« AnteriorContinuar »
parts of the work, the Comments selected from various authors have been inserted in their own words, with the name of the author subjoined to his remarks. And on all controverted doctrines, those writers have been resorted to, who have been most distinguished for their judgment, learning, and piety, and whose opinions have received the most unanimous sanction of the Church. The remarks for which the Editor may feel himself responsible, either as their author, or as having collected them from various sources with alterations, will be designated by having the initials of his name annexed to them. Great use has been made of the excellent Compilation of Dr. Mant, the present Bishop of Killaloe, which was printed at the Oxford press in the year 1820. Where the notes have been taken from this work, the names of the authors will be found printed in Italics.
It has been a leading object, in the following work, to notice all the principal alterations of the English Liturgy, which have been made by the compilers of our Ainerican Book ; and to state, as far as practicable, the considerations on which they were founded. In this part of his labour, the Editor has been kindly assisted by the correspondence of the venerable Presiding Bishop, as well as by the valuable information contained in his " Memoirs of the Church."
In the use of the English Commentators, omissions, alterations, and additions have been made, for the purpose of accommodating their remarks to the state of the American branch of the Church; and on some subjects, illustrations have been sought in the writings of the American Bishops, and other Clergy.
The several parts of the Liturgy have afforded a wide range for comments and reflections. The history of each particular part, the ideas intended to be conveyed or excited, and the doctrines of faith and practice inculcated or recognised, have severally occupied the attention of the Compiler. But it has been his main design to give to the whole work a practical character, for the purpose of recommending it to the use of Families, and making it a help to their domestic devotions. He is persuaded that many who habitually use the Book of Common Prayer, have a very imperfect apprehension of the full import of its several Offices and catch but a faint inspiration from that spirit of piety which animates them.
If, by collecting together the lights which have been shed upon the Liturgy, he can afford a guide to its clearer comprehension, and a more pious use of it, his labours will not have been in vain.
New Haven, January, 1823.
Tae Protestant Episcopal Church in the prescribed form of wors'.ip is not subject to United States of America, following ancient, the same inconveniences with extemporary primitive, and, until within these few centu- effusions. If there should be nothing absurd ries, universal usage, has prescribed a Form and unbecoming in them, yet the audience OF PRAYER, or LITURGY, for public worship. must first endeavour to understand the This form she has received, and with few words; and then they must weigh and conand unessential alterations adopted, from the sider the sense and meaning; and then they Church of England, “to whom she is in- must deliberate whether such requests are debted under God, for her first foundation, proper for persons in their condition, before and for a long continuance of nursing care they can lawfully join in them; and by that and protection.” (1.)
time the minister is passed on to some other She conceives that forms of prayer are subject, which requires the like attention justified by many particular and important and consideration ; and so their curiosity advantages, as well as by Scripture, and may be raised, and they may exercise their ancient and primitive usage.
judgment, but there can scarce be any room Forms of prayer possess many important advantages. When public worship is.con “A precomposed form of prayer—is so ducted according to a prescribed form, the far from obstructing or quenching our depeople are previously acquainted with the votion, as is pretended, that it assists and prayers in which they are to join, and are thus inflames it; the matter and the words are enabled to render unto God a reasonable and both prepared to our hands; we know before enlightened service. In forms of prayer, what is to follow, that we may lawfully join that dignity and propriety of language, in it; and no other attention is required but so necessary in supplications addressed to to raise our affections. And let me ask, is the infinite Majesty of Heaven, may be pre not the spirit of the congregation equally served. They prevent the particular ovin- stinted, whether the minister pray in an exions and dispositions of the minister from temporary or in a composed regular form ? influencing the devotions of the congrega
And which is the more fit and proper for tion. They serve as a standard of faith and
the people to receive, a form of prayer from practice, impressing on both minister and
the wisdom and authority of the whole people, at every performance of public wor
Church, or to depend upon the discretion of ship, the important doctrines and duties of
every single minister ?" the Gospel. And they render the service “But a precomposed form of prayer is not more animating, by uniting the people with only liable to no just objection ; but hath the minister in the performance of public besides several advantages to recommend it. worship.
It is more for the honor of Almighty God, The peculiar advantages of forms of prayer expresses more reverence and devotion, pre are thus forcibly displayed by an eminent serves greater propriety and decency of lanprelate of the Church of England. (2.) “A guage. It is likewise more for the edifica
(1.) Preface to the Book of Common Prayer of the Prot. Epis. Church.
(2.) Bishop Newton, the learned author of the
Dean Comber may be considered a conclu- passionate and zealous wishes that God sive answer.
would grant them. Whereas in extempore "Whoever makes this objection, and af-prayer, the petitions expire into air in a mofirms we can not pray by the Spirit in the ment: for neither ininister nor people knew words of a form, must beware his ignorance them before, nor can remember them afterbetray him not into a dangerous uncharita- wards; the one being busy in inventing, bleness, and perhaps blasphemy. For the the other in expecting a pleasing novelty. saiuts of the Old Testament prayed by And methinks it argues more of the Spirit of forms, and so did Christ himself in the God, when we can altend the old prayers New, and he taught his Apostles a form to with zeal and love, than when we need vapray by, and dare any say they prayed not riety and novel expression, to screw us up by the Spirit ? Have not all Churches since I into a devotion too much like artifice, and the Apostles' times to our days, had their seeming rather to be moved by the pleasure forms of prayer? And did not the devout of fancy, than the actings of desire. We may est men of all ages compose and use such ? judge of the effects of God's Spirit rather Was ever extempore prayer heard of in pub- by disposing our hearts to join in a welllic (till of late) unless on special occasions ; composed form, than by filling our heads and do we think no Church nor persons with new prayers, or opening our mouths prayed by the Spirit till now? To come in fluent expressions; both which may be nearer still: Have not France and Geneva
done without the help of the Spirit, but to be their forms? And did not learned Calvin
devout without it is most impossible. To (and the best reformed divines) use a form
which we shall only add, that many truly before their sermons ? And is not an un.
good men, and sound members of on studied prayer a form to the people, who
Church, do daily use these prayers with as are confined to pray in the speaker's words?
much spirit and life, with as serious and And will you say these all pray without the
sincere devotion, as any in the world can Spirit of God? But sure we hug the phrase
do. And this they account a demonstration of praying by the spirit, not attending the
that the Spirit doth assist them in this form. sense. For the meaning doubtless is, to be
For the meaning doubtless is. To be And so it may assist these mistaken persons so assisted by the Holy Ghost, that (our | if they will lay down their groundless prethoughts being composed, and our souls judice, and strive to serve God thus as well calmed, and our hearts deeply affected with as they can. So would the good spirit asour wants, and the divine all-sufficiency) we
sist their prayers, and make up our differcan pray with a strong faith, and a fervent
ences, giving us one mind and one spirit, love. When we are so intent upon our re
that with one heart and one mouth we might quests that we duly weigh them, and pursue glorily one God.” every petition with pressing importunity, But it has been further urged, says Dean ardent desires, and vigorous affections, this Comber, that “though these prayers may be is the spirit of prayer. And thus we can good in themselves, they will grow flat and better pray by the Spirit in the words of a tiresome by daily use, and consequently beform, than we can do when our mind is come an impediment to devotion." employed in inventing new expressions. In answer to this objection it may be reFor having a form (which custom hath plied, he says, that " we come not to the made familiar) we have all things set down house of God for recreation, but for a supto our hands, which we or others want; and ply of our wants; and therefore this might we are at leisure to improve the good mo- | be a better reason for an empty theatre than a tions of the Spirit; having no more to do but thin congregation. We come to God in pub. to join our souls and affections to every pe- lic, to petition for the relief of our general tition, and follow them up to heaven in most necessities, and those of the whole Church ; viz. for pardon of sin, peace of conscience, wanton fancies, nor gratify the lust of our and succours of divine grace, and a deliver- curiosity; and we complain they are insipance from sin and satan, death and hell : as id; so perhaps they are such, for the manalso for food and raiment, health and na had no taste to the wicked; but it suitstrength, protection and success, in all oured itself to the appetite and taste of every concerns; and more generally for the peace good man, as the Jews tell us in their traof the kingdom, the prosperity of the Church, ditions. Sure I am, it is true here: For if the propagation of the gospel, and the suc- we be curious and proud, or carnal and cess of its ministers. Now these things are profane, there is no gust in the Common always needfal, and always the same, to be Prayers ; but a truly pious man can every prayed for every day alike.—Wherefore (un- day here exercise repentance and faith, love less we be so vain as to fancy God is delight and desire, and so use them as to obtain ed with variety and change as well as we) fresh hopes of mercy, peace of conscience, what need is there to alter the phrase every increase of grace, and expectations of glory; day, or what efficacy can a new model give and whoever finds not this, the fault is not to our old requests ? Particular wants and in the prayers, but in the indisposition of single cases may be supplied by the closet his own heart.”
Dean Comber. devotions, for the public, whether by form or Thus, then, we see how excellent and sliextempore, can never reach all those which perior in all respects is the liturgy of our are so numerous and variable. Wherefore Church; and how admirably she has proone forin may fit all that ought to be asked vided for the two important objects of the in the Church; and why then should we public service, instruction and devotion. desire a needless and infinite variety and al- Thelessons, the creeds, the commandments, teration? If we do, it is out of curiosity, not the epistles and gospels, contain the most necessity. The poor man is most healthful important and impressive instruction on the whose labour procures him both appetite and doctrines and duties of religion : While the digestion : who seldom changeth his dish, confession, the collects and prayers, the yet finds a relish in it, and a new strength litany and thanksgivings, lead the underfrom it every day. And so it is with the so- standing and the heart through all the subber and industrious Chistian, who, busying lime and affecting exercises of devotion. In himself in serving God, gets daily a new this truly evangelical and excellent liturgy, sense of his wants, and consequently a fresh the supreme Lord of the universe is invoked appetite to these holy forms, which are nev- by the most appropriate, affecting, and suber flat or dull to him that brings new affec lime epithets : all the wants to which man, tions to them every day. It is the Epicure as a dependant and sinful being, is subject, and luxurious, or the diseased man that are expressed in language at once simple, needs quelques choses, or sauces, to make concise, and comprehensive; these wants his daily bread desirable. And if this be are urged by confessions the most humble, our temper, it is a sign of a diseased soul, and supplications the most reverential and and an effect of our surfeiting on holy things. ardent; the all sufficient merits of Jesus In this we resemble those murmurers who Christ, the Saviour of the world, are unidespised the bread of Heaven because they formly urged as the only effectual plea, t'e had it daily, and loathed manna itself, call only certain pledge of divine mercy and ing it in scorn dry meat. This was suf grace ; and with the most instructive les ficient to sustain their bodies, and satisfy sons from the sacred oracles, and the most their hunger, but they required meat for profound confessions and supplications, is their soul ; that is, to feed their fancies mingled the sublime chorus of praise begun and their lusts; even as we do, for whom by the Minister, and responded with one the Church hath provided prayers sufficient heart and voice from the assembled congreto express our needs, but not to satiate our gation. The mind, continually passing from