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common and harmonious prayers, and who hast promised to two or three praying in concert in Thy name to grant their petitions," &c.

A conformity to this primitive pattern is the object which the Church has always had in view, upon every public assembly of her members. To this end, in that branch of the Church to which we belong, they are furnished with a Liturgy, or stated form of service, so excellently constructed as to qualify, and at the same time to invite, the congregation assembled, to become parties in every act of religious worship that is going forward: that there may be no uninterested spectators in a business in which every individual is concerned: but that the united voice of supplication, prayer, and praise, may plead so powerfully at the Throne of Grace, as not to be resisted. And such, we will venture to say, is the plan best suited to the infirmity of our condition, as best calculated to prevent the natural distractions of the human mind, by raising and keeping alive that spirit of devotion, necessary to qualify fallen man to hold communion with his Maker.

To this reasonable service performed in our Church, let us now oppose what is, generally speaking, to be met with out of it. And, could Christians be prevailed upon to discard prejudice, there would, it is presumed, be but one opinion upon this subject. Out of the Church, indeed, people are assembled, under various denominations, for the purpose of religious worship; and we are ready to give individuals credit for their pious intentions. But in what, it must be asked, does

their religious worship consist? For certain it is, that in religious assemblies out of the Church, we have (generally speaking) no public form, either of confession, prayer, or thanksgiving; the whole attention of the congregation being directed to the performance of the officiating minister, whose service, be it ever so spiritual, (which, considering the qualification of very many who undertake it, we may venture to say, is not always the case,) is, nevertheless, the service of the minister rather than that of the congregation.

In the Church the congregation are called upon to become actual parties in the service performed; in the words of David, "to worship, bow down, and kneel before the Lord their Maker; "* for the purpose of offering up at the Throne of Grace, with humble, penitent, and contrite hearts, the solemn sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving; the service performed there, consequently, is what it ought to be,—the joint service both of minister and people; all sinners before God, all supplicants for pardon, all petitioners for blessings.

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Out of the Church the congregation are obliged to be, for the most part, hearers only; it being scarce possible for them to join in petitions, or to their voice with one accord in the celebration of praises, which they are unprepared to accompany. How great soever, therefore, the fervour of devotion on the part of the minister may be, and how acceptable soever his form of prayer, (if the public prayer of any self-appointed minister

may be acceptable at the Throne of Grace) the

*Psalm xcv. 6.

nevertheless, in consequence of their concerned in the service performed, can have little to expect from the effect to be it. exclusive of unanimity being absolutely

accompany the public prayers of an congregation, to entitle them to that eristic distinction, it is moreover to be ob

and a most important observation it is) was to prevent the subtle insinuation of doctrines into the minds of the people, that ministers of the Church, for fifteen ages toge, were not permitted to use their own prayers; that none were allowed in public congregaus but such as were approved and authoritaey enjoined.

This single consideration should, it might be supposed, be sufficient to place an attendance upon the service of the Church, when contrasted with that performed in any other place of worship, in too striking a point of view, to render further enlargement on this head necessary.

But there is an idea which has long prevailed, upon which, though it may be considered as scarce furnishing a subject for serious argument, it may be proper, from the consideration of the many that are led astray by it, to say a few words. An ignorance with respect to the meaning of some particular passages of the sacred writings, has given birth to a persuasion, which enthusiasm, that puts out the eye of reason, and destroys the sobriety of religion, has long been diligently employed in cherishing and supporting; namely, that to

comply with the Apostolic idea of praying with the spirit, it is necessary that all forms should be set aside, as absolutely incompatible with that inspiration, supposed to be appropriate to extemporary effusions. But allowing that the spirit of God does assist men both in the matter and form of their prayers, it may be asked, whether we have not as much reason to think, that the public prayers of the Church were suggested by that spirit, as the prayers of any private individual? Nay, whether it is not more probable, that a company of learned and pious men, assembled for the purpose of composing a public liturgy for the use of the Church, after having previously invoked the Divine assistance, should be favoured with that assistance; rather than any particular person, who, without premeditation or study, and ofttimes without any qualification for the work, takes upon himself to deliver an extemporary prayer? Is it to be imagined that the Holy Spirit should give such a decided preference to that service, upon which least care and attention has been bestowed, as to Vouchsafe to it such an exclusive title to his assist

ance, that, in comparison with it, the prayer of the Church is to be considered as a lifeless form? If reason tell us that this cannot be the case, we shall not hesitate to conclude, that, in using the liturgy of the Church, we pray as much at least, (if not more) the prayers of the spirit, than when accompany any less regular service.

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The judicious Hooker, who had well considered this subject, writes thus decidedly upon it. all helps for the performance of this service of

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congregation, nevertheless, in consequence of being little concerned in the service performed in reason have little to expect from the effec produced by it.

But exclusive of unanimity being al necessary to accompany the public praye assembled congregation, to entitle ther characteristic distinction, it is moreover served, (and a most important observ that it was to prevent the subtle ins false doctrines into the minds of the the ministers of the Church, for fifte ther, were not permitted to use thei and that none were allowed in p tions, but such as were approved tively enjoined.

This single consideration sh supposed, be sufficient to place a the service of the Church, wł that performed in any other 1 too striking a point of view, largement on this head nece

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