John Wilkins.

A Discourse concerning the gift of prayer : shewing what it is, wherein it consists, and how far it is attainable by industry ; with divers useful and proper directions to that purpose, both in respect of matter, method, expression online

. (page 1 of 32)
Online LibraryJohn WilkinsA Discourse concerning the gift of prayer : shewing what it is, wherein it consists, and how far it is attainable by industry ; with divers useful and proper directions to that purpose, both in respect of matter, method, expression → online text (page 1 of 32)
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..^ 1

?^ f^ ^

Stom t^e feifirari^ of

(profeBBor ^atnuef (gXiffer

in QJtemori? of

3ubge ^amuef (gtiffer QBrecfeinribge

^re0enteb 6l?

^antuef (tttiffer QBrecfeinrtbge Eong

to f ^e fcifirarg of

(Princeton C^eofogicaf ^eminarg




Concerning the

Gift of PRAYER,


What it is, wherein it Confifts^, and how far

it is Attainable by Induftry.


Divers Ufeful and Proper Diredions to that

purpofe, both inrefped of Matter, Method,

Expreffion. y


Late Lord Bifliop of Chefier.

Whereunto is addded,




Concerning the

Gift of Preaching,

By the fame Author.

The Eighth Edition corrected^ md much Enlarged.


Printed for J. Lawrence^ at the j4ngel in the
Voultrey ; and J. and J, Churchil, at the Black-
Swan in Pater-Nofier-Ro'ir. 1704-




IT may jujlly feem a Wonder^ that a^
mong the yaji Multitude of Sooksy
wherewith the World doth abound ^
there Jhould he fo little written of this
Subject here infifted upon^ being of fuch
great Confeqtience^ and general Concern^

There is fcarce any kind of Skill or
Ability^ which may he Taught and Learnt ^
but it hath been reduced to an Art, and
laid down according to fome ^les -and
Method^ for the 7nore factl and full com'-
frehenfion of it.

Hoip copious are the Treatifes concern^
tng Human Oratory } And d'lVers ha^e
written particularly of the Gift of Preach-
ing, hejides the many Examples of it in

A z Ho*


Homilies or tSermons. Jnd fo like-'
"^ mfe ^ for the ''^^dds or Patterns of
Devotion, tphich are Very ?iumerous^ aU
mofl in all Languages. ^ut for the
Gift of Prayer, or the ^les whereby a
Man may be direEled to an ability of ex^
freJJIng or pouring out his Soul in this
Duty 3 there is (for ought I can find )
hut little ivritten of it in any Language^
though it be of fuch general ufe for all
JQnds and Trofeffions of Men • and though
the Gift be as jnuch better than the Pat-
tern as the Receipt is better than the

I am yery fenftble^ that the performance

of this Duty in a Spiritual Manner,

is from Infujton from aboVe^ and does

not fall under the (i{ules of Art 5 hut

yet there are fome fpecial advantages in

the perforjnance of it^ both for the fur^

nipnug of the Judgment, and the exci-^

ttng of the Affections • which a Man may

he fupplied imth by Study and ^remedi^

tation-j and the enquiry after thefey is the

proper SubjeH of this Vijcourfe.


To the READER,

Eyery oj^ie mil be ready to ackjiowledge
it for an excellent Ahlltty^ when a Man
can readily fuit his Dejtres unto federal
Emergencies^ and upon any occajlon pray
without Sook^ 3 hut many look^ upon it as he^
ing extream difficulty and ?iot for an ordi'-
tiary ^erfon to attain. That ivhich is here
endeavoured , is to make it plain and

There are three fpecial hindrances which
do indtfpofe Men for this ferVtce 3 want of
Matter and Order, and Words, for the
fupply of tvhich^ here is propofed a copious
Field 0/ Matter, a regular Frame for Me-
thod, and Scripture phrafe for Ex^tcffioUy
which no Man need he aJJyajned to imitate or

The IQtowledge and Coyifideration of theft
Things^ muft needs be Very ufeful for all
callings of Men^ (eVery one being concerned
to perform the Duty^ mid conjequently to
labour after the Gik^ ) Efpecially for fuch
whofe buftnefs it is^ after a 7nore peculiar
manner to give themfelves unto Prayer,
and the Miniftry of the Word. And a^


To the READER.

mongft thefe^ chiefly for fuch yomiger^ tin-
expencriced Men who have not their
Senfes exercifed to difcern what is proper
and fltting^ 3 and therefore when they are put
upon this Service^ may he apt by their igno"
rance in this ktnd^ to proftitute the Solemn
nity of this T>uty.

This Difcourfe was at firfl: intended on^
ly for private life and DireHion 3 it was
for the fubfance of it drawn up diVers Years
Jince^ as tt is now reprefented^ before I
Iqieiv fo much as any one Author tvho had
formerly atternpted this Subject : Smce that^
I haVe met jvith^ and perufed
the profitable Labours of fome
others in this kjnd^ ^ Ml El-
nath. Parre, 'j* Mr. Clark ,
^" Scultetiis : I haVe Itketvife
confulted fuch other Treatijes as
divina. pvef j/^ f^^jji piQJ} nearly to border

genfis de O- upon tt I Not neglecwig the

ratione. Al-

* Abba Fa-

t Holy In-

* De Preca-
tionc/ Guil.

fcr'fus I{odc-
yicus Exerc.
Trad. de

Vifcourfcs of thoje ivho are
filled Magiilri rerum Spiri-
tualiiim, concerning the ^les
they prefer the for Mental Trayer.

I haVe


I have formerly ^uhlijhed fome other
preparations of a like nature^ upon ano^
ther SuhjeB^ by which I am encouraged tin"
to jome hope that this Itkewife may he ac-





Concerning the

Gift of Prayer.

C H A P. I.

What thk Gift is^ why afcrihed to the Spirit ^ the
Ingredients required to it.

TH E true happlnels of every Chriftian, does
properly confift in his fpiritual communion
with God.
This communion is chiefly exercifcd in thofe two
ads of Religion,

J Prayer,

I Hearing of thQ Word.
Praying may be confidered under a two-fold no-*

tion, either as a < q-^!^^

It is of very great concernment to every man, to
be rightly acquainted with it in both thele refpeds :
How it muft be ferformed as a Duty ; and how it may
be attained as a Gift,

I am at this time to difcourfe of it only in this latter
fenfe : The Gift of Prayer may be thus defcribcd.

A It

2 A Dijcourfe concerning Chap. I,

It is fuch a readinefs and faculty, proceeding from
the Spirit of God, whereby a man is enabled upon all
occafions in a fitting manner to exprefs and to en-
large the defires of his heart in this duty.

Unto the attaining of this Gift in its true latitude and
fulnefs, there are three forts of Ingredients required.

1. Something to be infujed by the Spirit of God,
who muft fandifie and fpiritualize the Judgments and
Affedions, before we can either apprehend, or de-
fire any thing as we fliould.

2. Some natural tndowvntnts and abilities difpoflng
us for this Gift, as readinefs of Apprehenfion, Copi-
oufnefs of Fancy ,Tendernefs of Affed:ion,Confidence,
and Volubility of Speech, &c, which are very great
advantages to this purpofe,being naturally much more
eminent in fome than in others.

;. Something to be acquired or gotten by our own
induftry. Namely, fuch a particular and diftind ap-
prehenfion both of our fins and wants, and the mer-
cies beftowed upon us, that we may be able to ex-
prefs the thoughts and difpofitions of our minds con-
cerning them, in fuch a decent form as may excite
both in our felves and others, futablc affedions.

The firft of thefe is by fome fliled the Sprit of
Prayer ; the two latter the Gift of Prayer : the two firft
of thefe do not fall under the Rules of Art, being not
to be taught or learnt ,• and therefore to thefe, our en-
deavours cannot of themfelves contribute , the one
being a fpecial Grace,the other a common Gift of the
Spirit, grounded upon innate propenfity of temper or
conftitution : and fo 'tis the third chiefly that con-
cerns our prefent enquiry.

Each of thefe may be feparated from one another.

There may be true Grace in the heart where there is

but a very fmall meafure either of this natural or ac^

quired ability. And on the other fide, a Man

Pf (58. i8. may have the Gift of Prayer^ who has not


Chap. L the Gift (?/ P r a y e r.

the Sftrlt of Prayer ; that is, there may be a great

degree of thefe common gifts in fuch as are altoge^

ther eftranged from the life of grace. 'Tis probable,

that Judas was eminent for thefe^ and therefore was

chofen an Apoftle ; and fo thole others,

who at the laft day fhall plead for them- Mat.7.22;

felves, Lcrd, have we not f reached in thy Name^

and cafi out Devils ? &c. They did all this in his Name ;

that is, they were by him both outwardly called and

gifted for thefe fervices.

Such as have only the fecond of thefe, may fome-
times exceed thofe that have the third ,• whence it
comes to pafs, that Men of very ordinary parts, in
refped of any acquired abilities, may be more ready
and copious in this fervice, than thofe who in refped
of other knowledge, are much beyond them.

But then only is this Gift compleat, when there is a
joint concurrence of all thefe three Ingredients,when
the heart is fandified, and the natural abilities im-
proved by induftry.

That is a very oppofite Text to this purpofe, and
doth treat particularly concerning this Subjed Prayer,
under the notion of a Gift, Rom, 8. 26. The Spirit h\lf^
eth our infirmities ^ for we know not what we jhould fray
for as we ought ; but the Spirit it felf tnaketh interccflonfor
us with groanings which ca^mot be uttered.

The chief Scope of that place may be comprifed in
thefe three Propofitions.

I. That of our felves we are very ignorant and im-
potent in this bufmefs of Prayer, having many infir-
mities, not knowing what to pray for as we ought.
Kot but that a meet natural msn,upon the fenfe of any
prefent want or danger, may apply himfelf unto this
duty for remedy fas the Mariners in Jonah) this being
a common inftind of nature. But to perform it accep-
tably ^ either for the matter ^ what we (hould pi-ay form-
er the manner^ as we ought ^ this is a bufmefs of much

A 2 ^ greater

4 ^i Dijcourle concerning Chap. !•

greater difficulty ^ becaufe it is required to be according
to the will of God., ver.27. And the natural man
I Lor. 2. undtrftunds ?wt the things ofGody netther can he
Tit I 16 ^^^'^^ them J becaufe they are Jfirltually difcerned.
But ss d'ijchedicnty and unto t'uery good work re-
Eph.4.18. frthiite ctVo'^//^©-, "Void of Judgment yhcing alie-
nated fr^m the life of Cody through the hlindnefs
that is in him.

There is naturally in every man both an impotency
of Judgment^ an enmity and averfnefs of defire to-
wards all holy duties in general^ and parti-
Job 37. I. cular to this of Prayer : li'e canitot order our
fpeech to God by reajm of darkmfs^ faith Elihu ^
and therefore the Difciples upon their firll conver-
fion^being fenfible of their own difability in this kind^
they made their addrelTes to our Saviour,
Luk.ii.r. j.}^2t he might teach them how to pray.

2. The Spirit of God mufi: be our guide and affi-
ftance in this duty : He muft help cur infirmides, and
make interceffion for us. Not that the Holy Ghoft is
our Mediator of Jnterceffion^ that is properly the
Office of the Son, who is therefore IHled
^ J? ^^■^' our Advocate. There h one Mediator betwixt

he only that in refped of his Merits and Sufferings,
does make interceffion for us, Rom. 8. 34. But now,
becaufe the Spirit of God does excite our hearts to
Prayer^ and infufe into us holy defires, ftirring us up,
and intruding us in this duty ,♦ therefore is he faid to
intercede for us. So Gal. 4. 6. there the Spirit is faid

to cry Jbba Father : God hath fcnt the Spirit
Rom. 8. of h^s Son into your hearts y crying Abha Father ^

and yet, ^ucrf. 1 5-. of that fore-cited place,'tis
faid. We ha've received the Jpirit of Adoption , -whereby we
cry Abba Father. In which places being compared, the
Spirit is faid to cry Abba Father^ becaufe it makes us
to do fo : So he is faid to pray for us, becaufe he does
inform and quicken us to pray for our felves. Tis

Chap. I. the Gift ^/Prayer. 5

'Tis one of his peculiar Titles, to be failed tho. Sprit
ofSupplicatuny becaufe of that fpecial influ-
ence whii:h he hath in the beftowing of this Zac.12.10
Gift. He muft cpm our lij>Sy btfore our mouths pr
can [Ijew forth his praife.

Not that the other Perfons of the Trinity are exclu-
ded from a joint concurrence in this work : Opera Tri-
?iitatis ad extra junt indi-vifa ; All the ad:ions of the blef-
fed Trinity, (excepting only thofe that are of intrin-
fecal relation) being the undivided works of
all the Three. But now becaufe our grofs ^^- '^^!^-
underftandings are not able to conceive of /^^^ ^^,
this Trinity without fome diftindion of
their Office's and Operations in reference to us,- there-
fore does the Scripture condefcend fo far to our capa-
cities, as to fpeak of thefe common works by way of
Appropriation. Thus Tower and Creation is commonly
afcribed to the Father* Wifdcm and Redemption to the
Son ; Goodnefs and all hSihitii^X Graces or Gifts ^ to the

Thefe general Operations of the Spirit are ufually
diftinguijhed into two forts ; ^ •»?!

Kc6e>(^. 1 Grace.



lLclejL(Tfj^- y Gift.

Or in the common expreffion of the Schools there
is, 1. Gratia gratum faciens^ which refers to thofe Gifts
of SanBification that do more efpecially concern our
own Happinefs. 2. There is gratia gratis ddta^ which
concerns Gifts of Edification , whereby w^e. are made
ufeful to others, according to our feveral ftations.

Of the firftkind are all thofe fpiritual Graces,Faith3
Repentance,PIumility, &c. infufed into us in our Re-

Unto the other are reducible all KwA^Oi fecondary
Endowments OY Abilities whatfoever, that belong to
the reafonaMe Soul (excepting only thoic firfi facul-

A 3 ties

6 A Dffcourfe concerning Chap. I.

Dr. Sm- ties that flow immediately a frindfUs Jj^eciei^
derfin,ih. ^^j are in all men alike) : I fay^ all kind of
Abilities or good Habits^are reducible under this head^
Whether or no they are by extraordinary and i?nme-
diate inft^fion ^ as were thofe Gifts in the Primitive
Times, of Tongues, Miracles, Healing^e^'r. lOr.iz.

Or whether they are natural Abilities, arifing from
Mens feveral Tempers and Difpofitions ,• as ftrength
of Judgment, quicknefs of Fancy, warmnefs of Affe-
dion, readinefs of Speech,

Or elfe, whether they are mtelUBual Habits, which
are acquired and perfected by Education, Induftry,
Experience ; as when Men become skilful in any par-
ticular Art or Profeffion. That skill of Bez.aliel and
Aholiahy for thofe curious artificial Works of the Ta-
bernacle, to work in Gold, and Silver, and Brafs, and
cutting of Stones, and carving of Wood, was from the
Sfirit ofGoJy Exod. 25-. 31. The fecular Policy of ^-
chito-phely the natural Wifdom oi Solomon^ the

Online LibraryJohn WilkinsA Discourse concerning the gift of prayer : shewing what it is, wherein it consists, and how far it is attainable by industry ; with divers useful and proper directions to that purpose, both in respect of matter, method, expression → online text (page 1 of 32)