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is very common in the Hebrew language, when it is intended that a thing shall be very strongly expressed; it generally implies the superlative degree of a thing; as the Holy of Holies signifies the most holy : But it commonly denotes, not only the utinost degree of a thing but also the utmost certainty; as when God said to Abraham, In muliiplying, I will multipily thy seed, Gen. xxii. 17, it implies both that God would certainly multiply his seed, and also multiply it exceedingly. So when God said to Adam, In the day that thou eatest thereof, in dying thou shalt die (as the words are in the original) it implies both that he should surely die, and also that he should die most terribly, should utterly perish, and be destroyed to the utmost degree. Yea, sometimes it seems to imply some thing else still : And in short, as this ingemination of words in the Hebrew, in general denotes the strength of expression, so it is used to signify almost all those things that are wont to be signified by the various forms of strong speech in other languages : Sometimes it signifies the utmost degree of a thing ; sometimes certainty ; sometimes the peremptoriness and terribleness of a threatening, or the greatness and positiveness of a promise, the strictness of a command, and the earnestness of a request. When God says to Adam, Dy. ing thou shalt die, it is equivalent to such strong expressions in English shalt die indeed, or, thou shalt die with a wilness. So when it is said in the text, let us go in going, and pray before the Lord, the strength of the expression represents the earnestness of those that make the proposal, their great engagedness in the affair ; and with respect to the duty proposed, it may be understood to signify, that they should be speedy, fervent, and constant in it; or, in one word, that it should be thoroughly performed.
6. We may learn from the tenor of this prophecy, together with the context, that this union in such prayer is foretold as a becoming and hapny thing, and that which would be acceptable to God, and attended with glorious success.
From the whole we may infer, that it is a very suitable thing, and well pleasing to God, for many people, in different parts of the world, by express agreemeu,to come into a visible
union, in extraordinary, speedy, fervent and constant prayer, for those great effusions of the Holy Spirit, which shall bring on that advancement of Christ's church and kingdom, that God has so often promised shall be in the latter ages of the world.
And so from hence I would infer the duty of God's people, with regard to the memorial lately sent over into America, from Scotland, by a number of ministers there, proposing a method for such an union as has been spoken of, in extraordinary prayer for this great mercy.
And it being the special design of this discourse, to persuade such as are friends to the interests of Christ's kingdom, to a compliance with the proposal and request made in that memorial, I shall first give a short historical account of the affair it relates to, from letters, papers and pamphlets, that have come over from Scotland ; to which I shall annex the memorial itself: And then I shall offer some arguments and motives, tending to induce the friends of religion to fall in with what is proposed : And lastly, make answer to some objections that may possibly be made against it.
As to the first of these things, viz. an historical account of the concert, which the memorial relates to, the following observations may give a sufficient view of that affair.
In October, A. D. 1744, a number of ministers in Scotland, taking into consideration the state of God's church, and of the world of mankind, judged that the providence of God, at such a day, did loudly call such as were concerned for the welfare of Zion, to united, extraordinary applications to the God of all grace, suitably acknowledging Him as the fountain of all the spiritual benefits and blessings of his church, and earnestly praying to Him, that he would appear in his glory, and favor Zion, and manifest his compassion to the world of mankind, by an abundant effusion of his Holy Spirit on all the churches, and the whole habitable earth, to revive true religion in all parts of Christendom, and to deliver all nations from their great and manifold spiritual calamities and miseries, and bless them with the unspeakable benefits of the kingdom of our glorious Redeemer, and fill the whole earth with His glory. And con.
sulting one another on the subject, they looked on themselves, for their own part, obliged to engage in this duty; and, as far as in them lay, to persuade others to the same : And to en. deavor to find out and fix on some method, that should most effectually tend to promote and uphold such extraordinary application to heaven among God's people. And after seek ing to God by prayer for direction, they determined on the following method, as what they would conform to in their own practice, and propose to be practised by others, for the two yedrs next following, viz. to set apart some time on Saturday evening and Sabbath morning, every weck, for the purpose aforesaid, as other duties would allow to every one respective. ly; and more solemnly, the first Tuesday of each quarter (beginning with the first Tuesday of November then next ensuing) either the whole day, or part of the day, as persons find themselves disposed, or think their circumstances will allow: The time to be spent either in private praying societies, or in public meetings, or alone in secret, as shall be found most prac. ticable, or judged most convenient, by such as are willing, in some way or other, to join in this affair : But not that any should make any promises, or be looked upon as under strict bonds in any respect, constantly and without fail to observe every one of these days, whatever their circumstances should be, or however other duties and necessary affairs might intertere; or that persons should look upon themselves bound with regard to these days in any wise as though the time were hoiy, or the setting them apart for religious purposes were established by sacred authority : But yet, as a proper guard against negligence and unsteadiness, and a pradent preserva tive from yielding to a disposition, that persons might be lia'ble to, through the prevalence of indolence and listlessness, to excuse themselves on trivial occasions, it was proposed, that those that unite in this affair, should resolve with themselves, that if, by urgent business, or otherwise, they were hindered from joining with others, on the very day agreed on, yet they would not wholly neglect bearing their part in the duty proposed, but would take the first convenient day following, for that purpose.
The reason why Saturday evening and Lord'sday morning Tere judged most convenient for the weekly seasons, was, that these times being so near the time of dispensing gospel ordinances through the Christian world, which are the great means, in the use of which God is wont to grant his Spirit to mankind, and the principal means that the Spirit of God makes use of to carry on bis svork of grace, it may well be supposed that the minds of Christians in general will at these seasons be especially disengaged from secular affairs, and disposed to pious meditations and the duties of devotion, and more naturally led to seek the communications of the Holy Spirit, and success of the means of grace. And as to the quarterly times, it was thought helpful to memory, that they should be on one or other of the first days of each quarter: Tuesday was preferred to Monday, because in some places people might have public prayers and sermon on the stated day, which might not be so convenient on Monday, as on some day at a greater distance from the Sabbath.
It was reckoned a chief use of such an agreement and meth. od as this, that it would be a good expedient for the maintaining and keeping up, amongst the people of God, that great Christian duty of prayerfulness for the coming of Christ's kingdom, in general, which Christ has directed his followers to be so much in, that it may not be out of mind, and in a great measure sunk. Things, that we are too little inclined to, through sloth, carnality, or a fulness of our own worldly and private concerns, and that are to be attended at some seasons or other, and have no special seasons stated for them, are ape to be forgotten, or put of from time to time, and as it were adjourned without day; and so, if not wholly neglected, yet too little attended. But when we fix certain seasons, that we resolve, unless extraordinarily hindered, to devote to the duty, it tends to prevent forgetfulness, and a settled negligence of it. The certain returns of the season will naturally refresh the memory; will tend to put us in mind of the precept of Christ, and the obligations that lie on all his followers, to abound in such a duty, and renewedly engage us to the consideration of the importance and necessity and unspeakable value of the
mercy sought; and so, by frequent renovation, to keep alive the consideration and sense of these things at all times. Thus the first promoters of this agreement judged, that it would be subservient to more abundant prayerfulness for effusions of the Holy Spirit, at all times through the year, both in secret and social worship ; particularly as to this last, in congregations, families, and other praying societies. And then they also judged, that such an agreed union would tend 10 animate and encourage God's people in the duty proposed; and that particular persons and societies, knowing that great multitudes of their fellow Christians, in so many distant places, were at the same time (as a token of the union of their hearts with them in this affair) by agreement engaged in the same holy exercise, would naturally be enlivened in the duty by such a consideration.
It was not thought best, to propose at first a longer time for the continuance of this precise method, than two years : It be. ing considered, that it is not possible, before any trial, so well to judge of the expedience of a particular method and certain circumstances of the managing and ordering such an affair, as after some time of experience. And it was not known, but that after longer consideration, and some trial, it might be thought best to alter some circumstances; or whether others, that had not yet been consulted, might not propose a better method. The time first agreed on, though but short, was thought sufficient to give opportunity for judgment and expe. rience, and for such as were disposed to union in an affair of such a nature, in distant places, mutually to communicate their sentiments on the subject.
The way, in which those that first projected and came into this agreement, thought best for the giving notice of it and proposing it to others, was not by any thing published from the press ; but by personal conversation with such as they could conveniently have immediate access to, and by private correspondence with others at a distance. At first it was in. tended, that some formal paper, proposing the matter, should be sent about for proper amendments and improvements, and then concurrence : But on more maturc deliberation, it was