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duty to trust in them, (however quarrelsome persons may abuse or cavil at the words :) and he that distrusteth prayer in that which is its proper office, will pray to little purpose : and he that thinks that faithful, fervent, importunate, understanding prayer, is no more effectual with God for mercy, than the babbling of the hypocrite, or the ignorant, careless, unbelieving, sleepy prayers of the negligent, will either not care how he prayeth, or whether he prayeth at all or not. Though our persons and prayers have nothing that is meritorious with God, in point of commutative justice, nor as is co-ordinate with the merits of Christ, yet have they conditions without which God will not accept them, and are meritorious in subordination to the merit of Christ, in point of paternal governing justice according to the covenant of grace; as an obedient child deserveth more love, and praise, and reward from his father than the disobedient: as the ancient fathers commonly used the word merit d. Quest. XXXIII. How must that
be qualified that shall be accepted of God?'
Answ. There are several degrees of God's acceptance. I. That which is but from common grace, may be accepted as better than none at all. II. That which hath a promise of some success, especially as to pardon and salvation must be, l. From a penitent, believing, holy person. 2. It must proceed from true desire, and be sincere; and have renewed faith and repentance in some measure. 3. It must be put up in confidence on the merit and intercession of Christ. 4. It must be only for things lawful. 5. And to a lawful end. III. That which is extraordinarily accepted and successful, must be extraordinary in all these respects; in the person's holiness, and in renewed faith and fervent importunity, and holy love.
Tit. 3. Special Directions for Family Prayer.
Direct. 1. ' Let it be done rather by the master of the family himself than any other, if he be competently able, though others be more able; but if he be utterly unfit, let it rather be done by another than not at all.' And by such
d See my
“ Confession" of this at large.
an one as is most acceptable to the rest, and like to do most good.
Direct. 11. ' Let prayer be suited to the case of those that join in it, and to the condition of the family :' and not a few general words spoken by rote, that serve all times and persons alike. Direct. 111.
Let it neither be so short as to end before their hearts can be warm and their wants expressed (as if you had an unwilling task to slúbber over, and would fain have done); nor yet so tedious as to make it an ungrateful burden to the family.'
Direct. iv. ' Let not the coldness and dulness of the speaker rock the family asleep :' but keep awake your own heart, that you may keep the rest awake, and force them to attention.
Direct. v. Pray at such hours as the family may be least distracted, sleepy, tired, or out of the way.'
Direct. vi. Let other duties cóncur, as oft as may be, to assist in prayer :' as reading, and singing psalms. Direct. vir.
Do all with the greatest reverence of God that possibly you can :' not seeming reverence, but real; that só more of God than of man may appear in every word you speak Direct: vill.
· The more the hearers are concerned in it, the more regard you must have to the fitness of your pressions :' for before others, words must be regarded, lest they be scandalized, and God and prayer be dishonoured. And if you cannot do it competently without, use a well composed form.
Direct. ix. ' Let not family prayer be used at the time of public prayer in the church," nor preferred before it, but prefer public prayer, though the manner were more imperfect than your own.
Direct. x. • Teach your children and servants how to pray themselves, that they may not be prayerless when they come among those that cannot pray. John and Christ taught their disciples to pray.
Tit. 4. Special Directions for Secret Prayer.
Direct. 1. * Let it be in as secret a place as conveniently you can; that you may not be disturbed.' Let it be done so that others may not be witnesses of it, if you can avoid it; and yet take it not for your duty, to keep it unknown that you pray secretly at all: for that will be a snare and scandal to them.
Direct. 11. • Let your voice be suited to your own help and benefit, if none else hear you.' If it be needful to the orderly proceeding of your own thoughts, or to the warming of your own affections, you may use a voice; but if others be within hearing, it is very unfit.
Direct. III. ' In secret let the matter of your prayers be that which is most peculiarly your own concernment, or those secret things that are not fit for public prayer, or are there passed by;' yet never forgetting the highest interest of Christ, and the Gospel, and the world and church.
Direct. iv. · Be less solicitous about words in secret than with others, and lay out your care about the heart.' For that is it that God most esteemeth in your prayers.
Direct. v. 'Do not through carnal unwillingness grow into a neglect of secret prayer, when you have time: nor yet do not superstitiously tie yourselves to just so long time, whether you are fit, or at leisure from greater duties or not,' But be the longer when you are most fit and vacant, and the shorter when you are not. To give way to every carnal backwardness, is the sin on one side; and to resolve to spend so long time, when you do but tire yourselves, and sleep, or business, or distemper maketh it a lifeless thing, is a sin on the other side. Avoid them both.
Direct. vi. “A melancholy person who is unfit for much solitariness and heart-searchings, must be much shorter, if not also seldomer in secret prayers, than other Christians that are capable of bearing it:' and they must instead of that which they cannot do, be the more in that which they. can do; as in joining with others, and in shorter ejaculations, besides other duties ; but not abating their piety in the main upon any pretence of curing melancholy.
Brief Directions for Families, about the Sacrament of the Body
and Blood of Christ.
OMITTING those things which concern the public administration of this sacrament, (for the reasons before intimated Part ii.) I shall here only give you some brief Directions for your private duty herein.
Direct. 1. · Understand well the proper ends to which this sacrament was instituted by Christ; and take heed that you use it not to ends, for which it never was appointed.' The true ends are these, 1. To be a solemn commemoration of the death and passion of Jesus Christ, to keep it, as it were, in the eye of the church, in his bodily absence till he come 2. To be a solemn renewing of the holy covenant which was first entered in baptism, between Christ and the receiver ; and in that covenant it is on Christ's part, a solemn delivery of himself first, and with himself the benefits of pardon, reconciliation, adoption, and right to life eternal. And on man's part, it is our solemn acceptance of Christ with his benefits, upon his terms, and a delivering up of ourselves to him, as his redeemed ones, even to the Father, as our reconciled Father, and to the Son as our Lord and Saviour, and to the Holy Spirit as our Sanctifier, with professed thankfulness for so great a benefit. 3. It is appointed to be a lively objective means, by which the Spirit of Christ should work to stir up, and exercise, and increase the repentance, faith, desire, love, hope, joy, thankfulness, and new obedience of believers; by a lively representation of the evil of sin, the infinite love of God in Christ, the firmness of the covenant or promise, the greatness and sureness of the mercy given, and the blessedness purchased and promised to us, and the great obligations that are laid upon us b. And that herein believers might be solemnly called out to the most serious exercise of all these graces, and might be provoked and assisted to stir up themselves to this communion with God in Christ, and to pray for more as through a sacrificed Christo. 4. It is appointed to be the solemn profession of believers, of their faith, and love, and gratitude, and obedience to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and of continuing firm in the Christian religion. And a badge of the church before the world. 5. And it is appointed to be a sign and means of the unity, love, and communion of saints, and their readiness to communicate to each other.
& 1 Cor. xi. 24-26.
b Matt. xxvi. 28. Mark xiv. 24. Luke xxii. 20. 15—18. 1 Cor. x. 16, 24. John vi. 32. 35. 51. 58.
1 Cor. xi. 25. Heb. ix.
The false, mistaken ends which you must avoid are these. 1. You must not with the Papists, think that the end of it is to turn bread into no bread, and wine into no wine, and to make them really the true body and blood of Jesus Christ. For if sense (which telleth all men that it is still bread and wine,) be not to be believed, then we cannot believe that ever there was a Gospel, or an apostle, or a pope, or a man, or any thing in the world. And the apostle expressly calleth it bread three times, in three verses together, after the consecrationd. And he telleth us, that the use of it is (not to make the Lord’s body really present, but) " to shew the Lord's death till he come;" that is, as a visible representing and commemorating sign, to be instead of his bodily presence till he come.
2. Nor must you with the Papists use this sacrament to sacrifice Christ again really unto the Father, to propitiate him for the quick and dead, and ease souls in purgatory, and deliver them out of it. For Christ having died once dieth no more, and without killing him, there is no sacrificing him. By once offering up himself, he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified, and now there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin : having finished the sacrificing work on earth, he is now passed into the heavens, to appear before God for his redeemed ones €.
3. Nor is it any better than odivus impiety to receive the sacrament, to confirm some confederacies or oaths of secresy, for rebellions or other unlawful designs; as the powder-plotters in England did.
c 1 Cor. xi. 27–29. 31. X. 16, 17. 21. xi. 25, 26. vi. 14. Acts ii. 42. 46.
di Cor. xi. 26-28.
e Roin. vi. 9. 1 Cor. xv. 3. ix. 24.
2 Cor. V, 14, 15. Heb. ix. 16.
X. 12. 26.