Imatges de pàgina
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suppose a divine aslistance, by which the spirit of God informs us what is the mind of God contained in his revelation; then this assistance, or work of the spirit in us, is either an aflifting of our reason in its use and exercise, as aforesaid, or else it is an immediate informing of our understandings, by inspiration or otherways, of those truths which are contain'd in that revelation. If the former, this is just the same with what I said, viz. it is in the exercise of our reason that we discover the mind of God, as aforesaid; only here it is suppof'd, that God by his spirit alists and helps our reafon in its use and exercise, and this he

may do in all those cases where truth is discover'd by reason, for ought that we know. If it be the latter, viz. by immediately informing our understandings, by inspiration or otherways, without the use of reason, as aforesaid, then this is not a helping us to understand a former revelation, but it is itself a new revelation to us ; for tho' the truths we are inform'd of are such as are contain’d in, but not understood by, the written word; yet they are as much a new revelation to us, as if they had not been contain’d in it. From hence I conclude, that it is in the use and exercise of our reason that we discover the mind of God contain'd in his revelation, there being no other means, that we know of, but this, for us to discover it by. And thus we see that reason has its use, even in matters of faith,

TRACT

AN

ENQUIRY
Concerning PRAYER.

HIS Enquiry is four-fold; first, what prayer is; fecondly, who is the proper object of prayer; ibirdly, what are the

ends of prayer; and fourthly, what prayer will be accepted and answered, First, What

prayer is ? Prayer, when directed to God, may be considered in a larger, or in a more restrained fenfe. When considered in a larger sense, it signifies the address or application of a dependant being, to his supreme governour, and original benefactor. And so it comprehends, or contains all those particular acts, which, when distinguished one from another, we call confesfion, petition, thanksgiving, and the like. But, when it is considered in a more restrained sense, then we confine it to a petition only. And in this sense, it may respects the petitioner, or others. If it respects the petitioner, then it is a petitioning to be deliver'd from fome evil that we feel, or to escape fome evil that we fear; or a petition ing for a supply of those good things we want, or for the continuance of those we already enjoy. If it respects others, this may be considered in two respects, viz. imprecation, and interceflion. By imprecation, we mean petitioning for fome evil to be inflicted upon them, or continued to them: and, by intercession, we mean 2 petitioning for fome good to be conferr'd

upon them, or continued to them, or for the removing

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or preventing of some evil, which they are under, or in danger of falling ino. In the present enquiry, I shall consider prayer in a restrained sense as it is confined to petition, and likewise as it refpects the petitioner only. And accordingly, I say, that prayer is the act of the mind, carried out in desire after some good not enjoy'd. I say prayer is the act of the mind; in which I exclude the act of the tongue, as effential to prayer. And the reason of this is evident, because we can put up our desires to God without the use of vocal words to express those desires by; and consequently the use of the tongue is not essential to prayer, i Indeed, when our desires are to be express'd, in order for others to join their defires with them, as in publick prayer, then the use of the tongue is necessary to that end, byt this does not make it necessary and effential to prayer, consider'd simply in itself

. Again, I say, prayer is the act of the mind, carried out in desire after some good. By which I mean, that the thing prayed for is always good in itself

, ac least it is so in the judgment of the petitioner, or else it is good considered as a means, either to continue fome present or procure some future good or to remove some present, or avert some future evil. I say, the thing prayed for, is always good under one or other of these considerations because it is impossible for a man to desire for himself evil, as such; and therefore when men desire death, which is an evil of all evils that mankind generally flee from, they do not desire it as evil, but as good, that is, as a means either to obtain some good which they expect beyond it, or elfe to remove them from some great evil which chey esteem worse than death. Again, I say, that prayer is the act of the mind, carried out in derire after some good (1.08 enjoyed.] As the thing prayed for is always good 'under one or on ther of the foremention'd considerations, so it is. always future or at a distance. And the reason of this is manifeft, because desire always supposes the absence of the thing desired; and therefore it must be either future and at a distance, or else it cannot be desired by us. Indeed, we may desire, and consequently pray for the continuance of what we already enjoy; but this is not praying for what we have, but for what we have not, viz. for the continuance of what we have, which continuance as yet we have not. Again, I say, prayer is the act of the mind [carried out. ] . By which I mean, that it is carried out in desire or petition to God, that he will vouchsafe to give us the thing which we desire to have. For as prayer is an act of desire, fo we must not only desire to have what we want, but also we must desire or petition God to give us that thing, or else it is not prayer. Desire, in this case, has a two-fold act ; first, we defire the having or enjoying of a thing ; and, fecondly, we desire or petition God to give us that enjoyment. Now it is the lattar of thefe only, which is prayer. If a man is sick of some disease, and he desires to have health, in this cafe, the bare desiring to have health is not prayer; but when to our desire of having a thing, we add : a desire, and direct that desire, as a petition or address to God, that he will vouchsafe to give us health, or the thing desired, this is prayer. Lastly, I say, prayer is the act of the mind carried out in [desire.] In which I exclude all other acts of the mind, from being prayer; and therefore I say, that love, hatred, hope, fear, joy, forrow, anger, and the like, tho' these are acts of the mind, yet they are not prayer; and tho' these may be exercised in, or be the occasion of, or be he attendants of prayer, yet they are not

prayer

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prayer itself. And as to those other acts of the mind, which are so united to desire, that it cannot be brought forth into act without them, such as thought and reflection, yet even these are not prayer; for tho' we cannot desire any thing without thinking upon what we desire, and tho' we think and reflect upon a thing never so much, yet

if that thought and reflection does not produce an actual desire, and the putting forth of that desire by petition to God, this is not prayer. So that whatever goes beyond, or falls short of the going out of desire to God, is not prayer. Desire may be weaker or stronger, and the putting forth of that desire, in petition to God, may be more or less earnest, or fervent, or whatever term we express it by, and every degree of desire, whether greater or less, put forth as aforefaid, is prayer ; because it is that wherein the

prayer consists, viz. the act of the mind going forth in desire to God; but whatever is lefs or more than this, is not prayer. Thus, when a man would pray to God, it is not enough for him to use praying words, that is, words which are expressive of desire, neither is it; enough for him to employ his mind in thinking upon, and producing of words which are suitable, and proper for the expressing of such desire; for whether we instantly think upon words, or whether. we use words already prepared to our hands, either by ourselves or others, it makes no alteration in the case, any otherways than as either of them is a help or a hindrance to prayer, as perhaps either of them may be a help to some men in lome cases, and a hindrance to others; neither is it enough for him to mind what the sense and. meaning of those words are, which he uses, becaule all this may be done, and yet he may nog pray. His thinking upon any subject, and speak

very essence of

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