of devotion and pious affection; fuch as holy DAVID may be fuppofed to
have particularly felt, when he composed the 42d, the 51ft, the 84th, and 86th Pfalms; with fome others, which need not be pointed out.
This fpirit of devotion, which gave acceptance at the Throne of Grace to the fimple prayer of the Publican; and without which the most perfect compofition is but a collection of vain words, offenfive to the Being to whom it is addreffed; is a mixture of humiliation and gratitude, derived from the confideration of our vileness and wretchedness on the one hand, and the contemplation of infinite'goodness and astonishing loving-kindness on the other. Whoever prays in this difpofition of foul, moft certainly prays by the fpirit; because this difpofition is not natural, but the effect of that Divine influence, which is gracioufly employed for the purpose of bringing fallen man back to his Maker.
This devout difpofition, the work of the Holy Spirit, is not, it is true, confined to any particular mode of prayer; but, as it confeffedly depends more upon the heart than the head, it is more likely to prevail on occafions, when, in confequence of the head being lefs occupied with attention to the form or invention of the matter of prayer, the heart is more at liberty to be affected by the spirit of it.
A confideration, how little effect foever it may produce in the minds of those who, by their feparation from our church, are not in a condition to appreciate it, muft, it is prefumed, make every confiderate member of it fenfible of the advantages he enjoys in the use of a liturgy; which, from its excellent construction, is not only calculated to raise that fpirit of devotion effential to all religious exercises; but which is, moreover, in ftrict correspondence with the word of God, and the platform of primitive practice.
And would those who now separate from us, but give themselves the trouble to know what our church is; we are confident, that their zeal, which now flames against her without knowledge, would be abated, if not totally extinguished. For let any one that is religiously disposed, but do justice to her service, by conforming himself to the feveral parts of it in fpirit and in truth; and we dare anfwer for the confequence. But the misfortune is, and we lament it, that none of thofe out of the church, and few, alas! of those who are in it, will make the experiment. And hence it is, that the former are fo violent against her, and the latter fo indifferent for her.
Upon the fervice of preaching, little need be remarked; because it is to be confidered rather as an