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inward hearty affection, then, doubtless, so far as they are capable, they ought to understand those hymns, which they never can do in a language which they understand not. And to the same purpose the same Apostle exhorts the Church of Colosse, * "to admonish one another in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in their hearts to the Lord." Where, by "singing with melody in our hearts to the Lord," and "singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord," the Fathers generally understand singing with due attention, and answerable affection, to the matter contained in those holy hymns, which they sung in their public assemblies.† But how is it possible for men to attend to, or be duly affected with the matter of words, whereof they do not know the meaning? Either, therefore, the obligation of these Apostolic precepts must be quite worn out, or the Church of Rome must be highly to blame, who, by wording her sacred hymns in an unknown tongue, renders the performance of them impossible to the people.
2dly, The Scripture makes praying in an unknown tongue inconsistent with the edification of the Church; so in sundry passages of 1 Cor. xiv., where the Apostle, throughout the whole chapter, purposely disputes against preaching and praying in an unknown tongue; for in those days the miraculous gift of tongues being very common in the Church of Christ, many of those who were inspired with it, were too apt to overvalue themselves upon it, insomuch, that to gratify their own vanity and ostentation, it became a usual practice among them (and that particularly in the Church of Corinth) to preach and pray, and sing psalms in languages unknown to their auditory, without ever interpreting what they said into the vulgar tongue, either through wilful neglect, or for want of the gift of interpretation; against which evil practice of theirs, the Apostle purposely opposes himself throughout this whole chapter, and that principally upon this very argument, that it was not consistent with the edification of the Church, which he applies as well to praying as to preaching: so ver. 2, 3, 4,
*Col. iii. 16.
† Ambr. in 5. Eph. 19. [vol. 2. Append. p. 247. Par. 1690.] Chrysost. in loc. [vol. 11. p. 393. Par. 1734.] Jerom. in loc. [ut supra, vol. 7. p. 651, 652.] And also the Comment on the same Epistle that goeth under St. Jerome's name. [Ibid. vol. 11. p. 1008.] Theod. in Eph. [vol. 3. p. 432. Hal. 1771.] Primas. Isid. Oecumen. Theophyl. [vol. 2. p. 493. Venet. 1754.] Haimo. Sedul.
5, 6: "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue, speaketh not unto men, but unto God;" that is, he speaks to the understanding of none but God, who equally understands all languages; "for no man understandeth him, howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries; but he that prophesieth," that is, expoundeth Scripture in a known tongue, "speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort; he that speaketh in an unknown tongue, edifieth himself," provided he understands what he speaks; "but he that prophesieth, edifies the Church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather, that ye prophesied; for greater is he that prophesieth," that is, he is much more useful to the Church, "than he that speaketh with tongues. Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine," i.e. either by expounding sacred figures, or communicating by knowledge in great mysteries, or interpreting difficult Scriptures, or by a catechistical instruction of you, what you ought to believe and do. So again, ver. 18, 19, "I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all; yet in the Church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue :" in all which places the Apostle doth as expressly condemn preaching in an unknown tongue, without interpreting what is preached, as words can do it. But you will say, what is this to us? We do no more preach in an unknown tongue than you do: and as for the controversy in hand, it is only about praying in an unknown tongue, of which hitherto the Apostle hath taken no notice. To which I answer, first, that the Roman mass contains in it not only prayers, but sundry portions of Scripture and pious lessons, the latter of which, as well as the former, are read to the people in an unknown tongue. Now either these Scriptures and lessons are read for no end at all, or for the same end with preaching, which is to instruct the people; and, therefore, the reason which the Apostle urges for preaching in an unknown tongue, viz. the edification of the people, doth equally enforce the reading of these Scriptures and lessons in a known tongue. But then, secondly, the Apostle applies this reason of his as well to praying as to preaching in an unknown tongue; and therefore, if for that reason the one is not to be allowed, neither is the other: the reason why he forbids them to preach
in an unknown tongue is, that it was a hindrance to the edification of the people, and this very reason he urges against their praying in an unknown tongue : so ver. 14, "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit," i.e. my gift of tongues, "prays, but my understanding is unfruitful," that is, unfruitful to others. So Theodoret,* *For the fruit of the speaker," saith he, "is the profit of the hearers ;" and "when the words of the prayer are unknown to those that are present (saith St. Basil), the mind of him that prays is unfruitful, because it profits none; but when those who are present do understand the prayer so as that it is capable of profiting them, then he who prays hath the fruit, viz. the bettering of those that are profited by him."+ And that this is the Apostle's meaning, he himself assures us, ver. 17, "for thou verily givest thanks well," i.e. thou, it may be, mayest be very devout in thy own heart and affections, whilst thou art praising God in an unknown tongue, "but the other," that is, he that doth not understand the tongues thou speakest, "is not edified." So that the Apostle proceeds upon the same reason against praying as against preaching in an unknown tongue and this our Catholic Scripturist acknowledges, for so he expounds those forecited words, ver. 14, "(but my understanding is without fruit,) that is," saith he, "without the fruit of instruction, or edifying others;" and therefore, by the way, that passage of his is a little surprising (though it is only what his master Bellarmine had taught him), where he "would have his reader note, that until verse 14,§ St. Paul only speaks of using an unknown language in preaching, exhorting, interpreting, and teaching, in all which exercises we still use the vulgar tongue, so that hitherto he hath nothing against us ;"|| no not when he himself confesses, that St. Paul urges the very same reason against praying in an unknown tongue, in which they of the Church of Rome agree with those Corinthians against whom he argues, that he had urged before against preaching in an unknown tongue, in which they disagree with them. Whether the reason hold as good against the one as the other, I leave St. Paul and him to dispute it out; but certainly, while a man is urging the same reason against one thing, as he afterwards intends to urge against another, he intentionally levels it at them both, and
* Theod. in loc. [Ibid. p. 258.]
+ Basil. Reg. Brev. p. 278. [ut supra, p. 733.]
De Verb. Dei, lib. 2. c. 16. [vol. 1. p. 67, &c. Prag. 1721.] || P. 163
consequently, seeing St. Paul urges the same reason against praying, which just before he had used against preaching in an unknown tongue, it is a plain case, that while he was urging it against the one, he all along intended it against the other; and if the unedifyingness of an unknown tongue in either be a good reason against both (as it must be at least in St. Paul's opinion), then while he urges it against an unknown tongue in one, he must necessarily condemn it in both; so that by our author's good leave, he and his Church are as much concerned in what St. Paul pronounces in the seven first verses of this chapter, where he only mentions preaching in an unknown tongue, as in what he afterwards discourses from ver. 14 to the 18th, where he treats of praying in an unknown tongue, seeing he proceeds upon the same reason in both: and therefore, if notwithstanding this reason, praying in an unknown tongue be allowable, preaching must be so too, seeing the same reason, in St. Paul's opinion, acquits or condemns them both. Is preaching in an unknown tongue allowable? No, saith our author; No, saith his master Bellarmine: but why, I beseech you? Because St. Paul condemns it as being unedifying to the auditors. Is praying in an unknown tongue allowable? Yes, very allowable, say both. But doth not St. Paul urge the same reason against this as the other? It is true indeed. Why then, it seems St. Paul's reason is good, where it doth not condemn holy Church's practice; but where it doth, away with it; that is, in plain English, it is good or bad, as it serves our
3rdly, The Scripture condemns performing religious offices in an unknown tongue, as directly contrary to the natural end of speech. The natural end of speech is, to communicate our minds to, and make ourselves be understood by one another; to which there is nothing can be more contrary than speaking in a language that is not understood by those that hear us, because hereby we do no more communicate our minds to them, than if we did not speak at all. And thus St. Paul himself argues, ver. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11: "For even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So you, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none
of them without signification; therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh, a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me." The design of all which is to shew, that the end of speaking is to be understood; and that therefore he who speaks in a language that is not understood, whether it be in common conversation, or in religious offices, speaks to no purpose. Which reason is equally applicable to speaking in prayer, as in preaching, since if it be not understood, it is as much in vain in the one as in the other. The Romanists would fain justify their using an unknown tongue in their religious offices, upon this pretence, that it is only in praying they do it, not in preaching. But should you ask them, why they speak in a known tongue in preaching? Their answer doubtless would be to this purpose, because we would be understood; which is the proper end of speaking: but then, why do they speak in an unknown tongue when they pray? Sure they will not answer, because they would be understood. But then, to what purpose do they speak at all, seeing, by speaking in an unknown tongue, they lose the proper end of speaking, and consequently speak in vain? And if to speak without end or aim be an absurdity in common conversation, it is doubtless profane as well as absurd in religion: and I should think it much more excusable in the mass priest to hold his tongue, and turn his congregation into a silent meeting, while he is acting over his set form of ceremonies, than to speak out the public prayers to them in a language which they do not understand, it being far more seemly, in a religious exercise, not to speak at all, than to speak to no purpose: and St. Paul, I am sure, is fully of this opinion, for it was upon this reason that he required those who had the gift of tongues, "if there were no interpreter, to keep silence in the Church, and to speak to himself and to God," ver. 28. For either words are of some use in public prayer, or they are not; if they are not, doubtless it would be far more becoming that sacred office to lay them wholly aside; if they are, it must be either upon God's account, or men's: not upon God's to be sure, who understands our thoughts and desires, as well without words as with them. If upon men's account, it must be either wholly upon the priests' that pronounce them, or upon the people's also; if it be wholly upon the priest's account, it must be to raise his devotion, and then he himself must understand the meaning of them (which their lack-Latin priests cannot pretend to), for how can the devotion