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that such Discompos’d or Imperfect Devo.. tion, as cou'd be without Sin, may be safely apply'd to our Saviour, in respect to his Humane Nature; but in respect of us, it is certain that such Trouble or Distraction as our Blessed Saviour underwent, at that time, wou'd necessarily make our Devotion more Imperfect; tho' not necessarily less
prevalent with God, when we offer unto · Him the best service we can, in the Anguish
of our Spirits.
is to be said also of the Tone of our Voice ' in Prayer. The Vetement Earnestness of
this, is not always a sign of the Intentness of our Thoughts,or Devotion of our Minds; but rather the contrary. A Modest, even fram’d Voice, with a chearful Accent, or Modulation of our Words, is the natural
Expression of a Devout Spirit; much less ( can I look upon that Voice to have any part
in Devotion, which runs all in one Tone (of a Melancholy Dejectedness. (I will not call it Whining, because prophane Men who
are ready to Scoff at all Religion, have made . this word too light:) But 'tis certain, the
thoughts of the praying Person, may be at the other end of the World, consistently enough, with such a Tone; so little neces.. sary connexion is there between it and true • Devotion. The Mind of such a Person
perhaps has been Devout, and he is Melancholy that he is not so still ; but unwilling to be at pains enough to make himself so.
* If there be any that take up such a Tone,
purely out of Hypocrisie, I thou'd be loath
to pass so hard a Censure upon them, as the ' Poet does ; unless they manifestly discover,
great Contrariety to their Devotions, in " their Lives and Practices.
Quisquis ficto fieb Damone prodit,
That great Infirmity of Humane Nature, with which the best Men are frequently disturb’d, Unattention and Wandring Thoughts in Prayer, Mr. Bonnel had very well consider'd; he himself not being intirely free from it. It is what he often complains of, with great Parfion, and for which he prescribes the properest Remedies. His Meditations upon Wandring Thoughts in Prayer, are too many to be here inserted; yet a few of them I can't pass over. They shew a Mind so deeply affected with the sense of its Imperfections; fo defirous to have its Burdens remov'd; yet so patient and fubmissive under them; that they must needs make. due Impressions on every Devout Reader.
His Come Lord (says he in one place) it is but a plaints af be. few Hours ago, that I was Triumphing in ing diffiarb'di ? thy Favour ; and in the Blesled Liberty wités wen
thou gavest me, of attending upon Thee. dring tZoong hits " What have I done fince, to make my self in Praset;
with the Reo so Miserable, and lose all this Privilege ; medies he ' that from being attentive to a whole Prayer,
fcribes for I can now scarce attend to a few Sentences that Impirmia
Surely watching unto Prayer, consists in care ' fully avoiding all those things, that have
too strong an Influence on our Minds and ' Affe&tions; and are apt too forcibly, to
take up and engage our Thoughts. But there is no Watching against Bodily Disorders which God thinks fit to send upon us, (O that they may be all in mercy!) and which make every Triffe harass our thoughts, as much as an Important Affair.
Pity me, O God of all Pity, who puttest Pity into the Hearts of Men, towards oně another; and who yet are influenc'd, but by slender Drops of thy overflowing Ocean of Goodness. Fain wou'd my Heart come
before Thee; fain wou'd my Thoughts af<cend to Thee, and stay themselves upon (Thee : But like Feathers thrown up into « the Air, a cross Wind of Earthly Diftracti
ons comes, and hurries them away, and • scatters them over all the Earth. If there 'is Pain in Life, surely it is, to desire to serve
Thee, and not to be able. But the desire ' shall certainly prevail at last, for Thou arë ' in the Delire, but the Inability is not from « Thee.
Again, in another place he thus'expresses himself.
• It seems an intolerable Burden to me, to be thus distracted in my Devotions by worldly things, and makes me impatient, till I may get more out of the way of them, by changing my Employment, and Station in the World. Yet the thought
* of this it felf is Dampt, when I consider
these two things : First, that Bodily Indispositions, may make my Head as unfit to attend on Holy things, in the midst of the greatest Leisure, and most sacred Employment, as Wordly Business does now; and that even then, Charity will oblige me to descend to the worldly matters of my Friends : Orphans, Widows, and Distress'd Persons must be Aflifted and Reliev'd. Secondly, What shall become of the rest of Mankind ? of my Christian Brethren, who remain under the same Circumstances, in which I am now; and from which they can't get free, though perhaps I may? Must not they go to Heaven, nor have Comfort on Earth, in the worship and service of God? God forbid! Why then shoưd noć I be content to bear my Burden in Life, as as well as they; and struggle with Diffi
culties in common with them ?. This is ( not the place of our Enjoyment, but of our
Warfare; therefore I will humbly prepare my self to the Combat, Ó my God: And
when thou seest me ready to go on to fight, ' in obedience to thy pleasure; thou wilt or
der for me, what thou koowest for the . Good and Comfort of my Soul.
Thus you see that all Mr. Bonnell's Advances in the Divine Life, did not raise him above the Infirmities of Humanity, and the Incumbírances of Flesh and Blood. And this is mate ter of great Peace to the Pious, but weak Chriftian; who labours under the same DifficulE
ties, and is apt to be too much Dejected when Alfaulted by Vain, and Worldly Thoughts in Prayer. For these are Tryals, which will exercise the Faith and Patience of the greatest Favourites of God; and from which only Heaven will entirely set us free. But then if we would have Peace of Mind under thefe disturbances, we must not only Pray against them, with Mr. Bonnell's Zeal, but endeavour as he did, to prevent or remove them. And some of the Remedies,which he Prescribes for this Disease, are these that follow.
• The happiest means of gaining Recollection, when we Pray, is to have nothing to do, but to Pray. It is so hard to compose our Thoughts, which are apt to fly after every Trifle; and to find innumerable things to take them off from their
Duty ; that we must go to work by Art, Cand deal with them as we do with irratio
nal Creatures; some of which (as Hawks and Horses) we Hood-wink, when we wou'd keep them intent on particular matters. We must shut all other Businesses out
from our Minds, at that time. We must ' neither have any thing to do our selves, nor
expose our selves to be disturb’d by Others. "We must not only enter into our Closets,
but shut our Doors about us. The great « Art to attain this Happineis lies in saying
I have nothing to do this half hour, but to wait on my God. For if we determine our selves no time, but are in haste to do something elfe; as soon as we have done our Prayers,