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than that it is the imagination and custom of fools to think to please God by their sacrifices, and bringing somewhat to him, while they refuse or neglect to hear his commands and obey him. Whereas obedience is better than sacrifice, and the sacrifice of the wicked is abomination to the Lord; and he that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, his prayer is abominable; and because they hate instruction they shall cry and God will not hear them. Therefore be first careful to hear what God saith to thee, and to learn his will and do it, and then bring thy sacrifice to him: leave thy gift at the altar, and go and be reconciled to thy brother: obey first, and then come and offer thy gift. This is all the meaning of the text. See also Psal. 1. 8.; and compare these cited texts, 1 Sam. xv. 22. Prov. xv. 8. xxi. 17. Matt. v. &c. But whether we should begin with prayer or hearing when we enter into the church, God hath left to prudence to be decided by the general rules.
Quest, cxx. May a preacher kneel down in the pulpit, and use his private prayers, when he is in the assembly?Answ. This will have the same answer with the former; and therefore I shall trouble the reader with no more.
Quest, cxxi. May a minister pray publicly in his own name singly, for himself or others? Or only in the church's name, as their mouth to God?
Answ. It is good to be as exact in order and decency as we can; but they that would not have other men's ceremonies brought in on that pretence, should not bring in their own made doctrines. 1. It is certain that all the assembly come thither, not only to hear a prayer, but to pray as well as the minister; and therefore the practice of all churches in the world (as is seen in all the liturgies) is for the minister to speak in the plural number, and usually to pray in the church's name. And so he is both their guide and mouth in prayer. Therefore even when he prayeth for himself, it is usually most fit (or very fit) for him rather to say, 'We beseech thee give the speaker thy assistance, &c.,' than ' I beseech thee.' 2. And even subjectively it is not inconvenient to speak of himself in the third person, 'Give him, ' or 'Give the speaker thy help/ instead of ' Give me.'
3. But they that will place a necessity in either of these, and make the contrary a sin, must have more knowledge than I have to be able to prove it. For, 1. In the latter case the minister doth not pray in his own person, but only for his own person, when he saith, 'We beseech thee give me thy help,' &c.
2. And I know no word of God that saith, either that the minister is only the mouth of the people, or that he is to speak only in their names, or that he may not pray for himself or them in his ministerial capacity in the first person g.
For, 1. He is a minister of Christ for the church, and not the minister of the church properly. And he is subordinate to Christ in his priestly office, as well as in his teaching and ruling office; and the priests did always take it for their office, not only to speak as the people's mouth, but as sub-mediators or intercessors for them to God; and as then they were types of Christ by standing between God and the people, so they were his officers as well as types; and so they are his officers to this day: and as they teach and rule in his name by office, so do they intercede in his name; all men confess that they may do this in private; and where is it forbidden to be done in public?2. And there are some cases in which it is most fit that it should be so. That is, when it is supposed that the congregation doth not join with him. As, 1. When the whole church is fallen into some error of judgment, (as who hath not many) and he knoweth that they differ from him, it is more fit for him to pray as a sub-intercessor for them in his own person, than to speak as in their persons, who he knoweth join not with him. For that hath a plain untruth in it. 2. If the whole church be fallen into some little sin, which seduction yet hindereth them from repenting of, he were better confess it, and profess sorrow for it, in his own person, than in their's that join not with him in it. 3. When he prayeth for somewhat for himself and them, that is above
« lTimii. 1, 2. lsa. lix. 16. Jcr. xxv'ri. 18. vii. 16. xxix. 7. xnvii. 3. xlii. 2.4. 20. 1 Sinn. vii. 5. xii. 19. 23. 2 Cor. xiii. 7. Phil. i. 9. Col. i. 9. 3. 1 Thess. v. 23. 2 Then, i. 11. 1 Then. iii. 10.
their understanding (as for direction in some difficult controversies, &c.) I know not that he is bound to speak in their names that understand him not. Therefore this is no business for Christians that are not possessed with a proud, peevish, self-conceited, quarrelsome humour, to censure or despise a minister for; nor should any introduce that false doctrine of man's invention into the church, that the minister is only to pray in public as the people's mouth. But the power of prejudice is great.
Quest, cxxn. May the name, 'priests,'' sacrifice,' and' altars, be lawfully now used instead of,' Christ's ministers,' 'worship,' and the ' holy table?' Answ. 1. He that useth them in design to bring in the Popish transubstantiation and real sacrifice of the mass, doth heinously sin in such a design and case. 2. In a time and place where they may not be used without scandal, or tempting or encouraging any to their errors, the scandal will be a grievous sin. 3. The New Testament useth all the Greek names which we translate, Priests, Sacrifice and Altars, therefore we may use the same in Greek; and our translation and English names are not intolerable. If' priest' come from ' presbyter' I need not prove that; if it do not, yet all ministers are subordinate to Christ in his priestly office as essentially as in the rest. And Rev. i. 6. v. 10. xx. 6. it is said, that we are or shall be made priests of God, and unto God. And 1 Pet. ii. 5. we are "an holy priesthood," and ver. 9. a "royal priesthood :" if this be said of all, then especially of ministers. And the word 'sacrifice' is used of us and our offered worship, 1 Pet. ii. 5. Heb. xiii. 15, 16. Phil. iv. 18. Eph. v. 2, Rom. xii. 1. And Heb. xiii. 10. saith, "We have an altar whereof they partake not," &c. And the word is frequently used in the Revelations, chap. vi. 9. viii. 3. 5. xvi. 7. &c. in relation to Gospel times. We must not therefore be quarrelsome against the bare names, unless they be abused to some ill use. 4. The ancient fathers and churches did ever use all
these words so familiarly without any question or scruple raised about them, either by the orthodox or any heretics that at present I can remember to have ever read of, that we should be the more wary how we condemn the bare words, lest thence we give advantage to the Papists to make them tell their followers, that all antiquity was on their side; which were very easy for them to prove, if the controversy were about the names alone. Extremes and passionate imprudence do give the adversaries great advantages.
5. The names of sacrifice and altar, were used by the ancient churches, not properly, but merely in allusion to the Jewish and heathen sacrifices and altars, together with a tropical use from the Christian reasons of the names.
As the Lord's supper is truly the commemoration of Christ's sacrifice; and therefore called by Protestants, a commemorative sacrifice; so that our controversy with the Papists, is not, whether it may be called a sacrifice; but whether it be only the sacrament of a sacrifice, or a sacramental, commemorative sacrifice, or also a real, proper sacrifice of the very body and blood itself of Christ. For we acknowledge, that • This is a sacrifice,' is no more tropical a speech, than 'This is my body and blood.'
6. Yet it must be noted, that the Scripture useth the word ' sacrifice' about ourselves, and our thanksgivings, and praises, and works of charity, rather than of the Lord's supper: and the word 'priests' of all men lay or clergy that offer these foresaid sacrifices to God. Though the ancient doctors used them familiarly, by way of allusion, of the sacrament and its administrators.
7. In a word, as no Christian must use these or any words, to false ends or senses, or deceiving purposes, nor yet to scandal; so out of these cases, the words are lawful; and as the fathers are not to be any further condemned for using them, than as the words (which they foresaw not) have given advantage to the Papists, to bring in an ill sense and doctrine; so those that now live in churches and countries where the public professed doctrine doth free them from the suspicion of a Popish ill sense, should not be judged or quarrelled with for the terms ; but all sober Christians should allow each other the liberty of such phrases without censoriousness or breach of charity, or peace.
Quest, Cxxiii. May the communion-tables be turned altarwise, and railed in? And is it lawful to come up to the rails to communicate?
Answ. The answer to this is mostly the same with that to the foregoing question. 1. God hath given us no particular command or prohibition about these circumstances; but the general rules, for unity, edification, order and decency; whether the table shall stand this way or that way, here or there, &c., he hath not particularly determined. 2. They that turn the table altar-wise and rail it in, out of a design to draw men to Popery, or in a scandalous way which will encourage men to, or in Popery, do sin. 3. So do they that rail in the table to signify that the vulgar or lay Christians must not come to it, but be kept at a distance; when Christ in his personal presence admitted his disciples to communicate at the table with himself. 4. But where there are no such ends, but only to imitate the ancients that did thus, and to shew reverence to the table on the account of the sacrament, by keeping away dogs, keeping boys from sitting on it: and the professed doctrine of the church condemneth transubstantiation, the real corporal presence, &c. (as ours doth). In this case Christians should take these for such as they are, indifferent things, and not censure or condemn each other for them; nor should any force them upon those that think them unlawful. 5. And to communicate is not only lawful in this case, where we cannot prove that the minister sinneth, but even when we suspect an ill design in him, which we cannot prove; yea, or when we can prove that his personal interpretation of the place, name, situation and rails is unsound; for we assemble there to communicate in, and according to the professed doctrine of Christianity and the churches, and our own open profession, and not after every private opinion and error of the minister. As I may receive from an Anabaptist or Separatist notwithstanding his personal errors; so may I from another man, whose error destroyeth not his ministry, nor the ordinance, as long as I consent not to it, yea, and with the church profess my dissent. 6. Yet 'caeteris paribus,' every free man that hath his choice, should choose to communicate rather where there is