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By a Miniſter of the Church of England.

Cum Judice fabulatur, & ad ejus penetralia Precator admitti­tur; Neque ullus inde reſpuitur, niſi qui in oratione Tepidus invenitur. Caſſ. in Pſal.
Multoque melius eſt de duobus imperfectis Ruſticitatem ſanctam habere, quàm Eloquentiam peccatricem. Hier. in ep. ad Nepot.

LONDON: Printed by R. ROBERTS, and are to be Sold by the Bookſellers in London and Weſtminſter. MDCXCVI


THE Deſign of this little Tract is not to make or Widen any Breaches: But rather to contri­bute ſome Endeavours towards the Heal­ing of thoſe Wounds which Angry men delight ſtill to Vex and Torture: Nor would I Expoſe Prayer as Cheap and Contemptible to any, But make it Eaſy and Familiar to all. That ſuch as have but little Liſt to it, or Kindneſs for it, may ſee what Need there is of it, and be Quickened to it: And that others who have more Inclination this way, but find many Rubs and Perplexities lying be­fore them, may ſee the Paſſage clear'd, and perceive that there are no ſuch Dif­ficulties in it, but what any ordinary man, who means well, may Eaſily deal with: And ſo be Encouraged to pro­ceed, And not Drag on Heavily, but find the Duty a Delight, And Serve the Lord with Gladneſs.

I confeſs the firſt Occaſion of this Diſ­courſe was given by ſome Paſſages in Two Sermons upon Eccleſ. V. 2. Preach'd and lately Publiſh'd by a Reverend and Learned Doctor, whoſe Name I forbear to mention, Not for dread of a Stab from his Pen: But out of Regard to his Perſon, as well as Place, both upon the Account of what I have heard him, long ago, ſpeak from the Pulpit, in Defence of the Faith, Doctrine and Religion of the Church of England, ex­preſſed in her Articles: And alſo what I have ſeen, of late, in ſome of his Wri­tings from the Preſs, to the ſame In­tent: Particularly his juſt Zeal to Vin­dicate the Goſpel-Doctrine of our Bleſ­ſed Saviour's Satisfaction, againſt the Pa­ganiſh Principles of ſuch as imploy their Parts and Wit to Ridicule it.

Nor do I take upon me any Crimi­nation of the main Contents of thoſe very Sermons, in which yet there is ſome­what that I make bold to Reflect on. For as I know how greatly they are in Vogue with many, (who perhaps may like the Eriſtical ſquabling Subject, bet­ter than they do the old Anti-Remon­ſtrant Author:) So I profeſs my ſelf Beholden to him, for ſome curious Notions I learned from them: And do find a great deal more, wherein I hear­tily Subſcribe and Conſent to him: And all along, give him the due praiſe of his exact Method, his elaborate Peri­ods, his ſurprizing Turns of Wit, and Quickneſs of Expreſſion. But there are other Words and Things he has dropt here and there, which, in my appre­henſion, ſeem not ſo agreeable to the Genius of the Goſpel: at which indeed I have ſtumbled: and am afraid they may have but a ſorry Effect, in giving Prejudice to many more conſiderable than my ſelf: Yea to give the Enemies of the Lord occaſion to Blaſpheme: And to ſtartle the pious Souls of Weak Chriſtians, and make them afraid to Stand faſt in the Liberty wherewith Chriſt hath made us Free.

Not every florid Harangue trimm'd with Witticiſms, and pointed with Sar­caſms, to make the Juvenile Academicks Merry, is the moſt Edifying diſcourſe to Better the World. I can remember ſince ſuch Athenian Entertainments were Tranſporting Muſick to my ſelf: which now I Abhor as the moſt harſh and grating Noiſes. And I cannot applaud that for the Beſt Sermon, which makes the worſt part of the Audience moſt Sport. May I be ſo happy to ſpeak to the Conſcience and Satisfaction of Serious and Experienced Chriſtians: And I am in little care to Tickle the wanton ears of Novices in Religion, and Scoffers at De­votion.

But ſo far as I have ſomewhere brief­ly made bold to touch upon this Re­verend Divine, 'Tis not in the bitter Satyrical ſtrain, wherein he has of late thought fit to handle his learned Brother. Indeed, (as ſome are ſtartled to obſerve a new ſort of Calvinian Rigor, and ſuch boiſterous Blaſts from that Point, which has a Name for the Mildeſt Quarter, ſo) I cannot but Admire to ſee men ſo free­ly deal their Blows, and let fly at others, for Inſufferable Inſolence both of Stile and Temper,Animadv. p. 353. crying out of them for Infinitely Scornful, and Ex­treamly Spightful: Thus ſeeming to For­get that Duty which (ſay they) every man owes both to Decency and himſelf, always obliging him to ſpeak only as becomes him, however Adverſaries provoke him. A good Rule, ſo apt to be forgotten, That he whom moſt tongues do praiſe for teach­ing us the Governnment of the Tongue, complains It is a piece of Morality which ſober Nature dictates, and yet in Contro­verſies many of our greateſt Scholars ſeem totally to have Unlearn't it: Managing Diſ­putes in Religion with ſuch Virulence, that one would think the Diſputants had put off much of Humanity,Dec. Chriſt Pi. p. 279. before they came thus to treat of Divinity.

Nor ſhould I have ſaid any thing at all wherein this Author might have thought himſelf concerned, had not I fear'd, his Reflections might Hurt others, more than mine are like to Damnify him. But being equally Engaged with him in the Common Cauſe of Preach­ing the Goſpel, As far as I underſtand it, Wo to me if I do it not. And when I know that Goſpel to be no Servile Yoke, but a Law of Liberty: As ſuch therefore I do appear for it. And whoever cry out of a Gap opened to Licentiouſneſs, I think we ſhould be in as much care to Maintain the Liberty, as to prevent the Abuſe. Or elſe they who complain ſo much of the Prieſt-Riding, (however abuſively they are wont to apply it; Yet) may pick out matter for a juſt Charge, That we Han­dle the word of God deceitfully, and Shun to declare to them all the Counſel of God: And like Lords over his beritage, and Harder Maſters than Chriſt, withhold from them what he has Granted them: And Tie them up, where he has ſet them Free.

It will be no Surprize to me, If I find the Reward ſo commonly beſtow­ed on ſuch as write Irenicums, for Ad­juſting and Compounding Litigious mat­ters, i. e. To be pincht on both Sides. The Anteſignani that lead Contending Par­ties, thô all to pieces in every thing elſe, yet can meet and hold together, like Sampſon's Foxes, to carry Firebrands, and ſet the Fields all in a Flame. I know what the Moderate man uſes to be taken for, among ſuch furious Drivers: But I muſt beg their pardon, If I can­not take them for any of the beſt Judges. I had much rather be determined by our late moſt Reverend and Renown­ed Primate, (whoſe great Soul much diſdain'd the mean Service of our Squib­bing Boutefeus, that fill the Church with endleſs Noiſe, and Heat, and pother, about the Mint, Anniſe and Cummin: But was for having all ſuch Bones Buried be­fore his Own); and I cannot forbear to quote a Golden Paragraph, worthy of ſuch an Excellent Author, in his Preface to a Collection of Biſhop Wilkins Sermons, vindicating the moſt deſerved Fame of that Right Reverend Prelate; ſays he, I purpoſely mention his Moderation, and like­wiſe adventure to Commend him for it; Not­withſtanding that this Vertue, ſo much eſteem­ed and Magnified by Wiſe men, in all Ages, has of late been Declaim'd againſt with ſo much Zeal and Fierceneſs, and yet with that good Grace and Confidence, as if it were not only no Vertue, but even the Sum and abridge­ment of all Vices. I ſay, notwithſtanding this, I am ſtill of the old opinion, That Mode­ration is a Vertue, and one of the peculiar ornaments and advantages of the excellent Conſtitution of our Church, and muſt at laſt be the temper of her Members, eſpe­cially the Clergy, if ever we ſeriouſly intend the firm Eſtabliſhment of this Church, and do not induſtriouſly deſign, by cheriſhing heats and diviſions among ourſelves, to let in Popery at thoſe Breaches.

I break not in upon any thing that is Eſtabliſhed, nor confront whatever for Decency and Order is Appointed: being well ſatisfied, That I can be a Member and Miniſter of the Church of England, and yet the Lord's Free-man. Yea whenever I look towards Rome, I cannot but bleſs his Name, That by the Grace of God I am Where, and What I am.

But I cannot think they are True to their Lord, nor Juſt to their Church, nor yet Kind to their Brethren, who would have men under their Girdle, where the Lord, and the Church both has left them at Liberty. What is ſo Graciouſly Given and Granted, I do Plead for, in behalf of every one that ought to Share in it. And if thou art contented with this, Reader, and craveſt no more, Take ſo much Liberty, without ſcruple, and much good may it do thee: And ſo Farewell.

THE Introduction,
pleading for Prayer it Self. Page 1
The Liberty of Praying, as to the Matter of Prayer. 8
The Liberty of Praying, as to the Manner. 14
Sect. 1.
Of the Freedom and Boldneſs of Ad­dreſs. 15
Sect. 2.
The Liberty of Ʋſing the Voice or not. 27
Sect. 3.
The Liberty to uſe Long Prayers or Short. 30
Sect. 4.
The Liberty of uſing Plain Words, or Elegant. 40
Sect. 5.
The Liberty of uſing this Poſture or that. 45
Sect. 6.
The Liberty of uſing a Form or none. 51
Sect. 7.
The Liberty of uſing one Form or another. 65
Sect. 8.
The Liberty of Varying our Prayers, as to the Parts and Words. 79
The Liberty of Praying, as to the Time. 85
Sect. 1.
The Liberty to Pray at any Time. Ib.
Sect. 2.
Of Praying Without Ceaſing. 88
Sect. 3.
Of Chuſing the Beſt Times for Prayer. 90
Sect. 4.
The Liberty of Praying in time of trouble. 93
The Liberty for the Place of Prayer. 97
The Liberty of Prayer, as to the Perſons Pray­ing. 101
Sect. 1.
The Liberty that All Sorts have to Pray. Ibid.
Sect. 2.
What Liberty have Sinners to make their Prayers. 107
The Liberty of Prayer, as to the Perſons Prayed for. 114
Sect. 1.
The Liberty of Praying for All. Ibid.
Sect. 2.
The Liberty of Praying for Wicked men. 122
The Cloſe of the Firſt Part,
Juſtifying the Liberty pleaded for. 124
  • THE Tranſition, To Obviate Bigots, and prevent Miſtakes. 131
  • CHAP. I.
    Sect. 1.
    The Licentiouſneſs Not to Pray at all. 133
    Sect. 2.
    Of ſuch as withhold Prayer out of Per­verſeneſs. 136
    Sect. 3.
    Of Deſpiſing Prayer out of Profane­neſs. 141
    Sect. 4.
    Of Neglecting Prayer out of Lazineſs. 143
  • CHAP. II. Of not Praying in the Places meet for Prayer. 146
    Sect. 1.
    Of not Praying at the Church. Ibid.
    Sect. 2.
    Of not Praying in the Family. 151
    Sect. 3.
    Of not Praying in Secret. 159
  • CHAP. III. Of Licentiouſneſs as to the Time of Prayer. 162
  • CHAP. IV. Of the Licentious asking Unfit things. 168
  • CHAP. V. Of Licentiouſneſs as to the Object of Prayer. 171
  • CHAP. VI. Of Licentiouſneſs in the Manner of Prayer. 174
    Sect. 1.
    Taking no care of the Heart. Ibid.
    Sect. 2.
    Taking no care of the Words. 178
    Sect. 3.
    Taking no care of the Behaviour in Prayer. 181
    Sect. 4.
    Praying without taking care of our Living. 184
  • CHAP. VII. Licentiouſneſs concerning the Succeſs of Prayer. 189
  • CHAP. VIII. Licentiouſneſs in Flying out againſt our Fellow-Worſhippers. 191
  • The Peroration, with a call to Moderation and Devotion. 196


PAge 4. line 9, dele the p. 17. l. 3. after raſe r. our. p. 78. l. . delee. Part II. Chap. 2. Sect. 1. l. 1. after Combin'd r. H•…­many.


PART I. THE Liberty of PRAYER Aſſerted.

The Introduction, pleading for Prayer it ſelf.

THE Liberty of Prophecying (which is a Diſputable Privi­ledge, and not belonging to many,) hath been Aſſerted by a famous Author: And why may not any one Aſſert the Liberty of Prayer, which is a Priviledge Uncontroverted, wherein every one in the World hath a Right? Should not a Peo­ple ſeek to their God? Is not only the voice of Scripture, but the very Suggeſtion of Nature, to every Reaſonable Creature, who in the ſenſe of his Wants, is taught to Seek out for Supply; And when any thing ails him, to cry O God! And look out for Help from A­bove.


The ſame Light which ſhews us a God, teaches us alſo the Veneration of that Almighty Being which is ſo Superlatively Excellent. Pſal. 86.9, 10. All Nations whom thou haſt made ſhall come and worſhip before thee O Lord: And ſhall Glorify thy Name. For thou art Great, and doſt Wondrous things: Thou art God alone. No Eth­nicks that ever own'd any Deity, have denied Invocation: which is as the Bucket whereby we draw out of God's Infinite Fulneſs, to ſupply our wants. Even thoſe rude Seamen, Jon. 1.5. Cried every man to his God. And St. Paul tells us, Rom. 10.12. There is no difference be­tween the Jew and the Greek, For the ſame Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 'Tis the Reaſonable Service which every Wiſe conſi­dering man muſt needs chuſe and perform. Nor can we make any better Uſe of the Reaſon which God hath given us to Know Him: or of the Speech wherewith he hath endowed us to ex­preſs his Glory. Indeed our very Precarious Beings call us to Prayers: As all Weak things are taught by the Dictates of their own Nature, to make towards, and Lean upon, that which will Support them: The Hop, the Vine, the Ivy, (that cannot ſtand Themſelves,) With their wires and Tendrils catch hold on ſome­what elſe to bear them up. So what ſhould poor Derivative Creatures but repair to the Almighty Giver, to be alſo the Continual Pre­ſerver of their Being? When we feel our-ſelves ſtill verging to Nothing, And that we have3 no power to hold our Souls in Life one Moment: Whither ſhall we betake our ſelves, but to the Root of all Being for Support? And in the want of every thing, whither but to the Fountain of all Goodneſs, for Supply? We hang upon Him ſtill for our Being, and all the Comforts of it; who continues to Create us every moment. And Prayer is the Souls Flying back again to Him from whom it came: Who exacts our Devotions, as the Sun draws Vapours from the earth: Not to retain them for his own Bene­fit, but to rain them down in Showers of Mer­cy upon us. The Debt is owing to him, but the paying of it, only Advantageous to ourſelves: And in ſerving him, we ſerve our own beſt In­tereſt.

He commands indeed many things above the power of Nature, to bring us upon our Knees for his Grace, that where our ſtrength ends, there our Prayers may begin: And that we may Seek for that in Him, which we have not in ourſelves. And tho the infinitely Wiſe and Good needs neither our Confeſſions, to Inform him of our Wants, Nor our Petitions to make him Inclinable to Relieve them: Yet he will be Enquired of by us, to do for us: And notwithſtanding He Blots out our Tranſ­greſſions for his Own Sake: Yet he Calls on us to Call upon Him: And bids, Put me in Re­membrance: Let us plead together: Declare thou, that thou maiſt be juſtified. Iſa. 43.25. and 6. And by this means we come to Bethink our­ſelves,4 From whence it is that we have all: That we may not impute to our Good Luck, what we owe to the Divine Bounty: Nor Undervalue the Favours of Heaven, coming ſo Lightly by them, without any Seeking. He will have us exerciſe our Repentance to­wards him, our Dependance upon him, and our Affiance in him: So to Diſpoſe us for the the Reception and Fruition of what we would have from him. And therefore In­vites us to his Gates, that he may load us with his Bleſſings: And commands us to Ask, and Seek, and Knock, That we may receive, and Find, and Enjoy. This Key the Gracious God is pleas'd to put into our Hands, That we may go to all the inexhauſtible Treaſures of his Bounty, even as we go to our Table for Meat. That we who are ſo Indigent and Beggarly, may be throwly furniſhed with Him, who is Able to do exceeding abundantly, even above all that we ask or think. And O how well is it for us! And what riches of Grace from the Lord of Love, That the Gates of Heaven ſhall be open'd at our Knocking: That a Supply ſhall be Granted for our Asking: And that our dili­gent Seeking ſhall be rewarded with Finding Eternal Glory! O how would the Courts of Kings be thronged, if their Gates and Hearts and Hands were ſo Open to all Comers? If it were no more, but Come and Ask and Have?


It is not more needful for a Creature to live in Dependance on his Maker and Preſerver, But it is as full of ſweet Satisfaction, for poor frail Inſufficient wretches, who Want every thing, and lye open here ſtill to all Changes and Trou­bles and Dangers, To have an All-ſufficient Helper, and the ſafeſt Sanctuary to Repair to, and Solace our ſelves in. O what ſhould we do, and whither Betake our ſelves, if we had not this Happy Retreat to turn in at? If left Deſo­late to ſhift for our ſelves, and make us a Happi­neſs or want it? O Kind word then from a Good God, Come unto me, and Call upon me. As if he ſhould ſay, Unload your heavy Hearts with me, And Caſt your Care upon me: Make known your Requeſts to me, and put the mat­ter into my Hands; And I will take Care of you, and Provide for you. O the eaſy Acceſs that a poor ſoul has to the Throne of Grace! Where (as the good Biſhop Hall ſpeaks,) it is not Death to draw nigh, before the Golden Scepter be extended. No Time out of ſeaſon, No Per­ſon ſo inconſiderable, No Words ſo ordinary, no Boon ſo big, No Grant ſo hard, as to give the hearty Supplication a Repulſe, But riſing like a thin Miſt from the earth, it returns in a plentiful Rain of manifold Bleſſings.

Our kind Redeemer chides us that we make no more uſe of this ſweet and bleſſed Advantage. Joh. 16.24. Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my Name; Ask and ye ſhall receive, that your joy may be full. And how well do we deſerve to go with­out6 that, which we count not worth ſo much as the Asking for? O that we ſhould be ſo Liſtleſs to do our ſelves Good, when the God of all Grace is ſo Willing to be Kind? As it was ſaid of the Emperor Severus, (Moleſtius erat illi nihil peti, quàm dare,) It troubled him more to be Asked nothing, than to give much. And to the Courti­er that made not bold with him, he would ſay, (Quid eſt quod nihil petis?) What's the matter, thou askeſt no Boon of me? Let me know what thou wouldſt have, that thou maiſt not com­plain, Thou art never the better for me. So does the Lord of Love delight to ſee the Face of his Spouſe, and to Hear her Voice. Cant. 2.14. He ſollicites for Suiters, Joh. 4.23. Waits to be Gracious: Loves the Opportunities of diſ­penſing his Favours: And bids, Look unto me and be ſaved, all the ends of the earth. Iſa. 45.22. So far is he, (who knows what Need we all have of Him,) from Diſcouraging any to Ap­proach him, That he gives free leave and Licenſe to every one. All may come that Will. Nay it is not As they Will, But he has made it their Duty to Come: and all muſt be Supplicants or Rebels.

It is not then the Liberty to Pray or Not to Pray, that is to be Diſcourſed of: But the Per­miſſion that every one has, to frequent the Throne of Grace: The Boldneſs to Ask, Seek, and Knock at Heaven's Gates: Yea and chiefly, The Free­dom of Addreſs, any Where, at any Time or in any becoming Manner. Thô it be not at the7 Church, nor within Canonical Hours, nor juſt in this or that Mode and Form.

We are indeed Bound to it: But yet we muſt make a Free will offering of it, and be Volunteers at our Prayers. For if it be a Forced-put, it is not Religion. Beaſts might, but Men muſt not, be Dragg'd to God's Altar: nor be Threatned with Happineſs, nor Clubb'd into Heaven. No compulſi­on here, but by dint of Argument, and the charms of Perſwaſion: When we are ſo Convinc'd and wrought upon, that we know not how to Stand out againſt that, which appears every way ſo Rational, Needful and Beneficial.

This Liberty of Praying, (i. e. All the Liber­ty which Nature and Scripture give: So as not to run into that Licentiouſneſs, which I ſhall take care to Gard it from in the Second Part of this Diſcourſe): It may be conſidered, Not on­ly as to the Leave and Encouragement Given, from Heaven, to our Prayers: And the fair In­vitation made, (with Aſſurance of good Wel­come and Happy Succeſs, to All Fleſh that come to Him,) by the God that Heareth Prayers: (And who is pleaſed therefore to put that proper­ty among his Titles, As a mighty Attractive, to draw us with comfortable Expectation, to Him:) But the Liberty of Praying will admit of a more particular conſideration, with reſpect to the Mat­ter, Manner, Time and Place of Prayer: And the Perſons, both Praying, and Prayed for.


CHAP. I. The Liberty of Praying, as to the Matter.

FOR the Matter of Prayer, or the Petenda which we may put on for: There is a ve­ry Large Grant, and as much Scope given as any one can tell how to wiſh. Mat. 21.22. All things whatſoever ye ſhall ask in Prayer, Believing, ye ſhall receive. It leaves out nothing Deſirable, that a man can Need, or has the Boldneſs to Crave. But yet when words are too Wide for the Matter, they muſt be Limited according to the Mind of the Author. Which Rule is here to take place; For who can imagine that our Lord would put us upon Praying for things Ʋnlawful? things that would Diſhonor him to Grant, and Ruin us to Have? which yet would be comprehended un­der All things whatſoever, taken without any Li­mitation. Who can imagine, That he ſhould ever countenance the Wanton Praying for Health to fulfil his Luſts? Or the Malicious for opportu­nity to execute his Rage? Or the Ambitious for High places to gratify his Pride? Or the Cove­tous Praying for the Death of all that ſtand be­tween him and an Eſtate? Or the High-way man forrich Booty, and Succeſs in his adventures and Villany.

Men may be aſhamed to make their Tongues the Index of their Minds, as to ſuch Extravagant9 Deſires, which yet notwithſtanding may find harbor in their Hearts. But theſe wild and wicked Requeſts, be ſure, are none of the Petitions which our Holy Saviour emboldens us to offer. The De­vil, that is very free of what is none of his own, will promiſe without Exception, as he did to Chriſt himſelf, All theſe things will I give thee. But by our Lord's All, we muſt never underſtand any more than is Lawful and convenient: What is Fit for us to Ask, And what he has promiſed to Beſtow: i. e. The Kingdom of God, and his Righteouſneſs: With the addition of ſuch World­ly Appendages, as his Wiſdom knows proper and Good for us. Spiritual accompliſhments, and Temporal Advantages too: Even all needful to bring us to Heaven: And, till we reach thither, to Support us on Earth. But we muſt not offer Ʋnreaſonable Requeſts, To have all that a roving Fancy can tower up: Or for Impoſſible things, That God ſhould falſify his Word, to ſave us without Holineſs: Nor put him upon the expence of Miracles, to make us on a ſuddain, The moſt Learned or Great in the world: Nor Limit the Holy One to juſt the particulars of our naming: As the mother of Zebedee's children, That the one might ſit on the Right, and the other on the Left Hand, in his Kingdom: Nor Tempt the Lord our God, to turn Stones into Bread, Asking to be fed in our Sloth, and careleſneſs to help our ſelves.

But All things we have Liberty to ask, That make for the Glory of our Lord, and for our own real Good here, and our Eternal Salvation here­after. 10Indeed what he would have us Impor­tune our Father which is in Heaven for, He hath given us a Catalogue of, in that beſt Platform of Prayer, by which all ours are to be Modelled: i. e. To mind firſt the Glorifying and Pleaſing of God, And then the Serving of our own turns. The Bleſſings of Wiſdom's Right Hand, Such as the Pardon of ſin, the Knowledge of our Lord's Will, the Graces of God's Spirit, and Eternal Life, We are to pray for Urgently and Abſolutely, Becauſe the things cannot chuſe but prove for our Good: And we cannot Glorify God, and do Well without them. Light and Grace, and San­ctification, and the Spirit of Supplication, we muſt ſeek before Gifts, and Peace, and Conſo­lation: Becauſe we may go Weak and Troubled to Heaven: But if we know not God's ways we ſhall not Enter into his Reſt: And without Holineſs no ſeeing the Lord.

Then the World's Good, and what concerns our preſent Well-being in it, As Food and Rai­ment, Health and Eaſe, Deliverance and Quiet, Fruitful ſeaſons, and Proſperous circumſtances, We may pray for too; and not count it Carnal to Seek after even thoſe things which the Gentiles do; When our Heavenly Father, not only knows we have Need of them, but alſo by his Command, makes it our Duty to Ask them: And by his Promiſe, gives us Encouragement to Ask in Hopes of Receiving them. We may Beg ſo much of the World's Good, as will really do us Good: Yea and deſire what ſhall Comfort, as11 well as Support us: In caſe it do not Hinder, but Promote, our Duty. Tho' we dread the Beſt things of this World, for our Portion, Yet even theſe temporal Fruitions are deſirable, on Con­dition, That we may thereby Honour our Lord, and Secure our Salvation. For we are not ſure, that thoſe Means will effectually promote theſe Ends. God knows whether we ſhall be Bet­ter, in a Rich, Healthy, Proſperous, Or in a Poor, Sick, and Troubled ſtate. He is ſome­times Kindeſt to us, In Denying us what we are Eagereſt upon. The Chuſing of our Inheritance for us then, we had beſt Refer to Him: And be well pleaſed to be at his Finding, however he is pleaſed to uſe us.

But yet in the Conditional Petition even for Temporal things, we are not ſo Tied up, as to ask what comes to Nothing at all, and leave the matter juſt as we found it. There is more Li­berty here, than for the Sick man to pray as much for the Continuance or Increaſe of his Di­ſeaſe, as to have it Mitigated or Removed. The Requeſt may be Abſolute, only attended with a ſignified or a Silent Submiſſion to the wiſe and good Diſpoſal of the great Lord of all, tho' he ſhould determine otherwiſe. We may heartily Deſire the thing: But yet not be ſo Set upon it, as to deſire it in any Caſe, Tho' God ſhould be Offended, or our Souls Damnified, if not Un­done by it. We may deſire Honor, the better to ſerve the Publick Good: And Wealth, more to Honor the Lord, and Cheriſh the Poor, with12 our Subſtance: And Health, and Strength, and Length of Days, That we may be more Servicea­ble in our generation, and bring greater Glory to our Heavenly Father. Provided ſtill, we humbly Beſign our Wills to His, and take it Pa­tiently, Tho' we be Croſs'd, and fail of our Wi­ſhes: Yea perſwading our ſelves, then, It is Beſt for us, that ſo it ſhould be. The World's good things we muſt deſire but Sparingly, As not being ſure but they may Succeed no better to us, than the Quails to the Iſraelites, to make us the Worſe for them. But Covet earneſtly the Beſt Gifts, thoſe Holy qualifications, and Hea­venly Bleſſings that Accompany Salvation, which will certainly do us Good, and make us Happy. Whether we come in, or be left out of the Di­ſtribution of ſuch Common Favours, as God, with an Indifferent hand, ſcatters among all ſorts of men, That we may be Remembred with the Fa­vour which He bears to his People, and Viſited with the Joy of his Salvation. Little need have we to mind the Stuff here, when all the Good of the Promiſed Land is before us. And how well may that be called All, which takes in whatever the Largeſt Soul of man can wiſh?

We cannot ask the thing that is not there,
Blaming the Shallowneſs of our Requeſt.

His is the Power, to whom we Pray: And his Hand is never Shortned, But with the great­eſt Eaſe, can Effect whatever we would have. 13Let us not then be Streightned in our Prayers, when we have ſo much Liberty given us: And we cannot Open our mouths ſo wide, but He whoſe Gift is Eternal Life, has promiſed to Fill them: And to pleaſure us not only to the Half, but even the Whole of his Kingdom. And what more can we Ask or think, than All Heaven, and Glory everlaſting, with whatever is Condu­cing Here, to bring us Safe thither?

Poor Chriſtian, who art Humble and Con­trite, Trembling at Gods Word, Be not Modeſt in thy own Wrong: When thou art allowed to Enlarge thy Deſires as wide as to what's Infi­nite: Loſe it not for want of Asking. Thou mayſt think a Crown and Kingdom, moſt Glori­ous and never failing, too Good for thee, a Sinful wretch, to expect: But they are not too Great for the God Infinitely Good, to Beſtow. This is the drift of all thy Prayers: No leſs thou art to beg, than Chriſt, and with him All things: In this world, the Knowledge, and Love, and Obedience of Gods Truth, and in the world to come, Life everlaſting. And that End of thy Faith, The Salvation of thy Soul, as it muſt be the Aim, ſo it will be the Conſequence of thy Prayers. For whoſoever ſhall Call on the Name of the Lord ſhall be Saved. Rom. 10.13. Do but Ask as thou ſhould'ſt, and thou ſhalt Have what thou Wilt.


CHAP. II. The Liberty of Praying, as to the Manner.

THE Liberty of Praying is not ſo great for the Matter, But it is yet greater for the Manner. If Men will not go to Tye us up, where God hath left us Free. For tho' our Lord hath Limited us, as to the Particulars to to be asked: So, that we are to ask nothing, but what may be Reduced to ſome of the Heads which he hath preſcribed: Yet who could ever think that he tyed us up only to thoſe very Words? When as all Supplicants ſtill, (together with, or without thoſe,) have been accuſtomed to other Words: And yet not feared to tranſgreſs the Order of our Saviour.

But by this Liberty of the Manner of Prayer, I underſtand, The Freedom and Boldneſs of Addreſs: Uſing of the Voice or not: Long Pray­ers or Short: Plain or Elegant: This Poſture or that: A Form or none: One Form or another: Chuſing which Part ſhall go firſt: And Alter­ing, Adding, or Diminiſhing, according as we ſhall judge moſt Agreeable and Beneficial to our ſelves and others.


SECT. 1. Of the Freedom and Boldneſs of Addreſs.

NOtwithſtanding the infinite diſtance between us, and the moſt High God: We are en­couraged to come Boldly to the Throne of Grace. Heb. 4.16. Provided we Remember that we are Creatures, We are not to forget that we are Children: Children indeed of the moſt High: Yet Behold, God is Mighty, and Deſpiſeth not any. Job 36.5. As we muſt Manage our pri­viledge ſo that the Goodneſs of God may not cauſe us to forget his Greatneſs: (as the Doctor gives a good Caution:)Serm. p. 112. So, Vice verſâ, That his Great­neſs may not cauſe us to forget his Goodneſs. As it is ſaid of Luther, That he prayed, (Tantâ Reverentiâ, ut ſi Deo, Tantâ Confidentiâ ut ſi Amico: So Reverently as to God, ſo Confident­ly as to his Friend. For tho' God be the great­eſt King, Yet he takes not ſo much State as the Meaneſt For what King keeps a Court ſo Open, as to give Admittance to All Comers? Or tho' they Get in, every one muſt not look to Speed. But he that lives never ſo Obſcure on Earth, may go when he will, and Speak to the King of Heaven: Who not only Authorizes our Acceſs, but Invites us into his Preſence: And likes us ſo much the Better, the More we ask: And is Kinder and Better to us, than all the beſt16 and deareſt Friends we have in the world.

God's Children have not received The Spirit of Bondage again to Fear: But the Spirit of Adop­tion whereby they cry Abba Father. Rom. 8.15. Not to Fear? Why 'tis Madneſs not to Fear Him, at whoſe mercy we lye, and who hath the Power of us, to do what he will with us: No ſuch Hearts-eaſe, as to feel our hearts ſoft­ned into an Awful regard of the Glorious Ma­jeſty of the World, To Reverence his Name, and to be afraid to Loſe and Offend Him. Such as Fear him are call'd upon to Praiſe him. Pſal. 135.20. His filial Fear is not Inconſiſtent with his cheerful Praiſes. Who do ſo Fear him, have indeed moſt cauſe to Praiſe him, That by his Grace, he has wrought them to ſuch a Child­like diſpoſition. Nay the very repreſentations of God as a Terrible Judge, a Conſuming Fire, may do us the greateſt Kindneſs, To Haſten our flight from the Wrath to come: (As any one would give us cauſe of many Thanks, to Af­fright us from a deadly Precipice, upon which he ſaw us ready to run and to be Ruined:) But then the Fear which God's children have of him, is not a Slaviſh tormenting Dread, to affright them from Him, But ſuch a Caution and Circumſpection, as drives them out of dan­gers Home to Him, to Shelter under his Wings. Still they are to look upon him, clad in Gar­ments of Salvation, as well as of Majeſty: Be­nevolous to his Creatures, and eſpecially Good to the Soul that Seeks him: Not Hard, but on­ly17 to be Provoked: and eaſie to be Intreated: Full of Invitation, and all Encouragements and Endearments, to raiſe Hope, and enflame our Love. Not inviting us to Him, for any Ends upon us, but only to be Good to us: Loving all the occaſions to Exert his Bounty, and can de­ny the children of his Family no reaſonable Re­queſt. Yea as much delighting to Give, as we to Receive: As the Mother is no leſs pleas'd to have her Breaſts Drawn, than the Child to Suck. Nor does he part with his mercies, as one that is with Difficulty drawn to it: But only ſtays, till we are Ready to receive the things we ask, i. e. indeed till they will do us Good. (For till we are Ready for them, they are not Good for us.) And our Prayers are not to make him more Willing, but to make us more Prepared.

We muſt not go to God then Diſcouraged with a Servile Dread, but repair to Him, as to a Father: Tho' offended, yet Willing to be Re­conciled: And therefore puts us on to Ask our Pardon, that we may Receive it. And that he〈◊〉will not Clear the Guilty, ſhould yet be no Terror to any pious Souls in Chriſt Jeſus, Who are Accepted in the Beloved, even as if they had not Sinned. And Who ſhall lay any thing to the Charge of Gods Elect? When there is nothing in God Againſt them, but all For them. He that is of Purer Eyes than to Behold Iniquity, Sees none in them, but what he has received an At­tonement for. And ſo for all the Faults in them, Fury is not in Him. He is a Friend even to Sin­ners,18 in Him that hath Satisfi'd for their Sins When they Look unto Jeſus, That is their Wor­ſhipping towards the Temple, where God is Pro­pitious. And when we are apt to be Aſtoniſhed at the infinite Greatneſs and Majeſty, the Juſtice and Purity of God, Let us Bethink ourſelves, That yet we have to do with a God Satisfied for our Sins; and, in the Son of his Love, Reconci­led to our Souls. And thô we have no other Door of Admiſſion into the Divine Preſence, Yet we have Boldneſs, and acceſs with Confidence, thrô the Faith of Him, who is The Propitiation for our ſins. Out of this Angel's Hand, the Smoak of the Incenſe that comes with the Prayers of the Saints, aſcends up before God with a grate­ful Perfume. Rev. 8.4. And nothing fails that is put into his Hands, who Heartens all his members and followers, John 15.7. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, You ſhall ask what you will, and it ſhall be done unto you. Having therefore Boldneſs to enter into the Holieſt by the Blood of Jeſus, And ſuch a high Prieſt, as is Holy, Harmleſs, Ʋndefiled, Separate from•••­ners, and made Higher than the Heavens, where he Ever lives to make Interceſſion for us: And is Able alſo to ſave to the uttermoſt, all that come unto God thrô Him: We are to Draw nigh with a true heart, in full Aſſurance of Faith. Heb. 7.25. and 6. Ch. 10.19, 22.

Upon this Satisfaction and Mediation of the Beloved of God's Soul, In whom he is Well plea­ſed, is grounded all (the〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) that Free­dom19 of Speaking uſed by the Children of God, which makes them ſo Bold with their Heavenly Father: And yet no more Bold than Welcome. This makes them ſo Importunate and preſſing, Yea ſo Daring, as even to Argue and reaſon the caſe with their Maker and Judge: and as it were, to Quarrel with his Mercy: (as Biſhop Hacket expreſſes it.) Chriſtian Con­ſol. p. 129.To enter the Liſts with Omnipotence, and Wre­ſtle for the Bleſſing: To Capitulate and Plead with God, by Arguments drawn from his Promiſe, his Mercy, his Glory, his Son's Merits: and their own Neceſſities, Expe­riences, Hopes, and Dependancies. Not think­ing ſo to Change Him, But to Excite that Faith in him, which their Prayers are to Lean upon. As Prayer, reciprocally, ſtirs up and Enflames our Faith: When we eye the Promiſes of God, and take the Boldneſs to ask, all that he has the Goodneſs to Promiſe. Remember thy Word unto thy ſervant, upon which thou haſt cauſed me to Hope. Pſal 119.45. And to put the God of Truth in mind of his Promiſe: To ſpread be­fore him (the Chirographum) his own Hand­writing, How Powerful muſt it be to Prevail with him? As Melancton ſaid of Luther, He over-heard him at his private Prayers, as if he had had ſome body to diſcourſe withal, in the Room with him. And as S. Chryſoſtom obſerves of the woman, Mat. 15.27. (〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) The poor woman turn'd Philoſopher, to Diſpute the mercy out of Chriſt's hands: Truth Lord,20 yet the dogs eat the Crumbs that fall from their Maſters Table. Thus the Violent take the King­dom of Heaven by Force: By ſuch Striving in Prayer, and improving all the advantageous ſea­ſons of Addreſs: Putting on ſo far, till ſome may count them Rude and Sawcy, That they may not fail to Speed, for ſparing to Speak. Tell not the troubled heart of Modeſty,Chriſtian Con­ſol p. 128. 'Tis a Complement it will not be tyed to: (ſaid the Biſhop of ours that was called a ſecond Chryſoſtom, for his Golden ſayings:) The Paſſions of an Afflicted Spirit are not in good compaſs, till carried beyond ordinary Rule and faſhion. Vehemence of Zeal will Break out, and Tranſport the devout Soul ſo far, as a cold Heart will think Ʋnſeemly. As Gehazi would have thruſt away the Mournful Shunamite, for her Rudeneſs, 2 Kings 4. When ſhe ran and catch'd the Prophet by the Feet: But he excus'd for her, verſe 27. Let her alone, for her Soul is vexed in her. When we are upon the Stretch in Prayer, As Elias ſtrain'd himſelf, (〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) Jam. 5.17. This is the Vis Deograta. Tertul. Such a Forcible At­tempt upon our Lord, As he will not Chide us for. And ſo does the Almighty God delight to be Overcome, and yield to a Man, To the man, that is ſuch a Paſſionate Seeker, Intreating his gracious Favour, with the whole Heart. And this is the Reſiſtance that makes the Devil Fly: But he never ſtirs at the Recital of a few Live­leſs words of courſe: Nor is at all concerned to21 Hinder the Prayer, that is no Praying in the Holy Ghoſt.

Indeed it ill beſeems them to make ſo Bold in Prayer, who take all profane Boldneſs elſewhere. But it well becomes the Children of the Kingdom, who know whom they have Believed, to be Bold in their God, and Delight themſelves in the Lord. Not to be Dragg'd to Prayer, as their Drudgery, which they do only becauſe they Muſt: Nor to hang back, as afraid to ſpeak to their Father: But count it Good for them to Draw nigh to God: And go to him, as the Center of their Reſt, and their Exceeding Joy. Taking his Service for Perfect Freedom, A Labour of Love, A ſweet Heavenly Imployment, and a matter of the chiefeſt Delight.

Now that we are not clogg'd with coſtly Sa­crifices, and an intolerable Yoke of Ceremonies, as of old: But ſomewhat that coſts us a great deal Leſs, will be much Better taken: And nothing now indeed is asked, but what is Cheap to be given: Nothing impoſed, but what we may make Pleaſant to be performed: Under this Goſpel-Diſpenſation, we ſhould have a Go­ſpel Spirit, Rejoycing in the Service of our Lord, who hath Pleaſure in the Proſperity of his Ser­vants. While others lye without, Eſtranged from Him, And are only Troubled, whenever they Remember Him: His Children Thirſt after him, Run to him, and find ſweet Welcome with him. At this Retreat they turn in, and under the Shadow of his Wings are Safe and Quiet,22 Eaſy and Comfortable, whatever happens. And whoever ſhuns, or objects againſt the Ser­vice, All the world ſhall not put them out of Conceit with that, in which they have found ſuch Heavenly Satisfaction. They will rather be driven out of the World, than out of their Prayers. (As Daniel would Venture being caſt into the Lyons Den, rather than forbear to Pray and make Supplication before his God: Count­ing it a more Material point to Secure his Pray­ers, than to Save his Life.) For that they have never ſuch Joys as on their Knees, And their Prayer-Times are the ſweeteſt Times of their lives: When Heaven is Opened to them, and all the Goodneſs of the Lord paſſes before them, And they are not ſo Dazzled at his Glory, but they ſee the Joy of his Salvation: See his Face with Joy, And find him Favourable to them, Praying to Him. Job. 33.26. And feel then what they deſire might be continually Felt, Themſelves q. loſt in an infinite Ocean of Sweetneſs.

Softneſs, and Peace, and Joy, and Love, and Bliſs,
Exalted Manna, Gladneſs of the beſt.
How ſhould I praiſe thee Lord! How ſhould my Rhimes
Gladly engrave thy Love in Steel,
If what my Soul doth feel ſometimes,
My Soul might ever feel.
Of what an eaſy quick Acceſs
My Bleſſed Lord art thou! How ſuddenly
May our Requeſts thy Ears invade!
To ſhew that State diſlikes not eaſineſs.

No great Man ſo Eaſy to be ſpoke to, and dealt with, as the Great God. We may tell him all, and pour out our very Hearts before him, As we would into the Boſom of our moſt Dear and Intimate Friend. And if our Heart condemn us not, for Regarding Iniquity in it, Then have we Confidence towards God, and a great Liberty of ſpeaking, when not checkt with the Conſcience of Allowed Guilt. Yea tho' we know our ſelves to be Sinful, Yet may we hope in Him, with whom is Plenteous Redemption, To give us both Pardon of our Sins, and Grace to ſave us from them. And we are not to confeſs them to Him, as to an Inexorable Judge, but the Beſt of Fathers, Who knows our Frame, and makes merciful Allowance for our Frailty. And what is the Sa­viour for, but to help out Sinners? And why does he bid us pray every day, Forgive us our Treſpaſſes, But becauſe he knows we ſtill Need, and he is as forward to Grant that Forgiveneſs? If we were not Heavy-Laden, we were not cal­led to come to Him for Reſt. It eaſes the Heavy heart, but to Pour it out, Eſpecially to Him, who hath not only a Heart to pity us, but all Power in his Hands to Relieve us. Be careful for nothing, then, But in every thing by Prayer and Supplication, with Thankſgiving, Let your Requeſts be made known unto God: And the Peace of God which paſſeth all underſtanding, ſhall keep your hearts and minds thro' Chriſt Jeſus. Phil. 4.6.7. Even when we are under his Correction, 'Tis child-like ſtill to Hanker24 after him, as a Father: And not leave off, but follow him even with our Broken performances, when we are not able for Better Service. Tho' he ſeems Angry at our Prayers, 'Tis the more Acceptable, when we will after him, even ſtruggling under our Load. For little thanks to go on, when Brib'd, as it were, with the ſweets of Devotion, as our Pay in hand. And thô we are ſometimes more dry and Barren, It will be never the worſe for us, when it teacheth us that Humility and Submiſſion, which may be better to us than the Joy and Chearfulneſs. No Dul­neſs and Diſtractions, Involuntary and Bewailed, ſhall ever be Imputed. But God may Accept us, even when we Loath our ſelves. For he regards not the Blemiſhes of their Services, who are in Chriſt Jeſus, and offer the Beſt they have. But looks on what they Deſire to do, and what his Son has done, to fill up all that is wanting in them: And then their Willing minds, United to his Compleat Righteouſneſs, are ſuch Sacri­fices wherein God is Well pleaſed. For the Me­diator's ſake, he Pardons our Worſt, and Accepts our Beſt, Thô even the Beſt be ſuch as has need of Pardon. He will Spare us as a man ſpares his own Son that ſerveth him. And knowing our Indigence, He expects not that we ſhould come to him as Purchaſers, but as Beggars. Not to bring water to the Fountain, but only an Empty Veſſel, And come becauſe we are Athirſt: Yea take the Water of Life freely. Rev. 22.17 Re­ceiving at his hands, not becauſe we are Worthy,25 but becauſe we are Needy, And boaſt not, with the Phariſee, how well we are provided, But bewail our Miſery to incline his Pity. He knows we are Faulty, even in the Confeſſing of our Faults, And that our very Praying for Pardon has need of his Pardon: But he allows for Frail­ties, and has Compaſſion on our Infirmities. When therefore we Serve him Sincerely, we may do it Chearfully, Thô it be (God knows) very im­perfectly.

Let us then, in no wiſe, be tempted to leave off: But, as our Bleſſed Saviour himſelf encou­rages, Pray always, and not Faint. Believing we ſhall have what we Ask, Or that which ſhall be as Good, or Better. And he is not Croſſed, or he meets with a Happy Croſs, who gets more than he asked. We ſhall ſure be the Better for our Prayers, If but to keep up our Correſpon­dence with Heaven. For as Friends are apt to grow ſhy and ſtrange, for want of Viſits and Intercourſe: So we ſhall contract a ſad Strange­neſs between God and our Souls, by the Neglect of our Prayers. But the oftener we go to Him, and the More we are taken up with Him, The greater Intereſt and Aſſurance ſhall we get, And can make the Bolder, upon all occaſions, to ſpeak for our ſelves and others. With what Con­fidence do we go to an able and old Tried Friend, of whoſe Kindneſs we have had frequent Expe­rience, and who never ſhews weary of us, but ſtill calls upon us, to come to him, and make uſe of him?


It is a high and wonderful Strain, Iſa. 45.11. (If it be a Grant, and not a Check: If it be an Encouragement, and not a Correction of Bold­neſs,) Thus ſaith the Lord, the Holy One of Iſ­rael, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come con­cerning my Sons, and concerning the work of my hands, Command ye me. As ſome tranſlate and point it with an Interrogative note, 'Tis, Will you offer ſo to take upon you, as to Preſcribe to me? (which ſenſe indeed the foregoing Verſe ſeems to favour.) But in the common Rendring and pointing, It is a Permiſſion and allowance from God himſelf to his people, To require at his hands, what they would have: i. e. To ſig­nify their minds, (for taking it thus, we muſt ſuppoſe a Catachreſis in it:) and to ask of him with as much Confidence, as of thoſe whom they have power to Command. Or (as Biſhop Wilkins gloſſes upon it,) In your asking of me, you may be as ſure of Succeſs, as of the things which are in your own Power to Command.

O infinite Condeſcention in Him, who Hum­bles himſelf even to Behold the things that are in Heaven, When he will ſo vouchſafe to take No­tice of poor Worms at his Footſtool on Earth! With what Courage and Comfort and mighty expectation, may we go to the God of all Grace, who hath erected a Throne of Grace, on purpoſe for us to Repair to, who are Caſt at the Tribu­nal of Juſtice? And ordained his own Son, the moſt prevailing Maſter of Requeſts, to Sollicite for us, and make our unworthy Prayers as Cur­rent27 and Authentick even as the moſt juſt and powerful Commands.

SECT. II. The Liberty of Ʋſing the Voice or not.

PRayer is the proper work of the Heart, Lift­ing up itſelf, and preſenting its Deſires to the Lord. It is only the Heart that Prays, The Mouth can but Say Prayers. And, as many Words of Prayer may be ſpoken, by one that doth not Pray at all: So another may (Tacendo clamare) Pray heartily and effectually, who yet ſays never a Word. Words, let them be never ſo Appoſite and pithy, are not Prayer, but only the Vehicle of Prayer, and the outward Signifi­cation of our minds. 'Tis all one to Him who ſearcheth Hearts, and knoweth the Meaning of the Spirit, Whether we ſend up to him our Na­ked Deſires, or Cloathed with Expreſſions. He that Hears us without Ears, Underſtands us without our Words: and needs not our Voices to tell him what we would have. It is at our own Choice then, Whether we will uſe our Tongues or no, every time we make our Prayers. If we have the Spirit of Supplications, we may offer up the Mental Prayer, and hold our peace. i. e. Humbly bethinking our ſelves of our Wants, and earneſtly craving and waiting for Supply from Above. As Hannah ſpake in her Heart, only her Lips moved, but her Voice was not heard,28 1 Sam. 1.13. The Deſires of the Heart are ſome­times too Big to come out of the Mouth. And then we pray more by Sighs and Groans, than by Speech and Phraſes. And ſo, (as Biſhop Hall ſpeaks) Our Silence may be more Devout than our Noiſe. And to this ſort of Prayer, no Book or Learning, no Invention or Utterance are requi­ſite. They that cannot Indite, nor ſo much as Read, or well Expreſs themſelves, Yet can Think what moſt Troubles them, and Ruminate on their Wants and Grievances: And they can alſo Think what they would be moſt glad to have, And raiſe up their Hearts in Wiſhes and Long­ings and deſires of help and Relief, at the hands of God. And they can alſo Bethink themſelves of any others that are more Wretched, and worſe than themſelves, And let their Souls then Bleſs the Lord, for all happy Reſpects, in which he hath made them to Differ. And all this ſeriouſly and devoutly managed, with the Soul, and all Within us, is good Praying, thô not a word ſaid. And in ſuch Offices, we are only concerned, to inſpect our Hearts, and look to the Frame they are in, And need not the uſual Vigilance, to take care that there be a good Agreement between them and our Tongues, And that theſe run not on before or without the other, to draw nigh to God with our Lips, when our Hearts are far from him.

But (if I ſhall ſpeak my own thoughts and experience) I take this way of Prayer, among moſt men, to be more fine in Speculation than29 uſeful in Practice. I only mention the Liberty which they have to Uſe it, who can make any thing of it, and find it available to anſwer the Ends of Prayer. But as Words are of great and continual Uſe to expreſs our Thoughts, So I can­not but think them as uſeful to Fix our minds, and Affect our hearts, To Enflame our deſires, to regulate our devotion, and to Engage all our Faculties to a due Attendance on the Work we are about. That it may not be a thin Notional Buſineſs, Too Spiritual for us to perceive it, Or too Nice and difficult for us to diſcern when it is at a Stand, or how it Proceeds. And as long as we have the Uſe of Tongues, Why ſhould not he that Made them, have them Imployed in his Service? We are not only to Think Prayers, but to Open our Lips, that our Mouths may ſhew forth his Praiſe. Pſal. 141.1. I cried to the Lord with my Voice, with my Voice to the Lord did I make my Supplication. He that is to Hear, teacheth us what to Say, When ye Pray, Say, Our Father, &c. Hoſ. 14.2. Take with you Words, and turn to the Lord, And ſay to him, Take away all Iniquity, and receive us graciouſly, ſo will we render the Calves of our Lips. (The only Fatlings which we are now to offer.) If Words be needful to Digeſt our Thoughts, and ſhape the Ideas that ariſe out of our Minds, If they make us more Senſible of the things which we Conceive, And a Happy Expreſſion that ex­actly fits our Meaning gives ſuch a Pleaſure, as the Joy of a New-born Child: Then in our Ad­dreſſes30 to God, where we have need of all Helps, where we ought to have the Livelieſt ſenſe, and our Dulneſs wants to be Excited by Pathetick words, and all Quickening means: We may find it very advantageous to the Service, to form our Notions into agreeable Expreſſions: Yea thô we are by our ſelves, Yet to ſpeak in our Own Hearing, ſuch Words of Prayer, as we find conducing to Compoſe our thoughts, and ſet our Affections afloat, and make us in Earneſt upon it, Fervent in ſpirit, ſerving the Lord.

Here then, where we are under no Limita­tion, but left to ourſelves, Whether we will, at all times, Think or Speak our Prayers, Our care muſt be, to take that way, which helps us to perform our offices Beſt, and makes us moſt Sin­cere, and Lively, Zealous and Devout. That we may do all Heartily, as to the Lord, and Ap­prove ourſelves unto God, In being curious to Examine and Diſcern what is Beſt; and Con­ſcientious to Hold in words, or Pour them out, thereafter as we find them to Help, or elſe Hin­der us in the Service.

SECT. III. The Liberty to Ʋſe Long Prayers or Short.

LEngth or Brevity are ſuch Indifferencies as do not enter the Eſſence of Prayer. For either of them may be Good or Bad, thereafter as they are Deſigned and Ʋſed. A Short Prayer,31 made ſo through diſlike and Wearineſs of God's Service: And a Long one ſtretch'd out in Pride and Oſtentation of Parts, or Affectation to be Tedi­ous, that we may be thought more Pious, are both of them, equally Abomination to the Lord. But when we Contract our Prayers, that we may ſtrengthen our Devotion, and cut them Shorter, to make them the Livelier: Such Short Prayers ſhall prove long enough to reach to Heaven: And ſo we Pray much, thô we ſay but Little. And again, when we Enlarge our Prayers, as we find our Hearts Enlarged, Our Attention and Affection keeping pace with our Matter and Expreſſions, we need not fear the guilt of that Much-Speaking, condemned, Matth. 6.7. Nor of the Long Prayers, Chap. 23.14. made a Pre­tence to Eat up the Widows. When the Spirit of God Moves on the face of the Waters, to raiſe up a full Tide of Affections in our Souls, We have a Call and Invitation then to be more Free and Full in pouring out our Hearts before the Lord. And at Lower Ebbs, we muſt take up with ordinary Offices. No matter how Short is the Cold and Dull Prayer, But that which is Faithful and Fer­vent can hardly be too Long. He that ſays no­thing as he ought, is long, thô he pronounce but Two ſyllables: But he that ſpeaks to the purpoſe, is not Long, thô he ſpeak Much, and for a Great while together. (Philemon, quoted by Grotius.) The Shorteſt Prayer is too Long, that is (Vox & praeterea nihil:) Nothing but an Empty Sound. But the Longeſt is Short enough, where32 the Mind and Heart hold out to the End, and the Devotion is as Long as the Supplication. As when we are Cold, we may get us Heat by Ex­erciſe, So by Continuance in Prayer, we may Warm our ſelves into more Devotion: And from Fluttering along the ground, find ourſelves car­ried up at laſt, as high as Heaven. Some are too Nimble in their Frisking Prayers, and in too much Haſt to Speed. They come to God's Door, But they will not Stay and Wait, and ſo go away with­out their Errand. The Striving with our ſelves in Prayer, to bring our Hearts into better Frame, is our Wreſtling to Prevail with God. So we Preach to our ſelves in His Hearing, Not to In­form Him, but to Edify our ſelves. And when Repetitions flow from Heat of affections, we have Scripture inſtances, that not only Allow, but Approve them. Tho' when dull and Heart­leſs, reſulting from a Fictitious Sanctity, or opini­on, to be heard the ſooner for Much ſpeaking, They are but the Sacrifice of Fools, which we are forbid to offer: And muſt not Roll in ſuch Multiplication of Expreſſions, to Wire-draw De­votion, and think to make out in Length, what is wanting in Heat and Weight.

'Tis a good Rule of the Dr. Let a man Contract his Expreſſions,Pag. 198. where he cannot enlarge hisffection; That he may not hold on ſpeaking, when he has done Praying. But then where his Affections do Grow upon him in the Uſe of Words, ſure he is not obliged to leave off, becauſe Solomon33 ſays, Let thy words be Few, Eccleſ. 5.2. Some may think he miſtook his Text, who from hence took occaſion to make an Encomium of the Large Service of the Church, and thoſe Prayers, which he owns to be near an Hour Long. And that is, I think,Pag. 214. more than half an Hour Longer than ever I heard any other. The Diſcourſe to ſome, may look like a Libel upon our Liturgy. And if all Tau­tology were Battology, Common-Prayer it ſelf then muſt fall under the Common Condemnation. Some are weary in the very Beginning of their Prayers, And others can hold out well even to the Laſt, and find the Fire ſtill more Enflamed, by more Blowing. Elſe what ſhould they do, e're the Firſt and Second Service were at an end? Tho' the Liturgy hath Variety, and is (as he calls it) A String of Pearls:Pag. 209. Yet if the String ſhould be too Long, it would ſpoil much of his Reaſoning. And if the frequent Breaks and Pauſes be the main Commendation, Then who can ſufficiently ad­mire the Popiſh Service, and all their multi­plied Collects, Reſponds, Jeſu's, Ave's, and Pater Noſter's? Pag. 211.But he ſays, The people ſo ſhare in the Ser­vice, it is almoſt impoſſible, they ſhould be idle Hearers, or meer Lookers on. Indeed it's poſſible they may be Neither: i. e. if they chance to fall aſleep at the Service: Nor is it quite impoſ­ſible they may be both, and yet Parrot over the words, As wanton children and ſome Merry34 Griggs, like they were bearing their Part in ano­ther kind of Action, and ſhew a very Comical ſort of Devotion. Tho' it's true, Their inde­cent Carriage doth not reflect any real Diſpa­ragement on the Offices themſelves, to make them ever the worſe: Which, under the ma­nagement of true Zealous Worſhippers, do ſhew quite another Face: And there ſuch Interlocuti­on and Alternate catching the Words of Pray­er, helps and Refreſhes each others Devotion, and is like a pious Conteſt and ſtruggle between them, which of 'em ſhall be moſt Earneſt in the Service of their Lord.

But I think he might have left out the [Always] when he ſaid, that Much ſpeaking is the effect of Confidence:Pag. 176. 7. And Confidence ſprings from the per­ſuaſion that a man hath of his own Worth. For a man may Speak Much, and yet Diſtruſt himſelf: Or he may ſpeak in Confidence of a Better Worth than his Own. Yea there may be more Impudence in a Few words than in Ma­ny; according as they are. Our Grand Exem­plar Continued All Night in Prayer: And tho' he were ſo much more Able to manage it, than we, Yet from the drift of the Doctor's reaſon­ings, It muſt be Impertinent to uſe ſo many words with God, in a Long-winded Harangue.

I confeſs the Long Grace looks not Seaſonable, when a man is ready to Starve: And at a ſud­den Pinch or danger, Lord Save me, is a good Prayer. But when he has more Time, ſure it35 is not his Fault to Pray Longer. The Lord's Prayer, it's true, is ſhort: But are we Con­fined juſt to thoſe very words? Then why doth the Church ſo much enlarge in other? And the thing that is done, and may Lawfully be done, why ſhould any Son of the Church argue ſo much againſt it? What Inconveniences ſoever may attend Long Prayers, I cannot think it Convenient to go and prove or inſinuate, That it is Silly or Wicked ever to uſe them. To ſay,Pag. 194. That the whole heart and ſoul may be wrapt up in three or four words, And to tell the Succeſs of an Ejaculation, that Cleans'd the Leper, Enlightned the Blind, Juſtified the Publican: And then add,Pag. 206. I never yet heard or read of any Long Prayer that did ſo much; is a Reflection that I would forbear, if but for the Credit of that Church whereof I am a Member, which preſcribes Longer Prayers, than ever I us'd of my own, or ever heard any one elſe uſe. So that there are ſome beſides Heathens and Pha­naticks, in this Horrid Guilt of Long Praying. And to make the Long Robes and Long Prayers, A Cover for all,Pag. 208. and affirm, That they who are like the Phariſees for Long Prayers, are like them for ſomewhat elſe, does but give the Brethren in Querpo an occaſion for Retort and Drollery upon ſome very Canonical men.


According to his fine Argumen­tation,Pag. 179. If a Short Petition be a Pa­negyrick on the Great man's parts, to whom 'tis offered, Then the Shorteſt Prayer that can be made does the greateſt Honor to God; and if it ſhould be any longer, it would but Diſhonor him. Nay if A Word to the Wiſe, then Half a Word to the Only Wiſe God, might be enough: Yea, for matter of Informing him, None at all. But indeed our Words are neither to Inform,Pag. 180. nor to Perſuade, nor to Weary and Overcome him. Tho' the Dr. ſays, They muſt of Neceſſi­ty be to one of theſe three purpoſes. Yet himſelf, ſoon after, finds another Uſe for them, when he ſurprizingly tells us, That the proper uſe of Words,Pag 188. whenever we ſpeak to God in Prayer, is thereby to pay him Honour and Obedience. It ſeems then that they Honour and Diſhonour him. But he hath not told us, juſt how Many words will Honour, and how Many will Diſhonour Him. He ſpeaks of Praying near an Hour together,Pag. 214. And yet doth not com­plain of that for Diſhonouring God, but rather commends it for Rational Devotion. So that now, It is not the Heap and Number, but the Kind and Manner of the Words, that is Offen­ſive. Which Indeed I think comes neareſt the truth. And if there be yet another Uſe of words, (beſides Informing, Perſuading, and Wearying of God,) which he acquaints us with,37 (pag. 189.) viz. To acknowledge and own thoſe Wants before him, that we Supplicate for a Re­leif of: He might have done well to tell us, Why that Acknowledgment muſt needs ſtill be made in Few words. For I take not that for any Reaſon which he alledges,Pag. 188. That God has no where commanded us to Call upon him with Multiplicity and Prolixity of words: Becauſe I neither find, that he has com­manded us to call upon him only with Brevity and Paucity of words. For that all Long Pray­ers are not forbidden, even in Eccleſ. 5.2 The Dr. himſelf ſeems agreed with other Expoſitors, when he praiſes the Churches Praying for Near an hour together. Which he knows cannot be performed without Abundance of Words; Nor are the Words of our Common-Prayer ever the Fewer, notwithſtanding all the Fractions and Amen's, how Numerous ſoever. And tho' we muſt avoid the Needleſs Multiplication of words, Yet we are bid, Continue in Prayer. Col. 4.2. And inſtead of Opening the Scriptures, we ſhould only ſet Texts together by the Ears, If all were of the ſame Fierce Pugnacious Spirit, as ſome of the Polemical Champions.

But it is too obvious to ſee, How men of moſt Perſuaſions, can make Sins and Duties of ſuch things as God did never make ſo. Tho' the Scripture Charge is, To ſtand faſt in the Liberty, wherewith Chriſt hath made us Free. Gal. 5.1. And, for any reaſons that ever I ſaw to the contrary, All men have the Freedom to Shorten or Lengthen38 their Prayers, as themſelves do find moſt con­ducing to promote the purpoſes of Piety and Devotion. And I cannot think that any Good man doth Wickedly, in taking his Liberty, to uſe a Short or a Long Prayer: When his Deſign is Pious in both: And he is for ſerving God af­ter the Beſt manner that he Underſtands. If ſome like not his Way, Others may as much miſlike Theirs. And it is not ſo much matter, what Judgment we paſs upon one another, as how we are all concerned to Approve our ſelves unto Him that Searcheth our hearts.

For my ſhare, I am only for defending the Chriſtian Liberty, in this, as in the other Points. And I need not much plead for that, which I do ſeldom or never Uſe of my own Production. For I do not find that I am able for ſuch Long Prayers: And I dare not be Tedious, for fear of making the Worſe work of it. Nor do I think that I am bound to Task my ſelf above my ſtrength, and go Halting in Chains of my own making: Nor will I be ſo enſlaved to any ones Expectations, as to engage in more duty than I can well deal with. But for all this, at ſuch times when ever I find my ſelf diſpoſed, and Sufficient for Longer attendance upon the Lord, I am reſolved, No Doctors opinion ſhall Hinder me from it. Pag. 196.Tho' he ſays, That No man begins, and ends a Journey, with the ſame Pace. Yet I know not what Some men can do. And when I find, That in the Progreſs of my Prayer, I can do as39 well as in the Beginning: And that I am not Ti­red, but rather Refreſht with this Journey, Per­ceiving new ſtrength, and more Encourage­ments, as I proceed: I do not think I am bound to leave off, aſſoon as another may Judge fit. Tho' if my Spirits were ſpent, and my Activity flagg'd, I ſhould count it beſt to have done, and not force things, with further Attempts upon that, which I did but ſpoil in the doing. How­ever, if the thing at all has been, or ever may be, of good Service, I cannot reckon the Abuſe any Argument againſt the Ʋſe. For at that rate, Long Gowns as well as Long Prayers, muſt be turn'd out of the Church; Becauſe both of them have been ſhamefully Abuſed.

But let no Tender Chriſtian be terrified, with any ones Dogmatical Sayings, To think it a Sin, ſometimes to cut his Prayers Shorter, and ſome­times, (as occaſion ſerves,) to draw them out Longer: When there is no Divine Preſcription to determine, juſt how Long, or how ſhort they ſhall be. But that is left to our ſelves, As Diſcre­tion, grounded on our own Experience, ſhall di­rect. Provided we Impoſe not upon others, to give any juſt offence, and make the Service Con­temptible or Nauſeous, We have a Latitude, to Abbreviate, or Extend our Prayers, as we think Convenient. And according to the Frame that we are in, and the Aſſiſtance that God is pleaſed to Af­ford, We may Pray a Little while, and yet do ve­ry well: Or we may Pray a Great While, and yet do as well, or Better. Aſſuming men may Pre­ſcribe40 or Limit, after their own Humour: But I know not where God hath ſaid, as to our Prayers, Hitherto ſhall ye go, and no fur­ther.

SECT. IV. The Liberty of uſing Plain words or Elegant.

I take the Stile of Scripture, to be the beſt Stile for Prayer. For who can ſpeak better, than the Spirit that Helpeth our Infirmities? And what more Acceptable Words, wherewithal to go unto God, than thoſe of his own Spirit's In­diting? And if the Sacred Writers ſpake as they were Moved by the Holy Ghoſt, It ſeems then that He who is called The Spirit of Supplications, hath alſo put Words into our Mouths; and we are to take them, as in the Bible we find them. Seeing our Praying to God, is but Pleading with him the Promiſes of his own Word, And beg­ging Strength to perform the Duties there taught and enjoin'd. Tho' a certain Dr. Girds at this way of Praying, Becauſe ſome have been uſed to Gird at the Government,Pag. 159. in Scripture Phraſe: I could tell him of ſome that can Gird as much at the Government now, in other Phraſe. But ſeeing it is not certain, That the Holy Ghoſt did Dictate all the very Words, as well as Reveal the Matter of the Holy Scripture, I cannot think that we are tied juſt to the Words there found:41 But may ſpeak in thoſe Phraſes, or take Liberty ſometimes to Vary, as Prudence ſhall ſuggeſt. And when we Expreſs our own ſenſe, in our own Words, The more Eaſy and Natural they are, they ſeem the more proper for Prayer. Be­cauſe it is the Childrens ſpeaking to their Father, Who is not ſo much moved with their Wit and ſtarch'd Oratory, as with their Wants, and ear­neſt Cries for Help. 'Tis not Artificial Cant, but Pathetick Speaking, which comes warm from the Heart, that is likely to be moſt Pre­vailing; Eſpecially with our Heavenly Father, Who is not to be wrought upon with Rhetorick, or any arts of Perſuaſion, But calls for the Heart, which is an Inſtrument that makes the beſt Mu­ſick, in his Ears, when it is Broken. And Fi­neries of Language look not ſo Agreeable for Mourners, and the Beggars which we perſonate in our Prayers. The plaineſt Garb, that is De­cent, beſt fits the Former, And to the Latter we are inclinable to give, rather when they appear in Rags, than in Ribbons. Jingles and Quibbles are fitter to be us'd in Playing, than in Praying. And it gives ſuſpition, that we rather Play with our Prayers, than pour them out from a heart Senſible of our Wants and Diſtreſſes, When we can be ſo Gay and Flouriſhing, and vary phraſes to ſet off our Abilities; The uſe of our Words in Prayer, being rather to Affect our ſelves, than to Move the Lord, No matter therefore how Plain they be, ſo they be Pertinent, and not Looſe and indecent. For we are not ſo much42 Affected with words that are Trim or Hard, as with thoſe that are Significative and Hear­ty. He that knows the Poverty of our caſe, will not reject us, for appearing before him in a Plain homely Dreſs, Nor Deſpiſe the Prayers of the Humble, becauſe they are of a courſe Thread, and not ſet off with Laces and Frin­ges. We may ſpeak our Minds Down-right to God, even as we would to our deareſt Friend: And not fear a Repulſe, becauſe our words want a Flouriſh. He ſpeaks Elegantly e­nough, that ſpeaks but Intelligibly and Affe­ctionately. And when I Feel what I ſay, and Say that which makes others Ʋnderſtand and Sympathize with me, That is the Happi­neſs of Expreſſion, which beſt anſwers the Ends of Speech.

But if we think any thing Better than this, we May uſe it: Nay we ſhould, Becauſe God is Worthy to be Served with the Beſt. He that chiefly requires Truth in the Inward parts, will alſo be Honoured with the Mouth; And did not give man Eloquence for any thing ſo much, as to ſhew forth his Praiſe. 'Tis too Moroſe, to exclude all Flowers of Language from the Pulpit and Prayer, be­cauſe of St. Paul's Demonſtration of the Spi­rit, oppoſed to the Enticing words of man's Wiſdom. The Deceiver is curſed, that hath in his Flock a Male, and Vows and Sacrifices to the Lord a Corrupt thing. Mal. 1.23. 43Heart and Head too muſt be at his Service: And the Beſt member we have muſt do it's Beſt for him that gave it. That which is called our Glory, muſt be imployed to his Glory. And when we ſpeak not in a Bom­baſtick Affectation, or Tawdry Phraſeology, but in a becoming Politeneſs, and Awful Grandiloquence, ſuch as ſpeaks us Mindful of the Infinite Majeſty we are before: When the Tongue and Mind are turnd to an Ʋni­ſon, and there is Melody in the Heart, as well as Quainteneſs in the Mouth, Pleaſing to God is that Eloquence.

Such as have even a Natural Facility and Felicity of ingeniouſly Expreſſing themſelves, need not fear it will create any Prejudice againſt their Prayers, to ſpeak as Handſom­ly to God, as they do to Men. Nor think that Homelineſs muſt be Peculiar to his Ser­vice. But rather Dread to pour out Crude indigeſted ſtuff, to provoke a Nauſeous Qualm, and make the Offering of the Lord to be Abhorred. And ſuch as are fain to Stu­dy for it, before they can attain to the Bet­ter way of Expreſſion, yet need not fear, that the Artificial, will profane the Spiritu­al part, of their Devotion: But may rather take ſatisfaction in this, That they do not Serve the Lord their God with that which Coſts them Nothing.


The Dr. ſays well, That where God hath given Learning and Ʋt­terance,Pag. 143.4. He will not endure Men ſhould be Accurate in their Diſcourſe, and Looſe in their Devotions: To put off the Author of every good and perfect Gift, with Ramble and confuſed Talk, Babble and Tautology: No­thing under the beſt a man can offer, being fit to preſent to God. Yet I doubt not but the man ſhall be Accepted according to what he hath, who ſtrives to be as Accurate here, as he is any where elſe. Thô he cannot ex­preſs himſelf at the Rhetorical rate of ſome Wits. True indeed, It is not the Simplicity of the Head,Pag. 142. but of the Heart. Yet God knows the moſt learned Doctor's beſt weighed words to be but Weak and courſe before Heaven. And the plaineſt Speech of any ordinary man, that is Sincere and Devout, ſounds as well with him, as the moſt Florid Ha­rangue of the greateſt Maſter of Lan­guage.


SECT. V. The Liberty of uſing this Poſture or that.

THO' Bodily Exerciſe profitteth little, yet as much as the Body is capable of doing, it can no where Better perform, than in his Service who Framed it We are com­manded to Glorify him with our Souls and Bodies both. And ſome Bodily Diſtance, helps to bring our Souls Nearer to God. The Bo­dy is the Servant of a Servant, And it is fit my Servant ſhould ſerve me, in the Serving of my Lord. He that hath given us Knees and Bodies to Bow down, and Hands and Eyes to Lift up, inſtructs us by our very Frame, as well as by his Word, how we ſhould carry in his Worſhip. The call to Worſhip, is alſo to Fall down and Kneel before the Lord our Maker. Pſal. 95.6. And (〈…〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) it is to Crouch even as a Spa­niel before his Maſter. We cannot ſhew the Inner-man, but by the Outer, which is to tell how things ſtand Within, and by proper Words and Tone, and Geſture and Actions, to profeſs the Profound Admiration we have in our minds, of the glorious Excellencies and infinite Per­fections of God. Men that cannot ſee our Hearts, yet take notice of our Carriage. And we muſt dread to Scandalize thoſe whom we ought to Edify. A little matter here, may give great Offence. And we muſt not only46 Look to our own Hearts, but take heed we do not ſtumble others. Thô we muſt be ſo intent upon the Preſence of God, as little to regard who elſe is preſent with us at our Prayers, and not let any Company Awe or Divert, or Inter­rupt us, in the Homage we are paying to Him who is infinitely Higher and Greater and Better than all; who, compar'd with Him, are no more than mere Vanity and Nothing. In Com­pany we are to Pray, as if there were none but God there; and in Solitude, as if the Eyes of all the World, as well as His, were upon us. For he indeed is All, and to Him all Perſons and things elſe are as if they were not at all.

Yet it is not under pretence of Spirituality, to Slight thoſe external Signs of Reverence, which are ſo mighty Influential, to raiſe our own Affections, and to Enflame the Zeal of others. Thô we have that Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry Abba Father: Yet even the Child of a King may go Rudely into his Father's preſence. And Stately to ſet us down in the Pre­ſence of God, as if the glorious Majeſty ſo infi­nitely Above us were to be Bearded in a ſawcy manner, ſhews us to be children of ſuch Man­ners as need to be better Taught: as if we thought it a Leſſening of our ſelves, to uſe the humbleſt Proſtrations before Him, at whoſe Feet all the Worthies of Heaven Caſt their Crowns, Rev. 4.10. and whom indeed we can never Honour, ſo much as his ſervice Honours us. Let us Conſider then, With whom it is, that47 we make ſo Bold, and not forget the Infinite Diſproportion between us and Him that Made us: Nor carry as if we were too Goodly to be ſeen Cringing low at his Footſtool, or as if we meant it only for a Complement, when we call our ſelves his Humble ſervants.

It is Mockery indeed to Bow the Body at his Name, when the Heart never Bends to his Go­ſpel. Like thoſe that Bowed the Knee, and cried, Hail Jeſus, to the Lord of Glory, whom they Crucified. Nor is it a Puppet-Religion without Life, that I contend for: To make our ſelves ſuch Anticks as the Popiſh Worſhippers, who had need be Maſters of the Ceremonies, to hit of that Worſhip, more like a Ball or Inter­lude, than the grave Worſhip in Spirit. And their Religion, as Ritual as Judaiſm, clogg'd with Rites as numerous, and more Obſcure and uſeleſs, yea even all Outſide and Pageantry, and as unlike the Goſpel-Simplicity, as dumb Shews and idle Formalities can make it, ſuch a Rote of words and Hiſtrionick geſtures, and Su­perſtitious Fopperies, which any ſilly Children, or the vileſt of the people can be as nimble at as the beſt, and contend more for the Modiſh forms, than for the Faith Once delivered to the Saints: Theſe doings may ſoon give any Spiri­tual Worſhipper Enough of Popery, and utterly turn his Heart againſt that which is ſo oppoſite to the deſign and Genius of the Goſpel. Tho ſo many can wonder at the outward Pomp, with­out the inward Life, and cry The Temple of the48 Lord, when they mind no Fellowſhip with the Lord of the Temple: I cannot think it ſuch a mighty Accompliſhment, for men to enter thoſe Geers and obſerve all their poſtures in the Ritu­al Religion, and ſhew all their Metal for the things leaſt Required at their hands

But yet outward Significations of Reverence in Worſhip are not ſuch matters of Indifference, as we need not take any Care of. For who that has the Fear of God in his Heart, can make ſo Bold with the Majeſty of Heaven, as if the great God were Altogether ſuch a one as himſelf? To preſent that to the Biggeſt and Beſt of Beings, Perfect above thought, and Bleſſed be­yond addition, which he would be aſhamed to offer even to his poor Fellow-creature, an earthly Governor? To be ſtiff and Haughty, or Whif­ling and wanton before the Throne of God, To Loll or Yawn over the Divine Worſhip, To ſit in State, as thoſe that were Above it, Or to Prate and Laugh, to Gaze about, or be doing ſome Silly actions, as thoſe that came only to Slight and Affront it: How fulſome ſoever it be to ſee the Looſe Liver a compleat Formaliſt, Yet who can think well of ſuch a rude Slovenly Re­ligion, as does not compoſe men into a more awful Devout Behaviour, in their ſolemn Ad­dreſſes to the Moſt High God, whom we ſhould never approach but with all Humility, and a becoming Reverence and godly Fear, and even Annihilate our ſelves before him?


But then for the Manner of expreſſing this Re­verence, In our Secret Prayers we are left at Li­berty, to uſe that Geſture which we find moſt to Quicken us, and promote the Duty. And in Publick, our Behaviour muſt Conform to the uſage of the Church, with which we have Com­munion. And with Company elſewhere, our care muſt be, ſo to carry our ſelves, as to Ex­preſs our own Devotion, and not to Damp, but Excite the ſame in others.

Holy Scripture doth not Limit us to one cer­tain Poſture of Prayer. Thô the moſt uſual, and beſt approved among all be Kneeling. Our great Redeemer himſelf, Kneeled down and Pray­ed. Luk. 22.41. And that for certain, is the beſt Pattern we can follow. If our Bleſſed Lord ſo Humbled himſelf, the Greateſt man muſt not think much to come down ſo Low.

Kneeling ne're ſpoil'd Silk Stocking. Herb.

If it hurt the Finery, it will make him finer another way. But yet it is not Sinful ſome­times, upon occaſion, to uſe another Geſture. Not only Proſtration or Lying along, as Numb. 11.25. Or Standing, as Mar. 11.25. (and Luk. 18.11. Even the humble Publican, who would not ſo much as Lift up his eyes to Heaven, we find in this Poſture.) But even Sitting, as 2 Sam. 7.18. King David ſate before the Lord, and Prayed; (as there to the chapters end.) So it is according to our Tranſlation;50 (Thô ſome think it denotes rather his Abode than his Poſture, in Prayer, with whom I liſt not to contend). But again it is ſaid, 1 Kings 19.4. Elijah Sate down under a Juniper tree, and Prayed. The Impotent man then, that is confined to his Bed or Chair, muſt not think it will Spoil or hinder his Prayers, Becauſe he doth not uſe his Knees. And when we are Walking in our Chamber, or on the Way, When Riding or Sitting, where we cannot Retire, and at the ſame Inſtant find an Oc­caſion and Motion, to Lift up our Hearts to God, We muſt not withhold Prayer, becauſe we want a Conveniency for Kneeling. But let the Office (rather than Fail,) be done, for that time, in the Poſture as we are: And God will hear the Deſire of the Humble heart, thô the Body be not Incurvate in the uſual Figure. When I am By my ſelf, I will not ſcruple to Pray Standing, or Walking, or Lying, if I find the work go forward in ſuch ways, as well as by Kneeling. Prayers are not ſo confined to the Knees, but that as I may Kneel, and not Pray, So I may Pray and not Kneel. Ge­nuflection I account, indeed the Beſt, but not the Only Poſture of Prayer.


SECT. VI. The Liberty of uſing a Form or none.

THE Contending Parties in both Ex­treams I think to be Miſtaken: Such as will allow of no Forms of Prayer at all, And ſuch as plead for Forms Alone, and will not En­dure any other way of Praying. They that are againſt Forms, as ſuch, muſt reject the Prayer of the Lord himſelf, That Breviary of the Goſpel, as Tertullian calls it. A Prayer ſo Comprehenſive and Copious, as well as Compendious, that thô we may Enlarge upon it, we cannot ask More than is included in it. A Prayer which few Sects of Chriſtians have been ſo wild, as to leave out of their Offices. Tho we are not bound Always to uſe it, yet ſtill to Pray after the Manner as it preſcribes, Mat. 6.9. And who can we think ſo fit to inſtruct us, How God ſhould be Prayed to, and Man prayed for, as he who was Himſelf both God and Man? I am ne­ver more Eaſy and free from a troubleſome Con­cern about the Words of Prayer, than when I am making uſe of the Lord's-Prayer. And they that find fault with it, as it is a Form, may for the ſame reaſon quarrel all the Scriptures, for being a Form of Sound words. Nay they may as well reject every Conceived Prayer, which is indeed as much a Form to the Hearers, as if it had been penn'd or printed, and then Repeat­ed. 52Yea I may know That to be a real Form, compoſed by my ſelf, which ſome others take for an Extempore Effuſion. And ſo it may be only Ignorance in them, which makes it Accep­table with them, Becauſe they take it not to be Prepared by me, but to flow immediately from the Spirit in me. But to think that all Set Forms are oppoſed to Prayer by the Spirit, is ſuch an opinion of Praying by the Spirit, as I cannot comprehend. No Praying indeed is true and right, that is not Supplication in the Spirit, i. e. Through the Help of the Spirit of God. But I ſee not why it may not be ſuch, as well with, as without a Form. Nor is the Spirit Limited by ſuch Forms, Whenas indeed the Enlargement of the Heart ſtands not ſo much in the Copiouſ­neſs and variety of Expreſſions, as in the extent and Elevation of the Affections. A Carnal man may have a Fluency of good Words, But only the Child of God abounds with holy and hea­venly Deſires. And thoſe deſires I may expreſs in Others words, or in my own: Premeditated, or Immediately formed: without Stinting of the Spirit either way. The one may do as well as the other: No matter which I take, So that I do it pertinently, and affectionately. For Words are but the Carkaſs of Prayer, The Soul and Spirit lies within. And the Searcher of hearts regards not ſo much, how it is Dreſt, as from what Heart it proceeds, and how Earneſt and Devout it is. My words are not to Move Him, but my ſelf: Not to pull the Bank to me,53 but to bring my Veſſel to the Shore. And ſo I may uſe ſuch words, as I find fitteſt to Enflame my affections, that I may ſtand rightly diſpoſed to receive his Mercies. Whether I pray in a Book, or without, is the ſmalleſt matter to Him: So that I Pray at all indeed, And when I uſe the Book, am not Lazy and Formal, And when I uſe none, am not Rude and Proud, but ſtill Humble and Hearty. To Pray, is a great deal more than Saying of Prayers. There may be all the Words, without any thing of the Spirit of Prayer. Whether I ſpeak out of the Book, or out of my Memory, I may draw nigh to God only with my Lips: Or I may ſo manage my Prayer, as to have it Sincere and Effectual, ei­ther way.

But when ſo little is done by the moſt at Prayer, and ſuch multitudes do live Prayerleſs, not Calling upon the Lord at all, Little need to perplex the thing, or Affright any from the Throne of Grace, Becauſe they deliver not their minds juſt in our Rote of words. To diſgrace Book Prayers, may be the way to diſcourage the moſt from all Prayer. If they muſt have no Forms, they could (it may be) make nothing of it; but Ramble and Babble, Truſting only to their own Abilities. I think we ought rather to Hearten men on, if they Own God in any way of ſerious Worſhip, with Book, or with­out. For 'tis according to what a man hath, that God Accepteth him. And he ſtands not ſo much upon a poor Chriſtian's Wording of his Prayers,54 When he ſees his Spirit Engaged, and that he offers the Beſt he has, doing all Heartily, as in the Sight of God. We make a mighty matter, as to the way of ſome mens Wording things, ſo much Better than others. But alas, what a ſmall thing is this in the Eſteem of God? who Valueth and Judgeth men by ſomewhat elſe. The moſt Elaborate and exact Expreſſions, What wretched Barbariſms and hideous Jargon would they be found, if ſeverely Criticiz'd up­on by Infinite Perfection? And wo be to the beſt Speaker in the World, if he ſhould not be Heard and Accepted, on any other account, but only for the ſake of his Words. For how can a mouth-full of frail Breath (tho Modulated with never ſuch Art and Advantage) be the Motive of all God's Mercy, and Man's Salva­tion?

As much Streſs as ever ſome are pleas'd to lay upon it, 'Twill not be ſo much enquird after in the great Day of Accounts, How we uſed to Expreſs ourſelves in our Prayers: As how our Hearts ſtood Affected to the Service. And then the Holy Livers ſhall be found aforehand with the Fineſt Speakers. And ſuch weakneſs and Indecence as many a man would not Pardon, The Father of Mercies will never Mention to them that Follow him, and Delight in him, as dear Children.

He equally offends God, and Prophanes Prayer, who either reads it Careleſly in a Book, or tumbles it Rudely out of his Breaſt. But55 when I find that I can be Devout in the uſe of a Prayer Book, and that I can Exerciſe as much De­votion, when I have no Book, that I can join Profita­bly and Comfortably with the Church Prayers, and with other Prayers: I am (in utramqueparatus) with­out Scruple for all Prayer, that is offered with Hu­mility and Zeal to God, thrô Jeſus Chriſt, for ſuch things, as in his comprehenſive Platform, he has directed and encouraged us to pray for.

I will never believe, That an Earthly Father can be Kinder than my Heavenly. And if my natural Parent will take it in good part from me, when I deliver my ſelf to him, as well as I can, (Thô I do not make a Starched Speech, or read all out of a Book,) can he that knows our Frame, and hath Compaſſion on our Infirmities, (Pitying them that fear Him, as a Father pities his children,) fall out with me, becauſe I have not the Knack of Expreſſing my ſelf, as well as another? When he knows I have a Careful Heart to Pleaſe him, and am for ſerving him with the Beſt, and do not uſe my own words, for the high Opinion that I have of them, above others, But becauſe another cannot expreſs my wants and deſires, ſo Agreeably as I can my ſelf, Who beſt knowwhere it pinches moſt, and what I would be moſt glad to have, And becauſe I am afraid of being a Slothful Servant, to Bury any Talent in a Napkin, that my Lord hath lent me. I would ſerve him with my Underſtanding and Memo­ry, and Utterance, and all my faculties, as well as with my Affections: And if my Underſtand­ing56 cannot vye with ſome others, or their Words be Better than mine, Yet I think I am bound alſo to uſe my Own, and to do according to the Ability that God hath given me: Who, I am ſure, will not be Harſh and Stern with the Weak­eſt of his Children, that ſhew their Willingneſs and Endeavours to pleaſe him, thô they cannot do like ſome of the reſt.

I my ſelf feel more Inclination, as I ſee more Reaſon, ſometimes to give to a Beggar that is a ſorry Faultering Orator, than to another that ſpeaks Exactly, in Mood and Figure. 'Tis not ſo much his Fine Words and Cadence as his Want and Miſery, join'd with Simplicity and Humility, that makes him an Object of Charity. And I know, it is not ſo much for our Speech and the Words of Prayer, as for our Hearts, and the Spirit of Prayer, that He regards us, who will be worſhipped with our Souls and Spirits.

We ſhould indeed Chuſe words to Reaſon with him: But when we compoſe ſomwhat of our Own, it ſpeaks our greater Care to be Accep­table. And Biſhop Hall (in his Devout Soul) tells us, That a Stammering Suppli­ant may reach to a more eminent De­votion,Pag. 11. than he that can deliver him­ſelf in the moſt fluent and Pathetical forms of Elo­cution. 'Tis not to rake together a parcel of good Petitions, and ſeek to give them ſome Life in the Utterance: unleſs we Draw Nigh with a True heart in full Aſſurance of Faith. For it it is Faith in God's Promiſes, that is the Foun­dation57 of all our Prayers. And Prayer is but Faith putting forth itſelf in a Flame of Deſires. God hears no impenitent Sinners, that Regard Iniquity in their hearts, Let their words be never ſo fine and Appoſite. And he rejects no Humble, Faithful Supplicant, be his Speech never ſo weak and Imperfect. Tho ſuch be not Eloquent, they have words ſufficient to do their Buſineſs. Even Broken words will ſerve the turn, when they come from a Broken heart.

When going to Prayer then, I will remember I am going to my Father. And tho I know a Son honours his Father, and ſo I will know my Diſtance, and pay a profound Veneration, and Exert the beſt of my Abilities in his Service: Yet while I keep off from the Ʋncreaturely Bold­neſs, I will not run upon the Ʋnchildlike Strange­neſs, To be curb'd with ſuch a Spirit of Bon­dage, that I dare not Speak for my ſelf: Nor de­jected with a Servile Dread of his lying at catch, to Trepan me in my words, if I do not place every one Aright. As if he were ſo Inconſi­derate of my Frailty, or could carry like ſo Ri­gid an Enemy, to Caſt off me, and all my Suit, if there be but the leaſt word knockt out of Joint. At this rate, (did I liſten to the Teach­ers of ſuch a Ghaſtly Frightful Religion,) I ſhould make it a more Dangerous thing to Pray to God, than to Keep away, and never come be­fore Him. But I will never be perſuaded, that the Father of Mercies has the Spirit of ſome Rough and Sowre Doctors: Who yet can make58 as bold with God in their Manners, as they think others do in their Prayers: And are not ſo Strict in Tutoring their Neighbours Tongues, but they can be as Lax in ordering their Own.

I cannot queſtion in the leaſt, But there have been many and groſs Abuſes of this Way of Pray­ing; which, if rak'd together, may furniſh out matter enough for Satyr, and make abundance of work for any Doctor, or other, that has ſuch a Talent. And tho Stories ſeldom loſe in the reporting, by ſuch as are known to have a ſtrong Byas, Yet let Commin's Hypocriſy, and Weyer's Villany both paſs without Contradiction, That the one could ſo Maſquerade it for the Pope, and the other Command good words, while himſelf was Commanded by the Evil Spirit: And to theſe Two let Twenty more be added of the ſame Stuffing: 'Twill but prove, what none denies, That there have been Ill men of all Pretentions. Satan himſelf can be Transformed into an Angel of Light. And one that was a Devil had yet a Name among the Diſciples of Chriſt. But let Falſe Coin and Counterfeit Wares be Detected and Cryd down: This is no Prejudice at all to that which is Current, right, and good. Nor does my Undertaking oblige me to anſwer for all the Cant, and Gibberiſh, Jargon and Im­pertinence, flowing from any ſhatter'd Heads, or wild Tongues, under pretence of Exerciſing their Gifts. Men may Hurt themſelves, even with God's Gifts, and turn their very Remedy to their Ruin. They may be proud of their59 New Words, as of New Cloaths. And there may be much more Pride than Devotion in the caſe, When we are aſhamed to Appear before the Lord, unleſs it be ſtill in a New Dreſs. But if the Abuſes muſt lay an Embargo on the Uſe, I know not what Prayers then of any ſort will be left us: Or what will become of the Com­mon Prayer it ſelf, but it muſt ceaſe to be Com­mon, or to be at all; becauſe many have made as Wretched work with that, as ever was made of Free Prayer.

But I know ſome would heavily reſent it for a moſt Tyrannical Impoſition, To be tied up for ever medling with a Bottle of Wine, becauſe it has Happened with ſo many, That when the Wine was in, the Wit was out. This Doctor is not therefore for Renouncing the Doctrine of the Trinity, becauſe he takes that for an Adul­teration, which another Doctor calls a Vindica­tion of it. Holy things and Pearls will ſome­times light among Dogs and Swine. But yet they do not for that, loſe their Nature. The Things themſelves are not a jot the Worſe, tho the Profaners of them are a great deal. Let thoſe that are Guilty anſwer for that. But why ſhould the Children of the Kingdom be turn'd out of their Privilege, for the ſake of ſome ille­gitimate Interlopers, that have made Invaſions upon it? Whither ſhould a Child go but to his Father? And if he muſt not ſpeak a Word to him, but what he Reads out of a Form, Where's the Ingenuity and Freedom of a Child? and the60 Boldneſs at the Throne of Grace? And what ad­vantage then of the Spirit of Adoption, above the Spirit of Bondage? Sure we may have Bold­neſs and Aſſurance, without being Sawcy and Malapert. And tho it is not for a pitiful Worm to think of being Hail-Fellow with his Glorious Maker: Yet I think it is an untowardly way of Honouring my Father, to take him for ſuch a one, that I Dare not Speak with him; or if but a word Amiſs, to think he would not Hear, nor Forgive me.

Deſires are the Wings of the Soul, on which it mounts up to Heaven; Prayer ſets them a working: But where are many Appendages, they'll be like but to Cumber and Clog the Mo­tion, which the more Natural, the more Free and Eaſy. Tho a dexterous Art may help Na­ture, Yet Grace added to both, is the beſt accom­pliſhment, and the Crown of all. Prayer is God's Breath in man. Herb. Nothing to be done in this matter, without the Spirit Helping our In­firmities. And that I take to be what they call Praying by the Spirit, (whether with Book or without,) when the good Spirit of God gives his gracious Guidance and Aſſiſtance, for the true and zealous performance, tho not an immediate Inſpiration, to Dictate our Prayers. Therefore with all our Prayers, we muſt ſtill Pray for the Spirit of Prayer, that our Prayer may be Sup­plication in the Spirit. And when it is but ſuch, it will have a Recommendation, that will help it to find Acceptance, tho it be not ſet out in Perfection of Stile.


In Private I am not ſo curious of my Words, but often let my Expreſſions Follow my Affecti­ons. And I may make a Continued Oration, or Break off and Pauſe, and begin again, as I ſee occaſion.

They that in Private by themſelves alone
Do Pray, may take
What Liberty they pleaſe
In chuſing of the ways
Wherein to make
Their Souls moſt intimate Affections known
To Him that ſees in Secret, when
Th' are moſt conceal'd from other men.
Harv. Po. p. 14.

In ſuch Retirements we are out of the reach of any Momus, to carp at our Words: And free from all Concern, but to have our Hearts Right with God, who will not take offence at a Miſ­placed or Improper Word, When he hath the Heart Engaged and Buiſy at work in his Service. He calls That to draw nigh to him in the firſt place, let the Tongue follow after as it can. And as it's moſt Natural, when our Mouths ſpeak Out of the Abundance of our Hearts: So a few words that come Warm from the Heart, are more Valuable than Ten thouſand ſaid after another, or in a cuſtomary Round. Sine Monitore,Apol. c. 30. quia de Pectore Ora­mus. Tertul. We are not Told all that we muſt Say in our Prayers, becauſe we62 fetch them out of the Bottom of our Hearts. And he needs no other Prompter, be he never ſo Weak, that has the