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with out of it. And could Christians be prevailed upon to discard prejudice, there would, it is prefumed, be but one opinion upon this fubject. Out of the church, indeed, people are affembled, 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 affemblies 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 minifter, whose service, be it ever fofpiritual, (which, confidering the qualification of very many who undertake it, we may venture to fay, is not always the cafe;) is nevertheless the fervice of the minister rather than that of the congregation.

In the church the congregation are called upon to become actual parties in the fervice performed; in the words of DAVID, " to worship, bow down, and kneel before the LORD their Maker;" for the pur

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pofe of offering up at the Throne of Grace, with humble, penitent, and contrite hearts, the folemn facrifice of prayer and thanksgiving; the fervice performed there, confequently, 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 subtle insinuation of false 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 fuch as were approved and autho ritatively enjoined.

This fingle confideration should, it might be suppofed, be fufficient to place an attendance upon the fervice 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 confidered as scarce furnishing a fubject for ferious argument, it may be proper, from the confideration of the many that are led aftray by it, to fay a few words. An ignorance with refpect to the meaning of fome particular pas. fages of the facred writings has given birth to a perfuafion, which enthusiasm, that puts out the eye of reason, and deftroys the fobriety of religion, has long been diligently employed in cherishing and fupporting; namely, that to comply with the Apoftolic idea of praying with the spirit, it is necessary that all forms fhould be fet afide, as abfolutely incompatible with that infpiration, fuppofed to be appropriate to extemporary effufions. But allowing that the fpirit of God does affift men both in the matter and form of their prayers; it may be asked, whether we have

not as much reafon to think, that the public prayers of the church were suggested by that fpirit, as the prayers of any private individual? Nay, whether it is not more probable, that a company of learned and pious men, affembled for the purpose of compofing a public liturgy for the ufe of the church, after having previously invoked the Divine affiftance, fhould be favoured with that affiftance, rather than any particular perfon; who, without premeditation or ftudy, 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 fhould give fuch a decided preference to that service, upon which least care and attention has been beftowed, as to vouchfafe to it fuch an exclufive title to his affiftance; that in comparison with it the prayer of the church is to be confidered as a lifelefs form? If reafon tell us that this cannot be the cafe, we fhall not hesitate to conclude, that in using the liturgy of the church, we pray as much at leaft (if not more) the prayers of the spirit, than when we accompany any less regular service.

The judicious HOOKER, who had well confidered this fubject, writes thus decidedly upon it. "Of all helps for the performance of this fervice of prayer,

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the greatest is that very fet 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; and by us it must be acknowledged a work of fingular care and providence, that the church hath evermore held a prescript form of prayer, although not in all things every where the fame, yet for the most part retaining still the fame 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 fettled, did never ufe 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 fubject, with whom any blind and secret corner is judged a fit house of common prayer; the manifold confufions 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 miniftry; the irksome deformities, whereby, through endlefs and fenfelefs effufions of undigested prayers, they often times difgrace in most insufferable man

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