Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

temporary prayers as necessarily crude and impertinent. Though the form of prayer meet the eye, when the energies of devotion penetrate our hearts, the holy fire burns within us, and the prayers are not less our own than when we immediately conceive, and then clothe our petitions in the language which the fervor of the moment supplies. He must have no extended knowledge of the worship of Dissenters, who has not often, whatever his sentiments may be with respect to the comparative excellence of liturgical or extemporary prayer, given his hearty Amen to petitions expressed in simple, but in correct language, which proceeding from the heart, have made his own heart to burn within him. It is not even decent that Christians, from the circumstance of devotion being conducted by a Liturgy, should represent the prayers of other Christians as necessarily vapid and dead. Nor is it decent that those who employ a Liturgy in their addresses to the throne of Divine Grace, should represent all extemporary prayers as strange fire on the altar of God, and as the jargon of enthusiasm, calculated neither to elevate the affections nor to expand the heart. Let the advocates of these two different modes of worship, (if they think it necessary again to travel orer the ground which has so often been gone over, on both sides, before), show us, if they can, from Scripture and from reason, which is the more excellent way; but let the law of charity and kind, ness dwell upon their hearts and lips. The Christians whose minds are best informed, whose taste is most spiritual and refined, whose devotion is the most ardent, and whose judgment is the most acute, are always found to be the most candid in judging the conduct of others, in those cases in which no express Divine precept is interposed. On the other hand, no men are so precipitate, so loud and censorious in judging others, as those whose incapacity, whose angry passions, and the insincerity of whose hearts, render them the most incompetent to decide on such subjects.

The Conference at the Savoy broke up without effecting any thing, and the different parties separated with minds more alienated from each other, and with tempers more inflamed and exacerbated, by their acrimonious disputes. Some alterations were proposed by the Episcopal Divines, which, in the May following, were agreed to by the whole Clergy in Convocation. The principal of these were, that several lessons in the Calendar, were changed for others that were reckoned more proper for the days; the prayers upon particular occasions were separated from the Litany: and the two prayers to be used in the Ember-weeks; the prayer for the Parliament; that for all conditions of men, and the General Thanksgiring, were added. Some of the Collects were also altered ; and the Epistles and Gospels were taken out of the last translations, which formerly had been given in the old translation of the Bible. The office for the Baptism of those of riper years ; and the Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea, were added. Finally, the whole Liturgy was at that time brought to its present condition, and on the twentieth day of December, 1661, it was unanimously subscribed by both Houses of Convocation of both Provinces. In March following, it was brought into the House of Lords, and an act for its establishment was passed by both Houses of Parliament.*

• The facts of this Statement are mostly taken from Mr. Wbeatly's Appendis to the Introductory Discourse Concerning the Common Prayer.

OBJECTIONS TO THE LITURGY.

Some have objected to the Absolution, that it advances a claim in the Priest who pronounces it to the power of forgiving sins, a power which the Clergy of the Church of Rome arrogate to themselves. To this objection, the friends of the Liturgy reply, that it contains nothing more than that absolution, which in almost every page of the Gospel, is declared by God himself. “ Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of a sioner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness and live; and hath given power and commandment to his Ministers, to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the Absolution and Remission of their sins: He pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel.” In King Edward's second Common Prayer Book, and in all the other books till the Restoration of Charles the Se. cond, the word in the Rubrick, was Minister, and not Priest. But in the review of the Liturgy, which followed the Conference at the Savoy. Minister was struck out and Priest inserted in its place. From this alteration it appears, that those who are only in Deacon's orders are not competent to use this part of the service.

Objections have been made to the Responses, or short sentences in which the congregation answer the minister, as inconsistent with the simplicity of worship. The friends of the Liturgy answer, that this alternate manner

of worship is that, with a view to which many of the Psalms are evidently composed (take the twenty fourth Psalm as an instance), and that the Fathers assure us, that in all the old Liturgies the first Christians used such res. ponses. “ The design of them is,” says Mr. Wheatly, “by a grateful variety to quicken the people's devotions, and to engage their attention : for since they have their share of duty they must expect till their turn come, and prepare for the next response : whereas when the Minister does all, the people naturally grow sleepy and heedless, as if they were wholly unconcerned."*

The charge of vain repetition has likewise been brought against the Liturgy, and to this charge its friends reply, that “ to call our repetitions vain is to beg the question. The fact is, that the repetition alluded to in Scripture (Matthew, vi. 7) was that of an unmeaning jargon-as the Hindoos in our own times are said, as a part of their wor. ship, to repeat the thirty thousand names of their idols. But is such the character of our repetitions ? The sole repetition we believe charged upon us is, that of the Lord's Prayer,-a repetition valuable to the devout mind, as a means of ensuring our once at least offering it with undistracted attention ; our substituting our great Advocate again and again for ourselves, at the mercy seat of God; and of not merely praying in his name, but as it were employing his person to represent us at the bar of God. Nor is this all. It is neither true in philosophy nor in fact, that devotion abhors repetition. Strong emotions of pain, or of pleasure, as is well known to the philosophical examiner, often stifle the inventive powers ; and as to

• Order for Morning and Evening Prayer, Scction 7th.

the fact, Christ himself in his agony, addressed his Father three times in nearly the same words."*

Many of the Dissenters have strongly objected to the lessons taken from the Apocrypha, because those books are neither considered as canonical by the Church which directs them to be read, nor by Protestants in general. The advocates for the Liturgy observe, that several of the Apocryphal books were, by the Council of Carthage, recommended to be read publicly in the Church, and that from the testimony of several Christian writers it appears, that the same respect was paid to them in later ages. “ In conformity to so general a practice, the Church of England still continues the use of these books in her public service : tho' not with any design to lessen the authority of Canonical Scripture, which she expressly affirms to be the only rule of faith : declaring that the Church doth read the other Books for example of life and instruction of manners, but yet doth not apply them to establish any doctrine. Nor is there any one Sunday in the whole year, that has any of its lessons taken out of the Apocrypha. For as the greatest assemblies of Christians are upon those days, it is wisely ordered that they should then be instructed out of the undisputed word of God. The lessons out of the Apocrypha (except such of them as are assigned to the festivals of the Saints) being all reserved to the week days in Autumn, when, by reason of the harvest in the country, and the absence of those, who have most leisure, in the town, the congregations are generally the thinnest.”'t

The Creed of St. Athanasius, which contains damna

• Christian Observer, for January, 1813. + Mr. Wheatly on the Order of Morning and Evening Prayer. Section 10th.

« AnteriorContinuar »