« ZurückWeiter »
they refuse to hear these, neither will they believe though one Nonla arise from the dead to preach unto them.
5. Reading ihe Holy Scriptures is a Duty exprelly * commanded us, and is called in Scripture [Preach-Deu. 31.13: ing : ] All other Preaching is the Effect of humane Luke 24.45. Skill and Industry, and although of great Benefit, Achs 15. 11. yet it is but an Ecclesiastical Ordinance, the Law of Revel. 1. 3. God concerning Preaching being expreffed in the 2 Tim 3.16. Matter of Reading the Scriptures, and Hearing that Word of God which is, and as it is there defcribed.
But this Duty is reduced to Practice in the follow, ing Rules.
Rules for Hearing or Reading the Word of God. 1. Set apart fome Portion of thy Time, according to the Opportunities of thy Calling and necessary Employment, for the Reading of Holy Scripture ; and if it be poslible, every Day read or hear some of it read : You are sure that Book teaches all Truth, commands all Holiness, and promises all Happiness.
2. When it -is in your Power to chuse, accustom yourself to such Portions which are most plain and certain Duty, and which contain the Story of the Life and Death of our Blessed Saviour. Read the Gospels, the Psalms of David; and especially those Portions of Scripture which by the Wisdom of the Church are appointed to be publickly read upon Sundays and Holy-Days, viz. the Epistles and Gospels. In the Choice of any other Portions you may advise with a Spiritual Guide, that you may spend your Time with most Profit.
3. Fail not diligently to attend to the Reading of Holy Scriptures upon those Days wherein it is most publickly and solemnly read in Churches; for at such Times, befides the learning our Duty, we obtain a Blessing along with it, it becoming to us upon those Days a Part of the Solemn Divine Worship.
4. When the Word of God is read or preached tp you, be sure you be of a ready Heart and Mind,
free from worldly. Cares and Thoughts, diligent to hear, careful to mark, studious to remember, and defirous to practise all that is commanded, and to live according to it. Do not hear for any other End but to become better in your Life, and to be instructed in every good Work, and to encrease in the Love and Service of God,
5. Beg of God by Prayer that he would give you the Spirit of Obedience and Profit, and that he would by his Spirit write the Word in your Heart, and that you describe it in your Life. To which Purpose serve yourself of fome affectionate Ejaculations to that Pur. pose, before and after this Duty.
Concerning fpiritual Books and ordinary Sermons,
take in these Advices also. 6. Let not a Prejudice to any Man's Person hinder thee from receiving Good by his Do&trine, if it be according to Godliness; but (if Occafion offer it, or especially if Duty present it to thee, that is, if it be preached in that Assembly where thou art bound to be present) accept the Word preached as a Message from God, and the Minister as his Angel in that Mi. niftration.
7. Consider and remark the Doctrine that is re! presented to thee in any Discourse, and if the Prea cher adds accidental Advantages, any thing to comply with thy Weakness, or to put thy Spirit into Acti. on, or holy Resolution, remember it and make Ule of it. But if the Preacher be a weak Perfon, yet the Text is the Doctrine thou art to remember: That contains all thy Duty, it is worth thy Attendance to hear that fpoken often, and renewed upon thy Thoughts : And tho thou beest a learned Man, yet the same thing which thou knowest already, if Ipoken by another, may be made a&tive by that Application. I cạn better be comforted by my own Confideration, if another Hand applies them, than if I do it myself; because the Word of God does not work as a natural Agent, but as a Divine Instrument: It
does not prevail by the Force of Deduction and artificial Discourfings only, but chiefly by way of Bleffing in the Ordinance, and in the Ministry of an appointed Person. At least obey the publick Order, and reverence the Constitution, and give good Example of Humility, Charity and Obedience.
8. When Scriptures are read, you are only to enquire with Diligence and Modesty into the Meaning of the Spirit : But if Homilies or Sermons be made upon the Words of Scripture, you are to consider whether all that be spoken be conformable to the Scriptures: For although you may practise for humane Reasons, and humane Arguments ministred from the Preacher's Art; yet you must pratise nothing but the Conimand of God, nothing but the Doctrine of Scrip. ture, that is, -the Text.
9. Use the Advice of some fpiritual or other prudeiit Man, for the Choice of such fpiritual Books which may be of Use and Benefit for the Edification of thy Spirit in the Ways of Holy Living; and esteem that Time well accounted for, that is prudently and affectionately employed in hearing or reading good Books and pious Discourses ; ever remembring that God, by hearing us speak to him in Prayer, obliges us to hear him Ipeak to us in his Word, by what Inftrument foever it be conveyed.
Of Fafting. Fafting, if it be considered in itfelf without relati
on to Ipiritual Ends, is a Duty no where enjoined or counselled. But Christianity hath to do with it as it may be made an Instrument of the Spirit by subduing the Lufts of the Flesh, or removing any Hindrances of Religion. And it hath been practised by all Ages of the Church, and advised in Order to three Ministeries ; 1. To Prayer; 2. To Mortification of bodily Lusts ; 3. To Repentance : And it is to be practifed according to the following Measures. P4
Rules for Christian Faffing. 1. Fasting in Order to Prayer is to be measured by the Proportions of the Times of Prayer; that is, it ought to be a total Fast from all things during the Solemnity, (unless' a probable Necessity intervene.) Thus the Jews ate nothing upon the Sabbath-Days till their great Offices were perforined, that is, about the fixth Hour; and S. Peter used it as an Argument, that the Apostles in Pentecoft were not drunk, because it was but the third Hour of the Day, of such a Day in which it was not ;
lawful to eat or drink till the fixth Hour : And the Jews were offended at the Difciples for pluçking the Ears of Corn on the Sabbath early in the Morning, because it was before the Time in which by their Customs they efteenied it lawful to break their Fast. In Iinitation of this Custom, and in Prosecution of the Reason of it, the Christian Church hath religiously observed Fasting before the Holy Communion; and the more devout Persons (though without any Obligation at all) refused to eat or drink till they had finished their Morning Devotions: And farther yet upon Days of Publick Humiliation, which are designed to be spent wholly in Devotion, and for the averting God's Judgments, (if they were imminent) Fafting is coinmanded together with Prayer ; commanded (I say) by the Church to this End, that the Spirit might be clearer and more Angelical when it is quitted in fome Proportions from the Loads of Flesh.
2. Fasting, when it is in order to Prayer, must be a total Abftinence from all Meat, or else an Abatement of the Quantity: For the Help which Fasting does to Prayer, cannot be served by changing Flesh into Fish, or Milk-Meats into Dry-Diet; but by turning much into little, or little into none at all, during the Time of Solemn and Extraordinary Prayer.
3. Fasting, as it is instrumental to Prayer, must be attended with other Aids of the like Vertue and Efficacy, such as are removing for the Time all worldly Cares and secular Businesses; and therefore our Bless
fed Saviour enfolds these Parts within the fame Caution. (Take heed lest your Hearts be over-charged with Jejunium fine Surfeiting and Drankenness, and the Cares of this World, cleemofyna, and that Day overtake you unawares.] To which add lampas fine
oleo, S. Augi Alms; for upon the Wings of Fasting and Alms Holy Prayer infallibly mounts up to Heaven.
When Fasting is intended to serve the Duty of Repentance, it is then best chosen when it is short, sharp, and effective; that is, either a total Abitinence from all Nourishment (according as we shall appoint, or be appointed ) during such å Time as is separate for the Solemnity and Attendance upon
the Employment: Or if we shall extend our Severity beyond the Solemn Days, and keep our Anger against our Sin, as we are to keep our Sorrow, that is, always in Readiness, and often be called upon; then to refuse a pleasant Morsel, to abstain from the Bread of our Desires, and only to take wholsome and less pleafing Nourishment vexing our Appetite by the refufing a lawful Satisfaction, fince in its Petulancy and Luxury it prey'd upon an unlawful.
5. Fasting designed for Repentance must be ever joyned with an extream Care that we faft from Sin: for there is no greater Folly or Undecency in the World, than to commit that for which I am now judging and condemning myself. This is the best Falt, and the other may lerve to promote the erest of this, by encreasing the Difaffection to it, and multiplying Arguments against it.
6. He that fasts for Repentance muft, during that Solemnity, abstain from all bodily Delights, and the Sensuality of all his Senses and his Appetites : For a Man must not, when he mourns in his Faft, be merry in his Sport; weep at Dinner, and laugh all Day after'; have a Silence in his Kitchin, and Mufick in his Chamber; judge the Stomach, and feast the other Senses. I deny not but a Man may in a single Instance punish a particular Şin with a proper Instrument. If a Man have offended in his Palate, he may chuse to fast only; if he have finned in Softness and in his Touch, he may chuse to lie hard, or work hard, and use sharp In