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is very evident the people could not have made those answers when they ought, if the minifter had prayed in a language entirely strange to them.
Enough has been advanced at this time, to convince all people of the great neceffity and benefit of prayer in general, and efpecially of public or common prayer. Nor can any one avoid feeing from what has been obferved, on the impropriety and abfurdity of speaking to a congregation in a language they do not understand, how much we are indebted to Almighty God, by whofe good providence we enjoy the great bleffing of a reformation from that church, wherein such an unreasonable, and unprofitable practice was, and is ftill conftantly employed; which offereth public prayer in a tongue unknown to any but the prieft; and it is to be feared, not always completely by himself. Most humble and hearty praise is therefore due to God, for all his gracious bleffings beftowed upon us, his unworthy fervants; and among which none can be greater, than the happy means afforded in our praying to him in words of fober truth, and fcriptural form; of magnifying his holy name with one accord; and fo worshipping him every time we meet together, that we may fafely and profitably fay, Amen, (or fo, good Lord, let it be) to all we afk or pray for, in the name of Jefus Chrift, thy only Son our Lord. To whom, &c.
N. B. The remaining part of this Homily is omitted, as containing nothing materially new; but only a further vindication of the fame subject by repeating much the fame arguments, and illuftrating them with other texts of fcripture.
An inftructive Exhortation to fuch as have been prejudiced against particular Paffages of Holy Scripture.
PART THE FIRST.
2 PETER iii. latter part of the 16th verse.
They which are unlearned and unftable, wrest thefe, as they do alfo the other fcriptures, to their own deAtruction.
F all the means appointed by Almighty God his creatures, the Holy Scriptures fupply the most valuable method of forwarding the eternal welfare of mankind. But even thefe have been occafionally excepted to, by the thoughtlefs and the wicked. The purport of this difcourfe is to fet forth their true value, to point out fome common objections of weak and worldly men, and to clear fome particular paffages from any hurtful meaning. In truth, the great benefit the Holy Scriptures are calculated to convey to us, must be confeffed by all who hear or read them, with a fuitable difpofition for that holy ftudy. As they are the words of infpiration, fo do they speak to the spirit; and that comfort which thefe treafures of wifdom communicate to the
the pious foul, as it furpaffes all carnal conception, neither is it to be expreffed by human language. But the bleffed fountain is open for all to taste; and they who are athirft for living water, are invited to repair to this unadulterated fource of subftantial delight and confolation.
Now as nothing can be more certain, than that the fcriptures direct to the fureft way of bringing us to the faving knowledge of God, and the truth, as it is in Jefus Chrift our Lord; it is confequently the interest of our bitter enemy, to endeavour all he can, to remove fo powerful an engine against the furtherance of his kingdom. And well knowing the virtue of thefe divine treafures, to qualify us for a better inheritance, by fecuring us from the mifchief of his devices, he is in nothing more induftrious, than in his endeavours to deprive us of fuch powerful affistance, or at least to corrupt the channel from whence our remedy and ffrength proceed.
To this end he has always been busy to ftir up in the minds of cruel tyrants and oppreffors, and fuch as have no fear of God before their eyes, a defire to affift his hatred towards God and man, by oppofing the progrefs of the everlasting truth communicated in God's most holy word. And availing himself of the power and false pretenfions of finful men, he hath often effected the destruction of the records of facred knowledge, in many places and at different times; pretending with flanderous falfehood, that hurtful errors and a dangerous thirst of liberty, were the only effects of fuch indulgence; and that thereby the peace and order of good government were endangered.
Now we who are bleffed in the poffeffion of the oracles of truth, can readily contradict this falfebood; and fafely affirm, that the knowledge of God and ourselves, is fo far from yielding any encouragement to do wrong, that it is the fureft and only method
method to curb all licentious liberty, and to fubdue the principles of disorder, and every turbulent affection of the mind. And here it is difficult to decide. which is most evident, the falsehood or fubtlety of the deceiver: fince, if the general ftudy of fcripture inclined to inflame the minds of men, and produce more mischief in the world, as Satan is the father of wickednefs, it would be manifeftly to the advancement of his kingdom, to preferve, inftead of crushing, fo choice an inftrument for his own purpose. But the contrary being the truth, so the direct way of acquiring the wholefome knowledge of all that is good, is by humble diligence to hear and read the facred volume; for as all fcripture is given by the infpiration of God, so no chriftian can expect to obtain a purer acquaintance with his Maker and himfelf, in any other writings than those most graciously, defigned by the Almighty Parent of all things, for this very end for the fcripturė (as St. Peter obferves, 2 Ep. i. 20, 21.) is not of any private interpretation, for the prophefy came not in old time, by the will of man; but holy men of God Spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghoft. And it is this fpirit of truth, who (as our bleffed Savior speaks) John xvi. 13. will guide us into all truth, and here us things to come...
Whofoever, therefore, doth not partake of the influence of this guide, let his virtuous pretences. be ever fo fair, let his human learning be ever fo deep, or his love of truth ever. fo ardent; nay, however he may be refpected among men, as a fincere and fteady favorer of it, he muft inevitably fall fhort in the difcovery of it, unlefs he applies to the fpirit of truth to direct him. Let us only inquire then, what is it that feems to all reasonable men, as the moft. defirable means of preferving us from all error, but a true description of an upright life; that is, fuch a blamelefs character as may be approved by God himself. Now fuch a one, the holy. VOL. II. Ꭰ .