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with out of it. And could Christians be prevailed upon to discard prejudice, there would, it is presumed, be but one opinion upon this subject. Out of the church, indeed, people are assembled, under various denominations, for the purpose of religious worship; and we are ready to give individuals credit for their pious intentions. But in what, it must be asked, does their religious worship confift? For certain it is, that in religious assemblies out of the church we have (generally speaking) no public form, either of confeffion, prayer, or thanksgiving; the whole attention of the congregation being directed to the performance of the officiating minister, whose service, be it ever fofpiritual, (which, considering the qualification of very many who undertake it, we may venture to say, is not always the case;) is nevertheless the fervice of the minister rather than that of the congregation,

In the church the congregation are called upon to become aétual parties in the service performed; in the words of DAVID, “ to worship, bow down, and kneel before the LORD their Maker;' for the pura pose of offering up at the Throne of Grace, with humble, penitent, and contrite hearts, the folema facrifice of prayer and thanksgiving; the fervice performed there, consequently, is what it ought to be, the joint service both of minister aud people; all finners before God, all supplicants for pardon, all petitioners for blessings.

Out of the church the congregation are obliged to be, for the most part, hearers only; it being scarce possible for them to join in petitions, or to lift up their voice with one accord in the celebration of praises, which they are unprepared to accompany. How great foever therefore the fervour of devotion on the part of the minister may be, and how acceptable foever his form of prayer, (if the public prayer of any self-appointed minister may be acceptable at the Throne of Grace) the congregation nevertheless, in consequence of their being little concerned in the service performed, can in reason have little to expect from the effect to be produced by it.

But exclusive of unanimity being absolutely necefsary to accompany the public prayers of an assembled congregation, to entitle them to that characteristic distinction, it is moreover to be observed, (and a most important observation it is) that it was to prevent the fubtle insinuation of falfe doctrines into the minds of the people, that the ministers of the church, for fifteen ages together, were not permitted to use their own prayers; and that none were allowed in public

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congregations, but such as were approved and author ritatively enjoined.

This single consideration should, it might be supposed, be sufficient to place an attendance upon the service of the church, when contrasted with that performed in any other place of worship, in too striking a point of view, to render further enlargement on this head neceffary.

But there is an idea which has long prevailed, upon which, though it may be considered as scarce furnishing a subject for serious argument, it may be proper, from the confideration of the many that are led astray by it, to say a few words. An ignorance with respect to the meaning of fome particular pas. fages of the sacred writings has given birth to a persuasion, which enthusiasm, that puts out the eye of reason, and destroys the fobriety of religion, has long been diligently employed in cherishing and supporting; namely, that to comply with the Apostolic idea of praying with the spirit, it is necessary that all forms should be set aside, as absolutely incompatible with that inspiration, supposed to be appropriate to extemporary effusions. But allowing that the spirit of God does aflift men both in the matter and form of their prayers;

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not as much reason to think, that the public prayers of the church were suggested by that spirit, as the prayers of any private individual? Nay, whether it is not more probable, that a company of learned and pious men, assembled for the purpose of composing a public liturgy for the use of the church, after having previously invoked the Divine assistance, should be favoured with that aslistance, rather than any particular perfon; who, without premeditation or study, and oft times without any qualification for the work, takes upon himself to deliver an extemporary prayer? Is it to be imagined, that the Holy Spirit should give such a decided preference to that service, upon which least care and attention has been bestowed, as to vouchsafe to it such an exclusive title to his affiftance; that in comparison with it the

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of the church is to be considered as a lifelefs forin? If reason tell us that this cannot be the case, we shall not hesitate to conclude, that in using the liturgy of the church, we pray as much at least (if not more) the prayers of the spirit, than when we accompany any less regular service.

The judicious HOOKER, who had well considered this subject, writes thus decidedly upon it.

66 Of all helps for the performance of this service of prayer,

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the greatest is that very set and standing order itself, which, framed with common advice, hath both for matter and form prescribed whatsoever is herein publicly done. No doubt, from God it hath proceeded; ánd by us it must be acknowledged a work of singular care and providence, that the church hath evermore held a prescript forın of prayer, although not in all things every where the same, yet for the most part retaining still the same analogy. So that if the liturgies of all ancient churches throughout the world be compared amongst themselves, it may be easily perceived, they had all one original mould; and that the public prayer of the people of God, in churches thoroughly settled, did never use to be voluntary dictates, proceeding from any man's extemporal wit. To him which confidereth the grievous and scandalous inconveniences, whereunto they make themselves daily subject, with whom any blind and secret corner is judged a fit house of common prayer; the manifold confusions which they fall into, where every man's private spirit and gift (as they term it) is the only bishop that ordaineth him to this ministry; the irksome deformities, whereby, through endless and senseless effufions of undigested prayers, they often times disgrace in most insufferable man

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