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PUBLIC WORSHIP OF GOD.
T is grievous to consider how many Christians there are (if such as they de
serve the name of Christians) who come not to Church at all, or very sel dom, to pay that públic duty and worship to God, which our religion calls for, and which a regard for the welfare of oil society requires. And even of those who do come, we find too many behaving themselves in such a careless manner, as if the worship of God was either not their business there, or not worth minding.. Some sit all the time of prayers; or put themselves into such other lazy and irreverent postures, as show sufficiently they have no sense of what they should be doing, nor any awe or reverence of the glorious Being they come to address. Others lay themselves to sleep, or trifle away their time in thinking of their worldly affairs. Others gaze and stare about upon the congregation, or keep talking and whispering with their neighbours; and this is especially observable while the lessons are reading; as if the Holy Scriptures, though given by inspiration of God, were not always to be heard, marked, learned, and inwardly digested, that so they may answer the ends for which they were written, and becoine profitable for doctrine, for reprong, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; or in one word, good to the use of edifying. i Tim. iii. 16. With regard to such cold and careless worshippers, we may apply to the Church what Jucob said of Bethel ; Surely the Lord is in this place, and they know it not. They do not consider, that they are in the immediate presence of God, and that by such a behaviour they affront Him to his face, while they should be devoutly attending to his word, or praying to Him.
Others there are, who do indeed show some inclination to mind the prayers, and all the rest of the service ; but they do it with so much ignorance, distracțion, or confusion, as discover that they do not rightly understand the difference between one part of the service and another; or consider, that some are prayers, some praises and thanksgivings, some public professions of the Christian faith, and some no more than instructions, commands, or exhortations to the people. We often find them repeating after the Minister what he alone should speak, and they should only liearken to. Many there are who neglect to join audibly in the responses, which are the part of the worship assigned expressly to the people, by which neglect, the beauty, the order, and the solemnity of the service are destroyed. Now, that such persons may be taught how to order their devotions better, and to worship God, not only with the spirit, but with the understanding too, the following directions are earnestly recommended to their consideration and practice.
First then, Have a conscientious regard to this advice of Solomon, (to whom God gave a wise and understanding heart) Keep thy fopi when thou goest to
Directions for a devout behaviour, &e. the house of GOD ; and so look to every step you take in your approach to it, that you come into his more immediate presence with such contemplation, meditations, and reflections in your mind, as will lift up your soul unto Him, under an awful and just sense of his divine majesty and perfections; and with that humble and contrite spirit, which dependent creatures, and miserable sinners ought to have. Remember, that since God is a spirit, your worship of him must be spiritual and reasonable, sincere and pure. It must flow from a divine and heavenly frame of mind. But yet, as the whole man consists of body and soul together, you must glorify him in both ; (1 Cor. vi. 20.) and, considering their natural union and sympathy, you must take such heed to every gesture and posture of your body, as that they may be such as will best express your humility, reverence, and earnestness, and keep up suitable thoughts and affections in your soul. Particularly, you will, I believe, hence think, that a kneeling posture is most proper ; being that which naturé seems to dictate in solemn adorations and bumble confessions, without this express call for it from the inspired Psalmist, (Psal. xcv. 6.) O come, let-us worship, and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our maker. But,
Secondly, if you are thus prepared to worship God in spirit and in truth, you will then be sure to go so early to his house, as to be there at the very
be ginaing of the service ; since the same obligation lies upon you to attend eve. ry part of his public worship as to come to Church at all. For if you miss the beginning of it, you lose the opportunity of confessing your sins, and the contort of hearing your pardon declared and pronounced to you thereupon. Beside that, by coming late, you disturb the congregation to make way for you. Take care also not to leave the Church, without great necessity, till after the minister has given the blessing that concludes the whole service; for if you go out before, you will seem to despise the blossing ; and if you do so, You cannot expect the grace and peace of God should go along with you.
But, Thirdly, Having, as soon as you can, gotten a convenient opportunity after
your entrance into the Church, fall down upon your knees in private prayer to God, for the assistance of his spirit in those solemn duties of religion you come to perform. You will behave as in his sight; you will look upon him as observing what you think, as well as what you say and do: and take care all the while you are at Church, that the inward dispositions of your sout, and the outward demeanor of your body, be such as becometh not only the holiness and worship of his house, but his more immediate presence.
In prayer, you will fix your thoughts wholly upon God, who alone heareth prayer ; you will disengage your mind from all worldly concerns ; you will keep your eyes from wandering, and your lips from disturbing others in their devotions.
In thanksgiving, imprint upon your heart a just and lively sense of God's goodness and loving-kindness to yourself and to all men ; since you will then feel how joyful and pleasant a thing it is to be thankful. Psalm cxlvii. 1.
In hearing God's word, (whether it be read or preached) be not only attentive to it, but inwardly digest it, by applying to your own conscience its general admonitions, reproofs, or exhortatioris ; and by treasuring up in your memory its precepts and examples, its promises and threatnings, for the constant and right ordering of your conversation.
In singing psalms, let your understanding and spirit direct and govern the melody of your voice, that so your heart may be no less filled with grace, than your tongue with joy. And,
Lastly, In receiving the sacrament of the Lord's supper, remember always the exceeding great love of our master and only Saviour in dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which by his precious blond-sheding He hath obtained to us. For you will then-at all times draw near to receive it with faith, with a penitent and obedient heart, in love and charity with all mankind, and with a determined resolution to forsake those sins which brought Him even to the death upon the cross; which will likewise engage you to serve Him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of your life.
But beside these general directions for the public worship of God, there are others, which particularly concern a devout and proper use of the book of common pruyer, appointed by the Church of England ; and which will require your immediate attention to the nature and order of every part in that service.
(which is the minister's part alone, and not to be repeated after The exhor. Directions for a decout behaviour, &e.
116 Now the first thing done by the minister, is to read some sentences out of the holy scriptures. Hearken diligently to these ; and consider
The sentences, them as spoken by the inspiration or command of God himself at first, and now repeated by His minister, to put you in mind of something which 'He would have you believe or do. For they are such sentences as not only bring our sins against Him to our remembrance, but also his promises of pardon and forgiveness if we do repent; so that we may worship Him with that reverence and godly fear, which becomes those who are sensible of their own sinfulness and unworthiness to approach his divine majesty; and likewise with that faith and humble confidence which becomes those who believe that upon our repentance He will pardon and accept us, according to his promises. Then follows a solemn exhortation. Now while this is reading
tation. him by the congregation) take particular notice of every word and expression in it, as contrived'on purpose to prepare you for the worship of God, by possessing your minds with a due sense of his special presence, and of the great end of your coming before him at this time ; which will no doubt compose your thoughts for that part of the service which follows next: I mean, an humble confession of your sins.
But here, while you are confessing to God with your mouth, and repeating sentence by sentence after the minister, be sure to do the same in
The confesyour heart'; calling to mind as many as you can of those particu
sion. lar sins which you have been guilty of; either by doing what you ought not to do, or not doing what you ought ; 'so as to be heartily sorry for them, and stedfastly to resolve against them for the time to come ; imploring bis mercy in the pardon of them, and his grace, that from henceforward you may entirely forsake them, and bring forth the fruits of an unfeigned repent
The confession ended, and you continuing upon your knees, the minister stands up, and in the name of God, declares and pronounces The absolupardon and forgiveness to all that truly repent and unfeignedly
țion. believe his holy gospel. But while the absolution is thus pronouncing, you are to hearken to it with perfect silence, not reading or repeating it along with the minister, as many ignorant or unthinking people do ; for it is the minister's duty alone to make this declaration by authority from God; and, in bis name, as his ambassador. However, every particular person there present ought humbly and thankfully to apply himself, so far as to be fully persuaded in his own mind, that if his conscience tells him, that after an uufeigned and unshaken belief in Christ, he doth really and heartily repent, he will be discharged and absolved from all the sins he had before committed, as certainly as if God himself had declared it with his own mouth, since his minister has done it in his name, and by his power.
What follows is the Lord's prayer, in which the whole congregation joins ; for looking upon ourselves as thus absolved from our sins, through
The Lord's a faith that worketh true repentance ; we, as reconciled unto God
prayer. through his Son, may have such boldness and access to the throne of divine grace, as by the spirit of'adoption, to cry out, Abba, Father, (Rom. viii. 16.) in the very form he taught us to pray, saying, Our Father who art in Heaven, &c.
This done, we are to lift up our hearts to God in this petition of his minister for his grace, O Lord, open thou our lips; to which the answer
Preparation is, what it ought to be, from the people, and our mouth shall show forth thy praise." "Then immediately standing up, we put
God ourselves into a posture of giving praise to the one, living and true God; the King of kings, and Lord of lords. For which purpose the minister first says, Glory be to the Father, &c. the people, to show their consènt, answer, As it was in the beginning, &c. The minister calling again upon the people, Praise ye the Lord; and the people answering, The Lord's name be praised. We go on accordingly to praise Him, by
The psalms saying or singing the ninety-fifth psalm, and then the psalms and hymns. appointed for the day. After every one of which (to testify that it is the same divine Being, three Persons and one God, in honour of whom these psalms were composed, and made use of in the Jewish Church i and
of Easier Day. who is still praised and worshipped by them in the Christian Church) we repeat that incomparable hymn, Glory'be to the Father, &c. Now, while you, together with the minister, are repeating these psalms, and this or the other hymns that are used in different places of the service, to
honour and glory of God; observe the minister's part as well as your own, and lift up your hearts together with your voices, in acknowledging, magnifying, and praising the infinite wisdom, and power, and goodness, and glory of the most high God in all his works, the wonders that he has done, and still does for the children of men, and for yourself among the rest. And in doing this you stand up; not only to signify, but to forward the lifting up of your mind at the same time. For as on the one hand, if our souls be really lifted up to contem
plate and praise God, our bodies will naturally rise in that erect posture, which is patural to, and most becometh man ; so, on the other hand, the raising up of our bodies helps towards the raising up of our souls too, by putting us in mind of that high and heavenly work we are about ; wherein, according to our weak capacites, we join with saints and angels above, in praising God now, as we hope to do hereafter in their blessed company for ever more.
[To be concluded in our next.]
SOME ECCLESIASTICAL TERMS EXPLAINED, BY WAY OF
QU'ESTION AND ANSWER. CONTINUED FROM PAGE 85.
A. To praise God for the benefits we receive from their doctrine and exanple: and to beg grace, to follow them, as they followed our Lord Jesus Christ.
Q: Why are the days of their deaths observed, rather than the days of their births ?
A. Because they were more glorious in their deaths than in their births ;dying in the faith of Jesus Christ and laying down their lives for his sake.
Q. Why is the day of St. Paul's conversion hept, rather than the day of his martyrdom ?
A. To express the joy of the Church at the marvellous conversion of so great a sinner; and to afford comfort to the worst of men who repent, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
[To be continued.]
OF EASTER DAY. N. To one can doubt, that in, and from the time of the Apostles, there has
always been celebrated an anniversary to commemorate the resurrection of Christ; the only dispute has been, what was the particular time, when the Festival should be kept.
In the primitive times, on this day, the Christians of all Churches used to meet one another with this morning salutation, Christ is risen ; to which the person saluted answered, Christ is risen, indeed; or else thus, and hath appeared unto Simon, Luke xxiv. 34. which custom is still retained in the Greek Church.' 'Our Church,' supposing the same eagerness for the joyful news 2 mongst us, begins, as soon as the Absolution is over, and we are rendered fit for rejoicing, her office of praise with anthems, proper to the day, encouraging her meinbers to call upon one another, to keep the feast, for that Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us, and is also risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
The psalmıs for the morning service, are ii, lvii, and cxi. The first of these was composed by David, upon his being triumphantly settled in his kingdom, after the opposition made by liis enemies. It is also a prophetical representation (and so the Jews themselves confess) of the Messiah's inauguration in his regal and sacerdotal office, after he had been persecuted and crucified.
The 67th psalm was occasioned by David being delivered from Saul ; and, in a postical sense, it contains Christ's triumph over Death and Hell. The last
Observations on Pope's Universal Prayer.
117 psalm is a thanksgiving for the marvellous work of our redemption, of which the resurrection of Christ is the chief.
The psalms for the eyening service are cxiii, cxiv, and cxviii. The first was designed to set forth the admirable Providence of God, which was never more discernable, than in the great work of our redemption. The second is a thanksgiving for the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt; an event which lias ever been considered as typical of our deliverance from Death and Hell. The last is supposed to have been composed, on David's being in undisturbed possession of his kingdom, and after the ark was brought into Jerusalem ; it was secondarily intended to prefigure our Saviour's resurrection.
The first lessons, for the morning and evening service, contain an account of the Passover, and the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt; the one prefiguring Christ, who is our passover ; the other, as was before said, our deliverance from death and hell. The Gospel, and the second lesson for the eveping, give us full evidence of Christ's resurrection, and the Epistle and second lesson for the morning, teach us, what use we should make of it.
The Collect, Epistle, and Gospel, are all very antient.
TO THE ADMIRERS OF WHAT IS CALLED
POPE's UNIVERSAL PRAYER.
FATHER OF ALL, IN EV'RY AGE,
JEHOVAH JOVE-OR LORD!
thing, and a matter of indifference to which of them divine honours are offered. --If so, it is all one whether a man be a saint, a savage, or a sage; whether we be worshippers of Him who created and governs all ;-or of the idols of our own imagination or framing ;-or of the sun, moon, stars, winds, rains and seasons ;-or of leeks and onions--or even of deified lusts and passions.
God, a much higher authority than Mr. Pope says: (2 Com.)
I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have none other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image, nor any likeness of any thing, thạt is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them; for I the LORD thy God ain à jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and forth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Exodus xx. 2.
Of the Jews who had despised this command, we read, 2 Kings, xvii. 15.. They rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers,
and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about then, concerning whom Jehovah the Lord had charged them, that they should pot do like them. And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten' images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the tire, and used divination and inchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight.
Of the Gentiles—and their apostacy from the true God, the Apostle of the Gentiles thus writes : Rom. i. 21. When they knew God they glorified him not as God; neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise they became fools ; and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up-to uncleanness, &c.