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DISCOURSE

O N

P R A Y E R.

CHAP. I.

Concerning the Meaning of the Word^ Prayer.

AS Prayer is an Act of religious Worships and a Christian Duty, I shall, First, Enquire into the several Acceptations of the Word in Scripture.—Sometimes it is us'd in a limited Sense, signifying a Part, or Parts, of the general Duty; at other Times it comprehends the whole of the Duty j of both which Senses I (hall give some Instances.—At the 6th of St. Math. v. 7, 8, it is used to signify that Part of Prayer which we call Petition, or craving Blessings, whether Temporal, or Spiritual. "But ye when ye pray, use not vain RepetiM tions, as the Heathens do, for they think they "shall be heard for their much Speaking. Be "not ye, therefore, like unto them, for your "Father knoweth what Things ye have need "of before ye ask him." From which Words

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\t is clear that our Saviour, in this Place, speaks of their asking such Mercies as they, tbemjehes, did need; tho' when he delivered that Form which we call the Lord's Prayer, in the next Words, he gave it as a Prayer, itself, and a Pattern of all other Prayers, both for ourselves, and others, even all Mankind. Again, Math, xxi, 22. "Whatever ye shall ask in Prayer, be"lieving, ye shall receive." In which Place our Saviour manifestly speaks of that Part of * Prayer which we call Petition for a Supply of their own personal[Necessities. I shall cite but one Instance more of this kind. Math, xxvi, 39.

And he went a little sarther, and fell on his "Face, and prayed, saying, O! my Father, "if it be possible, let this Cup pass from me,

nevertheless, not my Will, but thine be done." Now this is called Prayer, tho' our Saviour did at' that Time, evidently pray {ox himself only.—In other Places Prayer signifies that Part of the Duty which . we call Intercession, or begging God's Mercies for others. Thus Math, v, 44. ," : Pray for them which despitefully use ypy, "and persecute you.-i-And as Prayer\ in the Places abovecited, is used to signify Petition for Blessings for simselves, or ptherst .|a elsewhere signifies Pr.-qise, -or Thanksgiving. Thus, Eph. jr. j-5v 16. /' Whereas I, also, after I heard of

your^FaiU^rin the, Lord Jesus, and Love to all ."• the. Saints," ceafe . not to give Thanks for you

-makingsmention. of you in my Prayers, I ;fcubear to trouble; the Engli/b Reader with the .original Gr^t:butthesame Word is. used in all ;: 2 these these Places.—Bui;, farther, sometimes it signifies a vocal, at other Times a mental Prayer.—• First, vocal, or that which is utter'd. by Words, thus, ASls xx. 36. "And when he had thus "spoken, he kneeled down and prayed with them a'l." And, consequently, he prayed aloud, for, otherwise, none could have join'd with him.— By mental Prayer I understand the Soul's speaking to God inwardly, without expressing itself by Words, or articulate Sounds. Thus Hannah prayed, 1 Sam. i. 13. "She spake in her Heart, "only her Lips moved, but her Voice was not "heard."—Now, that this was Prayer, is evident from what she spake to God, which, doubtless, was a Petition for a Son; which Petition is, as I have already shewn, a Prayer. Again, The Word signifies the Prayer of a single Person, 01 of a whole Congregation. Thus our Blessed Lord prayed by himself alone, Math xxvi. 42, 44.^-?That of a whole Congregation, at the 2 \Jl of the Affs. v. 5; where we read that St. Paid, and the Disciples of Tyre, kneel'd down on the Shore and prayed.

Having cited several Passages of Scripture, where the Word Prayer is us'd in a limited Sense, signifying some Part, or Parts of the general Duty; I shall now cite some others, where it signifies the whole of the Duty. 1 Thef. v.Wfi St. Paul commands the TheJdlonian,s to pray without ceasing. In this Place, I fay, the Apostle ought, in any wise, to be understood to comprehend the whole Duty, for the following Reasons:

'B 2 First, Word, there being no Epithet, or any other Circumstance, which obliges us to understand it of one particular Part only; for which Reason it ought to be taken in the largest Sense, without any Limitation of the Meaning of the Phrase, since the holy Penman, himself, has not confin'd it, but leaves us to interpret it of the whole Duty of Prayer.

Secondly, All Parts of Prayer are equally enjoined (as I shall afterwards have Occasion to shew) in the holy Scriptures. Now, since the Word must be understood, either of the whole Duty, or of some one, or more Parts, I would fain know how we can understand it of any particular Part, since in other Places, all of them are commanded ; and, consequently, all of them are equally necessary to be practised; 1 say, who will offer to determine which of them is here meant? It is highly necessary, therefore, that the Words be so explained as to contain all the Parts, since none must exclude any of the Parts of Prayer.

Thirdly, We are here commanded to pray without ceasing, consequently, the whole Duty is commanded; without ceasing cannot signify less than that we bestow all the Time that we can in Prayer. Now, if we bestow all the Time'that we can afford to spend in Prayer, upon any one, or more, Parts of the Duty, and neglect the other Part, or Parts, which are, all, equally required, then we practise but a Part of our Duty, and leave the rest undone by us. And if God commands us in one Place of Scripture to bestow all our Time upon a Part, and in other Places commands us to practise the whole Duty, then God's Commands contradict and destroy each other, and make our Obedience impracticable. I mail confirm this, Acceptation of the Word by two Passages out of the Psalms v. 2, 3. "O Hearken thou unto the Voice of my cal'* ling, my King, and my God, for unto thee will I make my Prayer; my Voice malt thou "hear betimes, O Lord; early in the Morning "will I direct my Prayer unto Thee, and will "look up." The Word is general; and it cannot, in common Sense, be limited to any parti" cular Part of the Duty, since it cannot be supposed that David, in his Addresses to God, confined himself to any one particular kind only. Butj the Conclusion of the seventy-second is more express. It is there said: The Prayers of David, the Son of Jesse are ended. Where, all the foregoing Psalms are called Prayers; tho' some of them be doleful Complaints of the Sadness of his Condition j others of them Confession of Sins; others Acknowledgements of his Dependence on God; others magnify his powerful and wise Goodness, and render Thanks for Benefits. receiv'd, and promise dutiful Obedience for the future; by which we learn that Prayer is made up of all these, and is here us'd to include the Subject-matter of all our Addresses to God> .",

B 3 CHAP.

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