صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

inward thoughts are necessary in our public, and often expedient in our private devotions; but they do not make up the essence of prayer, which may truly and acceptably be performed where these are wanting

Devotion of mind is itself a silent prayer, which wants not to be clothed in words, that God may better know our desires. Folio 38. It is true, indeed, that God regards not the service of our lips, but the inward disposition of our hearts.' Folio 39.

In the Golden Remains of the ever memorable John Hales, he delivers himself thus, (in his Sermon on Luke xviii. 1.)

• Prayer requires no outward labour of the body, no outward fashion or manner of doing, but is internally acted in the soul itself. . Quaint, witty, and set forms of prayer, proceed many times from ostentation more than devotion. Nay, one thing I know more, that the most forcible prayer transcends and far exceeds all power of words. For St. Paul, speaking unto us concerning the most effectual kind of prayer, calls it sighs and groans that cannot be expressed. Nothing does cry so loud in the ears of God, as the sighing of a contrite and earnest heart.' Page 182.

The ingenious Monro, vicar of Letter Kenney, in the kingdom of Ireland, in the second edition of his Just Measures of the Pious Institution of Youth, says,' --All, I doubt not, will allow, that it is not the expressions, how fluent soever they be, but the heart, that God regards, and that the seeming fervour which is occasioned by the tone of the voice, is not the genuine fire of devotion; it is very possible, that one may be truly devout, though he makes no use of either words or voice.

“The breathings of a recollected soul, are not noisy or clamorous: the language in which devotion loves to vent itself, is that of the inward тап, , which is secret and silent; but yet God hears it, and makes gracious returns unto it. Sometimes the pious ardours and sensations of good souls, are such as they cannot clothe with words; they feel what they cannot express.

I would not, however, be thought to insinuate, that the voice and words are not to be used at all : What I here aim at is, that the youth should be made sensible that words are not otherwise valuable, than as they are images and copies of what

passes in the hidden man of the heart : especially considering, that a great many who appear very angelical in their devotions, if we take our measures of them from their voice and tone, do soon, after these intervals of seeming seriousness are over, give palpable evidences of their eartbliness and sensuality, pride and passion, and the like irregularities.' Ibid. part ii. page 206, 207.

It will not, I suppose, be unseasonable, on this occasion, to take notice of that ordinary distinction of devotion, by which it is divided into vocal and mental; and to give a brief explanation of it. The vocal is, when by our voice and words we express outwardly our inward sentiments and affections ; or, in the royal Psalmist's phrase, * when the heart in

* Psal. xiv. 1,

dites, and the tongue is as the pen of a ready writer. Whence it appears that vocal prayers ought not to have the name of devotion, unless there be a conjunction of the heart and voice; and therefore, though one says and pronounces ever so many good words, yet if there be not correspondent motion sin the inward man, he cannot be truly said to pray. His words, in this case, are but as shells without the kernels ; and his voice as sounding brass ; which certainly are lean sacrifices, and unfit to be presented to God, who will be worshipped in spirit and in truth, and rejects the addresses of such as pretend to honour him with their lips, when their hearts are far from him.

Mental devotion, is that which is transacted in the bidden man of the heart ; and it comprehends not only the silent, vehement pantings of the soul after God, but also the secret manifestations that God makes of himself unto the soul : for it is in both these together, that the spiritual and holy intercourse that is between God and pure minds, doth consist. Of this internal devotion there are two sorts, which I shall briefly consider; the first is, when one employs or exercises his faculties, that is, his understanding, will, and desire, in the contemplation, love, and adoration of the beauties and perfections of God, and in aspiring after his gracious communications, and conformity to his holy will and nature. Here the soul is active and particular, sometimes it views one perfection, sometimes another. It contemplates God in his word, and works, and providences. And according to the several views it hath of him, it forms several and distinct acts, such as of faith, of love, of hope, of gratitude, of humility, and the like; taking occasion from every thing of making devout sallies and ejaculations.

[ocr errors]

light and

• The other sort is, when the devout soul, being disengaged from all created things, from sin and self and corruption, and firmly believing that God who filleth all things, is present in the soul, and ready to display bis power, and communicate bis

graces, doth by an act of faith, state bimself in his presence; and there, having turned the eye of the soul to the interior, and made an entire surrender of himself into the hands of God, with an humble desire, that he would dispose of him as he pleases, and that his holy will may be done in him, he continues in a profound silence and recollection, waiting for the divine good pleasure.

• Now, though the soul, when it is entering on this state, be active, yet, being once Centered] in, it ceases from all particular and distinct operations of its own: not that it is then idle; on the contrary, it is in this juncture, employed in the noblest manner, for it doth, in a full bent and tendency, and with its powers all united, move vigourously towards God; but still in a way of tranquillity and repose, and without acting particularly; and the heavenly graces of faith, hope, and love, of humility and resignation, are then, in the sublimest exercise, though not distinctly apprehended by the soul; whereupon the blessed God, as the experience of many eminently devout persons doth abundantly justify, visits these souls that depend on Him, with his peculiar favours, displays in them the riches of his power and grace, and makes them feel, in an ineffable manner, the reality of his presence in their inward man; whence it comes to pass, that they improve wonderfully in every thing that is good, just and true, pure and lovely, and advance with speed towards Christian perfection.

[ocr errors]

'I am persuaded that it would be vastly advantageous for the youth, if care were taken to train them up to this method of prayer: that is, if they were taught frequently to consider themselves as in the Divine Presence, and there silently to adore their Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. For hereby they would become habitually recollected ; devotion would be their element, and they would know by experience, what our blessed Saviour and his great Apostle meant, when they enjoin us to pray without ceasing. It was, I suppose, by some such method of devotion as I am now speaking of, that Enoch walked mith God,* that Moses saw Him that is invisible,t that the Royal Psalmist set the Lord always before him, and that our Lord Jesus himself continued whole nights in prayer to God. Nobody, I believe, will imagine this his prayer, during all the space in which it is said to continue, was altogether vocal. When he was in his agony in the garden, he used but a few words; his vocal prayer then consisted only of one petition, and an act of pure resignation, thrice repeated : but I hope all will allow, that his devotion lasted longer than while he was employed in uttering a few sentences. Without doubt his holy soul did, both then and at other times which he more especially consecrated to prayer, converse in silence with his heavenly Father.-I would humbly advise, that they who are not yet acquainted with this method of prayer, would not run it down or disparage it, but rather piously resolve to make trial of it; for it is only their own experience that can solidly convince them, whether or not, it hath all the advantages to which it pretends.' Ibid. 212 to 215.

* Gen. y, 24. + Heb. xi. 27. Psal. xvi. 8 Ş Luke vi 12:

« السابقةمتابعة »