Page images


Μ Ε Τ Η ο D






By the Late Reverend






[ocr errors][ocr errors]

To the R E A D E R.

and the worship of God so much the business of our religion, that what hath a sincere intention and probable tendency to promote and allift the acts of religious worship (I think) cannot be unacceptable to any that heartily with well to the interest of God's kingdom among men : Tor if we have spiritual fenfes exercised, true devotion (that aspiring flame of pious affections to God, as far as in a judgment of charity we discern it in others, though in different shapes and dretes, which may seem uncooth to one another) cannot but appear beautiful and amiable, and as far as we feel it in our own breasts, cannot but be found very pleasant and comfortable.

Prayer is a principal branch of religious worship, which we are moved to by the very light of nature, and obliged to by fome of its fundamental laws. Pythagoras's golden verses begin with this precept, whatever men made a God of, they prayed to,

ri Deos liver me, for thou art my God." Ila xliv. 17. Nay, whatever they prayed to, they made a God Deos qui rogat ille facit. It is a piece of respect and ho. mage fo exactly consonant to the natural ideas which all men have of God, that it is certain " those that " live without prayer, live without God in the


Prayer is the solemn and religious offering up of devout acknowledgments and desires to God, or a fincere representation of holy affections, with a de. fign to give unto God the glory due unto his name thereby, and to obtain from him promised favours, and both through the Mediator. Our English word Prayer

is too strait, for that properly signifies petition or request ; whereas humble adorations of God, and thanksgivings to him, are as necessary in prayer as any other part of it. The Greek word Prosache, Euche, is a vow directed to God. The Latin word votum is used for prayer. Jonah's mariners with their sacrifices made vows ; for prayer is to move and oblige ourselves, not to move and oblige God. Cle. mens Alexandrinus (Serom. vii. p. 722. Edit. Colon.) calls prayer (with an excuse for the boldness of the expression) omelia profton theon, it is conversing with God: And it is the scope of a long discourse of his there, to thew that his O gnostekos, i. e. his believer (for faith is called knowledge, and p. 719. he makes his companions to be omoios pepifleukotes, those that have in like manner believed) lives a life of communion with God; and fo is praying always; that he studies by his prayers continually to converse with God. Some (faith he) have their stated hours of prayer, but he pare olon euchetai ton bion, “prays all his life long." The Scripture describes prayer to be our "drawing near" to God, “lifting up our fouls” to him, "pouring out our hearts" before him.

This is the life and foul of prayer; but this soul in the present state must have a body, and that body must be such as becomes the foul, and is suited and adapted to it. Some words there must be, of the mind at least, in which, as in the smoke, this incenre must ascend ; not that God


understand for our thoughts afar off are known to him, but that. we may the better understand ourselves.

A golden thread of heart prayer must run through the web of the whole christian life; we mait be fre. quently addressing ourselves to God in short and sudden ejaculations, by which we must keep up our communion with God in providences and common. actions, as well as in ordinances and religious services. Thus prayer must be sparfim (a sprinkling of


it) in every duty, and our eyes must be ever towards the Lord.

In-mental prayer thoughts are words, and they are the first-born of the soul, which are to be consecrated to God. But if, when we pray alone, we see cause, for the better fixing of our minds, and exciting of our devotions, to cloathe our conceptions with words; if the conceptions be the genuine products of the new nature, one would think words should not be far to seek: Verbaque prævisam rem not invita fequunter, Nay, if the groanings be such as cannot be uttered, he that searcheth the heart knows then to be the mind of the spirit, and will accept of them, Rom. viii, 26, 27. and answer the voice of our breathing, Lam. 11i 55. Yet through the infirmity of the flesh, and the aptness of our hearts to wander and trifle, it is often neceffary, that words should go first, and be kept in niind for the directing and exciting of devout affections, and in order thereunto, the assistance here offered, I hope, will be of some use.

When we join with others in prayer, who are our mouth to God, our minds must attend them, by an intelligent believing concurrence with that which is the ferse, and scope, and fubflance of what they say, and affections working in us suitable thereanto ; And this the scripture directs us to signify, by saying Amenn mentally, if not vocaliy, at their giving of thanks, 1 Cor. xiv. 16. An), as far as our joining with them will permit, wo may intermix pious ejaculations of our own with their addresies, provided they be pertinent, that not the leait fragment of praying time

may be lost.

But he that is the mouth of others in prayer, , whether in public or private, and therein usein that parresia, that freedo'n of speech, thai holy liberty of prayer, 'which is allowed us, (and which we are sure many good chrillians have found by experience to be very comfortable and advantageous in this duty) ought not only to consult the workings of his own heart,

A uj

« PreviousContinue »