Imatges de pÓgina
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to restrain outward evil doings, but also to bridle the inward affections of the heart; what is there herein commanded more than was before omitted?

Scho. God hath before forbidden evil doings and corrupt affections of the mind; but now he requireth of us a most precise pureness, that we suffer not any desire, be it never so light, nor any thought, be it never so small, in any wise swerving from right, once to creep into our heart.

Mast. How then? Dost thou say that unadvised and sudden desires, and short thoughts that come upon the very godly, are sins, although they strive against such, rather than yield to them?

Scho. Surely it is plain that all corrupt thoughts, although our consent be not added to them, do proceed of our corrupt nature. And it is no doubt that sudden desires that tempt the hearts of men, although they prevail not so far as to win a steadfast assent of mind and allowance, are in this Commandment condemned by God as sins. For it is meet that even in our very hearts and minds should shine before God their most perfect pureness and cleanness. For no innocency and righteousness but the most perfect can please him, whereof he hath also set before us this his law a most perfect rule.

REFORMATIO LEGUM, &c.

Of Heresies.

Of a Community of Goods and Wives. Chap. 14. To be rejected also is the idea introduced by the same Anabaptists, of a community of goods and possessions, which they urge to such a length, that they leave nothing to any individual as his own peculiar property. With regard to which notion they argue strangely, for they cannot but observe that the Holy Scriptures prohibit theft, and see that such alms-deeds are extolled in both Testaments as can only be exercised out of our own means, of which, truly, nothing would remain, unless there were left to Christians a property in their goods and possessions. From the corruptions of the Anabaptists arise certain Nicolaitans, most profligate men indeed, who contend that the promiscuous use of women, and even of wives, ought to be allowed among all men. Which beastly and wicked bertinism, in the first place, is contrary to piety and the sacred Scriptures, and in the second, violently opposes the general principle of civil justice, and the natural and un corrupted light of reason which is kindled in our minds.

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SECTION I.

One principal part of our duty towards God is Prayer. This obligation, though not expressly specified in either, is necessarily implied in each of the Four Precepts, which instruct us in the several branches of the fundamental, the First and Great Commandment of the Law; but it is, perhaps, most directly to be inferred from that portion, which teaches us to worship the one true God in spirit and in truth.

§ 2. Prayer is, in its widest sense, religious com. munication with the Deity-address of the heart, and mind, and soul, as well as of the lips, to Him, who, though invisible, seeth the devout bendings of his people, and heareth all such as call upon him faithfully. In this sense it comprehends all kinds of adoration,-whether Petition, or Prayer, for future gifts and graces,-according to its more restricted

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for mercies and benefits received,-or Praise, ascription of glory and honour to God, the Author of every good and every perfect gift.

§ 3. It is to God that all Prayer is to be addressed. Invocation is proper to God: for it is He alone who is the one great object of religious fear, and trust, and worship,-who preserves and rules us by his providence and will,—who of his own good pleasure gave us our existence,—who has conferred upon us every thing that we enjoy in this life, or that may qualify us for endless felicity in another, who infinitely deserves, and constantly demands, all praise and glory which can be ascribed to Him by our feeble tongues, or the more harmonious voices of glorified saints and ministering angels.

It is to God that all Prayer is to be addressed; but sinful as we are, and incompetent to plead worthily with the great Jehovab,-disqualified by the stain of our nature for approaching the throne of a pure and avenging Deity,-and incapable of offering to him any such sacrifices as shall of themselves merit his attention, we are graciously instructed in the Gospel how we may gain access to the Father, and how we may render our prayers and praises acceptable in his sight. Through the name and for the sake of Him who is the only Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus,-who in his divine and human nature, sits at the right hand of God, continually making intercession for us, and presenting our petitions before the throne of grace;-through Him, in Him, and for Him, as our Mediator, as our Head, and as our Propitiation, we may come unto God in hope and confidence, that our humble and holy ad

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dresses shall be heard and answered. Christ himself, the Redeemer, being God of God, the only begotten of the Father before all worlds, and the Holy Ghost, also, the Comforter, very and eternal God, proceeding from the Father and the Son, are separately and by name, as well as in the unity of the Trinity, to be adored,―to receive the tribute of divine worship,of Prayer and Praise. Each Person of the Godhead being represented in Scripture as assuming peculiar offices, each one ought to be addressed, with especial reference to these, in the language of adoration.

§ 4. Fitness of subject, and a proper frame of mind, are essential to the acceptableness of Prayer. If the desires or thanks expressed be blameable in themselves, that is, inconsistent with the Moral Law; or if request for right things, and acknowledgement of real mercies, be made in an unbecoming temper, or with a deficiency of those qualifications which are requisite, address to heaven shall not only be in vain, but must be considered as an actual sin, which needs to be repented of. Prayer, therefore, should have respect to those things which are most important to us-to spiritual blessings, for which we cannot be too desirous, or too grateful,-in subordination, to temporal blessings; and temporal blessings are to be sought as they may tend to the glory of God, and our eternal salvation. We are commanded to pray and to offer up thanks for the welfare of ourselves, our dependants, our fellow-creatures in general, even for our bitterest enemies, but especially for all fellowchristians,-to intreat that all may abundantly reap the fruits of the covenant of mercy in the soul, and be protected by a good Providence from every thing

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