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0000000000000000000 Of the Do&trines contained in the New
TEST A M E N T. Phil. I am afraid, - Credentius, we shall hardly have time to run thro' the Doctrines of Christianity; I shall only pick out some, which I have some Exception 2gainst, and give you my Exceptions against them. And the first I shall mention is Prayer. For my part, I don't see any ground for this, in Natural Religion, or Reason. For why should Men pretend, to such a fawcy Familiarity with God Almighty, as to presume to direct him what to do? Certainly it is but good Manners, to let God distribute his Favours to us, as he shall think good, and not confidently to beg of him whatever comes into our Heads. The World is govern'd by a wife and settled · Providence, which is not to be alter'd, by the impertinent Petitions of vain Men, who think their Condition would be better'd by it. And methinks Christians should be ashamed of their Fondness, when they pray for Rain or fair Weather; to think, that God should interpofe his Power co fuspend the settled Rules of Nature, and should work a Miracle, only to send them a better Crop. No, God is a Good and a Wise Being, who loves his Creatures, and knows whac is best for them; and therefore the Christian Religion is out, when it teaches that. Men should pray for God's Blessings, which they ought only with Modesty to wait for; and not to think to weary him out by Impórtanities to send them. That Advice of Juvenal is worth twenty of your Christian Helps to Devocion.
Si confilisim vis,
Take my Advice ; and think that human Gooda ..
Therefore I cannot frame my Mind to think, that Men do a pious Ac in Praying to God, and spending their Time so dreamingly in Churches and their Closets, to so little Purpose as many Christians do. And as for Praisesthey are altogether as unreasonable; for who can think that the All-wise Deity should take Pleasure in little Flatteries, and in hearing himself commended, when we look upon it as a Weakness in human Nature to do so, and when wise Men cannot endure it?
Cred. Sir, You do seem notfufficiently to have considered either the Nature of Prayer or of the Christian Religion, by the Judgment you pass upon them.
1. If the Generality of good Christians spent their Christians Times of Devotion as fillily as the Heathens, whom 74- Prayersbete venal reflects upon, did in praying for handsome Wives and Children, great Estares, long Life, &c. there would be some tolerable Ground for this Censure. But our bleffed Saviour, in his Institution of Religion, has taught us how to regulate our Prayers. He tells us, we must not perform our Devotions in that hypocritical Way, which was in use among the Pharifaical Fews, to fall down upon their Knees in the Corners of the Streets, to be seen of Men: Nor to use those Batrologies, or Ingeminations, so frequent among the Heathens, as Jupiter, Jupiter, Jupiter, bone Jupiter, an hundred Times together, as if the Gods Were Deaf; or, as the Man in the Comedy said to his Wife, who was full of Thanksgiving for finding her lost Daughter, Define Deos gratulando obtundere, nifi illos tuo efle ingenio judicas, ut nil credas intelligere nifi idem dictum eft centies. What a Work you make with beating this News
into the Ears of the Gods, as if the Gods were like you, to una · derstand nothing but what is told them, an hundred Times over,
and Childrets upon, did lily as the Hearistians spent on
fed Sabietolerablercat Eltach prayine Leathenas fpent.ch
pone Jupiters the Heathologies, or
r'Tisch he has comanded us tore of G
These were ridiculous Notions of Prayer, which our Saviour has commanded his Followers to avoid; and moreover not to be positive in their Petitions, but to refer all to the good Pleasure and Wisdom of God, desiring after all, that his Will be done.
2. Neither do Christians with Malepartness, or SauNo Saucis nefs to pray
, ciness put up their Prayers to God, but with that ModetoʻGod. fty and Humility which becomes Creatures toward their
Creator, 'Tis no Want of respect to ask my Sovereign
3. Neither do Christians in their Prayers to God for Prayer for kin Rain, Fair-weather, or any other Benefit, expect that not for a God should miraculously disturb the Powers of Nature. Miracle.
God is the God of Nature, as well as of Mankind, and has promised to give us the Fruits of the Earth in their due Season, and all other needful Things to those that ask him. He sends Rains, and Droughts, and Floods, or Fair-weather, either for the Benefit or Punishment of Mankind. I grant that in the ordinary Course of Nature, such a Quanuity of Water is evaporated every Day from the Sea; which Vapours when they grow fo numerous and wejghry, that shey can no longer be suspended in the Air, fall down upon the Earth in Rains and Show
ers: But then God Almighty, by his Providence, fre-
4. Nor do we pray to God, as thinking thereby to Christians,
a Man's Mind, than now and then a little philofophick
Talk about them. This will give Men a firm Reliance upon God's Goodness, which the fluctuating Thoughts of all Sorts of Infidels, do in vain wish for; this will excite in cur Sculs such a new Principle of Grace, as shall enable us to conquer a corrupt Nature, and to despise the World; this will enable us to love God with the most ardent Affection, and by Degrees will fit and prepare us
for another more fpiritual Life. Nor to flat. 5. Besides, you are guilty of another Mistake, when Thankssé
som boy you think that we Christians put up our Thanksgivings ying
to God, out of Opinion, that God has a fond liking to hear himself commended by us. This is a wanton Way you have got of representing Matters odiously; by which false Light you put a Fallacy upon your felf, making things at first look ridiculous,and then never afterwards examining them. But what intelligent Christian, I pray, had ever this Notion of Praise; we, praise God, both because he has commanded this Tribute from us, and because it is a Moral Duty, and highly reasonable so to do; and not because we think to flatter him by it. If Gratitude be a Duty to God, Praise is so; and if we are obliged to think of God's Favours, we ought to speak of them. For in fuch Cases Words do naturally follow our Thoughts, and when Men's Hearts are enlarged by a deep Sense of a noble Benefit, their Words will speak their inward Joy. And what Reason is there, that there should not be as great an Indication of our Gratitude towards God, as there is to wards Men? Grateful Thoughts alone transitorily pass off from the Mind, but Words make them stay longer upon it, and help to fix them there. A báre Meditation on God's Benefits is oftentimes cold and flat, whilst a vo'cal Praise is always accompanied with Warmth and Vigour, and a noble Elevation of the Soul. When a Man thinks only of God's Goodness, his Thoughts go no farther than himself, but in Oral Thanksgivings we invite others to an equal Praise, and excite chat Gratitude in other Men's Minds, which our Hearts abound with, Ah! dear Friend, never let your ill Principles lead you to