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that can be assigned for prolixity of speech in our converse with men cease, and become no reasons for it at all, when we are to speak or pray to God.

2dly, The second argument for paucity of words in prayer, shall be taken from the paucity of those things that are necessary to be prayed for. And surely, where few things are necessary, few words should be sufficient. For where the matter is not commensurate to the words, all speaking is but tautology; that being truly and really tautology, where the same thing is repeated, though under never so much variety of expression, as it is but the same man still, though he appears every day or every hour in a new and different suit of clothes.

The adequate subject of our prayers (I shewed at first) comprehended in it things of necessity and things of charity. As to the first of which, I know nothing absolutely necessary, but grace here, and glory hereafter. And for the other, we know what the apostle says, (1 Tim. vi. 8,) "Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content." Nature is satisfied with a little, and grace with less. And now, if the matter of our prayers lies within so narrow a compass, why should the dress and outside of them spread and diffuse itself into so wide and disproportioned a largeness? by reason of which our words will be forced to hang loose and light, without any matter to support them, much after the same rate that it is said to be in transubstantiation, where accidents are left in the lurch by their proper subject, that gives them the slip, and so leaves those poor slender beings to uphold and shift for themselves.

In brevity of speech, a man does not so much speak words, as things-things in their precise and naked truth, and stripped of their rhetorical mask and their fallacious gloss; and therefore in Athens they circumscribed the pleadings of their orators by a strict law, cutting off prologues and epilogues, and commanding them to an immediate representation of the case, by an impartial and succinct declaration of mere matter of fact. And this was, indeed, to speak things fit for a judge to hear, because it argued the pleader also a judge of what was fit for him to speak.


And now, why should not this be both decency and devotion too, when we come to plead for our poor souls before the great tribunal of heaven? It was the saying of Solomon, A word to the wise ;" and if so, certainly there can be no necessity of many words to him who is wisdom itself. For can any man think, that God delights to hear him make speeches, and to shew his parts, (as the word is,) or to jumble a multitude of misapplied Scripture sentences together, interlarded with a frequent, nauseous repetition of "Ah Lord!" which some call exercising their gifts,

but with a greater exercise of their hearers' patience? Nay, does not he present his Maker, not only with a more decent, but also a more free and liberal oblation, who tenders him much in a little, and brings him his whole heart and soul wrapt up in three or four words, than he who, with full mouth and loud lungs, sends up whole volleys of articulate breath to the throne of grace? For neither in the esteem of God or man ought multitude of words to pass for any more. In the present case, no doubt, God accounts and accepts of the former, as infinitely a more valuable offering than the latter, as that subject pays his prince a much nobler and more acceptable tribute, who tenders him a purse of gold, than he who brings him a whole cart-load of farthings, in which there is weight without worth, and number without account.

3dly, The third argument for brevity, or contractedness of speech in prayer, shall be taken from the very nature and condition of the person who prays, which makes it impossible for him to keep up the same fervour and attention in a long prayer, that he may in a short. For as I first observed, that the mind of man cannot with the same force and vigour attend to several objects at the same time, so neither can it with the same force and earnestness exert itself upon one and the same object for any long time; great intension of mind spending the spirits too fast to continue its first freshness and agility long. For while the soul is a retainer to the elements, and a sojourner in the body, it must be content to submit its own quickness and spirituality to the dulness of its vehicle, and to comply with the pace of its inferior companion; just like a man shut up in a coach, who, while he is so, must be willing to go no faster than the motion of the coach will carry him. He who does all by the help of those subtile refined parts of matter, called spirits, must not think to persevero at the same pitch of acting, while those principles of activity flag. No man begins and ends a long journey with the same pace.

But now, when prayer has lost its due fervour and attention, (which, indeed, are the very vitals of it,) it is but the carcass of a prayer, and consequently must needs be loathsome and offensive to God; nay, though the greatest part of it should be enlivened and carried on with an actual attention, yet if that attention fails to enliven any one part of it, the whole is but a joining of the living and the dead together, for which conjunction the dead is not at all the better, but the living very much the worse. It is not length, nor copiousness of language, that is devotion, any more than bulk and bigness is valour, or flesh the measure of the spirit. A short sentence. may be oftentimes a large and a mighty prayer-devotion so managed being like water in a well, where you have fulness in a little

compass, which surely is much nobler than the same carried out into many petit, creeping rivulets, with length and shallowness together. Let him who prays bestow all that strength, fervour, and attention upon shortness and significance, that would otherwise run out and lose itself in length and luxuriancy of speech to no purpose. Let not his tongue outstrip his heart, nor presume to carry a message to the throne of grace, while that stays behind. Let him not think to support so hard and weighty a duty with a tired, languishing, and bejaded devotion; to avoid which, let a man contract his expression where he cannot enlarge his affection, still remembering, that nothing can be more absurd in itself, nor more unacceptable to God, than for one engaged in the great work of prayer to hold on speaking after he has left off praying, and to keep the lips at work when the spirit

can do no more.

4thly, The fourth argument for shortness or conciseness of speech in prayer shall be drawn from this, That it is the most natural and lively way of expressing the utmost agonies and outcries of the soul to God upon a quick, pungent sense, either of a pressing necessity, or an approaching calamity, which, we know, are generally the chief occasions of prayer, and the most effectual motives to bring men upon their knees, in a vigorous application of themselves to this great duty. A person ready to sink under his wants, has neither time nor heart to rhetoricate or make flourishes. No man begins a long grace, when he is ready to starve. Such an one's prayers are like the relief he needs, quick and sudden, short and immediate. He is like a man in torture upon the rack, whose pains are too acute to let his words be many, and whose desires of deliverance too impatient, to delay the thing he begs for by the manner of his begging it.

It is a common saying, "If a man does not know how to pray, let him go to sea, and that will teach him." And we have a notable instance of what kind of prayers men are taught in that school, even in the disciples themselves, when a storm arose, and the sea raged, and the ship was ready to be cast away, (Matt. viii.) In which case we do not find that they fell presently to harangue it about seas and winds, and that dismal face of things that must needs appear all over the devouring element at such a time, all which, and the like, might no doubt have been very plentiful topics of eloquence to a man who should have looked upon these things from the shore, or discoursed of wrecks and tempests safe and warm in his parlour. But these poor wretches, who were now entering, as they thought, into the very jaws of death, struggling with the last efforts of nature upon the sense of a departing life, and consequently could neither

speak nor think any thing low or ordinary in such a condition, presently rallied up, and discharged the whole concern of their desponding souls, in that short prayer of but three words, though much fuller and more forcible than one of three thousand, (ver. 25,) "Save us, Lord, or we perish." Death makes short work when it comes, and will teach him who would prevent it to make shorter. For surely no man who thinks himself a-perishing, can be at leisure to be eloquent, or judge it either sense or devotion to begin a long prayer, when, in all likelihood, he shall conclude his life before it.

5thly, The fifth and last argument that I shall produce for brevity of speech or fewness of words in prayer, shall be taken from the examples which we find in Scripture, of such as have been remarkable for brevity, and of such as have been noted for prolixity, of speech, in the discharge of this duty.

1. And first for brevity. To omit all those notable examples which the Old Testament affords us of it, and to confine ourselves only to the New, in which we are undoubtedly most concerned, was not this way of praying not only warranted, but sanctified, and set above all that the wit of man could possibly except against it, by that infinitely exact form liest, and the wisest man that ever lived, even of prayer, prescribed by the greatest, the hoChrist himself, the Son of God, and Saviour of the world? Was it not an instance both of the truest devotion, and the fullest and most comprehensive reason, that ever proceeded from the mouth of man? and yet, withal, the shortest and most succinct model that ever grasped all the needs and occasions of mankind, both spiritual and temporal, into thought fit to amplify or be prolix, "He, in so small a compass? Doubtless, had our Saviour whom were hid all the treasures of wisdom," could not want matter; nor he who was himself the Word, want variety of the fittest to have expressed his mind by. But he chose rather to contract the whole concern of both worlds into a few lines, and to unite both heaven and earth in his prayer, as he had done before in his person. And indeed one was a kind of copy or representation of the other.

So, then, we see here brevity in the rule or pattern; let us see it next in the practice; and, after that, in the success of prayer. And first, we have the practice, as well as the pattern of it, in our Saviour himself; and that in the most signal passage of his whole life, even his preparation for his approaching death. In which dolorous scene, when his whole soul was nothing but sorrow, (that great moving spring of invention and elocution,) and when nature was put to its last and utmost stretch, and so had no refuge or relief but in prayer; yet even then all this horror, agony, and dis

tress of spirit, delivers itself but in two very short sentences, (Matth. xxvi. 39,) "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." And again, the second time, with the like brevity and the like words, "O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, thy will be done." And lastly, the third time also, he used the same short form again; and yet in all this he was (as we may say without a metaphor) even praying for life, so far as the great business he was then about, to wit, the redemption of the world, would suffer him to pray for it. All which prayers of our Saviour, and others of like brevity, are properly such as we call ejaculations; an elegant similitude from a dart or arrow, shot or thrown out; and such an one, (we know,) of a yard long, will fly farther, and strike deeper, than one of twenty.

And then, in the last place, for the success of such brief prayers, I shall give you but three instances of this; but they shall be of persons praying under the pressure of as great miseries as human nature could well be afflicted with. And the first shall be of the leper, (Matth. viii. 2,) or, as Saint Luke describes him, "a man full of leprosy, who came to our Saviour, and worshipped him ;" and, as Saint Luke again has it more particularly, "fell on his face before him," (which is the lowest and most devout of all postures of worship,) saying, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." This was all his prayer; and the answer to it was, that he was immediately cleansed. The next instance shall be of the poor blind man, (Luke, xviii. 38,) following our Saviour with this earnest prayer, "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy upon me." His whole prayer was no more: for it is said in the next verse, that he went on repeating it again and again, "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy upon me." And the answer he received was, that his eyes were opened, and his sight restored.

The third and last instance shall be of the publican, in the same chapter of Saint Luke, praying under a lively sense of as great a leprosy and blindness of soul, as the other two could have of body; in the 13th verse, "he smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." He spoke no more; though it is said in the 10th verse, that he went solemnly and purposely up to the temple to pray the issue and success of which prayer was, that he went home justified, before one of those whom all the Jewish Church revered as absolutely the highest and most heroic examples of piety, and most beloved favourites of Heaven, in the whole world. And now, if the force and virtue of these short prayers could rise so high as to cleanse a leper, to give sight to the blind, and to justify a publican;

and if the worth of a prayer may at all be measured by the success of it, I suppose no prayers whatsoever can do more; and I never yet heard or read of any long prayer that did so much. Which brings on the other part of this our fifth and last argument, which was to be drawn from the examples of such as have been noted in Scripture for prolixity or length of prayer. And of this there are only two mentioned, the heathens and the Pharisees. The first, the grand instance of idolatry; the other, of hypocrisy: but Christ forbids us the imitation of both," When ye pray," says our Saviour in the 6th of Matthew, be ye not like the heathen" but in what? Why, in this, “That they think they shall be heard for their much speaking," in the 7th verse. It is not the multitude that prevails in armies, and much less in words. And then for the Pharisees, whom our Saviour represents as the very vilest of men, and the greatest of cheats. We have them amusing the world with pretences of a more refined devotion, while their heart was all that time in their neighbour's coffers. For does not our Saviour expressly tell us (in Luke xx., and the two last verses,) that great tools, he oks or engines, by which they compassed their worst, their wickedest, and most rapacious designs, were long prayers? prayers made only for a show or colour; and that to the basest and most degenerous sort of villainy, even the robbing the spittal, and devouring the houses of poor, helpless, forlorn widows. Their devotion served all along but as an instrument to their avarice, as a factor or under-agent to their extortiona practice, which, duly seen into, and stripped of its hypocritical blinds, could not but look very odiously and ill-favouredly; and therefore, in come their long robes, and their long prayers together, and cover all. And the truthi is, neither the length of one nor of the other is ever found so useful, as when there is something more than ordinary that would not be seen. This was the gainful godliness of the Pharisees; and, I believe, upon good observation, you will hardly find any like the Pharisees for their long prayers, who are not also extremely like them for something else. And thus having given you five arguments for brevity, and against prolixity of prayer, let us now make this our other great rule, whereby to judge of the prayers of our Church, and the prayers of those who dissent and divide from it. And,

First, for that excellent body of prayers contained in our Liturgy, and both compiled and enjoined by public authority. Have we not here a great instance of brevity and fulness together, cast into several short significant collects, each containing a distinct, entire, and well-managed petition? the whole set of them being like a string of pearls, exceeding rich in conjunction; and therefore, of no small

price or value, even single and by themselves. Nothing could have been composed with greater judgment; every prayer being so short, that it is impossible it should weary; and withal so pertinent, that it is impossible it should cloy the devotion. And, indeed, so admirably fitted are they all to the common concerns of a Christian society, that when the rubric enjoins but the use of some of them, our worship is not imperfect; and when we use them all, there is noue of them superfluous.

And the reason assigned by some learned men for the preference of many short prayers before a continued long one, is unanswerable, namely, that by the former there is a more frequently repeated mention made of the name, and some great attribute of God, as the encouraging ground of our praying to him; and withal, of the merits and mediation of Christ, as the only thing that can promise us success in what we pray for: every distinct petition beginning with the former, and ending with the latter: by thus annexing of which to each particular thing that we ask for, we do manifestly confess and declare, that we cannot expect to obtain any one thing at the hands of God, but with a particular renewed respect to the merits of a Mediator; and withal, remind the congregation of the same, by making it their part to renew a distinct Amen to every distinct petition.

Add to this the excellent contrivance of a great part of our Liturgy into alternate responses; by which means, the people are put to bear a considerable share in the whole service, which makes it almost impossible for them to be only idle hearers, or, which is worse, mere lookers on, as they are very often, and may be always, (if they can but keep their eyes open,) at the long tedious prayers of the nonconformists. And this indeed is that which makes and denominates our Liturgy truly and properly a Book of Common Prayer. For I think I may truly avouch, (how strange soever it may seem at first,) that there is no such thing as common or joint prayer any where amongst the principal dissenters from the Church of England; for in the Romish communion, the priest says over the appointed prayers only to himself; and the rest of the people, not hearing a word of what he says, repeat also their own particular prayers to themselves, and when they have done, go their way: not all at once, as neither do they come at once, but scatteringly, one after another, according as they have finished their devotions. And then, for the nonconformists, their prayers being all extempore, it is, as we have shewn before, hardly possible for any, and utterly impossible for all, to join in them for surely people cannot join in a prayer before they understand it; nor can it be imagined that all capacities should pre

sently and immediately understand what they hear, when, possibly, Holder-forth himself understands not what he says. From all which we may venture to conclude, that that excellent thing, common prayer, which is the joint address of a whole congregation with united voice, as well as heart, sending up their devotions to Almighty God, is no where to be found in these kingdoms, but in that best and nearest copy of primitive Christian worship, the divine service, as it is perforined according to the orders of our Church.

As for those long prayers so frequently used by some before their sermons, the constitution and canons of our Church are not at all responsible for them, having provided us better things, and with great wisdom appointed a form of prayer to be used by all before their sermons. But as for this way of praying, now generally in use, as it was first took up upon an humour of novelty and popularity, and by the same carried on till it had passed into a custom, and so put the rule of the Church first out of use, and then out of countenance

also ; so, if it be rightly considered, it will, in the very nature of the thing itself, be found a very senseless and absurd practice. For can there be any sense or propriety in beginning a new, tedious prayer in the pulpit, just after the Church has, for near an hour together, with great variety of offices, suitable to all the needs of the congregation, been praying for all that can possibly be fit for Christians to pray for? Nothing certainly can be more irrational. For which cause, amongst many more, that old sober form of bidding prayer, which, both against law and reason, has been justled out of the Church by this upstart, puritanical encroachment, ought, with great reason, to be restored by authority; and both the use and users of it, by a strict and solemn reinforcement of the canon upon all, without exception, be rescued from that unjust scorn of the factious and ignorant, which the tyranny of the contrary usurping custom will otherwise expose them to. For surely it can neither be decency nor order for our clergy to conform to the fanatics, as many in their prayers before sermon now-a-days do.

And thus having accounted for the prayers of our Church, according to the great rule prescribed in the text, "Let thy words be few;" let us now, according to the same, consider also the way of praying, so much used and applauded by such as have renounced the communion and liturgy of our Church; and it is but reason that they should bring us something better in the room of what they have so disdainfully cast off. But, on the contrary, are not all their prayers exactly after the heathenish and pharisaical copy? always notable for those two things, length and tautology? whole hou for one prayer, at a fast, used to be reckoned but a

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moderate dose; and that, for the most part, fraught with such irreverent, blasphemous expressions, that, to repeat them, would profane the place I am speaking in ; and, indeed they seldom " carried on the work of such a day," (as their phrase was,) but they left the church in need of a new consecration. Add to this the incoherence and confusion, the endless repetitions, and the unsufferable nonsense, that never failed to hold out, even with their utmost prolixity; so that in all their long fasts, from first to last, from seven in the morning to seven in the evening, (which was their measure,) the pulpit was always the emptiest thing in the church; and I never knew such a fast kept by them, but their hearers had cause to begin a thanksgiving as soon as they had done. And the truth is, when I consider the matter of their prayers, so full of ramble and inconsequence, and in every respect so very like the language of a dream; and compare it with their carriage of themselves in prayer, with their eyes for the most part shut, and their arms stretched out in a yawning posture; a man that should hear any of them pray, might, by a very pardonable error, be induced to think that he was all the time hearing one talking in his sleep, besides the strange virtue which their prayers had to procure sleep in others too. So that he who should be present at all their long cant, would shew a greater ability in watching, than ever they could pretend to in praying, if he could forbear sleeping, having so strong a provocation to it, and so fair an excuse for it. In a word, such were their prayers, both for matter and expression, that, could any one truly and exactly write them out, it would be the shrewdest and most effectual way of writing against them that could possibly be thought of.

I should not have thus troubled either you or myself, by raking into the dirt and dunghill of these men's devotions, upon the account of any thing either done or said by them in the late times of confusion; for, as they have the king's, so I wish them God's pardon also, whom, I am sure, they have offended much more than they have both kings put together. But that which has provoked me thus to rip up and expose to you their nauseous and ridiculous way of addressing to God, even upon the most solemn occasions, is that intolerably rude and unprovoked insolence and scurrility with which they are every day reproaching and scoffing at our Liturgy, and the users of it, and thereby alienating the minds of the people from it, to such a degree, that many thousands are drawn by them into a fatal schism; a schism that, unrepented of, and continued in, will as infallibly ruin their souls, as theft, whoredom, murder, or any other of the most crying, damnin sins whatsoever. But leaving this to the justice of the govern

ment to which it belongs, to protect us in our spiritual as well as in our temporal concerns, I shall only say this, that nothing can be more for the honour of our Liturgy than to find it despised only by those who have made themselves remarkable to the world for despising the Lord's Prayer as much.

In the meantime, for ourselves of the Church of England, who, without pretending to any new lights, think it equally a duty and commendation to be wise, and to be devout only to sobriety, and who judge it no dishonour to God himself to be worshipped according to law and rule, if the directions of Solomon, the precept and example of our Saviour, and lastly, the piety and experience of those excellent men and martyrs, who first composed, and afterwards owned our Liturgy with their dearest blood, may be looked upon as safe and sufficient guides to us in our public worship of God; then, upon the joint authority of all these, we may pronounce our Liturgy the greatest treasure of rational devotion in the Christian world. And I know no prayer necessary, that is not in the Liturgy, but one, which is this,-That God would vouchsafe to continue the Liturgy itself in use, honour, and veneration in this Church for ever. And I doubt not but all wise, sober, and good Christians will, with equal judgment and affection, give it their Amen.

Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, three Persons and one God, be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for evermore. Amen.




"Who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."-ROM. i. 32.

FROM the beginning of the 18th verse to the end of the 31st, (the verse immediately going before the text,) we have a catalogue of the blackest sins that human nature, in its highest depravation, is capable of committing; and this so perfect, that there seems to be no sin imaginable but what may be reduced to, and comprised under, some of the sins here specified. In a word, we have an abridgment of the lives and practices of the whole heathen world; that is, of all the baseness and villainy,

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