« ÖncekiDevam »
reconcile them ? -The public offices of religion, consisting of humble acts of praise, adorativn, and gratitude, are some of the noblest exerciles of the human mind, and the sources of its purest and most refined pleasures : but upon such occafions as these, in a direct address to the Supreme Being, and in the prelence' of great numbers of our fellow creatures, to be obliged to belie their own judgment, and with a solemn countenance to act the grofleft hypocriiy, must be highly offensive to every person of common sense and feeling.
-But how much more must it be so, to a pious and worthy CLERGYMAN, whose office it is to conduct the devotions of a Christian aflembly; and whose earneft defire it is to perform his duty in a manner becoming its dignity and importance !
But there is something in this of still more painful and diragreeable consequence: the character of a worthy Clergyman becomes suspected by his Parishioners; his integrity is arraigned; and, being thought to act with deceit and falfhood in discharging the duties of his office, and to be guilty of hypocrisy in the most folemn acts of religion and divine worhip, he loses all dignity of character amongst his people; and has no longer any influence over their minds, while he is dissuading them from the various species of vice and dishonesty; or exciting them to every instance of integrity and virtue. The influence of his own example destroys the efficacy of his better instructions; the most unhappy prejudices are formed in the minds of his hearers; and they are at length ready to conclude, that their Minister is an insincere difhonest man; that he is governed by views of avarice or ambition; that he is, perhaps, an infidel; and that religion is no more than a state business, which must be carried on, merely to ferve the purposes of civil policy.
Now if such consequences as these arise from the prefent circumstances of things; (and that they do, we have but too many evidences in almost every part of the kingdom) it is surely the strongest argument in the world for a farther reformation: and we may reasonably hope, that the friends of virtue and true religion will unite in every wise and prudent measure, to put an end to these evils, which threaten very destructive consequences to the most valuable interests of mankind.
It may, indeed, be said; it has been said with great petulancy, and not with that honeft spirit which should always prevail on occasions of this kind, that the best way to put an
end to these evils, is, for those who are diffatisfied with the doctrines and articles of the church of Engiand, and cannot perform her public offices with a good conscience, to leave their cures, resign their preferments, and become Diffenters. But this is to cut the knot, instead of untying it. There is but little humanity, less good sense, and still less policy, in such proposals as these : and we trust in God, that the happy time will come, when the wise Rulers of our land will provide a remedy for these evils, without banishing from the public service the most learned and most valuable part of our Clergy; and leaving our churches in the hands of zealous and ignorant enthusiasts, who, however well-meaning they may be, are, at this day, the reproach of Christianity, and the greatest enemies of genuine religion.
The other point of light in which this subject may be considered, is the manner in which the laity are affected by the continuance of things in their present state.--It has been frequently said, that the Clergy alone are affected by it, and that the people, in general, have little or no concern in it. But this, we apprehend, will, upon examination, be found a great mistake: It was, surely, not merely for the CLERGY, it was likewise for the improvement of the Laity, and to innpress and preserve upon their minds a sense of God and true religion, that the offices of public worship were appointed. Now the Laity themselves have likewile partaken of the general improvements of knowlege and science; they have learned to think and judge for themselves; they have many of them examined into the established doctrines of religion; they are, in fee veral refpects, diffatisfied with them; and the consequence is, when they come to attend upon the service of the church, they there meet with many things which their judgment doth not approve; which they think neither consistent with the doctrines of natural or revealed religion; and in which, therefore, they cannot join, so as to make them the act of their understandings, and the sincere language of their hearts, The first ill consequence is, that in these parts of the service, they withdraw their attention, and refuse to aflent to what they either do not understand, or entirely disapprove : next, they conceive a general disgust to the service itself; the holy rites of religion are no longer matter of pleasure and delight to them; they at length absent themselves from church altogether; and the last of these unhappy consequences is, that without uncommon care and attention to the private exercises of devotion, they grow indifferent to religion itself; give themselves up to a life of pleasure ; they become infidels, and they become profligates. It is impossible to have a general acquaintance with the world, and particularly with the manners of this great city, from the highest classes of life, down to the common ranks of the people, and not to have ob served many inftances, which but too well confirm these remarks. And how fhould it possibly be atherwise ? Unless the Improvements in our offices of religion bear some proportion to the real progress of knowlege in the world; they will, they muft, fink into contempt; and, from despising its external offices, men will readily proceed to defpife religion itself; which can never happen without the worst effects upon the peace and good order of society, --without destroying all virtue and good manners amongst us.
In opposition to all this it may be said, that were any alterations to be made, in order to satisfy the minds of those we have been speaking of, the effect would only be, the diffatisfaction of such as retain different sentiments; who are probably superior in number, and to whom, therefore, a proper regard ought to be had.
To this difficulty we reply, in a manner very happily fuggested by our Editor, in his preface.--" 'If officiating minifters were but indulged the liberty of using or laying aside any particular parts of the service, such an indulgence granted by our condescending Governors, would not occasion the least disturbance. Those minifters and congregations who were attached to the old forms, could make no complaints, as being left to their full liberty to conduct their worship in the manner they most approved : and though the business of uniformity might be a little broken in upon, peace and charity might still be maintained ; and the public worship of Christians would be more the sincere and genuine worship of the heart; which is a point of infinitely greater moment than the most precise uniformity in any one particular external mode of worship."
Having thus, in the integrity of our hearts, and from a defire to contribute our mite to the facilitating this noble and Christian work, ventured to offer these few things to the confideration of our Readers, we proceed to lay before them an account of the Specimen of a reformed Liturgy, which is now made public.
This specimen, upon a general view, bears a very near resemblance to the old service; and the Author of it appears to have made it his great object, to depart from it as little as possible: and in this, we think, he has judged wilcly; as people in general must be fuppofed to have a strong attachment to what hath received the sanction of time, and what they have fo long been accustomed to: and' as the propofed form is so very fimilar to that which we have so long used, the transition would be more easy and natural. Novelty would, perhaps, be the greatest objection to the introduction of any Liturgy which differs very materially from the present.
The style, language, and manner of the Common Prayer are perfectly retained in this Specimen: and, indeed, these are, for the most part, so truly excellent in their kind, have so much plainness and simplicity, so much decency and gravity, are so improved by age, and to generally removed from every thing vulgar, that it will never be easy to fall upon any thing inore happily adapted to the nature of prayer, and the capacities of mankind.
There is one thing in which our Author has evidently improved upon the present practice of the church, and that is, by preserving the unity of the service. The manner in which the morning service, the Liruny, and the communion service are now read in parish churches, occafion's a great deal of consufion, and has frequently been complained of: the Author of the Specimen before us has avoided this incondenience, and given us one unifdrm, fimple service, wherein all the parts are perfectly distinct; and the whole is of a proper lengtlig without fatiguing the attention.
The great and capital alteration which the Reader will meet with in this reformed Liturgy is, that the Athanafian doctrine is totally.excluded from it. The Athanasian and Nicene Greeds, the Gloria Patri, the third verficle of the Litany, O holy blessed and glorious Trinity, the Colleet for Trinity Sunday, and all particular forms of expression founded upon the Atbanafian doctrine, are entirely omitted.
In the room of the two excluded creeds, our Author retains the Apostle's Creed; omitting however the article of our Saviour's descent into bell, as being misunderstood by the vulgar and illiterate: he, perhaps, thought it too great a departure from his original, to drop the use of creeds in public worship altogether: this would, probably, have exposed him to some censure, and rendered his attempt more unpopular ; at the same time he cannot but know, that there are great numbers Rev. O&. 1762.
of intelligent Christians, who would heartily have approved his so doing. To worsbip the one true God through Jesus Christ, is a constant declaration of our faith.
After the Reading-Pfalms, and in other parts of the fervice, where the Gloria Patri is used, in thiş Specimen are introduced other fcriptural doxologies, such as these ;
To the only wise God our Saviour be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever.
Blessing and honour and glory and power be unto him that fitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.
Glory be to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Ghoft.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Instead of the present collect for Trinity Sunday, many of our Readers will be pleased with the two following, appointed in the Specimen for that festival; and will be enabled to judge of our Author's abilities and taste, in this difficult fpecies of composition.
“ O God, who by thy dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and by thy blessed Spirit, the Comforter, hast united us unto thy holy church, and who hast appointed baptism into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, grant that we may live agreeably to our Christian profession, and that we may pay the highest praises, and humblest adoration, to thy divine Majesty ; the most sincere obedience to the facred laws of thy Son, and the most ready compliance with the holy motions of thy good Spirit, till we at length arrive safely at the haven of eternal life, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
" Or, this, Almighty and everlasting Father, who haft in the moft folemn manner revealed thyself to be the only true God, and hast commanded us to acknowlege thy dear Son, Jesus Christ, as our Lord and Saviour, and thy holy Spirit as our Support and Comforter, we beseech thee, that thou wouldst keep us stedfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest one God, world without end. Amen."
We did not expect in a form of Divine Service, professedly drawn up on Anti-trinitarian principlesa that we should have found an instance of divine homage immediately addressed