« AnteriorContinuar »
diversity of opinion, and the Church would sary, because it is to be supposed that the therefore probably lose much more than she Church has fully provided in her service for would gain by any alteration of the service. every subject of prayer; and presumptuous, In its present state it has become venerable because it carries the idea, that it is in the from time, and has always served as an ani power of an individual to compose prayers mating guide to the devotions of the pious. for the congregation superior to those preLet every person who objects to the length pared by the united wisdom and piety of the of the service seriously consider, whether Church. Equally presumptuous would be this objection does not arise in a considerable any attempt in an individual minister 10 alter degree from an indisposition to discharge the the language of prayers universally admired duties of public worship, and from laying for their correctness, and their simplicitytoo much stress on preaching, which, though prayers in the language of which, the most an appointed mean of grace, ought certainly eminent divines, and the first scholars in ever to be subordinate to the more important every age have esteemed it a privilege to duty of worshipping God. It is worthy of express their devotions. remark also, that the service is not entirely Were these wholsome restraints which occupied with prayer. The reading of por- confine the clergy to the prescribed form re tions of the Holy Scriptures and the reciting moved; were every minister allowed at pleasof the psalms constitute no inconsiderable ure to alter the service, to depart from the part of it. The blending of instruction and rubrics, and to introduce prayers not apdevotion ; the transition from prayer to proved by the Church; that uniformity of praise, and from one short supplication to worship which constitutes one peculiar exanother; the mingling of the responses of cellence of the Episcopal Church would be the people with the addresses of the min-destroyed. No limits could be set to a liberty ister, afford an interesting variety in the peculiarly. liable to abuse. There would service, which is one of its most excellent be reason to apprehend, that the spirit of irand valuable characteristics.
regular enthusiasm, which experience proves Long then may the Church preserve invio is seldom satisfied with its encroachments, late a form of service, which is calculated to or soothed by indulgence, would fundamencherish in her members a spirit of devotion tally change, and perhaps finally subvert equally remote from dull and unprofitable that liturgy, which is now at once the glory lukewarmness on the one hand, and from and safeguard of the Church, the nurse of blind, extravagant, and indecent enthusiasm evangelical truth, and of spiritual and sober on the other—a form of service which has devotion. (7.) ever served to brighten the pious graces of
(7.) A distinguished Bishop of our Church, in her members; and in the season of declen- his late sermon at a consecration, thus bears his forsion and error, to preserve the pure flame of cible testimony against all unlicensed alterations of truth and the genuine spirit of evangelical the service. “We cannot, however, but have ubpiety. With such sacred and commendable
served with the most poignant sorrow, that even caution, does the Episcopal Church in Ame
our desire of extending the Kingdom of the Re
deemer has been a door of admission to the minisrica guard this service, that she exacts from
try of persons who disdain whatever restraints all her ministers, at their ordination, a solemn
may be imposed by public reason on prirate fanpromise of conformity to it; and, in one of cy. And, indeed, it gives us one of the most meher canons, forbids the use of any other lancholy views, which can be taken of human naprayers than those contained in the liturgy. ture, to find evils of this magoitude arising out of
a co nbination of extraordinary apparent piety, with Where indeed a form of prayer is provid
a disregard of the most explicit promises which ed, the introduction of extempore prayers,
can be made, in one of the most solemn acts to would appear liable to the charges of being which religion can give her sa ction.” Bishop unnecessary and presumptuous—unneces- White in this last sentence alludes to the vows of Against an event thus to be dreaded, let | was not the production of this or that man every friend of vital piety, of primitive order, the compilers of it were, not only the best of evangelical worship, most solicitously and wisest men of that age in this nation, guard. Let him repress in himself and in | but they consulted likewise the most eminent others all tendency to innovation, all dispo- of the divines abroad, and had their approsition to find fault with a service, which has bation of it, and approved it yet farther been deemed, through a long course of time, themselves, by dying in its defence. in the judgment of some of the wisest and best | It was composed principally out of Scripof men, to be the most perfect of human com- ture, or out of ancient liturgies and fathers. positions. Above all, since we enjoy “such Even where entire parts and passages, are an excellent form of prayer, let us reverence not borrowed, and the very words of Scripit accordingly; resort to it frequently; at ture or of the fathers are not taken or applied, tend to it devoutly; accompany it not only yet their spirit and manner, their style and with our lips, but with our hearts; repeat character are still preserved ; and perhaps what we are to repeat; and answer what there is scarce any collect in our liturgy, we are to answer; join in every prayer of scarce any sentiment or expression that may the ininister with our mind, and in every not be justified by the authority of one or response and Amen with our voice ; and in other of them. What a comfort and satis. all respects behave like those who are in the faction should it be to us, that we are such more immediate presence of God. Then a sound part of the Holy Catholic Church, will - the words of our mouths and the me- that we thus maintain the communion of ditations of our hearts be always acceptable saints ; that we worship God in the same in thy sight, O Lord, our strength and our manner as the Martyrs and the Confessors Redeemer."
and best of Christians did in the purest L-t every one who has received authority ages; and the spirit of their Liturgies, like to minister in the sanctuary, and to present the spirit of Elijah upon Elisha, hath dethe prayers of the people at the throne of scended in "a double portion” upon ours. God, let hin consider it as his most sacred Our prayers are addressed to the proper duty to perform the service with that dignity object through the proper mediator ; to the and correctness of manner, and above all, one God, through the “one Mediator bewith that solemn and fervent spirit of piety, tween God and man, the man Christ Jesus." which proceediny unaffectedly from his own Each collect begins with a solemn invocaheart, will always find its way to the hearts tion of the one, and concludes with the preof the people, and engage them with him in vailing merits and intercession of the other. the sublime exercises of devotion.
It is besides a great excellence of our ser"L t thy priests, O Lord, be clothed with
vice to have so many short distinct petitions.
vice to have so many sh salvation, that the people may rejoice."—Bp.
They are thus rendered more fit and easy to Hobart's Companion to the book of Common
be remembered and repeated. Our Liturgy Prayer.
in this respect may be compared to a string To the above remarks, we add the follow. l of pearls, every one valuable, but altogether ing commendations of the Liturgy, which
almost inestimable. If the whole was disare not less distinguished for their jusiness,
posed in one continued prayer, though it than for their eloqnence. They are from
might not be tedious, yet it would keep the peps of Bishop Newton, Bishop Jeremy our minds upon the stretch too long together; Taylor, and Dean Comber.
whereas, these breaks and pauses give relief, "Our Liturgy,” says Bishop Newton, our souls recover breath as it were, and we ordination, which in the most solemn manner, bind
return to worship again with new spirit and every minister to conform lo the doctrine, discipline, vigour. and worship of the Church
The variety of our service is another es. cellence in the composition of it, and con- performed is worthy of the matter ; our tributes much to the keeping up of our at vestments are suitable and becoming and tention and devotion. A sameness in any the very emblem of holiness, for as St. thing soon satiates and wearies us; and it John saith “ the fine linen clean and white is as difficult to keep the mind as it is the is the righteousness of the saints;" oui body long in one posture. But hy the beau ceremonies neither too many nor too few, tiful internixture of prayer and praise, of such as may excite and cherish, and not supplication and thanksgiving, of confes such as may distract and dissipate our desion and absolution, of hymns and creeds, votions. All things are done as the Apostle of psalms and lessons, our weariness is re would have them done, “decently and in lieved, our attention is renewed, and we are order," and if our piety is not eminent and led on agreeably from one subject to another. conspicuous in proportion to our advantages, The frame of our Liturgy is somewhat like it is because we are wanting to ourselves, the frame of the world; it is order in variety, not because our church has been wanting and though all the parts are different, yet in making proper provision for us.” Bishop the whole is consistent and regular.
Newton. What renders it more excellent is its com- " The Liturgy of the Church of England," prehensiveness. There is nothing that re says Bishop Jeremy Taylor, " hath advan- . lates either to ourselves or others, nothing tages so many and considerable, as not only that concerns iis either as men or members to raise itself above the devotions of other of society, nothing that conduces to our Churches, but to endear the affections of happiness in this world or in the world to good people to be in love with Liturgies in come, but is comprehended in some or other general. To the Churches of the Roman of the petitions. It is easy while the minister Communion we can say that ours is Reformis reading it, to appropriate and apply any ed: to the Reformed Churches we can say, passages to ourselves and our own case. A that it is orderly and decent. For we were great deal is expressed but more is implied ; | freed from the impositions and lasting erand our devotions in our closets and in our rors of a tyrannical spirit, and yet from the families, we cannot better perhaps express extravagances of a popular spirit too. Our than in the words of our Liturgy; it is so Reformation was done without tumult, and suited to all ranks and conditions, and adapt yet we saw it necessary to reform: we ed to all wants and occasions.
were zealous to cast away the old errors; The congregation have particular reason but our zeal was balanced with considerato be pleased, as they have a larger share tion, and the results of authority. We were in our service than in any other whatever: not like women and children when they are and the minister and people mutually raise affrighted with fire on their clothes ; we and inflame each others' devotions. It is shook off the coal indeed, but not our gara singular privilege, therefore, that our ments; lest we should have exposed our people enjoy of bearing so large a part in Church to that nakedness, which the excelour service; and it is this that properly lent men of our sister Churches complained denominates ours, what really none else is, to be among themselves. And indeed it is a book of COMMON prayer.
no small advantage to our Liturgy, that it In a word, our Liturgy is in every re. was the offspring of all that authority, which spect excellently contrived, and fitted to was to prescribe in matters of religion. So promote true devotion. The language is that it was not only reasonable and sacred, so plain as to be level to the capacities of but free both from the indiscretion, and, the meanest, and yet the sense is so noble which is very considerable, even from the as to raise the conceptions of the greatest. scandal of popularity. That only, in which The manner too in which our service is the Church of Rome had prevaricated
against the word of God, or innovated against the Church instructed by the proposition of apostolic tradition, was pared away. Great their examples; and we give testimony of part of it consisted of the very words of Scrip- the honour and love we pay to religion, by mure, as the Psalms, Lessons, Hymns, Epis our pious veneration and esteem of those tles, and Gospels: and the rest was in every holy and beatified persons. To which if we particular made agreeable to it, and drawn add the advantages of the whole Psalter, from the Liturgies of the ancient Church. which is an entire body of devotion by itself, The Rubrics of it were written in the blood and hath in it forms to exercise all graces, of some of the compilers, men famous in by way of internal act and spiritual intention; their generations; whose reputation and glo- there is not any ghostly advantage, which ry of martyrdom hath made it immodest for the most religious can either need or fancy, the best of men now to compare themselves but what the English Liturgy, in its entire with them. And its composure is so admi constitution, will furnish us withal.” rable, that the most industrious wits of its
Bishop Jeremy Taylor. enemies can scarce find out an objection, of Though all the Churches in the world value enough to make a doubt, or scarce a have, and ever had, forms of prayer; yet scruple, in a serious spirit. There is no none was ever blessed with so comprehensive, part of religion, but is in the offices of the so exact, and so inoffensive a composure as Church of England. For, if the soul desires ours: which is so judiciously contrived, that to be humbled, she hath forms provided of the wisest may exercise at once their knowconfession to God before his Church : if she ledge and devotion : and yet so plain, that will rejoice and give God thanks for particu the most ignorant may pray with underlar blessings, there are forms of thanksgiving standing ; so full that nothing is omitted for all the solemn occasions, which could be which is fit to be asked in public; and so foreseen, and for which provision could by particular, that it compriseth most things public order be made: if she will commend which we would ask in private ; and yet so to God the public and private necessities of short, as not to tire any that hath true devothe Church and single persons, the whole tion : its doctrine is pure and primitive ; its body of collects and devotions supplies them ceremonies so few and innocent, that most abundantly: and if her devotions be high of the Christian world agree in them : its and pregnant, and prepared to fervency and method is exact and natural ; its language importunity of congress with God, the Lita significant and perspicuous; most of the ny is an admirable pattern of devotion, full words and phrases being taken out of the of circumstances proportionable to a quick holy Scriptures, and the rest are the expresand earnest spirit.—When the revolution of sions of the first and purest ages; so that the anniversary calls on us, to perform our whoever takes exception at these must quarduty of special meditation on, and thankful rel with the language of the Holy Ghost, ness to God for the glorious benefits of Christ's and fall out with the Church in her greatest incarnation, nativity, passion, resurrection, innocence : and in the opinion of the most and ascension, &c. then we have the offices impartial and excellent Grotious, (who was of Christmas, the Annunciation, Good-Fri- no member of, nor had any obligation to this day Easter, and Ascension, &c.; and the Church,) the English Liturgy comes so near offices are so ordered, that, if they be summed to the primitive pattern, that none of the reup, they will make an excellent creed, and the formed Churches can compare with it.
design of the day teaches the meaning And if any thing external be needful to reof an Article. The life and death of the commend that which is so glorious within ; saints, which are very precious in the sight we may add that the Compilers were [most of God, are so remembered, that, by giving of them) men of great piety and learning thanks and praise, God may be honoured ; [and several of them) either martyrs or con