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matter, that it could hardly be expected that a production of this sort, prepared at the time our National liturgy was formed, and under the then peculiar circumstances of the country, could be found quite suitable in all its parts at the present time.
But admitting the sound doctrine and rich beauty and devotion of the Book of Common Prayer in general, and supposing besides that it approached nearer to perfection than it does, why might not another liturgy also be brought before the public, and be used by all who might feel inclined to do so? Many perhaps who are indisposed from whatever cause to adopt the liturgy now in use, may be more inclined to use the one here presented, without entering into the question which is the more suitable of the two. The adopting of any liturgical form is in a certain degree an approbation of our National Services, and may lead the way to greater agreements. Proper unity does not consist in our all using precisely the same words and forms, but in a general union in ideas and modes. There is more probability that all who fear God in our land will be brought to the ancient unity of the christian church by the use of several liturgies than by exclusively adhering to one. Nothing is more clear from ecclesiastical history than that various liturgies were used in the most ancient and best times of the church, and in truth that every Bishop was fully allowed by the general church of which he formed a part to arrange and regulate the forms of worship within his own diocese, without its being considered for a moment that there was in the variety which this gave rise to any breach of the general unity. It is not insinuated by this that it would be better that every individual diocese at present had a distinct form for public worship, but only to show that to have a variety in this matter is not contrary but congenial to the best primary usages. Variety here may be the means of promoting Unity, and may this be the tendency of the present work as its title bespeaks.
The production now issued is an attempt at improvement, and may it is hoped lead others to produce something superior to it. The writer therefore commits it into the hands of his Christian Brethren, earnestly praying that the Lord may make it serviceable to his people, and that it may be of some little use in promoting that Kingdom which shall Stand for ever.
Though this liturgy issues from the Press at a juncture of time when much is said about reform in our national liturgy, and other things, the writer wishes it to be distinctly understood, that this work has no connexion with present movements. It was in truth begun some ten years ago, and has been written at various intervals; and being now brought to a close, it is presented to the Public, in the spirit of love and of cordial union, with all who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
The directions given to the Corinthian Church, and through it to all others, in regard to the manner of conducting Public Worship, is this, "Let all things be done decently and in order." The instruction contained in this passage justifies the making of arrangements, and the laying down some definite rules in respect to our Public Services. This is the object of a Rubric.
In the first place, it is desirable that an exact time should be fixed upon for the commencement of Divine Worship; and it is important also that the time fixed upon for commencement should be adhered to with precision. If the officiating Minister is unpunctual in beginning the service, it will unavoidably lead to unpunctuality in the assembling of the congregation.
But, not only is it desirable that there should be a fixed time for beginning Divine Worship, and that the officiating minister actually begin at that time; but also that the assembly should be wholly and fully congregated at the commencement of the worship. There is a double offence committed by those who are not present when the worship of God begins. First, they injure themselves, in losing the parts of the Service that may be over before they enter; and secondly, they disturb the devotions of others, by the unavoidable noise and stir of their entrance. Let then every person who wishes to worship God in spirit and in truth, and without distraction of mind; and who, on the other hand, is justly and tenderly careful not to be the cause of distractions and spiritual disadvantage to others,—let all who thus think and feel, be conscientiously careful to be present at the commencement of public worship in the house of God.
But this should be carried still farther. Not only is it desirable that all should be already assembled when the worship begins, but also that each individual, for his own comfort and edification, should endeavour to be already seated in the house of God some few minutes before he is called upon to join with the congregation in the solemn acts of worship. It is desirable that he should have a few minutes' composure for thought meditation and silent prayer, before the regular services begin. This time should not be less than five minutes.
In fitting up all churches and chapels, care should be taken that the pews and seats should be so constructed arranged and accommodated, as to prevent any unnecessary inconveniences during the service. Among other things, proper accommodation for kneeling, should be particularly attended to.
In several places of public worship the males and the females sit apart. This seems a commendable practice, and worthy of being imitated.
The posture in which we present ourselves before our Heavenly Father, though not essential to the acceptance of our services, is nevertheless worthy of our attention, and deserving of proper regulation. Kneeling seems to be the most suitable posture for Prayer: in singing the praises of God, Standing commends itself, as the proper attitude: whilst sitting may be the posture during the reading of the scriptures, and the expounding of them.
Forenoon Service.—As already noticed in the preface, there are Five Services given for the Forenoon. These are all to be conducted after the same manner, and a direction therefore for one of them will suit the whole.
The first part of the service is the Lord's Prayer. This comprehensive and appropriate prayer, is here divided into distinct parts,in order thateach part may be clearly perceived, and that we may more fully enter into each petition contained in it. For the same purpose, and that every one may individually offer up for himself the prayer embraced in each division, the short but expressive response of Amen, is put at the close of the several divisions; and this is the only part to be spoken aloud by all the congregation.—This portion of the service, for sake of convenient reference, may be called the First Prayer.
After the First Prayer a hymn is to be sung. The one placed in the proper order is considered suitable, and may be often used, whilst at the same time the officiating minister may choose some other instead of it. This hymn may for distinctions sake be called, the First Hymn.
Next follows what may be denominated The Second or General Prayer. This prayer, as will be perceived, is of some considerable length. It is desirable that it should be so, in order that we may be kept in the act of prayer for a proper length of time together. Nor could it well be made short, as it is a general and comprehensive prayer. It is the only one embracing general objects in the whole service.—The Responses in it are to be said aloud by all the congregation.
After this comes the Second Hymn. The one inserted may be used, or any other of the same nature, at the selection of the minister.
The prayer that comes next in order may be entitled The Third Prayer. This is not like the preceding, a general prayer, but is in direct reference to the Reading of the Holy Scriptures which immediately follows. This prayer, like the others is divided into paragraphs, sections, or collects, with corresponding responses.
The part of the service which follows, is the Reading of the Holy Scriptures. This is a very important part of the service, and one which, generally speaking, meets with too little attention. The portion of Scripture commonly read in public worship in Dissenting Congregations on the Lord's Day is very small. In this respect the practice of the National Church is much superior. In it there are read, in the first place, two chapters immediately from the Bible. Besides this, a portion is read from the Psalter, and elsewhere, equal to about two chapters more. Again the Epistle and Gospel, together with the commandments will make one chapter additional: thus making in all for the Morning Service about Five Chapters.—In the Evening Service, the portion of Scripture read is nearly Four Chapters.—If the Psalms and also the Epistle and Gospel were read like the Lessons, direct from the Bible, it would, it is