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paffages appointed to be read that day out of a pointed copy, and thereby make himself master of the exact reading of them, that fo the day following he may read them without hesitation or ftop, and pronounce, as he does, exactly in conformity to the prefent punctuation: and after all, it follows not, because the Jews now have, and have had for ages paft, unpointed Bibles in their fynagogues, which men of learning could read, that they have not, nor had any pointed ones for the common people. It is certain that they had formerly, and have fuch now; wherefore this is no fufficient objection against the antiquity and use of the points, but an argument in favour of them; fince the true reafon of having unpointed copies in the fynagogue, is, that none might be admitted readers in them, but fuch who are so perfect in the Hebrew language as to be able to read exactly in an unpointed copy, agreeable to the points and accents in a pointed one.
Carpzov. Critic facr. par. 1. p. 267.
In which are fhewn the Obligation to these DUTIES; the Nature of them; and the Manner and Usefulness of performing them.
I COR. xiv. 15. former Part.
What is it then? I will pray with the Spirit, and will pray with the understanding also.
HE design of this epiftle is chiefly to reprove the Church at Corinth for the divifions and contentions, which were there fomented and kept up on account of their minifters; fome being for Paul, fome for Apollo, and others for Cephas; and to remove fome irregular practices from among them, which were either openly avowed, or connived at by them; fuch as continuing a wicked perfon in their communion, going to law with one another before heathen magiftrates, and the disorderly attendance of many of them at the Lord's table. The apoftle having finished this part of his defign, does, in the twelfth chapter, largely infift on the fubject of spiritual gifts; where he gives an account of the diverfity of them, of their author, and of their various usefulness in the church of Chrift; for which reafon he exhorts the members of this church to covet them earnestly, though he would not have VOL. III. 4 C
them depend on them, fince they are not faving. In the thirteenth chapter, he prefers charity, or love, to them, and fhews, that without this they are useless and unprofitable to those who have them. In this fourteenth chapter, he presses them to follow after charity, and defire fpiritual gifts, but rather, says he, that ye may prophesy. He proves, by many arguments, and especially by that taken from edification, that prophesying in a known language, in the mother tongue, which is understood by the people, is preferable to the gift of speaking in an unknown language, not understood by the people, and so unedifying to them. It is evident, that by prophefying, he means not only preaching, but praying, fince he inftances in it, and argues, in the words preceding my text, thus: For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful; that is, when I pray in an unknown language, being under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, I make ufe of that extraordinary gift which he has bestowed upon me, and my own spirit is indeed refreshed by it: But what I myself conceive, understand, and express, is useless and unprofitable to others, who do not understand the language in which I pray; therefore, fays he, in the words of my text, What is it then? What is to be done in this cafe? What is moft prudent and adviseable? What is most eligible and desirable? Muft I not pray with the Spirit at all? Shall I not make use of that extraordinary gift which the Spirit has bestowed upon me? Shall I entirely neglect it, and lay it afide? No, I will pray with the Spirit; I will make use of the gift I have; but then it shall be in fuch a way and manner, as that I shall be understood by others, I will pray with the underftanding also. In these words may be confidered,
I. The work and business of prayer, which the apostle resolved in the ftrength of Chrift, and, by the affiftance of his Spirit, to be found in the performance of; I will pray, &c.
II. The manner in which he is defirous of performing this duty; with the Spirit, and with the understanding also.
I. I shall confider the work and business of prayer, which the apostle refolved, in the strength of Christ, and by the affiftance of his Spirit, to be found in the performance of. It will not be amifs, under this head to enquire into the object of prayer, the feveral parts of it, and its different kinds. I fhall begin,
1. With the object of prayer, which is not any mere creature. Prayer is a part of religious worship, which is due to God only. To addrefs a creature in fuch a folemn manner is idolatry. This is a fin the Gentiles have been notoriously guilty of", who have paid their devoirs this way, both to animate and inanimate creatures. The idolatrous Heathen is thus defcribed by the prophet; He maketh a god his graven image; he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and faith, Deliver me, for thou art my god. Such a practice as this, is an argument of great ignorance and ftupidity; They have no knowledge, that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot fave. It is no wonder that their prayers fhould be in vain, since their idols are filver and gold, the work of mens hands: They have mouths, but they Speak not; eyes have they, but they fee not; they have ears, but they hear a not. They are infenfible of the wants of their votaries, and unable to help them; they are not in a capacity to give them the leaft relief, or bestow the leaft temporal mercy on them: Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Art not thou be, O Lord, our God? Therefore we will wait upon thee; for thou hast made all these things. The Papists have followed the Pagans in their idolatrous prayers to angels, the virgin Mary, and other faints departed, and even to many that were not faints; but it may be faid to them, what Eliphaz faid to Job, in another cafe; Call now, if there be any that will answer thee; and to which of the faints wilt thou turn?
God only is, and ought to be the object of prayer. My prayer, fays David, fhall be unto the God of my life". God has a right to this part of worship from us, as he is the God of our lives, in whom we live, move, and have our being; who grants us life and favour, and whofe vifitation preferves our spirits; who daily follows us with his goodness, and loads us with his benefits; to whom we are obliged for every mercy, and on whom the whole fupport and continuance of our beings depend; and we are under greater obligation ftill, as well as have greater encouragement, to addrefs the throne of his grace, as he is the God of all grace, who bas blessed us with all fpiritual bleffings, in heavenly places, in Chrift Jefus; all which may affure us, that his eyes are upon us, his ears are open to our cries, that he has both a heart and a hand to help and relieve What the Heathens prayed to their gods for, and what rites and ceremonies they used in prayer, fee Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dierum, 1. 4. c. 17. b Ifa. xliv. 17. Ifa xlv. 20. f Vide Roman, Breviar.
d Pfal. cxv. 4-6.
8 Job v. 1.
* Jer. xiv. 22.
Pfal. xlii. 8.
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relieve us; he is a God that hears and answers prayer, to whom all flesh shall come, who are fenfible of their need of him, and dependance upon him; bis arm is not shortened, that it cannot fave, nor his ear heavy that it cannot hear; nor did he ever fay to any of the feed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.
Though the Lord our God is but one Lord; there is but one God, which, with the Scriptures, we affert, in oppofition to the polytheism of the Gentiles, who had gods many, and lords many; yet there is a plurality of perfons in the Deity, which are neither more nor fewer than Three, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghoft, which Three are One; the Father is God, the Word is God, and the Holy Ghoft is God; and yet there are not three Gods, but one God. Though the Perfons in the Godhead are more than One, yet the Godhead itself is fingle and undivided. Now God in either and each of the Three divine Perfons, may be prayed unto. It is lawful for us to address in prayer either God the Father, or God the Son, or God the Holy Ghost distinctly, though not any of them to the exclufion of the others. This I mention, to difentangle the minds of fome, who may have fome fcruples and hesitations about praying to the diftinct Perfons in the Deity. Now it is eafy to obferve, that there are petitions directed to each of the three Perfons diftinctly; of which I fhall give some few instances from the Scriptures.
God the Father is fometimes fingly and diftinctly prayed unto, though not to the exclufion of the Son or Spirit. It would be too tedious to reckon up all the inftances of this kind: The epiftle to the Ephefians will furnish us with a fufficient number to our purpose. In one place the apostle fays to them*, I ceafe not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jefus Chrift, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wifdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; where God the Father is prayed unto, as diftinct from the Lord Jefus Chrift, whofe God and Father he is, and diftinct from the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, who as fuch is prayed for. And in another place, he fays', For this caufe I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jefus Chrift, that he would grant you, according to the riches of bis glory, to be strengthened with might, by his Spirit in the inner man, that Chrift may dwell your hearts by faith; in which paffage God the Father is addreffed, as the object of prayer, diftinct from Chrift and the Spirit; the former of which he defires might dwell in their hearts by faith, and that they might be strengthened by the latter in their inner man. If thefe inftances were not fufficient, others might
i See my Doctrine of the Trinity ftated and vindicated, &c. chap. 2. * Eph. i. 16, 17.
Eph. iii. 14, 16, 17.