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ages heretics have commonly defended their heresies hy translating of Scriptures into allegories. The apostle speaks of such, as, denying the resurrection of the body, turn all the testimonies of the resurrection into an allegory : meaning thereby only the spiritual resurrection of the soul from sin; of which sort was Hymeneus and Philetus, who destroyed the faith of some, saying “ the resurrection was past already ;” 1 Tim. ii. 17, 18, and are there not many among us that turn the whole history of the Bible into an allegory; and that turn Christ, and sin, and death, and the soul, and hell, and heaven, and all into an allegory ? Many have and many do miserably pervert the scriptures, by turning them into vain and groundless allegories. Some wanton wits have expounded Paradise to be the soul, man to be the inind, the woman to be the sense, the serpent to be delight, the tree of knowledge of good and evil to be wisdom, and the rest of the trees to be the virtues and endowments of the mind. O friends! it is dangerous to bring in allegories, where the scripture doth not clearly and plainly warrant them; and to take those words figuratively, which should be taken.properly.
The words in the text rendered closet, hath only three most usual significations amongst Greek authors. First, it
may be taken for a secret chamber, or close and locked parlour. Secondly, for a safe or cupboard, to lay victuals in. Thirdly, for a locked chest or cupboard, wherein treasure is usually reserved.
The best and most judicious interpreters that I have seen, both of a former and latter date, do all expound my text of private prayer in retired places, and with
them I close ; and so the main doctrine that I shall gå-
That closet or private prayer is an indispensible
I beseech you seriously to lay to heart these five things.
1. If any prayer be a duty, then secret prayer must needs be a duty; for secret prayer is as much prayer as any other; and secret prayer prepares and fits the soul for family and public prayer. Secret prayer sweetly inclines, and strongly disposes a christian to all other religious duties and services.
2. If secret prayer be not an indispensible duty that lies upon thee, by what authority doth conscience condeinn and upbraid thee for the neglect of this duty ? But,
3. Was it ever the way or manner of God to promise
And therefore when you go to wait upon God, or to give your heavenly Father a visit, ene ter into your closet, and shut your door, 8c,
5. If closet prayer be not an indispensible duty that Christ hath laid upon all his people, why doth Satan so much oppose it, why doth he so industriously and so unweariedly labour to discourage christians in it, to . take off christians from it ? Certainly, Satan would never make such a fierce and constant war as he doth upon private prayer, were it not a necessary duty, and a soul-enriching duty. But more of this in the following discourse.
Now the last five things mentioned clearly prove, that secretly to hold intercourse with God is the undoubted duty of every christian. But for the better opening of this great and important point, I shall lay down these twenty arguments, or considerations.
1. The most eminent saints, both in the old and new Testaments, have applied themselves to private prayer. Moses was alone in the mount with God forty days and forty nights, Exod. xxxiv. 28. So Abraham fills his mouth with arguments, and reasons the case out alone with God in prayer, to prevent Sodom's desolation and destruction, and never leaves off pleading and praying till he had brought God down from fifty to ten, Gen. xviii. 22–32. and in Gen. xxi. 33. you have Abraham again at his private prayers,
“ And Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba, and called there
the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.” Why did Abraham plant a grove, but that he might have a most private place to pray and to pour out his soul before the Lord in ? So Isaac, Gen. xxiv. 63. “ And Isaac went out to
meditate in the field at eventide." The Hebrew word Lasuach, that is here rendered meditate, signifies to pray as well as to meditate, and so it is often used. Tis a comprehensive word, that takes in both prayer and meditation. So you shall find Jacob at his private prayer, Gen. xxxii. 24-28.
66 And Jacob was left alone : and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” When Jacob was all alone, and in a dark night, and when his joints were out of joint, he so wrestles and weeps, and weeps and wrestles in private prayer, that as a Prince at last he prevails with God. Hos. xii. 3, 4. So David, Psalm lv. 16, 17.
As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me, Evening, and morning, and at noon will I pray, and cry aloud, and he shall hear my voice.” So Daniel was three times a day in private prayer, Dan. vi. 10. “ Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber towards Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” Daniel had accustomed himself to private prayer; he went to his closet before he went to his public employment and state affairs; and at his return to dinner, he turned first into his chamber to serve his God, and refresh his soul, before he sat down to feast his body : and at the end of the day, when he had done his business with men, he made it his business to wait upon God in his chamber. So Jonah keeps up private prayer, when he was in the fishes belly, yea, when he was in the belly of bell, Jonah ii, 1, 2. &c. And we have Elias at prayer under the juniper tree, 1. Kings xix, 4. So Hannah, 1 Sam. i. 13. Now Hannah she speaks in her heart, only ber lips moved, but her voice was not heard. The very soul of prayer lies in the pouring out of the soul before God, as Hannah did. verse 15. Neither was Rebeccah a stranger to this duty, but went to enquire of the Lord, Gen. xxv. 22. that is, she went to some secret place to pray, saith Calvin, Musculus, Mercer, and others. And Saul is no sooner converted, but presently he begins with private prayer, Acts ix, 11. “And the Lord said unto him, arise, and go into the street which is called strait, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold he prayeth.” Though he was a strict Pharisee, yet he never prayed to purpose, nor never prayed effectually in private before. The Pharisees used to pray in the corners of the streets, and not in the corners of their houses. And after his conversion he was frequently in private prayer, as you may see by comparing of these Scriptures together, Rom. i. 9. Ephes. i 15, 16, 1 Phil. iii. 4.2 Tim. i. 3. Epaphras was a warm man in closet prayer, Phil iv. 12, 13, So Cornelius had devoted himself to private prayer, Acts X. 2, 4. And Peter gets up to the house top to pray, verse 9. “ On the morrow as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the house-top to pray, about the sixth hour.” Peter got up upon the leads, not only to avoid distraction, but that he night be the more secret in his private devotion. Eusebius tells us of Uames called Justus, that his knees were grown bard and brawny with koeeling so much in private prayer. And Nazianzen reports of his sister Gorgonia, that her knees seemed to cleave to the earth, by her often praying in private. ' And Gregory