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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 minister 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. saints 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 attend 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 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 ou 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 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 glorify 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 pubto 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 man. also for food and raiment, health and na had no taste to the wicked; but it suitstrength, protection and success, in all our ed 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 needful, 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 snextempore, 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 forın 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. The lessons, 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, tl.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
one exercise of worship to another, and, in offer no prayer more acceptable to God than stead of one continued and uniform prayer, the one prescribed by his blessed Son. A sending up its wishes and aspirations in short lively glow of the fancy and animal spirits an i varied collects of supplications, is never may be excited where there is little of the suffered to grow languid and weary. The spirit of true devotion, where the understandaffections of the worshipper ever kept alive ing and the feelings are not deeply and perby the tender and animating fervor which manently interested. The novelty that is breathes through the service; he worships sought for in extempore effusions tends to his God and Redeemer in spirit and in truth, occupy the imagination with the words that with reverence and awe, with lively gratitude are employed, and thus diverts the mind and love; the exalted joys of devotion are from the proper business of devotion. He poured upon his soul ; he feels that it is good who with sincerity and humility makes it for him 10 draw near unto God, and that a his regular business to worship God accordday spent in his courts, is better than a thou- | ing to the solemn forms of the liturgy, may sand passed in the tents of the ungodly. be assured that he renders unto God an
Thus delightful and edifying will every acceptable service, even if he should not person find the service who joins in it with always feel those lively and ardent emotions sincerity ; who unites his heart with his which depend in no inconsiderable degree voice, in the parts of the service assigned to upon constitutional temperament, upon the the people; and who accompanies the min state of health, and various external circumister in thought and affection through the stances. supplications and prayers, lifting up his heart “ It is the true and sincere devotion of the in secret ejaculations corresponding to the heart only that can make our prayers acceppublic addresses of the minister to the throne table unto God. It is this only which gives of God. A person who thus sincerely offers life and vigor and true acceptance, to all our his devotions according to the liturgy of the religious addresses unto him. Without this, Church may be satisfied that he is worship-how elegantly and moving soever the prayer ping God “ with the spirit and with the un may be composed, and with how much seemderstanding also.” The more freqnently and ing fervor and zeal soever it may be poured seriously he joins in the service, the more will out, all is as dead matter, and of no validity he be impressed with its exquisite beauties, in the presence of our God. It is true, a which tend at once to gratify his taste and to new jingle of words, and a servent delivery quicken his devotion. That continual change of them by the minister in prayer, may have of language in prayer which some persons
some effect upon the auditors, and often raise appear to consider as essential to spiritual in such of them as are affected this way, a devotion, it would be impossible to attain, devotion which otherwise they would not even were every minister left to his own have. But this being wholly artificial, discretion in public worship. The same ex
which all drops again, as soon as the engine pressions would necessarily recur frequently is removed that raised it, it is none of that in his prayers. They would soon sink into true habitual devotion, which alone can rena form, destitute of that propriety and dignity der our prayers acceptable unto God.” (6.) of sentiment and language, of that variety, The length of the service has been some. that simplicity, and affecting fervor which times a subject of complaint. Yet so excelcharacterize the liturgy of the Church. lent and appropriate is every part of it, that
If the charge of dull uniformity may with it would be difficult to determine where propriety be urged against the prayers of the with propriety it could be curtailed. On Church, it may with equal justice be urged this subject there would certainly be a great against that exalted and inspired composition
(6.) Dean Prideaux, Com. of Old and New Testhe Lord's prayer. And yet we can surely | tament, Book 6. Part 1.
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 conipose 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 to 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
flame of cible testimony against all unlicensed alterations of truth and the genuine spirit of evangelical the service. “We cannot, however, but have obpiety. 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 private 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 magnitude arising out of Where indeed a form of prayer is provid
a combination of extraordinary apparent piety, with ed, the introduction of extempore prayers,
a disregard of the most explicit promises which
can be made, in one of the most solemn acts to would appear liable to the charges of being
which religion can give her sanction.” 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 minister 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 Let 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 him 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 be
, tween God and man, the man Christ Jesus." which proceeding 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“Let thy priests, O Lord, be clothed with
vice to have so many short distinct petitions. 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
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 justness, posed in one continued prayer, though it than for their eloquence. They are from might not be tedious, yet it would keep the pens 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 to the doctrine, discipline, vigour. and worship of the Church
The variety of our service is another ex