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to this I answer, that by the law of God's revealed religion every soul, who hopes or desires to be saved, is obliged to do and practise personally, not another for him, the duties required, in Christianity. As every soul is required to believe for himself, to repent for himself, to hope for himself, &c.; so he is as truly obliged and bound to pray for himself, according to the ability he hath given him of God; he is not to boast in another man's line in things made ready to his hand. “ Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God,” Rom. xiv. 22. So'I say of every other grace and duty in Christianity. Hast thou this and the other grace of the Spirit? have them to thyself before God; do not trust to, or rest upon, those graces in another. Do not deceive thyself in thinking or believing that God will take that for thy personal prayer which was composed by another, and prepared to thy hand. Gal. vi. 4.
Let but this question be put home to the conscience of any rational man, whose reason is not swallowed up in the gulph of prejudice; Are you willing that such or such a learned dignitary of the church shall chew your victuals for you? tell and keep your money for you? the answer would be, I honour and reverence such and such dignitaries for their learning and office sake; but I must beg their pardon if I resolve to chew my victuals, and tell and keep my money, myself. And wilt thou not shew thyself as greatly concerned in the matters of salvation?
Are not believing, repenting, meditating, and praying, a chewing the spiritual cud? And wilt thou trust this in the hands of any learned dignitary living to do it for thee? Surely, if thou dost,, thou sufficiently declarest to God, angels, and men, that thou puttest a far higher value on thy perishing body than thou dost on thy immortal soul.
Instances of this kind may be multiplied; but I proceed to the third reason, why it is not lawful for, or the duty of, an awakened sinner to take up with and to use forms of prayer composed by others, and imposed by human authority.
Reason 3. Because it appertains to none to institute or appoint set forms in religion, but to him who can also give the inward spiritual power which makes outward forms acceptable.
This very reason, if men would shew themselves rațional, might for ever stop the mouths of those who brag and boast of the well-composedness of the form, and the orthodoxy and soundness of the matter, of those prayers which by human authority are imposed.
That which lays such forms open to divine reprehension, and bespeaks them truly contemptible in the esteem of all who are really acted upon by the spirit of adoption, is, that they are human forms, destitute of that divine virtue and power which bespeaks all religious forms acceptable and pleasing to God, and refreshing, edifying, and comforting, to the souls of believers. To which
I add, that the forms so highly extolled, and so mightily contended for, are not the fruit of the gifts and talents of those who make use of them for their
prayers. If believers be exhorted by God himself to turn the back on those who retain the form of godliness composed and instituted by God himself, when the power is denied, certainly much more ought believers to turn away from such as have neither power nor form of God's own appointment. 2 Tim. iii. 5.
Reason 4. Because that to practise the commandments of men, and to offer the same as worship to God, either for fear of men's frowns, or to gain worldly advantage by so doing, will prove such persons not only dissembling hypocrites in religion, but they will lay themselves open to the rejection and blast of God's mouth. Isą. xxix: 13, Matt. xv. 9.
Reason 5. Because there is not recorded in all the word of God any one instance where God empowered or authorised any mere man, or men, to compose forms of prayer, and to impose the same on others for their
prayers. Now, seeing that the written word of God is the only rule of a believer's faith and life, it must necessarily, and by unavoidable consequence, follow, that whatever is not therein recommended, either by precept or example, is to be rejected and abhorred, and that upon pain of God's rejecting and abhorring us for disobeying his commands.
Reason 6. Because whatever is not done and practised in faith, in serving God, is altogether abominable to God, because sinful. Now that which is neither expressly, or by consequence, commanded by God, nor yet hath any promise of acceptance made to it, can never be said to be done or practised in faith. Rom. xiv. 22. Heb. xi. 6. Let the patrons and pleaders for such composed and stinted forms of prayer, either shew where in all the word of God such forms are warranted, or where God hath made any promise of accepting them; otherwise let them ingenuously own that I have the truth on my side.
Against the reasons here laid down to overthrow stinted forms of prayer, several things are objected. I will reduce them, for brevity sake, to six particulars; to each of which I will, in Christ's strength, reply faithfully and honestly, according to God's word, and the experience God hath blest me with.
Object. 1. The scriptures have laid down a set form of prayer, and command the same to be used, Luke xi. 2. “When ye pray, say, Our Father," &c.
Ans. In two particulars.
First, By way of dilemma, thus, either it was the mind of Christ that that form of words should be imposed on believers as their prayer, or it was not.
One of these must unavoidably be granted.
believers are bound up to that form. Now it lies at the objector's door to prove
apostles or primitive believers of that first and best age of the gospel church ever used that form for their prayer,
in so many words. If it was not the mind of Christ that that form of words should be imposed on believers as a yoke of duty, how ignorant of the scriptures are such objectors!
Secondly, By way of explication of that misunderstood and abused text, most certain it is, I hope to die in the faith of it, that the mind of Christ in that text to the believers then was, and to us now is, that both they and we should take that form of words for a standing general rule or platform, according to which he would have all believers, to the end of the world, to frame their prayers.
I will lay down four arguments to prove what I have asserted to be the mind and design of Christ in that text.
Arg. 1. The different variety of expression in which the two evangelists set down that form of words. First, In the very entrance upon that form, Luke saying, “ When ye pray, say, Our Father,” &c. Luke xi. 2; Matthew saying, “ After this manner, therefore, pray ye,” &c. Matt. vi. 9. Secondly, In that these two evangelists vary in sundry words in setting down this form. For example: Luke omits the doxology, Matthew hath given it. Matthew says,
“Give us this day