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us what alone can make the services we have at present been performing here to be pleasing in his sight: what alone can guide us into those paths where our future lives may be pure and holy: and what alone can secure to us that everlasting happiness which our blessed Redeemer has promised to those who hold the faith in righteousness. “As he that hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation."*
The rubrick desires that here and at the end of all the other prayers the word Amen be said by the people. This word in the Hebrew denotes constancy or steadiness. It was used as a particle of consent or affirmation in the Jewish worship as in ours; and from St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians we find it so used in the early ages of the Christian Church. After the Creed it expresses the firm belief of the congregation in its several clauses : after any prayer it expresses their joining earnestly in its several parts. It is retained in the original language perhaps because it has the effect of intimating that the same God is the object both of Jewish and Christian worship. Where it is only desired that the people say Amen at the conclusion, you must see that it is evidently implied, that in what was recited by the Minister they should keep silence. For particular reasons some parts are appointed for him only to pronounce: and were it otherwise, confusion certainly would arise in prayers of considerable length, as persons speaking with different degrees of quickness might be repeating different parts at the same time, in the hearing and to the interruption of each other. The responses therefore for the people are always short, as are the verses of the Psalms, which are repeated alternately, and the distinct petitions of the Lord's prayer, which, as the prayer was composed by our Lord for general use, all are desired in the Church service to pronounce. And now prepared by penitence, and, it may be hoped, admitted to pardon, we proceed to offer up prayers to our Heavenly Father, and we begin by offering that which he who knew the infirmity of our nature and the weakness of our faculty gave us as a model for our addresses to the throne of grace. This shall be the subject of our next discourse.
* 1 Peter i. 15.
From the discourse just delivered you cannot but perceive in what a genuine Spirit of Gospel piety our Liturgy has been composed, and how faithfully it has sought to clothe its devotions in the impressive language of the Scriptures. The explanations now submitted to you were but laying before
passages in holy writ, which in it for brevity had been only alluded to or abridged. Was I in error when in a former discourse, I considered this Liturgy as the beauty of holiness ? When I gave it the preference to any effusion offered up at the instant even by the pious and the talented? And if a service were not specially set down, but the service in matter and in words were left to the discretion of those who should minister, would you be always sure of finding such as were pious and talented ? This Liturgy was composed by the collective labour of many persons eminent for piety and talents: and they took time and pains for deliberation, to guard against error and to restrain extravagance. Who will say that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were kept back from them in the execution of their most important work, to be bestowed on individual devotions in spheres more limited ? No: we can have no doubt that they prayed with the Spirit, and they prayed with the Understanding also. The object of these discourses, my beloved brethren, is that you may follow their prayers with understanding: that he who occupieth the place of the unlearned may say Amen with a perfect understanding of their giving of thanks. God grant that you may partake of that Spirit which guided them into the knowledge of the truth, and that you may “ receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save your souls.”*
THE LORD'S PRAYER.
MATTHEW vi. 9.
After this manner therefore pray ye.
This admirable form of Prayer comes recommended by the highest possible authority. Our Lord was himself its author--and he hath left it to the Church that calls itself after his name. He delivered it on two occasions with very little difference indeed in the expressions : once in that summary of practical Religion, which he promulgated to theassembled multitudes in his Sermon on the Mount,* and again when one of the Disciples besought him to teach them to pray as John the Baptist also taught his Disciples.f Thus it comes to us as a Prayer to be used, and as a model to be copied : an address from the heart to him who seeth in secret, rebuking by its simplicity the ostentation of the Pharisees, and by its conciseness the vain repetitions and much speaking of the Heathens : expressed in terms most easy of comprehension, and applicable to every condition of human society and in every circumstance of human life. Properly the first learned of all our prayers, its familiarity may have superceded in some any special enquiry into its meaning: the result of such enquiry will shew it admirable alike for the extent of its matter and the compendiousness of its construction. Let me call on your attention while in this day's discourse I unfold its brevity, while I explain its petitions, while I bring more fully into view what it implies and what it recommends, and while I urge on you the dispositions required in those who would use it with effect. For our Lord did not deliver a form of words that was to be effectual when repeated without understanding and without feeling : which was to obtain whatever it asked, without faith in God to whom it applied, or without effort in the
* Matthew vi. 9. † Luke xi. 2.
supplicant to render himself a meet object on whom God's favor might be bestowed. No: the Prayer itself will shew the contrary: and an analysis of its contents, to such minuteness as time will permit, will open your minds as well to the fit subjects of your addresses in general to God, as to the manner in which he should be solicited and the disposition with which he should be approached.