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rules she lays down for their observance; and every wilful and systematic departure from them hinvolves a breach of Christian unity.
Such then being the legitimate authority of the Church, it is our first object to inquire, whether it can be an undue exercise of that authority to frame liturgies for the use of her communion; for it is chiefly in this particular that her power has been questioned.
i Public worship undoubtedly forms an essential part of a Christian's duty; and it is one of the great means of his edification, which, we have already seen, the Church is bound to promote. It is also assumed as unquestionable, that it belongs to the priesthood only to minister unto the people in things pertaining to God; to speak to them in the public assembly, as well as to admonish them in private, ask "ambas"sadors for Christ;" and to present their united supplications and thanksgivings in his name before the throne of his Father.
See Note LX. Appendix.
i See Note LXI. Appendix.
k 2 Cor. v. 20.
If, then, public worship be necessary; and if in that worship it be the office of the priest to offer up the prayers of the congregation; it will be difficult to shew, that this can be effectually done, but by the use of some form, generally known, understood, and observed for thus only can the hearts and wishes of the assembled worshippers be all directed towards the same object; or the words which are uttered by the minister be properly called their prayers as well
as his own.
Astonishment or admiration may indeed be excited by the eloquence or fervour of an extemporaneous effusion; but astonishment and admiration are not devotion: far from it; they call the mind from heaven to earth, and fix its attention upon the conduct and attainments of a fallible mortal, instead of carrying it up in humble adoration to the footstool of that Almighty God and Saviour, in whose service it ought to be engaged.
The legitimate objects of all religious worship may be reduced to two; the glory 1 See Note LXII. Appendix.
of God, and the supply, either of our own wants, or those of others, for whom we are bound to pray. But he who is really desirous of rendering due honour unto the Lord his God, will take care to pay that necessary tribute in the manner which God has appointed; and as he is taught by an Apostle, that Christians should glorify God with one mind and one "mouth," he will be convinced, that the praises of a public congregation can never be acceptable in his sight, unless they are thus offered. In like manner, as our " Saviour has graciously promised, that where his worshippers agree in their petitions, his heavenly Father will hear and grant them; no faithful Christian will think it a matter of indifference, whether a mode of public worship be adopted, which renders that p agreement almost impossible, or whether the most effectual means be taken for its preservation. On the contrary, he will consider, that the conditions of this
n Matt. xviii. 19.
m Rom. xv. 6.
• See Note LXIII. Appendix. P See Note LXIV. Appendix.
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 "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 composing a prayer for his disciples; not
I See Note LXV. Appendix.
q Heb. xiii. 10.
s See Note LXVI. Appendix.