« السابقةمتابعة »
3. Because it stands in opposition to all unrighteousness, and he that doth not bring forth the fruit of it, is unrighteous.
4. With men, and before them it is all our righteousness; and of this do the places mentioned by Mr. Biddle treat, without the least contradiction or colour of it, to the imputed righteousness of Christ, wherewith we are righteous before God.
The intendment of the last query in this chapter, is to prove the apostacy of saints; or that true believers may fall away totally and finally from grace. I suppose it will not be expected of me, that I should enter here into a particular consideration of the places by him produced, having lately at large gone through the consideration of the whole doctrine opposed; wherein not only the texts here quoted by Mr. B. but many others, set off by the management of an able head, and dexterous hand, are at large considered; thither therefore I refer the reader.
It might perhaps have been expected, that having insisted so largely as I have done, upon some other heads of the doctrine of the gospel corrupted by Mr. B. and his companions, that I should not thus briefly have passed over this important article of faith, concerning justification: but besides my weariness of the work before me, I have for a defensative farther to plead, that this doctrine is of late become the subject of very many polemical discourses; to what advantage of truth, time will shew, and I am not willing to add oil to that fire. 2. That if the Lord will, and I live, I intend to do something purposely, for the vindication and clearing of the whole doctrine itself; and therefore am not willing occasionally to anticipate here, what must in another order and method be insisted on; to which for a close, I add a desire, that if any be willing to contend with me about this matter, he would forbear exceptions against these extemporary animadversions, until the whole of my thoughts lie before him, unless he be of the persons principally concerned in this whole discourse, of whom I have no reason to desire that respect or candour.
a Doctrine of the Saints' Perseverance Vindicated.
And whether Christ prescribed a form of prayer to be used by believers: and of praying unto him, and in his name under the Old Testament?
THE first question is,
'Q. Is prayer a Christian duty?
A. Pray without ceasing; 1 Thess. v. 17.'
If by a Christian duty, a duty whereunto all Christians are obliged is understood, we grant it a Christian duty. The commands for it, encouragements to it, promises concerning it, are innumerable; and the use and benefit of it, in our communion with God, considering the state and condition of sin, emptiness, want, temptation, trials that here we live in, inestimable. If by a Christian duty it be intended that it is required only of them who are Christians, and is instituted by something peculiar in Christian religion, it is denied. Prayer is a natural acknowledgement of God, that every man is everlastingly and indispensably obliged unto, by virtue of the law of his creation, though the matter of it be varied according to the several states and conditions whereunto we fall, or are brought. Every one that lives in dependancy on God, and hath his supplies from him, is by virtue of that dependance obliged to this duty, as much as he is to own God to be his God. He proceeds:
Q. How ought men to pray? A. Lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting; 1 Tim. ii. 8.'
The inquiry being made of the manner of acceptable prayer, the answer given respecting only one or two particulars, is narrow and scanty. The qualification of the person praying, the means of access to God, the cause of acceptation with him, the ground of our confidence in our supplications, the efficacy of the Spirit of grace as promised, are either all omitted, or only tacitly intimated. But this, and many of the following questions, with the answers, being in their connexion capable of a good and fair interpretation, though all be not expressed that the Scripture gives, in answer to such questions, and the most material requisite of
prayer in the Holy Ghost be omitted, yet drawing to a close I shall not farther insist upon them; having yet that remaining, which requires a more full animadversion.
‘Q. Did not Christ prescribe a form of prayer to his disciples, so that there remaineth no doubt touching the lawfulness of using a form?
'A. Luke xi. 1-4.'
Ans. If Christ prescribed a form of prayer to his disciples, to be used as a form by the repetition of the same words; I confess it will be out of question, that it is lawful to use a form: but that it is lawful not to use a form, or that a man may use any prayer but a form, on that supposition, will not be so easily determined. The words of Christ are, When you pray, say, Our Father' &c. If in this prescription, not the matter only, but the words also are intended, and that form of them which follows is prescribed to be used, by virtue of this command of Christ, it will be hard to discover on what ground we may any otherwise pray, seeing our Saviour's command is positive, 'When you pray, say, Our Father,' &c.
That which Mr. B. is to prove is, that our Saviour hath prescribed the repetition of the same words ensuing, and when he hath done so, if so he can do, his conclusion must be, that that form ought to be used, not at all that any else may. If our Saviour have prescribed us a form, how shall any man dare to prescribe another? Or can any man do it without casting on his form the reproach of imperfection and insufficiency? Our Saviour hath prescribed us a form of prayer to be used as a form by the repetition of the same words; therefore we may use it, yea, we must, is an invincible argument, on supposition of the truth of the proposition. But our Saviour hath prescribed us such a form, &c. therefore we may use another, which he hath not prescribed, hath neither shew nor colour of reason in it.
But how will Mr. B. prove that Christ doth not here instruct his disciples in what they ought to pray for, and for what they ought in prayer to address themselves to God, and under what considerations they are to look on God in their approaches to him and the like, only, but also that he prescribes the words there mentioned by him to be repeated by them in their supplications. Luke xi. he bids them say,
'Our Father,' &c. which at large Matt. vi. is, 'pray, after this manner:' ourws to this purpose. I do not think the prophet prescribes a form of words, to be used by the church when he says, 'Take with you words, and turn to the Lord, and say unto him, take away iniquity;' Hos. xiv. 2. but rather calls them to fervent supplication for the pardon of sin, as God should enable them to deal with him. And though the apostles never prayed for any thing, but what they were for the substance directed to by this prayer of our Saviour, yet we do not find, that ever they repeated the very words here mentioned, or once commanded or prescribed the use of them, to any of the saints in their days, whom they exhorted to pray so fervently and earnestly. Nor in any of the rules and directions, that are given for our praying, either in reference to ourselves, or him, by whom we have access to God, is the use of these words at any time in the least recommended to us, or recalled to mind, as a matter of duty.
Our Saviour says, 'When ye pray, say, Our Father;' on supposition of the sense contended for, and that a form of words is prescribed, I ask whether we may at any time pray, and not say so; seeing he says, When you pray, say: whether we may say any thing else, or use any other words? Whether the saying of these words be a part of the worship of God? Or whether any promise of acceptation be annexed to the saying so? Whether the Spirit of grace and supplication be not promised to all believers? And whether he be not given them to enable them to pray, both as to matter and manner? And if so, whether the repetition of the words mentioned by them, who have not the Spirit given them for the ends before mentioned, be available? And whether prayer by the Spirit where these words are not repeated, as to the letters and syllables, and order wherein they stand, be acceptable to God? Whether the prescription of a form of words, and the gift of a spirit of prayer be consistent? Whether the form be prescribed because believers are not able to pray without it? Or because there is a peculiar holiness, force, and energy in the letters, words, and syllables, as they stand in that form? And whether to say the first of those be not derogatory to the glory of God, and efficacy of the Spirit, promised and given to believers; and the second, to assert the using of a charm in the worship of God? Whe
ther in that respect 'Pater noster' be not as good as 'Our Father?' Whether innumerable poor souls are not deluded and hardened by satisfying their consciences in, and with the use of this form never knowing what it is to pray in the Holy Ghost? And whether the asserting this form of words to be used, have not confirmed many in their atheistical blaspheming of the Holy Spirit of God, and his grace in the prayers of his people? And whether the repetition of these words, after men have been long praying for the things contained in them, as the manner of some is, be not so remote from any pretence or colour of warrant in the Scipture, as that it is in plain terms ridiculous? When Mr. Biddle, or any on his behalf, hath answered these questions, they may be supplied with more of the like nature and importance.
Of our address with all our religious worship to the Father, by Jesus Christ the Mediator, how and in what manner we do so, and in what sense he is himself the ultimate object of divine worship, I have spoken before; and therefore I shall not need to insist on his next question, which makes some inquiry thereabout. That which follows is all that in this chapter needs any animadversion. The words are these:
'Q. Was it the custom during the time that Christ conversed on the earth (much less before he came into the world) to pray unto God in the name of Christ, or through Christ? Or did it begin to be used after the resurrection and exaltation of Christ? What saith Christ himself concerning this?
'A. John xvi. 24-26.'
The time of the saints in this world are here distinguished into different seasons: that before Christ's coming in the flesh, the time of his conversation on earth, and the time following his resurrection and exaltation. What was the custom in these several seasons of praying to God in the name of Christ, or through him, is inquired after; and as to the first and second it is denied, granted as to the latter, which is farther confirmed in the answer to the last question, from Heb. xiii. 20, 21. Some brief observations will disentangle Mr. B.'s catechumens, if they shall be pleased to attend unto them.
1. It is not what was the custom of men to do, but what was the mind of God that they should do, that we inquire