Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

adopted this

very

method of sacrificature, we may fairly conclude that he himself had been the author of that method, and consequently that those who, with me, ascribe the origin of divine worship to revelation solely, are in the right.

I am ready to confess, that in the confined view in which divine worship is, for the most part, beheld, as a grateful acknowledgement of our dependence, for preservation and protection, on Almighty God, the votaries of natural religion have something like a pretext for their creed; since, in this confined acceptation,' worshipmay at first sight, seem ‘NATURAL. Upon a more minute examination, however, difficulties will arise which have not been provided against. It will be asked, to what place were the material acknowledgements of Cain and Abel brought ? To whom were they, when brought, delivered ? To Jehovah in person ? or to any one deputed by him to receive them ? All these circumstantials of instituted worship we find Jehovah ordaining in his subsequent establishment; and do therefore judge, that they were ordained by him, at the same tiine that he directed the · firstJings of Abel's flock’to be brought unto him.

But on the confined footing of moral origin, the case of worship is neither fully nor fairly stated, and as the case stands between God and man. On this footing, man is considered as a rational creature, I own, but not as a fallen creature.

Sin is ex2 F 2

cluded, cluded, and therefore is there no aspect towards atonement. Here it is that the glaring defect becomes so very apparent; here it is that disrespect to the Christian scheme of salvation becomes so obvious; insomuch that by him who knows, that * without shedding of blood there is no remission', there can no truce be allowed with natural religion; for, · What communion bath light with darkness? what concord hath Christ with Belial ? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel ?'

There is another difference of sentiment, on this subject, among those who call themselves christians, which it becomes me to notice, for this reason, that it has led to more lamentable consequences, and has been productive of confusion and every evil work.

" It respects the mode of public worship, how it ought to be performed-by an established form, or without such form; in other words, by a precomposed liturgy, or by the uncomposed and extemporaneous effusions of the moment. The united episcopal churches of England, Ireland, and Scotland, you know, maintain and practise the precomposed liturgical mode of divine worship; while the other mode is maintained and practised by the Scottish Establishment, and by that legion of schismatics, which exist in these realms, and which are classed under the general appellation of Dissenters. By this description of men a profusion of the most contemptu

OUS

1 Heb. xi. 22.

ous abuse has been thrown out against our eucharistical liturgy in particular, as 'a jumble of po‘pery,' as an ill-mumbled mass;' and against liturgies in general, as • stinting the spirit of God, ' as . burying spiritual gifts,’• as a cloak for ignorance • and indolence,' and what not. Here we are presented with abundance of vulgar raillery, but not with one atom of sound and impartial reason. To such railing I answer nothing ; to the reasons which may have excited it, my answer shall be as follows :

I readily admit, that if the Object whom both parties are eager to address, and trom whom they expect a portion of those gifts and graces, for which their addresses are put up, were an object clothed with like passions and propensities with ourselves — án object susceptible of the emotions and influences incident to human nature, (say in the highest state of refinement), what are thought to be extemporaneous effusions would have much the advantage over every liturgical and precomposed form of prayer; or, if christian worship had nothing more in view than to inflame the passions, and furnish gratification to itching ears,' by the enticing words • of man's wisdom, by fluency of speech, and all the flights of ingenious oratory', the arbitrary free

dom

1 The editor cannot positively say, that the Club is now in existence, but he knows that the time was, when there did exist in a Scotch Uni

versity, versity, not a hundred miles from the mouth of the Tay, a praying club, to which even ladies were admitted, to have their ears regaled with the flow of soul, without the feast of reason.

dom of the conventicle is assuredly preferable, for these

purposes, to the duly regulated 6 form of sound words' which the church has adopted. But I would have it ever kept stedfastly in mind, that it is God, not MAN, to whom christian worship, in the three constituent parts of it, confession, supplication, and praise, is due, and for whose ears it is wholly intended; in which case it requires no fluency of expression, no display of human eloquence to recommend, and to adorn it. For, if ever the adage of the poet met with an appropriate application, it may certainly be said of christian worship, that it is,

« When unadorn'd-adorn'd the most."

A superiority of gifts and talents, being wholly personal, is no object either of dispute or of envy on the part of sound churchmen, since they have, what they esteem, authority, to compensatc for any deficiency of this sort which can be laid to their charge. The lawfulness and expediency of set forms of prayer' is a subject which has been frequently discussed, and proved to be agreeable both to right reason and to primitive practice. For my own part, I think the necessity for sct forms of prayer, in the public worship oi God, is a matter equally defensible. For however willing to concede this point, viz. that the private christian, in

his

his secret addresses to the throne of grace, may express himself in such language, as his own pious thoughts, and the sense of his particular wants may at the time suggest ; (though even here the humble and contrite heart has oft found great benefit from a precomposed form); yet, when it is considered that WORSHIP, in the full import of the term, is something not of private, but of public concern; something in which every one present is most deeply interested, not only upon his own individual account, but as a member of Christ's mystical body at large, it follows that, in this social character, he is in duty bound to offer

up

his prayers for his fellow members, and to share in their prayers for him. And hence it is that I am led to infer the necessity, as well as the erpediency, of having the public service of the sanctuary so contrived, and so conducted, as that all who are present may bear a part ; which, in fact, cannot be, without a previous knowledge of the whole while this previous knowledge is not to be obtained without previous possession of the form of service' about to be used. In this opinion I am confirmed by the following declaration of our blessed Saviour • Where iwo of you shall agree (oup wino wriv) IN

voice, touching what ye ask, it shall be done ' to you'. Does not this declaration imply, that even two disciples are required to pray in the same form of words ? But if two are thus to pray, the ur

gency

1 Matth. syiii. 19.

« AnteriorContinuar »