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ing in such words as are expressive of desire, and his having a sense of what he means by chofe words, is not prayer, except his thoughts fo afu fect him, as to draw forth his desire in pecition to God, for the obtaining of those things which he thinks and refects upon. So, on the other side, whatever is more than this, is not prayer. If, when a man so thinks and considers of any subject, as that it draws forth his desire in prayer to God; any other act of the mind accompanies or follows, it, whether it be love or hatred, hope or fear, ånger, or the like, none of such acts are prayer. Thus, if a man should fo think of his sins, as to be induced thereby to desire God to forgive him ; and if this should so affect him, as to cause him to be sorry for his faults, and angry with himself that he has done so fool. ishly; in this case, his sorrow for his sin, and his anger against himself, is not prayer, tho' they are very suitable companions to it. The case is the fame with every other act of the mind, which may be exercised in prayer, or may follow upon it.
And as those other acts of the mind are, in their proper places, suitable companions to prayer; so when they are exercised in a proper and due ineafure, they as helps to it. Thus, when a man so reflects upon his fins, as to be deeply humbled with forrow and shame, and indignation against himself, this has a natural tendency to create in him a strong desire that they may be forgiven him, and to put up that desire very earnestly to God for the obtaining that pardon. But when those other acts of the mind are exercised in an undue measure, and exceed the bounds of reason, then they are so far from being helps, that on the contrary they are hindrances to prayer. Thus, if a man should be fo transported with grief and anger, when he reflects upon his sin, as
that he should wring his hands, and tear his hair, and rend his cloaths, and cast duft upon his head, and roll upon the ground, and the like, as such a transport of sorrow and anger would make him more like a brute than a man, fó it would be a hindrance and not a help to prayer; for when mens minds are thus ruffed, and discomposed, they are indispofed thereby for the regular and proper exercise of any duty whatever. When the mind of man is in a regular and undisturbed ftate; that is, when it is governed by reason, then it is capable of putting forth any act with strength and vigour, then a man is capable of praying with fervency, viz. with a strong and earnest desire to obtain what he prays for; but when a man's mind is thrown into disorder, and is discompofed by any ungoverned act, then he is weakened and indisposed for the strong and vigorous exercise of this or any other duty. : If it should be here objected, that we have the declaration and examples of holy men in fcrip. turė, who have been transported, as aforesaid. I ånswer, many declarations, which we have in fcripture, are delivered in figurative and borrow'd expressions, and many others are a loftiness of fpeech, which express much more than the speaker intends. And as to the practices of good men of old, they were rather a conformity to the customs
and usages of the times and places in which they • lived, than the effect of a mind transported be
yond due measure, that is, beyond the bounds of reason. David danced before the ark in praising God ; 'but, I think, with submiffion, this dancing was not the effect of a mind discomposed by a transport of joy, but was a conformity to the the usage and customs of those times, which expressed their joy by dancing. But as customs and usages change, so now if a good man should, in praising God, dance as David did, he would make himself ridiculous. Besides, the good men of old, were like the good men now, that is, they were of like passions with other men ; and therefore it is not their examples, but the nature and reason of the thing, which ought to determine in this case.
If it should be farther objected, that our Saviour, when he was in an agony, pray'd yet more earnestly. I answer, The true state of that case I take to be this : Our Saviour's serious reflections upon that scene of miseries and temptations, which he was just then entering upon, put him into great fear, whether he should be able to stand the trial. This fear had a two-fold effect upon him ; first, upon his body, in that it caused him to sweat to that degree, that it fell from him in great drops, like as blood useth to drop from a wound; for tho' his sweat is usually called his. bloody sweat, yet this is without warrant from the text; the text faith, that be sweat (as it were great drops of blood, falling down 10 the ground, Secondly, It had an effect upon his mind; he prayed to his Father more earnestly, with submission to his will, that he might escape that which was the ground of his fear : Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. And as he thus prayed with strong crying and tears, to him that was able to save him from death ; fo St. Paul faith, Heb..v.7. That he was heard in that be feared, that is, his Father gave him strength sufficient for his trial; for he had an angel sent from heaven to strengthen and comfort him. Now, as this great fear, which our Saviour was under, made him to sweat to a very great degree, and as this fear, and che effect of it, is called, by the Evangelift, an agony; and as it caused him to make more earnest supplications and prayers, with strong
crying and tears to his Father, for an escape from that which was the ground of it; so he still prefery'd in himself a regular and compos'd mind; a mind which was not distracted, nor over-born by all that burden which lay upon it; a mind which prayed yet more earnestly, which thews plainly that it was under the government of reafon, and not in agitation or discomposure. As our Saviour was under great fear, so that fear, or rather his serious reflections upon that which was the ground of it, drew from him strong desires, and thefe desires he put up to his Father with great earneftness; but still maintain'd in him. self a mind regular and undisturbed, when those terms are opposed to a mind rụffed and discompos'd by an ungovern'd transport, whether of fear, joy, forrow, or the like. And as desire is stronger or weaker, and as the putting forth that desire is more or less earnest, so this difference arises, partly from the different temper and con: ftitution of the pețitioner, partly from the dif ferent subjects it is exercis'd upon, partly froin the different manners of our thinking and reflecte ing upon those subjects, and partly from some other causes, I say, partly from the different manners of our thinking and refleeting upon those subjects ; for as the same words have a different effect upon the minds of men, from the different manners of their being expresa'd, so our own reflections have a different influence upon our own minds, from the different manner of reflecting. Thus, if a man should walk along the streets of a city, in a very now pace, with his face to the ground, and should, with a low and weak voice, say fire, fire, and should shew an un: concernedness at what he said, this would make very little or no impression upon the minds of those that heard him. The manner of this ad.
dress would indispose people from being affected with it; whereas if the same man should haftily walk along the streets of the same city, and should, in a grave and serious manner, with an audible voice, cry fire, as aforesaid, this would strongly affect all who heard him ; because both the subject, and the manner of address, have a natural tendency to produce this effect. So in like manner when we think and reflect upon any subject, in a night, careless, and indifferent manner, such thoughts and reflections will have little or no effect upon our minds or lives ; but when we think seriously, and with concern, upon the same subject, and with an earnest application of thought and reflection, this strongly affects us, and has a tendency to make a great and lasting impression upon us. Further, As prayer consists in the going out of desire to God, and as this desire may be strong, or weak, and the putting forth of this desire may be more or less earnest; so it certainly becomes us to reflect upon the subject of desire, with such seriousness and concern as is suitable to it, and may be productive of earnest supplication and prayer, seeing it is such as is most acceptable to God, and moit effectual to anfwer the ends of prayer. Our Lord reflected so seriously upon the sufferings he was to undergo, that it produced supplications and prayers with strong crying and tears. Not but that still we ought to keep our reflections within the bounds of reason; because, when we go beyond this, they distract and so weaken the mind, like as when a man runs along the streets of a city, and with a loud and hideous noise crys fire, fire, this surprizes and affrights, and so weakens the minds of those that hear it. The manner of our refecting is, for the raising or heightening of ous affections, like wind