« PreviousContinue »
PRE FACE. T
HE Obligations that lie upon Chrißians of every
Denomination, and in every Country, to the
Practice of PUBLIC RELIGIOUS WORSHIP, are many and great. It's fingular Use in preserving a Sense of Religion in the Minds of Mankind, to spread it through the World, and transmit the same to Posterity, together with it's being virtually appointed by God himself, as well as constantly observed by our blessed Savior, and his Apostles, render it a Matter of the highest Importance to be duly attended upon, by all who have any Regard for the Honor of God, the Interest of Christianity, or the Peace and good Order of Society. On these Accounts also it is a most desireable Thing, to have the Same, through all it's Parts, conducted in such a Manner, as may be most likely to promote the good Ends, for which it is inftituted, viz. The Edification, Improvement, and Understanding of all that join in it; according to the Apostle's own Direction, Let all Things be done to edifying. (1 Cor. xiv. 26.)
The principal Part of RELIGIOUS WORSHIP consists of PRAYER, in the most large and comprehensive Sense, in which the Word is frequently used in Scripture, and in our common Way of Speaking, (perhaps always, when applied to Public Worship,) so as to signify, every Address or Application to the SUPREME Being, whether by Way of Invocation, or of Adoration, Praise, and Thanksgiving, Confefion of Sins, with Implorations for Pardon and Acceptance, Professions of Repentance, Vows of Amendment, Petitions for Blessings on ourselves, Supplications and Intercesions for one another, and for all Mankind, together with afcribing
Glory and Honor to God, commonly called Doxologies: And all this is to be done in the Name and through the Mediation of JESUS CHRIST. (John xiv. 14. xv. 16. xvi. 24-26.
-Ephef. ii. 18. v. 19, 20.--Colof. ii. 16, 17.-Heb. xiii. 15.-1 Pet. ii. 5.)
The chief End and Design of Prayer being to cherish and strengthen all pious and good Affections in our own Hearts and the Hearts of others, to promote Reverence towards God, an habitual Sense of His Divine Presence, with our entire Dependence upon Him, and also to excite in us the several Graces and Virtues of the Christian Character, particularly Charity and Benevolence towards our FellowCreatures, and by the faithful Exercise thereof to procure the Favor and Acceptance of the SUPREME CREATOR; the Author of the following LITURGY or Plan for Christian Worship humbly submits it to the candid and judicial Consideration of all serious and religiously disposed Christians, of every Rank and Denomination, to approve or dirapprove, to alter or amend the same, as shall be thought expedient; not intending (nor even wishing) it to be imposed upon any Church or Society, as the only System of Public Prayer for constant Practice. But as He is of Opinion, that Forms of Prayer, judiciously drawn up, are of very great Ule in private Families, and from Experience is convinced of the absolute Necessity of them in Churches, or public Assemblies of Worshippers; so He presumes the following Performance may be found of some Service towards reviving, encreasing or strengthening real Christianity amongst us, as his main View, throughout the Whole, has been to impress the amiable Dispositions required by the Gospel in every sincere Believer, and to enforce a suitable Practice: And if herein his Aim be not answered, it is hoped that others, of better Judgment and superior Abilities, may hereby be excited to pursue and complete so useful a Design. At least, the Author trusts that the Integrity of his own Intentions, in this Attempt, will sufficiently screen him from Slander and Obloquy, if not gain him the Approbation of all Men of true Piety and Christian Candor. Nothing surely can justly be objected against a Design foharmless, so benevolent, and so likely to be serviceable to the Interest of that Religion, in which He profelles to live,
and dares to die; as through the Whole of it, He has carefully avoided every Expression that might give Offence, by occasioning Disputes among Sects or Parties, and hath endeavored to compose it in such a Manner, as to fuit every Denomination of Christians, who own the SCRIPTURES fos their only Rule of Faith and Practice.
There are indeed two very numerous Bodies of pro, fefling Christians, some of whom He is apprehenfive will be alarmed, if not displeased, at this or any other Attempt made by a private Person to reform Public Il'orship; viz. Many, who by long Use of the LITURGY by Law eitablished in England and Ireland, have contracted a Sort of Veneration for every part of it's Forms, and think it vain, if not impoffible, to amend the fame: Another Set on the contrary, who by being so entirely unaccustomed to any Forms at all in Public Worship, as those of the Established Church of Scotland, and the Dissenters in England, are apt to think them altogether needless and inexpedient, yea fome perhaps think the Use of them sinful, at least contrary to God's own Direction and Promise of Afiftance in this Duty. But each of these Parties will, by all candid and unprejudiced Judges, be found to be mistaken; as Extremes on both sides are equally culpable, arising from unreasonable Prejudices, which ought never to be indulged in the momentous Affairs of Religion: And to such as are thus obstinately bent against all Reformation or Alteration whatsoever," whose “ Minds are less enlarged, whose Views are more con« tracted, and whose Rust and Canker is not yet worn « off,” He cannot for bear applying the Words of a very fenfible Writer*, speaking of those who were against any Review of the Liturgy, that "native Prejudice sways them, “ inherent Bigotry urges them on, Zeal without Knowes ledge misleads them, or Superstition blinds them.”-For certain it is, that Religious Worship may be performed acceptably, and to Edification, either with or without a Form: Both Ways have their peculiar Advantages as well as Dir. advantages: But it is too great Presumption in any Side to fay, that their present Manner of conduaing Public IVorship is completely perfect, or entirely Scriptural, or that it will, A 3
Appeal to Reason and Candor, Part I, No. xxi, P. 1274
not admit of fome Reformation or Improvement: Therefore every candid and Christian Attempt for this purpose juftly merits some favorable Regärd. And perhaps the Plan here offered unites the Advantages of Each, without the material Inconveniences of Either.
It is presumed here, that it would be more expedient, for the Generality of Worshipping Societies of Chriftians, to make use of a good FORM, wherein the PEOPLE may bear à considerable Part with their Voices, as the most likely Way to keep their Hearts clofely engaged in the Devotion they offer, and that their Addresses to God may be (as they are required to be, Rom. xii
. 1.) a reasonable Service, perfeally pleasing and intelligible to all thé Addressers; which in Places and Occasions, where no FORM at all is used, or known beforehand by the PEOPLE, 'tis often to be lamented they are not. For very frequently it happens, and of teneft in the largest Afjemblies for Worship, that for want of distinctly hearing, or rightly understanding, the Expressions of the MINISTER, and sometimes also perhaps not approving the Sentences when heard; the humble pious Christian is puzzled, pained or disgusted in the midst of Prayer; and when once Uneasiness or Disgust begins, Devotion ends. Is not this, in fome Respeet, like offering the blind, the lame, and the fick for Sacrifice, which the Prophet Malachi exclaims against, Chap. 1. v. 8.? Offer it now unto thy Governor, will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy Person? faith the Lord of Holts. -- Besides, If we were to address any Human Ring ór Governor in a Body, we should undoubtedly think it necessary to know, or prepare beforehand, what is to be offered for the Whole by any One, who is to be the Speaker: And is it a Matter of less Confideration, to address the KING OF Kings, in the most important of all Concerns, on which our eternal Happiness fo much depends?
ALTHOUGĦ it is believed" there are many serious “ well-meaning Chriftians, who from the too rigorous Im
position of a Liturgy, liable to Exception in several In« Itances, have conceived a Diflike to all ftatcd Forms of « Devotion in general: Yet the Author cannot help ob“ serving, that the old Puritans (as they were formerly
called) or Protefiant Nonconformists in these Kingdoms,
o not only allowed the Lawfulness of praying by a Form, « but even the greater Expediency of it in some Cafes. :66 Nor do the Bulk of the Protestant Diffenting Laity at this
« Day found their stated Diffent from the Worship of the 66 established Church, 'merely upon the Use of a Liturgy ; “ but their main Objection is, that there are several Par.
sages in the Liturgy of the Church which they think un; « fcriptural, and therefore cannot join in yet the Use of " it is fo rigorously imposed, that there is no Liberty to " add, alter, or omit any Thing in it," whatever particular Circumstances arise to make such an Alteration neceffäry, useful, or edifying to a particular Congregation. “And « it is well known, that the main Body of the Diffenters in “ England at the Restoration of King Charles II. in 1660,
would, for the sake of Peace, have complied with the Use “ of the present Liturgy, had it not been so rigidly enjoin« ed, that not the least Word or Sentence was left to the « Discretion of the Minister of People; an Honor too “ great for any Work composed by fallible Men, and " which cannot but occafion great Difficulty and Uneafia is ness to honest ingenuous Minds, that are tied down to 6 such an invariable Use of it, many of whom may well “ be supposed to differ in their Judgment from what is the « plain and obvious Meaning of several Expressions which 66 occur in it."
« Some, otherwise very great and good Men, have 6 strangely departed from the Simplicity of the Gospel“ Worship in several Respects, but particularly in this, " that they have introduced into their Prayers and public • Liturgies, the doubtful and disputable Opinions of private « Persons and Parties, or have sometimes expressed them“ selves in a Manner quite unintelligible. Whereas no" thing should be introduced into Public Prayers, but what 46
Christian may with a little Attention cafily under. " ftand, and can without the least Scruple or Hefitation 6
join in. If this Rule were observed as it ought to be, 66 Christians would never find any Difficulty in joining 6 with one another in religious Worship, notwithstanding
any different Opinions that might be amongst them; for for nothing would be in their Prayers, but what all Chriftians “ well agree in.” And in composing the following LiA4