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promise furnish an argument in favour of an established liturgy, which no man, who values the favour of God, can lightly disregard.
Such have been the grounds, on which they who have argued a priori, from the necessity of the case, have maintained, that the Church, in enjoining the use of a common form of prayer, has not exceeded the authority vested in her, for the spiritual benefit and edification of her members. Admitting, however, for the present, that such arguments prove only the expediency of a liturgical service; let us proceed to inquire, what further testimony can be produced of its lawfulness.
The ritual of the Jewish Church furnishes us with evidence, that forms, as such, far from being displeasing to God, have been sanctioned by him in one instance at least, as best calculated to promote the object of public worship. And though the service of the temple, accommodated only to the peculiar circumstances of the Jewish nation, was of necessity abolished, when the purpose was accomplished for
which it was ordained; yet it by no means follows, that therefore all forms and ceremonies became from that time unlawful; or that the Christian Church was to have no ritual at all, because the Jewish law of ceremonies was done away, as inapplicable to the circumstances of this new covenant.
A very different conclusion may with propriety be drawn from the declaration of the Apostle, that q“ we have an altar, “ whereof they have no right to eat, who
serve the tabernacle;" for in this r passage, the commemorative sacrifice of the Christian is expressly opposed to the typical offerings of the Jew; and the Hebrews are taught to look from the ritual, which they were henceforward to renounce,
to that new and spiritual service, that continual sacrifice of praise, to be offered unto God by Jesus, the great High Priest of their new profession. We have also direct proof, that our Saviour thought it right to anticipate the wants of his Church, by s composing a prayer for his disciples; not
r See Note LXV. Appendix. s See Note LXVI. Appendix.
a Heb. xiii. 10.
only that it might form a part of all their devotions, both public and private; but that it might serve as a model by which their other common petitions were to be framed : and as if to sanction as highly as possible the use of common forms, he constantly attended the public worship of the temple and the synagogue; and himself used the hymns of the Jewish ritual, on a remarkable + occasion, in his private devotions with his disciples. We know also how strongly he recommended associated worship, declaring, that he would honour the assemblies' of Christians with his u especial presence ; and we have already adverted to the blessing which 'he taught them to expect, who on such occasions offered up to him with one accord their associated supplications. Although therefore it may be admitted,
, that no * formal and positive státute can be produced from the Scriptures, directing the Church to provide a form of prayer, or to ordain any other rite or ceremony; ''this i Matt. xxvi. 30.
u Matt, xviii. 20. * See Note LXVII. Appendix.
silence cannot be allowed to counterbalance the indirect, but powerful evidence which they contain, that she both possessed and exercised this power from the first; it rather proves, that it was judged superfluous formally to vest her with a privilege so clearly inherent in the very nature of a spiritual society. Nor does the general usage of the inspired writers teach us to expect this direct evidence; the fact was sufficiently notorious; and it was unnecessary to declare the lawfulness or expediency of that, which their own constant practice sufficiently justified.
When we find St. Paul giving the Corinthians so many rules for the regular performance of public worship; providing so carefully that all things should be done for zor the use of edifying;" that no prayers or thanksgivings should be offered, but such as the unlearned might understand and partake in; that every thing should be a « done decently and in order," with a due subordination, not only of the dis
y See Note LXVIII, Appendix. z Ephes. iv. 29.
a i Cor. xiv.
ciple to his teacher, but of the ministers also to each other, according to their rank; and this, because bor God is not the au“ thor of confusion, but of peace;" we can no longer hesitate to acknowledge, that the authority claimed by the Church, to regulate and direct the public worship of her members by some settled form, is no more than the sure word of Scripture, and the practice of the Apostolic Church at Corinth, fülly confirms.
If, by continuing the inquiry, we discover, that forms of prayer were in early and universal use among Christians; this will add greatly to the weight of testimony in favour of their lawfulness, as well as their expediency. The fact then may. be Ctraced in the writings of Justin Martyr, Tertullian Origen, and Cyprian; all of whom speak of particular forms used in their times in different churches. We have also very ancient liturgies yet preserved; which, although they have descended to us in a corrupted state, and
b See Note LXIX. Appendix. c See Note LXX. Appendix.