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standing, or weak Believers; they can serve theth by Way of Crutches, and auxiliary Helps, to excite their Defires, and bring them in a good Order and proper Words, before the Throne of God. Thus we find Forms of Prayer and Blessing in the holy Scriptures, Numb. vi. 23, 26. Matt. vi. 9. But we disapprove the Abuse of it, -as in the Case of those that satisfy themselves with a Form of Prayer, which they utter without Knowledge or Affection, and very often notiat least suitable to their State or Condition, but out of Custom only, and as a Form wherein they_greatly fin againt God. And we say, that it is the Duty of all Christians, from a Sense of their own Sins, Wants and Mercies, to be often with God in Prayer, guiding themselves in that fpiritual Duty by such inward and outward Helps, as they, by his Word and Spirit are able to furnish themselves with; yea, however stammering they may be, even as a Beggar who wants a Charity, or as a Child, which fammering asketh Something of his Father or Mother. And for all that, they may not always keep themselves to the Forms of Prayer, nor that they go forth in their own Strength, trusting to their own Promptness or Preparations; but endeavour to express their Mind before God, without such an Help, but that they honour the Spirit of God by Dependance on him, praying for his Influences and Affiftances in this necefTary Duty; which will enable them to pray without using the Forms of others.
in the holy Scriptures ? A. Yes, Matt. xvii. 21. Howbeit, this Kind not out but by Prayer and Fafting. Luke ïi. 37. Faftings and Prayers, Night and Day. 2 Cor. vii. 5. That you may give yourselves to Fasting and Prayer.
Q. What Q. What Kind of Abstinence is required in a religious Faft?
A. ift; Greater Abstinence is required, than the common Law of Temperance prescribeth; for Temperance ought to be perpetual, but Fasting is extraordinary, and upon special Occasions. 2dly, This Abftinence must not only be in Meats and Drinks, but also in all other Things that tend to the Pampering of the Body, Dan. x. 3. 3dly, This Abftinence is to be such, and so great, that thereby we may be made fitter for extraordinary Humiliation, Ezek. vir: 21. 4thly, Because all and every one are not of the same Constitution, this fitness for religious Humiliation occasioneth Variety of Abstinence; so that the Measure of Abstinnece which is profitable and necessary for one, would be an Impediment to another; and neither can any particular Rule be given for all and every Man to observe in the Measure of Abstinence.
Q. In what doth the Religion of a Fast confift?
A. 11, A religious Fast differs from a natural and civil Fast in this, that it is cammanded by Religion, that is, it doth directly and immediately tend to the Worlhip and Honour of God. 2dly, Yet is it not in itself the Worship of God, but only as a Means whereby true Worship is promoted ; for Reason, first, Fasting restrains our Passions. Secondly, Fasting makes eur Mind sedate, and stills the sinful. Agitations of our Flesh. Thirdly, It draws the Soul from carnal Things, and unites it nearer to God; makes it more able and more ready to consider about, and reflect upon Things in their own Nature ; wherefore God promises, Zach. viii. 19. The Faft of the fourth Month, and the Faft of the fifth, and the Fai of the seventh, and the Fall of the tenth, shall be to the House of Judah, Joy and Gladness, and chearful Feafts.
Q. Is it lawful publickly to appoint such Fafts ?
A. Not at Man's Pleasure, because there is nothing religious which depends altogether upon Man's Wit; R2
but XX. 3.
but upon an extraordinary Cause in Divine Providence, thus to call Men to the extraordinary Invocation of God, is both lawful and pious, Joel ii. 12. And such Fasting Josaphat has published, 2 Chron.
As also the King of Nenive, John iii. 5. e. Upon what Occasions should it be proper to Faft?
A. Not only if there is a general Need for Land or Church, but also upon particular Cases; as for Instance, before we dedicate our Child unto God in Baptism, or when we are in a Time of Preparation before that awful and folemn Ordinance, the Lord's Supper; or otherwise when we shall examine ourselves concerning our spiritual State ; and in many other Sorts of Cases, particularly when we come to a sense of heinous Sins; observing such pious Fasting, we will be Followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, who very often has performed such Fasting, as in the Evangelical History appears; and though the Performance of it seems to be strange to most people in our corrupt Age, and in very few Families such Fafting is practised, notwithstanding that, it is a Duty required of all Christians, Matt. vi. and Joel ii. &c. And would we not Sin against the Command of God, we must endeavour to observe that as well as any other; and that we also in every Thing, may have the Anfwer of a good Conscience before God.
Of the external Profesion of FAITH. QW HEREFORE is external Profeffion of
Faith necefjary? 1. It is necessary for many Reasons; if, Because God hath commanded it and declares, Luke xii. 8. Whofoever shall confefs me before Men, him fhall the Son of Mun also confefs before the Angels of God. 2dly, It is not enough to believe with the Heart unto Righteoulness; but with the Mouth, Confeffion must be inade unto Salvation. If thou shalt confejs with thy Mouth
the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine Heart, that Ged hath raised him from the Dead, thou shall be saved, Rom. x. 9, 10.
That is Heart and Mouth must correspond. 3dly, Because there is a grievous threatning made against the Neglect of this Duty, Mark viii. 58. Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my Words in this adulterous and sinful Generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he comeht in the Glory of his Father, with the Holy Angels. And Luke ix. 26. xviii. 18. 2 Tim. ii. 12. 4thly, Because this Profeffion makes for the Edification of other Men, and the
Neglect of it is a Scandal to them, Phil. i. 12. The Things which happened unto mi, bave fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel. And Phil. ii. 15, 16. 5thly, Because this Profession of Faith makes for the Glory of God, Phil. i. 20. To be in nothing ashamed, and Christ always be magnified in our Body. And the Denial of it is a great Reproach to the Name of God, as if it were a Thing to be alhamed of, Luke ix. 26. For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my Words, &c. 6thly, It is an Ingratitude to the High Priest of our Profeffion, Christ Jesus, Heb. iii. 1. Who, notwithstanding of the fame Nature with his Father, has not been ashamed to call us Brothers, &c.
Q. Is this Profesion always and every where necessary?
A. It is always and every where required, that we deny not the Faith, or make any Profeffion or Shew contrary to the true Faith, when there is some Hope at least, that it would tend to the Glory of God, and the Edification of our Neighbour ; else it is not neceifary or convenient every where, without Difference, to profess what we believe, Matt. vii. 6. Give not that which is Holy unto the Dogs, &c.
Q. Why is a Man bound to make Confeffion, when he is asked publickly concerning his Faith, by.one that is set in Authority ?
A. In common Course he is bound fo to do, i Pet.
. 15. Because it pertains to the Glory of God, and the Salvation of others, Matt. X. 18.
Q. May Infidels be compelled to the Profeffion of the true Faith, by such as be their Governors ?
1. They ought not to be compelled to it; ist, Because Faith itself cannot be wrought by Constraint ; the Act of true Faith proceeds always voluntarily from Men, not from Fear or Force, P. xlvii. 10. Acts 2. 41. 2dly, Because external Profeffion, without internal Faith, is nothing but Hypocrisy; the Profession must be an Expression of Faith. 3dly, Because the Church by this Means is corrupted, whilst those are thrust upon it as Members which are not fit ; yea, from whom instead of any Good, on the contrary, nothing else than the greatest Damage for Land and Church can be expected, as Experience teaches us.
Q. What do you infer from hence?
1. That it is not enough to admit every one to be a Member of the Church, after he has learned a small Leffon of the Doctrine by Heart, or knows the Principles of the Chriftian Religion, and by that way the Number of external Professors may be enlarged ; but the Ministers before they admit a Person to such Profeffion, exactly ought to examine whether he has a Mind and sincere Intention to live accordingly, foewing his Faith by his Works, James 2. are to be allured with Favours and Reasons, seriously to confider with themselves of Faith, and of the embracing of it; and to obtain such Faith, they ought to hear the Word preached, and endeavour for a true Chriftian Knowledge, whilft Faith comes by bearing, and hearing by the Word of God, Rom. X. 17.