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priest understands no more what he reads than the people what they hear, and so "the blind lead the blind!" God avert the consequence.
And now by this time I think I may presume upon it that I have given a full and satisfactory answer to this so much celebrated argument of our authors; upon which I have the longer insisted because I find it so often repeated by their writers, and so little taken notice of by ours. And if after they have given us so many dishes of their twice twenty times boiled coleworts, there be any remaining reason to expect from them a modester usage for the future, I would very fain hope, that before they repeat this argument again, they will think themselves obliged to return some fair reply to this answer.
II. I now proceed, in the second place, to consider particularly those texts of Scripture which they urge in defence of their Latin service. And the only texts insisted on, either by the Catholic Scripturist, or Touchstone, after the most diligent inquiry they could make among their own authors, are Levit. xvi. 17, and Luke i. 8. In the first of which it is said, "Let no man be in the tabernacle when the high-priest goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out and hath made an atonement for himself and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel." In the second we are told, that while Zacharias "executed the priest's office before God, his lot being to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord, the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense." But what consequence, I beseech you, can be drawn from hence to justify the use of public prayers in an unknown tongue? "Why," saith the Scripturist, see you not here public prayers made expressly for the whole assembly; and yet none of the assembly permitted to hear or see what there was done by the priest to God for them, even then when the priest made an atonement for himself, his household, and all the congregation of Israel!" And then saith the Touchstone, "All the people were without, and the priest within; how then did they understand him? therefore the public service of the Church may be said as all the people understand it not." But what most wretched consequence this is, will, I doubt not, sufficiently appear upon these following considerations.
1. That it doth not appear that in the performance of this sacred office there was any vocal prayer used, either by the high priests on the great day of expiation, or by the priest in
the morning and evening incense. The Scripturist, by falsifying the words of Levit. xvi. 17, would fain insinuate that the high priest, when he went into the holy of holies, offered up some public vocal prayer there for the people; for instead of "Let no man go into the tabernacle of the congregation when the high priest goeth in to make atonement in the holy place,' he reads, "When the high priest goeth in to pray for himself and his house," &c. From whence he infers, "See you not here public prayer made expressly for the whole assembly?" &c. Whereas in reality there was no public prayer made either by him or by the priest during the celebration of these sacred rites; all that the high priest did during his abode in the holy of holies (into which he entered with a censer of coals in one hand, and a dish of incense in the other), was offering the incense, and sprinkling the blood of the sacrifices. When he offered the incense he entered in with a censer of coals in one hand, and a dish of incense in the other, with which he went up to the ark; and there having set down his coals, he emptied the incense into his hands and laid it on the coals; and having staid there till the room was full of smoke, he returned backwards from within the vail with his face still towards the ark. But all this while we do not find that ever he spoke one syllable; it is true when he was come out of the holy of holies, the Hebrew doctors tell us, he made a short prayer; but this he pronounced so audibly that the people heard him, and were thereby satisfied that he was not dead in the temple ;* and then when he went in again with the blood of the sacrifice, all that he did was to sprinkle it eight times, once upwards, and seven times downwards, between the bars of the ark, and so he returned as before, without offering up one syllable of public prayers. It is true, at the killing the sacrifices, both for himself and for the people, he made a public confession, both of his own and the people's sins; but this he performed in their presence and hearing. And in the close of the solemnity, he offered up eight several prayers; but this he also performed before the whole congregation. So that all the public prayers he offered were made in the sight and hearing of the people, that so they might all join with him, which is a much better argument that all public prayers ought to be performed in the sight and hearing of the people, and neither muttered in a low voice so that the people cannot hear them, nor pronounced in an unknown tongue, so as that they were as good not hear
* Vid. Maimon. jom. Hakipparim, c. 4. sect. 1.
them; then the high priest's retiring from the sight of the people in the performance of those sacred rites is, that the public prayers may be lawfully so performed as that the people cannot understand them, which indeed is no argument at all, seeing in the performance of these sacred rites no public prayers were used.
And then as for the priest's offering the daily incense, the manner of it was thus, as the Hebrew doctors inform us. After the ashes were gathered from off the altar by one priest into a golden vessel, another brought a vessel full of incense, and a third a censer with fire, and put coals upon the altar; upon which these three bowed themselves and went out; and then a fourth, whose office it was to burn the incense, upon warning given by the president, strewed it on the fire; at which all the people withdrew out of the temple from between the porch and the altar, and fell to their prayers; and then when the priest had burnt the incense, he bowed himself and went his way.* In all which account there is not the least syllable of any public prayer that was offered by him. It is true, his offering the incense was a symbolical prayer, signifying his offering up the prayers of the people by way of intercession; but this, as I shall shew by and by, was peculiar to his office; and the people having no part in it, it was no way necessary they should be present at it; but if they had had their part in it, they could as easily join with him when they saw him not as if they had seen him; for they knew as well what he was doing as if they had been present with him; they certainly knew that when the president gave the signal, "Sir, offer," he immediately strewed the incense on the coals, and therewithal offered up their prayers unto God. For sure a common symbol of every day's use is much more easy to be understood by illiterate people than a Latin prayer; the action spoke as plain to them, and was as well understood by them as their mother-tongue; they saw their priests carry the coals and incense into the holy place, and they knew it was in order to offering it up to God for them; they heard the president command the priest to offer, and thereupon did as certainly know that he offered it, as if they had seen him do it. So that their not seeing him do it, did not at all obscure the meaning of that sacred rite from them, as an unknown tongue must necessarily do the meaning of the prayers expressed in it;
* Vid. Maimon, of the Daily Service, cap. 3.
and therefore unless it can be proved that it is as easy for our people to understand Latin prayers as it was for the Jews to know that their priest was offering incense, and what he intended by it, though they saw him not, it will be a mighty wide arguing from the one to the other, though we should suppose the Jews to be as much obliged to join with their priests in that symbolical prayer as we are with ours in our vocal prayers. The Jews did not see their priest when he offered the incense, but yet very well understood what he was doing; therefore we who see our priest when he offers our prayers, need not understand what he prays for. Or thus, the Jews saw not this symbolical prayer of their priest, which yet they understood as well as if they saw it; therefore our vocal prayers may be lawfully read to us by our priests in an unknown tongue, which we do not understand at all. A wonderful wise consequence this, and such as very well becomes such logicians as think themselves bound to say something, even when they can say nothing to the purpose.
2ndly, That the symbolical prayer expressed by this sacred action of the priest was peculiar to himself, and the people had no part in it; for it is agreed among all Christians that both the high priests and priests in these sacred performances were types and figures of Jesus Christ, and that particularly in their offering the incense they did prefigure his intercession for us; wherein he offers up our prayers to his Father, perfumed and hallowed by his meritorious sacrifice, in which it was impossible for the people to bear any part, they being the party interceded for; and seeing the priests only, and not the people, were appointed by God to represent by this sacred action our Saviour's intercession for us, it had been a degree of sacrilege in the people to assume any part in it; and seeing they had no part in it, what need had they to be present at it? No more sure than we have to be present with our Saviour at the right hand of his Father, while he is there making intercession for us. But doth it follow that because the Jews were not allowed to be present at the incense-offering, in which they had no part, therefore we Christians are not allowed to be present at the public prayers of the Church, in which we have all our parts? No; this our adversaries will by no means allow. And yet this I think is a much better consequence than that of our wise author's, viz. "Therefore the people need not understand those prayers," seeing it is to no purpose for them to be present at prayers which they do not understand. But the people did not see what the priest did when he offered the incense; and
what then? Why then they did not understand what he did. Suppose they did not (which, as I shewed before, is notoriously false), doth it follow that because they understood not what the priest did when he offered the incense, in which they had no part at all, therefore we need not understand the public prayers which the priest reads, in which we have all our parts, and are obliged to join? Or, that because the Jewish priest did not permit the people to see the incense-offering, which was an office peculiar to the priesthood; therefore the Christian priests need not permit the people to understand the public prayers, which are the common office of all Christian people? Dare any of our adversaries affirm that Christians are no more obliged to pray with their priests in the public prayers of the Church than the Jews were to offer incense with their priests in their incense-offerings? No; though we know they are daring enough at a bold assertion; yet this I am apt to think they have hardly the confidence to adventure on. Well then, how doth it follow that Christians are not obliged to understand what they are obliged to act in? Because the Jews were not obliged to understand what they were not obliged to act in. Which is as much as to say, because I need not understand that which I have nothing to do with, therefore there is no necessity I should understand that which is my duty.
3rdly, That the reason why, in this sacred action, the high priest and priests withdrew from the sight of the people, was wholly mysterious and typical, and as such is not to be urged in vindication of Christians praying in an unknown tongue. For as the high priest and priests were in this act types and representations of our Saviour interceding for us, and offering up our prayers, so the holy and most holy place where they performed this act were types and representations of heaven where he intercedes. The truth of which is so universally owned among Christians that I need not insist upon the proof of it. The true reason, therefore, why these Jewish priests, in their incense-offering, withdrew from the sight of the people into the holy and most holy place, was to represent our Saviour's withdrawing himself out of the sight of this lower world into the heavenly place, when he ascended thither to intercede for us at the right hand of God. Supposing then that the Jewish people did not understand what their priest did while he was offering the incense, because they did not see him, yet this will by no means justify the Christian priests in not permitting the people to understand what they say when they offer up the