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TURGY, through all it's Parts, a fpecial Regard has beert paid to this Rule; and it is hoped nothing will be found in it, that any Christian need scruple to make Use of, or may not easily understand the full Force and Meaning of each Phrale.
The Necessity of some Liturgic Forms for Public Service, might be sufficiently argued from every one's Experience, that will honestly and impartially appeal to his own Mind, and enquire if he does not frequently, notwithstanding the sincerelt and most serious Intentions, and the ftrongest and best previous Resolutions, find his Thoughts and Affections oftentimes bewildered, and even necessarily wandering and disengaged from the Minister, (and consequently bis Devotion more cold and languid than he could wish it to be,) for want of having something to say himfelf(a), or knowing beforehand what he is about to pray for. It seems to be too great a Stretch of the human Faculties, to hear, to judge, and to pray to God all in one single Moment; which however must be done by every One, who would, with due Devotion, and Attention of Mind, accompany a Minifter through a Prayer of twenty Minutes, or half an Hour, yea perhaps an Hour long, to him before unknown and unheard; an Act the Author of this Work confesses his own utter Incapacity for, and He has heard the same Complaint acknowledged by many of the best, most pious and sensible Disenting Christians He has conversed with. And though some Ministers whom He has had the Happiness of hearing in this Service, have conducted it in the most regular and judicious, perhaps unexceptionable, Manner, yet this Objection still remains in it's full
(a) This Engagement of the Voice in Devotion is of so great Service in fix. ing the Attention of the Heart, (without which all Words were vain,) that I would ask the most rigid Opposer of Liturgic Forms this Question, viz. If he does not find the Use of joining vocally in the singing of Pfalms, to enliven his Affections, and warm his Heart towards God, more than he would do by being filent in this Part of Service? And also if he does not experimentally find himtelf more deeply seriously and compotedly engaged in Devotion, and in praying has his Thoughts frcer from wandering and more intent in it, when he himself Jpcaks aloud as the Voice of the People, than when he is only hearing another do the same ?-And fome Ministers amongst the Diflenters have been so aware of this, that they have candidly recommended to their Hearers to repeat after them the Lord's Prayer, and to cry aloud Amen. after Prayer; the only Instances, where, according to their present Way of Worship, the People have a Voice to give!
Force, and will do so, while we are in this earthly State, united to bodily Organs, and liable to it's various infirmities. In such a Case therefore, He cannot help applying, what the Apostle indeed urged upon a somewhat d fe ent Occafion, (1 Cor. xiv. 17.) Thou verily giveft Thark: welt, but the other is not edified.—And now if this Objeć ion is lo important, where the Minister's Abilities are acknowledged to be so eminent; what Weight will it have in a Munitude of Instances, where the Gift of Prayer is not so manifest? (6)
But to enlarge upon these and other A guments, to the Length they might bear, would be too tedious in a Preface, and swell it far beyond it's designed Limits. They are therefore only hinied at, and left to the serious Reflection of the attentive and candid Reader. Whoever has a Mind to see this Matter further argued, would do well to read A LETTER to the Dilenting Minister, representing the Expediency of Staied Forms of Prayer for Public Worship, by a Difsenting Minister, published in 1753, as introductory to a Specinien of a Liturgy in 8vo, and since reprinted by itself. Or the Argument is still more closely and unanswerably pursued in A LETTER from a Blackjmith to the Ministers and Elders of the Church of Scotland, printed at London, for J. Coote, 1759, in 8vo. though the Writer discovers too much Warmth and Keenness of Satire, yet he abounds with good Sense and plain Reasoning on Facts.
However, as there are still different Opinions, among very good and fincerely pious Chriftians, concerning the Manner of conducting Public Worship, (for of Private or Closet Devotion the Author does not here speak, and indeed He thinks that all the Disputes about Public Worship might
(6) To the only weighty Objection that is urged against Forms of Prayer, 25 if they had a direct Tendercy, by People's accustoming themselves only to therra, to deacen or abate the true Spirit of Devotion, and to degenerate into Lip-Service alone, the Pročice of many deyout Christians, who constantly use them, and with the gre test Sericusness, is a fufficient Answer. It would be the higheft Degree of Uncharitableness and wrong Judgment to say, that in the estahlithed Church of Erglard notcdy can be or are devout in Prayers. And I would cnly ask this ore Cuestion, Will any One, that calls himself a devout Christian, suy that he cannot repeat the Lord's PRAYER as fervently, and with as fixt arci devout a State of Mind, and carnest Attention to it's whole Meaning and Dergr, (notwithstanding he has used it perhaps ten thousand Times before,) as it he was hearing any extemporary Effufion, or joining in or using a Prayer fresh composed ? He that says he cannot so well attend to the Lord's Prayez, las Reason to fear, he is in the Gall of Bitterness and the Bord of Iniquity.
eafily be adjusted by duly attending to the Difference betwixt Social and Private Prayer,) He has only to add his fincere Wish and Prayer to God, that He would graciously pardon us all our past Errors, shew us the Light of his Truth, give us Hearts to follow it, and dispose us all to be reconciled to each other, as much as possible, upon the true Christian Foundation of brotherly Love and Forbearance: And let us all endeavor to keep to the Apostolic Rules for our Direction in such Cale-s, viz. take Care how we judge or despise one another; (Rom. xiv. 3.) Let évery Man be fully perswaded in his own Mind, (v. 5.) have his Persuasion to himself before God; (v. 22.) and happy is he that condemneth not himself in that Thing which he alloweth. And remember also, that not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendetí. (2 Corinth. x. 18.)
THE PLAN of the FOLLOWINGWORK is taken from the Established Liturgy, by collecting all the several Parts of Prayers, that are separated and dispersed through the whole; which, though good in the main, are often irregular, and require to be gathered into one regular Series or Form of Prayer, as is here endeavored to be done, and some material Waris supplied, as well as unscriptural Terms omitted. In which alfо the different Parts of Confeffion of Sin, Adoration, Thanksgiving, and Implorations for Mercy and Pardin, with the general and particular Intercessions are compiled orderly, and inserted in their proper Places; and all to be used as one entire Office, but in distinct Parts, and not in three intermixed and confused together, that were originaliy made to be used at different Times, and upon different Occasions. This Want of a regular Order and Method in the Liturgy, fhews a strange Inattention in first composing it, and an inplicit Indolence in the continued using of it, without due Examination and thoughtful Consideration, which ought to induce our WORTHY GOVERNORS to attempt it's Amendment. For though the Comnen Prayer be good in the general, yet it mut be confeffed, that it wants Regula. tion, and some considerable Alterations and Amendmi nts. Are all the Faults redreffed that were found in the old Litur.
gy, and complained of in what is faid concerning the Service of the Church, after the Preface to the Common Prayer? Is there no breaking one Piece from another now, as well as before the Reformation? No needless Repetitions or Tautologies ? Or are the Scriptures, e.g. now read in a continued regular Course, as is there faid they ought to be? It is indeed much to be lamented, how unsuccessfully many of the most pious and judicious, dignified, and other eminent Divines have from time to Time recommended and desired a Reformation of the Liturgy, and the Generality of the Laity, who think seriously of it, with to have it fet about; and all Offences in it removed. It is more than ten Years since the Free and Candid Disquisitions were published, which examined more minutely into it's Errors and Defects than will be here attempted, vet they have not hitherto produced their intended good Effect, though their Objections were proposed with very great Weight, and the moft Chriftian Spirit, and have not yet been folidly refuted: To there therefore the Author appeals for his Excuse for the present Attempt, wherein what He has done may be declared in few Words.
The TABLE OF Lessons for each Day in the Tear, was first drawn up a long Time ago for his own private Use, whereby in his Family and Clofet He might regularly read through the SCRIPTURES, and meditate thereon to Edification, and pleased He was to find, that according thereto the whole New Testament is orderly read over three Times in a Year, and the instructive Parts of the Oid Tefta. ment, by such a Division, are gone through once a Year, taking in also the two Apocryphal Books of Ecclefiafticus and Wisdom, which, though not universally allowed to be Canonical, will certainly, by every one that diligently reads and attends to them, be found to contain as rich a Treasure of useful Maxims and Observations for the Conduct of Life, as are in the Proverbs of Solomon, or Ecclefiaftes, to which Books they may well be supposed Supplemental, and as such may be read with great Pleasure and Profit in our Devotional Services. Yet still as He would not rigidly impose any positive Rule herein, every Society or Minister, that scruple these Books, may be left to their own Discretion, to read or omit them, or at any Time, instead of the Chapter
of the Day, may occasionally read another that appears moré fuitable to the particular Time or Circumstances. And as there are many Parts of Scripture not quite fit to be read to an ignorant Congregation as Lessons, without some Explanations, the Author recommends the Practice of expounding the Scriptures, to be observed in all Public Assemblies of Worshippers, yet in as short and plain a Way as possible. Large Commentaries instruct but few; but short Expositions and praftical Improvements would edifie all in Things appertaining to Godliness.
The PsALMS OF David (as they are commonly called) are an amazing Store of the most fublime and animated Parts of Devotion, viz. Adoration, Praise, and Thanksgiving, affurding the most lively Views of the Majesty and Goodness of God, and of the Pfalmist's pious Joy and Delight in his Providence: Some of them are inimitably descriptive of the Temper and Character of a good and upright Man: Others of them are penitential and pathetic, apt to inspire the Soul with awakening Convictions of the Danger of Sin, and the indispensible Duties of Repentance and Submission to the Divine Will; &c. But as Some of them also contain Matters of a more private Nature, or were made for the Jews' Public Use in ordinary, they should be altered so as to be entirely fit for Christian Worship: For surely we ought not, in a devotional Address to God as Chriftians, to rehearse verbatim Pfalms that were composed only for the Jews'Use, at particular Times, and upon different Occasions. These therefore the Author has attempted to methodize and abridge, from the two Translations in the Bible and Common Prayer, chusing such Expreftions as appeared to Him the clearest and most forcible, and He has purposely omitted such Passages, as respected only David's own particular Case, or that of the Jews, which sometimes, if not altogether, were absolutely unfit for a Christian Congregation to repeat and use as Parts of their own devotional Exercises. What Ideas or Impressions the Readers of them have from their promiscuous Use in the daily Church-Service, He does not pretend to tell: For his own Part, He has often been ashamed and afraid to utter many Things therein before God, because they were quite unsuitable to his own Cale or Temper. How few can apply to themselves Pf.x,