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o ...d4 quity would be the best ground on which to rest the validity of the Liturgy of the Church of England, we now are almost persuaded by Mr. Simeon to believe that the best justification of antiquity will be found in the excellence, the spirituality, the highly beneficial effects as to doctrine, and as to devotion, the incomparably efficacious tendency, of our own usages. That we say this upon no light grounds, it will be our endeavour to prove, by actual quotations from these sermons: in the first of which Mr. Simeon displays all his characteristic acuteness, joined with evangelical simplicity, in treating of the true meaning and connection of his gemeral text, Deut. v. 28, 29 : “They have well said all that they have spoken : O that there were such an heart in them " The sentiments here expressed by the Israelites, Mr. Simeon declares to be three:–an acknowledgment that they could not stand before the Divine Majesty; a desire to have some person appointed, who should act as a Mediator between God and them ; an engagement to yield unqualified obedience to every thing that should be spoken to them by the Mediator. And to these are added, 2dly, the dispositions which God approves; —a reverential fear of God ; a love to Jesus as our Mediator; and an unfeigned delight in his commands. Though not in point to our more articular subject, we cannot re}. from giving one quotation from the concluding part, as a specimen of this truly excellent sermon,
“Whilst therefore we would urge with all possible carnestness a simple affiance in Christ as your Mediator, we would also intreat you to receive the commandments at his hands, and to observe them with your whole hearts. Take our Lord's Sernon on the Mount, for instance: study with care and diligence the full import of every precept in it. Do not endeavour to bring down those precepts to your practice, or to the practice of the world around you; but rather strive to elevate your practice to the standard which he has given you. In like man
ner, take all the precepts contained in the Epistles, and all the holy dispositions which were exercised by the Apostles; and endenvour to emulate the examples of the most distinguished saints. You are cautioned not to be righteous over-much ; but remember that you have at least equal need of caution to be rightcous enough. If only you walk in the steps of our Lord and his Apostles, you need not be afraid of excess : it is an erroneous kind of righteousness, against which Solomon would guard you, and not against an excessive degree of true holiness; for in true holiness there can be no excess. In this we may vie with each other, and strive with all our might.” pp. 23, 24.
We will not say with what sentiments we contemplate these “streams of our Zion” softly stealing amidst academic groves; but this we will aver, that Alma Mater was then fully purged from the Antinomian impurities of Dr.Butler's Commencement Sermon, when these waters of lustration poured their healing influence from her university pulpit.
Mr. Simeon proceeds, in the three following sermons, to apply his text, “ in a way of accommodation,” to his more immediate subject, the Excellence of the Liturgy. In prosecuting which plan, he arranges his observations on the Liturgy so as to windicate its use; display its excellence; and commend to the attention of his hearers one particular part, namely, the Ordination Service, which he conceives to be eminently deserving of notice in the place in which he is then standing.
In the first of the three sermons, he vindicates the use of the Liturgy: and this, “generally, as a service proper to be used, and then particularly, in reference to some objections which are urged against it.” Under the former general view, he contends for the Liturgy as lawful in itself, expedient for us, and acceptable to God. Its lawfulness he ably founds, as we have already hinted, on express or implied liturgical usages in the Old Testament; particularly the use of the Psalms, one of which our Lord himself seems to have used after his last supper. The same practice he recognises as continued by the Christian church in the Lord's Prayer”; in the early singing of hymns, mentioned by Pliny; in the liturgies, though corrupted, bearing the names of St. Peter, St. Mark, and St. James; and, to close all, in the mode of worship itself of those very few persons who have been inconsiderate enough to condemn it. renewing by the Holy Ghost, which however is represented as attendant on it......Now the term they use as the Scripture uses it ; and the thing they require as strongly as any person can require it......The only question is, whether God does always accompany the sign with the thing signified. Here, the holy Scriptures certainly do, in a very remarkable way, accord with the expressions in our Liturgy.
" It is worthy of observation, that those who must loudly decry the use of forius, do themselves use forms, whenever they unite in public worship. What are hymns, but forms of prayer and praise? and if it be lawful to worship God in forms of verse, is it not equally so in forms of prose? We may say therefore, our adversaries themselves being judges, that the use of a form of prayer is lawful." p. 34.
The expediency of the Liturgy for ourselves, is next proved, by an able appeal to its incalculably beneficial effects at the time of the Reformation in enlightening the minds of men; and since, in preserving that light to posterity.
“We do not speak too strongly if we say, that the most enlightened amongst us, of whatever denomination they may be, owe much to the existence of our Liturgy; which has been, as it were, the pillar and ground of the truth in this kingdom, and has served as fuel to perpetuate the flame, which the Lord himself, at the time of the Reformation, kindled upon our altars.” pp. 37, 38.
Mr. Simeon then strongly enlarges upon the present expediency of a Liturgy, by a reference to the difficulty of teading the devotions of a congregation in extempore prayer, and to the “dry, dull, tedious repetitions which are but too often the fruits of extemporaneous devotions.”
* For the use of this Prayer, Mr. Sinjeon refers to the authority of Tertulliam, Cyptian, Cyril, Jerome, Augustine, Chrysostom, Gregory. For an injunction to use it, he properly refers to the expression of our Lord in St. Matthew vi.: “After this manner, cutor, pray :" which adverb he follows the argument of Wheatly in explaining to mean so, or thus, binding it to the very words: though, if otherwise, they both properly refer to St. Lake, who writes, " when ye pray, say,” chap. xi.
“Only let any person be in a devou frame, and he will be far more likely to have his soul elevated to beaven by the Liturgy of the Established Church, than he will by the generality of prayers which he would hear in other places of worship: and, if any one complain that he cannot enter into the spirit of them, let him only examine his frame of mind when engaged in extemporaneous prayers, whether in public, or in his own family; and he will find, that his formality is not confined to the service of the church, but is the sad fruit and consequence of his own weakness and corruption." p. 39. That God Almighty, who is “a free Spirit,” could indeed inspire into the ministers of a church, humbly and unanimously seeking them, the necessary gifts for the arduous work mentioned above, we do not deny; but that he would do so, our adversaries cannot, we think, assert, either on the ground of experience or of analogy. Analogy leads us forcibly to the conclusion, that in the cessation of the miraculous charismata, mentioned before, have ceased also all express and customary gifts simply for the edification of the church. The gifts to the church, at present, seem to be rather internal than external. As in the acquisition of languages, so of eloquence also, we seem to be left to the resources of nature; and, unlike many endowments in the apostolic age, our faculties appear now to receive no preternatural enlargement for the purpose of general instruction, except (and it is an important exception) through the medium of a heart warmed and illuminated by the rays of saving grace. “Charity,” in short, with us, stands in the place of “spiritual gifts:” and to feel a liturgy in our own tongue, seems a gift equally congenial to our present condition, with the ability to speak one in an unknown language, in the circumstances of St. Paul. And does not experience confirm this analogy? Are not what are called the gifts, whether of public preaching or public prayer, in men, equally, as far as we may judge, under the influence of Divine grace, generally found in proportion to their original faculties,
or the after improvement of them by ordinary means? We do not find, where the ordinary helps to imperfect powers have been on principle discarded, that appearances have indicated more than the natural operation of such powers, sometimes propitious, oftener the contrary, both on speaker and hearer. And in the case now under view, of discarding liturgies, we apprehend the appeal to experience, which we may readily make, will be doubly decisive. God forbid we should speak it contemptuously, but certainly the appearance of a dissenting place of worship, during the hour of prayer, is not (according to an observation, limited, we confess,) such as to make any one believe that the mantle of to: Elijah, denied to the church, as fallen upon the meeting. If formality, as might be expected, be deemed our reigning delinquency, inattention and indifference, which were not to be expected, seem (though with every exception which we claim for ourselves) to be evidently theirs. In short, if the business of the church is confessedly to read prayers, we cannot think the business of the meeting is to pray. In the latter, the suspence between curiosity and devotion during extemporaneous prayer, seems ever willing to give place to the more simple and undivided effort of listening to instruction. In the former, at least, that cause of weariness does not exist. And if the most favourable view of both sides be adopted, we cannot think the decision unfair which would call the Church of England, with its Liturgy, a caste of praying Christians; and those collective denominations, who are without it, one of preaching Christians. Mr. Simeon, after having dismissed the expediency and acceptableness of the Liturgy, proceeds to vindicate it in reference to some particular objections that have been urged against it. The points to which he particularly alludes, in this sermon, are two, the burial and the baptismal service. At the end of the
third sermon, he also attempts to vindicate the Athanasian Creed from the great want of moderation and candour, in which he allows it has been, with some justice, considered as an exception to the rest of the Liturgy. In observing, as the ground of all his vindications, that the persons who composed the Liturgy were men of a truly apostolic spirit, unhampered by party prejudices, endeavouring to-speak in all things preeisely as the Scriptures speak, and cultivating in the highest degree apostolic candour, simplicity, and charity (p. 43); we presume his use of the word “composed” includes in it the notion of “ compilation;” as it is well known we are indebted for some of our most excellent and divine prayers only to the judgment and discretion of our reformers, who selected them from much earlier compositions. The Collects, for instance, were for the most part derived through the channel (impure we own) of the four popish Uses *, and from the Sacramentary of Gregory the Great; which again was compiled by that bishop of Rome, in the sixth century, from still more ancient liturgies, partly of the Greek church. And whoever is at all acquainted with the character of those truly primitive compositions in the original, their dignified simplicity, and their tone of pure and unaffected devotion, will not be surprised at those qualities, which Mr. Simeon so appropriately commends in our own reformers, and which they no doubt imbibed from models with which they were so eminently conversant. And to this remark upon the general character of the English fathers, we think it worthy
* Sec Nicholls on the Common Prayer; a book to which we gladly refer such of our readers as may not be acquainted with it, for the greatest mass of learned and curious in: formation, on the subject of the Liturgy and church usages in general, which we believe is any where to be found in that compass. The four Uses here referred to are those of Sarum,
of Bangor, of York, of Lincoln.
to be added, as to their particular views of those passages now objected to us in the Liturgy, that they could have had no motive but the purest in leaving them as they stand. When the work of reformation was on foot, it was as easy for them to change one passage, or prayer, as another: consequently, in urging objections against the result of their full and free deliberations, we are to consider ourselves as ranging our own wisdom and judgment in line against theirs; a consideration which, if we should be finally compelled to differ from them on any point, ought to lead us at least to urge our own views with moderation and diffidence. It will be seen, from a perusal of our present number, that a correspondent has endeavoured to controvert the main positions which are taken by Mr. Simeon in replying to those who object to particular expressions in our burial and baptismal services, and in the Athanasian Creed. We shall not ourselves interfere, in the present stage of the discussion, by pronouncing our own judgment; but merely state the reasoning of Mr. Simeon, as we have, at p. 491, done that of his opponent.
“In our Burial Service we thank God for delivering out brother out of the miseries of this sinful world, and express a sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, together with a hope also that our departed brother rests in Christ. Of course, it often happens, that we are called to use these expressions over persons, who, there is reason to fear, have died in their sins; and then the question is, How we can with propriety use them 2 I answer, that,even according to the letter of the words, the use of them may be justified; because we speak not of his, but of the, resurrection to eternal life; and because, where we do not absolutely know that God has not pardoned a person, we may entertain some measure of hope that he has. But, taking the expressions more according to the spirit of them, they precisely accord with what we continually read in the Epistles of St. Paul. In the First Epistle to the Corinthian Church, he says of them, ‘ I thank my God always on your behalf, that in every thing ye are enriched by him in all utterance and in all knowledge, even as the testimony
of Christ was confirmed in you, so that ye come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.' Yet, does he instantly begin to condemn the same persons for their divisions and contentions ; and afterwards tells them “that they were carnal, and walked, not as saints, but as men.” that is, as unconverted and ungodly men.” pp. 44, 45.
After other instances, cludes:
“It is probable that many would feel scruples respecting it, and especially, in thanking God for things, which, if pressed to the utmost meaning of the words, might not be strictly true. But surely, if the Apostles in a spirit of love and charity used such language, we may safely and properly do the same: and knowing in what manner, and with what views, they spake, we need not hesitate to deliver ourselves with the same spirit and in the same latitude, as they." p. 46.
His observations on the Baptismal Service we could wish to give at length; but we must only abstract. He admits, “ that in the opinion of our reformers, regeneration and remission of sins did accompany baptism. But in what sense *......that there was no need for the seed then sown in the heart of the baptized person to grow up 2......So far from it, they have, and that too in this very prayer, taught us to look unto God, for that total change both of heart and life, which long since their days has begun to be expressed by the term regeneration.
“After thanking God for regenerating the infant by his Holy Spirit, we are taught to pray,' that he, being dead unto sin and living unto righteousness, may crucify the old man, and utterly abolish the whole body of sin:' and then declaring that total change to be the necessary mean of his obtaining salvation, we add, “so that finally, with the residue of thy holy church, he may be an inheritor of thine everlasting kingdom.’ Is there, I would ask, any person that can require more than this? or does God in his word require more ?" p. 48.
“St. Paul says, “By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one spirit:’ and this he says of all the visible members of Christ's body. Again, speaking of the whole nation of Israel, infants as well as adults, he says, “They were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them; and that rock was Christ.” (1 Cor. x. 1–4.) Yet behold, in the very next verse he tells us, that ‘with many of them God was displeased, and overthrew them in the wilderness." pp. 49, 50.
A line of reasoning which he carries on and applies also to Gal. iii. 27. After quoting similarly from St. Peter, who says of the apostate, “he hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins,” which he conceives to accord with the notion that “remission of sins, as well as regeneration, is an attendant on the baptismal rite ;” Mr. Simeon concludes with the following passage, containing his deliberate judgment. “Let me then speak the truth before God: though I am no Arminian, I do think that the refinements of Calvin have done great harm in the church : they have driven multitudes from the plain and popular way of speaking used by the inspired writers, and have made then unreasonably and unscripturally squeamish in their nodes of expression; and 1 conceive that, the less addicted any person is to syswematic accuracy, the more he will accord with the inspired writers, and the more he will approve of the views of our Reformers. I do not mean however to say, that a slight alteration in
two or three instances would not be an improvement; since it would take off a burthen from many minds, and supersede the necessity of laboured explanations: but I do mean to say, that there is no such objection to these expressions as to deter any conscientious person from giving his unfeigned assent and consent to the Liturgy altogether, or from using the particular expresions which we have been endeavouring to explain.” pp. 51, 52.
We can scarcely do more than refer to the remarks on the Athanasian Creed, contained in the third sermon. This creed, which we could wish archbishops and bishops * had not taught us to consider as the crur Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ, Mr. Simeon certainly takes up with becoming moderation. We shall just mention, that, in softening down the force of the anathemas of this creed, Mr. Simeon's scheme is to divide the creed into three parts; the middle one of which, beginning at the words “For there is one person of the Father,” &c. and ending at those, “so that in all things, as aforesaid,” &c., he considers as purely explanatory; and to that he affixes only the softer anathema which follows it ; “ He, therefore, that is willing to be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.” This he gives properly as the true rendering of “Qui vult ergo salvus esse, ita de Trinitate sentiat;” and would represent it rather as cautionary and affirmative, than negative and damnatory. Mr. Simeon even goes further, and contends, that this explanatory part may be simply a confirmation or proof of the general position of a Trinity in Unity ; to
* The saying of Archbishop Tillotson, “ that he could wish we were well rid of it,” is well known; and perhaps in future ages it will be as well known that Bishop Prettyman has said, “though l firmly believe that the doctrines of this creed are all founded in Scripture, I cannot but conceive it to be both unnecessary and presumptuous to say, that ‘ except every one do keep then whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly,’ &c."—Elements of Theology, vol. ii. p. 222.