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The reader is requested to correct the following error, introduced by the compositor after the sheet had passed through the author's hands.-In the collect for the Epiphany, p. 430, in various places, for Magii read Magi.
יחיש . יתיש Note, p. 64, for
On the prefatory Sentences from Holy Scripture,
with which the Morning and Evening Service of the Church is introduced.
'HE liturgy of the church of England has
been considered by able judges to be a composition of great excellence. It has now stood the test of examination, both by its friends and enemies, for several centuries: and there yet remains a numerous host of persons, endued both with sense and piety, who admire the venerable structure. Though no argument, drawn in favour of any work from the character of an uninspired author, can be absolutely conclusive; yet, when the subject is religion, the known piety of a writer will naturally bias a candid reader in behalf of his productions. The compilers of our liturgy were men eminent for Godliness. Many of them were persons of high
. attainments in human literature, and distinguished both by the soundness and strength of their faith, and by the purity of their lives. And it ought not to be forgotten that some of them sealed the truth with their blood, “ not loving their lives unto death,” that so they might glorify God their Saviour, and transmit to posterity, the truth as it is in Jesus, freed from the leaven of popish superstition * with which the church
* It has been objected (says a late writer on ecclesiastical, history) “ that the liturgy or common prayers were chiefly.
relative either to our souls or bodies, which is not comprehended in our admirable forms. But these things will more conspicuously appear as we proceed in the further elucidation of our subject.
The spirituality of our liturgy is another of its excellencies. Nothing is to be found therein to satisfy the conscience of the formalist and pharisee; but, on the contrary, every thing that is calculated to awaken attention to the necessity of the worship of the heart, of communion with God, and real delight in His service. Herein we are taught that “ God is a spirit, and that
they, who worship Him aright, must worship “ Him in spirit and in truth." The absurdity of the language of mere compliment, when addressed to Him who searcheth the heart, is plainly pointed out: and the worship of our church is adapted, exclusively, to the use of those who desire and expect to enjoy on earth, in the courts of the Lord's house, that which may afford them a foretaste of, and fit them for, more refined and exalted pleasures at God's right-hand for evermore. Much more might be said to the same purpose, were it not an anticipation of what may, with greater propriety, be introduced hereafter.
Therefore, leaving this general view of the subject, we proceed to give our serious attention to the preparatory sentences at the commencement of our public worship; which exhibit to us the necessity of a solemn preparation of the heart for an appearance in the presence of God. When * Moses was preparing to prostrate himself before the dread majesty of
Exod. ii. 5.
God, who “ appeared unto him in a flame of “ fire out of the midst of a bush, commanded to put his shoes from off his feet, and informed that the place whereon he stood was holy ground, being consecrated by the peculiar presence of Him, in whose smile is heaven, and in whose frown is hell. What was the meaning of this injunction? Was it merely an external act of respect that was required? Surely not. The putting off his sandals was designed to be an outward and visible token of an inward and spiritual frame of mind; a reverential disposition of soul suited to a creature, when standing in the presence of his Creator; to a sinner standing in the presence of his Saviour and Judge. So let it be observed, that the answerable modern custom of uncovering our heads at our entrance into the church, or of placing our hats before our faces previous to taking our seats in the pews, is not sufficient to characterize us as true worshippers of God, or real members of the church of England; but a
1 flagrant mockery of Him, whose presence we only pretend to reverence, unless the outward token of respect be accompanied by suitable feelings of heart. When, on the one hand, we recollect what God is, even “the high and lofty “ One, who inhabiteth eternity, who dwelletha “ in the high and holy place, and is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity;” and when, on
; the other hand, we consider ourselves as vile reptiles of the dust, as “ born in sin and shapen « in iniquity;" we shall perceive the propriety of a reverential awe, when we venture to tread His courts: for surely this “ God is greatly to “ be feared in the assemblies of His saints, and “ to be had in reverence of all that are round
prayer, to suit the taste of infidels and heretics. But its language, on all the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, is clear and decisive. This circumstance indeed will not recommend it to those who have imbibed the spirit of the present day; in which indifference to all religious truth, misnamed charity and candour, has overflowed, like a deluge, almost every rank and order of men. Our reformers sought not to
please men, but God. They sought not to gratify the pride of philosophy. They took care not to open a passage, whereby man's fallen reason might be exalted to the throne of judgment, while the oracles of God," in a state of degradation, are placed at the footstool. Ease of conscience in those persons, who, while they pretend respect for Divine revelation, trample it under their feet, was no part of their concern. But the decisive language of our liturgy will endear it to those, who believe" that there is ff. no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ." Therein the doctrines of the fall, the Trinity, the atonement and savingmerit of Christ, and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, are asserted in pointed and energetic terms. On these topics it is needless to enlarge at present, as abundant opportunities will hereafter offer themselves of exhibiting the agreement of our church with the one unerring standard of all divine truth. 44 So clear and defined are the sentiments contained in the book of Common Prayer on these cardinal points, that every person in our assemblies, who verbally adopts and yet inwardly disbelieves them, is condemned out of his own mouth. And should such a monster of duplicity ever arise, as an