Imágenes de páginas
[graphic][merged small]

on prayer elf did not h wherewith ple; or as if nt this fancy of had not left us, night both remain and serve as a patner prayers with effiof words."

aps be found, that this spiritual prayer, in the generally taken, has been erstanding of the Apostle's ect. "I will pray," says the spirit, and I will pray with the "To comprehend the meanon this occasion, it is necessary particular object he had in view. hen, it is observed, is here speaking inary gifts of the Spirit, which were uchsafed to the infant Church, for the d's Eccl. Pol. book v. +1 Cor. xiv. 15.

[ocr errors]

player the greatest is that very set and standing order itself, which, framed with common advice, Hathi, both for matter and formy prescribed what soever is herein publicly doneNos doubt, from God it hath proceeded; and by us must be acknowi leaged a work of singular care and providehbey that the Church hath evermore held on prescript form of prayer, although not in all things every where the same, yet for the most part retaining sull the he same analogy, ɓSo that if the liturgies of all ancient Churches throughout the world be compared amongst themselves, it may be easily perceived they had all one original mould; and that the public prayer of the people of God, in Churches thoroughly settled, did never use to be voluntary dictates, proceeding from any man's extemporal wit. To him which considereth the grievous and scanda-lous inconveniences whereunto they make themselves daily subject, with whom any blind and secret corner is judged a fit house of common prayer; the manifold confusions which they fall into, where every man's private spirit and gift (as they term it) is the only bishop that ordaineth him to this ministry, the irksome deformities whereby, through endless" and senseless' effusions of undigested prayers, they oftentimes disgrace, in most insufferable manner, |the worthiest part of Christian duty towards God; who herein are subject to no certain order, but pray both what and how they list to him, I say, which weigheth duly all these things, the reasons cannot be obscure why God doth, in public prayer, so much respect the solemnity of places where the authority and calling of

persons by whom, and the precise appointment, even with what words or sentences, his name should be called on amongst his people. The best stratagem that Satan hath, who knoweth his kingdom to be no one way more shaken than by the public devout prayers of God's Church, is by traducing the form and manner of them, to bring them into contempt; and so to shake the force of all men's 'devotion towards them. From this, and from no other forge, hath proceeded a strange conceit, that to serve God with any set form of common prayer is superstitious. As though God himself did not frame to his priests the very speech wherewith they were charged to bless the people; or as if our Lord, even of purpose to prevent this fancy of extemporal and voluntary prayers, had not left us, of his own framing, one which might both remain as a part of the Church liturgy, and serve as a pattern whereby to frame all other prayers with efficacy, yet without superfluity of words.”*

But after all, it will perhaps be found, that this prevailing idea respecting spiritual prayer, in the sense in which it is too generally taken, has been grounded upon a misunderstanding of the Apostle's meaning upon this subject. "I will pray," says the Apostle, "with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also."+ To comprehend the meaning of the Apostle on this occasion, it is necessary to advert to the particular object he had in view. The Apostle, then, it is observed, is here speaking of the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, which were graciously vouchsafed to the infant Church, for the *Hooker's Eccl. Pol. book v. +1 Cor. xiv. 15.

purpose of effecting the more speedy and general propagation of the Christian cause. Among these gifts, that of praying by the spirit was confessedly one. But, alas! through the infirmity of human nature, these spiritual gifts, designed for the edification of the Church, were not always employed to that purposefu Vanity and ostentation in the sometimes took place of better



exercise of motives. To correct this notorious, abuse of Divine grace, and to regulate the exercise of spiritual gifts in such a manner, that they might prove beneficial to the parties for whose sake they were originally granted, was the object the Apostle had in view in writing his this part of epistle.

[ocr errors]


LL.Abo nd rear Ubaydr That attendants upon a Divine ordinance should be benefited by the minister of it, it twas absolutely necessary that they should understand what they heard. To this end, he who had the gift of tongues, if he prayed in a tongue unknown to his hearers, is required by the Apostle, to interpret at the same time, that his congregation might be benefited as well as himself. “I would,” says the Apostle, that ye all spake with tongues (that you all partook of that miraculous gift whereby you might be enabled to speak languages, you had, never learned;) but rather that ye prophesied; for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the Church may receive edifying." Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue, pray, that he may interpret." And for the following very evident reason: for," continues the Apostle,



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful; "not unfruitful to myself, but to my congregation. As if he had said, if I pray in an unknown tongue,

without at the DIE DER


my prayer, the spirit within me prayeth, it is true; or I may be said to pray by the spirit; but my meaning being unintelligible must of course be unprofitable to my hearers. What is' i it then? I will pray with the spirit, I will pray with the understanding also.” In Words, if therefore I do make use of that gift bestowed upon me, of praying by the spirit, I will make use of it in a manner that I may be understood by my hearers, that they, not less than myself, may be edified by my prayer. That such is the sense in which praying by the spirit is here to be understood, we conclude from what the Apostle has subjoined in the following verses: Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving seeing he under of " standeth not what thou sayest; for thou verily givest thanks we well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all; yet the Church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue."

[ocr errors]

Hence we see, that by praying by the spirit is here meant, praying in a language unknown to the congregation; and by praying with the understanding, praying in a language with which they are * 1 Cor. xiv. 5, 13, 14, 16, et seq.

« AnteriorContinuar »