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prayer is public or private ; in the communion or society of saints, or in our closets : these prayers have less temptation to vanity; the other have more advantages of charity, example, fervour, and energy. In public offices we avoid singularity, in the private we avoid hypocrisy. Those are of more edification, these of great retiredness and silence of spirit: those serve the needs of all the world in the first intention, and our own by consequence; these serve our own needs first, and the public only by a secondary intention : these have more pleasure, they more duty : these are the best instruments of repentance, where our confessions may be more particular, and our shame less scandalous; the other are better for eucharist and instruction, for edification of the church and glorification of God.
22. Secondly, The posture of bodies in prayer had as great variety as the ceremonies and civilities of several nations came to. The Jews most commonly prayed standing : so did the Pharisee and the Publican in the temple;' so did the primitive Christians in all their greater festivals and intervals of jubilee: in their penances they kneeled. The monks in Cassian sat when they sang the Psalter. And in every country, whatsoever by the
" Nehem. ix.5; Mark. xi. 25; Luke, xviii. 11.
Adoraturi sedeant, dixit Numa Pompilius apud Plutarch. id est, sint sedato animo. Εt καθήσθαι προσκυνήσοντας dictum proverbialiter ad eundem sensum. Vide S. Aug. lib. iji, c. 5, de Cura pro mortuis.
Depositisque suis ornamentis pretiosis,
S. Rosweid de Hen. Imper. et de Othon.
custom of the nation was a symbol of reverence and humility, of silence and attention, of gravity and modesty, that posture they translated to their prayers. But in all nations bowing the head, that is, a laying down our glory at the feet of God, was the manner of worshippers. And this was always the more humble and the lower, as their devotion was higher; and was very often expressed by prostration, or lying Alat upon the ground : and this all nations did and all religions. Our deportment ought to be grave, decent, humble, apt for adoration, apt to edify: and when we address ourselves to prayer, not instantly to leap into the office, as the judges of the Areopage into their sentence, without preface or preparatory affections; but, considering in what presence we speak, and to what purposes, let us balance our fervour with reverential fear : and when we have done, not rise from the ground as if we vaulted, or were glad we had done; but, as we begin with desires of assistance, so end with desires of pardon and acceptance, concluding our longer offices with a shorter mental prayer of more private reflection and reverence, designing to mend what we have done amiss, or to give thanks and proceed if we did well, and according to our powers.
23. Thirdly, In private prayers it is permitted to every man to speak his prayers, or only to think them, which is a speaking to God. Vocal or mental prayer is all one to God, but in order to us they have their several advantages. The sacrifice of the heart and the calves of the lips make up a holocaust to God. But words are the arrest of the desires, and keep the spirit fixed, and in less permissions to wander from fancy to fancy : and mental prayer is apt to make the greater fervour, if it wander not. Our office is more determined by words; but we then actually think of God when our spirits only speak. Mental prayer, when our spirits wander, is like a watch standing still because the spring is down; wind it up again, and it goes on regularly: but in vocal prayer, if the words run on and the spirit wanders, the clock strikes false, the band points not to the right hour, because something is in disorder, and the striking is nothing but noise. In mental prayer we confess God's omniscience; in vocal prayer we call the angels to witness. In the first, our spirits rejoice in God; in the second, the angels rejoice in us. Mental prayer is the best remedy against lightness and indifferency of affections; but vocal prayer is the aptest instrument of communion. That is more angelical, but yet fittest for the state of separation and glory; this is but human, but it is apter for our present constitution. They have their distinct properties, and may be used according to several accidents, occasions, or dispositions.
O holy and eternal God, who hast commanded us to pray unto thee in all our necessities, and to give thanks unto thee for all our instances of joy and blessing, and to adore thee in all thy attributes and communications, thy own glories, and thy eternal mercies ; give unto me, thy servant, the spirit of prayer and supplication, that I may understand what is good for me, that I may desire regularly, and choose the best things, that I may conform to thy will, and submit to thy disposing, relinquishing my own
affections and imperfect choice. Sanctify my heart and spirit, that I may sanctify thy name, and that I may be gracious and accepted in thine eyes. Give me the humility and obedience of a servant, that I may also have the hope and confidence of a Son, making humble and confident addresses to the throne of grace; that in all my necessities I may come to thee for aids, and may trust in thee for a gracious answer, and may receive satisfaction and supply.
II. Give me a sober, diligent, and recollected spirit in my prayers, neither choked with cares, nor scattered by levity, nor discomposed by passion, nor estranged from thee 'by inadvertency, but fixed fast to thee by the indissoluble bands of a great love and a pregnant devotion. And let the beams of thy Holy Spirit descending from above enlighten and enkindle it with great fervours, and holy importunity, and unwearied industry; that I may serye thee, and obtain thy blessing by the assiduity and zeal of perpetual religious offices. Let my prayers come before thy presence, and the lifting up of my hands be a daily sacrifice, and let the fires of zeal not go out by night or day; but unite my prayers to the intercession of thy holy Jesus, and to a communion of those offices which angels and beatified souls do pay before the throne of the Lamb, and at the celestial altar : that my prayers, being hallowed by the merits of Christ, and being presented in the phial of the saints, may ascend thither where thy glory dwells, and from whence mercy and eternal benediction descends upon the church.
Lord, change my sins into penitential sorrow, my sorrow to petition, my petition to eucharist; that my prayers may be consummate in the adorations of eternity, and the glorious participation of the end of our hopes and prayers, the fulness of neverfailing charity and fruition of thee, O holy and eternal God, blessed Trinity, and mysterious Unity, to whom all honour, and worship, and thanks, and confession, and glory, be ascribed for ever and ever. Amen.
Of the third additional Precept of Christ, viz.
Of the Manner of Fasting.
1. FASTING being directed in order to other ends, as for mortifying the body, taking away that fuel which ministers to the flame of lust, or else relating to what is past, when it becomes an instrument of repentance, and a part of that revenge which St. Paul affirms to be the effect of godly sorrow, is to take its estimate for value, and its rules for practice, by analogy and proportion to those ends to which it does co-operate. Fasting before the holy sacrament is a custom of the Christian church, and derived to us from great antiquity; and the use of it is, that we might express honour to the mystery, by suffering nothing to enter into our mouths before the symbols. Fasting to this purpose is not an act of mortification, but of reverence and venerable esteem of the instruments of religion, and so is to be understood. And thus also, not to eat or drink before we have said our morning devotions, is esteemed to be a religious decency, and preference of prayer and God's honour before our temporal satisfaction, a symbolical attestation that we esteem the words of God's mouth more than our necessary food. It is like the zeal of Abraham's servant, who would not eat nor drink till he had done his errand : and in pursuance of this act of religion, by the tradition of their father it grew to be a custom of the Jewish nation, that they should not eat bread upon their solemn festi