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Committee of very learned, judicious, and pious Men; as by a Jingle Person, let his Qualifications for praying be ever so great j and suffer the Use of it to be imposed upon them by publick Authority, as well as by the Authority of their own ^Teacher only; And this Argument is much strengthened, when we consider, what Dr.Watts acknowledges and bewails, the Incapacity of many of his Brethren for such an Exercise, the Crudeness and Jejunenefs, and many other Defects of their Prayers. Indeed it must, be so; as, no doubt, it would be in the established Church, if all the Clergy were to use Prayers of their Own composing, after the manner of the Dissenters. This Argument, I confess, proceeds upon a Postulatum that all the Dissenters will not grant, viz. that their publick Prayers, and ours, are the Compositions of human Abilities,. assisted only by the common and ordinary Influences of the Holy Spirit. The samous Bar May answers for the Body or the Quakers. He enters their Protest in the following Words, Pag. 348 of his Apology. "But the Li- muWorJhi. "mttatton we condemn is, that "whereas the Spirit of God should be the u immediate Actor, Mover, Persuader, and In"fluencer of Man in the particular Acts of "Worship, when the Saints are met together, "this Spirit is limited in its Operations by setting up a particular Man, or Men, to teach *' and pray, in Mans Will; and all the rest '* are excluded from so much as believing that "they are to wait for God's Spirit to move L 4 "them
** them in such Things; and so they neglecting "that which should quicken them in them"selves, and not waiting to feel the Breathings "of God's Spirit, so as to obey them, are led ".to depend merely upon the Preacher, and "hear what he will say. True teaching "Secondly, in that these peculiar cf the Word « Men come not thither to meet 'of God. « wi[h the Lord^ and tQ wait for
"the inward Motions and Operations of his "Spirit; and so prafzs they feel the Spirit to "breathe through them, and in them; and to 4' preach, as they find themselves acted and "moved by God's Spirit, and as he gives Uttert( ance, so as to speak a Word in Season to "refresh weary Souls, and as the present State and Condition of the Peoples Hearts require, suffering God by his Spirit both to prepare "Peoples Hearts, and also give the Preacher *' to speak what may be fit and seasonable for '' them; but he hath hammered together, in! . his Closet, according to his own Will, by V his human Wisdom and Literature, and by "stealing the Words of Truth from the Letter of the Scriptures, and by patching togethec "other Mens Writings, so much as will hold "him speaking an Hour while the Glass runs; "and without waiting and feeling the inward "Influence of the Spirit of God, he declaims "that by hap-hazzard, whether it be fit and sea'' sonable for the Peoples Condition, or no, and '• when he has ended his Sermon, he siieth his "Prayer also in his own Will, and so there is an
cc end of the Business:' For the Credit of Christianity, and the Honour of the holy Spirit, I am glad that this Gentleman wrote only in Man's Will, by hammering his Book in his Closet, for he has not stolen the Truth from the Letter of the . Scriptures, and it is hap-hazzard whether any of his Readers can tell what he means by the Spirit's quickening them in themselves, and breathing through them, and in them, &c. For my own part, I own myself uninUghtened by such Phrases, and expect to remain in Darkness: Thus much, however I can understand from the whole, that the Quakers pretend to preach and pray, without any Assistance from human Wisdom, and human Literature, by the immediate Inspiration of the Spirit; first moving them to pray and preach, and afterwards dictating to them the Matter, the Order, and Words; in short, the whole of their Prayers and Sermons. This Gentleman wrote hjs apology in the Name of the Body of the Quakers, and under the Character of a Protestant, while his Book is a Refinement upon Popery, and carries the Claim to Infallibility much higher than any of the Papi/ls ever did. The Papists only assert that there is, somewhere, (for it is not yet determined where it rests) in their Church an Infallible Judge of Controverfies, in order to preserve the Peace of the Christian Society; but no Papists, nor any body else before the Rise of Quakerism, ever maintained that any Man who has an Imagination warm enough to make him fansy that he feels the inward Motion, and Direction of the Spirit is inspired by him.
In Mode/ly and Prudence they ought to have better Proofs, to themselves, of their Inspiration, than a fanciful feeling of the inward Breathings of the Spirit; and I am sure the rest of the World must be more than Imprudent if they give them Credit without some such external Proofs, as the Prophets and Apoflles gave,, of their being moved by the Holy Ghost.
The rest of the Dissenters make no such large Pretensions to the Influence of the Spirit as these Men do; but they have a general Notion of their Teacher's praying, though not preaching, by the Spirit, and that their being tied up to the Use of Forms of Prayer would be stinting the Spirit, and making the Service only Will-worship. As this Opinion is grounded upon a mistaken Interpretation of some Texts of Scripture in St. Paul's , Epistles; Archbishop Sharp, from those Words, What is it then f I will pray with the Spirits I will pray with the Understanding also, i Cor. xiv. 15, has explained the several Texts with inimitable Perspicuity, and truly Christian Temper; and I cannot do better than to transcribe what he has said in his own Words. They are in Vol. thelVth, of his Sermons, Page 105.
* The Method I shall take in the discussing 'this Point shall be to make out these four folc lowing Propositions; which if they can be 'made out, • all the Difficulty that seems to be
* in this Argument does perfectly vanish.
* First of all therefore, I shall shew, that
* praying by the Spirit in the Sense that the
* Apostle'meant, is so far from being a perpetual
- Duty requir'd of all Christians, that as far as we know, no Christian now living can with Reason pretend to that Gist. 'Secondly, I shall shew that That which is now called praying by the Spirit, that is, the conceiving of Prayers on a sudden without Study and Premeditation, and expressing our Conceptions with great Fluency and Movingness of Words and Gestures, is so far from being the immediate Effect of the Spirit of God, that generally speaking it is the Effect of Art or Industry, or a present Heat of Temper.
* Thirdly, I shall shew, that if there be any other Notion of praying by the Spirit in Scripture, such as is to be extended to all Times 'and Ages of Christianity, and is not peculiar 'to the Apostolical Age, that Notion will every 'Jot as well fit and suit with set Forms of Prayer, 'as with those Prayers that we call Extemporary.
4 Fourthly, I shall shew, that though we 'should suppose that God, even in these Days, 'doth assist Men, both as to the Matter, and 'even the Words of their Prayers, yet we have
* more Reason to believe that the publick Pray
* ers of the Church were indicted and contrived 'by that Spirit of God, than we have to believe 'that any Man's private Prayers are; and con'fequently that when we use them, we pray as 'much by the Spirit as when we use sudden 'conceived Prayers.
'I begin with the first of these Propositions,
* which is this. That praying by the Spirit in the