« AnteriorContinuar »
drawn what I have brought forward have been, Wheatly, Shepherd, Palmer, Comber, and Molesworth, the last of whom is the only one at all within the reach of the class of persons for whom this book is designed.
Jan. 4th, 1847.
“THE Prayer Book of the Church of England was not composed in few years, nor by a few men ; it has descended to us with the improvements and the approbation of many centuries; and they who truly feel the calm and sublime elevation of our hymns and prayers, participate in the spirit of primitive devotion. The great majority of our formularies are actually translated from Latin and Greek rituals, which have been used for at least fourteen or fifteen hundred years in the Christian church; and there is scarcely a portion of our Prayer Book which cannot in some way be traced to antient offices."-Palmer on the Antiquities of the English Ritual.
MORNING AND EVENING SERVICE.
The office for the morning and evening service commences with directions given to the minister in the Rubric, to read one or more of the sentences of Scripture, eleven in number, that follow. The selection of these particular sentences has given rise to two opinions respecting the object the framers of our Liturgy had in view when they made it. It is difficult to say which is the more correct one; both, however, are instructive, and it may be that both are true. One is, that they may be considered as addressed to five different descriptions of persons, affording :
1. Instruction to the ignorant and erring.—1 John, i. 8, 9; Ezek. xviii. 2.
2. Admonition to the negligent and inconsiderate.—Ps. li. 3; Math. iii. 2.
3. Models of penitential devotion to those who are apprehensive of God's judgments.—Ps. li. 9, cxliii. 2 ; Jer. x. 24.
4. Encouragement and consolation to the diffident and contrite.-Ps. li. 17; Dan. ix. 9, 10; Luke, xv.
18, 19. 5. Caution to the ceremonious and formal.-Joel, ii. 13.
These sentences, according to this opinion, provide the minister with a number from which he may select, from time to time, such as may be suited to the various habits and dispositions of his congrgation.*
The other opinion is, that they are intended to confirm the authority of God's word, and to commend to our hearts, in the most impressive language, what is contained in the exhortation which the mi
* Shepherd on the Book of Common Prayer.
nister is about to read to the congregation. For this purpose they set before us God's promises through his prophets, David's example, the Baptist's warning, our Lord's affecting parable, the beloved Disciple's counsel, and the faithfulness of God in the promises he has given.* The latter opinion is striking ; but from the fact that the Minister, in the Rubric, is directed to use one or more, the number being left to his own discretion, I think we may infer that the former opinion is the more correct one.
The sentences, Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution, were prefixed to the Liturgy at the second review of it in the reign of Edward the Sixth, A. D. 1551, previous to which time the services began with the Lord's Prayer.
How does the Minister address the congregation ? As his “dearly beloved brethren.”
Why does he so address them? To express his brotherly love for them, and to remind them of the relation in which they stard to him and to each other; and also into whose family all are adopted.
Into whose family are he and they adopted ? Into God's family.-John, i. 12 ; Rom. viii. 16; 1 John, iii. 4.
How do we become God's children by adoption ? By believing in Jesus.—John i. 12 ; Gal. iii. 26; Heb. ii. 11.
Whence does the Minister draw his exhortation ? From Scripture.
What does the Scripture move us to do? To acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness.
What is the meaning of the words “moveth ?" Directs us.
What does the Scripture move us not to do? Not to dissemble or cloak our sins.
Before whom ? Before the face of the Almighty God.
What is meant by “Before the face of Almighty God ?” In the presence of Almighty God.
What is Almighty God called ? Our Heavenly Father.
Is there any difference between the expresions“ acknowledge and confess," and “dissemble and cloak ?” There is ; " acknowledge” means that we admit certain words, thoughts, and actions, are
* Molesworth's “ Sunday Reader."
sins, and is opposed to the term “dissemble,” which means the denial that certain actions are sinful, which are really so.
“ Confess” has reference, not so much to the nature of our sins, as to the fact of our having been guilty of them, and is opposed to the term cloak,” which means a concealment of our sins.
Explain this more distinctly. The terms “acknowledge and dissemble" relate to the inward consciousness of guilt, that we ought not to deceive ourselves, and cannot deceive God; “ confess and cloak" relate to the outward act of confessing ourselves guilty before the congregation.
Does the Exhortation itself show this distinction ? It does, by using the expression “ acknowledge at all times” immediately afterwards.
How does this show the distinction ? We are at all times, in private as well as in public, to acknowledge our sins; but we confess them one to another.
In what spirit are we to confess our sins ? With an humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart.
Is there any difference between the expressions “humble and lowly ?" There is ; “ humble” means a meek, submissive spirit ; "lowly” the entertaining of a low opinion of ourselves.
What is meant by “penitent?” Being sorry for sin,
What is meant by "obedient ?" A readiness to comply with what God requires of us.
What shall we obtain by this ? Forgiveness of our sins.
What is meant by “ to the end that ?” That it will lead to our being forgiven our sins.
Is it at all meant that we shall deserve it? By no means, for it will still be “by his infinite goodness and mercy.”
What do we say that we ought "at all times” to do? Humbly to acknowledge our sins before God.
What is meant by “ at all times ?” It was stated before as meaning “in private as well as in public.”
When ought we more especially to do it ? When we assemble and meet together.
For what purpose ? To render thanks for the great benefits we have received at his hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy word, and to ask those things which are requisite and necessary as well for the body as the soul.
Is there any peculiarity in the order in which these are placed ? There is; they are placed exactly in the order of the service that follows. After the confession is made, and the absolution pronounced, thanks are rendered, and his praise set forth in the Psalms, his holy word is heard in the Lessons, and everything requisite and necessary is asked for us in the prayers and litany.
Is there any difference between the expressions “requisite and necessary?” There is; “requisite” means things necessary for our com