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be proportionate to the fenfe of the obligation. In the due performance of these several acts of worship, accompanied with geftures of body proper to denote that humiliation which ought to poffefs the mind of finners, when engaged in communion with their Gon, confists, for the most part, the public service of religion.
Such is the idea which the fcriptures lead us to form pon this fubject. From whence it appears, that public worship must be (what the reason of the thing tells us it ought to be) the joint act of the congregation affembled; that with one mind, and one mouth, GoD may be glorified.
Thus EUSEBIUS defcribes the state of the church in its early days: "There was one and the fame power of the Holy Spirit, which paffed through all the members; one foul in all; the fame alacrity of faith; one common confent in chaunting forth the praises of GOD." For by the nature and con ftruction of church communion, there is that harmony and confent of mind and mouth required in public worship, from whence all public prayers and facrifices are supposed to derive their force. "If two of you," fays our LORD," fhall agree upon earth to ask any thing, it fhall be done for you of my Father which is in heaven; for where two or three are gathered
together in my name, there I am in the midst of them." There must then be a confent, or, according to the original, a σupovnois, or symphony, as συμφωνησίς, well as a meeting together, in public worship: whereas the worshippers have all one common mouth, fo they ought all to have one heart and one mind, as ST. CLEMENT fays, 66 Ημεις εν εν ομονοια επι ΤΟ αυλο συναχθεν τες, ως εξ ενος ςομαλος βοήσωμεν πрos aújov EXTεVws," &c., Let us therefore, being gathered together with one mind into one place, cry ardently to GoD as with one mouth, that we may be partakers of his glorious promifes. Hence it is, that ST. IGNATIUs fpeaks of μια προσευχη, μιας δεησις, εις νες, μια ελπις, one prayer, one fuppli cation, one mind, and one hope: and JUSTIN MAR• TYR* calls the prayers of the Chriftians, "xowa, Euxa, common prayers: and ST. CYPRIANT calls the public fervice of the church, "unanimis oratio." In ftrict correfpondence with which rational idea is that excellent prayer of ST. CHRYSOSTOM which concludes our church fervice, which is best understood in the original. * Ο τας κοινας ταυτας και συμπ φωνές ημιν χαρισαμενος προσευχας, ο και δύο και
* Apolog. 1. + Epift. 11.
τρισι σύμφωνεσιν επι τω ονομάζι σε τας αιτήσεις παρέχειν επαγγειλαμενος.” "Thou who hast given
us grace to make these common and harmonious prayers, and who haft promised to two or three praying in concert in Thy name to grant their petitions," &c.
A conformity to this primitive pattern is the object which the church has always had in view, upon every public affembly of her members. To this end, in that branch of the church, to which we belong, they are furnished with a Liturgy, or ftated form of fervice, fo excellently conftructed as to qualify, and at the fame time to invite, the congregation affembled, to become parties in every act of religious worship that is going forward; that there may be no uninterested fpectators in a bufinefs in which every individual is concerned, but that the united voice of fupplication, prayer, and praife, may plead fo powerfully at the Throne of Grace, as not to be refifted. And fuch, we will venture to fay, is the plan beft fuited to the infirmity of our condition, as beft calculated to prevent the natural distractions of the human mind; by raifing and keeping alive that spirit of devotion, necessary to qualify fallen man to hold communion with his Maker.
To this reasonable service performed in our church, let us now oppose what is, generally speaking, to be met TM
with out of it. And could Chriftians 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 service of the minifter rather than that of the congregation.
In the church the congregation are called upon to become actual parties in the service performed; in the words of DAVID, " to worship, bow down, and kneel before the LORD their Maker;" for the pur. 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 fervice both of minister aud people; all finners before GOD, all fupplicants for pardon, all petitioners for bleffings.
Out of the church the congregation are obliged to be, for the most part, hearers only; it being scarce poffible 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 minifter may be, and how acceptable foever his form of prayer, (if the public prayer of any felf-appointed minifter may be acceptable at the Throne of Grace) the congregation nevertheless, in confequence of their being little concerned in the fervice performed, can in reason have little to expect from the effect to be produced by it.
But exclufive of unanimity being absolutely neceffary to accompany the public prayers of an affembled congregation, to entitle them to that characteristic distinction, it is moreover to be observed, (and a most important obfervation it is) that it was to prevent the fubtle infinuation 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,