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back from waxing and growing in the grace and spirit of right praying.
And, as it is sinful for a believer to consent or yield to such a practice, so it is no less than spiritual tyranny, and religious usurpation, for any,
pretence of headship or power over the church, to impose or force their own composed and stinted forms of prayers on the consciences of those who by grace are made Christ's free men. It is neither likely, nor yet probable, that Christ should by his blood purchase a liberty for his redeemed to set them free from the sinking yokes of circumcision, and the ceremonial law, to the end the sons of men might exercise an usurping, lording authority over their souls and consciences, in imposing on them tyrannical yokes of their own devising.
As for those sinners, who are as yet in a state of unregeneracy, it is no way conducive to their conversion to make use of such forms of prayer, whether out of choice or by compulsion: and I shall die in the stedfast persuasion that that which is not an ordinance of God, appointed for converting souls to Christ, will never awaken, convince, or turn to Christ one sinner. Sad experience hath taught and convinced me what a hindrance the use of such forms of prayer hath been to keep me back from sound conversion, in that all the effect such forms of prayer had on my soul was to root me in a profound security, and fixed persuasion, that I was a true son of the church, and conse
quently a real convert: whereas God and my con science know I was all those years of my zeal for those forms of prayer as great a stranger to the new birth as ever Nicodemus was: I neither ļaboured to stir up in myself, or to improve those gifts and talents wherewith my Maker had endowed me, and whereby I might be brought to a sense of the state and condition I was in before God, or be set forward towards saving: conversion. Nor was I so much as put upon suspecting or questioning whether I understood what true praying according to the gospel was; but, taķing it for granted that, because the forms I used were sound and good, as touching the matter, and because I was more than ordinarily earnest and, zealous in using them as my prayers, I concluded that I was a praying soul, and consequently that I was a good Christian; whereas I, was afterwards made to know that, until the Spirit of adoption was given me, in effectual calling, I never did nor could call God, Abba Father, believingly and truly.
Secondly, If it be seriously; and without preju. dice, considered that the children of Adam, though unregenerate, are endued with natural gifts and parts which God. expects shall be improved in serving him, and in preparation for the coming of his judgment, the practice of using and resting satisfied with forms of prayer, composed by other men, takes the sinner clearly off from a due improvement of those gifts and talents wherewith
God hath instrusted him, and renders him obnoxious, and liable to the same reprehension and sad sentence which passed on the slothful servant in Matt. xxv. 25, who hid his talent, and did not Improve it.
Had not such poor misguided souls been wheedled into a self-pleasing conceit and opinion, that the lazy and easy way of reading book, prayers, composed and made ready to their hands, or getting them by rote, is a good, nay, the best and safest way of praying, for preventing their speaking either blasphemy, or nonsense in praying, should they presume to pray without a form: they would, by a due and seasonable improvement of their own gifts and talents, have prevented their being charged with sloth and unfaithfulness.
Another reason of the point is, because reading or repeating such composed prayers cannot, in truth and reality, be said dr proved to be that
An industrious improvement of the gifts and talents which God hath intrusted the sinner with is that which God' expects and looks for at his hands, as a reasonable service due to the sinner's Creator; and for the non-performance of which reasonable service the lazy, idle formalist exposes himself to a liability of being turned out of house and home, and to be lodged in utter darkness with the unprofitable servant. Matt. xxv. 30.
That such reading or repeating by rote the forms composed by another is none of that sinner's
own prayer, I shall make good against all gain, sayers, by induction of particulars, which shall be proposed by way of comparison for the great satisfaction and full conviction of every ingenuouş and unprejudiced mind which is desirous to see the banner of God's truth in this point openly, displayed
And, first, give me leave to ask the patrons of such, composed and imposed forms of prayer, Supposing that the king's speech, or the bishop of Canterbury's sermon, preached before the king, comes to fall into my or some other man's hand, this speech or, sermon is read with seeming great affection, and zeal; it, is well liķed and approved of as a most excellent speech or sermon; doth my reading or repeating it by heart make it my speech or sermon? Is it not still the king's speech, or the bishop of Canterbury's sermon? Let this comparison be weighed in the balance of a serious and an unprejudiced consideration.
Again, I ask of the above-mentioned patrons of composed and stinted forms of prayer, whose they think those verses were, which were made in favour and commendation of Cæsar, and placed over the palace gate, wherein the emperor was made equal to the gods ? Whether was Virgil
, who made and composed those verses, or Bathyllus, who vainly and foolishly assumed the same to himself, the true author of them?
While Virgil concealed himself Bathyllus run away with the honour ; but when Virgil comes
forth, saying, “I have made these verses, another hath taken my honour," "Bathyllus 'sneaks away in disgrace, and Virgil, the true author of those verses, was immédiately advanced.
Let poor prayerless souls, who rest upon and glory in the well-worded prayers composed by others, have a care they meet not with the same success Bathyllus met with fór vainly assuming to himself the verses made by Virgil.'Gal. vi. 3.
O how few are there now in England who glory not in an öther' man's line of things made ready to their hands? '2 Cor. x. 16.
"Again: I ask whether it be not as absolutely needful, and as really 'á duty incumbent on all Adain's children, to act themselves in the concerns of their immortal souls as they do in the concerns of their bodies. If so, as beyond all doubt it is, then I desire to be convinced wherein I am out of the way wlien I say and affirm that a hungry man may as rationally trust to another man's eating, drinking, sleeping, and clothing his body for him, or in his stead, while he himself neglects all these offices for the support of his own *natural body. ... If any reply, and assert that I say and affirm herein that which' is irrational, because it is a thing impossible in nature that one man should eat, drink, sleep, and wear clothes for another, seeing that by nature's law every individual person is to cat, drink, sleep, &c. for himself, and 'not to trust to the eating, drinking, &c. of another;