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Granting that each living and curacy were made one hundred pounds a year by strict equalization (and that is much more than the right calculation); the order of the clergy would quickly fall into disrepute. Persons of education who had families to maintain, however desirous they might be of serving God in the church, would be deterred by reasonable considerations from entering it. Some few disinterested individuals, it is true, might be found, willing to give their ·labour for what is next to nothing; and either possessed of independe encies, or content with poverty. But as they who live at the altar, live, in general, together with their dependent families, by the altar (and it is reasonable they should do so), it is probable that, under such an arrangement, the majority of the clergy would be men, not of education, respectability, and rational zeal, but of enthusiastic principles, low birth, coarse manners, and mean acquirements. And, however successful the ministry of such characters in opposition to an established church may sometimes be ; that it would be equally so, in the church opposed, and, as opposed, deserving some extraneous weight to counterbalance the force and spite of opposition, is extremely problematical. Certain it is, that the nature of their success would be far less valuable than the proselytism effected, and the piety preserved, by the address of educated men, whose urbanity exemplifies their Christian principles, to the calm reason of their fellow-beings.
It is here necessary to observe, that we have in this place been unavoidably led to identify the order of deacons, with the holders of stipendiary curacies or small ecclesiastical preferments. Many stipendiary curates are priests, and many priests possess scanty ecclesiastical preferments. The general scope of the argument, however, is not affected by a few necessary anomalies. Deacons are for the most part stipendiary curates : the order of deacon being the first step in the church, and a stipendiary curacy the usual title to ordination,
There is also an analogy betwixt deacons in reference to
priests, and curates in reference to beneficed persons, which renders the foregoing observations applicable to both cases.
· A deacon, by the laws of our church, does not pronounce the absolution, consecrate the bread and wine, or administer the bread. Deacons were, in the primitive church, young men waiting at the altar, baptizing, and serving tables. Persons are admitted to deacons' orders at the age of twentythree, and to priests' orders, one year laters and this, after a new and a stricter examination, relative to their talents and morals; an ordinance which provides that, during the first year of his ecclesiastical life, the minister shall establish the salutary habit of weaning himself from secular pursuits ; retaining his academical information; and establishing a character for gravity, piety, morality, application, and knowledge, which is a pledge for his behaviour throughout the whole of his life. - In regard to ceremonies, we would maintain, on the same ground of expedience, that every church is at liberty to appoint its own ceremonies; there being no express ordinance in Scripture, relative to minute ceremonious observances. It is obvious, however, that this liberty may be abused ; as it is, undoubtedly, .by all those who employ gaudy, unmeaning, or multiplied ceremonies: these tending to draw off attention from that pure and spiritual worship which consists of the homage of the heart and the regulation of the conduct. If man were a pure intelligence, 110 ceremonies whatever would be either requisite or proper : but as he is composed of body and soul ; and as great part of his knowledge comes through the medium of his senses ; some accommodation to this compound condition of his nature becomes advisable in prescribing a form for the direction of his public devotions. His attention must be fixed, and his affections engaged on the side of religion, by the solemn music and the modest decorations of a church, and by the grave and decent vestments of those who minister in holy things. That church, then, moves in the precise line of reason, betwixt the total absence of ceremonies, and an extravagant use of them, which prescribes such as sball lead attention to God, but not arrest it on themselves ; such as shall appear to be a means for the better performance of worship and duty, without occupying so much of the eye, as to be in danger of being regarded as that performance of worship and of duty itself. ..
And of this description are the ceremonies of the Church of England. The cross, the ring, and surplice, were all of them emblems, few, simple, and significant ; and therefore ought pot to have been objected to. We are continually acting by signs: the auctioneer knocks down his lot, and the farmer strikes his bargain.
Among the ceremonies of our church, we may reckon the rubrics which direct the postures of standing, kneeling, and sitting, during different parts of the service. These attitudes are, with great propriety, adapted to the mental affections, respectively supposed to accompany various religious exercises. Thus, we are commanded to kneel, while we are imploring favours, or giving thanks for those already received: this attitude being habitually regarded by us, in common life, as expressive of a sense of unworthiness and humility; the sentiments which ought to inspire us in these parts of the service. We stand while praising God, to signify our cheerfulness, and the lifting up of our hearts; and also while professing our bem lief, to denote our steadfastness in the Christian faith. While the word of God is read in the lessons, or expounded from the pulpit, the congregation sit, in listening to it: because these instructions are delivered to themselves primarily, as men; not having, like the prayers and praises, an immediate reference to sentiments of devotion. It is a maxim in philosophy, that an imitation of the gestures which naturally accompany an affection of the mind, tends to introduce, or to strengthen, that affection. Our devotions are accompanied by the postures prescribed in the Liturgy, upon the same principle which teaches us to stand uncovered in the house of God, that being the cus, tomary outward sign of respect. All these attitudes, then, being associated in our minds, with the sentiments which either nature or the habits of life attach to them ; will, in the hour of worship, call up these sentiments in minds where they do not already exist, and confirm them, where they do.
Another excellence peculiar to our church, consists in its festivals. The Reformation wisely struck out of our calendar a multiplicity of saints' days and holydays, as tending to make the common people idle; whereas the same God who commands men to rest on the seventh day, positively enjoins, Sir days shalt thou labour. Nevertheless, besides the service of Sundays, a few solemn week-days are, in perfect consistence with decency and propriety, observed ; such as Christmas-day; the Epiphany, or day commemorating the first extension of Christianity to the Gentiles (the benefits of which we all partake); Ash Wednesday, or the first day of Lent, a season of solemn preparation for a fit commemoration of our Saviour's sufferings and resurrection; Good Friday, the day on which our Redeemer was crucified; as well as the whole of the Passion-week; Holy Thursday, the day on which our Lord ascended into heaven ; and a few other days dedicated to the honour of the Apostles, the Mother, and first friends of our Lord. Two of these days are holy above the rest : those which commemorate the birth, and the crucifixion of the Saviour of the world.
The other holydays, as well as the service on the Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year, are principally designed for those, whose easy circumstances, or superannuated condition, exempts them from daily labour. They are designed, in a word, for all who can attend them, without tem. poral injury to their families; and who, if they did not attend, would probably be seduced by too much leisure, into some sinful or vain way of spending their time. On Ash Wednesday, and during Passion-week, however, all persons of every age and business might, without inconvenience, devote one hour to public worship; returning to their usual occupations during the remainder of the day. ..
As the festivals of the church are thus few, simple,
We have a comune with the same
and proper, its offices are conformable to decency and reason.
For a proof of this assertion, it is only necessary to enu. merate them. We have a communion service, leading our devotions in that most sacred rite, with the same sublimity and simplicity of language, the same animation and reasonableDess, the same spirit and understanding in point of matter, which pervade the Liturgy. We have an office of baptism; another for confirmation ; another for the visitation of the sick; another for expressing the gratitude of persons recovered from childbirth; another for conferring orders on persons who undertake the ministry; another for the solemn ceremony of mar. riage ; and another for burying the dead. The reasonableness of such offices is so obvious, as to require no comment : and if any person will take the trouble to peruse them, he will find, that, in language and matter, they are all as excellent compositions as have ever proceeded from the ordinary inspirations of the Spirit.
One of those advices which deservedly gave Solomon the name of wise man, Eccles. v. 2, is, Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter any thing before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth. When we contrast the majesty of God with our own littleness, and his purity with our offences, we cannot but acknowledge that we ought to approach him with awe, and with the dread of saying any thing that may be rash, indecent, or irreverent. For this purpose a liturgy or form of prayer is the best calculated. The inspired Apostles, indeed, and early disciples, had less occasion than we have, for forms, (although, in the Lord's prayer, they had one which was perfect, and which was given as a model for their future devotions), since their prayers were dictated to them by a more enlarged measure of the Spirit of God. But as soon as Christianity had settled itself, this extraordinary assistance, which had been given to strengthen it against the first opposition. which it met with, being no longer necessary, was with