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Ch. xxxii. 1.

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BOOK V. ments which are offered unto men's inclinations that way, the penury of the ecclesiastical estate, the irrecoverable loss of so many livings of principal value clean taken away from the Church long sithence by being appropriated, the daily bruises that spiritual promotions use to take by often falling*, the want of somewhat in certain statutes which concern the state of the Church, the too great facility of many bishops, the stony hardness of too many patrons' hearts not touched with any feeling in this case: such things oftentimes are debated, and much thought upon by them that enter into any discourse concerning any defect of knowledge in the clergy. But whosoever be found guilty, the communion book hath surely deserved least to be called in question for this fault. If all the clergy were as learned as themselves are that most complain of ignorance in others, yet our book of prayer might remain the same; and remaining the same it is, I see not how it can be a let unto any man's skill in preaching. Which thing we acknowledge to be God's good gift, howbeit no such necessary element that every act of religion should be thought imperfect and lame wherein there is not somewhat exacted that none can discharge but an able preacher.

The length of our service.

XXXII. Two faults there are which our Lord and Saviour himself especially reproved in prayer: the one when ostentation did cause it to be open; the other when superstition made it longt. As therefore prayers the one way are faulty, not whensoever they be openly made, but when hypocrisy is the cause of open praying: so the length of prayer is likewise a fault, howbeit not simply, but where error and superstition causeth more than convenient repetition or continuation of speech to be used. "It is not, as some do imagine,” saith St. Augustine, "that long praying is that fault of much speaking in prayer which our Saviour did reprove; for then "would not he himself in prayer have continued whole nights‡.” "Use in prayer no vain superfluity of words as the heathens "do, for they imagine that their much speaking will cause "them to be heard §," whereas in truth the thing which God doth regard is how virtuous their minds are, and not


* [Christian Letter, 37.] August. Ep. 121. [130. §. 19. † T. C. lib. i. p. 133. [104.] et tom. ii. 389.] Luke vi. 12. lib. iii. p. 184. § [Matt. vi. 7.]

Length of our Service reverential, edifying, necessary. 535

Ch. xxxii. 2.

how copious their tongues in prayer; how well they think, and BOOK V. not how long they talk who come to present their supplications before him.

[2.] Notwithstanding forasmuch as in public prayer we are not only to consider what is needful in respect of God, but there is also in men that which we must regard; we somewhat the rather incline to length, lest over-quick dispatch of a duty so important should give the world occasion to deem that the thing itself is but little accounted of, wherein but little time is bestowed. Length thereof is a thing which the gravity and weight of such actions doth require.

Besides, this benefit also it hath, that they whom earnest lets and impediments do often hinder from being partakers of the whole, have yet through the length of divine service opportunity left them at the least for access unto some reasonable part thereof.

Again it should be considered, how doth it come to pass that we are so long. For if that very service of God in the Jewish synagogues, which our Lord did approve and sanctify with the presence of his own person, had so large portions of the Law and the Prophets together with so many prayers and psalms read day by day as equal in a manner the length of ours, and yet in that respect was never thought to deserve blame, is it now an offence that the like measure of time is bestowed in the like manner? Peradventure the Church hath not now the leisure which it had then, or else those things whereupon so much time was then well spent, have sithence that lost their dignity and worth. If the reading of the Law, the Prophets, and Psalms, be a part of the service of God as needful under Christ as before, and the adding of the New Testament as profitable as the ordaining of the Old to be read; if therewith instead of Jewish prayers it be also for the good of the Church to annex that variety which the Apostle doth commend*, seeing that the time which we spend is no more than the orderly performance of these things necessarily requireth, why are we thought to exceed in length? Words be they never so few are too many when they benefit not the hearer. But he which speaketh no more than edifieth is undeservedly reprehended for much speaking.

* 1 Tim. ii. I.


Ch. xxxii. 3, 4.




Time spent in our Service no Burthen to Persons [3] That as" the Devil under colour of long prayer drave preaching out of the Church" heretofore, so we "in appointing so long time of prayers and reading, whereby the "less can be spent in preaching, maintain an unpreaching "ministry," is neither advisedly nor truly spoken. They reprove long prayer, and yet acknowledge it to be in itself a thing commendable. For so it must needs be, if the Devil have used it as "a colour" to hide his malicious practices. When malice would work that which is evil, and in working avoid the suspicion of any evil intent, the colour wherewith it overcasteth itself is always a fair and plausible pretence of seeking to further that which is good. So that if we both retain that good which Satan hath pretended to seek, and avoid the evil which his purpose was to effect, have we not better prevented his malice than if as he hath under colour of long prayer driven preaching out of the Church, so we should take the quarrel of sermons in hand and revenge their cause by requital, thrusting prayer in a manner out of doors under colour of long preaching?

In case our prayers being made at their full length did necessarily enforce sermons to be the shorter, yet neither were this to uphold and maintain an "unpreaching ministry,” unless we will say that those ancient Fathers, Chrysostom, Augustine, Leo, and the rest, whose homilies in that consideration were shorter for the most part than our sermons are, did then not preach when their speeches were not long. The necessity of shortness causeth men to cut off impertinent discourses, and to comprise much matter in few words. But neither doth it maintain inability, nor at all prevent opportunity of preaching, as long as a competent time is granted for that purpose.

[4.] "An hour and a half" is, they say, in reformed churches
"ordinarily" thought reasonable" for their whole liturgy or
"service t." Do we then continue as Ezra did ‡ in reading
the Law from morning till midday? or as the Apostle St.
Paul did in prayer and preaching §, till men through weari-
ness be taken up dead at our feet? The huge length
whereof they make such complaint is but this, that if our
+ [T. C. iii. 185.]
§ Acts xx. 9.

*T. C. lib. iii. p. 184. [and i. 104. al. 133.]
‡ Neh. viii. 3.


Ch. xxxiii.

xxxiv. 1.

of average bodily Strength.-Ejaculatory Prayers. 537 whole form of prayer be read, and besides an hour allowed BOOK V. for a sermon, we spend ordinarily in both more time than they do by half an hour. Which half-hour being such a matter as the "age of some and the infirmity of other some are not able to bear;" if we have any sense of the " com"mon imbecility," if any care to preserve men's wits from being broken with the very "bent of so long attention," if any love or desire to provide that things most holy be not with "hazard" of men's souls abhorred and "loathed," this half-hour's tediousness must be remedied, and that only by cutting off the greatest part of our common prayer. For no other remedy will serve to help so dangerous an inconvenience.

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XXXIII. The brethren in Egypt (saith St. Augustine, Instead of epist. 121,) are reported to have many prayers, but every as the priof them very short, as if they were darts thrown out with a kind of sudden quickness, lest that vigilant and erect atten- and those tion of mind, which in prayer is very necessary, should be formed now wasted or dulled through continuance, if their prayers were have (they few and long. But that which St. Augustine doth allow they "short cuts condemn. Those prayers whereunto devout minds have addeddings, raa piercing kind of brevity, as well in that respect which we than have already mentioned, as also thereby the better to express that quick and speedy expedition, wherewith ardent affections, the very wings of prayer, are delighted to present our suits in heaven, even sooner than our tongues can devise to utter them, they in their mood of contradiction spare not openly to deride, and that with so base terms as do very ill beseem men of their gravity*. Such speeches are scandalous, they savour not of God in him that useth them, and unto virtuously disposed minds they are grievous corrosives. Our case were miserable, if that wherewith we most endeavour to please God were in his sight so vile and despicable as men's disdainful speech would make it.

termingled with our prayers.

XXXIV. Again, forasmuch as effectual prayer is joined Lessons in with a vehement intention of the inferior powers of the soul, which cannot therein long continue without pain, it hath been therefore thought good so by turns to interpose still somewhat for the higher part of the mind, the understanding, to work * T. C. lib. i. 138. [al. 108.] and lib. iii. 210, 211.

538 Lessons mingled with Prayers: Use of Geneva.

BOOK V. upon, that both being kept in continual exercise with variety, Ch. xxxiv. 2. neither might feel any great weariness, and yet each be a spur

to other. For prayer kindleth our desire to behold God by speculation; and the mind delighted with that contemplative sight of God, taketh every where new inflammations to pray, the riches of the mysteries of heavenly wisdom continually stirring up in us correspondent desires towards them. So that he which prayeth in due sort is thereby made the more atten1 tive to hear, and he which heareth the more earnest to pray, (for the time which we bestow as well in the one as the other.

[2] But for what cause soever we do it, this intermingling of lessons with prayers is* in their taste a thing as unsavoury, and as unseemly in their sight, as if the like should be done in suits and supplications before some mighty prince of the world. Our speech to worldly superiors we frame in such sort as serveth best to inform and persuade the minds of them, who otherwise neither could nor would greatly regard our necessities; whereas, because we know that God is indeed a King, but a great king, who understandeth all things beforehand, which no other king besides doth, a king which needeth not to be informed what we lack, a king readier to grant than we to make our requests; therefore in prayer we do not so much respect what precepts art delivereth touching the method of persuasive utterance in the presence of great men, as what doth most avail to our own edification in piety and godly zeal. If they on the contrary side do think that the same rules of decency which serve for things done unto terrene powers should universally decide what is fit in the service of God; if it be their meaning to hold it for a maxim, that the Church must deliver her public supplications unto God in no other form of speech than such as were decent, if suit should be made "We have no such forms in the "might well think that either he "Scripture as that we should pray "in two or three lines, and then "after having read a while some "other thing, come and pray as "much more, and so the twentieth "or thirtieth time, with pauses be"tween. If a man should come to

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came to ask before he knew what "he had need of, or that he had forgotten some piece of his suit, or that he was distracted in his understanding, or some other such "like cause of the disorder of his

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supplication." T. C. lib. i. p. 138. [al. 108.] "This kind of reason "the Prophet in the matter of sacri"fices doth use." T. C. lib. iii. p.


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