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M in Christian conversation, and most profitable «* to the estate of this realm, upon the which the "mercy, favour and blessing of Almighty God *' is in no wise so readily and plentifully poured, « as by Common Prayer, due using the Sacra"ments, and often preaching the Gospel, with "the devotion of the hearers."
Add to this that other, yet far more honourable testimony received from that memorable Act of Parliament that at first established it, declaring the performance of it; viz. " The Li's' turgy or Common Prayer, to be finished by ** the extraordinary aid and assistance of the "Holy Ghost."
- • So that to say the least of it that may be said to the praise and honour of our excellent Liturgy; there is not a more primitive and compleat, a more sound and orthodox collection of public Prayers prescribed and made use of in any part of the Christian Church this day in the whole world; to which also may be added the blood of the learned compilers of it, some of which was shed at the beginning of the Reformation, as a seal in confirmation of its truth and excellency; as likewise the blood of the royal martyr King Charles I. our martyred Sovereign, the greatest glory and bulwark of our Church, as our Church is the support and ornament of the Reformation.
Such was the testimony of its first compilers, and such the constancy of its defenders since; that like as in the first ages of Christianity, the blood of martyrs was said to be the seed of the Church; so it is to be hoped this Church of ours will always remain for ever glorious, that can boast of so many martyrs in its defence.
II. I am to recommend to you the manner of performing this our public deyotiOn^ with some useful circumstances conducive thereunto.
And for the due discharge of our obligations on this part, it is requisite that all things be done according to the Apostle's rule, decently and in order; that we all walk by the fame rule, and all mind the fame thing, doing all things unto edifying; that we behave ourselves so in the House of God, with that decency and reverence, as best becometh the Majesty of God, and the solemnity of his holy worship; by composing ourselves in those reverent postures, which the Church in her Rubrics hath prescribed and suited to every part of our devotion; such as kneeling at the Confession, Absolution and Prayers; standing up at the Gloria Patri, Hymns, Creeds and Psalms; and bowing at the Name of Jesus, according as we are directed, Phil. ii. 10.
There are also other things, though not actually enjoined or prescribed by Rubric, are yet established by ancient and general custom of the Church; such as our private ejaculations before we begin Prayers, imploring God's help and assistance in our devotions, and his acceptance of them, when Prayers are ended; our giving glory to God ac the naming of the Gospel; and our turning to the East in making our public profession of our faith.
A general conformity in these external acts of public devotion declareth an inward sense of the Majesty of God, and an humble obedience to the commands of our superiors, a devout harmony between our souls and our bodies, with which
venly host (who are all represented standing before the throne of God, and praising him with a loud voice,) shall join in that pleasant part of our devotion, by singing unanimously and chearfully to the glory of God, with the voice of praise, thanksgiving and melody; then may we be said to glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, with one mind, and with one mouth; then may we be said to praise God in the beauty of holiness.
And as the benefit of Prayer is hereby heightned and advanced by the joint concurrence and unanimity of the people; so also is the place of such public assemblies another circumstance of no small importance and help to devotion: For how can we come into the House of God, and not be moved with the glory of his Majesty? or how can we approach his sacred Altar, and not be concerned in whose presence we appear? the which I hope, will be encouragement sufficient to invite you all to come to Church, and yet sufficient to deter from any irreverent behaviour here.
It is true, indeed, God's presence is universal, and no where confined, neither is there any place in itself absolutely unfit to make our humble addresses before him; he is about our path, and about our bed, we are told, in our closets, in our gardens, and in the fields i wheresoever God is called upon in sincerity and truth, there is he Found of them that call upon him, in what corner of the world soever they are in; whether with Moses in the wilderness, with Job on the dunghil, with Jonas in the whale's belly, or with Daniel in the den of lions, with St Paul on board the ship, or even with the Thief upon the cross; these all having called upon the Lord, he heard them,
he he heard them from all the different parts and places they were in; yet the Church for the public worship of God, and the common resort of the people, must be acknowledged the properest and most convenient place of worship; a place where the Majesty of God more peculiarly resides, and where he is said to be more immediately present, and delighted in.
In the law we find, that Moses, in delivering God's ordinances to the Jews, hath joined these two commandments together; Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my Sancluary. I am the Lord, Levit. xix. 30. making the observation of God's holy day, and the reverence of his dwelling place to run both in one verse *, both being designed to keep up God's true religion and worship, as they naturally tend to advance each other; the one respecting the place, the other the time of its public administration. Not that we ascribe any inherent virtue or holiness to these places, but such as is relative only, and due for his sake for whom they were designed; as Maimonides in Bishop Patrick explains the text abovementioned; the Sanctuary itself was not to be reverenced, but Pie who hath commanded that reverence, which is God.
In the gospel it is observed, that the argument which our Saviour makes use of against the money-changers, and other common profaners of the Temple, he taketh from the use whereunto it was set apart, and for ever dedicated to the service of God, saying; Is it not written, my House Jha'l be called os all nations the House os Prayer? which was formerly, and is still to be kept sacred and inviolable; so that he would not suffer so much as the outward court of it to be profaned or put to common uses, nor permit