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"any positive Precept; and therefore we do not ** find that in the Law of Moses, there is any ** Precept commanding This Duty." I have several Remarks to make upon This Pasiage, which is by no means accurate, or just. In she first Place, if he means, by in the Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, it is true, but nothing to the Purpose because, if it be any where commanded under the Jewifi Dispensation, it is the fame Thing. Secondly, a Thing may carry the Force, or Obligation, of a Precept, tho' it be not express'd directly m the preceptive Stile. If it any way appears that it is the Will of God that we should do a thing, his Will is a Law, or Command, for the doing of it, let the Manner of Expression be what it Will; and answers all the Purposes of an express Precept. This I apprehend to be the Cafe with regard to the Passage in our Saviour's Sermon, .which the Bishop quotes; but it is not to my present Purpose to consider it. Thirdly, he says, that Prayer is a Duty so clearly taught by the Light of Nature, that there isoas no Need of a Positive Precept to enjoin it. The Light of Nature is , an ambiguous Expression, as I have before observ'd. If he meant that mere Reason, unassisted by Revelation, could clearly discover Prayer to be a Duty, I have already shewn the contrary to be true. Nay, sarther, that without Revelation we could not prove that we are so much as permitted to pray to God, consequently, that the Practice took its Rise from a positive Precept. Bur, now let us enquire whether God has not declar d
it, in the old Testament, to be his Will that we fliould pray to him j if he has, then Prayer is enjoined by a positive Command under the "Jewish Dispensation. Before the building of the temple, there had been Places, particularly, the Tabernacle, consecrated by the Appointment of God, for his Worship, where he gave visible Tokens of his more immediate Presence: It is absolutely certain, from plain Pastages of Scripture, that Prayer was practised in those Days; from whence it must be concluded, that Prayer was Part of the Worship which God required them to offer up in those Places, which he had appointed, andsanctified. But, the Temple, which was built by God's immediate Direction, is stiled, by himself, the House os Prayer. In This House he promised to meet his People, to hear, and accept their Addresses. Is not This a divine Appointment to pray to God in this consecratedPlace? To This House they were to look whenever they prayed, in any other Place, in full Assurance that God would hear and accept such Prayers. Was not This a divine Appointment, commanding all People to pray? But, there are in the Old Testament many express Directions to This Purpose, such as these. O thou that hear eft Prayer, unto thee shall all Flesh come.—Prayer shall be made ever unto him, and daily shall he be praised.—Sing forth the Honour os his Name, make his Praise to be glorious.—Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy Works ?—0 bless our God, ye People. —Offer to God Thank/giving.-~-Then they shall confess their Sins that they have done.—Are not
these these positive Directions for every Pars of Prayer? Were not these Directions given by divine Inspiration? Is not, then, the Duty of Prayer a divine appointment? Was not all This done during the Jewish Dispensation, while the Law of Moses was in Force? And if all This be true, as it most certainly is, how can any learned Man say, that when our Saviour gave his Disciples Directions concerning Prayer, Men were supposed to have practised this Duty, not by any divine Appointment, but upon the Principles of natural Religion only ?—If we proceed to the New Testament we meet with Variety of the plainest Precepts; some of which I shall transcribe.— Men ought always to pray.—/ will that Men pray every where.—Pray without ceasing.—Watch and pray.—Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by Prayer and Supplication; with Thanksgiving, let your Requests be made known unto God. I avoid troubling the Reader with any Quotations, where the particular Parts of Prayer are distinctly mentioned, because That has been done under the first Head; where I shewed the different Acceptations of the Word in different. Places, and that it sometimes comprehends every Part of Prayer, as in the following Words, pray with all Prayer. But This Point is so very obvious, that no Man can deny that every Part of Prayer is commanded in the New Testament. The only Difficulty is, to account for the Neglect of This important Duty in those who profess their Belief of the Bible, and especially in those who profess themselves the Disciples of
Christ, Christ, while they refuse to follow the Example, or Precepts of their Master. He prayed, himself, both in publick, and in private; in the Temple, and on Mountains, and in Desarts j in the most frequented, and in the most retir'd Places; he hath taught, and commanded, all his Followers to pray j and, yet, we have too much Reason to fear that Numbers, who dishonour his N^me by calling themselves Christians, never offer up any Prayers to God in their Closets, or with their Families j and some there are who scarce ever appear in any Place of publick Worship; very few that attend publick Prayers so often as they might, and would do if they had a right Notion of their Obligation to the Performance of a Duty so positively enjoined, so advantageous and comfortable to those who perform it properly. The first of these, the determined Infidel, and notoriously irreligious Professor of Christianity, I can only pray for, not having much Hope of converting, and reclaiming them; but I shall endeavour to enforce a more frequent Practice of This Duty upon all those who retain any serious Sense of Religion.
Concerning the Effects of Prayer.
IN the last Chapter I shew'd, from the Nature of Prayer, that it must be a more influencial Means of Religion and Virtue than Meditation, or Contemplation, under any possible Circumstances; fcumstances; but I sliall now enlarge upon the advantageous Effects of it upon our Minds. Upon this Occasion I shall cite a Passage from that truly pious Christian, Archbishop Sharp, in one of his most admirable Sermons, p. 30, Vol. 4. u Prayer is to our Souls what Meat and lt Drink are to our Bodies; their Repast, their "Nourishment, and Support: Prayer is the "great universal Instrument by which we fetch "down Blessings from above, and obtain whatever we want: Prayer is bur Defence against "Sin, and Temptation ; the Security of our Vir
; *' tue, and the especial Means to advance it. "Prayer is the Wing of our Souls, whereby
."; we raise up ourselves, above this lower World K> the God above, and with whom while we "therein converse, we become more and more "'-transform'd into his Nature.
'Vt' Whatever"Anticipations of Heaven there "are here upon Earth; whatever Foretastes we *c Cbrijiiam have, in these Bodies, of the Hari"piness of Eternity, they are all effected by the "Means of Prayer."
This general Account of the Matter is certainly
just, and strong, and tender; what That Saint .on Earth experienced in himself; what every other Chriftian may feel, in Proportion as he approaches towards his angelic Disposition, and habitual Exercise of the Duty. But, if we consider attentively the Nature of the Thing, we may easily perceive how the proper Performance of every Part of Prayer produces pious and virtuous Dispositions. When we praise and magnify