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to be present to bear and answer the Petition* which should be offered up there; which is all the peculiar Presence that he prays for as necessary to make a House of Prayer; the Name which God himself gives to the Jewish Temple, My House shall be called a House os Prayer. 'f^JNctw, if this be the Notion of God's House, that it is a House os Prayer, a House where God is peculiarly present to hear our Prayers, we must own that every Christian Church is as much the House os God, as the Temple at Jerusalem was j unless we will deny that God is as present in Christian Assemblies, and in Places dedicated to Christian Worship, as he was in the Jewish Temple j which would be to make Christianity a more imperfect Dispensation than Judaism; for that is certainly the most perfect State of the Church, where God is most peculiarly present. There is indeed a great Difference between the Jewish Temples and Christian Churches; but, as to the Presence of God, which only makes a Temple, the Advantage is greatly on the Christian Side. The Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, and Temple, contained many Figures of Christ; but those Types were not the Presence of God, nor the Object of their religious Worship, which had been Idolatry against the Second Commandment: But for the sake of these Types, God chose that Place for his peculiar Presence.—Now, instead of these Types, we have the Antetype himself, the Son of God made Flesh, who, tho' ascended into Heaven, has promised his peculiar Presence in
'all the Assemblies of Christians; which is such a Presence of God as never filled the Jewist Temple till Christ appeared; for which Reason God tells them, that the second Temple, tho' it fell vastly short of the external Beauty and Magnificence of the first, yet should excel in Glory, by the personal Appearance of Christ in it. So that Christ having promised, that wherever two or three are gathered together in his Name, he will be in the midst of them, every Christian Church has a divine Presence greater than the Temple: For, tho' we should grant that this Promise extends to all the occasional Meetings of Christians, wherever the Place be, yet it much more extends to all the solemn and publick Places and Acts of Worship. Thus there was but one Temple in the whole Land of Canaan. God, for mystical Reasons, consin'd his more peculiar Presence to that House where he had placed the Figures and Types of Christ, thro' whom only we have Access to God. But now this blessed Jesus, who is greater than the Temple, is in all Christian Assemblies, and makes every Christian Church greater than the Temple. In this Sense our Saviour told the Woman of Samaria, " Wo*' man, believe me, the Hour is coming, when "ye shall neither on this Mountain, nor yet at *' Jerusalem, worship the Father," John iv. 21. Which does not signify, that hereafter there should be no peculiar and appropriate Places of Worship, but that the Presence and Worship of God should no longer be confined to any one Place, neither to the Temple of Jerusalem, nor
Samaria j Samaria; but it should be free all over the World to erect Houses of Prayer and Worship, where God would be present- with them, as in theTemple of Jerusalem; for there should an End be put to that typical State, and typical Worship, which was confined to the Temple, and the true Worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth. And this spiritual Worship is confined to no one Place, but will find God present all the World over; which is so sar from abrogating all peculiar Places of Worship, such as the Temple at Jerusalem and Samaria were, that it makes every Church, whatsoever Part of the World it be in, in a truer Sense, the House of God, than ever the Temple at Jerusalem was. Indeed, a formal Consecration of Places appointed for publick Worship could not be practised in the first Ages of Chrijlianity, while the Church was under Persecution, because, after their having been thus solemnly given to God for his Use, and his enly, the Christians might have been dispossess'd of them, and they might have been applied, by the Heathens, to seeular, or idolatrous Uses; but, as soon as Christianity was embraced and protected by the civil Powers, the antient Practice of consecrating Churches, i. e. Places appropriated-to publick Worship, was revived, and has beeft ever since continued in the Christian Church, till some modern Protestants thought fit to be wiser than all ^Antiquity, and to censure all such outward Ceremonies as superstition. One- would think that common Modesty and
Humility Humility should teach them to pay a Regard to a Practice which has the Sanction of the Patriarchs, and of God himself, by his Servant Moses; and to imagine, that such an universal Practice by those who were divinely inspired, and of &\\ pious Christians in the primitive Times, must be grounded upon wife Reasons, and calculated to promote Piety, by helping to create an inward Reverence for such Places, and to excite Devotion in the Mind. One general Observation I cannot help making upon these purely spiritual Worshippers; they seem to be utterly ignorant of human Nature, not at all considering that while the Mind is united to the Body, and subject to be influenced by it, the Senses will have their Share in attracting our Attention, and creating, or improving, religious Dispositions. Upon this is founded the Custom of all our Solemnities at the Appointment of civil Magistrates, the Regalia and magnificent Habits made use of in the Execution of their Office; and if all these outward Formalities were jo be laid aside, and Magistrates were always to appear, in the Eyes of the Multitude, as common Men, they would soon lose their Authority and Influence. The Application of this Remark to Religion is very obvious, Human Nature being the fame at Church, as in a Court of Justice, and liable to the same Influence from external Appearances and Ceremonies. We, of the Church of England, have the Happiness of worshipping God in Places consecrated, as the Tabernacle and the Temple were, by solemn Pray
trs ers offered up to God, by the Bishops and Pastors of Christ's Church 5 these are his Houses where he delights to dwell, where he expects us to pay our publick Homage; where he will be best pleased with our Addresses, and the most ready to receive and answer them j hither, therefore, we should be ready and glad to-repair as often as possible. If we had the Piety of David, we should have his ardent Desires to appear before God in his House of Prayer; and our constant Attendance, and devout and reverent Behaviour there, would be the Means of increafiug our Piety, as it did his. I shall now inquire how often Men ought to pray.
C H A P. IX.
Concerning the Times, or Frequency S/prayer.
ONE would hardly think it possible for any rational Creature to entertain so irrational an Opinion, but in the fourth Century there did arise a Set of Men who thought themselves obliged to be always praying, as if a Christian had nothing else to do in this World. This monstrous Error was grounded upon some Passages of Scripture misunderstood. We are commanded to pray always; to pray without ceasing; which they understood so literally, as to think that they ought to spend their whole Time in the Exercise of this Duty j not considering what a Number of other Duties every Man is