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ON THE LITURGY.
On opening the book of Common Prayer, it is of considerable importance to bear in mind,-in order, on the one hand, to form a just appreciation of its merit, and on the other to check all insincerity in its use,--that this inimitable vehicle of devotion was so designed and arranged by its pious and enlightened authors as to be suitable only for those who worship God in spirit and in truth-or, in other words, for true Christians. A design, than which nothing can be more scriptural; for if “ prayer be the breath of new-born souls," if prayer be the contrite sinner's voice, then reason itself must dictate, that no form of prayer can be con
sistently devised for the impenitent--for those who are dead in trespasses and sins. Scripture furnishes none: in all the rich and comprehensive provisions of mercy, there is no attenuated language-no graduated scale of expression to suit the standard of the worldly
lukewarm. Christianity recognises no neutral ground; every individual of the human race must, of necessity, be standing on one side or the other of that invisible boundary line which separates the world from the church. Invisible, we call it, because as Israel of old might not, and could not, be numbered, so the members of the spiritual Israel are emphatically called “hidden ones," because they are often overlooked, and unknown, not only by a heedless world, but even by the most spirituallyminded of God's faithful ministers. Nevertheless “the Lord knoweth them that are his," and though they are a company which no man can number, yet the name of each is “ written
i It is throughout a Form of Prayer for believers—for the children of God. Is it possible to draw up a Christian Form of Prayer, for those who are not believers ? for faith is essential to prayer, (James i. 6, 7. Mark xi. 24;) and no one but a believer can worship God spiritually. (Heb. xi. 6.) Therefore to say, it takes for granted that all who join in it are real Christians, is just the same thing as to say, that it takes for granted what is implied in the very notion of Christian worship, and no more.
in heaven," and in the great roll-call of the resurrection morning, it will be seen that “of them” whom the Father hath given to Jesus, He hath “lost none." But in the mean time there is a “mixed multitude," who, though they seem to be “ of Israel," have “neither part nor lot” in “ the inheritance." And though many of them may have learnt to pronounce the “ Shiboleth" of God's people, and unhesitatingly take the awful name of Israel's God into their lips, yet He whose“ broad eye” surveys the millions of immortals collected Sabbath after Sabbath for the ostensible purpose of worshipping Him, discerns under the seemly covering of outward conformity, many a plausible hypocrite, and many an infatuated self-deceiver.
Neither do we need the gift of the “ discerning of spirits” to satisfy ourselves, that out of the numbers who attend the public worship of God, a comparatively small portion possess the character of those, of whom Jesus said, “the Father seeketh such to worship him.” And the manifested insensibility, if not unblushing carelessness and inattention of the great mass, in the larger number of our congregations, proves too plainly the melancholy truth, that
- All are not Israel that are of Israel.” If this view of the general aspect of Christendom be correct, the wisdom and knowledge displayed in the composition of our Liturgy is undeniable.
The Church of England may not inaptly be likened to the rising lark, who begins her melody low upon earth, but gradually rises into an atmosphere more pure, more etherial, more exclusively her own. Sight and sound, the unassisted eye, and the natural ear, may trace her, as her first soft notes float on the morning breeze ; but in her upward course, sense can no more follow her than the grovelling soul of unregenerate man can accompany the true church, as she rises on the wings of faith, into communion with the Triune God. But shall the
10 then, how unwise, yea, and what ill friends to the souls of men, are they, who would pull down the Liturgy of the Church to the low and miserable standard of their own attainments; instead of endeavouring themselves and urging and helping others, to press forward to the high and holy standard of faith and devotion, which our Church has, with so much wisdom and love, set before us.
I cannot think that time and labour lost, which is employed in attaching any one of her children to so dear and venerable a mother ; or in enabling any soul to enter more spiritually, experimentally, and devotionally into her services.
church therefore linger amidst the mists and fogs of this lower world ?-shall she forego the holy joy of expatiating in a world of light? No, let her allure the sinner by the sweetness of her song and the height of her attainments, and thus convince him of the inconsistency of his awkward attempts to
chime in with her music, while he makes no effort, because he feels no desire, and therefore has no power, to disengage himself from earth. And this is precisely what the church does in these her services; for, as we have before remarked, she begins her strain low upon earth, wooing the sinner to listen to her first notes; stooping to his comprehension, to his fears, to his dulness, that she may draw him onwards and upwards by the sweet attraction of that full and free forgiveness held out in the first sentence she puts into the mouth of her officiating minister: When the wicked man turnetb away from his
wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.
Here is a declaration calculated to arouse the attention of the most abandoned sinner; for hope is held out to all, and while the banner of hope is flying, none can be justified in despair