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to the word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly (that others may fear to do the like) as one that offendeth against the common Order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the magistrate, and woundeth the conscience of weak brethren.

“Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change and abolish ceremonies, or rites of the Church, ordained only by man's authority; so that all things be done to edifying.

It may be proper to give the caution, that the clause respecting the authority of the magistrate, comes under the following declaration made by our American Church, in relation to the Thirty-nine Articles All references to the constitution and laws of England, are considered as inapplicable to this Church.” But the exception is merely verbal; leaving the substance of the Article in full force.

The Article means under the term traditions usages, which, being not contrary to scripture, have acquired the force of laws; and under the term “ Ceremonies,” such religious services, with their appendant circumstances, as, being within the bounds of ecclesiastical legislation, have received its sanction.

Of these it is said.-" It is not necessary that they be in all places one, or utterly alike.” This clearly follows from a principle opened in the last lecture, that there is no ecclesiastical authority extending over all the Churches of Christendom; or any common centre of unity to them, in a particular Church. It follows further, and therefore the Article declares, that what is ordained by man's authority, may be altered or abolished by the same; but superadds this wise security to the integrity of gospel truth“ so that nothing be ordained against God's word.” Then follows a censure on those, who wantonly offend against the publick provisions of the Church: which is a useful admonition to all her members, and especially to her ministers;

who, when they break loose from the ties of the Rubricks and of the Canons, may find a condemna- • tion of their conduct in this Article; which they had solemnly promised to conform to, before they were admitted to the ministry, and thereby became furnished with an opportunity of violating its order. [See Dissertation XI.]

The last and the most important clause of the passage, is that which affirms the right of every particular Church, to ordain rites and ceremonies. The question of the truth or the falsehood of this position, was principally the ground, on which the great secession from the Church of England took place, in the seventeenth century. By those who seceded, the power thus claimed by the Establishment, of regulating the publick offices of religion, was considered as an unwarrantable restraint on the talents and the discretion of ministers, in their several capacities; and even as an offence against the Holy Spirit; whose motions and whose teachings were thus thought to be superseded, by the provisions of an authority merely human.

All that follows in this lecture, will have more or less a relation to the position of the Church now before us; taken in connexion with “ The Book of Common Prayer and administration of the Sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the Church:” which is the exercise of the power, thus stated to be claimed. But the limits of the present lecture will confine me to the discoursing of the book in the character of its being prescribed, without entering into the merits of the individual services.

It being the professed object of these lectures, to open the grounds of those institutions of our Church, which materially differ from the most known and numerous bodies of professing Christians near us; I shall consider her decisions on the present subject, as opposed to the opinion of two descriptions of persons: First, of those, who deny the propriety of any absolute

appointment of occasion and time of publick prayer; making the performance of it, on any occasion or time, dependent on certain emotions of the mind, which may or may not be felt; and which, when felt, are ascribed to the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit: and secondly, of those who consent to the appoint. ment of time and place, but contend for the right of the officiating minister, to dictate the devotions to be offered; without being overruled in this respect by the will of the Church at large, declared in a prescribed form.

In regard to the former of these opinions, subjecting publick prayer to the uncertainty of present feeling; it would be in vain to argue from set times under the law; because the ground on which the opinion rests, is that of the higher genius of Christianity. And yet, if holy men under the preceding dispensation are to be put entirely out of the account; it might have been ex. pected, that respect would be paid to the countenance extended to the same worship, by the divine founder of the new and better dispensation of the gospel. Our Lord gave attendance on the publick worship of his countrymen: and this, after he had delivered instructions on the subject of prayer; which were designed to be operative in his Church to the end of time.

The record of the delivery of the instructions refer. red to, is very much to the present point: as is also the circumstance which gave occasion to them. The circumstance is thus recorded by St. Luke, in the eleventh chapter, and first verse" And it came to pass, when he [Jesus] was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disci. ples.” Here was a juncture, eminently favourable to the opening to the disciples, of the true nature of prayer: and if John the baptist can be supposed to have erred, in giving a sensible directory in regard to the exercise, instead of referring to a sufficient guide within; it may be presumed, that his heavenly master would now have rectified the errour; instead of sanctioning


it to those his followers, by whom it would be handed down from age to age. For there immediately follows the unparalleled composition, known by the name of the Lord's Prayer. It is not here forgotten, that some affirm of this, its being rather a pattern, than a prescribed form. Although the errour of this sentiment was noticed in another lecture, and will be again referred to, yet the distinction is irrelative to the present question. The professors now in view, reject all preparation for the holy exercise; except that of waiting on the divine spirit, who is supposed to suggest immediately to the mind of the supplicant, both the matter and the form of his petitions. What is here contended for is, that on this ground, there was no room, either for the request of the disciples, or for the instructions consequently given.

When social prayer is mentioned in the New Testament, there is generally some attendant circumstance, making the sentiment inconsistent with the principle here opposed. For instance, in one place, where St. Paul is giving to Timothy instructions for the government of Churches, he tells him-“I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks, be made for all men.”* Here is an enjoined part of publick worship; of which we nevertheless hear it affirmed, that without a sensible call, there should be no vocal expression accompanying the act. Now such a supposition ill agrees with the apostle's view in writing. This, as may appear from what follows in the chapter, was to give directions, not only which should be obeyed in the Church; but which Timothy, through whom they were given, should cause to be carried into effect. But this was beyond his power, as to the retired movenients of the mind.

Again, the same apostle, in the first epistle to the Corinthians, speaks of their “coming together into one place,” for the express purpose of “eating the Lord's Supper;”+ although he denies, that what was done by

• 1 ii, 1.

† xi. 20.


them amounted to such a solemnity, because of some impropriety in the performance. It is foreign to the present question, to discuss that of the perpetuity of this ordinance. That the apostle speaks of the eating of bread and the drinking of wine, in imitation of what had been done at the paschal supper before the passion, is conceded to us. And that the transaction was ac. companied by prayer, appears in what is said on the same subject, in the preceding chapter" The cup of blessing which we bless”-that is, over which we invoke a blessing" is it not the commuion of the blood of Christ.”* These facts are not denied to us; although it is imagined, that the practice was designed to be temporary. But if the people were to come together in one place for the celebration spoken of-a bodily act, in the use of material elements--and if it were or ought to have been an act of c'evotion; the incongruity of resting the performance of it on the uncertain event of a peculiar motion in each worshipers mind, at the very crisis when the purpose was to be carried into effect, is too manifest to require any further proof.

There are not here known any scriptural authorities, set up on the other side; except those in which we read of waiting and watching, as religious duties. That we should wait on the Lord, not only in the dealings of his providence, but in the drawings of his grace; and that we should add watchfuluess to prayer; are truths which no Christian will deny. But it may be confi. dently denied, and the places may be appealed to for the fact, that not in a single place usually brought for. ward, is social prayer the subject in contemplation. When called to this by the returns of the appointed seasons, it is our own delinquency, if we have not a state of mind, suited to the intended occupation. But this, far from being a dispensation, is an additional reason for the laying open of our hearts before the Father of mercies; in order that, as our liturgy expresses it;

* Verse 16.

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