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public prayers, unless they can pretend to have the same reason to conceal the prayers from the people, by expressing them in an unknown tongue, that the Jewish priests had to conceal the incense-offering from their people, by performing it in the holy or most holy place. And this, I think, without disparaging the confidence of our adversaries, they have not yet forehead enough to pretend to. For sure their priests were never intended for types and shadows of our Saviour; or if they were, their reading mass was never meant to typify the intercession of our Saviour; or if it were, yet their reading mass in an unknown tongue was never designed to represent our Saviour's ascension into heaven to intercede for us there. Why then do they pretend to justify this practice of theirs by the example of the Jewish priests, when they have not the least shadow of pretence to the reason upon which they acted ? Suppose we should be so civil as to grant them, that offering the incense out of the sight of the people, and offering public prayers in an unknown tongue were parallel cases (which I am sure is much more than they can justly demand), yet how doth the one justify the other? The Jewish priests offered the incense out of the sight of the people upon this reason, because God required them thereby to prefigure the ascension of our Saviour into heaven, there to offer up our prayers to his Father. What then, I beseech you? Why then the Christian priests may lawfully offer up the public prayers in an unknown tongue. Say you so, beloved! what, whether they have the same reason or no? Yes, yes, reason or not reason, that is all one. fess by this way of arguing, one would think so: but hitherto men always fancied that the reason of the law was the law; and that when the lawgiver took away
away the law with it. But our sage authors, it seems, are resolved upon it that the law shall stand in despite of the reason. I must needs
say, if the Jews do not thank them for this resolution, they are very ungrateful people, seeing it as well establishes their whole ceremonial law, as this.
4thly, That during the time of this sacred action the people had their prescribed prayers for themselves in a language which they understood. So the text tells us, Luke i. 10, that “the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.” And in the 50th of Ecclesiasticus, the whole order of this action is thus described : “ The high priest Simon, the son of Onias, offering to God the odour of sweet smell, the sons of Aaron cried out and sounded with trumpets, then all the people together made haste and fell on
their faces to the ground, and besought the Lord most high in prayer before the merciful, until the ministry of the Lord were done,” i.e. the incense consumed, “and then Simon descending,” i. e. from the sanctuary, “ lift up his hands over all the congregation of Israel, to give the Lord's blessing." From whence it is plain that while the incense was offering the people had their own peculiar prayers appointed them; and what they were the Hebrew doctors acquaint us, viz. three, which they recite, and call “the people's prayers.'
All which prayers being collects of a considerable length, must in all probability be indited in a language which they well understood, otherwise, as they must have prayed for they knew not what, so it had been next to impossible for them to have recited their prayers truly, which was a circumstance upon which the Jews did nicely (if not superstitiously) insist in all their public offices. So that this argument of our author's from the incense-offering, if they do not handle it more cautiously, will go near to cut the throat of their own dear cause. For first, it was no wonder at all that the people were not permitted to be present with the priest in his incense-offering, seeing at the same time they had their peculiar offices of prayer appointed them. They were to be praying without in the court of the Jews, which, together with that of the Gentiles, represented the lower world,
while the priest was offering within the sanctuary, which represented the upper world; the design of which was to represent and shadow forth the Christian Church sending up its prayers to heaven from this lower world, whilst Jesus, her high priest, is offering them up to his Father in the heavenly sanctuary. But had the Jewish priest on the one hand, been present with the people in their court without, he could not have represented Jesus interceding for his Church in heaven; or had the people being present, on the other hand, with the priest in the sanctuary, they could not have represented the Christian Church sending up
from earth to heaven. So that the nature of this whole mystical action was such as did require the priest and people to be apart while they were performing their respective offices. But, I beseech you, what mystical office have Christian people in the public prayers that can render it as necessary for them not to understand the prayers, as it was for the Jewish people not to be present at the incense-offering ? None at all that ever I could hear of, so much as fancied or pretended to. The Jewish people were obliged by the very part they acted in this sacred solemnity to be in a separate place from the priest ; and therefore till it be proved that Christian people have some part allotted them in their public worship that equally obligeth them not to understand the language of their prayers ; to infer the lawfulness of the latter from the former is just as good logic as, the stick stands in the chimney corner, therefore it must rain to-morrow.
* Vid. Lightfoot, vol. 1. p. 946, 947.
But then, secondly, It is further observable, that there was no other vocal prayer used in this sacred solemnity but what the people understood ; seeing it is evident not only that they understood Hebrew in our Saviour's time (as was proved before), which was the language in which their prayers were indited ; but also that it had been extremely difficult for them truly to have recited three such long collects, and utterly impossible to have accompanied the matter of them with their devout desires and affections (as was just now observed), had they not understood the language in which they were expressed.
And if this be so, then this Scripture instance, which our authors urge in their own vindication (if it be considered in all its circumstances), argues point blank against them ; for then it will follow from it, that though it be not necessary that the people should be admitted to see, and (which is more than I need allow) to understand every mystic action of the priest (such as was that of the incense-offering); yet it is necessary that they should understand the prayers in which they are obliged to join.
And thus, I think, I have sufficiently answered our adversaries' texts, which at first view do evidently appear so far from their purpose, that their urging them is a plain demonstration what à miserable shift they are put to for Scripture proof to justify this absurd and unscriptural practice of their Church. For certainly, could they have sheltered it under any fair colour of Scripture, they would never have lodged it in such a deplorable refuge, which, instead of defending it, doth only more
But there is one text more urged by the Scripturist, which he mentions so faintly, that it is plain his intent was rather to flourish than to fight with it, which I suppose was the reason why his modest transcriber, the Touchstone, left it out of his copy. The text is Matth. xxi. 16, where, when the children cried out in the temple, Hosanna to the Son of David, “though they knew not what they said,” saith our author, “yet Christ called it a perfect praise, saying, that Out of the mouths of
infants and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.” But what makes our author so confidently affirm, that “they knew not what they said ?” Is it because the text calls them children? However, it is plain they were such children as could go to the temple, and consequently could speak, and understand what they spoke. Or, is it because Hosanna is an Hebrew word, which language, as our author will have it, was not understood by the common people, and much less by the children? Suppose this were true (though we have largely proved the contrary), yet why might not those Hebrew children as well understand the meaning of Hosanna as
ours do of Amen, which is an Hebrew word as well as that? Hosanna was a word of that common use, that they called the bundles of boughs, which they carried about in the feast of tabernacles, Hosannas; Hosanna, i.e. save, I beseech thee," being the form of acclamation which the Jews were wont to use in the celebration of that feast, and it being the manner of the Jews, as our htfoot observes, * to teach their children from their infancy how to manage those bundle of boughs, and in their waving them to cry Hosanna, it is very fairly supposable that they did as well understand the meaning of the word (allowing that they did not understand Hebrew) as our catechised children do the meaning of Amen.
And now seeing our author is so unfortunate as not to be able to make out his point by Scripture, he is resolved to try what he can do by illustration; for so he gravely tells us, thatt “ a petition well made, even when it is presented by a petitioner, who understands not the language in which the petition is made, obtains of the king, or emperor, who understands it, as much as if the petitioner had perfectly understood every word of it. Even so,' &c. But now suppose this king, or emperor, should ask this petitioner : Friend, do you know what it is here vou petition for ?
And he should answer, No, indeed, and it shall please your majesty, I confess I do not understand one syllable of what is therein contained ; whether it be for pardon for some fault, or protection from some danger, or for some particular place of preferment, I do not know; only this I am informed by those that do understand it, “that it doth contain a particular praise of your majesty,”I (they are our author's own words, with the necessary variations) “and a special worship or honour to your person, and a peculiar recommending of my necessities to you ; and that it is a very decent petition, approved by the company of petition-makers, and recommended by all the learned of that faculty, who very well understand it,” though I do not. I strongly fancy, that how gracious soever our supposed king or emperor may be, he would conclude such a petitioner to be either a very rude fellow, that came with a design to mock him, or a very silly and impertinent one, and treat him accordingly : even so, &c. But we have choice of illustrations ; and therefore seeing this will not do, let us try another : “A rich jewel (as our author* proceeds) in the hands of an infant or clown, who knows not to penetrate the value of it, doth not for that cause cease to be truly of as great value, as when it is in the hands of a great jeweller : so Latin prayers in the mouths of the vulgar, be as precious in the sight of God (when they be said with equal devotion), as when they are in the mouths of great scholars."
* Vid. Lightfoot, vol. 2. p. 225.
+ P. 162.
Very pretty indeed ; but one misfortune is, that this precious jewel is stolen goods, filched word for word from Antoninus.t And then there is another worse than this ; that when all is done, it is not worth stealing : for as I take. it, there is a great deal of difference between a good prayer and a precious jewel. A jewel is never to be rendered more or less precious to another, by any act of my mind ; nor will my desire, or hope, or love, raise the price of it; and whether it be in my hand, or mouth, or pocket, its value is the same. But surely it is not thus with a prayer, the intrinsic value whereof principally depends upon the devotional acts of the mind. There is no doubt, but the same prayer is much better, in God's esteem, when it is inspired with our faith and hope, desire and love, than when it is only written in a book, or read or heard with a cold indifferency; and I cannot but think, that a good prayer is much more acceptable to God, in a devout man's mouth, than in his pocket, provided he understands it, attends to it, and joins his affections with it ; without which, it is every whit as acceptable in his pocket as in his mouth: for a form of prayer, while it hath none of those devotional acts of the mind joined to it, is only the mere carcase of a prayer, without the soul that animates and enlivens it; and he who recites it without exerting with it any mental act of devotion, doth say a prayer indeed, but he doth by no means pray. But how can a man exert these devotional acts
* P. 163.
+ Sum, Part 3. Tit. 23.