Page images

by it. It is unreasonable for us to expect,

that those who make a Conscience of serving < God with Devotion, but are strangers to

our Methods, shou'd immediately Change t their way of Worship, and heartily Close

with ours; tho’ better in it self, and they

I were fatisfid that there were nothing une lawful in it. Time and Pains must Work

that happy Change. 3 In his Devotions both Publick and Private,

he avoided every thing, that had the least ApS pearance of Affectation, or might any way Minister to Vanity; all violent Motions of

the Body, and unnatural Modulations of 1 the Voice.. His Pehaviour was Grave and : Simple, Natural and very Plain. And though E never Man, was less apt to entertain hard * Thoughts of Others, yet he cou'd not but

suspect those, who were very Noisie in their Prayers; who affected strange Gestures of Body, and a forc'd Tone of Voice. And I believe the Reader will excuse me, for deli

vering his Judgment of the true and false e Signs of Devotion, in his own Words : He

will find it so rational and clear, as must V needs be very satisfactory to him... 1 ..We mistake our selves oft-times in Signs The true and

of Devotion ; outward Actions of the Bo, false Signs of •dy, may be Signs of Deyotion ; but we are Devotion.

to judge aright of them, and give them their due weight. Devotion is to the Soul, what Blood is to the Body, which is the ? Life of it: Now the best state of the Body cis, when the Blood moves regularly, and


? evenly in it; so as for us to be least sensible, a: & that we have such a thing as moving Blood Ha ' within us; which is, when it is in its natu- r| Cral Condition, and we are in firm Health. 1

We don't think we have inof Life, when we have convulsive and extraordinary Mo. tions in our Bodies; these things proceed not from the free moving of the Blood, but ' from the stoppage of the Blood and Spirits; < from which Nature endeavouring to set it . ? self free, excites those violent Motions in " the Body. These are not signs of Health,

but of Sickness. In respect of our Souls, the best state is, when our Minds in our Devotions, have a compos'd and gracious Inter

course with God, in such intentness, and re' collectedness of Thought, that we are hard" ly sensible our seives, that we are at our • Devotions. Thus it is when we are in firm

Health of Mind, our Conscience right be 'fore God, and our Affections sanctifi'd

and free from incumbrances. It is when (we come short of these, in any respect, that ! our Devotion becomes tumultuary, and News įt self in outward signs: Bodily Mocions proceed only from the Convulsions

of our Devotions; and are signs of Ob" Itructions in them, not of their free Paf ť sage. The Conflict that arises between our • Flesh and our Spirit, begets chose odd Symp"toms. It is when we find it difficult to raise < up our Minds to God, hard to keep our " Thoughts intent and recollected, as we wou'd have them ; that we beat our Breasts,

free from 1f these, in anultuary, Mo


that we cast up our Eyes, that we move our [ Hands. They are signs at best, not that we E' are Devout, but that we wou'd be so. Eve'ry sudden Motion of the Head, or Ha id, or Eye, is not a sign of an orderly, but of a

convulsive Devotion; and is the Effect of d'a troubl’d and discompos'd State of Mind.

Not that these are always to be cenfur’d: Such Troubles are many times our Unhappiness, not our Sin. Thus perhaps it was with Hannah, when she pray'd unto the Lord ' in the bitterness of her soul. 1 Sam. 1. 10. 'And Eli observing her outward Gestures, particularly the motion of her Lips, thought hardly of her. Our Blessed Lord, when he offer'd up his last publick Prayer to his Father; the perpetual and most gracious Legacy of his Love to his Church, and the Model of his continual Intercession in Heaven for us; bėgan it with a fixt lifting up

of his Eyes to Heaven. When Jesus had fpo.. ken these things, be lifted up his Eyes to Heaven, b and said, Joh. 17. I This cannot be rec

kon'd of the fore we are speaking of; for ic was only a compos'd setting of his Eyes in one Posture. If his proftrating himself on the Ground, in his great Agony, be offer'd as an Instance of the other fort, and it be atgued from thence, that such violenc Motions of the Body, are not Arguments of a Discompos’d, or more Iniperfect Devotion; because our Lords Devotion, cannot at a

ny time be suppos'd Imperfect: It is not t necesary to say any thing to it; only this,

" that

e that such Discompos'd or imperfect Devo..
" tion, as cou'd be without Sin, may be safely
' apply'd to our Saviour, in respect to his

Humane Nature; but in respect of Us, it is < certain that such Trouble or Distraction as

our Blessed Saviour underwent, at that ' time, wou'd necessarily make our Devotion

more Imperfect; tho not necessarily less < prevalent with God, when we offer unto

Him the best service we can, in the Anguilh of our Spirits. .

"What has been said of Bodily Motions, ' is to be faid also of the Tone of our Voice ' in Prayer. The Veliement Earnestness of (this, is not always a sign of the Intentness ' of our Thoughts,or Devotion of our Minds; but rather the contrary. A Modest, even fram'd Voice, with a chearful Accent, or Modulation :of our Words, is the natural

Expression of a Devout Spirit; much less • can I look upon that Voice to have any part 'in Devotion, which runs all in one Tone (of a Melancholy Dejectedness. (I will not ' call it Whining, because prophane Men who

are ready to Scoff at all Religion, have made ' this word too light: ) But 'tis certain, the " thoughts of the praying Person, may be at

the other end of the World, consistently enough, with such a Tone; so little neces...

sary connexion is there between it and true • Devotion. The Mind of such a Person < perhaps has been Devout, and he is Melan' choly that he is not so still ; but unwilling

to be at pains enough to make himself so.

€ If there be any that take up such a Tone,

purely out of Hypocrisie, I thou'd be loath i to pass so hard a Censure upon them, as the "Poet does ; unless they manifestly discover, 'great Contrariety to their Devotions, in

their Lives and Practices.

Quisquis ficto sib Damone prodit,
Crede mibi, multum Demonis intus habet.

That great Infirmity of Humane Nature, with which the best Men are frequently disturb’d, Unattention and Wendring Thoughts in Prayer, Mr. Bonnell had very well consider'd ; he himself not being intirely free from it. It is what he often complains of, with great Para fion, and for which he prescribes the properest Remedies. His Meditations upon Wandring Thoughts in Prayer, are too many to be here inserted; yet a few of them I can't pass over. They shew a Mind so deeply affected with the sense of its Imperfections; fo defirous to have įts Burdens remov’d; yet so patient and submissive under them; that they must needs make. due Impressions on every Devout Reader.

His Come " Lord (says he in one place) it is but a plaints of leo < few Hours ago, that I was Triumphing in ing dijiurb'di c? thy Favour ; and in the Blessed Liberty with wema,

? thou gavest me, of attending upon Thee. dr1rigt.wmglot 3
s What have I done fince. to make my selfin Praydi;
fo Miserable, and lose all this Privilege ;

so with the Re-
lose all this Privilege a medics be pres
that from being attentive to a whole Prayer, feribes to
I can now scarce attend to a few Sentences. that infirmie

Surely ty.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »