« AnteriorContinuar »
be able to read, in the Generality of them, this Intensenels of Thought, and the proper Passions that ought to be excited at our Devotions? Far otherwise: You may read the utmost Inattention and Vnconcernedness. Hypocrites may be able to counterfeit these Appearances, and may deceive us, but it is impossible that we should be deceived where People do not appear to be attentive and devout, because Nature, where there is not a forceable Restraint put upon it, will (hew itself by these outward Signs. True Piety is naturally modest, and will offer some Violence to itself, as to the outward appearances of it, lest the Sincerity of the Heart should be suspected. Upon this Head I shall be beholden to Dr. Watts for another very pertinent Paslage in the same Page. "But here let us take heed "that we do not expose ourselves to the Cen"sure of our Saviour, who reproved the Pha"risees for disfiguring their Faces all that Day U which they set apart for secret Fasting and "Prayer. While we are engaged in the very "Duty, some decent Appearances of the Devo"tion of the Mind in the Countenance are very "natural and proper j but at the lame Time it "is best that those Discoveries, or Characters, "of the Countenance, sall below, and stay be*' hind, the inward Affections of the Mind, ra"ther than rise too high, or go before. The "Devotion of our Hearts should be warmer and J? stronger than that of our Faces; and we "should have a care of all irregular and difa"greeable Distortions of the Face, which ibme
** times <' times may tempt our Fellow-worshippers ,*( to Disgust; as well as, on the other hand, "avoid Yawning, and an Air of Lifles ness. '£ To lift up the Eyes to Heaven is very natu"tural, and therefore the Psalmist very often "mentions it; though sometimes, under great *" Dejection of Spirit and Concern for Sin, it is "very decent, with the Publican, to look "down: But, above all, a roving Eye ought to t; be avoided in Prayer." Upon this Account he recommends keeping the Eyes closed, lest the Objects that occur to the Sight should divert the Attention of the Mind. This Rule may be of Use to some; but in our Worship there is another that may be as useful, and that is, looking all the while in the Common-prayer-book.
The next external Token of the inward Devotion of the Mind is, the Tone of the Voice; every Passion has its peculiar manner of expressing itself j Joy, Grief, and. Humility, have their proper Accident, which may be imitated, but cannot be altered where the Passion is real. A true Penitent will confess his Sins in a mournful Tone: If his Mind be duly affected with the Sense of his Guilt and Danger, he must speak with the Voice of Sorrow and Fear; when his Mouth praiseth God, he will do it, as David did, with joyful Lips; there will be an Elevation of Voice, as well as of the Soul. To use another Expression of the Psalmist, He will praise God lustily, and with a good Courage: The Reason why there is such a Faintnejs and Languor in the Voices of modern Congregations is, because "" they they are not Mfvardly affected, as they:ought t<? he. They who give an Account of the primitive Christians' at their publick Devotions, tell us, that their Responses were like the Voice of mafiy Waters, and their" Amen like a Clap of .Thunder. There are two Extreams that ought .to be avoided; there is a modest Decorum to be preserved in the Voice, as well as in the Looks; To be too noisy;. much louder than the Congregation, or to speak with an unnatural Tone, looks like Affectation; not to make the Responses-, .and repeat those Parts which the Congregation is directed, by the Rubricks, to repeat, or to speak ib low as not to be heard, is not joining in the Service j neither, indeed, is their silent Attenddance publick Worship: And, if they do repeat any Part of the Service with any Degree of inward Fervency, it will appear in the Tone of the Voice. This '^unavoidable; it is Nature.. , . Proper Gejlures of the Body come next under Consideration j these, in some measure, depend upon Cujlom; but Reason directs us to the Use of such as are most expressive of those Dispositions of the Mind, which ought to accompany our Prayers: We must be careful not to fall short of those outward Testimonies of Hespect which, we shew to any of our Fellow-creatures;"— ProStration, or Tailing flat upon the Face, before great Personages, was the antient Usage in the Times of the Patriarchs, and therefore it was the Posture which pious People then frequently' «fed.in their Worship: But this Posture not being the Practice of our Times when we ap
O proach proach the Presence of earthly Princes, and other great Persons, it is sufficient for the Purposes of publick Worship if we use the highest Tokens of Reverence that are customary on other Occasions. Kneeling is now the Posture most in use, and Nature seems to have dictated and led Mankind to it, as an Expression of Humility, and a Sense of our Wants, and Dependence upon the Person before whom we kneel t This Posture has been practised in all Ages and Nations, even where the Light of Revelation never fhined.-^But, /landing is a Posture not unfit for Worship, (especially in our Praises and Thanksgivings, and in Places where there is not Conveniency for the humbler Gesture of Kneeling) as k is a Token of Esteem and Honour for any Person to stand up when we speak to him. Both these Postures are used in our publick Worship, in different Parts of it; but, as far a$ our bad Custom of having Pews will admit of it, all the Congregation ought to Use the fame Posture in every Part, in order to make our Worship compleatly joint Worship.—Butfitting never Was in any Age, or Country, used as a Posture of Worship, where People's Health and Strength would admit of any other •„ neither is it admitted in our .Churches during any Part of the Prayers, but only while the Lessons are read j though the Jndevotion of many People practise it while the Psalms are jinging; I would ask such People, whether celebrating the Praises of Our Creator be not as much an Act of Adoration z sany other Part of our Worship? and whether they
can cafl seriously think fitting to be a proper Posturi? for Adoration. In order to convince them of their irreverent and absurd Behaviour, I would desire them to go to Court with a complimental Address to his Majesty, and when they come before the Throne to take a Chair and sit down, In a samiliar Manner, to deliver it* The Consequence, I trow, would be, that they would be immediately ordered to withdraw, and not presume to approach his Presence any more till they had learn'd more Manners. And what is God that he should be treated with less Ceremony than one of his own Creatures f One would hardly think a civilized Person capable of such gross Rudeness^ where the highest^ the most awful Reverence is due.,—There are others who* when they are upon their Knees, will lay their Bodies along upon the Seat. I would desire these careless Worshippers also to sansy themselves upon their Knees before the King to beg their Life* or some very great Favour, or to return him Thanks, would they behave to him in such a Manner as they behave to their Maker and Judge f Cafes of Weakness of Body are out of the Question. God will have Mercy and not Sacrifice. But, in such a Case, when they find themselves in Danger of sainting, or being sick, by kneeling, and must change their Posture, if I might advise, they should stand till they can recover themselves; or if they be not able to bear that Posture neither, in my Opinion they had better sit down a while, and as "soon as they can, fall upon their Knees again. Mv Reason is this: