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gency becomes a hundred fold greater where two hundred are assembled.
Without a liturgy, therefore, either written or committed to the memory of the whole audience, no such thing as public worship, strictly so called, can exist. I am aware that this seemingly bold assertion may startle many.
many. But I am not, on that account, disposed to retract it; since the rejecters of a liturgical service make no account of either the expression or the nature of public worship. Indeed, with the exception of singing a few stanzas of the psalms, every part of their service is performed by the minister; and does, in truth, depend on the personal acquirements of this single individual, without so much as the concurrence of an amen from the people assembled : Insomuch that with them the usual expression, ‘going to prayers,' is exchanged for ‘going to sermon, or, ' going to hear a ' preaching ;' which sermon or preaching, being addressed to man, is certainly no part of the worship of Goil, however necessary and instructive the sermon
As to particular liturgies, if, after a candid examination, they shall be found in any way
detective or erroneous in points of doctrine, let such defects be supplied, and such errors be rectified; or let a new liturgy be composed by those who have competent authority, in the church, for this undertaking, so that all be intended, and really done for editi
*cation. And though, in officiating by a liturgy, some may have the talent of fixing the attention, and even of exciting the devotion of the people more than others, yet is this no disparagement to the liturgy itself, since the same difference does daily occur among those who boast of their extemporary attainments; while the seriously disposed laity of both persuasions, though they could wish all such defects remedied in their pastors, will, on this trifling account, neither despise their respective modes of faith, nor desert their respective modes of practice.
There is a third subject of disputė to which the worship of God has given birth, viz. “In what language it is to be performed. On the very principles of common sense, one should think that this was a question which could admit of one only mode of solution. But as it is a question intimately connected with the topic to be discussed in the succeeding letter, I shall content myself with having simply alluded to it; and shall conclude the subject of
public and social worship,' with recommending it to the marked attention of the theological student; in the full hope, that when he comes to be invested with the ministerial character, he may be induced to enforce the attendance of the people committed to his charge on all the services of the holy sanctuary; not merely by representing the public worship of God as a matier of duty, but, particularly and eminently, as a matter of distinguished honour,
and as an unspeakable blessing. That such poor, and weak, and unworthy creatures, as we confessedly are, should, in our • best estate,' which is al
gether vanity,' be not merely permitted, but directly called upon, and, in a manner the most condescending and encouraging, invited to pour forth the voice of supplication before the throne of the Most High, for all, of which either as men, or as christians, we stand in need ; and that too, with the most confident and well-grounded hope of success. What honour, what blessing is to be compared with this? especially when we reflect, that these privileges are not confined to single individuals, but do collectively belong to us, as a body corporate, as a family, as a conjunct brotherhood, storming hea· ven' (as some of the old Fathers express themselves) · with the united artillery of prayer and praise ;' or, in our Saviour's own language, 'taking • it by force''
How should we rejoice, if, in social life, our earthly superiors, in birth, in dignity, or in fortune, (who all the while are but "as grass, which to-day • is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven '), should deign to treat us in the same gracious and condescending manner; should desire us, in all our straits and difficulties, to apply freely and familiarly to them, for such relief as they were both able and willing to afford, with this additional assu
i St Matth, xi. 12.
rance, that the oftener we did apply, we should always be made the more welcome! This parallel case needs only to be mentioned, to discover the infinitely stronger force of the application; and I shall forbear to enlarge upon it. I cannot however forbear from expressing a wish, an anxious wish, that, with all due caution, the idea of a blessing were extended to the whole of the christian's intercourse and connexion with his God and Saviour. I hope and trust, that I shall not be so far misunderstood, as to be accused of leaning, in the least degree, to the side of Antinomian libertinism, by saying, that even most of the practical instances of the moral law itself, are, in my judgment, appointed not so much with a view to the concerns of this life, or for
any intrinsic virtue or merit in the things themselves, as by way of blessing to man, as preparing and qualifying him for being, in due time, a fit and happy member of that blessed society in heaven, where even at present our conversation is,' wherein our TONITE our citizenship, or rights as burgesses, are in store. In the common modes of religious exhortation, I cannot, on this principle, forbear from thinking, that while DUTY is a topic that cannot be too much, yet. BLESSING may be too little insisted on. Self-experience must convince us, that there is, in human nature, an indifference, nay more, a backwardness, to the discharge of that which presents itself, in the bare, simple, unattractive form of DUTY. On the contrary, does any act of obe2 6.2
dience, of general or individual obligation, present itself in the alluring shape of blessing, that is to say, of honour and advantage ? To the performance of that act we fly with alacrity, and in the performance are seldom chargeable with want of energy.
To the feelings and the candid confesssion of my readers, in all the different stages of life, I may and do appeal, in proof of this different mode of þeing affected, according as one and the same active or passive instance of their compliance with civil or religious obligation, comes recommended to them as a matter of duty, or as a matter of blessing. It is • with cords of a man, with bands of love, that God is pleased to draw ' sinners unto himself', and I have no doubt, that the ambassador for Christ, he who is empowered • in Christ's stead, to
pray • men to be reconciled unto God,' would most effectually promote this reconciliation, and be the happy instrument of encouraging the necessary practice of real • DUTY, by carefully and cautiously infusing into the cup of ministerial exhortation the cordial mixture of • BLESSING;' and thus removing or overcoming the unpalatable taste incident both to the faith and practice of true and undefiled religion. It is with this view only that I have digressed from my subject, to make these few observations. They would have admitted of much en
+ Hosca xi, 4.