For The Truth

Thursday, October 04, 2012

William Gurnall on Imprecatory Prayers

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How can Christian’s, who are called to “pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44), pray like their forefathers such as in the Psalms, “O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God!” (Ps. 83:1) and such as in the ancient church, “Lord, look upon their threats” (Acts 4:29)?
Previously, I gave William Ames’ answer. From another of the Puritan party, William Gurnall, comes the following helpful directions.
  1. Take heed thou dost not make thy private particular enemies the object of thy imprecation. We have no warrant, when any wrong us, presently to go and call for fire from heaven upon them.
  2. When thou prayest against the enemies of God and his church, direct thy prayers rather against their plots than person.
  3. When praying against the persons of those that are open enemies to God and his church, it is safest to pray indefinitely and in general: ‘Let them all be confounded…that hate Zion,’ Ps. 129:5; because we know not who of them are implacable, and who not, and therefore cannot pray absolutely and peremptorily against particular persons.
  4. In praying against the implacable enemies of God and his church, the glory of God should be principally aimed at, and vengeance on them in order to that.
William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour (1864; repr., Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 2002), 2:444–448.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Burns on Family Worship in Scotland in The Cotter's Saturday Night

The cheerfu' supper done, wi' serious face,
They, round the ingle, form a circle wide;
The sire turns o'er, with patriarchal grace,
The big ha'bible, ance his father's pride:
His bonnet rev'rently is laid aside,
His lyart haffets wearing thin and bare;
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
He wales a portion with judicious care;
And "Let us worship God!" he says with solemn air.

They chant their artless notes in simple guise,
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim;
Perhaps Dundee's wild-warbling measures rise;
Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name;
Or noble Elgin beets the heaven-ward flame;
The sweetest far of Scotia's holy lays:
Compar'd with these, Italian trills are tame;
The tickl'd ears no heart-felt raptures raise;
Nae unison hae they with our Creator's praise.

The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
How Abram was the friend of God on high;
Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage
With Amalek's ungracious progeny;
Or how the royal bard did groaning lie
Beneath the stroke of Heaven's avenging ire;
Or Job's pathetic plaint, and wailing cry;
Or rapt Isaiah's wild, seraphic fire;
Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre. 

Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme,
How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed;
How He, who bore in Heaven the second name,
Had not on earth whereon to lay His head:
How His first followers and servants sped;
The precepts sage they wrote to many a land:
How he, who lone in Patmos banished,
Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand,
And heard great Bab'lon's doom pronounc'd by Heaven's command. 

Then, kneeling down to Heaven's Eternal King,
The saint, the father, and the husband prays:
Hope "springs exulting on triumphant wing,"^1
That thus they all shall meet in future days,
There, ever bask in uncreated rays,
No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,
Together hymning their Creator's praise,
In such society, yet still more dear;
While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere.

Compar'd with this, how poor Religion's pride,
In all the pomp of method, and of art;
When men display to congregations wide

Devotion's ev'ry grace, except the heart!
The Power, incens'd, the pageant will desert,
The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole;
But haply, in some cottage far apart,
May hear, well-pleas'd, the language of the soul;
And in His Book of Life the inmates poor enroll. 

Robert Burns