« הקודםהמשך »
order to accomplish this we should avoid, on the one hand, every thing that bespeaks levity and indifference; and, on the other, whatever approaches to singularity and affectation. We should so present them to the mind of the hearer, that he may immediately forget the symbol that is employed, and his thoughts recur at once to the thing sig. nified. Our delivery therefore should be distinct and simple, our emphasis correct and natural. We should neither fatigue our hearers by too great rapidity of utterance, nor weary them with unnecessary slowness, nor damp the ardour of their devotions by a dull and monotonous cadence. In short, we should labour by every means to awaken and preserve attention, remembering that God's house is especially designed to be “ a house of prayer," and that much blame will attach to ourselves, if through any fault of ours its peculiar character be overlooked.
And here we may be permitted in faithfulness to express our regret, that so little value appears to be placed by those among whom our lot is cast, upon the Liturgy of our Church, which one who is well calculated to judge, though she cannot number him among her sons, has not scrupled to designate as “ the first of uninspired compositions.” Who shall presume to say how much of this evil is attributable to the negligence of those, who had spontaneously undertaken to defend her cause--or how soon or how extensively it may be retrieved, if proper diligence be used ? Let us strive, brethren, by God's help, to avoid every thing that borders upon party spirit, and do nothing from strife or vainglory; but if we call ourselves the ministers of the Church, and if we profess to entertain the conviction that she is upon the whole best calculated to preserve the integrity of the Gospel, let us at least be consistent with our profession, and shew that we have a lively sense of the vows which we have made.
It would be easy, did time permit, to enlarge upon this point of the subject, but we will only notice, that every act of the minister, which is deficient in respect of order and propriety, will quickly find its counterpart in the conduct of his people. It is not enough therefore to say that he intended no evil. If his conduct do not prove the purity of his intentions, he is responsible to its full extent for the mischief that will result.
But we will now consider a few particulars in which the principle of the Apostle's command is applicable to the people at large. And first we may notice the propriety of a punctual attendance at the stated hour of prayer. The Apostle in this chapter observes, “ God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” Now it is needless to remark how much confusion is occasioned by a want of attention to this parti,
cular. How we interrupt the devotions of others, when we break the silence and stillness that should prevail. Besides which, the service itself is so arranged, that we can be absent from no part of it without suffering a loss ourselves. The several portions are ordered each with reference to the rest, and it is not for us to presume that any one is needless, or to be neglected without a cause. It is but once in the service that we formally confess our sins : it is but once that we are comforted with the assurance, that God has commissioned his ministers to pronounce absolution to those who repent and believe. And both of these are at the commencement of the service, to teach us, no doubt, that we are in ourselves unfit to cross the threshold of the sanctuary, and that it is only in the language of contrition that we can approach " to lay hold of the hope that is set before us.” He then that neglects this opportunity, virtually disclaims the necessity of confession and absolution. He does not feel that he is a sinner; he has no occasion to lament that he has “ left undone the things he ought to have done, and done the things he ought not to have done, and that there is no health in him.” And therefore he needs not the cheering assurance that “ God willeth, not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live.” It may be remarked here by the way, that in order to ensure this punctuality
in our people, it is absolutely necessary that we be punctual ourselves. We cannot expect them to come to Church at an uncertainty. Unless therefore we have a stated time, and are rigid in its observance, we do in fact expose them to the temptation, and create the evil which we ought to cure.
It need scarcely be mentioned that our conduct when we are assembled, should in all respects be marked by decency and reverence. If our eyes are wandering, our thoughts will wander also, and soon be fixed upon something else than the worship of God. If our lips are opened, let them be opened only for the
66 The Lord,” says the Prophet, “ is in his holy temple, let the whole earth keep silence before him.” Under this head we may notice especially two particulars ; in the first place, the propriety of joining in the service by making the responses when we are desired so to do; and, secondly, of assuming such a posture as becomes the employment in which we are engaged. No wonder that the service appears long and uninteresting to those who take no share in it themselves, who never bring a Prayer-Book with them to Church, or never use it, if they do. It is by means of the responses that we appropriate the service and petitions to ourselves; that we make it an act of social worship; that we enjoy the communion of saints ; that our united
prayers s ascend up as incense before God;" and that “ the
lifting up of our hands is as the evening sacrifice.” And with regard to the proper attitude for prayer, we are far from contending that any one is essential to its own nature, or indispensable to its acceptance, but when we consider the infinite distance between ourselves and our Creator, when we reflect upon our unworthiness contrasted with his holiness, when we remember how distinctly it is stated of our blessed Lord, and that on several occasions, that “ he kneeled down and prayed;" we do not hesitate to express our conviction that decency and order require us to follow his example, and that it is in itself more becoming to worship God upon our knees; not to say that we are more liable, if we stand, to have our attention directed from its
proper object, and our thoughts distracted by any trifle that meets our eye. It is in accordance with this feeling that our Church has enjoined this posture when we receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper,
“ for a signification,” as she says, “ of our humble and grateful acknowledgment of the benefits of Christ therein given to all worthy receivers, and for the avoiding of such profanation and disorder in the Holy Communion, as might otherwise ensue."
There are but a few passages of Scripture from which we may form any notion of the mode of adoration in the other world. But those which there are, may well impress us with the thought