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LECTURE VIII.

THE PRAYERS AND COLLECTS.

PHILIPP. IV. 6.

In every thing, by prayer and supplication with

thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.

In the Exhortation, with which our Morning and Evening Services are opened, the chief purposes of public worship are enumerated nearly in the same order, in which the Liturgy has provided for them: first, that we may “ acknowledge our sins before God, to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same :” secondly, that we may render thanks to him, for the great benefits that we have received at his hands," and, in the same spirit,

“ set forth his most worthy praise: thirdly, that we may “ hear his most holy word;" and, lastly, that we may “ ask those things, which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul.”

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It has been the business of former Lectures on this subject, to explain the Offices appointed for Confession and Absolution; the several Hymns of thanks, praise, and adoration, which precede and follow the Lessons taken from the Old and New Testament; the order of the Psalms and Lessons ; and, lastly, the three Creeds, or confessions of faith, which have been introduced into these Services, at once to instruct the unlearned, to revive the conviction of those who are better instructed and to promote a general uniformity of religious belief.

We now come to that part of the service, to which the name of Prayer is more strictly appropriated. The various PRAYERS and COLLECTS, which follow, are adapted to supplicate the Almighty for every public and private blessing relating either to our souls or bodies ; including the welfare of all other persons, in whose comfort and prosperity we are interested, and humbly entreating our heavenly Father to receive them also into his gracious protection.

The minds of the congregation are further prepared to enter upon this branch of devotion by two short but expressive ejaculations. - The Lord be

with you!"" And with thy spirit!”-Forms, evidently borrowed from St. Paul's Epistles to the Thessalonians and to Timothy,' and supposed to have been employed in public prayer from the most ancient times. In these, the minister, for his people, and the people, in return, for their pastor, invoke the Divine aid and influence; that, the one being enabled to discharge his ministry with devout fervour, the others, to follow his steps with pious attention, this holy office may, on both sides, be duly discharged.

The minister then solemnly invites the congregation to join him in prayer; thus bespeaking the exclusion of all vain, light, and worldly thoughts, that their minds may be fitted for that holy and important occupation: and they-having first, under his guidance, besought the Lord and their Saviour Christ, to “have mercy” upon them,

2

1 2 Thess. iii. 16; and 2 Tim. iv. 22.

2 This primitive form-“ Lord, have mercy upon us; Christ, have mercy upon us; Lord, have mercy upon us!" -has been termed by some writers “ the lesser Litany," and is considered as addressed to the holy Trinity distinctly: the first clause, to the Father; the last, to the Holy Ghost.

that is, to pardon their unworthiness—begin their petitions by repeating, for the second time, that most expressive and comprehensive form of prayer, which our Lord himself delivered to his followers ; and to which we have already given a sufficient share of consideration.

Next, in a few short verses, said alternately by the minister and the congregation, petitions are put up for the Sovereign, the ministers of the Gospel, and the people at large : that God would graciously be pleased to “ endue his ministers with righteousness;” to bless his chosen people with peace and prosperity, and, finally (as David has taught us to pray) to “ give them a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within them.”! These verses are almost entirely borrowed from the Psalms, which have ever been justly regarded as the best model for this form of devotion that any age has produced.

We now enter upon the COLLECTS:--so ancient a name for certain prayers, that we have not, at this day, any absolute knowledge of its origin. It is supposed, however, to have been given to

i Psalm li. 10.

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them, either because they were composed for the use of the people collected together; or because the prayers themselves were collected or compiled from various and separate forms of devotion.

The first of these is the peculiar Collect of the day ; being the same, if the day be Sunday or a holiday, as is prefixed to the Epistle and Gospel appointed for that day in the Communion-service; otherwise, that of the Sunday or holiday next preceding it. Of these Collects it has always been remarked, even by those Christians, who do not join in the use of them, that they breathe, in a peculiar degree, that spirit of fervent but sober piety, by which the entire Liturgy is confessedly distinguished. The greater part of them, also, are evidently adapted to the subjects of those portions of Scripture, to which they are prefixed. Many of these Collects, perhaps two-thirds of the whole, are copied from forms composed in the primitive ages of the Church, and so highly approved, as to have been adopted and retained for many ages throughout the greater part of the Christian world : and the remainder, though comparatively of recent date, have so deeply imbibed

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