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of offering up such joint publick Prayers as do truly deserve that Name! May we all be as thankful for these Blessings, and as diligent in the Use, as we are happy in the Enjoyment, of them} or our Ingratitude will be an Aggravation of our Guilt in neglecting them.
Having distinctly consider'd the Nature of Prayer, and shewn wherein it differs from Contemplation the next Thing to be consider'd is, the proper Object of our Prayers.—Under which Head 1 do not intend to give an historical Accounts much less a Confutation of all the several Kinds of Idolatry that have been practis'd among Heathens, Jews, and Christians, but only to enquire how sar all invisible Creatures, as such, are excluded from being proper Objects of our Prayers.
Concerning the Object of Prayer*
DRATER, as I have shewn, is that Act of * the Mind by which we address our Thoughts, direct, or speak, them to another Being. This we, Men, are capable of doing to one another, either to ask the Assistance of each other, to acknowledge the Receipt of Benefits, or to express the good Opinion which we entertain of one another. And all this is very right while we keep within proper Bounds; that is, while we do not ajk any thing of a Man which none but God can give, as the King of Assyria did
when tohen he sent his General to the ;King of Israel to be miraculously cured of h^s Leprosy, as ourLord cured; his Disciples by a Word of his Mouth; or thank, him for Blessings in such, & Manner as implies a Denial of God's being the. great Goveinour of the World, and the original Fountain of all human Blessings; or ascribe such Perfections to; hirnj either in Kind, or Degree, as belong only to the Deity j "as in the Case of Herod, when the People, in Compliment to him for an eloquent Speech, said, it was the Voice of a God, and not of a Man. But, all invisible Creatures, are naturally incapable Objects of our Addresses, or Prayers, of any kind. I call any Being naturally an incapable Object of our Addresses, which is of such Nature, and in such Circumstances, that it is impossible for us to know whether it will be to any purpose to address ourselves to it. Let us, then, consider how this Matter stands with regard to invisible Creatures. In the first place, All Creatures being of a limited Nature, it is impossible for us to know whether any invisible Creature be present with us when we address ourselves to it. Archbishop Tennisonsm his learned Treatise on Idolatry\ observes, that the Power of God being infinite, we cannot know but that he may be able to create a Being that may be every where, as well as in any particular Place. Strictly speaking, this is true: But, then, with Reverence to his Grace's Character, I must observe that even Omnipotence can create but one such Being, because it seems, to my Apprehension, that two created
C Beings Beings cannot be in the same Place, at the same Time; whereas the Scriptures assure us that there are Multitudes of invisible spiritual Substances surrounding us, and frequently changing their Situation. It is the Prerogative of God to be able to pervade other Beings, or to be, at the same Time, in the very same Place, with any other Being; consequently, tho' there might, as far as we can tell, have been a Creature made capable of being every where present, yet we are assur'd, from there being more Creatures than one, that there can be no such Creature as an omnipresent one: I mention this only as a Matter of curious Speculation, not as a Point of Consequence: For, if it were possible in Nature, we could not possibly know that there actually is such a one, there being no such Truth revealed to u$ by God. On the contrary, the Scripture makes mention of no other omnipresent Being but the Deity., and always mentions his Omnipresence as peculiar to Himself. Solomon, in his Prayer of Dedication, says to God, the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain thee, much less this House. And God says of himself, Heaven is my Throne, and the Earth is my Footstool. Am I a God at hand, and not a God afar off'. The Psalmist most elegantly, as well as fully, expresses his Immensity, or Omnipresence,—** Whither shall I go from "thy Spirit, or whither shall I go from thy Pre"fence? If I ascend up into Heaven, thou art "there j if I go down into Hell, thou art there "also j if I take the Wings of the Morning, "and remain in the uttermost Parts of the Sea, tk even there also (hall thy Hand lead me?' There are variety of Passages in the Scriptures of the old and new Testament to the fame purpose, all of them setting forth God's Immensity, or Omnipresence. And it is necessarily impljed, in the Nature of Things, that when God gives a particular Account of his natural Attributes, it must be by way of DiftintJion, and that what he fays of his own Nature cannot be said of his Creatures. As to us, Men, we know that we are, all, limited, and can occupy but a small Part of Space at one Time; and, consequently, the greatest Saint that ever lived, after he is dead continues to be as limited as when he was alive, and can occupy no more Space. As to the Angels, we are assured that they are not only limited, like Men, but perpetually changing their Situation; so .that when the Papists pray to any. Saint, or Angel, it is impossible for them to know whether the Being to whom they pray be at that Time present with them.
But, supposing we were able to tell when any particular Saint, or Angel, is present with us, it could not be privy to our Thoughts, and, corifequently, all such Prayers, or Addresses of the Mind, could be of no manner of Signification; and that Saints and Angels cannot know our Thoughts, we are as certain as we are that the Scriptures are true; for, they expresily declare, that it is God that feeth in Secret and is privy to the Thoughts and Intents of the Heart. Solomon, in particular, fays, not only that God knoweth our Thoughts, but that he alone is capable of
C 2 doing doing it, i Kings viii. 39. And God's Ability to know the Secrets of our Hearts is a necessary Inference which the Scriptures draw from his having created us. Understand, ye brutish, (fays the Psalmist) He that planted the Ear shall not he hear, he that made the Eye Jhall not he see? Then it follows, The Lord knoweth the Thoughts of Men. The fame Inference God draws from his Omnipresence; Am I God at hand, and not afar off: From whence he infers, Can any hide himself in secret Places that I f:all not fee him. And, therefore, as it is God only that is every where present, and privy to our Thoughts, be Qnly is a capable Object of our religious Addresses.. The. Worship of Saints and Angels is full as senseless and ridiculous as any of the Heathen Idolatry. The Holy Scriptures frequendy deride the Worshippers of those Deities,, which wanted the Perfections necessary to render them capable Objects of Worship. It was a bitter Taunt to the Priests of Baal, when Elijah bad them cry aloud, for your God is either talking, or pursuing, or on a Journey, or, per adventure,, he Jleepetb, and must-be awaked. So when a Papist prays to a Saint, or an Angel, he knows not but that the Object of his Worship may at that Time be at a vast Distance from him, or, if present, as ignorant of what is said to him, as Baal was of the Prayers of his Worshippers; unless God has told them that he will always make known to Saints and Angels, such Addresses as are made to them by Men. But where do they find any Directions in Scripture to tell any of them to what