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kening reaches those that are in the highest stations, and till whole nations be awakened, and there be at length an accession of many of the chief nations of the world to the church of God. Thus after the inhabitants of many cities of Israel, or of God's professing people, have taken up and pursued a joint resolution to go and pray before the Lord, and seek the Lord of hosts, others shall be drawn to worship and serve him with them; till at length many people and strong nations shall join themselves to them ; and there shall, in process of time, be a vast accession to the church, so that it shall be ten times as large as it was before ; yea, at length all nations shall be converted unto God. Thus (Zech. viii. 23.) “ ten men shall take hold, out of all languages of the nations, of the skirt of him that is a Jew," (in the sense of the apostle, Rom. ii. 28, 29.) “ saying, We will go with you; for we have heard, that God is with you." And thus shall be fulfilled, Psal. lxv. 2. “O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.”
4. We may observe the mode of their union in this duty. It is a visible union, an union by explicit agreement, a joint resolution declared by one to another, being first proposed by some and readily and expressly followed by others. The inhabitants of one city shall apply themselves to the inhabitants of another, saying, let us go, &c. Those to whom the motion is made shall comply with it, the proposal shall take with many, it shall be a prevailing spreading thing; one shall follow another's example, one and another shall say, I will go also. Some suppose that those words, I will go also, are to be taken as the words of him that makes the proposal ; as much as to say, I do not propose that to you which I am not willing to do myself
. I desire you to go, and am ready to go with you. But this is to suppose no more to be expressed in these latter words than was expressed before in the proposal itself; for these words, let us go, signify as much. It seems to me much more natural to understand these latter words as importing the consent of those to whom the proposal is made, or the reply of one and another that falls in with it. This is much more agreeable to the plain design of the text, which is to represent the concurrence of great numbers in this affair ; and more agreeable to the representation made in the next verse, of one following another, many taking hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew.
And though if the words be thus understood we must suppose an ellipsis in the text, something understood that is not expressed, as if it had been said, those of other cities shall say, I will go also ; yet this is not difficult to be supposed, for such ellipses are very common in scripture. We have one exactly parallel with it in Jer. iii. 22. “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings; behold we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God," i. e. the backsliding children shall
say, " Behold we come unto thee,” &c. And in Cant. iv. 16. and v. l. “Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits. I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse," j. e. her beloved shall say, “ I am come into my garden.” We have the like throughout that song. So Psal. I. 6, 7. “ The heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God is Judge himself, hear, O my people, and I will speak,” i. e. the Judge shall say, “ hear, O my people,” &c. So Psal. Ixxxii. 1,2.The psalms and prophets abound with such figures of speech.
5. We may observe the manner of prayer agreed on, or the manner in which they agree to engage in and perform the duty. Let us go SPEEDİLY to pray; or, as it is in the margin, Let us go continually. The words literally translated are, Let us go in going. Such an ingemination, or doubling of words, is very common in the Hebrew language when it is intended that a thing shall be very strongly expressed.
It generally implies the superlative degree of a thing; as the holy of holies signifies the most holy. But it commonly denotes, not only the utmost degree of a thing, but also the utmost certainty; as when God said to Abraham "in multiplying I will multiply thy seed,” (Gen. xxii
. 17.) it implies both that God would certainly multiply his seed, and also multiply it exceedingly. So when God said to Adam, “In the day that thou eatest thereof, in dying thou shalt die” (as the words are in the original,) it implies both that he should surely die, and also that he should die most terribly, should utterly perish, and be destroyed to the utmost degree.
In short, as this ingemination of words in the Hebrew generally denotes the strength of expression, so it is used to signify almost all those things that are wont to be signified by the various forms of strong speech in other languages. It sig. nifies not only the utmost degree of a thing; and its great certainty ; but also the peremptoriness and terribleness of a threatening, the greatness and positiveness of a promise, the strictness of a command, and the earnestness of a request. When God says to Adam, Dying thou shalt die, it is equivalent to such strong expressions in English, as, Thou shalt die surely or indeed; or, Thou shalt die with a witness. So when it is said in the text, “Let us go in going, and pray before the Lord,” the strength of the expression represents the earnestness of those that make the proposal, their great engagedness in the affair. And with respect to the duty proposed, it may be understood to signify that they should be speedy, fervent, and constant in it; or, in one word, that it should be thoroughly performed.
6. We may learn from the tenor of this prophecy, toge. ther with the context, that this union in such prayer is foretold
as a becoming and happy thing, what would be acceptable to God and attended with glorious success.
From the whole we may infer, that it is a very suitable thing and well-pleasing to God, for many people in different parts of the world, by express agreement, to come into a visible union, in extraordinary, speedy, fervent, and constant prayer, for those great effusions of the Holy Spirit which shall bring on that advancement of Christ's church and kingdom, that God has so often promised shall be in the latter ages of the world. And so from hence I would infer the duty of God's people, with regard to the Memorial lately sent over into America from Scotland, by a number of ministers there, proposing a method for such an union as has been spoken of, in extraordinary prayer for this great mercy.
And it being the special design of this discourse to persuade such as are friends to the interests of Christ's kingdom, to a compliance with the proposal and request made in that Memorial, I shall, First, give a short historical account of the affair to which it relates, from letters, papers and pamphlets, that have come over from Scotland. Secondly, I shall annex the memorial itself. And then I shall offer some arguments and motives, tending to induce the friends of religion to fall in with what is proposed; and lastly, make answer to some objections that may possibly be made against it.
An historical Account of the Concert to which the Memorial
In October, A.D. 1744, a number of ministers in Scotland, taking into consideration the state of God's church and of the world of mankind, judged that the providence of God, at such a day, did loudly call upon such as were concerned for the welfare of Zion, to united extraordinary applications to the God of all grace, suitably acknowledging him as the fountain of all the spiritual benefits and blessings of his church, and earnestly praying to him, that he would appear in his glory and favour Zion, and manifest his compassion to the world of mankind by an abundant effusion of his Holy Spirit on all the churches, and the whole habitable earth, to revive true religion in all parts of Christendom, and to deliver all nations from their great and manifold spiritual calamities and miseries, and bless them with the unspeakable benefits of the kingdom of our glorious Redeemer, and fill the whole earth with his glory. Consulting one another on the subject, they looked upon themselves, for their own part, obliged to engage in this duty; and, as far as in them lay, to persuade others to the same: and to endeavour to find out and fix on some method that should most effectually tend to promote and uphold such extraordinary application to heaven among God's people.
After seeking to God by prayer for direction, they determined on the following inethod as what they would conform to in their own practice, and propose to be practised by others, for the two years next following, viz. To set apart some time on Saturday evening and Sabbath morning, every week, for the purpose aforesaid, as other duties would allow to every one respectively; and more solemnly the first Tuesday of each quarter, (beginning with the first Tuesday of November, then next ensuing) either the whole day or part of the day, as persons find themselves disposed or think their circumstances will allow the time to be spent either in private praying societies, or in public meetings, or alone in secret, as shall be found most practicable or judged most convenient, by such as are willing in some way or other to join in this affair. Not that any should make promises, or be.looked upon as under strict bonds in any respect, constantly and without fail to observe every one of these days, whatever their circumstances should be, or however other duties and necessary affairs might interfere ; or that persons should look upon themselves bound with regard to these days in any wise as though the time were holy, or the setting of them apart for religious purposes were established by sacred authority. But yet, as a proper guard against negligence and unsteadiness, and a prudent preservative from yielding to a disposition—to which persons might be liable through the prevalence of indolence and listlessness-to excuse themselves on trivial occasions, it was proposed that those who united in this affair should resolve with themselves, that if, by urgent business or otherwise, they were hindered from joining with others on the very day agreed on, yet they would not wholly neglect bearing their part in the duty proposed, but would take the first convenient day following for that purpose.
The reason why Saturday evening and Lord's day morning were judged most convenient for the weekly seasons, was that these times being so near the time of dispensing gospel ordinances through the christian world, which are the great means in the use of which God is wont to grant his Spirit to mankind, and the principal means that the Spirit of God makes use of to carry on his work of grace, it may be well supposed that the minds of christians in general will at these seasons be especially disengaged from secular affairs, and disposed to pious meditations and the duties of devotion, and more naturally led to seek the communications of the Holy Spirit and
success of the means of grace. And as to the the quarterly times, it was thought helpful to memory that they should be on one or other of the first days of each quarter : Tuesday was preferred to Monday, because in some places people might have public prayers and a sermon on the stated day, which might not be so convenient on Monday as on some day at a greater distance from the Sabbath.
It was reckoned a chief use of such an agreement and method as this, that it would be a good expedient for maintaining and keeping up, amongst the people of God, the great christian duty of prayerfulness for the coming of Christ's kingdom. Those things to which we are too little inclined, through sloth, carnality, or a fulness of our own worldly and private concerns and which are to be attended to at some seasons or other, but have no special seasons stated for them, are apt to be forgotten, or put off from time to time, and as it were adjourned without a day. But when we fix on certain seasons which we resolve, unless extraordinarily hindered, to devote to the duty, it tends to prevent forgetfulness and a settled negligence of it. The certain returns of the season will naturally refresh the memory;
will tend to put us in mind of the precept of Christ, and the obligations that lie on all his followers, to abound in such a duty, and renewedly engage us to the consideration of the importance, necessity and unspeakable value of the mercy sought; and so, by frequent renovation, to keep alive the consideration and sense of these things at all times.
Thus the first promoters of this agreement judged, that it would be subservient to more abundant prayerfulness for effusions of the holy spirit at all times through the year, both in secret and social worship; particularly as to this last, in congregations, families, and other praying societies. And they also judged, that such an agreed union would tend to animate and encourage God's people in the duty proposed ; and that particular persons and societies, knowing that great multitudes of their fellow christians, in so many distant places, were at the same time (as a token of the union of their hearts with them in this affair) by agreement engaged in the same holy exercise, would naturally be enlivened in the duty by such a consideration,
It was not thought best to propose, at first, a longer time for the continuance of this precise method than two years ; it being considered that it is not possible, before any trial, so well to judge of the expedience of a particular method, and certain circumstances of managing such an affair, as after some time of experience. And it was not known but that after long consideration, and some trial, it might be thought best to alter some circumstances; or whether others that had not yet been con