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PREFACE.

« THE COLLECTS are so called because they embody in the form of a Petition the sentiments collected out of the Epistle and Gospel. If we examine the Epistle and Gospel, we shall see that the spiritual blessings announced or promised therein to the Church at large, are made the subject of prayer in the Collects. Most of them are above a thousand years old, having been used in the Western Church from the time of St. Gregory the Great, and even earlier. They were composed or arranged by Gregory the Great, Gelasius, and St. Ambrose. They are not long continued prayers, but short petitions: the ancient Christians, we find, used such in their Liturgies; and St. Chrysostom, in particular, recommends frequent prayers with short distances between. They are well calculated to prevent the worshippers from becoming languid and distracted in their devotions, and they will have this effect, when the people are in the spirit of prayer !"* To the above excellent remarks it may be added, that, of all forms of prayer, the Collects are the most excellent for younger persons — when properly explained to them, -as well from their brevity as from their instructive associations. The Church most judiciously commences her computation of the year, (properly the Christian year) with the “ Advent" or coming of our Lord Jesus Christ :- the first four Collects announcing that great event, - and these followed immediately by the service for the NATIVITY;

* “ Church of England Magazine,” vol. 1, p. 428; Art. “ Liturgical Hints.

then follows the whole outline of our common Christianity, marked in the order of Christ's Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension. Then the “coming of the Holy Ghost,followed by the constant recognition of the doctrine of the adorable TRINITY — till again the circling year brings us to contemplate anew the coming of our blessed Lord and Saviour. This order is as instructive as it is beautiful; and if rightly enforced on the mind of a child as early as it can learn these admirable formularies, cannot fail to impress the great facts and features of the Christian system upon the youthful heart and memory.

It may perhaps be doubted whether the good old custom of causing the young people of a family to repeat “ by heart," as it is emphatically said, the Collect for the day, in the intervals of public worship, be as frequent as formerly: but in any case, such a relaxation of Christian discipline

is to be regretted, inasmuch as it seems one of the happiest methods of teaching children to pray. It is the custom in the family of the writer to have the Collect for the last Sunday repeated every morning of the week, with the other acts of devotion to which the child attends. And thus it is not only less of a task, or a form, but also its real use and application comes to be more clearly apprehended.

There appears to be only one objection of any weight against such a practice; namely, that there are many expressions of difficult construction, and some obsolete words occurring frequently in the Collects arising from the very antiquity of their composition; and that their doctrinal character often goes beyond the mind of a child. Their phraseology, we think, their peculiar beauty, and their theological character their highest excellence. And whereas, these can be appreciated by every

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