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pect to which, man is said to have been created is 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 ser. vice 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 re. cognizing 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 pro. pitiatory 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, whe. ther 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 bę 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;
and also with a readiness to subject our own liturgy in particular, to the test; claiming esteem for it, only in proportion as it shall be found to come under the prescribed conditions.
In this, as in the preceding lecture, what first claims our attention, are the decisions of the Church: the vindication of which is part of the present object. Those to our purpose, are the Twenty-fourth and the Thirty-fourth of the Articles.
The Twenty-fourth is as follows_" It is a thing plainly repugnant to the word of God, and the custom of the primitive Church, to have publick prayer in the Church, or to minister the Sacraments, in a tongue not understanded of the people.”
Although the general plan of these lectures called for the notice of this Article, there shall be but little said to prove the correctness of the position; because, as to the practice censured of having the publick prayers in an unknown tongue, there is not professed to be any other ground for it, than the authority of a foreign Church; which it was one of the objects of the last lecture to disprove.
First the Article affirms, that prayer in an unknown tongue is repugnant to the word of God. It is so plainly agreeable to the dictates of reason, that people should understand what they send up in prayer and praise to the father of their spirits; and this is so essential to the constituting of a reasonable service; as to lay the burden of proof on those who would plead for a scheme of worship, in which there is an entire departure from a principle so obvious. And yet, that any warrant from scripture has been ever alleged in support of such an incongruity, does not appear. But the Article goes further; and affirms, that scripture is in opposition to the practice. Now it has happened, that certain disorders in the Church of Corinth gave occasion to a determination of St. Paul, than which there cannot be any thing more pertinent. It is not here pretended, that the disorder was the same as thať in contemplation: for none such existed in the apostolick age. The matter in view, was the undue use of the gift of inspiration: which makes the censure apply with aggravated force, against the locking up of uninspired prayers in an unknown tongue. But even in relation to the other subject, the apostle says “If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is in. fruitful:")* and then, in regard to thanksgiving“When thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned, say amen at the giving of thanks?”+ He adds soon after, evidently with a retrospect to disorders censured "Let all things be done to edifying:”I which general precept might have led to deductions, in contrariety to the practice in question, even had there been no such express brand of ignominy stamped on it, as that which the providence of God has left on record.
The Article also affirms concerning the practice, that it is repugnant to the custom of the primitive Church. Here is an appeal to fact. Even during the age of the apostles, they had extended the knowledge of the faith, to all nations of the then known world. Of these nations, many were igno. rant of the Syriac—the language spoken in Judæa, and of the Greek, which was much used by the Jews, in the countries where it was vernacular; and of the Latin, which was not spoken beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire, nor even universally within them. And yet we find the boast made by certain fathers of the Church, of praise being rendered to God, on the terms of the Christian covenant, by all nations in their respective languages.
It is certain, that while in the eastern part of civilized Christendom, divine service continued to be performed in the Greek language; even in the western part, in the far greater proportion of which the Latin was generally understood, there was a departure from the use of the latter language, wherever the exception was necessary for popular edification. And this indulgence was continued; until the bishops of Rome, having established their supremacy, with its vast prerogatives, perceived plainly, that it tended much to the consolidating and the perpetuating of their power, not only to make all national liturgies give way to the liturgy of the dominant see, but also, that it should be performed in a single language. Of the policy of this, there can be no doubt: but our Church affirms with uncontradicted truth, that it was not the policy of the primitive church; to the usage of which it was repugnant.
* I Cor. xiv. 14. fv. 16. verse 26.
If from scripture and primitive antiquity, we look back to the maxims in the beginning of this discourse; it is evident, that there can be no homage of the intellectual faculty, in a language, to the terms of which it is a stranger. And then it follows, that a liturgy of this description, in proportion as it is' unknown, must be ineffective to the exciting of the affections, to the edifying with wholesome doctrine, and to the shedding of a benign influence over the life and conversation*
I pass to the Thirty-fourth Article of the Church; which is as follows:-“It is not necessary, that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly alike; for at all times they have been diverse, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries and men's manners; so that nothing be ordained against God's word. Whosoever through his private judgment, willingly and purposely doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant
* For some statements on this subject, see Dissertation XII.