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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.

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Si confilisim vis,
Permities 'ipfis expendere numinibus, quid
Conveniat nobis, rebusq; fiturile noftris:
Nam, pro jucundiis, aptissima quaq; dabunt Dij:
Charior est illis Homo quam sibi

Take my Advice ; and think that human Gooda ..
By Wifer Gods is better understood.
For Pleasure whilst we only make Request,
The kinder Deities will give what's Beit.
Man's Dearer unto them than to himself, &c.

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,

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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
a Request, when he has commanded me to ask him: But
God Almighty has commanded us to pray to him, and
to come with Boldness to the Throne of Grace; and
therefore 'tis our Duty to do so. And whereas you tax
our Notion of Prayer with attributing a Weakness to the
Deity to be importun'd or praised, I think your Notion
does the same much more. For you judge God Almigh-
ty to be like an earthly Prince, that is not to be addrest
to by every one, by Reason of the Multiplicity of Affairs
of a higher Nature, which take up most of his Time,
and so is not to be disturbed by the Applications of little
People, whose Suits are therefore deem'd impertinent.
But, since we are sure there can be no Distraction of
Thoughts, or Streightness of Time in God, we know he
is as op n and free to receive at all Times, a Suit from the
meanest of Mankind, as from the most exalted of the
Angels. .

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,

ers: But then God Almighty, by his Providence, fre-
quently interposes, that more of them shall fall in one
Place than in another, to punish Mankind for their Faults,
and this is a Jurisdiction, which God continually keeps
over Nature, for the Government of the World; or else
Nature would be God, and not he, and Men would
not have that Dependence upon him which they ought.'
Now the Exercise of this Jurisdiction cannot be called
properly a Miracle. For a Miracle is a violent Pertura
bation of the Laws of Nature, a wonderful and uncom-
mon Superseding of them, as when Fire is made not to
burn, or Iron to swim in the Water; but this proyi.
dential Interposition is a gentle leading and direction of
Nature, in a Course not much different from her settled
Laws, is ordinary and frequent, and so not generally ad-
mired. Nature it self is all originally miraculous, and
owing to a Divine Power, but by being frequently vi-
fible, is not so surprising; and this Law of providential
Interposition is as much God's Natural Law in govern.
ing the World, as the others are in preserving it. 'Tis
to this Interposition of Divine Providence, that Christi-
ans in their Prayers appeal; and this is more rational and
agreeable to the Wisdom and Goodness of God, and the
humble Dependence of a Creature, than any other fanci,
ful Schemes of a Physical Predetermination, or an Athe-
istical Fatality.

4. Nor do we pray to God, as thinking thereby to Christians,
weary him out by importunate Solicitations, or to give think not to
him a Knowledge of our Wants, cc. but we ask because weary God
he has commanded us, and upon our so doing, has told >!
us we all receive, And there is the same Reason, why
God should require Prayer of us, as he should do any
other Moral Duty; because this makes us better Men.
The frequent Returns of this Duty calls us off from
the Consideration of worldly Things, and put us upon
the Meditation of the Divine Nature, his Wisdom, Justice
and Goodness; to the end, that by frequently contem-
placing them, we may imitate those adorable Perfections,
And the doing this every Day, will much more influence

a Man's

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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

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