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merely as a man called on to offer up prayers for the congregation, we must say, that the ability with which the individual executes his task must depend upon his zeal, his learning, his assiduity, his understanding : and why are we to suppose that any individual,

, but much more that a succession of individuals appointed by fallible men to perform the offices of the Ministry, shall in all these particulars excel the united assemblage of Divines, especially appointed to compose and to compile a Liturgy for the Church of England; men distinguished in their lives and in their writings--eminent for knowledge, for zeal, for probity, for piety; many whom died Martyrs to the faith? But going higher in our views, and looking to the Holy Spirit for his aid to the pious Minister whose voice is to lead the congregation, shall we say that the graces of the Holy Spirit are given to the individual who prays, and preaches, and yet were withheld from those pious men who were employed in composing a Liturgy to lead the devotions of a whole Church-a work to last

or ages——to go into various countries—to embrace and to direct the general objects of the entire system of intercourse with God and with his Christ?

That no congregation can be properly said to join in what they do not clearly and thoroughly understand, is a self-evident truth. Now in following a person who is supposed to speak extempore, until the whole sentence is brought to a conclusion none but the speaker knows its meaning. The first part of that sentence might have been a beginning to many different endings, but to which of these possible terminations it does in this instance lead, none but the reciter antecedently knows. The congregation must have the whole sentence given out, before they can judge of its propriety, and make use of it as their own. But while they are first discussing and then offering up this, another sentence has been begun and has proceeded perhaps towards its conclusion-more or less, according to the intelligence and attention of the different persons who hear it. Will the congregation offer up this petition also?-A part of it was recited while they were attending to the former-the whole of it therefore they cannot understand. In fact if the Minister, offering a prayer not known before, does not after each sentence pause for at least so long a time as he took to deliver it, he is the only person who regularly prays; and the congregation are mere listeners, who can but occasionally and at intervals join, or who make an offering of mere words-words of another creature fallible as themselves—words adopted implicitly under an impossibility of their being duly weigheda foreign language in fact to all but the Mi


nister. With a form of prayer on the contrary, pre-composed and printed for general circulation, (admitting therefore examination in

every part, so as to be understood in all its bearings and made by use familiar to the mind and to the memory,)—the work of the hearer is simple: the congregation and the Minister, at the same time, offer up the same parts of the same prayer, of a prayer that may have before been studied in the closet and is then recognised in the Church.

Strong as this argument is, its force will be encreased tenfold when we go minutely into an examination at large of the Liturgy of our Church. With what ability and with what feeling—with what learning and with what zeal—with what prudence and with what piety—its reverend Compilers executed their most important task, will, I trust, appear in the discourses, which, if it please God to permit, I shall lay before this congregation in the succeeding Sabbaths.




O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

In the discourse last delivered from this place, I shewed you the important objects which Public Worship had in view, and the benefits which might be looked for by each individual from a devout and a diligent attendance on it. I concluded by urging arguments, which I thought of considerable strength, to establish, that these objects are more effectually promoted, and these benefits more likely to be obtained by the use of a pre-composed and printed formulary, than by the extempore effusions of persons appointed in succession to the offices of Ministerial duty. To you, my brethren of the Church of England, the argument is considerably strengthened by your having open for inspection the form of sound words composed for your use, according to which the public service is administered in your Church; a form of Prayer which will stand, as it has stood, the test of the most minute examination, and which, in proportion as it is diligently studied, will be the more ardently admired. In this discourse, I purpose to give a brief historical view of its composition, and to point out to you, generally, those distinguished excellencies which have gained for it the praise of every Protestant Community, and made it a suitable companion for, as well as a valuable Comment on, that Sacred Volume, the words of which it has often so happily adopted, and the Spirit of which it has with such fidelity embodied in its devotions.

Nearly three hundred years have passed since the Book of Common Prayer was introduced into our Church by the ecclesiastical authorities of the realm under the sanction of an Act of Parliament passed in the Second year of King Edward the Sixth. Some ten years before, immediately on the Reformation, a Committee had been appointed to remove what was superstitious or unscriptural in the services of the Romish Church, and to give, in the common or vulgar tongue, a Liturgy which might be intelligible to the unlearned, in place of that which was in a dead and

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