IT is now two yeares, since part of these ensuing Papers, like the publike issue of the people, imperfect and undressed, were exposed, without a Parent to protest them, or any hand to nourish them. But since your Most Sacred Majesty was pleased graciously to looke upon them, they are growne into a Tract, and have an ambition (like the Gourd of Jonas) to dwell in the eye of the Sunne from whence they received life and increment. And although, because some violence hath been done to the profession of the doctrine of this Treatise, it may seem to be verbum in tempore non suo, and like the offering Cypresse to a Conquerour, or Palmes to a broken Army, yet I hope I shall the lesse need an Apology, because it is certaine, he does really disserve no just and Noble interest, that serves that of the Spirit, and Religion. And because the sufferings of a KING and a Confessour are the great demonstration to all the world that Truth is as Deare to your MAJESTY as the Iewells of your Diademe, and that your Conscience is tender as a pricked eye, I shall pretend this onely to alleviate the inconvenience of an unseasonable addresse, that I present your MAJESTY with a humble persecuted truth, of the same constitution with that condition whereby you are become most Deare to God, as having upon you the characterisme of the Sonnes of God, bearing in your Sacred Person the markes of the Lord Jesus, who is your Elder Brother, the King of Sufferings, and the Prince of the Catholique Church. But I consider that Kings, and their Great Councels, and Rulers Ecclesiasticall have a speciall obligation for the defence of Liturgies, because they having the greatest Offices, have the greatest needs of auxiliaries from Heaven, which are best procured by the publike Spirit, the Spirit of Government and Supplication. And since the first, the best, and most Solemne Liturgies and Set formes of Prayer were made by the best and greatest Princes, by Moses, by David, and the Sonne of David; Your MAJESTY may be pleased to observe such a proportion of circumstances in my laying this Apology for Liturgy at Your feet, that possibly I may the easier obtaine a pardon for my great boldnesse; which if I shall hope for, in all other contingencies I shall represent my selfe a person indifferent whether I live or die, so I may by either, serve God, and Gods Church, and Gods Vicegerent, in the capacity of,
Your Majesties most humble, and most obedient Subject and Servant,
I Have read over this Booke which the Assembly of Divines is pleased to call, The Directory for Prayer. I confesse I came to it with much expectation, and was in some measure confident, I should have found it an exact and unblameable modell of Devotion free from all those Objections which men of their owne perswasion had obtruded against the Publike Liturgy of the Church of England; or at least, it should have been composed with so much artifice and finenesse, that it might have been to all the world, an argument of their learning and excellency of spirit, if not of the goodnesse and integrity of their Religion and purposes. I shall give no other character of the whole, but that the publike disrelish which I find amongst Persons of great piety, of all qualities, not onely of great, but even of ordinary understandings, is to me some argument that it lies so open to the objections even of common spirits, that the Compilers of it, did intend more to prevaile by the successe of their Armies, then the strength of reason, and the proper grounds of perswasion, which yet most wise and good Men beleeve to be the more Christian way of the two. But because the judgment I made of it from an argument so extrinsecall to the nature of the thing, could not reasonably enable me to satisfie those many Persons who in their behalf desired me to consider it, I resolv'd to looke upon it nearer, and to take its account from something that was ingredient to its Constitution, that I might be able both to exhort and convince the Gainsayers, who refuse to hold fast piston logon kata thn didachn, that faithfull word which they had been taught by their Mother the Church of England.
I shall decline to speake of the efficient cause of this Directory, and not quarrell at it, that it was composed against the Lawes both of England and all Christendome. If the thing were good and pious, and did not directly or accidentally invade the rights of a just Superiour, I would learne to submit to the imposition, and never quarrell at the incompetency of his authority that ingaged me to doe pious and holy things. And it may be when I am a little more used to it, I shall not wonder at a Synod, in which not one Bishop sits (in the capacity of a Bishop) though I am most certaine this is the first example in England since it was first Christned. But for the present it seems something hard to digest it, because I know so well that all Assemblies of the Church have admitted Priests to consultation and dispute, but never to authority and decision, till the Pope enlarging the phylacteries of the Archimandrites, and Abbots, did sometime by way of priviledge and dispensation give to some of them decisive voices in publick Councels; but this was one of the things in which he did innovate and invade against the publike resolutions of Christendome, though he durst not doe it often, and yet when he did it, it was in very small and inconsiderable numbers.
I said I would not meddle with the Efficient, and I cannot meddle with the Finall cause, nor guesse at any other ends and purposes of theirs then at what they publikely professe, which is the abolition and destruction of the Booke of Common Prayer; which great change because they are pleased to call Reformation, I am content in charity to believe they thinke it so, and that they have Zelum Dei, but whether secundum scientiam, according to knowledge or no, must be judg'd by them who consider the matter, and the forme.
But because the matter is of so great variety and minute Consideration, every part whereof would require as much scrutiny as I purpose to bestow upon the whole, I have for the present chosen to consider onely the forme of it; concerning which, I shall give my judgment without any sharpnesse or bitternesse of spirit, for I am resolved not to be angry with any men of another perswasion, as knowing that I differ just as much from them as they doe from me.
The Directory takes away that Forme of Prayer which by the authority and consent of all the obliging power of the Kingdome, hath been used and enjoyned ever since the Reformation. But this was done by men of differing spirits, and of disagreeing interests; Some of them consented to it, that they might take away all set formes of prayer, and give way to every man's spirit; the other, that they might take away this Forme, and give way and countenance to their owne. The First, is an Enemy to all deliberation. The Second, to all authority. They will have no man to deliberate, These would have none but themselves. The former are unwise and rash; the latter are pleased with themselves, and are full of opinion. They must be considered apart, for they have rent the Question in pieces, and with the fragment in his hand, every man hath run his owne way.
First, of them that deny all set Formes, though in the subject matter they were confessed innocent and blamelesse.
And here I consider that the true state of the Question is onely this, Whether it is better to pray to God with Consideration, or without? Whether is the wiser Man of the two, he who thinks and deliberates what to say, or he that utters his mind as fast as it comes? Whether is the better man, he who out of reverence to God is most carefull and curious that he offend not in his tongue, and therefore he himselfe deliberates, and takes the best guides he can; or he who out of the confidence of his owne abilities, or other exteriour assistances, omoioV an einai doxaimi toiV eikh, kai fortikwV, kai cudhn,--oti an epelqh, legousin; speaks what ever comes uppermost.
And here I have the advice and counsell of a very wise man, no lesse than Solomon, Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter any thing before God, for God is in Heaven and thou upon Earth, therefore let thy words be few. The consideration of the vast distance between God and us, Heaven and Earth, should create such apprehensions in us, that the very best and choicest of our offertories are not acceptable but by Gods gracious vouchsasing and condescension: and therefore since we are so much indebted to God for accepting our best, it is not safe ventured to present him with a dowbaked sacrifice, and put him off with that which in nature and humane consideration, is absolutely the worst; for such is all the crude and imperfect utterance of our more imperfect conceptions; Hoc non probo in philosopho cujus oratio sicut vita debet esse composita, said Seneca, A wise mans speech should be like his life, and actions; composed, studied, and considered. And if ever inconsideration be the cause of sinne, and vanity; it is in our words, and therefore is with greatest care to be avoided in our prayers, we being most of all concerned that God may have no quarrell against them, for folly, or impiety.
But abstracting from the reason, let us consider who keeps the precept best, He that deliberates, or he that considers not when he speaks? What man in the world is hasty to offer any thing unto God, if he be not, who praies ex tempore? And then adde to it but the weight of Solomon's reason, and let any man answer me if he thinks it can well stand, with that reverence we owe to the immense, the infinite and to the eternall God, the God of wisdome, to offer him a sacrifice, which we durst not present to a Prince or a prudent Governour in re seriâ, such as our prayers ought to be.
And that this may not be dash'd with a pretence it is carnall reasoning, I desire it may be remembred, that it is the argument God himself uses against lame, maimed and imperfect sacrifices, Go and offer this to thy Prince, see if he will accept it; implying, that the best person is to have the best present; and what the Prince will slight as truly unworthy of him, much more is it unfit for God. For God accepts not of any thing, we give or doe, as if he were bettered by it; for therefore it's estimate is not taken by it's relation or naturall complacency to him, for in it self it is to him as nothing: but God accepts it by it's proportion and commensuration to us. That which we call our best, and is truly so in humane estimate, that pleases God, for it declares that if we had better, we would give it him. But to reserve the best, saies too plainly, that we think any thing is good enough for him. As therefore God in the Law would not be served by that which was imperfect in genere naturae: so neither now, nor ever, will that please him which is imperfect in genere morum, or materiâ intellectuali, when we can give a better.
And therefore the wisest Nations, and the most sober Persons prepared their Verses and Prayers in set formes, with as much religion as they dressed their sacrifices, and observ'd the rites of Festivalls and Burialls. Amongst the Romans it belong'd to the care of the Priests, to worship in prescrib'd and determin'd words. In omni precatione qui vota effundit Sacerdos, Vestam & Janum aliosque; Deos praescriptis verbis & composito carmine advocare solet. The Greeks did so too, receiving their prayers by dictate word for word. Itaque sua carmina suaque; precationes singulis diis institutae sunt, quas plerum abque; nequid praeposterè dicatur, aliquis ex praescripto praeire & ad verbum referre solebat. Their hymnes and prayers were ordained peculiar to every God, which, lest any thing should be said preposteroufly, were usually pronounced word for word after the Priest, and out of written Copies; and the Magi among the Persians were as considerate in their devotions; Magos & Persas primo sempèr diluculo canere Diis hymnos & laudes, meditato & solenni precationis carmine, The Persians sang hymnes to their Gods by the morning twilight in a premeditate, solemne and metricall forme of prayer, faith the same Authour. For since in all the actions and discourses of men, that which is the least considered is likely to be the worst, and is certainly of the greatest disreputation, it were a strange cheapnesse of opinion, towards God and Religion, to be the most incurious of what we say to him, and in our religious offices. It is strange that every thing should be considered but our Prayers. It is spoken by Eunapius to the honour of Proaeresius Schollars, that when the Proconsul asked their judgments in a question of Philosophy, they were prosenegkonteV ta Aristeidou meta pollhV skeyewV kai ponou, wV ouk eisi twn emountwn, alla twn akribountwn, they with much consideration and care gave in answer those words of Aristides, that they were not of the number of those that used to vomit out answers, but of those that considered every word they were to speake. Nihil enim ordinatum est quod praecipitatur & properat, said Seneca. Nothing can be regular and orderly, that is hasty and precipitate, and therefore unlesse Religion be the most imprudent, trifling, and inconsiderable thing, and that the worke of the Lord is done well enough, when it is done negligently, or that the sanctuary hath the greatest beauty, when it hath the least order, it will concerne us highly to thinke our prayers and religious offices are actions fit for wise men, and therefore to be done as the actions of wise men use to be, that is, deliberately, prudently, and with greatest consideration.
Well then! in the nature of the thing ex tempore formes have much the worse of it. But it is pretended that there is such a thing as the gift of prayer, a praying with the spirit; Et nescit tarda molimina spiritus sancti gratia, Gods Spirit (if he pleases) can doe his worke as well in an instant, as in long premeditation. And to this purpose are pretended those places of Scripture which speak of the assistance of Gods spirit in our prayers, Zech. 12. 10. And I will poure upon the house of David, and the inhabitants of Hierusalem the spirit of grace and supplication. But especially Rom. 8. 26. likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit it selfe maketh intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered, &c. From whence the Conclusion that is inferred is in the words of Saint Paul, that we must pray with the Spirit, therefore not with set formes, therefore ex tempore.
The Collection is somewhat wild, for there is great independency in the severall parts; and much more is in the Conclusion then was virtually in the premises. But such as it is, the Authours of it, I suppose, will owne it. And therefore we will examine the maine designe of it, and then consider the particular meanes of its perswasion quoted in the Objection.
It is one of the Priviledges of the Gospel, and the benefit of Christ's ascension, that the Holy Ghost is given unto the Church, and is become to us the fountain of gifts and graces. But these gifts and graces are improvements and helps of our naturall faculties, of our art and industry, not extraordinary, miraculous, and immediate infusions of habits and gifts. That without Gods spirit we cannot pray aright, that our infirmities need his help, that we know not what to aske of our selves is most true: and if ever any Heretick was more confident of his owne naturalls, or did ever more undervalue Gods grace, than the Pelagian did, yet he denies not this; but what then? therefore without study, without art, without premeditation, without learning, the Spirit gives the gift of prayer, and it is his grace that without any naturall or artificiall help makes us pray ex tempore? no such thing: the Objection proves nothing of this.
15. Here therefore we will joyne issue, whether the gifts and helps of the Spirit be immediate infusions of the faculties and powers and perfect abilities? Or that he doth assist us onely by his aides externall, and internall, in the use of such meanes which God and nature hath given to man to ennoble his soule, better his faculties, and to improve his understanding? That the aides of the Holy Ghost are onely assistances to us, in the use of naturall and artificiall meanes, I will undertake to prove, and from thence it will evidently follow, that labour, and hard study, and premeditation, will soonest purchase the gift of prayer, and ascertaine us of the assistance of the Spirit, and therefore set Formes of Prayer studied and considered of, are in a true and proper sense, and without Enthusiasme, the fruits of the Spirit.
First, Gods Spirit did assist the Apostles by waies extraordinary, and fit for the first institution of Christianity: but doth assist us now by the expresses of those first assistances which he gave to them immediately.
Thus the Holy Ghost brought to their Memory all things which Iesus spake and did, and by that meanes we come to know all that the Spirit knew to be necessary for us, the Holy Ghost being Authour of our knowledge, by being the fountaine of the Revelation, and we are therefore qesdidaktoi, taught by God, because the Spirit of God revealed the Articles of our Religion that they might be known to all ages of the Church; and this is testified by S. Paul, he gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, &c. for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the Ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the of Son God unto a perfect man, &c. This was the effect of Christ's ascension, when he gave gifts unto men, that is, when he sent the Spirit, the verification of the promise of the Father. The effect of this immission of the Holy Ghost was to fill all things, and that for ever; to build up the Church of God, untill the day of consummation; so that the Holy Ghost abides with the Church for ever, by transmitting those revelations, which he taught the Apostles, to all Christians in succession. Now as the Holy Ghost taught the Apostles, and by them still teaches us what to believe; so it is certaine he taught the Apostles how, and what to pray; and because it is certaine that all the rules concerning our duty in prayer, and all those graces which we are to pray for are transmitted to us by Derivation from the Apostles; whom the Holy Ghost did teach even to that very purpose also, that they should teach us; it follows evidently that the gift of prayer is a gift of the Holy Ghost, and yet to verifie this Proposition we need no other immediate inspiration or extraordinary assistance than that we derive from the Holy Ghost by the conveyance of the Apostolicall Sermons and Writings.
The reason is the same in Faith and Prayer; and if there were any difference in the acquisition, or reception, faith certainly needs a more immediate infusion, as being of greatest necessity, and yet a grace to which we least cooperate, it being the first of graces, and lesse of the will in it, then any other. But yet the Holy Ghost is the Authour of our faith, and we believe with the Spirit, (it is Saint Paul's expression) and yet our belief comes by hearing, and reading the holy Scriptures, and their interpretations. Now reconcile these two together, Faith comes by hearing, and yet is the gift of the Spirit, and it saies that the gifts of the Spirit are not extasies, and immediate infusions of habits, but helps from God, to enable us upon the use of the meanes of his owne appointment, to believe, to speake, to understand, to prophesie, and to pray.
But whosoever shall looke for any other gifts of the Spirit besides the parts of nature helped by industry and Gods blessing upon it, and the revelations, or the supplies of matter in holy Scripture, will be very farre to seek, having neither reason, promise, nor experience of his side. For why should the spirit of prayer be any other than as the gift and spirit of faith (as Saint Paul calls it) acquired by humane meanes, using divine aides? that is, by our endeavours in hearing, reading, catechizing, desires to obey, and all this blessed and promoted by God, this produces faith. Nay, it is true of us what Christ told his Apostles, sine me nihil potestis facere: not nihil magnum aut difficile, but omninò nihil, as Saint Austin observes. Without me ye can doe nothing, and yet we were not capable of a Law, or of reward or punishment, if neither with him, nor without him, we were able to doe any thing. And therefore although in the midst of all our co-operation we may say to God in the words of the Prophet, Domine omnia opera operatus es in nobis, O Lord thou hast wrought all our works in us, yet they are opera nostra still; God works, and we work; First is the cariV feromenh, Gods grace is brought to us, he helps and gives us abilities, and then expects our duty. And if the spirit of prayer be of greater consequence then all the works God hath wrought in us besides, and hath the promise of a speciall prerogative, let the first be proved, and the second be showne in any good Record, and then I will confesse the difference.
The Parallel of this Argument, I the rather urge, because I find praying in the Holy Ghost joyned with graces which are as much Gods gifts and productions of the spirit as any thing in the world, and yet which the Apostle presses upon us as duties, and things put into our power to be improved by our industry, and those are faith, (in which I before instanced) and charity. But ye (beloved) building up your selves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep your selves in the love of God. All of the same consideration, Faith, and Prayer, and Charity, all gifts of the Spirit, and yet build up your selves in faith, and keep your selves in love, and therefore by a parity of reason, improve your selves in the spirit of Prayer, that is, God by his Spirit having supplied us with matter, let our industry and co-operations per modum naturae, improve these gifts, and build upon this foundation.
Thus the Spirit of God is called the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of counsell, the Spirit of grace, the Spirit of meeknesse, the Spirit of wisdome. And without doubt he is the fountaine of all these to us all, and that for ever, and yet it cannot reasonably be supposed, but that we must stir up the graces of God in us, co-operate with his assistances, study in order to counsell, labour and consider in order to wisdome, give all diligence to make our calling and election sure in order to our adoption, in which we are sealed by the Spirit. Now these instances are of gifts, as well as graces, and since the daies of wonder and need of miracles is expired, there is no more reason to expect inspiration of gifts, then of graces, without our endeavours. It concerns the Church rather to have these secured than those, and yet the Spirit of God puts it upon the condition of our co-operation, for according to the Proverb of the old Moralists, Deus habet sinum facilem non perforatum, God's bosome is apt and easie to the emission of graces and assistances, but it is not loose and ungirt; something must be done on our part, we must improve the talents, and swell the bank; for if either we lay them up in a napkin, or spend them, suppresse the Spirit, or extinguish it, we shall dearly account for it.
In the meane time if we may lose the gifts by our owne fault, we may purchase them by our diligence: if we may lessen them by incuriousnesse, we may increase them by study: if we may quench the spirit, then also we may reenkindle it: all which are evident probation that the Holy Ghost gives us assistances to improve our naturall powers, and to promote our acquisite, and his aides are not inspirations of the habit, or infusions of a perfect gift, but a subliming of what God gave us in the stock of nature and art to make it in a sufficient order to an end supernaturall and divine.
The same doctrine we are taught by Saint Paul's exhortation to Timothy, Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophesie with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery. And againe, stirre up the gift of God which is in thee by the laying on of my hands. If there be any gifts of the Holy Ghost, and spirituall influences, dispensed without our co-operation, and by inspiration of the intire power, it is in ordination, and the persons so ordeined are most likely to receive the gift of prayer, if any such thing be for the edification of the Church, they being the men appointed to intercede, and to stand between God and the people, and yet this gift of God even in those times when they were dispensed with miracle, and assistances extraordinary, were given as all things now are given, by the meanes also of our endeavour, and was capable of improvement by industry, and of defaillance by neglect, and therefore much rather is it so now in the daies of ordinary ministration and common assistances.
And indeed this argument, beside the efficacy of its perswasion, must needs conclude against the Men to whom these adversaria are addressed, because themselves call upon their Disciples, to exercise the gift of prayer, and offer it to consideration, that such exercising it, is the way to better it; and if naturall endowments and artificiall endeavours are the way to purchase new degrees of it, it were not amisse they did consider a little before they begin; and did improve their first and smallest capacities before they ventured any thing in publike by way of addresse to Almighty God. For the first beginnings are certainly as improveable as the next degrees, and it is certaine they have more need of it, as being more imperfect and rude. Therefore when ever Gods Spirit hath given us any capacities, or assistances, any documents, motions, desires, or any aides whatsoever, they are therefore given us with a purpose we should by our industry, skill, and labour, improve them, because without such co-operation, the intention is made void, and the worke imperfect.
And this is exactly the doctrine I plainly gather from the objected words of Saint Paul, The Spirit helpeth our infirmities, sunantilambanetai, it is in the Greek, collaborantem adjuvat. It is an ingeminate expression of our labours. And that supposes us to have faculties capable of improvement, and an obligation to labour, and that the effect of having the gift of prayer depends upon the mutuall concourse, that is, upon God blessing our powers and our endeavours. And if this way the Spirit performes his promise sufficiently, and does all that we need, and all that he ties himself to; he that will multiply his hopes farther then what is sufficient, or what is promised, may possibly deceive himself, but never deceive God, and make him multiply and continue miracles to justifie his phansie.
Better it is to follow the Scriptures for our guide, as in all things else, so in this particular, Ephes. 6. 17, 18. Take the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, Praying alwaies with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. The word of God is the sword of the Spirit; praying in the Spirit is one way of using it, indeed the onely way that he here specifies. Praying in the Spirit then being the using of this Sword, and this Sword being the word of God, it follows evidently, that praying in the spirit, is praying in, or according to the word of God, that is, in the directions, rules, and expresses of the Word of God, that is, of the holy Scriptures. For we have many infirmities, and we need the spirit to help; as doubting, coldnesse, wearinesse, disrelish of heavenly things, indifferency; and these are enough to interpret the place quoted in the Objection, without tying him to make words for us to no great religious purposes when God hath done that for us in other manner then what we dreame of.
So that in effect, praying in the Holy Ghost, or with the spirit, is nothing but prayer for such things, and in such manner which God by his Spirit hath taught us in holy Scripture. Holy Prayers, spirituall songs, so the Apostle calls one part of prayer, viz. Eucharisticall or thanksgiving, that is, Prayers or Songs which are spirituall in materiâ. And if they be called spirituall for the Efficient cause too, the Holy Ghost being the Authour of them, it comes all to one, for therefore he is the cause and giver of them, because he hath in his word revealed, what things we are to pray for, & there also hath taught us the manner.
And this I plainly prove from the words of Saint Paul before quoted, The Spirit helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought. In this we are infirme, that we know not our owne needs, nor our owne advantages: when the Holy Ghost hath taught us what to aske, and to aske that as we ought, then he hath healed our infirmities, and our ignorances in the matter and the manner; then we know what to pray for as we ought, then we have the grace of Prayer, and the Spirit of supplication. And therefore in the instance before mentioned concerning spirituall songs, when the Apostle had twice enjoyn'd the use of them in order to Prayer and Preaching, to instruction and to Eucharist, and those to be done by the aide of Christ, and Christs spirit; What in one place he calls, being filled with the Spirit: In the other he calls, the dwelling of the word of Christ in us richly plainly intimating to us, that when we are mighty in the Scriptures, full of the word of Christ, then we are filled with the Spirit, because the Spirit is the great Dictatour of them to us, and the Remembrancer, and when by such helps of Scripture we sing Hymnes to Gods honour and our mutuall comfort, then we sing and give thanks in the spirit. And this is evident, if you consult the places, and compare them.
And that this is for this reason called a gift, and grace, or issue of the Spirit, is so evident and notorious, that the speaking of an ordinary revealed truth, is called in Scripture, a speaking by the Spirit, 1 Cor. 12. 8. No man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost. For though the world could not acknowledge Jesus for the Lord without a revelation, yet now that we are taught this truth by Scripture, and by the preaching of the Apostles to which they were enabled by the Holy Ghost, we need no revelation or Enthusiasme to confesse this truth, which we are taught in our Creeds and Catechismes; and this light sprang first from the immission of a ray from Gods Spirit, we must for ever acknowledge him the fountaine of our light. Though we coole our thirst at the mouth of the river, yet we owe for our draughts to the springs and fountains from whence the waters first came, though derived to us by the succession of a long current. If the Holy Ghost supplies us with materials and fundamentals for our building, it is then enough to denominate the whole edifice to be of him, although the labour and the workmanship be ours upon another stock. And this is it which the Apostle speaks, 1 Cor. 2. 13. Which things also we speake, not in the words which mans wisdome teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spirituall things with spirituall. The Holy Ghost teaches, yet it is upon our co-operation, our study and endeavour; while we compare spirituall things with spirituall, the Holy is said to teach us, because these spirituals were of his suffestion and revelation.
For it is a rule of the Schoole, and there is much reason in it, Habitus infusi infunduntur per modum acquisitorum, whatsoever is infused into us is in the same manner infused as other things are acquired, that is, step by step, by humane meanes and co-operation, and grace does not give us new faculties, and create another nature, but meliorates and improves our owne. And therefore what the Greeks called exeiV, habits, the Christians used to call dwseiV & dwrhmata, gifts, because we derive assistances from above to heighten the habits, and facilitate the actions, in order to a more noble and supernaturall end. And what Saint Paul said in the Resurrection, is also true in this Question, That is not first which is spirituall, but that which is naturall, and then that which is spirituall. The graces and gifts of the Spirit are postnate, and are additions to art and nature. God directs our counsels, opens our understandings, regulates our will, orders our affections, supplies us with objects and arguments, and opportunities, and revelations in scriptis, and then most when we most imploy our owne endeavours, God loving to blesse all the meanes, and instruments of his service, whether they be natural, or acquisite.
So that now I demand, Whether, since the expiration of the age of miracles, Gods spirit does not most assist us, when we most endeavour and most use the meanes? He that saies, No, discourages all men from reading the Scriptures, from industry, from meditation, from conference, from humane ars, and sciences, and from whatsoever else God and good Lawes, provoke us to by proposition of rewards. But if Yea, (as most certainly God will best crowne the best endeavours) then the spirit of prayer is greatest in him, who (supposing the like capacities and opportunities) studies hardest, reads most, practises most religiously, deliberates most prudently; and then by how much want of meanes, is worse then the use of meanes, by so much ex tempore prayers are worse then deliberate and studied. Excellent therefore is the Counsell of Saint Peter, 1. Epist. Ch. 4. v. 11. If any man speake let him speake as the Oracles of God (not lightly then and inconsideratly) If any man minister, let him doe it as of the ability which God giveth, (great reason then to put all his abilities and faculties to it) and whether of the two does most likely doe that, he that takes paines, and considers and discusses, and so approves and practises a forme, or he that never considers what he saies, till he saies it, needs not much deliberation to passe a sentence. Onely me thinks it is most unreasonable that we should be bound to prepare our selves with due requisites to hear what they shall speak in publique, and that they should not prepare what to speak, as if to speak were of easier or of lesse consideration, than to heare what is spoken; or if they doe prepare what to speak to the people, it were also very fit they prepar'd their prayers, and considered before hand of the fitnesse of the Offertory they present to God.
Lastly, Did not the Pen-men of the Scripture, write the Epistles and Gospels respectively all by the Spirit? Most certainly, holy Men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, saith Saint Peter. And certainly they were moved by a more immediate motion, and a motion neerer to an Enthusiasme, then now adaies in the gift and spirit of Prayer. And yet in the midst of those great assistances and motions they did use study, art, industry, and humane abilities. This is more than probable in the different stiles of the severall Bookes, some being of admirable art, others lower and plaine. The words were their owne, at least sometimes, not the Holy Ghosts. And if Origen, Saint Hierome, and especially the Greek Fathers, Scholiasts and Grammarians were not deceived by false Copies, but that they truly did observe, sometimes to be impropriety of expression in the language, sometimes not true Greek, who will think those errours or imperfections in Grammar, were (in respect of the words, I say, precisely) immediate inspirations and dictates of the Holy Ghost, and not rather their owne productions of industry and humanity? But clearly some of their words were the words of Aratus, some of Epimenides, some of Menander, some of S. Paul This speake I, not the Lord. Some were the words of Moses, even all that part of the Leviticall Law which concerned divorces, and concerning which, our blessed Saviour affirmes, that Moses permitted it, because of the hardnesse of their hearts, but from the beginning it was not so: and divers others of the same nature collected and observed to this purpose, by Origen, S. Basil, Saint Ambrose; and particularly, that promise which S. Paul made of calling upon the Corinthians as he passed into Macedonia, which certainly in all reason is to be presumed to have been spoken humanitùs, & not by immediate inspiration and infusion, because S. Paul was so hindred that he could not be as good as his word, and yet the Holy Ghost could have foreseen it, and might better have excused it, if Saint Paul had laid it upon his score; but he did not, and it is reasonable enough to believe there was no cause he should, and yet because the Holy Ghost renewed their memory, improved their understanding, supplied to some their want of humane learning, and so assisted them that they should not commit an errour in fact or opinion, neither in the narrative nor dogmaticall parts, therefore they writ by the Spirit. Since then we cannot pretend upon any grounds of probability to an inspiration so immediate as theirs, and yet their assistances which they had from the Spirit did not exclude humane arts and industry, but that the ablest Scholar did write the best, much rather is this true in the gifts and assistances we receive, and particularly in the gift of Prayer, it is not an ex tempore and an inspired faculty, but the faculties of nature, and the abilities of art and industry are improv'd and ennobled by the supervening assistances of the Spirit. And if these who pray ex tempore, say that the assistance they receive from the Spirit is the inspiration of words and powers without the operations of art and naturall abilities and humane industry, then besides that it is more then the Pen men of Scripture sometime had (because they needed no extraordinary assistances to what they could of themselves doe upon the stock of other abilities) besides this, I say, it must follow that such Prayers so inspired, if they were committed to writing, would prove as good Canonicall Scripture as any is in Saint Paul's Epistles, the impudence of which pretension is sufficient to prove the extreme vanity of the challenge.
The summe is this. Whatsoever this gift is, or this spirit of prayer, it is to be acquired by humane industry, by learning of the Scriptures, by reading, by conference, and by whatsoever else faculties are improved, and habits enlarged. Gods Spirit hath done his worke sufficiently this way, and he loves not either in nature or grace (which are his two great sanctions) to multiply miracles when there is no need.
And now let us take a man that pretends he hath the gift of Prayer, and loves to pray ex tempore, I suppose his thoughts go a little before his tongue; I demand then, Whether cannot this man, when it is once come into his head, hold his tongue, and write downe what he hath conceived? If his first conceptions were of God, and Gods Spirit then they are so still, even when they are written. Or is the Spirit departed from him, upon the sight of a Pen and Inkhorne? It did use to be otherwise among the old and new Prophets, whether they were Prophets of prediction, or of ordinary ministery. But if his conception may be written, and being written, is still a production of the Spirit, then it followes that set forms of prayer, deliberate, and described, may as well be a praying with the Spirit, as sudden formes and ex tempore out-lets.
Now the case being thus put, I would faine know what the difference is between deliberate and ex tempore Prayers, save onely that in these there is lesse consideration and prudence; for that the other are (at least as much as these) the productions of the Spirit, is evident in the very case put in this Argument: and whether to consider and to weigh them be any disadvantage to our devotions, I leave it to all wise men to determine; So that in effect since after the pretended assistance of the Spirit in our prayers we may write them downe, consider them, try the spirits, and ponder the matter, the reason and the religion of the addresse; let the world judge whether this sudden utterance and ex tempore formes be any thing else but a direct resolution not to consider before hand what we speake. Sic itaque habe, ut istam vim dicendi rapidam, aptiorem esse circulanti judices, quam agenti rem magnam & seriam docentique. They are the words of Seneca, and expresse what naturally flowes from the premises. The pretence of the Spirit, and the gift of prayer is not sufficient to justifie the dishonour they doe to Religion in serving it in the lowest and most indeliberate manner, nor quit such men from unreasonablenesse and folly who will dare to speake to God in the presence of the people, and in their behalf, without deliberation, or learning, or study. Nothing is a greater disreputation to the prudence of a Discourse, then to say it was a thing made up in haste, that is, without due considering.
But here I consider, and I wish they whom it concerns most, would doe so too: that to pretend the Spirit in so unreasonable a manner to so ill purposes, and without reason, or promise, or probability for doing it, is a very great crime, and of dangerous consequence. It was the greatest aggravation of the sin of Ananias and Saphira, yeusasqai to agion to pneuma, that they did falsely pretend and belye the Holy Spirit, which crime besides that it dishonours the holy Ghost, to make him the president of imperfect and illiterate rites, the author of confusion, and indeliberate Discourses, and the parent of such productions which a wise person would blush to owne: it also intitles him to all those Doctrines which either Chance or Designe shall expose to the people in such prayers, to which they entitle the holy Spirit as the Author and immediate Dictator. So that if they please, he must not onely own their follies, but their impieties too; and how great dis-reputation this is to the Spirit of Wisdome, of Counsel, and of Holinesse, I wish they may rather understand by Discourse then by Experiment.
But let us look a little farther into the mysterie, and see what is meant in Scripture by praying with the Spirit. In what sense the holy Ghost is called the Spirit of Prayer, I have already shewn, viz. by the same reason as he is the Spirit of Faith, of prudence, of knowledge, of understanding, and the like, because he gives us assistances for the acquiring of these graces, and furnishes us with revelations by way of object and instruction. But praying with the Spirit hath besides this, other senses also in Scripture. I find in one place, that we then pray with the Spirit, when the holy Ghost does actually excite us to desires and earnest tendencies, to the obtaining our holy purposes, when he prepares our hearts to pray, when he enkindles our desires, gives us zeal & devotion, charity and fervour, spirituall violence, and holy importunity. This sense is also in the latter part of the objected words of S. Paul, Rom. 8. The Spirit it selfe maketh Intercession for us with groanings. And indeed this is truly a praying with the Spirit, but this will doe our Reverend Brethren of the Assembly little advantage as to the present Question. For this Spirit is not a Spirit of utterance, not at all clamorous in the eares of the people, but cryes loud in the eares of God with groans unutterable, so it followes, and onely He that searcheth the heart, he understandeth the meaning of the Spirit. This is the Spirit of the Sonne, which God hath sent into our hearts, (not into our tongues) whereby we cry, Abba, Father, Gal. 4. 6. And this is the great auqentia for mentall prayer, which is properly and truly praying by the Spirit.
Another praying with the Spirit I find in that place of Saint Paul, from whence this expression is taken, and commonly used, I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also. It is generally supposed that Saint Paul relates here to a speciall and extraordinary gift of Prayer, which was indulg'd to the Primitive Bishops and Priests, the Apostles and Rulers of Churches, and to some other persons extraordinarily, of being able to compose prayers, pious in the matter, prudent in the composure, devout in the formes, expressive in the language; and in short, usefull to the Church, and very apt for devotion, and serving to her religion and necessities. I beleeve that such a gift there was, and this indulged as other issues of the Spirit to some persons, upon speciall necessities, by singular dispensation, as the Spirit knew to be most expedient, for the present need, and the future instruction. This I beleeve, not because I finde sufficient testimony that it was so, or any evidence from the words now alledged, but because it was reasonable it should be so, and agreeable to the other proceedings of the holy Ghost. For although we account it an easie matter, to make prayers, and we have great reason to give thanks to the holy Ghost for it, who hath descended so plentifully upon the Church, hath made plentifull revelation of all the publike and private necessities of the world, hath taught us how to pray, given rules for the manner of addresse, taught us how to distinguish spirituall from carnall things, hath represented the vanity of worldly desires, the unsatisfyingnesse of earthly possessions, the blessing of being denyed our impertinent, secular, and indiscreet requests, and hath done all this at the beginning of Christianity, and hath actually stirred up the Apostles and Apostolicall men to make so many excellent Formes of Prayer, which their successors did in part retaine, and in part imitate, till the conjunct wisdome of the Church saw her offices compleat, regular and sufficient. So that now every man is able to make something of Formes of Prayer, (for which ability they should do well to pay their Eucharist to the holy Ghost, and not abuse the gift to vanity or schisme) yet at the first beginning of Christianity, till the holy Spirit did fill all things, they found no such plenty of forms of Prayer: and it was accounted a matter of so great consideration to make a Form of Prayer, that it was thought a fit work for a Prophet, or the Founder of an Institution. And therefore the Disciples of John asked of him to teach them how to pray; and the Disciples of Christ did so too. For the Law of Moses had no rules to instruct the Synagogue how to pray; and but that Moses, and David, and Asaph, and some few of the Prophets more, left formes of Prayer which the Spirit of God inspired them withall upon great necessities, and great mercy to that people, they had not knowne how to have composed an office, for the daily service of the Temple, without danger of asking things needlesse, vaine, or impious, such as were the prayers in the Roman Closets, that he was a good man that would not owne them,
Et nihil arcano qui roget ore Deos.
Da mihi fallere, dajustum, sanctumque; videri
Noctem peccatis & fraudibus objice nubem.
But when the Holy Ghost came downe in a full breath, and a mighty wind, he filled the breasts and tongues of men, and furnished the first Christians not onely with abilities enough to frame excellent devotions for their present offices, but also to become precedents for Liturgy to all ages of the Church, the first being imitated by the second, and the second by the third, till the Church being setled in peace, and the records transmitted with greater care, and preserved with lesse hazard, the Church chose such Formes whose Copies we retaine at this day.
Now since it was certaine that all ages of the Church would looke upon the first Fathers in Christ, and Founders of Churches as precedents, and Tutours, and Guides, in all the parts of their Religion, and that prayer with its severall parts, and instances, is a great portion of the Religion (the Sacraments themselves being instruments of grace, and effectuall in genere orationis) it is very reasonable to think that the Apostolicall men, had not onely the first fruits, but the elder Brothers share, a double portion of the Spirit, because they were not onely to serve their owne needs, to which a single and an ordinary portion would have been then (as now) abundantly sufficient, but also to serve the necessity of the succession, and to instruct the Church for ever after.
But then, that this assistance was an ability to pray ex tempore, I find it no where affirmed by sufficient authentick Testimony, and if they could have done it, it is very likely they would have been wary, and restrained in the publike use of it. I doubt not but there might then be some sudden necessities of the Church, for which the Church being in her infancy had not as yet provided any publike formes, concerning which cases, I may say as Quintilian of an Oratour in the great and sudden needs of the Common-wealth, Quarum si qua non dico cuicunque innocentiam civium, sed amicorum ac propinquorum alicui evenerit, stabítne matus, & salutarem parentibus vocem, statim, si non succurratur, perituris, moras & secessum & silentium quaeret, dum illa verba fabricentur, & memoriae insidant, & vox ac latus praeparetur? I doe not thinke that they were oratores imparati ad casus, but that an ability of praying on a sudden was indulged to them by a specall aide of the Spirit to contest against sudden dangers, and the violence of new accidents, to which also possibly a new inspiration, was but for a very little while necessary, even till they understood the mysteries of Christianity, and the revelations of the Spirit, by proportion and analogy to which they were sufficiently instructed to make their sudden prayers when sudden occasions did require.
This I speak by way of concession and probability. For no man can prove thus much as I am willing (relying upon the reasonablenesse of the Conjecture) to suppose; but that praying with the Spirit in this place, is praying without study, art, or deliberation, is not so much as intimated.
For, 1. It is here implyed that they did prepare some of those devotions to which they were helped by the Spirit, otan sunercesqe, ekastoV umwn yalmon ecei, when you come together each of you (peradventure) hath a Psalme. Ecei, not poiei, not every one makes, but when you meet, every one hath, viz. already which supposes they had it prepared against the meeting. For the Spirit could help as well at home in their meditation, as in the publike upon a sudden: and though it is certaine, the Holy Spirit loves to blesse the publike meetings, the communion of Saints, with speciall benedictions; yet I suppose my Adversaries are not willing to acknowledge, any thing that should doe much reputation to the Church, and the publike authoriz'd conventions; at least, not to confine the Spirit to such holy and blessed meetings. They will (I suppose) rather grant the words doe probably intimate they came prepared with a Hymne, and therefore there is nothing in the nature of the thing, but that so also might their other formes of Prayer; the assistance of the Spirit (which is the thing in Question) hinders not, but that they also might have made them by premeditation.
2. In this place, praying with the Spirit, signifies, no other extraordinary assistance, but that the Spirit help'd them to speake their prayer, in an unknowne Tongue, ean gar proseucomai glwssh, to pneuma proseucetai, If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is without fruit, what then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also. Plainly here, praying in the Spirit, which is opposed to praying in understanding, is praying in an unknown tongue; where by the way observe, that praying with the Spirit, even in sense of Scripture, is not alwaies most to edification of the people. Not alwaies with understanding. And when these two are separated, Saint Paul preferres five words with understanding, before ten thousand in the spirit. For this praying with the Spirit was indeed then a gift extraordinary and miraculous, like as prophecying with the Spirit and expired with it. But while it did last it was the lowest of gifts, inter dona linguarum, it was but a gift of the tongue, and not to the benefit of the Church directly or immediately.
This also observe in passing by. If Saint Paul did so undervalue the praying with the Spirit, that he preferred edifying the Church a thousand degrees beyond it; I suppose he would have been of the same mind, if the Question had between praying with the Spirit, and obeying our Superiours, as he was when it was between praying with the Spirit and edification of the Church, because (if I be not mistaken) it is matter of great concernment towards the edification of the Church, to obey our Superiours, not to innovate in publike formes of worship, especially with the scandall and offence of very wise and learned men, and to the disgrace of the dead Martyrs, who sealed our Liturgy with their bloud.
But to returne. In this place, praying with the Spirit, beside the assistance given by the Holy Ghost to speake in a strange tongue, is no more then, my spirit praying, that is, it implies my co-operation with the assistance of the Spirit of God, insomuch that the whole action may truly be denominated mine, and is called (of the Spirit) onely by reason of that collaterall assistance. For so Saint Paul joynes them as termes identicall, and expressive one of anothers meaning, as you may please to read, ver. 14, & 15. 1 Cor. 14. I will pray with the Spirit, and my spirit truly prayeth. It is the act of our inner man, praying holy and spirituall prayers. But then indeed at that time there was something extraordinary adjoyned, for it was in an unknown Tongue, the practise of which Saint Paul there dislikes. This also will be to none of their purposes. For whether it were ex tempore, or by premeditation is not here expressed; or if it had, yet that assistance extraordinary in prayer, if there was any beside the gift of Tongues, (which is not here, or any where else expressed) is no more transmitted to us, then the speaking tongues in the Spirit, or prophecying ex tempore and by the Spirit.
But I would adde also one experiment which S. Paul also there adds by way of instance. If praying with the spirit in this place be praying ex tempore, then so is singing too. For they are expressed in the same place in the same manner, to the same end, and I know no reason why there should be differing senses put upon them to serve purposes. And now let us have some Church Musique too, though the Organs be pull'd down, and let any the best Psalmist of them all, compose a Hymn in Metricall form (as Antipater Sidonius in Quintilian, & Licinius Archias in Cicero could doe in their Verses) and sing it to a new tune with perfect and true musick, and all this ex tempore. For all this the Holy Ghost can doe if he pleases; But if it be said that the Corinthian Christians, composed their Songs and Hymnes according to art and rules of Musick, by study and industry, and that to this they were assisted by the Spirit; and that this together with the devotion of their spirit, was singing with the Spirit, then say I, so composing set formes of Liturgy by skill, and prudence, and humane industry, may be as much praying with the Spirit, as the other is singing with the Spirit. Plainly enough. In all the senses of praying with the Spirit, and in all it's acceptations in Scripture, to pray or sing with the spirit, neither of them of necessity implies ex tempore.
The summe or Collecta of the premises is this. Praying with the spirit, is either, (1) when the Spirit stirres up our desires to pray, per motionem actualis auxilii: or (2) when the spirit teaches us what, or how to pray, telling us the matter, and manner of our prayers. (3) Or lastly, dictating the very words of our prayers. There is no other way in the world to pray with the Spirit, or in the Holy Ghost, that is pertinent to this Question. And of this last manner the Scripture determines nothing, nor speaks any thing expresly of it, and yet suppose it had, we are certain the Holy Ghost hath supplied us, with all these, and yet in set formes of Prayer best of all, I mean, there where a difference can be; For (1) as for the desires, and actuall motions or incitements to pray, they are indifferent to one or the other, to set formes, or to ex tempore.
2. But as to the matter or manner of prayer, it is clearly contained in the expresses, and set formes of Scriptures, and there it is supplied to us by the Spirit, for he is the great Dictatour of it.
3. Now then for the very words. No man can assure me that the words of his ex tempore prayer are the words of the holy Spirit: it is not reason nor modesty to expect such immediate assistances to so little purpose, he having supplied us with abilities more then enough to expresse our desires aliundè, otherwise then by immediate dictate; But if we will take David's Psalter, or the other Hymnes of holy Scripture, or any of the Prayers which are respersed over the Bible, we are sure enough that they are the words of Gods spirit, mediately or immediately, by way of infusion or extasie, by vision, or at least by ordinary assistance. And now then, what greater confidence can any man have for the excellency of his prayers, and the probability of their being accepted, then when he prayes his Psalter, or the Lords Prayer, or any other office which he finds consigned in Scripture? When Gods spirit stirres us up to an actuall devotion, and then we use the matter he hath described and taught, and the very words which Christ & Christs spirit, and the Apostles, and other persons, full of the Holy Ghost did use; If in the world there be any praying with the Spirit (I meane, in vocall prayer) this is it.
And thus I have examined the intire and full scope of this First Question, and rifled their Objection, which was the onely colour to hide the appearance of its naturall deformity at the first sight. The result is this, Scribendum ergo quoties licebit; Si id non dabitur cogitandum: ab utroque exclusi, debent tamen adniti, ut neque deprehensus orator, neque destitutus esse videatur.
In making our Orations and publike advocations, we must write what we meane to speake, as often as we can; when we cannot, yet we must deliberate, and study; and when the suddennesse of the accident prevents both these, we must use all the powers of art and care that we have a present mind, and call in all our first provisions, that we be not destitute of matter and words apt for the imployment.
This was Quintilian's rule for the matter of prudence, and in secular occasions; but when the instance is in Religion, and especially in our prayers, it will concern us nearer, to be curious and deliberate what we speak in the audience of the eternal God, when our lives and our soules, and the honour of God, and the reputation of Religion are concern'd, and whatsoever is greatest in it self, or dearest to us.
THe second Question hath in it something more of difficulty; for the Men that owne it will give leave that set formes may be used, so you give leave to them to make them; but if authority shall interpose and prescribe a Liturgy, every word shal breed a quarrell, and if the matter be innocent, yet the very injunction is tyranny, a restraining of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, it leaves the spirit of a Man sterile and unprofitable, it is not for edification of the Church, and is as destitute of comfort, as it is of profit. For God hath not restrain'd his Spirit to those few that rule the Church in prelation above others, but if he hath given to them the spirit of government, he hath given to others the spirit of prayer, and the spirit of Prophesie. Now the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withall, for to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdome, to another the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit. And these and many other gifts are given to severall members that they may supply one another, and all joyne to the edification of the body. And therefore that must needs be an imprudent sanction that so determines the offices of the Church, that she cannot be edified by that variety of gifts which the holy Spirit hath given to severall men to that purpose, just as if there should be a Canon, that but one Sermon should be preached in all Churches forever. Besides, it must needs be, that the devotion of the suppliants must be much retarded by the perpetuity, and unalterable reiteration of the same forme; For since our affections will certainly vary and suffer great alteration of degrees, and inclinations, it is easier to frame words apt to comply with our affections then to conforme our affections in all varieties to the same words: When the formes are dayly changed, it is more probable that every Man shall find something proportionable to his fancy, which is the great instrument of Devotion, then to suppose that any one forme, should be like Manna fitted to every tast; and therefore in prayers, as the affections must be naturall, sweet, and proper, so also should the words expressing the affections, issue forth by way of naturall emanation. Sed extemporalis audaciae atque ipsius temeritatis vel praecipua jucunditas est. Nam in ingenio sicut in agro quanquam alia diu serantur, atque elaborentur, gratiora tamen quae suâ sponte nascuntur. And a garment may as well be made to fit the moone, as that one forme of Prayer should be made apt and proportionable to all men, or to any man at all times.
This Discourse relies wholly upon these two grounds; A liberty to use variety of formes for prayer, is more for the edification of the Church. Secondly, it is part of that liberty which the Church hath, and part of the duty of the Church to preserve the liberty of the spirit in various formes.
Before I descend to consideration of the particulars, I must premise this, that the gift or ability of prayer given to the Church is used either in publike or in private, and that which is fit enough for one, is inconvenient in the other, and although a liberty in private may be for edification of good people, when it is piously and discreetly used, yet in the publike, if it were indifferently permitted, it would bring infinite inconvenience, and become intolerable, as a sad experience doth too much verifie.
But now then, this distinction, evacuates all the former discourse, and since it is permitted that every man in private use what formes he please, the Spirit hath all that liberty that is necessary, and so much as can be convenient; the Church may be edified by every mans gift, the affections of all men may be complied withall, words may be sitted to their fancies, their devotions quickned, their wearinesse helped and supported, and whatsoever benefit can be fancied by variety & liberty, all that, may be enjoyed, and every reasonable desire, or weaker fansie be fully satisfied.
But since these advantages to devotion are accidentall, and doe consult with weaknesse and infirmity, and depend upon irregular variety for which no antecedent rule can make particular provision; it is not to be expected, the publike constitution, and prescribed formes, which are regular, orderly, and determin'd, can make provision for particulars, for chances, and for infinite varieties. And if this were any objection against publike formes, it would also conclude against all humane Lawes that they did not make provision for all particular accidents, and circumstances that might possibly occurre. All publike sanctions must be of a publike spirit and designe, and secure all those excellent things which have influence upon societies, communities of men, and publique obligations.
Thus, if publike formes of Prayer be describ'd whose matter is pious and holy, whose designe is of universall extent, and provisionary for all publike, probable, fear'd, or foreseen events, whose frame and composure is prudent, and by authority competent and high, and whose use and exercise is instrumentall to peace and publike charity, and all these hallowed by intention, and care of doing glory to God, and advantages to Religion, express'd in observation of all such rules, and precedents as are most likely to teach us best, and guide us surest, such as are Scriptures, Apostolicall Tradition, Primitive practise, and precedents of Saints, and holy Persons, the publike can doe no more, all the duty is performed, and all the care is taken.
Now after all this there are personall necessities and private conveniences or inconveniences, which, if men are not so wise as themselves to provide for, by casting off all prejudice and endeavouring to grow strong in Christianity, men in Christ, and not for ever to be Babes in Religion, but frame themselves to a capacity of receiving the benefit of the publike, without needing other provisions, then what wil fit the Church in her publick capacity; the Spirit of God and the Church taught by him, hath permitted us to comply with our owne infirmities, while they are innocent, and to pray in private in any forme of words, which shall be most instrumentall to our devotion in the present capacity. Neque hoc ego ago ut extempore dicere malit, sed ut possit.
And indeed sometimes an exuberant, and an active affection, and overflowing of Devotion may descend like anointing from above, and our cup run over, and is not to be contained within the margent of prescribed forms; And though this be not of so great consideration as if it should happen to a man in publike, that it is then fit for him, or to be permitted to expresse it in formes unlimited and undermin'd. (For there was a case in the daies of the inundation of the Spirit, when a man full of the Spirit was commanded to keep silence in the Church; and to speake to himselfe and to God) yet when this grace is given him in private, he may compose his owne Liturgy, pectus enim est quod disertos facit, & vis mentis. Ideoque imperit is quoque, si mode sint aliquo affectu concitati, verba non desunt. Onely when in private devotion we use forms of our own making or chusing, we are concern'd to see, that the matter be pious, apt for edification and the present necessity, and without contempt of publike prescriptions, or irreverence to God, and in all the rest we are at liberty; onely in the Lord, that is, according to the rule of faith, and the analogy of Christian religion. For supposing that our devotion be servent, our intention pious, and the petition kaq o dei, according to the will of God, Whatsoever our expressions are, God reads the petition in the Character of the Spirit, though the words be brevia concisa, & singultantium modo ejecta. But then these accidentall advantages, and circumstances of profit, which may be provided for in private; as they cannot be taken care of in publike, so neither is it necessary they should: for those pleasures of sensible devotion are so farre from being necessary to the acceptation of prayer, that they are but compliances with our infirmities, and suppose a great weaknesse in him that needs them (say the Masters of spirituall life) and in the strongest prayers, and most effectuall devotions, are seldomest found; such as was Moses prayer when he spake nothing, and Hannah's and our blessed Saviour's when he called upon his Father, kraugaiV iscuraiV, with strong cries, in that great desertion of Spirit, when he prayed in the Garden; In these praiers the Spirit was bound up with the strictnesse and violence of intention, but could not ease it self with a flood of language, and various expression. A great devotion is like a great grief, not so expressive as a moderate passion, teares spend the grief, and variety of language breathes out the devotion; and therefore Christ went thrice, and said the same words; he could just speak his sense in a plaine expression, but the greatnesse of his agonie was too big for the pleasure of a sweet and sensible expression of devotion.
So that let the devotion be never so great, set formes of prayer will be expressive enough of any desire, though importunate as extremity it self; but when the Spirit is weak, and the devotion imperfect, and the affections dry, though in respect of the precise duty on our part, and the acceptation on Gods part, no advantage is got by a liberty of an indifferent, unlimited, and chosen form; and therefore in all cases, the whole duty of prayer is secured by publike formes; yet other circumstantiall and accidentall advantages, may be obtained by it, and therefore let such persons feast themselves in private with sweet-meats, and lesse nourishing delicacies, weak stomackes must be cared for, yet they must be confessed to have stronger stomackes, and better health, that can feed upon the wholesome food prepared in the common refectories.
So that publique formes (it is true) cannot be fitted to every mans fancie, and affections, especially in an Age wherein all publike constitutions are protested against; but yet they may be fitted to all necessities, and to every mans duty, and for the pleasing the affections and fancies of men, that may be sometimes convenient, but it is never necessary; and God that suffers drynesse of affections many times in his dearest servants, and in their greatest troubles, and most excellent Devotions, hath by that sufferance of his, given demonstration that it is not necessary such affections should be complyed withall, for then he would never suffer those sterilities, but himselfe by a cup of sensible Devotion would water and refresh those drinesses; and if God himselfe does not, it is not to be expected the Church should.
And this also is the case of Scripture, for the many discourses of excellent Orators and Preachers have all those advantages of meeting with the various affections and dispositions of the hearers, and may cause a teare, when all S. Pauls Epistles would not; and yet certainly there is no comparison between them, but one Chapter of S. Paul is more excellent and of better use to the substantiall part of Religion, then all the Sermons of Saint Chrysostome: and yet there are some circumstances of advantage which humane eloquence may have, which are not observed to be in those other more excellent emanations of the holy Spirit. And therefore if the Objection should be true, and that conceived formes of Prayer in their great variety might doe some accidentall advantages to weaker persons, and stronger fancies, and more imperfect judgements, yet this instance of Scripture is a demonstration that set and composed devotions may be better; and this reason does not prove the contrary, because the Sermons in Scripture are infinitely to be preferred before those discourses and orations, which doe more comply with the fancies of the people. Nay, we see by experience, that the change of our prayers, or our bookes, or our company, is so delightfull to most persons, that though the change be for the worse, it more complies with their affections then the peremptory and unaltered retaining of the better; but yet this is no good argument to prove that change to be for the better.
But yet if such compliance with fancies and affections were necessary, what are we the neerer if every Minister were permitted to pray his own formes? How can his forme comply with the great varity of affections which are amongst his auditors, any more then the publick forms described by authority? It may hit casually, and by accident be commensurate to the present fancy of some of his Congregation, with which at that time possibly the publick forme would not: This may be thus, and it may be otherwise, and at the same time, in which some feele a gust and relish in his prayer, others might feele a greater sweetnesse in recitation of the publike formes. This thing is so by chance, so irregular and uncertaine, that no wise man, nor no Providence lesse then Divine can make any provisions for it.
And after all, it is nothing but the fantastique and imaginative part that is pleased, which for ought appears, may be disturbed with curiosity, peevishnesse, pride, spirit of novelty, lightnesse, and impertinencie: and that to satisfie such spirits, and fantastique persons, may be as dangerous and uselesse to them, as it is trouble some in it selfe. But then for the matter of edification, that is considerable upon another stock: for now adaies men are never edified, unlesse they be pleased, and if they mislike the Person, or have taken up a quarrell against any forme, or institution; presently they cry out, They are not edified, that is, they are displeased: and the ground of their displeasure is nothing from the thing it selfe, but from themselves onely: they are wanton with their meat, and long for variety, and then they cry out that Manna will not nourish them, but prefer the onions of Egypt before the food of Angels; the way to cure this inconvenience is to alter the men, not to change the institution; for it is very certain that wholesome meat, is of it self nutritive, if the body be disposed to its reception, and entertainment. But it is not certain that what a sick man fancies out of the weaknesse of his spirit, the distemper of his appetite, & wildnesse of his fancy, that it will become to him either good, or good physick. Now in the entertainments of Religion and Spirituall repasts, that is wholesome, nutritive, and apt to edifie, which is pious in it selfe, of advantage to the honour of God, whatsoever is good Doctrine, or good Prayers, especially when it is prepared by a publick hand, and designed for publick use, by all the wisdome of those men who in all reason are to be supposed to have received from God all those assistances which are effects of the spirit of Government; and therefore it is but weaknesse of spirit, or strength of passion, impotency in some sense or other, certainly, that first dislikes the publique provisions, and then, say, they are not wholsome.
For I demand concerning the publike Lyturgies of a Church, whose constitution is principally of the parts, and choisest extracts of Scripture, Lessons and Psalmes, and some few Hymnes and Symbols, made by the most excellent persons in the Primitive Church, and all this, in nothing disagreeing from the rules of Lyturgie given in Scripture, but that the same things are desired, and the same persons prayed for, and to the same end, and by the same great instrument of addresse & acceptation, by Jesus Christ and which gives all the glory that is due to God, and gives nothing of this to a Creature, and hath in it many admirable documents; whether there be any thing wanting in such a Lyturgie towards edification? What is there in prayers that can edifie, that is not in such in a Lyturgie so constituted? Or what can there be more in the private formes of any Minister, then is in such a publick composition?
By this time, I suppose, the Objection with all its parts is disbanded so farre as it relates to edification, profit, and compliance with the auditors: As for the matter of liberty, and restraint of the Spirit; I shall consider that apart. In the mean time I shall set down those grounds of Religion and Reason, upon which publick Lyturgie relies, and by the strength of which it is to be justified, against all opposition and pretences.
1. The Church hath a power given to her by the Spirit of God, & a command to describe publick forms of Lyturgie. For I consider that the Church is a Family, Jesus Christ is the Master of the Family, the holy Spirit is the great Dispensatour of all such graces the Family needs, and are, in order to the performance of their Duty; the Apostles, and their Sucoessors, the Rulers of the Church are Stewards of the manifold Graces of God, whose office is to provide every mans portion, and to dispence the graces and issues Evangelicall by way of Ministery. Who is that faithfull and wise Steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler of his Houshold? It was our blessed Saviours Question, and Saint Paul answered it: Let a man so account of us, as of the Ministers of Christ, and Stewards of the mysteries of God. Now the greatest Ministery of the Gospell is by way of prayer, (most of the graces of the Spirit being obtained by prayer, and such offices which operate by way of impetration, and benediction, and consecration, which are but the severall instances of prayer) Prayer, certainly, is the most effectuall and mysterious ministery: and therefore since the Holy Ghost hath made the Rulers of the Church, Stewards of the mysteries, they are by virtue of their Stewardship Presidents of Prayer and publike Offices.
2. Which also is certaine, because the Priest is to stand between God and the People, and to represent all their needs to the throne of grace; He is a Prophet and shall pray for thee, said God, concerning Abraham to Abimelech. And therefore the Apostles appointed inferiour Officers in the Church that they might not be hindred in their great worke, but we will give our selves to the word of God and to prayer; And therefore in our greatest need, in our sicknesse, and last scene of our lives, we are directed to send for the Elders of the Church, that they may pray over us; and God hath promised to heare them: and if prayer be of any concernment towards the finall condition of our souls, certainly it is to be ordered, guided, and disposed by them who watch for our soules, wV logon apodwsonteV, as they that must give account to God for them.
3. Now if the Rulers of the Church are Presidents of the rites of Religion, and by consequence of Prayer, either they are to order publike prayers, or private. For private, I suppose, most men will be so desirous of their liberty as to preserve that in private, where they have no concernments but their owne, for matter of order or scandall: But for publike, if there be any such thing as Government, and that prayers may be spoiled by disorder, or made ineffectuall by confusion, or by any accident may become occasion of a scandall, it is certaine that they must be ordered as all other things are in which the publike is certainly concerned, that is, by the Rulers of the Church, who are answerable if there be any miscarriage in the publike. Thus farre I suppose there will not be much Question with those who allow set formes, but would have themselves, be the Composers; They would have the Ministers pray for the people, but the Ministers shall not be prescribed to; the Rulers of the Church shal be the Presidents of religious rites, but then they will be the Rulers, therefore we must proceed farther; and because I will not now enter into the Question who are left by Christ to govern his Church, I will proceed upon such grounds which I hope may be sufficient to determine this Question, and yet decline the other. Therefore
4. Since the Spirit of God is the spirit of supplication, they to whom the greatest portion of the Spirit is promised are most competent persons, to pray for the people, and to prescribe formes of prayer. But the promise of the Spirit is made to the Church in generall, to her in her united capacity, to the whole Church first, then to particular Churches, then in the lowest seat of the Category to single persons; And we have title to the promises by being members of the Church, and in the Communion of Saints; which beside the stylus curiae, the form of all the great promises, being in generall and comprehensive termes, appears in this, that when any single person is out of this Communion, he hath also no title to the promises; which yet he might, if he had any upon his own stock, not derivative from the Church. Now then I infer; if any single persons will have us to believe without possibility of proof (for so it must be) that they pray with the Spirit, (for how shall they be able to prove the spirit actually to abide in those single persons?) then much rather must we believe it of the Church, which by how much the more generall it is, so much the more of the Spirit she is likely to have: and then if there be no errors in the matter, the Church hath the advantage and probability on her side; and if there be an errour in matter in either of them, neither of them have the Spirit, or they make not the true use of it. But the publike Spirit in all reason is to be trusted before the private when there is a contestation, the Church being prior & potior in promissis, she hath a greater and priour title to the Spirit. And why the Church hath not the spirit of prayer in her compositions as well as any of her Children, I desire once for all to be satisfied upon true grounds either of reason or revelation. And if she have, whether she have not as much as any single person? If she have but as much, then there is as much reason in respect of the divine assistance, that the Church should make the forms, as that any single Minister should, and more reason in respect of order and publike influence, and care, and charge of soules: but if she have a greater portion of the Spirit than a single person, that is, if the whole be greater then the part, or the publike better than the private, then it is evident, that the spirit of the Church in respect of the divine assistance, is chiefly, and in respect of order, is onely to be relied upon for publike provisions and formes of prayer.
But now if the Church in her united capacity makes prayers for the people, they cannot be supposed to be other than limited and determined formes; for it is not practicable, or indeed, imaginable, that a Synod of Church Governours (be they who they will, so they be of Christs appointment) should meet in every Church, and pray as every man list; their Counsels are united, and their results are Conclusions, and finall determinations, which like generall propositions are applicable to particular instances; so that (1) since the Spirit being the great Dictatour of holy prayers, and (2) the Spirit is promised to the Church in her united capacity, and (3) in proportion to the Assembly caeteris paribus, so are measures of the Spirit powred out, and (4) when the Church is assembled, the Prayers which they teach the People are limited and prescribed formes; it followes that limited and prescribed formes, are in all reason, emanations from the greatest portion of the Spirit, warranted by speciall promises, which are made to every man there present that does his duty, as a private member of the Christian Church, and are due to him as a Ruler of the Church, and yet more especially, and in a further degree to all them met together; where (if ever) the holy Spirit gives such helps and graces which relate to the publike government, and have influence upon the communities of Christians, that is, will blesse their meeting, and give them such assistances as will enable them to do the work for which they convene.
But yet if any man shall say, What need the Church meet in publike Synods to make formes of Prayer, when private Ministers are able to doe it in their severall Parishes? I answer, it is true, many can, but they cannot doe it better then a Councell; and I think no man is so impudent, as to say, he can doe it so well; however, quod spectat ad omnes ab omnibus tractari debet, the matter is of publike concernment, and therefore should be of publike consultation, & the advantages of publikely describ'd formes I shall afterwards specifie. In the mean time,
5. As the Church, I mean the Rulers of the Church, are appointed Presidents of religious rites, and as the Rulers in conjunction are enabled to doe it best by the advantages of speciall promises, and double portions of the Spirit; so she alwayes did practise this, either in conjunction, or by single dictate, by publick persons, or united authority; but in all times, as necessity required, they prescribed set Formes of Prayer.
If I should descend to minutes, and particulars, I could instance in the behalf of set Formes, that. 1. God prescribed to Moses a set Forme of Prayer, and benediction to be used when he did blesse the people. 2. That Moses composed a Song, or Hymne for the children of Israel, to use, to all their generations 3. That David composed many for the service of the Tabernacle, and every company of singers was tyed to certain Psalmes, as the very titles intimate; and the Psalmes were such limited and determinate prescriptions, that in some, Gods Spirit did bind them to the very number of the Letters, and order of the Alphabet. 4. That Solomon, and the holy Kings of Judah brought them in, and continued them in the ministration of the Temple. 5. That in the reformation by Hezekiah, the Priests and Levites were commanded to praise the Lord in the words of David & Asaph. 6. That all Scripture is written for our learning; and since all these, and many more set Formes of Prayer are left there upon record, it is more then probable, that they were left there for our use, and devotion; and certainly, it is as lawfull, and as prudent to pray Scriptures, as to read Scriptures; and it were well, if we would use our selves to the expression of Scripture, and that the language of God were familiar to us, that we spake the words of Canaan, not the speech of Ashdod; and time was, when it was thought the greatest Ornament of a spirituall Person, and instrument of a religious Conversation; but then the consequents would be, that these Prayers were the best Formes which were in the words of Scripture, and those Psalmes and Prayers there recorded, were the best devotions, but these are set Formes. 7. To this purpose I could instance in the example of Saint John Baptist, who taught his Disciples a Forme of Prayer. And that Christs Disciples begged the same favour, and it was granted as they desired it.
And here I mean to fix a little, for this ground cannot fail us. I say Christ prescribed a set Form of Prayer to be used by all his Disciples, as a Breviary of Prayer, as a rule of their devotions, as a repository of their needes, and as a direct addresse to God. For in this Prayer God did not onely command us to make our Prayers, as Moses was bid to make the Tabernacle, after the patterne which God shewed him in the Mount, and Christ shewed his Apostles; but he hath given us the very tables written with his own hand, that we should use them as they are so delivered; this Prayer was not onely a precedent and pattern, but an instance of addresse, a perfect forme for our practice, as well as imitation. For
1. When Christ was upon the Mount, he gave it for a patterne outwV oun proseucesqe umeiV. So pray ye, or after this manner; which if we expound onely to the sense of becomming a pattern, or a Directory, it is observable, that it is not onely Directory for the matter, but for the manner too; and if we must pray with that matter, and in that manner, what does that differ from praying with that forme? however it is well enough, that it becomes a precedent to us, in any sense, and the Church may vary her formes according as she judges best for edification.
2. When the Apostles upon occasion of the Forme which the Baptist taught his Disciples, begg'd of their Master to teach them one, he againe taught them this, and added a precept to use these very words, otan proseucesqe, legete, when ye pray, say, our Father, edei gar mhden idion autouV legein: when they speak to God, it was fit they should speake in his words, in whose name also their prayers onely could be acceptable.
3. For if we must speak this sense, why also are not the very words to be retained? Is there any errour or imperfection in the words? was not Christ Master of his language? and were not his words sufficiently expressive of his sense? will not the Prayer do well also in our tongues which as a duty we are oblig'd to deposite in our hearts, and preserve in our memories, without which it is in all senses uselesse, whether it be onely a pattern, or a repository of matter?
4. And it is observeable that our blessed Saviour doth not say, Pray that the name of your heavenly Father may be sanctified, or that your sinnes may be forgiven, but say, Hallowed be thy name, &c. so that he prescribes this Prayer, not in massa materiae, but in formâ verborum, not in a confused heap of matter, but in an exact composure of words, it makes it evident he intended it not onely pro regula petendorum, for a direction of what things we are to aske, but also pro forma orationis, for a set form of Prayer. Now it is considerable that no man ever had the fulnesse of the Spirit, but onely the holy Jesus, and therefore it is also certain, that no man had the Spirit of prayer like to him, and then, if we pray this prayer devoutly, and with pious and actuall intention, doe we not pray in the Spirit of Christ, as much as if we prayed any other forme of words pretended to be taught us by the Spirit? We are sure that Christ and Christs spirit taught us this Prayer, they onely gather by conjectures and opinions, that in their ex tempore or conceived formes the Spirit of Christ teacheth them. So much then as Certainties are better then Uncertainties, and Gods words better than Mans, so much is this Set forme, besides the infinite advantages in the matter, better then their ex tempore and conceived Formes, in the forme it selfe. And if ever any prayer was, or could be, a part of that doctrine of faith by which wee received the Spirit, it must needs be this prayer which was the onely forme our blessed Master taught the Christian Church immediately, was a part of his great and glorious Sermon in the Mount, in which all the needs of the world are sealed up as in a treasure house, and intimated by severall petitions as diseases are by their proper and proportioned remedies, and which Christ published as the first emanation of his Spirit, the first perfume of that heavenly anointing which descended on his sacred head when he went down into the waters of Baptisme.
This we are certain of, that there is nothing wanting, nothing superfluous and impertinent, nothing carnall or imperfect in this prayer, but as it supplies all needs, so it serves all persons, is fitted for all estates, it meets with all accidents, and no necessity can surprize any man, but if God heares him praying that prayer, he is provided for in that necessity: and yet if a single person paraphrases it, it is not certain but the whole sense of a petition may be altered by the intervention of one improper word, and there can be no security given against this, but qualified and limited, and just in such a proportion as we can be assured of the wisdome and honesty of the person, and the actuall assistance of the holy Spirit.
Now then I demand whether the Prayer of Manasses, be so good a prayer as the Lords Prayer? or is the Prayer of Judith, or of Tobias, or of Judas Maccabeus, or of the Sonne of Sirach, is any of these so good? Certainly no man will say they are; and the reason is, because we are not sure they are inspired by the Holy Spirit of God; prudent, and pious, and conformable to Religion they may be, but not penn'd by so excellent a spirit as this Prayer. And what assurance can be given that any Ministers prayer is better then the prayers of the Sonne of Sirach, who was a very wise, and a very good man, as all the world acknowledges; I know not any one of them that has so large a testimony, or is of so great reputation. But suppose they can make as good prayers, yet surely they are Apocryphall at least, and for the same reason that the Apocryphall prayers are not so excellent as the Lords prayer, by the same reason must the best they can be imagin'd to compose fall short of this excellent pattern by how much they partake of a smaller portion of the Spirit, as a drop of water is lesse then all the waters under, or above the Firmament.
Secondly, I would also willingly know, whether if any man uses the forme which Christ taught, supposing he did not tie us to the very prescript words, can there be any hurt in it? is it imaginable that any Commandement should be broken, or any affront done to the honour of God, or any act of imprudence, or irreligion in it, or any negligence of any insinuation of the Divine pleasure? I cannot yet think of any thing to frame for answer, so much as by way of an Antinomy or Objection. But then supposing Christ did tye us to use this Prayer pro loco & tempore, (according to the nature and obligation of all affirmative precepts) as it is certaine he did, in the preceptive words recorded by S. Luke, When ye pray, say, Our Father then it is to be considered that a Divine Commandment is broken, by its rejection; and therefore, if there were any doubt remaining, whether it be a command or no; yet since, on one side there is danger of a negligence, and a contempt, and that on the other side, the observation & conformity cannot be criminall, or imprudent; it will follow, that the retaining of this Prayer in practice, and suffering it to doe all its intentions, and particularly becomming the great auqentia, or authority for set formes of Prayer, is the safest, most prudent, most Christian understanding of those words of Christ, propounding the Lords Prayer to the Christian Church. And because it is impossible that all particulars should be expressed in any forme of prayer, because particulars are not onely casuall and accidentall, but also infinite; Christ, according to that wisdome he had without measure, fram'd a Prayer, which by a general comprehension should include all particulars, eminent, and vertually; so that there should be no defect in it, & yet so short, that the most imperfect memories might retaine, and use it.
And it is not amisse to observe, that our blessed Saviour first taught this Prayer to be as a remedy, and a reproof, of the vaine repetition of the Pharisees; and besides, that is was so, à priori, we also in the event, see the excellent spirit and wisdome in the Constitution; for those persons who have laid aside the Lords Prayer, have been noted by common observation; to be very long in their forms, and troublesome, and vaine enough in their repetitions, they have laid aside the medicine, and the old wound bleeds afresh, the Pharisees did so of old.
And after all this, it is strange imployment, that any man should be put to justifie the wisdome and prudence of any of Christs institutions; as if any of his servants who are wise upon his Stock, instructed by his Wisdom, made knowing by his Revelations, and whose all that is good, is but a weak ray of the glorious light of the Sun of Righteousnes, should dare to think that the Derivative should be before the Primitive, the current above the Fountain; and that we should derive all our excellency from him, and yet have some beyond him, that is, some which he never had, or which he was not pleased to manifest; or that we should have a spirit of prayer able to make productions beyond his Prayer who received the Spirit without measure. But this is not the first time man hath disputed against God.
And now let us consider with sobriety, not onely of this excellent Prayer, but of all that are deposited in the primitive records of our Religion. Are not those Prayers and Hymnes in holy Scripture, excellent compositions, admirable instruments of devotion, full of piety, rare and incomparable addresses to God? Dare any man with his gift of Prayer pretend, that he can ex tempore, or by study, make better? Who dares pretend that he hath a better spirit than David had? or than the Apostles and Prophets, and other holy persons in Scripture, whose Prayers and Psalmes are by Gods Spirit consigned to the use of the Church for ever? Or will it be denied but that they also are excellent Directories and Patterns for prayer? And if Patterns, the nearer we draw to our example, are not the imitations and representments the better? And what then if we tooke the Samplers themselves? Is there any imperfection in them, and can we mend them, and correct the Magnificat? The very matter of these, and the Authour no lesse then Divine cannot but justifie the Formes, though set, determin'd and prescribed.
In a just proportion and commensuration, I argue so concerning the primitive and ancient formes of Church service, which are composed according to those so excellent Patterns, which if they had remained pure, as in their first institution, or had alwaies bin as they have been reformed by the Church of England, they would against all defiance put in for the next place to those formes of Liturgy, which mutatis mutandis, are nothing but the words of Scripture. But I am resolved at this present not to enter into Question concerning the matter of Prayers.
Next, we must enquire what the Apostles did in obedience to the precept of Christ, and what the Church did in imitation of the Apostles. That the Apostles did use the Prayer their Lord taught them, I think need not much be questioned, they could have no other end of their desire, and it had been a strange boldnesse to aske for a forme which they intended not to use, or a strange levity not to doe what they intended. But I consider they had a double capacity, they were of the Jewish Religion by education, and now Christians by a new institution; in the first capacity they used those Set formes of Prayer which their Nation used in their devotions. Christ and his Apostles sang a Hymne, part of the great Allelujah which was usually sung at the end of the Paschall Supper, After Supper they sang a hymne, saies the Evangelist. The Jewes also used every Sabbath to sing the XCII Psalme, which is therefore intit'led, A Song or Psalme for the Sabbath, and they who observed the hours of Prayer, and Vowes, according to the rites of the Temple, need not be suspected to have omitted the Jewish formes of prayer. And as they complied with the religious customes of the Nation, worshipping according to the Jewish manner, it is also in reason to be presum'd they were Worshippers according to the new Christian institution, and used that forme their Lord taught them.
Now, that they tied themselves to recitation of the very words of Christ's Prayer pro loco & tempore, I am therefore easie to believe, because I find they were strict to a scruple in retaining the Sacramentall words which Christ spake when he instituted the blessed Sacrament, insomuch that not onely three Evangelists, but S. Paul also not onely making a narrative of the institution, but teaching the Corinthians the manner of its celebration, to a tittle he recites the words of Christ. Now the action of the Consecrator is not a theatricall representment of the action of Christ, but a sacred, solemne, and Sacramentall prayer, in which since the Apostles at first, and the Church ever after did with reverence, and feare, retaine the very words, it is not onely a probation of the Question in generall, in behalf of set formes; but also a high probability that they retain'd the Lord's Prayer, and used it to an iwta, in the very forme of words.
And I the rather make this inference from the preceding argument, because the cognation one hath with the other; for the Apostles did also in the consecration of the Eucharist, use the Lords Prayer, and that together with the words of institution was the onely forme of consecration saith Saint Gregory, and Saint Hierome affirmes, that the Apostles, by the command of their Lord, used this prayer in the benediction of the Elements.
But besides this, when the Apostles had received great measures of the Spirit, and by their gift of Prayer composed more Formes for the help and comfort of the Church, and contrary to the order in the first Creation, the light which was in the body of the Sun, was now diffused over the face of the new Heavens, and the new Earth; it became a precept Evangelicall, that we should praise God in Hymnes, and Psalmes, and Spirituall Songs, which is so certaine, that they were compositions of industry and deliberation, and yet were sung in the Spirit, that he, who denies the last, speakes against Scriptures, he who denies the first, speakes against Reason, and would best consute himself, if in the highest, of his pretence of the Spirit, he would venture at some ex tempore Hymnes. And of this, we have the expresse testimony of Saint Austin, De Hymnis & Psalmis canendis haberi Domini & Apostolorum documenta, & utilia praecepta. And the Church obeyed them, for as an Ancient Author under the name of Dionysius Areopagita relates, the chief of the Clericall, and Ministring Order offer bread upon the Altar, Cum Ecclesiastici omnes, laudem hymnumque generalem Deo tribuerint, cum quibus Pontifex sacras preces ritè perficit, &c. They all sing one Hymne to God, and then the Bishop prayes ritè, according to the rituall or constitution, which in no sense of the Church, or of Grammar, can be understood without a solemne and determin'd forme; umnein sayes Casaubon is cantare, idem saepiùs dicere, apud Graecos palillogia; they were formes of praising God used constantly, periodically, and in the daily Offices. And the Fathers of the Councell of Antioch complaine against Paulus Samosatenus, Quod Psalmos & cantus qui ad Domini nostri Jesu Christi honorem decantari solent tanquam recentiores, & à viris recentioris memoriae editos exploserit. The quarrell was, that he said the Church had used to say Hymnes which were made by new men, and not deriv'd from the Ancients; which, if we consider that the Councell of Antioch was in the 12 year of Gallienus the Emperour, 133 years after Christs Ascension, will fairly prove, that the use of prescrib'd Formes of Prayer, Hymnes and formes of Worshipping, were very early in the Church; and it is unimaginable it should be otherwise, when we remember the Apostolicall precept before mentioned. And if we fancy a higher precedent, than what was manifested upon earth, we may please to see one observ'd to have been made in Heaven; for a set forme of Worship, and addresse to God, was recorded by Saint John, and sung in Heaven; and it was composed out of the Songs of Moses, (Exod. 15.) of David, (Psal. 145.) and of Jeremy, (Chapt. 10. 6, 7.) which, certainly, is a very good precedent for us to imitate although but revealed to Saint John, by way of vision and extasie, that we may see, if we would speak with the tongue of Men and Angels, we could not praise God in better Formes, then what are recorded in holy Scripture.
But besides the metricall part, the Apostle hath described other parts of Lyturgie in Scripture, whose composition, though it be in determined forme of words, yet not so bound up with numbers, as Hymnes: and these Saint Paul calls supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, which are severall manners of addresse distinguish'd by their subject matter, by their forme and manner of addresse. As appears plainly by intercessions and giving of thanks the other are also by all men distinguish'd, though in the particular assignment they differ, but the distinction of the Words implies the distinction of Offices, which together with the ta apomnhmoneumata twn profhtwn, the Lectionarium of the Church, the Books of the Apostles, and Prophets spoken of by Justin Martyr, and said to be used in the Christian Congregations, are the constituent parts of Liturgy; and the exposition of the words we best learn from the practise of the Church, who in all Ages of whose publike offices any record is left to us, tooke their pattern from these places of Scripture, the one for Prose, the other for Verse; and if we take Liturgy into its severall parts, or members, we cannot want something to apply to every one of the words of Saint Paul in these present allegations.
For the offices of prose we find but small mention of them in the very first time, save onely in generall termes, and that such there were, and that S. James, S. Marke, Saint Peter, and others of the Apostles and Apostolicall men made Liturgies, and if these which we have at this day were not theirs, yet they make probation that these Apostles left others, or else they were impudent people that prefixed their names so early, and the Churches were very incurious to swallow such a bole, if no pretension could have been reasonably made for their justification. But concerning Church Hymnes we have clearer testimony in particular, both because they were many of them, and because they were dispersed more, soone got by heart, passed also among the people, and were pious arts of the Spirit whereby holy things were instilled into their Soules by the help of phansie, and a more easie memory. The first civilizing of people used to be by Poetry, and their Divinity was conveyed by Songs and Verses, and the Apostle exhorted the Christians, to exhort one another in Psalmes and Hymnes, for he knew the excellent advantages were likely to accrue to Religion by such an insinuation of the mysteries. Thus Saint Hilary, and Saint Ambrose composed Hymnes for the use of the Church, and Saint Austin made a Hymne against the Schisme of Donatus, which Hymnes when they were publikely allowed of, were used in publike Offices; not till then; For Paulus Samosatenus had brought Women into the Church to sing vaine and trifling Songs, and some Bishops took to themselves too great and incurious a license, and brought Hymnes into the Church, whose gravity and piety was not very remarkeable; upon occasion of which, the Fathers of the Councell of Laodicea, ordained, oti ou dei idiwmatikouV yalmouV legesqai en ekklhsia, No Psalmes of private composition must be brought into the Church, so Gentian Hervet renders it; Isidore Translates it Psalmos ab Idiotis compositos, Psalmes made by common persons; Psalms usually sung abroad, so Dionysius Exiguus calls them, Psalmos Plebeios but I suppose by the following words is meant, That none but Scripture Psalmes shall be read there, for so the Canon adds, alla mona ta kanonika thV palaiaV kai kainhV diaqhkhV, nothing to be read in the Church but Books of the Old and New Testament. And this Interpretation agrees well enough with the occasion of the Canon which I now mentioned.
This onely by the way, the reddition of yalmouV idiwtikouV by Isidore to be Psalmes made by common persons, whom the Scripture calls idiwtaV, ignorant, or unlearned, is agreeable enough with that of Saint Paul, who intimates, that Prayers, and formes of Lyturgies are to be composed for them, not by them, they were never thought of, to be persons competent to make Formes of Prayers themselves: For Saint Paul speakes of such a one as of a person comming into the Church to hear the Prophets, pray, and sing, and interpret, and prophecy, and elwgcetai upo pantwn, anakrinetai upo pantwn, he is reproved of all, and judged of all; and therefore the most unfit person in the world to bring any thing that requires great ability, and great authority, to obtrude it upon the Church, his Rulers, and his Judges. And this was not unhandsomely intimated by the word sometimes used by the Eucologion of the Greek Church, calling the publike Lyturgie kontakion, which signifies prayers, made for the use of the Idiotae, or private persons, as the word is contradistinguished from the Rulers of the Church. For kontoV signifies contum, and kontw plein, is as much as proshkontw zhn, to live in the condition of a private person, and in the vulgar Greek (sayes Arcadius) kontoV and kontakhnoV anqrwpoV signifie a little man, of a low stature, from which two significations kontakion may well enough design a short form of Prayer, made for the use of private persons. And this was reasonable, and part of the Religion even of the Heathen as well as Christians; the presidents of their Religion were to finde prayers for the people, and teach them formes of addresse to their Gods.
Castis cum pueris ignara puella mariti
Disceret unde preces, vatem ni Musa dedisset?
Poscit opem chorus, & praesentia numina sentit,
Caelestes implorat aquas, doctâ prece blandus,
Carmine dii superi placantur, carmine Manes.
But this was by the way.
But because I am casually fallen, upon mention of the Laodicean Councel, and that it was very ancient, before the Nicene, and of very great reputation, both in the East, and in the West; it will not be a contemptible addition to the reputation of set formes of Lyturgie, that we finde them so early in the Church, reduced to a very regular and composed manner. The XV Canon suffers none to sing in the Church, but the apo difqeraV yallonteV, kai epi ton ambwna anabainonteV, they that sing by book, and goe up into the Pulpit; they were the same persons, and the manner of doing their office, was their appellative, which shews plainly, that the known custome of the Church, was for them who were in the ambwn, in the Pulpit to read their offices, and devotions. They read them apo difqeraV, that's the word in the Canon. Those things which signifie the greatest, or first Antiquity, are said to be en difqera grafomena. Arcaiotera difqeraV laleiV, was spoken proverbially, to signifie ancient things: And ZeuV kateide KronioV eiV taV difqeraV: So that if these Fathers chose these words as Grammarians, the singers apo difqeraV were such as sung ancient Hymnes of Primitive antiquity, which also is the more credible, because the persons were noted and distinguished by their imployment, as a thing knowne by so long an use, till it came to be their appellative. The 17. and 18. Canons command that Lessons and Psalmes should be said interchangeably kai thn auqen leitourgian twn eucwn pantote, kai en taiV ennataiV kai en taiV esperaiV ofeilein ginesqai, and the same Liturgie that's the word) or office of prayers to be said alwayes at Nones and Vespers. This shews the manner of executing their office of Psalmists, and Readers, they did not sing or say ex tempore, but they read Prayers and Psalmes, and sung them out of a Booke; neither were they brought in fresh and new at every meeting, but it was auth leitourgia pantote, still the same forme of prayers, without variation.
But then if we remember how ancient this office was in the Church, and that the anagwstatai & yaltai, the Readers and Singers were Clericall offices, deputed for publike ministry about prayers and devotions in the Church (for so we are told by Simeon Thessalonicensis in particular concerning the anagnwsthV, kai tous qeiouV prolegei toiV yallousin umnouV, htoi kanonarcei, he does dictate the hymnes to the singers, and then of the singers there is no question) and that these two offices was so ancient in the Church, that they were mentioned by S. Ignatius, who was contemporary with the latter times of the Apostles; We may well beleeve that set and described formes of Liturgie were as early as the dayes of the Apostles, and continued in the continuation of those and the like offices in all descending ages. Of the same designe and intimation were those knowne offices in the Greek Church, of the KanonarchV and the YpoboleuV which Socrates speaks of as of an office in the Church of Alexandria, en th auth de Alexandreia anagnwstai kai upoboleiV diaforoi, eite kathcoumenoi eisin eite pistoi, &c. Their office was the same with the Reader, they did ex praescripto praeire, & ad verbum referre, the same which ab Alexandro notes to have beene done in the religious rites of Heathen Greece, They first read out of a Book the appointed prayers, and the others rehearsed them after. Now it is unimaginable that constant officers should be appointed to say an office, and no publike office be described.
I shall adde but this one thing more, and passe on ad alia. And that is, that I never yet saw any instance, example, or pretence of precedent of any Bishop, Priest, or Lay person that ever prayed ex tempore in the Church, and although in some places, single Bishops, or peradventure, other persons of lesse Authority did oftentimes bring prayers of their owne into the Church; yet ever they were compositions, and premeditations, and were brought thither, there to be repeated often, and added to the Lyturgie; and although the Lyturgies, while they were lesse full then since they have been, were apt to receive the additions of pious and excellent Persons, yet the inconvenience grew so great, by permitting any forms but what were approved by a publike Spirit, that the Church, as She alwaies had forms of publike Prescription, so She resolved to permit no mixture of any thing but what was warranted by an equall power, that the Spirits of the Prophets might be subject to the Prophets, and such Spirits, when they are once tryed whether they be of God or no, tryed by a lawfull Superiour, and a competent Judge may then venture into the open aire. And it were a strange imprudence, choosingly to entertaine those inconveniences which our wiser Fore-fathers felt, and declar'd, and remedied. For why should we be in love with that evill, against which they so carefully arm'd their Churches, by the provision and defence of Lawes? For this produc'd that Canon of the Councell of Mileuis in Africa, Placuit ut preces quae probatae fuerint in Conoilio ab omnibus celebrentur, nec aliae omninò dicantur in Ecclesiâ, nisi quae a prudentioribus factae fuerint in Synodo. That's the restraint and prohibition; publike Prayers, must be such as are publikely appointed and prescribed by our Superiors, and no private formes of our conceiving must be used in the Church. The reason followes, Ne fortè aliquid contra fidem, vel per ignorantiam vel per minus studium sit compositum, left through ignorance, or want of deliberation any thing be spoken in our Prayers against faith, & good manners; Their reason is good, and they are witnesses of it who hear the variety of Prayers, before and after Sermons, there where the Directory is practised, where (to speak most modestly) not onely their private opinions, but also humane interests, and their own personall concernments, and wilde fancies, born perhaps not two dayes before, are made the objects of the peoples hopes, of their desires, and their prayers, and all in the mean time pretend to the holy Spirit.
Thus farre we are gone. The Church hath (1) power and authority, and (2) command, (3) and ability, or promise of assistances to make publike formes of Liturgie; and (4) the Church alwaies did so; in all descents from Moses to Christ, from Christ to the Apostles, from them to all descending Ages; for I have instanced till Saint Austine's time; and since, there is no Question, the people were antigrafa exonteV twn sunhqwn agiwn eucwn aparallaktika metagrafenta ek kontakiwn, as Balsamon saies of those of the Greek Communion, they used unalterable formes of Prayers, described out of the Books of publike Liturgy; it remains onely that I consider upon what reason and grounds of prudence and religion the Church did so, and whether she did well or no? In order to which, I consider,
1. Every man hath personall needs of his owne, and he that understands his owne condition, and hath studied the state of his Soule in order to eternity, his temporall estate in order to justice and charity, and the constitution and necessities of his body in order to health, and his health in order to the service of God, as every wise and good man does, will find that no man can make such provision for his necessities, as he can doe for his owne, (caeteris paribus) no man knowes the things of a man but the spirit of the man, and therefore if he have proportionable abilities, it is allowed to him, and it is necessary for him to represent his owne conditions to God, and he can best expresse his owne sense, or at least best sigh forth his owne meaning, and if he be a good man, the Spirit will make intercession for him, with those unutterable groanes. Besides this, every Family hath needs proper to it in the capacity of a Family, and those are to be represented by the Master of the Family; whom men of the other perswasion are apt to consesse to be a Priest in his own Family and a King, and Sacrorum omnium potestas sub Regibus esto, they are willing in this sense to acknowledge; and they call upon him to performe Family duties, that is, all the publike devotions of the Family are to be ordered by him.
Now that this is to be done by a set forme of words is acknowledged by Didoclavius. Nam licet in conclavi (Paterfamilias) verbis exprimere animi affectus pro arbitrio potest, quia Dominus cor intuetur, & affectus, tamen publicè coram totâ familia idem absque; indecoro non potest. If he prayes ex tempore, without a Set forme of prayer, he may commit many an undecency; a set and described forme of prayer is most convenient in a Family that Children and Servants may be enabled to remember, and tacitely recite the prayer together with the Major domo. But I relie not upon this; but proceed upon this Consideration.
As private Persons and as Families, so also have Churches their speciall necessities in a distinct capacity, and therefore God hath provided for them Rulers and Feeders, Priests and Presidents of religion, who are to represent all their needs to God, and to make provisions. Now because the Church cannot all meet in one place, but the harvest being great it is bound up in severall bundles, and divided into many Congregations, for all which the Rulers and Stewards of this great Family are to provide, and yet cannot be present in those particular Societies, it is necessary that they should have influence upon them by a generall provision, and therefore that they should take care that their common needs should be represented to God, by Set formes of Prayer, for they onely can be provided by Rulers, and used by their Ministers and Deputies; such as must be one in the principe, and diffused in the execution; and it is better expression of their care and duty for the Rulers to provide the bread and blesse it, and then give it to them who must minister it in small portions and to particular companies, (for so Christ did) then to leave them who are not in the same degree answerable for the Churches, as the Rulers are, to provide their food, and breake it, and minister it too. The very Oeconomy of Christ's Family requires that the dispensations be made according to every man's capacity. The generall Stewards are to divide to every man his portion of worke, and to give them their food in due season, and the under-servants are to doe that work is appointed them; so Christ appointed it in the Gospel, and so the Church hath practised in all Ages, inde enim per temporum & successionum vices Episcoporum ordinatio & Ecclesiae ratio decurrit, ut Ecclesia supra Episcopes constituatur, & omnis actus Ecclesiae per eosdem Praepositos gubernetur, when the Rulers are few (for the Ecclesiasticall regiment is not Democraticall) and the under offices many, and the companies numerous, for all which those few Rulers are bound to provide, and prayer and offices of devotion, are one of the greatest instances of provision, it is impossible there should be any sufficient care taken or caution used by those Rulers in the matter of prayers, but for them to make such prescript formes which may be used by all companies, under their charge; that since they are to represent all the needs of all their people, because they cannot be present by their persons in all Societies, they may be present by their care and provisions, which is then done best when they make prescript Formes of prayer, and provide pious Ministers to dispense it.
2. It is in the very nature of publike prayer that it be made by a publike spirit, & performed by a publike consent. For publike, and private prayer, are certainly two distinct duties; but they are least of all distinguished by the place, but most of all, by the Spirit that dictates the prayer, and the consent in the recitation; and it is a private prayer which either one man makes, though spoken in publike, as the Laodicean Councell calls yalmouV idiwtikouV, private Psalmes, or which is not attested by publike consent of minds, and it is a publike prayer, which is made by the publike spirit, and consented to by a generall acceptation; and therefore the Lords prayer, though spoke in private, is a publike forme, and therefore represented plurally; and the place is very extrinsecall to the nature of prayer; I will that men pray every where, lifting up pure hands; and retiring into a Closet is onely advised for the avoiding of hypocrisie, not for the greater excellency of the duty. So that if publick Prayer have advantages beyond private Prayer, or upon its own stock, besides it, the more publick influences it receives, the more excellent it is. And hence I conclude, that set Formes of Prayer compos'd and used by the Church; I mean by the Rulers in Conjunction and Union, of Heads and Councells, and used by the Church; I mean the People in Union, and society of Hearts in Spirits, hath two very great advantages which other Prayers have not.
For first, it is more truly publick, and hath the benefit of those helps which God (who never is deficient to supply any of our needs) gives to publick persons in order to publick necessities, by which I mean, its emanation from a publick, and therefore a more excellent spirit. And secondly, it is the greatest instance of union in the world; for since God hath made Faith, Hope, and Charity, the ligaments of the communion of Saints, and Common prayer, which not onely all the Governours have propounded as most fit, but in which all the people are united, is a great Testimony of the same Faith, and a common hope, and mutuall charity, because they confesse the same God whom they worship, and the same Articles which they recite, and labour towards the same hope, the mighty price of their high calling, and by praying for each other in the same sense, and to the same purpose, doing the same to them, that I desire they should doe for me, doe testifie and preserve, and increase their charity; it followes, that common, and described prayers are the most excellent instrument, and act, and ligament of the Communion of Saints, and the great common terme of the Church in its degrees of Catholike capacity. And therefore saith S. Ignatius, panteV epi to auto en th proseuch ama sunercesqe, All meet together, and joyne to common Prayers, mia dehsiV, eiV vouV estw, let there be one minde, and let there be one prayer. That's the true Communion of Christians.
And in pursuance of this, I consider, that if all Christian Churches had one common Lyturgie, there were not a greater symbol to testifie, nor a greater instrument to preserve the Catholick Communion; and when ever a Schisme was commenc'd, and that they call'd one another Heretick, they not onely forsook to pray with one another, but they also altered their Formes, by interposition of new Clauses, and Hymnes, and Collects, and new Rites and Ceremonies; onely those parts that combin'd kept the same Lyturgie; & indeed the same Formes of Prayer, were so much the instrument of Union, that it was the onely ligament of their Society, (for their Creeds, I reckon as part of their Lyturgie, for so they ever were:) so that this may teach us a little to guesse, I will not say into how many Churches, but into how many innumerable atomes, and minutes of Churches those Christians must needes be scattered, who alter their Formes according to the number of persons, and the number of their meetings, every company having a new Forme of Prayer at every convention. And this consideration will not be vaine, if we remember how great a blessing unity in Churches is, and how hard to be kept, with all the arts in the world; and how every thing is powerfull enough for its dissolution. But that a publick Forme of Lyturgie was the great instrument of Communion in the Primitive Church, appeares in this, that the kaqairesiV, or excomunication, was an exclusion, à communicatione orationis, & conventus, & omnis sancti commercii, from the participation of the publick meeting and Prayers; and therefore the more united the Prayer is, still it is the greater instrument of Union; the Authority and Consent, the publick Spirit, and common Acceptation, are so many degrees of a more firme and indissoluble Communion.
3. To this I adde, that without prescribed Formes, issues of the publick Spirit and Authority, publick Communion cannot be regular and certain, as may appear in one or two plain instances. It is a practise prevailing among those of our Brethren that are zealous for ex tempore, or not enjoyned Prayers, to pray their Sermons over, to reduce their Doctrine into Devotion and Lyturgie. I mislike it not for the thing it self, if it were regularly for the manner, and the matter alwayes pious & true. But who shall assure me, when the Preacher hath disputed, or rather dogmatically decreed a point of predestination, or of prescience, of contingency, or of liberty, or any of the most mysterious parts of Divinity, and then prayes his Sermon over, that he then prayes with the Spirit? Unlesse I be sure that he also Preached with the Spirit, I cannot be sure that he Prayes with the Spirit, for all he prayes ex tempore. Nay, if I hear a Protestant preach in the Morning, and an Anabaptist in the Afternoone, to day a Presbyterian, to morrow an Independent, am I not most sure, that when they have preached contradictories, and all of them pray their Sermons over, that they do not all pray with the Spirit? More then one in this case cannot pray with the Spirit, possibly all may pray against him.
4. From whence I thus argue in behalfe of set formes of prayer. That in the case above put, how shall I, or any man else, say Amen to their prayers that preach and pray Contradictories? At least, I am much hindered in my devotion. For besides that, it derives our opinions into our devotions, makes every School-point, become our Religion, and makes God a party so farre as we can, intit'ling him to our impertinent wranglings; Besides this, I say, while we should attend to our addresses towards God, we are to consider whether the point be true, or no? and by that time we have tacitely discours'd it, we are upon another point, which also perhaps is as questionable as the former, and by this time our spirit of devotion, is a little discompos'd and something out of countenance, there is so much other imployment for the spirit, the spirit of discerning and judging, All which inconveniences are avoided in Set formes of Liturgy. For, we know beforehand the conditions of our communion, and to what we are to say, Amen, to which if we like it, we may repaire; if not, there is no harme done, your devotion shall not be surpriz'd, nor your communion invaded, as it may be often, in your ex tempore prayers, and unlimited devotions.
5. And this thing hath another collaterall inconvenience which is of great consideration, for upon what confidence can we sollicite any Recusants to come to our Church, where we cannot promise them, that the devotions there to be used shall be innocent, nor can we put him into a condition to judge for himself? If he will venture he may, but we can use no argument to make him choose our Churches, though he would quit his owne.
6. So that either the people must have an implicite faith in the Priest, and then may most easily be abused, or if they have not, they cannot joyne in the prayer, it cannot become to them an instrument of communion but by chance, and irregularly; and ex post facte, when the prayer is approv'd of, and after the devotion is spent, for till then they cannot judge, and before they doe, they cannot say Amen, and till Amen be said there is no benefit of the prayer, nor no union of hearts and desires, and therefore as yet no communion.
7. Publike Formes of prayer are great advantages to convey an Article of faith into the most secret retirement of the Spirit, and to establish it with a most firme perswasion, and indeare it to us with the greatest affection. For, since our prayers are the greatest instruments and conveyances of blessing and mercy to us, that which mingles with our hopes, which we owne to God, which is sent of an errand to fetch a mercy for us, in all reason will become the dearer to us for all these advantages. And just so is an Article of belief inserted into our devotions, and made a part of prayer, it is extreamly confirmed by that confidence and plhroforia, fulnesse of perswasion that must exclude all doubting from our prayers, and it insinuates it self into our affection by being mingled with our desires, and we grow bold in it by having offered it to God, and made so often acknowledgement of it to him who is not to be mooked.
And, certainly it were a very strange Liturgy in which there were no publike Confession of Faith, for as it were deficient in one act of Gods worship, which is offering the understanding up to God, bringing it in subjection to Christ, and making publike profession of it, it also loses a very great advantage which might accrue to Faith by making it a part of our Liturgique devotions; and this was so apprehended by the Ancients in the Church, our Fathers in Christ, that commonly they used to oppose a Hymne, or a Collect, or a Doxology, in defiance of a new-sprung Haeresie. The Fathers of Nice fram'd the Gloria Patri, against the Arians. Saint Austin compos'd a Hymne against the Donatists. Saint Hierome added the sicut erat in principio against the Macedonians. S. Ambrose fram'd the Te Deum upon occasion of Saint Austine's Baptisme, but tooke care to make the Hymne to be of most solemne adoration, and yet of prudent institution and publique Confession, that according to the advice of Saint Paul we might sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord, and at the same time teach and admonish one another too: Now this cannot be done but in Set formes of prayer; for in new devotions and uncertain formes we may also have an ambulatory faith, and new Articles may be offered before every Sermon, and at every convention; the Church can have no security to the contrary, nor the Article any stable foundation, or advantageous insinuation either into the judgment or memory of the persons to be informed or perswaded, but like Abraham's sacrifice, as soone as his back is turn'd, the birds shall eate it up. Quid quod haec oratio quae sanandis mentibus adhibetur, descendere in nos debet. Remedia non prosunt nisi immorentur. A cursory Prayer shall have a transient effect; when the hand is off, the impression also is gone.
8. Without the description of publike formes of prayer there can be no security given in the matter of our prayers, but we may burne assa foetida for incense, and the marrow of a Mans bones in stead of the fat of Rammes; and of all things in the world we should be most curious that our prayers be not turned into sinne, and yet if they be not prescribed and preconsidered, nothing can secure them antecedently, the people shall go to Church but without confidence that they shall returne with a blessing, for they know not whether God shall have a present made of a holy oblation, or else whether the Minister will stand in the gap, or make the gap wider? But this I touch'd upon before.
9. They preserve the authority and sacrednesse of Government, and possibly they are therefore decried that the reputation of authority may decline together. For as God hath made it the great Cancell between the Clergy and the People, that they are deputed to speake to God for them, so is it the great distinction of the persons in that order, that the Rulers shall judge between the Ministers and the People in relation to God, with what addresses they shall come before God, and intercede for the People, for so Saint Paul enjoynes, that the spirits of the Prophets, should be submitted to the Prophets, viz. to be discern'd and judg'd by them, which thing is not practicable in permissions of every Minister to pray what formes he pleases every day.
10. Publike formes of Liturgy are also the great securities and basis to the religion and piety of the people; for circumstances governe them most, and the very determination of a publike office, and the appointment of that office at certain times, engages their spirits, the first to an habituall; the latter, to an actuall devotion. It is all that the oi polloi, many men know of their Religion, and they cannot any way know it better, then by those Formes of prayer which publish their faith, and their devotion to God, and all the world, and which by an admirable expedient reduces their faith into practice, and places their Religion in their understanding, and affections. And therefore Saint Paul when he was to give an account of his Religion, he did it not by a meer recitation of the Articles, but by giving account of his Liturgy, and the manner of his worship. After that way which they call haeresie, so worship I the God of my Fathers. And the best worship, is the best religion, and therefore I am not to trust any man to make my manner of worshipping, unlesse I durst trust him to be the Dictator of my Religion; and a Forme of Prayer made by a private man, is also my Religion made by a private man. So that we must say, after the manner that G. the Minister of B. shall conceive and speak, so worship I the God of my Fathers, and if that be reasonable or pious, let all the world judge.
11. But when Authority shall consider and determine upon a forme of Liturgy, and this be used and practised in a Church, there is an admirable conjunction in the Religion, and great co-operation towards the glory of God. The authority of the injunction adds great reputation to the devotion, and takes off the contempt which from the no-authority of single and private persons must be consequent to their conceived prayers; and the publike practise of it, and union of Spirits in the devotion, satisfies the world in the nature of it, and the Religion of the Church.
12. But nothing can answer for the great scandall which all wise persons, and all good persons in the world must needs receive when there is no publike testimony consigned, that such a whole Nation, or a Church, hath anything that can be called Religion, and those little umbrages that are, are casuall as chance it self; alterable, as time; and shall be good when those infinite numbers of men (that are trusted with it) shall please to be honest, or shall have the good luck not to be mistaken.
13. I will not now instance in the vain-glory that is appendant to these new made, every-dayes forms of prayer, and that some have been so vaine, like the Orators Quintilian speaks of, ut verbum petant quo incipiant, that they have published their ex tempore faculty upon experiment, and scenicall bravery, you shall name the instance, and they shall compose the forme: Amongst whom also the gift of the man is more then the devotion of the man; nor will I consider that then his gift is esteemed best, when his prayer is longest; and if he takes a complacency in his gift (as who is not apt to doe it?) he will be sure to extend his prayer till a suspitious and scrupulous man would be apt to say, his Prayer pressed hard upon that which our blessed Saviour reprehended in the Pharisees, who thought to be heard for their much babling. I know it was observed by a very wise man, that the vanity of spirit and popular opinion that growes great, and talks loudly of his abilities that can speake ex tempore, may not onely be the incentive, but a helper of the faculty, and make a man not onely to love it, but to be the more able to doe it. Addit ad dicendum etiam pudor stimulos, addit & dicendorum expectata laus, mirumque; videri potest, quod cum stylus secreto gaudeat, atque; omnes arbitros reformidet, extemporalis actio auditorum frequentiâ, ut miles congestu signorum excitatur. Namque; & difficiliorem concitationem exprimit, & expolit dicendi necessitas, & secundos impetus auget placendi cupido. Adeò praemium omnia spectant omnia eloquentia quoque; quanquam plurimum habeat in se voluptatis maximè tamen praesenti fructu laudis, opinionisque; ducatur. It may so happen that the opinion of the people as it is apt to actuate the faculty, so also may encourage the practise, and spoile the devotion. But these things are accidentall to the nature of the thing, and therefore though they are too certainly consequent to the person, yet I will not be too severe, but preserve my self on the surer side of a charitable construction, which truly I desire to keep, not onely to their persons, whom I much reverence, but also to their actions. But yet I durst not doe the same thing even for these last reasons, though I had no other.
In the next place we must consider the next great objection, that is with much clamour pretended, viz. that in set Formes of Prayer we restrain and confine the blessed Spirit; and in conceived Formes, when every man is left to his liberty, then the Spirit is free, unlimited and unconstrained.
I answer, either their conceived formes (I use their own words, though indeed the expression is very inartificiall) are premeditate and described, or they are ex tempore. If they be premeditate and described, then the Spirit is as much limited in their conceived Formes, as in the Churches conceived Formes. For as to this particular it is all one who describes and limits the Forme, whether the Church, or a single man does it, still the Spirit is in constraint and limit. So that in this case they are not angry at set Forms of Prayer, but that they do not make them. And if it be replied, that if a single person composes a set Forme, he may alter it if he please, and so his Spirit is at liberty; I answer, so may the Church, if She see cause for it; and unlesse there be cause, the single person will not alter it, unlesse he do things unreasonable, and without cause. So that it will be an unequall challenge, and a peevish quarrell to allow of set Formes Prayer made by private Persons, and not of set Formes made by the publick Spirit of the Church. It is evident that the Spirt is limited in both alike.
But if by conceived Formes in this Objection they mean ex tempore Prayers (for so they would be thought most generally to practise it) and that in the use of these, the liberty of the Spirit is best preserved; To this I answer, that the being ex tempore, or premeditate will be wholly impertinent to this Question of limiting the Spirit. For there may be great liberty in set Formes, even when there is much variety; and there may be great restraint in extempore prayers, even then when it shall be called unlawfull to use set formes. That the Spirit is restrained, or that it is free in either, is accidentall to them both; for it may be either free or not free in both, as it may happen.
But the restraint is this, that every one is not left to his liberty to pray how he list, (with premeditation or without, it makes not much matter) but that he is prescribed unto by the spirit of another. But if it be a fault thus to restrain the Spirit, I would faine know, is not the Spirit restrained when the whole Congregation shall be confined to the Forme of this one mans composing? Or shall it be unlawfull, or at least a disgrace and disparagement to use any set Formes, especially of the Churches composition? More plainly thus.
2. Doth not the Minister confine, and restrain the Spirit of the Lords People, when they are tyed to his Forme? It would sound of more liberty to their Spirits, that every one might make a prayer of his own, and all pray together, and not be forced or confined to the Ministers single dictate, and private Spirit. It is true, it would breed confusions, and therefore they might pray silently till the Sermon began, and not for the avoiding one inconvenience run into a greater, and to avoid the disorder of a popular noise restrain the blessed Spirit, for even in this case as well as in the other, Where the Spirit of God is, there must be liberty.
3. If the spirit must be at liberty, who shall assure us this liberty must be in Formes of Prayer? And if so, whether also it must be in publick Prayer, and will it not suffice that it be in private? And if in publick Prayers, is not the liberty of the Spirit sufficiently preserved, that the publick Spirit is free? That is, the Church hath power, upon occasion, to alter and increase her Litanies. By what argument shall any man make it so much as probable, that the holy Ghost is injured, if every private Ministers private spirit shall be guided, (and therefore by necessary consequence limited) by the authority of the Churches publick Spirit?
4. Does not the Directory that thing which is here called restraining of the Spirit? Does it not appoint every thing but the words? And after this, is it not a goodly Palladium that is contended for, and a princely liberty they leave unto the Spirit, to be free onely in the supplying the place of a Vocabulary, and a Copia verborum? For as for the matter, it is all there described and appointed; and to those determined senses the Spirit must assist, or not at all, onely for the words he shall take his choise. Now I desire it may be considered sadly and seriously: Is it not as much injury to the Spirit to restrain, his matter, as to appoint his words? Which is the more considerable of the two, Sense or Language, Matter or Words? I mean when they are taken singly, and separately. For so they may very well be, (for as if men prescribe the matter onely, the Spirit may cover it with severall words and expressions; so if the Spirit prescribe the words, I may still abound in variety of sense, and preserve the liberty of my meaning; we see that true in the various interpretations of the same words of Scripture.) So that, in the greater of the two, the Spirit is restrained when his matter is appointed; and to make him amends, for not trusting him with the matter without our directions and limitations, we trust him to say what he pleases, so it be to our sense, to our purposes. A goodly compensation surely!
5. Did not Christ restrain the spirit of his Apostles, when he taught them to pray the Lords Prayer, whether his precept to his Disciples, concerning it, was, Pray this, or Pray thus, Pray these words, or Pray after this manner? Or though it had been lesse then either, and been onely a Directory for the matter; still it is a thing which our Brethren in all other cases of the same nature, are resolved perpetually to call a restraint. Certainly then, this pretended restraint, is no such formidable thing. These men themselves doe it by directing all of the matter, and much of the manner, and Christ himself did it, by prescribing both the matter, and the words too.
6. These restraints (as they are called) or determinations of the Spirit, are made by the Spirit himself. For I demand, when any Assembly of Divines appoint the matter of Prayers to all particular Ministers, as this hath done, is that appointment by the Spirit or no? If no, then for ought appears, this Directory not being made by Gods Spirit, may be an enemy to it. But if this appointment be by the Spirit, then the determination and limitation of the Spirit, is by the Spirit himself, and such indeed is every pious, and prudent constitution of the Church in matters Spirituall. Such as was that of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, when he prescribed orders for publick Prophecying, and Interpretation, and speaking with Tongues. The Spirit of some he so restrained, that he bound them to hold their peace, he permitted but two or three to speak at one meeting, the rest were to keep silence, though possibly six or seven might at that time have the Spirit.
7. Is it not a restraint of the Spirit to sing a Psalme in Meeter by appointment? Cleerly, as much as appointing Formes of prayer, or Eucharist; And yet that we see done daily, and no scruple made. Is not this to be partiall in judgement, and inconsiderate of what we doe?
8. And now after all this strife, what harme is there in restraining the Spirit in the present sense? What prohibition? what Law? What reason or revelation is against it? What inconvenience in the nature of the thing? For, can any man be so weak as to imagine a despite is done to the Spirit of grace, when the gifts given to his Church are used regularly, and by order? As if prudence were no gift of Gods Spirit, as if helps in Government, and the ordering spirituall matters were none of those graces which Christ when he ascended up on high gave unto men. But this whole matter is wholly a stranger to reason, and never seen in Scripture.
For, Divinity never knew any other vitious restraining the Spirit, but either suppressing those holy incitements to vertue and good life, which Gods Spirit ministers to us externally, or internally; or else a forbidding by publike authority the Ministers of the Word and Sacraments, to speake such truths as God hath commanded, and so taking away the liberty of prophecying. The first is directly vitious in materia speciali: The second is tyrannicall and Antichristian. And to it persecution of true Religion is to be reduced. But as for this pretended limiting or restraining the Spirit, viz. by appointing a regular Forme of prayer, it is so very a Chimaera, that it hath no footing or foundation upon any ground where a wise man may build his confidence.
9. But lastly, how if the Spirit must be restrained, and that by precept Apostolicall? That calls us to a new account. But if it be not true, what meanes Saint Paul, by saying, The spirits of the Prophets must be subject to the Prophets? What greater restraint then subjection? If subjected, then they must be ruled; if ruled, then limited; prescribed unto, and as much under restraint as the spirits of the superiour Prophets shall judge convenient. I suppose by this time this Objection will trouble us no more. But perhaps another will.
For, why are not the Ministers to be left as well to their liberty in making their Prayers as their Sermons? I answer, the Church may if she will, but whether she doth well or no, let her consider. This I am sure, there is not the same reason, and I feare the experience the world hath already had of it will make demonstration enough of the inconvenience. But however, the differences are many.
1. Our Prayers offered up by the Minister, are in behalf, and in the name of the People, and therefore great reason they should know beforehand, what is to be presented, that if they like not the message, they may refuse to communicate, especially since people are so divided in their opinions, in their hopes, and in their faiths; it being a duty to refuse comunion with those prayers which they think to have in them the matter of sin or doubting. Which reason on the other part ceases, for the Minister being to speak from God to the people, if he speaks what he ought not, God can right himself, however is not a partner of the sin as in the other case, the people possibly may be.
2. It is more fit a liberty be left in Preaching than Praying, because the addresse of our discourses and exhortations are to be made according to the understanding and capacity of the audience, their prejudices are to be removed, all advantages to be taken, and they are to be surprized that way they lie most open, But being crafty I caught you, saith Saint Paul to the Corinthians. And discourses and arguments ad hominem, upon their particular principles and practises may more move them than the most polite and accurate that doe not comply and wind about their fancies and affections. Saint Paul from the absurd practise of being baptized for the dead, made an excellent Argument to convince the Corinthians of the Resurrection. But this reason also ceases in our prayers. For God understandeth what we say, sure enough, he hath no prejudices to be removed, no infirmities to be wrought upon, and a fine figure of Rhetorick, a pleasant cadence and a curious expression move not him, at all: No other twinings and compliances stirre him, but charity, and humility, and zeale, and importunity, which all are things internall and spirituall. It was observed by Pliny, Deos non tam accuratis adorantium precibus, quam innocentiâ & sanctitate laetari: gratioremque; existimari qui delubris eorum puram castamque; mentem quam qui meditatum carmen intulerit. And therefore of necessity there is to be great variety of discourses to the people, and permissions accordingly, but not so to God, with whom a Deus miserere prevails as soon as the great Office of 40 houres not long since invented in the Church of Rome, or any other prayers spun out to a length beyond the extension of the office of a Pharisee.
3. I feare it cannot stand with our reverence to God to permit to every spirit a liberty of publike addresse to him in behalf of the people. Indeed, he that is not fit to pray, is not alwaies fit to preach, but it is more safe to be bold with the people, then with God, if the persons be not so fit. In that there may be indiscretion, but there may be impiety and irreligion in this. The People may better excuse and pardon an indiscretion, or a rudenesse, (if any such should happen) than we may venture to offer it to God.
4. There is a latitude of Theology, much whereof is left to us, so without precise and cleare determination that without breach either of faith or charity men may differ in opinion: and if they may not be permitted to abound in their owne sense, they will be apt to complaine of tyranny over Consciences, and that Men Lord it over their faith. In prayer this thing is so different, that it is imprudent, and full of inconvenience, to derive such things into our prayers which may with good profit be matter of Sermons. Therefore here a liberty may well enough be granted, when there it may better be denied.
5. But indeed, if I may freely declare my opinion, I thinke it were not amisse if the liberty of making Sermons were something more restrain'd then it is, and that either such persons onely were intrusted with the liberty, for whom the Church her selfe may safely be responsive, that is, to men learned, and pious, and that the other part, the Vulgus Cleri should instruct the People out of the fountaines of the Church, and the publike stock, till by so long exercise and discipline in the Schooles of the Prophets, they may also be intrusted to minister of their owne unto the People. This I am sure was the practise of the Primitive Church, when preaching was as ably and religiously performed as now it is; but in this, I prescribe nothing. But truly I think the reverend Divines of the Assembly are many of them of my mind in this particular, and that they observe a liberty indulg'd to some Persons to preach, which I think they had rather should hold their peace, and yet think the Church better edified in their silence, then their Sermons.
6. But yet methinks the Argument objected so farre as the ex tempore Men make use of it, if it were turned with the edge the other way, would have more reason in it; and instead of arguing Why should not the same liberty be allowed to their spirit in praying as in preaching? it were better to substitute this, If they can pray with the Spirit, why doe they not also preach with the Spirit? And it may be there may be in reason or experience something more for preaching and making Orations by the excellency of a mans spirit and learning, then for the other, which in the greatest abilities it may be unfit to venture to God without publike approbation: but for Sermons they may be fortunate and safe if made ex tempore. Frequenter enim accidit ut successum extemporalem consequi cura non possit: quem si calor ac spiritus tulit, Deum tunc adfuisse cum id evenisset veteres Oratores, ut Cicero dicit, aiebant. Now let them make demonstration of their Spirit by making excellent Sermons ex tempore: that it may become an experiment of their other faculty, that after they are tried and approv'd in this, they may be considered for the other: And if praying with the Spirit be praying ex tempore, why shall not they preach ex tempore too, or else confesse that they preach without the Spirit, or that they have not the gift of preaching? For to say that the gift of Prayer is a gift ex tempore, but the gift of Preaching is with study and deliberation, is to become vain and impertinent. Quis enim discrevit? Who hath made them of a different Consideration? I mean as to this particular, as to their Efficient cause? nor Reason, nor Revelation, nor God, nor Man.
To summe up all. If any man hath a mind to exercise his Gift of Prayer, let him set himself to work, and compose Bookes of Devotion, (we have need of them in the Church of England, so apparent need, that some of the Church of Rome have made it an objection against us) and this his Gift of Prayer will be to edification. But otherwise, I understand it is more fit for oftentation, then any spirituall advantage. For God hears us not the sooner for our ex tempore, long or conceived Prayers, possibly they may become a hindrance, as in the cases before instanced. And I am sure, if the people be intelligent, and can discerne, they are hindred in their Devotion; for they dare not say Amen till they have considered, and many such cases will occurre in ex tempore, or unlicenc'd Prayers, that need much considering before we attest them. But if the people be not intelligent, they are apt to swallow all the inconveniences which may multiply in so great a licence: and therefore it were well that the Governours of the Church, who are to answer for their souls should judge for them, before they say Amen; which judgement cannot be without set Formes of Lyturgie. My sentence therefore is, ina menwmen wsper ersmen, let us be as we are already, few changes are for the better.
For if it be pretended, that in the Lyturgie of the Church of England, which was composed with much art and judgement, by a Church that hath as much reason to be confident She hath the Spirit and Gifts of Prayer as any single person hath, and each learned man that was at its first composition can as much prove that he had the Spirit, as the Objectors now adayes; (and he that boasts most, certainly hath the least:) If I say it be pretended that there are many errours and inconveniences both in the Order and in the matter of the Common-prayer-Book, made by such men with so much industry: how much more, and with how much greater reason may we all dread the inconveniences and disorders of ex tempore and conceived Prayers? Where respectively there is neither conjunction of Heads, nor Premeditation, nor Industry, nor Method, nor Art, nor any of those Things, (or at least not in the same Degree) which were likely to have exempted the Common-prayer-booke from errours and disorders. If these things be in the green tree, what will be done in the dry?
But if it be said the ex tempore and conceived Prayers wil be secured from error by the Directory, because that chalkes them out the matter. I answer, it is not sufficient, because, if when men study both the matter and the words too, they may be (and it is pretended are actually deceived) much more may they, when the matter is left much more at liberty, and the words under no restraint at all. And no man can avoid the pressure and the weight of this, unlesse the Compilers of the Directory were infallible, and that all their followers are so too, of the certainty of which, I am not yet fully satisfied.
And after this, I would faine know, what benefit and advantages the Churches of England in her united capacity receives by this new device? For the publique it is cleare, that whether the Ministers Pray before they Study, or Study before they Pray, there must needs be infinite difformity in the publique Worship, and all the benefits which before were the consequents of Conformity and Unity will be lost, and if they be not valuable, I leave it to all them to consider, who know the inconveniences of Publick disunion, and the Publick disunion that is certainly consequent to them, who doe not communicate in any common Formes of Worship. And to think that the Directory will bring Conformity, is as if one should say, that all who are under the same Hemisphere are joyned in communi patriâ, and will love like Country-men. For under the Directory there will be as different religions, and as different desires, and as differing formes, as there are severall varieties of Men and Manners under the one half of Heaven, who yet breathe under the same half of the Globe.
But I ask again, what benefit can the publick receive by this Forme, or this no Forme? For I know not whether to call it. Shall the matter of Prayers be better in all Churches, shall God be better served? shal the Word of God, and the best Patternes of Prayers be alwayes exactly followed? It is well if it be. But there is no security given us by the Directory; for the particulars, and speciall instances of the matter are left at every Mans dispose for all that, and we must depend upon the honesty of every particular for it: and if any man proves an Heretick, or a Knave, then he may introduce what impiety he please into the publick Formes of Gods Worship: and there is no Law made to prevent it, and it must be cured afterward if it can, but before hand it is not prevented at all by the Directory which trusts every man.
But I observe, that all the benefit which is pretended, is, that it will make an able Ministry. Maximus vero studiorum fructus est & praemium quoddam amplissimum longi laboris ex tempore dicendi facultas, said an excellent person. And it is very true; to be able to speak excellent things, without long considering is an effect of a long industry, and greatest learning: but certainly the greatest enemy in the world to its production: Much learning, and long use of speaking may enable a man to speak upon sudden occasions, but speaking without consideration, will never make much learning. Nec quisquam tantum fidit ingenio ut sibi speret incipienti statim posse contingere, sed sicut in cogitatione praecepimus, ita facilitatem quoquè extemporalem a parvis initiis paulatim perducemus ad summam. And to offer that, as a meanes of getting learning, which cannot be done at all as it ought, but after learning is already gotten in a very great degree, is highest mistaking. I confesse I am very much from believing the allegation, and so will every man be that considers what kinde of men they are that have bin most zealous for that way of conceived Prayer. I am sure, that very few of the learnedst, very many ignorants, most those who have made least abode in the Schooles of the Prophets. And that I may disgrace no mans person, we see Trades-men of the most illiberable arts, and women pretend to it, and doe it with as many words, (and that's the maine thing) with as much confidence, and speciousnesse of spirit as the best among them. Sed nec tumultuarii nec fortuiti sermonis contextum mirabor unquam quem jurgantibus etiam mulierculis superfluere video, said Quintilian. And it is but a small portion of learning that will serve a man to make conceived Formes of Prayer, which they may have easily upon the stock of other men, or upon their own fancy, or upon any thing in which no learning is required.
He that knows not this, knowes nothing of the craft that may be in the Preachers trade. But what? Is God better served? I would fain see any authority, or any reason, or any probability for that. I am sure, ignorant men offer him none of the best sacrifices ex tempore, and learned men will be sure to deliberate and know, God is then better served when he is served by a publick, then when by a private Spirit. I cannot imagine what accruements will hence come to the Publick: it may be some advantages may be to the private interests of men. For there are a sort of men whom our Blessed Saviour noted, Who doe devour Widowes houses, and for a pretence make long prayers. They make Prayers, and they make them long, by this meanes they receive double advantages, for they get reputation to their ability, and to their piety. And although the Common-prayer-Book in the Preface to the Directory be charged with unnecessary length, yet we see that most of these men, they that are most eminent, or would be thought so, make their Prayers longer, and will not lose the benefits which their credit gets, and they, by their credit, for making their Prayers.
Adde this, that there is no promise in Scripture that he, who prayes ex tempore, shall be heard the better, or that he shall be assisted at all to such purposes, and therefore to innovate in so high a matter without a warrant to command us, or a Promise to warrant us, is no better then vanity in the thing, and presumption in the person. He therefore that considers that this way of Prayer is without all manner of precedent in the Primitive Church, against the example of all famous Churches in all Christendome, in the whole descent of XV Ages, without all command or warrant of Scripture, that it is unreasonable in the nature of the thing, against prudence and the best wisdome of humanity, because it is without Deliberation, that it is innovation in a high degree, without that authority which is truly, and by inherent and Ancient right to command & prescribe to us in external Formes of Worship, that it is much to the disgrace of the first Reformers of our Religion, that it gives encouragement to the Church of Rome to quarrell, with some reason, and more pretence against our Reformation, as being by the Directory confessed to have been done in much blindnesse; and therefore might erre in the excesse as well as in the defect, throwing out too much, as casting off too little, (which is the more likely, because they wanted No Zeal to carry them far enough:) He that considers the universall difformity of publick Worship, and the no means of Union, no Symbol of publick Communion being publickly consigned; that all Heresies may, with the same authority, be brought into our Prayers, and offered to God in the behalf of the people, with the same authority, that any truth may, all the particular matter of our Prayers being left to the choice of all men, of all perswasions, and then observes that actually, there are in many places, Heresie, and Blasphemy, and Impertinency, and illiterate Rudenesses put into the Devotion of the most solemne Dayes, and the most publick Meetings; and then lastly, that there are diverse parts of Lyturgie, for which no provision at all is made in the Directory; and the very administration of the Sacraments let so loosely, that if there be any thing essentiall in the Formes of Sacraments, the Sacrament may become ineffectuall for want of due Words, and due Administration; I say, he that considers all these things (and many more he may consider) will finde that particular men are not fit to be intrusted to offer in Publike with their private Spirit, to God, for the people, in such Solemnities, in matters of so great concernment, where the Honour of God, the benefit of the People, the interest of Kingdomes, the being of a Church, the unity of Mindes, the conformity of Practise, the truth of Perswasion, and the salvation of Souls, are so much concerned as they are in the publick Prayers of a whole nationall Church. An unlearned man is not to be trusted, and a Wise man dare not trust himselfe; he that is ignorant cannot, he that is knowing will not.