صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

is the posture generally to be used by the minister during the worship.

2d. The practice of the officiating minister's standing, in those parts of divine service where an especial direction is not given, is supported by Wheatley, in arguments which appear to me unanswerable. It is also incidentally admitted by Comber, which evidently demonstrates his view of the subject, and the general practice of the time in which his valuable book was written. Those, therefore, who maintain a different opinion, ought to shew that Comber was mistaken, and that the arguments of Wheatley are inconclusive. These admirable commentators on the Book of Common Prayer, have been generally considered as no mean authorities on subjects of this kind.

3d. If the officiating minister is not generally to stand, in offering the prayers of the congregation, no reason can be assigned why he should stand at all, except in pronouncing the absolution. In the confessions of sin, in which his own humiliation is included with that of the congregation, and in some few other parts of the service, obvious reasons may be assigned, for which he is especially directed to kneel, in contradistinction to his standing posture, during the worship in general.

4th. It has been generally understood, that the officiating minister, in the services of the church, acts both as the ambassador of God and as the "parson "* (person), or representative of the people. Hence, both in the Jewish and Christian churches, it has been the custom, that the minister should generally stand, in performing the services of his sacred office.

5th. I agree with D. R. N., and with D. D., that there are a few instances in which the rubric is re

The term parson is now frequently used by way of contempt towards the ministers of the Established Church; but this is the highest human title ever given to the parochial minister, as it implies that he is the person or representative of the parish committed to his charge.

dundant; but I cannot admit, with them, that there are any that are defective: at least I do not recollect any, if Wheatley's and my own views of the subject be admitted. But according to the sentiments of those who oppose these views, there are several gross and palpable defects in the rubrics of the Liturgy; namely, in the service for the Sunday afternoon, the three offices for Baptism, that for Churching of Women, and the one appointed for the rite of Confirmation*. That there should be a few instances of redundancy, may be obviously accounted for, on the principle that no mistake should arise. But it does not appear to be at all probable, nor scarcely credible, that the same persons who were so particular as to give directions ex abundanti; should, in any instance, and much less in a great number, leave the rubrics defective.

The

6th. There seems to be but one rubric which can be urged with any weight against Wheatley's view of the subject; namely, the one which follows the versicles in the morning service, alluded to before. rubric there says "all kneeling." It is readily granted, that prima facie this appears against the mode for which I am arguing. But let it be impartially examined. Your correspondents D. R. N. and D. D. both admit that there are instances in which the rubric is redundant; and the latter states, that, "in ambiguous cases, we must determine by analogy, rather than by the mere exactness of literal construction." With these two positions I perfectly coincide; and on this ground I meet these gentlemen in the strongest instance they can produce. The direction here given is a rubric ex abundanti; because the people are previously kneeling. But the wordst

[ocr errors][merged small]

"all kneeling" do not always in clude the minister, as is evident from the Baptismal Services. Had it been intended that the minister should kneel with the congregation, already in that posture, doubtless the rubric would have said, "the priest, or minister, kneeling." Then with respect to the analogy of this ambiguous case (if it should be so considered), it is only necessary to refer to the rubric in the afternoon Service, after the same versicles, where the redundant rubric is not inserted, and where consequently the people continue to kneel, and the minister to stand: for on Wheatley's principle, I argue, that there is no defect in the rubrics; and certainly no instance can be adduced in which a rubric is omitted because it has been previously used in a similar part of the service, in a former period of the day, and much less can it be imagined, that in a long rubric, two most important and peculiarly necessary words should be defectively omitted.

Lord's table;" and in a particular aspect, "turning his face" towards the parties who have been united in matrimony. My other argument is deduced from the Commination Service. If the words "all kneeling" had been generally considered as including the officiating minister, why should they not have been used without the especial direction here given? The reason is obvious. The whole of this service consists in acts of humiliation and confession. In the prayers, therefore, contained in it, "the priest and clerks" are es pecially directed to kneel with the people, as the officiating minister, is, in all other confessions of sin, appointed in the different services of the church.

[ocr errors]

7th. Two other arguments may be adduced, which, in my opinion, are of themselves, sufficient to set the question at rest. In the form of the solemnization of Matrimony, in the first prayer it is evidently implied that the minister is to stand, as I maintain he is supposed to do in all the other occasional services: in the subsequent prayers he is directed to stand. But for what reason? Not merely because he is to stand, but because he is to stand in a place not used in any other part of the worship of the church "before the

[ocr errors]

serts, that if the word all, in the rubrics "all kneeling," does not include the minister, it must exclude him in the rubric "all standing up," and leave him continu. ing to kneel while the people are standing. But surely this cannot follow as a consequence, even if the minister were some.. times required to kneel while the congregation is standing (which is never the case) because it is admitted, that the words "all kneeling" do not universally exclude the minister. A particular implication, or the general analogy of the subject, is in all cases sufficient to determine the point, whether the minister is, or is not, included.

The

Having thus given my opinion on one of the subjects noticed by your correspondent D. D., I take the liberty of mentioning two others which have been omitted by him, in his dissertation on the rubrics. One refers to a direction given in the Churching of Women. minister addresses the woman,— "You shall give hearty thanks unto God, and say"-The rubric follows; "Then shall the priest say the exvith Psalm, or Psalm cxxvii.” In many churches it is customary for the clerk to read the alternate verses of these Psalms. But this is evidently an impropriety, in direct opposition to the rubric, which re quires the minister to repeat the Psalm for the woman, in her name, and as her representative, in this part of the service.

The other circumstance to which I refer is, that there is no rubrical direction as to what form or mode of prayer the minister is to use before his sermon. The substance of a form is indeed found among the canons of the church, generally called the Bidding Prayer; because, as there given, it consists more of exhortation than of prayer. This appears to me to be rather a direc it is intended that the minister tory than a positive form, and that should turn the hortatory mode in

to direct petitions. But this directory, or form, if it may be so termed, is not used except on public and particular occasions. The gene rality of ministers in the present day use one of the collects of the church, several of which are well adapted for the purpose. Some, who have no objection to the collects, and who frequently use them, occasionally offer up a short extemporary prayer. The practice of others is to precompose a short prayer particularly adapted to the subject of the sermon. During the first years of my ministry, my highly esteemed friend, the late Sir James Stenhouse, frequently lent me some of his manuscript sermons, the whole of which were written by him in a fair and legible hand: at the beginning and end of most of these, a short and appropriate prayer, or rather collect, was writ ten, founded especially on the subject of the discourse; as many of the collects of our church are on the Epistles and Gospels, from whence they receive their significant name. It appears to me therefore, that, as there is no rubric on the subject, the minister is left to his option respecting it; and that those who use the two last modes do not impugn the order or practice of the church, any more than others who confine themselves to one of its collects. My reasons are as follows: It seems, from the history of our church and its fathers, that many of its bishops and ministers at the time of the Reformation, and subsequently, used, occasionally at least, their own extemporary or precomposed prayers, before and after their sermons. In many printed sermons of that period the occa sional prayer is published with them. In others, the circumstance of the prayer having been used is mentioned. There is at present before me the funeral sermon preached for the Earl of Essex, in the "parish church of Caermarthen, by the Rev. Father in God, Richard, Bishop of St. David's," in the year 1576. The CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 304.

bishop, according to a custom then frequently practised, introduces his subject by some preliminary remarks, as a sort of preface, which concludes thus:-" Of these sub.. jects we will by the help of God speak and deal with; but first let us pray." It then follows before the sermon was begun, “Here the prayer was made." Some years ago I read a tract by Bishop Wilkins, the title of which escapes my recollection, written against the work of some Dissenter who had opposed the Established Church. Among other objections, this opponent had stated, that many of the ministers of the church neither preached nor prayed, because they did not preach and pray extempore. According to the best of my recollection, the substance of the bishop's reply was, that the ministers of the church were at liberty to preach without notes if they preferred this practice; and that, though they used the liturgy by choice and obligation, they had complete liberty also to use extemporary prayers before and after their sermons. I have been particular in stating what appear to me to be the views of the church on this subject, because some persons in the present day charge those ministers who use any other prayers than the collects of the church before and after sermon, with innova tion, and suppose that they are impugning its order and discipline. Those, however, who are acquainted with the history of the church will not admit this charge; and others, who agree with me that the rubrics are not defective on any essential subject, will consider it to have no foundation. If it were intended that the minister should necessarily confine himself to one of the collects of the liturgy, it would undoubtedly have been so stated in a rubric. It is however evident, that no order or rule of any kind is any where given on this subject, for the direction of the minister, except the one inserted, as before mentioned, among the canons, which were not published

2 E

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

FAMILY SERMONS.-No. CCXX. 2 Chronicles xxxiii. 12, 13.-And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him; and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem, into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.

THE narratives of the Old Testament are not to be read as mere matters of history, but as records of the providential dispensations of God in the concerns of mankind, and as fraught with lessons of the most valuable moral and religious instruction. In this light we are to consider the account handed down to us of Manasseh king of Judah. An uninspired historian could only have informed us of his evil life, his afflic tion, his repentance, his restoration to prosperity, and his subsequent good conduct; but the sacred writer exhibits to us the manner in which the hand of God was visible throughout these events. It was not a matter of chance that Manasseh fell into adversity; for it was a Scourge expressly sent upon him for his transgressions: nor was it by chance that he was restored to his kingdom, but by the unseen interposition of the all-wise Disposer of events, and in consequence of his deep humiliation and humble prayer. It is thus that the Scriptures teach us maxims of heavenly wis

[ocr errors]

dom, not only in their direct exhortations and promises, but in the narratives which they record, all being written so as to display the conduct of God towards his creatures; his wisdom and righteousness, his justice and his mercy, his anger against the transgressor, his favour to the humble penitent, his infinite patience and forbearance towards all. We see embodied in actual facts our own circumstances; our sins and our mercies; what we have to hope or to fear; what our Creator requires of us; how he will act towards us. He is represented as ever present with us, about "our path and our bed;" that is, by day and by night, "searching out all our ways, cording all our actions, comforting his servants in their afflictions, making a way for their escape, and prov ing himself " a very present help in time of trouble."

re

The chief particulars, which the narrative under our consideration suggests, are the aggravated transgressions of Manasseh; the consequent affliction which befel him; his repentance in his affliction; his deliverance from it, and his future obedience to God. And may we, while we reflect upon this short but affecting history apply to our own hearts, and may the Holy Spirit apply to us, the instruction which it affords, that we may learn the awful guilt of forsaking God; the punishment which, sooner or later, and if not in this world certainly in another, it must bring upon us; the necessity of repentance and turning to our offended Creator, who is willing notwithstanding our offences to become to us a reconciled God and Father in Christ Jesus, not imputing to us our offences, but pardoning us by his free mercy, through the obedience unto death of his blessed Son, our only Mediator and Advocate, and renewing our hearts by his Holy Spirit, that we may henceforth obey his commands and live to his glory.

First, then, the chapter before us details the transgressions of Manasseh. His sins were of a very heinous

[ocr errors]

character, and were committed under circumstances which greatly aggravated their enormity. The narrative mentions several particulars, which shew the fearful extent of his offences.

1. He sinned immediately against God. Every sin is indeed a transgression of the commands of our Creator; but some sins seem as it were to shew a more than ordinary contempt for his Infinite Majesty: they imply a direct denial of his presence; they urge him to vindicate the honour of his name; they practically speak the language of the fool who says in his heart, "There is no God." Of this kind was the sin of idolatry which Manasseh so flagrantly committed; for he reared up altars for an idol or false god, called Baalim; and made groves for the cruel and licentious rites of heathen superstition he worshipped the host of heaven, the sun, the moon, and the stars, and served them; instead of serving Him who made them, and rules them in their courses. He even carried his profaneness and provocation against God to so great an extent, that he built altars for these pagan idols in the courts of the house of the Lord, and set up for worship a carved image in the temple itself, of "which God had said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house will I put my name for ever."

2. But not only did Manasseh "work much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger," but his sins against God were followed by sins against his neighbour. Having cast off the fear of his Creator, he became dangerous to all around him. His heart was so greatly hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, that it is said, "he shed innocent blood very much till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another;" and he even caused his own children to pass through the fire, in the valley of the son of Hinnom.

3. To aggravate still more his offences, he not only sinned himself, but he delighted in causing others to

sin also; for it is said that "he made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen." The ungodly add fearfully to their own offences, by seducing others to offend. "If a ruler hearken to lies," says Solomon, "all his servants are wicked;" and even in the most humble. sphere of life "evil communications" in like manner "corrupt good manners;" and this not only by the natural effect of bad example, but by the positive efforts which sinners employ to lead others into temptation. This was the case in regard to the first transgression which was committed in the Garden of Eden; for satan, having himself sinned against God, tempted Eve to sin also; and Eve, having sinned, drew Adam with her into the transgression: and it has continued to be the case ever since; for which reason, the Scriptures frequently warn us, as we value our immortal souls, against the society of the wicked. "Their word will eat as doth a canker:", "The companion of fools shall be destroyed."

4. Another aggravation of the sinful conduct of Manasseh was, his ingratitude for the benefits which he had received from that all-merciful Being, whom he so daringly offended. This is particularly mentioned in the chapter before us; where, in the account given of his sinfulness in introducing idolatry into the city and temple of Jerusalem, mention is made of the special favours which Jehovah had bestowed upon the people of Israel, and his promise not to remove them out of the land which he had appointed for their fathers, provided they would take heed to do all that he had commanded them. The ingratitude therefore of rebelling against so gracious a Being, was equalled only by the folly of making him an enemy and losing the promised rewards of his favour.

5. To mention but one aggravation more, of the sins of Manasseh, and that which greatly added to their enormity, they were committed deli

« السابقةمتابعة »