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to every Christian, on the ground of a motion in his mind; this is a fancy so directly tending to disorder, that we are warranted in considering our principle, as coming under the commendation which says-"God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all Churches of the saints."* It has been already hinted, that in societies professing a principle tending to disturbance, the evil may be prevented by a discipline inconsistent in theory, but beneficial in practice. The discipline, however, cannot be such as was instituted by Jesus Christ and his apostles; and must moreover have the disadvantage, that it cannot be conducted by known rules; and is very liable to be abused. There therefore practical utility in our system, in its placing of the power of ordination in a designated authority: this however not to be exercised without advisement, nor without responsibility, nor without the regulation of known laws.
Secondly: Our system's rejection of all foreign prelacy, shuts a door which might otherwise be abused, to the admission of foreign influence of a civil kind. It is not here contemplated, to throw out an insinuation against any description of our fellow citizens, as though they were at present biassed by their religious tenets, to any political interests unfavourable to those of our common country. And in regard to what may happen under future changes, we ought to be aware, how much is to be hoped from the increase of information and the improved habits of thinking, of the present age. Still, we may confidently refer to a relation between a certain cause and its effects, as apparent in theory, and fruitful of much mischief in practice. There was a time, within the memory of him who now addresses you, when, these states having become severed from the parent country, it was apprehended, that her bishops, having planted and governed our Churches in the former colonies, would still expect the spiritual subjugation of our Communion 1 Cor. xiv. 33.
to be continued; and thus endeavour, through us, to exercise an influence hostile to the independence which had been assumed, and at last acknowledged. But it soon appeared, that those religious and enlightened personages were as far from claiming, as we should have been from conceding, what might have been made an engine of malignant influence on the civil interests of our country.
Lastly, on the question between episcopacy and presbytery; if we are not partial to our system, it tends to give weight to age, and to experience; and to moderate the pretensions of rival competitors for influence. A very learned father* has ascribed the introduction of episcopacy to this cause: and much is made of what he has said on this subject; in order to extort from it the confession, that the regimen was not from the beginning. But no such sense can be drawn from his words, if they be taken consistently. For he dates the evil of its remedy so high, as where we read of divisions in the Church of Corinth, in St Paul's first epistle to them. Still, the sense of Jerome is pertinent, as it points out so good an origin, as that of an expedient for the preventing of divisions in the Church.
Perhaps it may seem, that these concluding remarks are designed as a panegyrick, on the actual state of our Communion; and as insinuating, that there is among us more of the Christian spirit, and of course of all its various fruits, than in other societies, not so conformed to primitive antiquity. But this is not the meaning. On the contrary, if any others should be extolled as exceeding us in these respects, it is here intended, not to controvert their pretensions; but to contend, that the fault is in ourselves, and not in the system, which we have inherited. Popular manners are influenced by a variety of causes: and although both civil and religious discipline may be of the number, yet as well under the one as under the other, the good or the evil may be counteracted by extraneous circumstances. Therefore
without any intended self commendation, the opinion may be entertained by us, that our religious system is eminently calculated, in the points which have been before us, to sustain the integrity of Christian doctrine, to cherish a spirit of genuine and rational devotion, and to apply discipline to practice, so far as the nature of the subject admits, and without abusing it to ecclesiastical intolerance.
OF THE PUBLICK SERVICE.
General Remarks. Of a known Language.-Of the Traditions of the Church-Appointment of Occasion and Time.--Question of forms of Prayer.- Objections. Evi dence of Forms.-Utility.--Objections.-Application.
IT may be of use to make a few remarks, for the ascertaining of what should be the prominent properties of social and Christian prayer. These shall be briefly stated; the notice being confined to such as are the most obvious, and the least liable to be denied.
The first property to be mentioned is, that since prayer, according to the general idea of the subject, ought to be an exercise of the rational faculty of the supplicant, publick prayer should be such, as to be agreeable to the dictates of the same faculty, in its highest grade of cultivation. All the endowments of our nature should be made subservient to the glory of the Creator: And if so, most of all should the great gift of an intelligent spirit; in res
pect to which, man is said to have been created "a little lower than the angels."
But however accommodated the offices of the Church to the dictates of an enlightened judgment; they will fall far short of their design, unless they have a tendency to interest our best affections: And this is mentioned as another property, by which they should be distinguished. Whatever there is in religion, that can address itself to our hopes or to our fears, or that can excite sensibilities which adorn, ought to be transfused into the publick service of the Church: which may be correct in sentiment and in language, and yet destitute of what affects the heart. And this its holy influence ought to be distinguished from that species of sensibility, which has its origin in animal nature; and imprints no holy character on the soul.
Another property to be looked for, is the recognizing of the constituent truths of the religion, which the service in question is to sustain. It is not meant, that this should breathe the spirit of angry controversy. But the meaning is, that Christian prayer should show itself influenced by Christian doctrine; because of the connexion created between them, in the system to which they both belong. According to the most obvious terms of the gospel covenant, our warrant for prayer, and the promises of the acceptance of it, are rested on the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. Our greatest need of the same exercise, is described as originating in that corruption of the heart, which calls for the reforming influence of divine grace. And the obtaining of this, for the governing of our hearts and lives, is the good to be principally implored. Under such circumstances, a scheme of prayer, which should be naked of these and their kindred truths, would not be a Christian service; or warrant the worshippers to take to themselves any of the promises declared by the great Head of the Church, to those who assemble in his name. And the same
censure would apply, if the publick service were barren of the acknowledgment of the Divine Author of our religion, in the essential attributes of his character; and in the relations in which he stands to his professing people.
The last property to be remarked, is a tendency to be expected in the offices of devotion, to bind to the practice of gospel duties-to the practice of them, not merely as a regulation of the conduct, but as manifesting the frame of mind expressed in scripture, under the terms of being "holy in body and in spirit." It is not here intended, to undervalue the uses of enforcing Christian morals, in the form of preaching. But it may be questioned, whether the same object be not as effectually, although more silently accomplished, through the medium of edifying devotions. For any salutary reflections, or any purposes of holy living, which may take possession of the mind during its engagement in an act of homage to the Creator, carry with them the impression of the sanction of his high authority; without a regard to which, no moral duty can be discharged in its proper spirit, or bear the stamp of the service which he requires of us. These remarks, it must be confessed, as they suppose the being occupied in devotion, apply rather to the edifying of the devout, than to the winning of sinners to repentance. And yet even the latter are not out of the reach of prayer, as an engine of reformation; since according to the general idea of the exercise, it is in itself calculated to speak to the consciences and to the hearts of all; and perhaps it is never altogether without this effect on some, unless it be mixed with impropriety in the matter or in the expression, or else degraded by some defect or some impropriety in the delivery.
These properties have been delineated, with the view of their being decisive on any questions which may occur, as to the principles on which the pub. lick service of the Church should be constructed;