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Disorder into the Church, by an unseasonable one; that the other Gift of PROPHESYING, teaching Men their Christian Duty, and exhorting them to the Practice of it, (for this the Word means here, and this the Jewish Prophets made their chief Business,) was a much more valuable Thing, than that of speaking to Them, or to God, in Languages known to few of them; which therefore they should do modestly and sparingly; never indeed, but when the Speaker, or some one present, was able to interpret what he said so readily and properly, as might edify the Hearers; for their constant En deavour should be to exert all the Powers of this Kind, which the Holy Ghost had bestowed on them, rationally and discreetly, so as to inform and improve others. I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with the Understanding also: I will fing with the Spirit, and I will fing with tbe Understanding also: that is, Every Person endowed with supernatural Abilities, of this or any other Sort, was to think himself bound to employ them in so discreet a Manner, that all around him might be instructed and benefited, as much as possible.
This, you will find, on carefully reading it, is the Meaning of the Text, and of the Chap
ter in which it occurs. And the whole thews, both the Truth of extraordinary and miraculous Gifts at that Time; (for had they not been real, no Directions about them could have been wanted, or would have been given ;) and also the admirable Wisdom and genuine Goodness of the Apostle, in which we may well presume the rest to have been like him. He permitted not thefe Accomplishments, wonderful and shining as they were, to interfere with the plain Rules of Order and Edification; or to be at all set on a Level with the humble Virtue of Christian Charity, doing Good to Men from Love of God. Now such Things as these are great Confirmations of our holy Religion, and do it great Honour.
But though the first and immediate Meaning of the Text he what I have now explained ; à more general Instruction, and applicable to every Age of the Church, may be justly drawn from it. The fame divine Comforter, who inspired the Devotions of Believers then, influences their Hearts in the Performance of them now: the same Duty of using due Precautions to make the Service of the Church intelligible, which the Apostle pressed so strongly in his own Time, equally subfifts in ours: And therefore the Words which I have read to you, compre
hend twò Points of Doctrine, as needful at
Ghost in offering up their Petitions and Praises. I will pray with the Spirit: I will fing with the Spirit.
H. That we should be very solicitous rightly to apprehend the Sense and Fitness of what we say and do in God's Worship. I will pray, I will fing; with the Understanding also.
I. That good Christians are assisted by the holy Ghost in offering up their Petitions and Praises to their heavenly Father. The Spirit of God hath friven with bad Persons ", and there fore doubtless effectually operated on pious ones, from the Beginning of the World. The Psalmist, on his falling into Sin, prays that God would not take his holy Spirit from him'. And more especially God promises, in the Prophet Zechariah, that he will pour on his People the Spirit of Grace and of Supplication d. In the New Testament we are told, that if any Man bave not the Spirit of Christ, be is none of hise; that the Spirit belpeth our Infirmities in Prayer, making Intercefon for us?; that we are to
- pray always with all Prayer and Supplication in the Spirit s, and praying in the holy Ghost to keep ourselves in the Love of God".
But though it be undeniable, that the holy Spirit, who indeed excites us to, and fits us for, every Duty, doth not withhold his Influences in this : yet how far they extend, is Matter of Dispute; and particularly between those who approve, and those who disapprove, Liturgies or Forms of Prayer. And which are in the Right, it shall be the principal Business of this Discourse to thew : not with Intention to raise in
either Hatred or Contempt of any,
who diffent from our Church on that Head, (God forbid !) but only to make you more sensible of the Propriety and Advantages of the Way you are in; and incline you to that proportionable Improvement by it, which God will expect.
Some then apprehend, that there is such a Gift or Spirit of Prayer, bestowed by the holy Ghost on true Christians, and peculiarly on all that are worthy to be Ministers of God's Word, as enables them to address themselves to Heaven, on all Occasions, copiously and suitably, in unpremeditated Words of their own: which they 8 Eph. vi, 18.
+ Jude, 20, 21.
think ought not to be restrained by appointing Forms, even for the public Use of Congregations. And sometimes the Text is quoted in Support of this Opinion. But plainly, so far as it relates to Words, it relates to Words inSpired; to which, in the strict Sense, but few of these Persons themselves lay any Claim : for indeed it would be equalling their own Compofitions to the holy Scripture. And excepting this miraculous Gift of inspired Prayer, the Word of God mentions no Gift of ready Expression in Prayer : nor have we the least Ground to consider it as coming from above, any otherwise than as every good Gift, every natural Ability, which God hath conferred upon us, and every Improvement, which he qualifies us to make by our own Industry, is from abovet. For evidently this Talent is one of that Sort : depending, partly on the Fluency of Speech, to which People are born, partly on the Art and Diligence, which they ufe to increase it; and varying, as their Health and Spirits vary. Nor therefore is there any more Harm in restraining this Faculty, if good Reasons require it, than in restraining any other. Even the extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit, you have seen, were James i. 17.