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and also irreligiously thinking light of the curse of God: or else it is without any such desire or intention ; and then it is profanely supposing God to have no regard to their behaviour: they should recollect that the vengeance of God will find them out; not only for the evil deeds they commit, but for the profane folly (so frequent among us) of wishing that damnation to themselves, which they otherways but too well deserve. They, who thus add to the guilt of their fins the binding power of a curse, are doubly unpardonable; they consent to their punishment, as they before consented to their crime ; and their damnation therefore is every way juít. And these faults are the more inexcusable, because there cannot here be pretended, as in most other vices, any natu, No tempta- ral temptation. There is no sensual pleasure in tion to them. them, because they are not found in the temper of the body: No man, I think, is born with a swearing or curfing constitution, tho’ it may be a man shall be naturally prone to anger or lust. Besides, there is as little profit as pleasure in them; for the common and trivial use of oaths and curses makes them perfectly insignificant to their end, and is so far from giving credit to a man's word, that it rather weakens its credit: for common swearing and cursing always argue in a man a perpetual distrust of his own reputation, and is an acknowledgment that he thinks his bare word not worthy to be taken. Neither can they be faid to adorn and fill a man's discourse; for it highly offends and grates upon all sober and considerate persons, who cannot be presumed with any.manger of ease and patience to hear God so affronted upon every night account. Moreover, It is a crime for which men can plead no excuse. They
who pretend to do it ignorantly, and not observAdinits of no erungen ing and knowing what they do, are inexcufable; and must be because, certainly, it is no extenuation of a fault, avided. that a man hath got the habit of it so perfect, that he commits it when he does not think thereof. Neither is that any just excuse, wherewith many deceive themselves, when they swear by any other thing, and not by their Maker: For this very precaution shews, that they could as easily, if they were careful, avoid the sin wholly, as attend to a parti
cular cular circumstance in the manner of committing it. Which circumstance, nevertheless, does not at all hinder it from amounting in reality to the very same thing. For as, in common speech, that usual prayer, Heaven bless or rewarda man, is evidently of the very fame import, as if therein had been more exprefly mentioned God, who dwelleth in heaven: fo swearing by any creature does in truth amount to the same thing as sweasing by the name of God, whose creature it is, and who alone indeed can finally be supposed to be appealed to for the truth of the thing affirmed, and for the fincerity of the intention. A consideration which should make men oppose the beginning of this vice, lest it grow into a habit very hard to beovercome. It must be a great charity that can find out a way to reconcile a common custom of swearing with a ferious belief of the christian religion.
VIII. The name of God is also profaned by careless and inconsiderate Vows: when the matter of them is either unjust, impossible, or unreasonable; or the of rows,
te of vows, thingavowed be unprofitable, and of no tendency to promote true religion; or the manner of making the vow be rash and irreligious. Therefore the best and only good rule in this matter is, that among christians there is no use, no benefit, no encouragement given to any such thing as making any vowsatall: Forwhy should men needlessly bring snares upon their own souls, or intangle themselves in difficulties, where there is no command? The vows mentioned in the Old Teftament are all either parts of the Jewish ceremonial law, which is now wholly abolished; or else they signify only general resolutions of serving and obeying God, which can never too often or too seriously be renewed; as when Jacob
vowed, that the Lord should be his God; that is, that he - would always continue stedfast in the true religion. In the New Testament there is (I think) no one instance of any vow made by a Christian : the vow of Aquila, and that of the four perfons with whom St. Paul purified himself, being both of them vows which had been made before their conversion to christianity. Baptifin indeed and the Lord's supper are solemn vows of ote lience towards God; but the matter if them is such as was our indispensable duty before:
and such solemn renewing our holy resolutions of doing what is of absolute necessity to be done, is undoubtedly of great and perpetual use. But in other cases, vows are at best nothing but needless snares upon men; and generally they are of superstitious and unwarrantable practice: For what is fit to be done may be done without laying upon ourselves unnecessary obligations; and such obligations can be of no benefit, but needlessly to involve men in snares and scruples. So that the best direction to be given to christians concerning this matter is never to intangle themselves in any other obligations at all; but only take care to keep those facred vows and resolutions, which they folemnly enter into at baptism and the supper of the Lord.
I. Of the WORSHIP due to God's name; setting forth the le
veral parts of PRAYER, II. Of publick prayer, in the church, in the family; and of our behaviour after publick prayer. III. Of private prayer. IV. Of the necessary condition of prayer. V. Of its only object; as also of its power and efficacy; with answers to objections against this duty. VI. Of repentance, and the danger of delaying it; and VII,
Of fasting, as a part of repentance. Of the wor. I. THE next duty we owe to God is WorImp due to 1 SHIP: a duty peculiar to God alone; and God.
is to be performed both by our souls and bodies, At present therefore I shall only direct you to the duty of worshipping God in prayer, which is the part performed by Proyer, its the soul. The soul addresses itself to God, and the Paris. mind raises itself towards heaven, by PRAYER ; which receives different names according to those various subjects the mind is employed aboutin such addresses. When we bewail our particular sins with sorrow, and full purposes of amendment, it is called confession; when we implore God's
mercy, and desire any favour from him, petition; when for · the averting any evil, deprecation or fupplication; when we · express a grateful sense of benefits received, thanksgiving ;
when we beg any thing for others, it is styled interceffion ; when we acknowledge and adore the divine perfections, praise. So that in all these acts we have the great honour to be admitted into God's presence, and to treat with him about those things which chiefly concern our own happiness, or that of our neighbour. But,
In the first place, let us compose our spirits, and gather in our thoughts from the mazes of the world; and then begin our prayers with solemnly addressing each ourselves to that Lord God almighty with whom we have to do; declaring, both by our inward composure, and outward behaviour, our full belief of his presence, and an holy awe and reverence to his Majesty, and an intire reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ alone, for acceptance of our imperfect prayers before God the Father. · Having thus given glory to God, we must humbly confess our fins committed in thought, word, or deed, and earnestly request pardon for all our sins of omif- companions ; fion and ignorance. Thus confession is either a general or a more particular acknowledging of our sins before God: the former of which is a necessary part of all our publick prayers, the latter is most proper in our private prayers only. Not thereby that we can inform God of what he does not know; but in a true sense of our own simplicity, corruption, and wretchedness, to humble ourselves before the throne of his grace, and own ourselves liable to what punishment his juftice fhall condemn us. But above all, we must be most heartily thankful to God the Father, for his patience and long-suffering towards us, and for his readiness to be reconciled to us through Jesus Christ his only Son, concluding always with humble professions of sorrow and shame for fin, and firm resolutions of amendment; resolving, through the assistance of divine grace, that we will be better, and do better, for the time to come. • The next part of prayer is that commonly called petition; or the intreating of God to grant unto us all those things that are needful both for our souls and bo- *
Petition. dies: For our souls, as our fins are what we ought to be most For our afraid of, let our confessions be always attended Jouls. with petitions for pardon and forgiveness, thro’ the merits of Christ Jesus, that he will grant us his favour, For Pardon blefling, and gracious repentance; that he will of our fins. please to grant us a comfortable sense of his pardon of us; and that we may abound in righteousness, hope, quietness, and assurance, forever, thro’the power of the Holy Ghost; that God will please to strengthen us with his grace against every evil thought, word, or deed, and all the teinptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; directing our consciences, shewing us the way of our duty, and making us wife and humble Christians; and that he will plant in us all holy principles and dispositions, and increate every grace in our hearts, as faith, fear, love, charity, self-denial, humility, meekness, patience, contentment, and hope in God and Christ, but efpecially those graces which we are most in want of; and a hope of eternal life, prepared for such as love God and keep his commandments, and that he will make us prudent and discreet, honest and fincere, active and diligent, resolute and courageous, pleasant and chearful, and universally conscientious in every event of providence, every condition of life, and in every relation wherein we stand towards God or our neighbour ; that he will make us wiser and better 'every day than other; and that he will please to prepare us for an happy death, that we may at length enjoy the inansions of eternal happiness. And,
The kingdom of God and his righteousness being thus peFor our bo- titioned or fought for, we may have the boldness dies. . to beg that all other things, the necessaries, the comforts and supports of this world, may be added unto us: that we may enjoy the good things of this life, as well as be preserved from thécalamities to which we are constantly subject. Andlet allour petitions conclude with this humbleness of heart, Lord, thou hast given us many and exceeding great and precious promises, which are all certain in Chrift: there. fore, be it now unto thy servant according to thy word.
The third part of prayer is deprecation; which is a praying Dirican to God, that he will turn away from us fome evil Lion..: either of fin or punishment.