Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

do not clearly perceive in what its real excellence consists. Should the following essays be the means of shedding any additional light on the subject, in the minds of any persons who shall favour them with a perusal; should any, who have hitherto rested in the form, be brought to enter into the spirit of our service; should the ignorant find instruction, gainsayers be silenced, or the flame of devotion in any sincere worshippers be raised to a higher pitch; the author will have his reward. The following essays, however, are not designed as polemical pieces. The author has no desire to enter the field of controversy. There are too many men of war already in the world, and he is determined not to increase the number. All that he requests from his reader is a candour of judgment, and a permission to express in public his own approbation of the services of that church, of which he is an unworthy member. While he feels himself cordially disposed to embrace, in the widely-extended arms of Christian charity, all those, of whatever denomination, “who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity;" he may surely be allowed, without offence, to give a preference to that establishment, to the doctrines of which he has solemnly subscribed his hand.

The orthodoxy of our public services will be considered by every friend to truth to be one of their strongest recommendations, if it should appear ( as the author devoutly wishes it may in the course of the following essays) that our forms of worship harmonize with the truth of God as revealed in the Bible. Our liturgy is not like a nose of wax that may be adapted to every face. It is not contrived, like Mr. Pope's universal

[ocr errors]

prayer, to suit the taste of infidels and heretics. But its language, on all the fundamental doctrines lof 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, mišnamed 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 15. no other name under heaven, given among “meni, whereby we must be saved, but the name

of Jesus Christ." Therein the doctrines of the fall, the Trinity, the atonement and savingmerit of Clirist, 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 Tof all divine truth. So clear and defined are the sentiments contained in the book of Common Prayer oni these cardinal points, that every person in ouirassemblies, who'verbally sadopts and yet inwardly disbelieves them, is condemnedo out of his own mouth. And should such iaimonster of duplicity ever arise, as an Arian, Socinian, or Pelagian clergyman; continuing such, he would be restrained by his own: subscriptions and confessions from ever venting his heretical opinions, and thereby poisoning the: minds of others; or he would be obliged, whenever he appeared in the congregation of the faithful, to proclaim his own dishonesty. Let: the enlarged minds of unbelievers condemn, as much as they will, the narrowness of our creed; those, who are concerned for the honour of God and the welfare of mankind, will rejoice that we have such a barrier erected against the admission of those into the fold of Christ, whose business it is “ to steal, to kill, and to destroy.' Blessed be God for the Liturgy of the church of England!

The variety of forms, which occur in our Liturgy, and their judicious accommodation to all our spiritual necessities, constitute another characteristic of its excellence. The compila.tion proves that the authors of it were well read in the present state of human nature. They were well acquainted with the fallen, guilty, corrupt, and helpless state of man, and with the glorious provision which the gospel makes for our present and eternal comfort. Is the Christian worshipper oppressed in spirit from a recollection of his sins? Here are confessions, of sin, and deprecations of the anger of God, that will adequately express his feelings; here are promises of pardon, that will approve then)selves to his heart by their exact correspondence with his wishes. Is he joyful in spirit? Here he is furnished with hymns of praise, that will describe in lively terms the grateful emotions oi his breast. We shall find it difficult to point out any situation, of a public or private nature,

« about Him." When we reflect on the wretched state to which the fall has reduced us, the vanity of our minds, and the sad indisposition of our souls to every thing that is Divine and spiritual, we shall see the necessity of exerting all our powers preparatory to the solemn worship of God; and, after all our efforts, confess our inability to “ quicken our own souls," and that “ the preparation of the heart in man os is from the Lord," from whose almighty grace alone we can derive the power to offer Him acceptable service.

The compilers of our liturgy were sensible of these things; and therefore they have wisely appointed, that, at the opening of public worship, the minister should read, according to his discretion, some one or more of the sentences, which they have chosen and prefixed to the morning and evening prayer. These preparatory sentences they have copied from the book of God, in order that their authority may be incontestable, and their influence on the minds of those who hear them more powerful, than any thing of merely human invention or authority could be expected to be.

" When the wicked man turneth away from - his wickedness that he hath committed, and “ doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall “ save his soul alive.” Ezek. xviii. 27.

“ I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” Psal. li. 3.

“ Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out “all mine iniquities.” Psal. li. 9.

- The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: “ a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou “ wilt not despise." Psal. li. 17.

[ocr errors]

“ Rend your heart, and not your garments, " and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is

gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of “ great kindness, and repenteth Him of the " evil." Joel ii. 13.

To the Lord our God belong mercies and

forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against “ Him: neither bave we obeyed the voice of the “ Lord our God to walk in His laws, which He “ set before us." Dan. ix. 9, 10.

“ O Lord, correct me, but with judgment;

not in Thine anger, lest Thou bring me to “ nothing." Jer. x. 24.

Jer. x. 24. Psal. vi. 1. Repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is " at hand.” Matt. iii. 2. * “ I will arise and go to my Father, and will

say unto Him,-Father, I have sinned against “ heaven, and before Thee, and am no more “ worthy to be called Thy son.” Luke xv. 18, 19.

•«« Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, “ O Lord; for in Thy sight shall no man living “ be justified.” Psal. cxliii. 2.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to

forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all “ unrighteousness. 1 John i. 8, 9.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It would take up too much time to analyse these several well-chosen passages: we must, therefore, content ourselves with taking a general survey of the end for which they are here introduced. They are evidently selected with a view to the different classes of those, who may be supposed to appear in the house of God; and are designed to excite in them emotions suitable

« ПредишнаНапред »