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the same petitions, and in the precise order in which they are to be offered up.
The latter opinion mentioned, brings the whole controversy to a single and discernible point. It is, whether it be the most agreeable to the gospel, the most reasonable, and the most conducive to devotion, to submit the substance of popular devotion to the wisdom of every officiating minister, from time to time; or he should be limited to prescribed forms, by the publick wisdom of the Church; agreeably to authority to that effect, affirmed in the Article which has been recited; resistance of which has caused much strife and much division; because of its interfering with individual will, and what was thought individual liberty, in the matter here contemplated. Both of the opinions will be met by the summary now to be given of the arguments, which we offer in favour of prescribed forms of praver.
The form delivered by our Lord himself, makes so distinguished a link in the chain of the argument; as to excuse, it is to be hoped, the repetition of a criticism delivered in a preceding lecture.
In the place of St. Luke's gospel already referred to, it is introduced with the injunction-" When ye pray, say." This is so evidently indicative of the enjoining of a form, that the only evasion of the evidence, is by appealing to the sixth chapter of St. Matthew's gospel.* in which the same prayer is introduced by the words "After this manner therefore pray ye." But the difference in the introductory words, is apparent only. For the Greek word translated "after this manner," signifies "thus"- -or"in these words." And it is so rendered in the fifth verse of the second chapter of the same gospel, in the answer of the chief priests and scribes, to the inquiries of Herod, where Christ should be born.
It is difficult to say, on which circumstance the most
stress should be laid; that of our Lord's delivery of a form, or his giving of his personal attendance on forms of prayer, as used in the temple and in the synagogues of the Jews." He was daily teaching in the temple," during the short term of his being in Jerusalem; as he declares himself in the twenty-sixth chapter of St. Matthew's gospel. And doubtless he did not teach there, without joining in the worship of the place; which would have been inconsistent with his acknowledging of it as the house of prayer, and his vindicating of the sanctity of it against those, who had abused it to the traffick of the world. What the worship of the temple was, we may learn from the eighth chapter of the second book of Chronicles; compared with the twenty-fifth chapter of the first book. From the first mentioned chapter we find, that Solomon "appointed, according to the order of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise and minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required." Here is reference to what David had done before; which appears in the last mentioned chapter, where it is said, that the office of the Levites, as appointed by David, was, besides other particulars there mentioned, "to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord; and likewise at even." Now, in what way were those thanks and praises offered? Certainly in those devotional compositions which we have still in Scripture; some of which show on their very faces, evidence of their having been composed for the service of the sanctuary. These were the liturgy of the Jewish Church, from the time of David until she was carried captive to Babylon. This must also have been the service which Nehemiah and Ezra restored, on the rebuilding of the temple, There is no appearance of its having undergone any change, between that period and the evangelical dispensation. It must therefore have been the very service, which our Saviour
* Verse 55.
graced with his presence, and in which he bore a part. And this he did, after his delivery of the high truth"God is a spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth."* Which amounts to a demonstration of the sense of the divine speaker, that worship was not the less in spirit and in truth, because of its being by appointed forms.
As to the worship of the synagogues, which, on account of local circumstances, was much more frequented by him; it consisted of devotions, which have come down to the present day; being contained in a book of the Jews, which they call their "Mishna." If any one should ask, how this is known; the answer is-on like evidence to that, on which we admit the authenticity of the sacred writings. The Scriptures contain all that is necessary, for faith and practice: But what is scripture, can only be known by the uninterrupted tradition of the Church. Similar historick proof, is attendant on the antiquity of the Jewish prayers alluded to. Since such proof is admissible, for the proving of any book of scripture to be genuine; it must also be admissible, for the establishing of the meaning of particular passages: And if so, there can be no doubt, that when we read of the synagogues, as the usual places of religious assemblies throughout Judæa, the worship in them must be understood to have been conducted in prayers preconceived and known. Under these circumstances, if we have admitted the conception, that forms, as such, are inadequate to the excitement of religious affections; we have reason to fear, that in imagining a greater perfection of devotion than that discoverable in our Lord and Master, we may have wanderder wide of the true Spirit of prayer; and that this may be one of the many ways, in which "Satan is transformed into an angel of light."+
2 Cor. xi. 14.
* John iv. 24.
The next source of evidence here looked to, is the practice of the apostles; which, so far as it can be ascertained from scripture, seems much in fayour of us. The only instances of their own prayers which have been handed down to us, are two: That in the first chapter of the Acts, relative to the supplying of the place of Judas; and that in the fourth chapter of the same book, after their return from prison. To say the least, these prayers have much the appearance of preconcert. Their being on record, is in agreement with the sentiment. So is its being said, that the apostles put up the prayers as a company, without any notice of a leading voice. But what most looks this way, in the last of the two prayers, is its being stated, that the company "lifted up their voices with one accord:" Or, "with one mind"-which is a more strict translation. Now it is difficult to conceive of there having been many voices, and but one mind, except on the principle of preinditing. In what follows in holy writ, there are but few references to occasions of social prayer. In these references, it is not even alleged, that there is any fact proving it to have been extemporaneous. The two facts presented on the other side, are not here deemed to amount to more than probabilities. But there is another fact, on which much more stress may be laid. It is the allowed attendance of the Jewish Christians on the service of the temple, which continued to the time of its destruction. This itself is presumptive evidence, that Christian worship was like the Jewish, as to the point in question; because, if it had been otherwise, and a new way had been adopted of greater purity and perfection, the very prayers of the Jews would have been unfit for Christians to have joined in, now that clearer light had beamed on them. In consequence of this, such prayers would have been abandoned; as classing with other beggarly elements, to which they had been long in
bondage, but from which Christ had now made them free.
As the subject has been brought before you in the historick form; it will be in analogy with what has been already offered, to descend to the ages subsequent to that of the apostles; because the practice of the one reflects back its light on the other. Of the times immediately following the days of the apostles, very few monuments have descended to us. We however have early accounts of titles designating the devotions of Christians; such as "common prayers," "solemn prayers" and "constituted prayers;" which titles, seem to apply to forms. And besides, within the times in which the Church was as yet free from the superstitions at last grafted on her institutions, there were prayers, especially for the administration of the Eucharist; which have been handed down to us with such evidence of authenticity, as has not been questioned. Now if such was, at such a time, the practice of the Christian Church in general; how, we may ask, did it happen, unless sanctioned by usage from the beginning? Did Christians, in different parts of the world, at a time when no general councils of the Church were held, fall from primitive purity, with a criminal consent of mind; but without leaving any vestiges of the change? And was there no advocate of the primitive practice thus abandoned, who would lift up his voice against the dangerous novelty? Nothing of the kind appears: And the subject stands on quite a different ground, from those errours of which we can trace the rise and progress. It would therefore seem, that while some are in pursuit of a perfection of piety, not to be found in forms, the sober-minded Christian may be content with the measure of it which the Church possessed, when her highest praise were the holy lives of her members; and while she continued to offer up her sacrifices on the altar of persecution.
After this statement of the origin of our mode of