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us to Repentance, and makes us diligent to amend our Lives; when our Prayer that God would forgive our Enemies disposes, us to fors give and love them, and to be in more per teet Charity with them than before, and the like; this is Prayer that is available with God, and will procure the Effect of all his good Promises, and our heavenly Fatber. which seeth in secret shall reward us openly,
Of Forms of Prayer.:
Being the second introductory Discourse
to the Exposition of the LOR D's PRAYER.
MATTH. VI. ix.
noncerning the Reasons of our Obligatiu ons to Prayer, and the Ends of it we are to propound to our selves, and more particularly concerning two Cautions about it given us by our Saviour, the one against Vain-glory and Hypocrisy, the other against vain Repetitions in that Performance, I difcoursed to you the last time from the four Verfes foregoing: Now our Lord having instructed his Disciples to beware of the Affe&ation of much speaking in Prayer, which was the latter Caution in the two Verses im
mediately foregoing the Text, proceeds to give them a FORM of PRAYER framed according to that Caution, and introduceth it with these Words, After this manner therefore pray je. :
Upon which Words I shall say something concerning Forms of Prayer in the general, and that, with the foregoing Discourle, shall serve as a Preface to what I intend to say to you on the most excellent Form of Prayer in ilie following Verses.**
As to our Saviour's Meaning in these Words, After this manner therefore fray 'ye, there hath been of late Years a Dispute, the first of that Kind that ever the Church knew, and that is, Whether his Intention were to oblige his Disciples, to use that Prayer as a Form of Invocation, or only to frame other Prayers by it, as by a Pattern? They that are of this latter Opinion, have taken it up in behalf of extemporary Prayers, in which both Matter and Words are left to prevent Invention, and so the Dispute is not concerning this Form of the Lord's Prayer, and other : Forms of Prayer, but concerning Forms of: Prayer, and Prayers extemporary. Now, .
1. We that contend that the Lord's Prayer : is prescribed as a Form, do not contend that no other Form is to be used but that, for our Saviour gave no such Intimation, and the Practice of his Apostles and first Disciples plainly Thewed the contrary.
2. We also grant that it was intended as a Pattern to frame other Prayers by:
3. We do not say that the prescribing of this Form shews all Prayers- suddenly conceived to be unlawful, or implies that they are forbidden. ..
But that which we pretend is this, That the prescribing of this Form of Prayer plainly implies the Lawfulness of any Forms; and moreover, that the Use of Forms hath sundry Advantages above extemporary Efusions, which are enough to determine a wise Man to prefer the former before the latter. I shall therefore do these two Things.
1. Prove that our Saviour prescribed this Form of Prayer, to be used as such by his Disciples; and it certainly proves the Lawfulness of Forms, that there is one Form which we are bound in Duty to use. And,
2. Shall shew the Advantages of Forms of Prayer above the other.
1. That our Saviour prescribed this Prayer, to be used by his Disciples in that Form of Words wherein he deliver'd it.,
Before I proceed to the proving of which, I cannot but take notice with some Trouble to what a State Religion and Christianity is reduced amongst us by Men pretending to Reformation, that we should be put to prove such plain Things, and to justify such an unquestionable Duty as this is. Should a Biihop or Paftor of the ancient Church have
spent a Sermon to prove that the LORD's Prayer might, and ought to be said by Chris ftians in their Devotions, the People' might well have gazed and wondred at it, and said, who ever made a Question of it? But Things are come to that pass, that one Pretence up. on which some Men claim to themselves a purer Worship is, that they have rejected the Use of all Forms of Prayer, not excepting THAT which our Saviour himself taught his Disciples. Surely the Lord's Prayer Thould have escaped the Sentence of Condemnation, when they were passing Judgment upon pretended Superftitions, but their Cause would noc suffer it; for had the Use of this Form been left prescribed amongst themselves, it had stood as a perpetual Rebuke to their rejecting all other forms, as unfit and unlaw. ful. As the Cafe therefore ftands, we are obliged to defend the Use of this Prayer , which our Lord HIMSELF prescribed, and to check the growing of that scandalous Error which hath set it aside. :. .:.
It is the express Order of our Saviour, that his Disciples fhould use the Prayer he taught them as a Form, for this seems to be the Meaning of these Words, After this manner therefore pray ye; no, by fome it is thought After this manner signifies, to this purpose, and therefore a Form is not here prescribed; I confess the Phrafe had been clearer if it had been licerally rendred, 'Outas ir tregoiuzoats wuos,