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THE BROAD CHURCH is rapidly passing from the condition of an ideal yearning with earnest men of all creeds into an organic fact. The words of Channing, Martineau, Jowett, Robertson, Coquerel, (père et fils,) and the innumerable coinpany of liberal but devout confessors are already shaping themselves into deeds in England, France, and America. Here, the Unitarian, Universalist, and Christian denominations form the vanguard of the coming Church. These and countless individual thinkers, in and out of the Orthodox ranks, are fusing their thought, scholarship, and piety into one great fraternity, which will create and sustain a Church of broad sympathies, broad humanities, broad hopes, and a broad theology,—a Church, moreover, which will accord with, and serve the American ideas of liberty and equality, as no old-world ecclesiasticism or theology can do.
This humble volume, for the most part a mere compilation, has been prepared with the hope of increasing the true church sentiment in the hearts of the American people. The compiler believes that the religious exigencies of every human soul and the peculiarities of our national character and condition make the Church if not a divine institution at least a human necessity. The work of Protestantism will never be fully accomplished until the prayers and ordinances of the Church have been rescued from the dungeons of medieval scholasticism, and have become the inspiration of all the free men and women in America who desire to worship God without forswearing themselves upon a creed which they either do not understand or do not believe.
This Book of Common Prayer is intended to give a practical shape and an organic response to some of the desires which are stirring in the souls of liberal believers; if it may prove like the first soft breath which gently parts the leaves to herald the approach of a mighty gale that shall wrench giant trunks from the soil, it will accomplish its mission.
The Reformed Liturgy, which underwent the careful supervision of that brave and accomplished man, the Rev. Mr. Lindsey of Essex street Chapel, London, and also of Dr. Samuel Clark, Dr. Freeman, and Rev. Mr. Greenwood, lias furnished a large portion of what follows. I have modified some things, and have restored soine glorious old words which, having been heard in "secret chambers, and torch-lighted catacombs," I felt unwilling to omit; some of the sentences in the following Liturgy have been the last words breathed by fainting martyrs, and some have strengthened timid maidens with a boldness for the truth which enabled them to look fearlessly in the faces of lions, let them stand, even if they be of doubtful interpretation, and let our children learn to reverence them as we do, for the divine grace which has flowed through them.
The Order of Public Service can be used in the common Sunday school, although it is intended
to elevate that institution into a part of the Church.
When it is preferred to retain the present methods it will only be necessary to add the usual lessons to the catechetical exercise, or to omit the latter altogether. The Service will be found particularly useful for small congregations. It may also be adopted by families prevented from attending the Church services by reason of distance or inclemency of weather. It has been the aim of the compiler to bring the church into every household, so that in remote settlements, or when for other reasons it may be desirable, the parents can gather their children around them, and with the Public Service, or the Order of Family Service, they can implant in the youthful minds a proper regard for the Lord's day, and a due respect for religious observances.
The Order of Consecration-or Infant Baptism -can be omitted by those Christians who have conscientious objections to that rite, or it is so arranged that it may be used as a dedicatory service without interfering with the subsequent baptism as a profession of faith. Without entering upon an argument for infant baptism, I beg to suggest