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roflcct his own individuality, and be tinctured with his own views.
Such a system may have advantages, but it is certainly very singular, that amongst these, Christian liberty should have been reckoned as one; for in the matter of the united intercourse of the assembled Church of Christ with its Head, the congregation, if this plan be adopted, are delivered up, as it were, into the hands of one man. Those who would execrate the idea of a fellow-creature thinking for them, depute him to pray instead of them; for, in their approaches to God as His Church, not only do they make an individual their mouthpiece to offer up prayers, but they actually offer up what are, to all intents and purposes, his, and only his. So far, then, as regards Christian liberty, it all belongs to the minister; for, as has been well said with reference to giving our own ministers more latitude, "The liberty of the minister is the slavery of the people."
I need hardly say, that the service of the Catholic Church, and of every branch of it, from the very first, has been the opposite to all this.
To speak for our branch, not only is every word of the service known beforehand, so that it is the common property of all—for all know what prayers and praises are to be offered up, and all by their presence, deportment, and response, are supposed to concur,--but opportunities are given at every turn for the congregation to assert their right as “ priests of God,” to take actual audible part in the service.
They offer up the General Confession and the Lord's Prayer, whenever it occurs, with the minister. They confess the Creeds jointly with the minister. They take their share in the daily Psalms by offering up each alternate verse. In cathedrals and places where the Psalms
are chanted antiphonally, this part of God's worship is put up solely by the congregation or laity, the priest joining only as one of the congregation. So also it is in almost all churches with such exalted acts of praise as the “ Te Deum," “ Magnificat,” and “ Benedictus.”
The Litany is thrown into its present form in order to give as much opportunity as possible for response on the part of the assembled worshippers.
The use of short collects rather than long prayers affords more frequent occasions for the congregation to join in by solemn " Amen,” for there is scarcely a prayer throughout the service, the reading of which, slowly and reverently, requires more than one minute of time.
The very Commandments seem to be read chiefly with a view of eliciting the response after each, if we may judge from the tenor of the rubric which precedes them.'
Above all, it is the congregation rather than the minister who offer up the most solemn sacrifices of praise in the whole book, viz., the "Tersanctus," or " Triumphal Hymn," in Holy Communion, and the “Gloria in Excelsis,” in the same service; for before each of these acts of praise there is a rubric directing that it should be “said or sung;” this rubric being, in fact, exactly similar to those which authorise us to surrender the “Te Deum or Psalms to the whole body of worshippers.
So that the Prayer-book is, in the strictest sense, what it professes to be—The Book of COMMON Prayer; both because it is the common expression of the devotion, not of an individual, but of the Church; and also because by
• "Then shall the priest, turning to the people, rebearse distinctly all the Ten Commandments; and the people, still kneeling, shall, after every Commandment, ask God's mercy for their transgressions thereof for the time past, and grace to keep the same for the time to oome.”
response or repetition after the minister, the Church is assumed to use it in common.
Before examining the Scripture testimony which bears upon this matter, I would remark that the whole dispute about it seems to me to be put on a wrong footing when it is represented as a question concerning the propriety of using extempore instead of preconceived forms of devotion. It is not a question between extempore prayer and any preconceived form, but between the devotional effusion of any individual you please, and that form or edition, so to speak, of the Liturgy of Christ's Holy Catholic Church which is used by our branch of it.
If I had to take my choice between the extempore prayers of some fervent though mistaken Christian, and the long dull form which I have heard read in the assemblies of some Continental Protestants, in which several pages of continuous printed matter are gone through without animation or even change of voice, I shonld be tempted to say, Give me the extempore prayer. But the real question at issue amounts to this,- Ought Christian assemblies to procure an individual to supply the words and thoughts of United or Church intercourse with God; or ought they to adopt for the use of their members a certain form of Divine Service, the greater part of which is in the very words of Scripture, and which is entirely their own, because previously assented to by them, and which, as far as is consistent with order and decency, they put up audibly themselves ?
The case in Scripture stands thus :—We have, in the first place, an inspired Prayer-book, forming one of the books of the Bible, and that is “ The Book of Psalms."
In the other Scriptures God speaks to us. In the Book of Psalms He gives us words in which to speak to Him. Of this there can be no doubt. All Christians have, with one consent, agreed to use the Psalms in some shape or other as devotional forms.
The Jews used them in the Temple Service (2. Chron. xxix. 30). They formed a part of that Synagogue Service in which our Lord so often joined.
The Catholic Church has from the first adopted them as a chief part of her daily service, and has so used them without omission or alteration. All the Protestant bodies of the Reformation period adapted them to their worship by turning them into the form of metrical rhyme.
God, then, has decided that forms of prayer are lawful, for He has provided us with a book of such forms, which book has always constituted in itself a very large part of the devotional utterances of His Church.
So far also as regards the New Testament, the question of forms of prayer was taken up and settled by our Lord Himself. He was asked by His disciples for a form in the words, “ Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” In answer to this request He gave them one
“When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven.” By this He disposed of the question of the expediency of forms, for if they had been inexpedient He would have plainly told them that He could teach them no form of words; that such a thing would only cramp the freedom of their intercourse with God; that He would in due time pour His Spirit upon them, and then they would have no need of forms, for the Spirit would enlarge their desires and unloose their tongues, so that any form whatsoever, even any form which He Himself could give them, would be a hindrance to them.'
1 I have been reminded by a correspondent that the form given in Luke xi. is shorter than that given in Matthew vi.; the petitions, • Thy will be done,” “ Deliver us from evil,” not being found in Bt. Luke in the best manuscripts, and that certain German critics
If forms had been unlawful, or even inexpedient, the Lord would certainly have said something like this to thoso who asked Him to teach them to pray.
argue from this discrepancy that Our Lord did not intend us to use either form.
I should rather argue that on this account we should use both at times, not that we should discard both. I have no doubt but that the Lord intended us to use the fuller form, as indeed all who love His every word naturally would-for, unless expressly bidden, we could hardly fail to say, “Thy will be done." The fuller form was undoubtedly first given, and afterwards, being asked to teach a prayer, He referred to His former teaching by giving the leading petitions, so that His followers were at once reminded of what He had previously taught.
The fact may, however, have been that on the second occasion He gave them the same form as on the first occasion, and that the memoranda of His discourses from which St. Luke composed his narrative gave only an abridgment. In this case the discrepancy between the Evangelists takes its place amongst many others in their respective narratives, and will require the same solution, Anyhow, the fact that on the second occasion (Luke xi.) our Lord gives the shorter form, is decisive against the notion that the words of this prayer were intended to be a mere model or skeleton to be clothed with extempore matter, for the second form (St. Luke's) is shorter than the first, and the petitions common to both are expressed in the same words.
Why should we not use His very words ? They are quite as capable of being used as a collect as any that has ever been composed.
Besides, our Lord had been warning us against“ vain repetitions" and “much speaking," and then, apparently to enable us to pray in as few and simple terms as possible, He gives us this form of words.
They who discard the use of the actual words are the last fo forin their prayers on any such a model. I have, in my time, heard very many extempore prayers, but never one that seemed in the least degree founded on this as a inodel.
It has always struck me that the renson why the ministers of some religious bodies refuse to use the form commanded is that the words of Christ present 80 remarkable a contrast to their own.