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TURGY, through all it's Parts, a fpecial Regard has beert paid to this Rule; and it is hoped nothing will be found in it, that any Chriftian need fcruple to make Ufe of, or may not eafily understand the full Force and Meaning of each Phrafe.
THE Neceffity of fome LITURGIC FORMS for Public Service, might be fufficiently argued from every one's Experience, that will honeftly and impartially appeal to his own Mind, and enquire if he does not frequently, notwithstanding the fincerest and most serious Intentions, and the ftrongest and best previous Refolutions, find his Thoughts and Affections oftentimes bewildered, and even neceffarily wandering and difengaged from the Minifter, (and confequently his Devotion more cold and languid than he could wifh it to be,) for want of having fomething to fay himfelf (a), or knowing beforehand what he is about to pray for. It seems to be too great a Stretch of the human Faculties, to hear, to judge, and to pray to God all in one fingle Moment; which however must be done by every One, who would, with due Devotion, and Attention of Mind, accompany a Minifter through a Prayer of twenty Minutes, or half an Hour, yea perhaps an Hour long, to him before unknown and unheard; an A& the Author of this Work confeffes his own utter Incapacity for, and He has heard the fame Complaint acknowledged by many of the best, most pious and fenfible Diffenting Chriftians He has conversed with. And though fome Ministers whom He has had the Happiness of hearing in this Service, have conducted it in the moft regular and judicious, perhaps unexcepti→ onable, Manner, yet this Objection ftill remains in it's full
(a) This Engagement of the Voice in Devotion is of fo great Service in fixing the Attention of the Heart, (without which all Words were vain,) that I would ask the moft rigid Oppofer of Liturgic Forms this Queftion, viz. If he does not find the Ufe of joining vocally in the finging of Pfalms, to enliven his Affections, and warm his Heart towards God, more than he would do by being filent in this Part of Service? And also if he does not experimentally find himfelf more deeply feriously and compotedly engaged in Devotion, and in praying has his Thoughts freer from wandering and more intent in it, when he himself Speaks aloud as the Voice of the People, than when he is only hearing another do the fame ?-And fome Minifters amongst the Diffenters have been fo aware of this, that they have candidly recommended to their Hearers to repeat after them the Lord's Prayer, and to cry aloud Amen after Prayer; the only Inftances, where, according to their prefent Way of Worship, the People have a Voice to give!
Force, and will do fo, while we are in this earthly State, united to bodily Organs, and liable to it's various Infirmities. In fuch a Cafe therefore, He cannot help applying, what the Apostle indeed urged upon a fomewhat different Occafion, (1 Cor. xiv. 17.) Thou verily givest Thank. wel, but the other is not edified.-And now if this Objection is fo important, where the Minifter's Abilities are acknowledged to be fo eminent; what Weight will it have in a Multitude of Inftances, where the Gift of Prayer is not fo manifest ? (b) -But to enlarge upon thefe and other A guments, to the Length they might bear, would be too tedious in a Preface, and fwell it far beyond it's defigned Limits. They are therefore only hinted at, and left to the serious Reflection of the attentive and candid Reader. Whoever has a Mind to fee this Matter further argued, would do well to read A LETTER to a Diffenting Minifter, representing the Expediency of Stated Forms of Prayer for Public Worship, by a Diffenting Minifler, publifhed in 1753, as introductory to a Specimen of a Liturgy in 8vo, and fince reprinted by itfelf. Or the Argument is ftill more clofely and unanfwerably pursued in A LETTER from a Blacksmith to the Minifters and Elders of the Church of Scotland, printed at London, for J. Coote, 1759, in 8vo. though the Writer difcovers too much Warmth and Keenness of Satire, yet he abounds with good Sense and plain Reasoning on Facts.
HOWEVER, as there are fill different Opinions, among very good and fincerely pious Chriftians, concerning the Manner of conducting Public Worship, (for of Private or Clofet Devotion the Author does not here speak, and indeed He thinks that all the Disputes about Public Worship might
(b) To the only weighty Objection that is urged against Forms of Prayer, as if they had a direct Tendency, by People's accuftoming themfelves only to them, to deaden or abate the true Spirit of Devotion, and to degenerate into Lip-Service alone, the Practice of many devout Chriftians, who conftantly use them, and with the greatest Sericufness, is a fufficient Answer. It would be the higheft Degree of Uncharitablenefs and wrong Judgment to fay, that in the established Church of Frglard notedy can be or are devout in Prayers. And I would only afk this one Queftion, Will any One, that calls himself a devout Chriftian, fay that he cannot repeat the LORD's PRAYER as fervently, and with as fixt and devout a State of Mind, and earnest Attention to it's whole Meaning and Defigr, (notwithstanding he has used it perhaps ten thousand Times before,) as it he was hearing any extemporary Effufion, or joining in or ufing a Prayer fresh compofed? He that fays he cannot fo well attend to the Lord's Prayer, Las Reason to fear, he is in the Gall of Bitterness and the Bond of Iniquity.
eafily be adjusted by duly attending to the Difference betwixt Social and Private Prayer,) He has only to add his fincere Wish and Prayer to Gon, that He would gracioufly pardon us all our paft Errors, fhew us the Light of his Truth, give us Hearts to follow it, and difpofe us all to be reconciled to each other, as much as poffible, upon the true Chriftian Foundation of brotherly Love and Forbearance: And let us all endeavor to keep to the Apoftolic Rules for our Direction in such Cafes, viz. take Care how we judge or defpife one another; (Rom. xiv. 3.) Let every Man be fully perfuaded in his own Mind, (v. 5.) have his Perfuafion to himself before God; (v. 22.) and happy is he that condemneth not himself in that Thing which he alloweth. And remember alfo, that not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth. (2 Corinth. x. 18.)
THE PLAN of the FOLLOWINGWORK is taken from the Eftablifhed Liturgy, by collecting all the feveral Parts of Prayers, that are feparated and difperfed through the Whole, which, though good in the main, are often irregular, and require to be gathered into one regular Series or Form of Prayer, as is here endeavored to be done, and some material Wants fupplied, as well as unfcriptural Terms omitted. In which alfo the different Parts of Confeffion of Sin, Adoration, Thankfgiving, and Implorations for Mercy and Pardin, with the general and particular Interceffions are compiled orderly, and inferted in their proper Places; and all to be used as che entire Office, but in diftinct Parts, and not in three intermixed and confused together, that were originally made to be ufed at different Times, and upon different Occasions. This Want of a regular Order and Method in the Liturgy, fhews a ftrange Inattention in first compofing it, and an implicit Indolence in the continued ufing of it, without due Examination and thoughtful Confideration, which ought to induce our WORTHY GOVERNORS to attempt it's Amendment. For though the Common Prayer be good in the general, yet it must be confeffed, that it wants Regulation, and fome confiderable Alterations and Amendments. Are all the Faults redreffed that were found in the old Litur
gy, and complained of in what is faid concerning the Service of the Church, after the Preface to the Common Prayer? Is there no breaking one Piece from another now, as well as before the Reformation? No needlefs Repetitions or Tautologies? Or are the Scriptures, e. g. now read in a continued regular Courfe, as is there faid they ought to be? It is indeed much to be lamented, how unfuccefsfully many of the most pious and judicious, dignified, and other eminent Divines have from Time to Time recommended and defired a Reformation of the Liturgy, and the Generality of the Laity, who think seriously of it, wish to have it fet about, and all Offences in it removed. It is more than ten Years fince the Free and Candid Difquifitions were published, which examined more minutely into it's Errors and Defects than will be here attempted, yet they have not hitherto produced. their intended good Effect, though their Objections were propofed with very great Weight, and the moft Chriftian Spirit, and have not yet been folidly refuted: To thefe therefore the Author appeals for his Excuse for the present Attempt, wherein what He has done may be declared in few Words.
THE TABLE OF LESSONS for each Day in the Year, was first drawn up a long Time ago for his own private Ufe, whereby in his Family and Clofet He might regularly read through the SCRIPTURES, and meditate thereon to Edification; and pleafed He was to find, that according thereto the whole New Teftament is orderly read over three Times in a Year, and the inftructive Parts of the Old Testa ment, by fuch a Divifion, are gone through once a Year, taking in alfo the two Apocryphal Books of Ecclefiafticus and Wisdom, which, though not univerfally allowed to be Canonical, will certainly, by every one that diligently reads and attends to them, be found to contain as rich a Treasure of ufeful Maxims and Obfervations for the Conduct of Life, as are in the Proverbs of Solomon, or Ecclefiaftes, to which Books they may well be supposed Supplemental, and as fuch may be read with great Pleafure and Profit in our Devotional Services. Yet ftill as He would not rigidly impofe any pofitive Rule herein, every Society or Minifter, that fcruple these Books, may be left to their own Difcretion, to read or omit them, or at any Time, inftead of the Chapter
of the Day, may occafionally read another that appears moré fuitable to the particular Time or Circumftances. And as there are many Parts of Scripture not quite fit to be read to an ignorant Congregation as Leffons, without fome Explanations, the Author recommends the Practice of expounding the Scriptures, to be observed in all Public Affemblies of Worshippers, yet in as fhort and plain a Way as poffible. Large Commentaries inftruct but few; but fhort Expofitions and practical Improvements would edifie all in Things appertaining to Godliness.
THE PSALMS OF DAVID (as they are commonly called) are an amazing Store of the moft fublime and animated Parts of Devotion, viz. Adoration, Praife, and Thanksgiving, affording the most lively Views of the Majefty and Goodness of GOD, and of the Pfalmift's pious Joy and Delight in his Providence: Some of them are inimitably defcriptive of the Temper and Character of a good and upright Man: Others of them are penitential and pathetic, apt to inspire the Soul with awakening Convictions of the Danger of Sin, and the indifpenfible Duties of Repentance and Submiffion to the Divine Will; &c. But as Some of them alfo contain Matters of a more private Nature, or were made for the Jews' Public Ufe in ordinary, they fhould be altered fo as to be. entirely fit for Chriftian Worship: For furely we ought not, in a devotional Addrefs to God as Chriftians, to rehearfe, verbatim Pfalms that were compofed only for the Jews' Ule, at particular Times, and upon different Occafions. These therefore the Author has attempted to methodize and abridge, from the two Tranflations in the Bible and Common Prayer, chufing fuch Expreffions as appeared to Him the cleareft and moft forcible, and He has purpofely omitted fuch Paffages, as refpected only David's own particular Cafe, or that of the Jews, which fometimes, if not altogether, were abfolutely unfit for a Chriftian Congregation to repeat and ufe as Parts of their own devotional Exercises. What Ideas or Impreffions the Readers of them have from their promifcuous Ufe in the daily Church-Service, He does not pretend to tell: For his own Part, He has often been afhamed and afraid to utter many Things therein before GOD, because they were quite unfuitable to his own Cafe or Temper. How few can apply to themselves Pf.x,