« AnteriorContinuar »
Shem, is to be made heirs of the promises, by being grafted into the stock or family of Abraham (de scended from Shem), and counted to him for a seed; for, “ to Abrabam and his seed were the promises made," and, “ if we be Christ's, then are we Abraham's seed." This prophecy relates to ourselves, for we are the posterity of Japheth, the Gentiles ; who, upon the unbelief and rejection of the Jewsthe descendants of Shem-are made to dwell in their tents : taken into their place as the Church of God, and enriched with their privileges.
This history of the sons of Noah affords some useful instruction to children with respect to their behaviour to their parents. From God's inspiring Noah to utter such a prediction as that concerning Ham, we may learn how bateful in his sight is any undutiful behaviour in cbildren towards their parents. We may also learm from it, that another's failure in duty is no excuse for our sin. It did not lessen the sin of Ham, that his father's misconduct was the occasion of it.
The behaviour of Shem and Japheth teaches us that we should endeavour to conceal from others, and not to suffer our minds to dwell upon any instance of sin or infirmity in our parents. We should neither mention them ourselves, nor allow others to talk of them to us.
T. B. P.
SILENT AND SITTING WORSHIPPERS. It is difficult to conceive any prayers more suited to the wants of Christians, than those of our Church, or to imagine any form of words more expressive of the praise which we ought to pour forth to our Heavenly Father, than those written in our own book. There have been, indeed, at different times, persons who have held different opinions as to the best method of worshipping in public; some having been in favour of a form of prayers, and otbers having thought it right that the Minister should be left at liberty to offer up what prayers be, at the 'time, should think best. Many arguments have been used on botb sides of this question ; but our boly Reformers, when they were at liberty to have chosen whichever they thougbit best, after considering the subject well, were convinced that no human means were more likely to continue the profession of right doctrine, than a settled form of sound words. Under a devout and enlightened priest, who held' sound doctrine, it is true that an extempore prayer might be used with safety ; but, supposing another priest should come into the congregation, who did not even believe in the divinity of Christ, or hold any of those doctrines wbich we consider as the very groundwork of the Gospel, would not his hearers gradually sink into all the coldness of Socinianism, and by degrees be brought to deny the Lord who bought them? To keep then the faith in the Gospel uninjured from generation to generation, we deem a form of prayer to be of essential importance. But some persons will say, that " a form of prayer gives a deadness and a coldness to devotion.” Now I would beg those who make this objection to ask themselves particularly, where this deadness and coldness are? In the form of prayers, or in themselves.
Suppose them going into one of our Churches for the first time, not knowing whether the worship was read from a book, or not. They would say (if they knew what Christianity meant) that the prayers and praises, the confessions, the reading of the Scripture, and all the parts of the service, were in the very spirit of the Gospel, and that, instead of being dull, there was a most cheering and pleasing variety,-pow the Minister speaking, then the people,-now a confession of sin, then a promise of par. don,-now a song of praise to the Almighty, and now a lesson of godly instruction to the people. But suppose this person to go again, perhaps he might feel the effect of this service less; and, in a few more times, less still. But, all this time, the service is the very same- the wants of man, and the mercies of God, are still the very same. If then tbe very same worship is offered up with a different feeling, it is plain that the fault is in the worshipper, and not in the form of worship.
Now, on the Reformation, or change of our religion from the Popish to the Protestant Faith, the worship in the Churches, which had before been carried on in Latin, was now all performed in our own language; so that every person might know the meaning of every prayer which be offered up, and might understand the glad tidings of the Gospel which were read in all the Churches. This caused very great joy among the people; they could now all join in the service, with their hearts and with their voices too. They saw what a beautiful and Christian-like service they had got. They found that this was indeed public and social worship; the priest had his part of the service, the people had theirs, and some parts were to be used by the priest and the people together. There were, moreover, Rubricks, or Directions, given at the bead of the prayers, that every one might understand wliat part belonged to him, and that there might be nothing like confusion ; whilst there should be every thing that was truly devout, and earnest, and united, and cheerful... ::
But let us ask ourselves, is it so now? In many places, certainly it is not. And why is it not? The plan of worship is just the same. But we have, pro. bably, got so much accustomed to it, that it has lost its power over us. Alas ! such is our weakness, that we must confess that our devotion is perpetually inclined to become cold or lukewarm, and to require constant excitement to bring us to a proper feeling of warmth and energy. We may, however, here
ask ourselves whether that be indeed a proper feeling which is not excited by truth, but by novelty. Every one who wishes religion to increase in his own heart, will be diligently watchful that, whilst he is present at the public worship of the Church, he really does carnestly join in the service, and really seek to partake of its benefits ; and every one who is anxious that the pure religion professed in our Church should flourish and increase, will be anxious
to shew that religion as it really is, in all its true - spirit and perfection. Why then, instead of hearing
the sound of holy worship and of cheerful praise rising to the throne of grace from the mouths of the people, do we leave their portion of the worship to one solitary individual, the clerk ? Our Church, . indeed, in her services, considers the priest and the people to be the persons concerned in the worship, and it is by them that it ought to be offered ap, put by the clerk alone, who is indeed one among the people, not one instead of them. The people then have their part of the service ; let them join in it with true devotion, and zeal, and Christian spirit. We want no reform, no alteration in the service now; the reform and the alteration inust be in ourselves. Let the alternate verses of the Psalms be offered up like those who are really“ praising the Lord,"
“ For we our voices high should raise,
PSALM 95. Let all the responses be uttered as if we felt that we were engaged in a work in which the soul is concerned ; let the assenting “Amen,” be pronounced as if we heartily, and earnestly, and all-together, were offering a prayer or thanksgiving to our God. If all this were done, not ostentatiously, but devoutly, we should soon see the value of the service of our Church, and we should lead others to see it too. Even if there should come in “ those that are un
learned and unbelievers,” even they would be inclined to “ fall down and worship God, and report that God is with us of a truth," I Cor. xiv. 25.
But where there is a' coldness of devotion, and an insensibility to divine things, the voice is not only silenced, but the body itself refuses to take any share in the service. Thus we see those who are called upon to “bow the knee,” to “humble themselves" in prayer before the throne of grace, to - fall down and kneel before the Lord their Maker,” and who, lest these scriptural calls should be overlooked, are reminded in the Rubrick that they are to be "all kneeling;" we see these persons idly and carelessly sitting,-the prayers expressing feelings of the most earnest and deep devotion, the posture of the worshippers expressing an indiffer. ence, in complete opposition to their prayers. Let us, then, who wish to honour our Maker and his Church, exert ourselves to shew that Church in its proper character: let our Church be itself. . It is easy to cavil at, or to find fault with some expressions in our prayer-book, and to think that they might be improved. Now when we consider how long our prayer-book has been made, it is true that there may be a word or two wbich may be now used in a sense somewhat different from their meaning three hundred years ago; these, bowever, are very few indeed, and these words may be explained by a few minutes conversation with a discreet and intelligent person. It is a mistake to think that any very important good could come out of such trilling alterations as these. Let us try a better reform than this, the reform of our own abuse of our excellent service,-and we shall see, with God's blessing, how great will be effect of a devout and scriptural service, offered up in its own true spirit.