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where I may have Occasion to mention the Dissenters) but Justice to the StibjeEi, and' Charity to them, oblige me to declare plainly that, in my Opinion, it is absolutely impossible for any of the Dissenters, besides their Teachers, properly to pray in their Meetings, or in their Families; they only hear Prayers, in the very same manner as they hear the Sermon. We, of the Church of England, having a Form of Prayer, the Congregation may, if they please, make themselves thoroughly acquainted with all the Parts of it, and knowing, beforehand, what the Minister is going to say, they may accompany him all along, and while he pronounces the Words, they may, at the fame time, direB their Thoughts to God, and by that means make it their Prayer, as well as the Minister's; and both theirs and his a joint Prayer; but, a Dijjenting Teacher offers up a Prayer of his own private Conception, unknown, beforehand, to his Congregation; and, therefore, their Minds must constantly be employed in attending to what he is going to say, and in judging of it; and, consequently, never can have time, themselves, to offer up to God, by the Direction of their own Minds, any Part of his Prayer; much less can the Minister and the People offer up the same Prayer, at the same lime, because he must actually have offer'd up every Part of it before they can tell what he will say.
g . As this is a Matter of very great Importance, I shall conclude this Part with a joint Application to Church People and Dissenters. It is really
strange strange that so groundless a Conceit should ever enter into Mens Heads, as that hearing another pray should be praying. And yet, it is manifest, from daily Experience, that the Generality of Mankind do think that they pray when they only hear another pray: Whereas (as I have observed) unless I speak to God, myself 5 unless my own Soul discourses with him, I cannot be said to pray. Suppose, for instance, I should be. in a* Room when two Persons are discoursing toge. iher, and should hear all that they said, but did not say one Word myself; surely, nobody could be so senseless as to imagine that I discoursed with either of those Persons to whom I did not utter one Syllable. Even so, if I should be in a Church, or a Meeting-house, and hear the Minister discourse with, or speak to God, that is, pray to him, either by a written Form, or a precomposed, or extemporary Prayer of the Minister's own drawing up; I say, I, myself, could not be laid to pray, unless I directed those Thoughts to God which the Words expressed. Whereas, alas! if People be present in a Place of publick Worship j if they feel themselves affected with the Subject-matter of the Prayer, with the Voice, or Delivery, of the Reader, or Speaker; if any of these things have suggested pious Sentiments, and excited pious Dispositions, then they sansy. that they have been praying, all that time, with great Devotion. But this is a mere Delusion; for, do but consider a little. I may be very much affected with the hearing of a melancholy Story, and not speak that Story myself; and I do not
speak it unless my Mind be direBed to the Person to whom I would speak. I may be mov'd with a Man's Complaint of his own, or another Person's Misfortunes, and yet not make that Complaint, myself; and all the Actions of the other Party cannot be called mine, because I never made them so, by speaking the Words, myself, either vocally, or mentally. Thus it is in the case of Prayr. I may be , deeply touched by hearing the Minister bewail his own, and other Mens Sins, and importunately beg for Mercy, and Forgiveness, and yet, not make his Confession mine, for want of that Direction of my own Mind, without which it cannot be Prayer, because it is not speaking to God, or discoursing with him. I have taken the more Pains to make this essential Matter so plain, because it has not been often explained, and is little understood by common Readers.
4. But, the Case of the Papists, with regard to their publick Prayers, is infinitely worse than that of our common Church People, or the Dissenters from our established Worship. Indeed, I think I have proved very fairly that the Dissenters, not knowing beforehand what the Minister will say in his Prayer, can never make his Prayer theirs while he is praying, much less make it jointly with him, and cannot properly be said ever to pray, either in their Meetings, or in their Family Devotions; yet, they may edify by hearing their Minister pray, just as they may edify by his Sermons, or by reading a good Book. Their Judgments may be informed, their Pas
sions excited, and such Impressions left upon their Minds, as may be productive of good Fruits: But, it is impossible for the illiterate People of the Romijh Communion, either to join in their publick Prayers, or to be in the least edified by them, because they cannot understand them; neither can a Person who prays in a Tongue which he does not understand, be, properly, said to pray at all: For, as I have already proved, praying to any Person is, speaking to him, or conversing with him; but speaking to any Person, or conversing with him, is communicating, or expressing, our Thoughts to him. But, what Ideas, what Thoughts^ can any one have in his Mind when he speaks he does not know what? The Words may contain very proper Sentiments, but they cannot be his Sentiments, because they are, to him, No Sentiments at all, for want of understanding the Meaning of the Words which express them. This, I am sure, was St. Paul's Opinion (i Cor. xiv. 16.) " How, says the Apo"stle, shall he that occupieth the Room of the "unlearned, (that is, how shall the unlearned "Person, who does not know what thou speak"est in a jlrange Language) say Amen at thy "giving of Thanks, seeing he understandeth "not what thou sayest; for thou verily givest. "Thanks well, but the other is not edified." And this he calls speaking into the Air; that is, to no purpose. Wherefore in the Opinion of this inspired Writer, a Man must under/land what is said in Prayer, or he cannot make it his own Prayer by saying Amen to it. Neither is it pos
sible that such an Action as this, where neither the Understanding, nor the Affections; neither •the Head, nor the Heart are concerned, should have any Effect towards answering any of the End? of Prayer. From whence appears the gross Corruption of the Latin Service of the Chqrch of Rome. For, supppse that the Priest does understand what he fays, and consequently does truly pray; yet, he prays alone, and all the illiterate Part of the Congregation stand like Ideots, either hearing him speak, or speaking, themselves, such Words as they do not understand a Syllable of; and, therefore do not pray at all: So that the great Christian Duty of worshipping God in pnblick Assemblies, is rendered impracticable by the common People; God loses his. Honour, and the poor deluded Wretches lose the Opportunity of performing a most necessary, and comfortable Service. We have, indeed, Reason to hope, and believe, that tho' they are so unhappy as to lose the present Advantages, and Satisfaction of discharging their Duty, their inviticible Ignorance is excusable; but, for their Rulers—, who introduced, and continue this infamous Corruption, trie .largest Charity can do no more than recommend them to the infinite Mercies of God. But, what infinite Reason haye We of the Church Of England, more especially, to be thankful to God's Goodness, as for other Parts of the Reformation, so particularly for giving us the best Opportunity, and the best Means, of performing towards him the very best, that is, the most reasonable Service