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to one entirely new. Had some corrections and alterations in the Liturgy been proposed, to meet the wishes of those whose religious scruples were hurt by ceremonies, or by modes of expression which they could not approve, and which they desired to be removed, the request of the Presbyterians would have presented, on the face of it, a strong and reasonable claim. But by an unaccountable act of that most excellent man, Mr. Baxter, who offered a new liturgy of his own, to be substituted in the place of the authorized one, all hopes of accommodation were disappointed. Thinking highly, as the author does, of the eminent piety, distinguished talents, and tried wisdom of that Apostolical man, he finds it difficult to conceive that the combined powers and unctions of all the worthy men at whose head he acted, were equal to the production of liturgical forms, worthy even to be compared, as a whole, with the Liturgy of the Church of England. The Liturgy of the Church has laid under contribution the collected piety and devotion of Christians, from the times of the Christian Fathers, down to those in which it was framed. It has collected, not only the rich harvest of the Reformation, but gleaned the choicest fruits from the vineyard of Israel in every age.
Like every thing human, that Liturgy is susceptible of correction, and consequently of improvement, in some of its parts, and were a wise and temperate hand applied to make a few alterations, it might be rendered the most perfect of human compositions. But where shall hands be found sufficiently pure, hearts sufficiently devout, and heads sufficiently wise and temperate, to which the deposite may be entrusted, with a confident expectation, that by their labours it shall be restored with the improvement of two or three of its offices, and without any
diminution of its general worth and excellence? The spirit it breathes is that of devotion, resting upon Evangelical principles, and animated by a pure flame kindled at the altar of God. It directs the eye of the worshipper to the only hope of man, as a fallen and guilty creature, the Atonement and Intercession of the Son of God; to the only source, from whence the Restoration of our corrupted natures, to the image and love of our Maker, can arise, the influences of the Holy Ghost. It speaks that genuine language of humility which becomes the feelings and the lips of a creature, who has in himself the sentence of death, and yet the language of ardent gratitude, which becomes him who is begotten again to a lively hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is equally distinguished by its comprehension, and its compression, by its simplicity and its sublimity, by its ease and its elegance, by its spirituality and its rationality, by the correctness of its doctrines, and the perspicuity of its language. It unites majesty with plainness; solemnity with the gentlest flow of diction; the impassioned eloquence of the heart, with the chastest elocution of sentiment. It is vigorous without being harsh, and calculated to warm, without overpowering, the religious feelings.-Without entering into the question, whether public prayer is best conducted by liturgical forms; by a Directory such as that of the Presbyterians in Scotland, in which the heads of devotion are suggested, and left to be filled up by extemporary'expressions; or by supplications, without any previous adjustment, as by the Independents, the author cannot withhold the just tribute of his admiration of the Liturgy of the Church of England, in general, as a noble composition. Too much weight has often been placed on the mode of prayer, both by the advocates of free and
extempore prayer, and by those who plead for preconposed forms.
In their turns they have argued, as if the Spirit of prayer were exclusively confined to the different modes for which they contend. And yet, surely, this is a subject on wlich men of the most exalted piety have held opposite opinions. Humility certainly requires, that, when we form our judgments on this head, whatever our decision for ourselves be, we take care never to arraign the motives, or to impeach the devotion of those who have come to an opposite conclusion. It is neither because we pray in the words of a precomposed Liturgy, nor because we present our suplications to our Heavenly Father, in the words with which our present sentiments and feelings clothe them, that our petitions will either obtain success, or fail of obtaining it. Our prayers will be heard or rejected as we present them with humble, contrite, and believing; or with proud, impenitent and disbelieving, hearts; with a reliance on the Saviour's Atonement and Intercession, or with a dependence on our own imaginary merit and goodness. When the soul rises to the spirit of prayer, in what manner soever our suppli. cations are expressed, whether in liturgical forms, or in extemporary language, it has fellowship with the Father, with the Son, and with the Holy Ghost. When the spirit of devotion is wanting, the winds will disperse our prayers, howsoever expressed, and they will never reach the throne of God.
It is equally a breach of the law of charity, when the Presbyterian or the Independent represents the worship of the Church of England, not as the prayers of its members, but as their reading of prayers, and when the Churchman represents a prescribed form, as absolutely necessary to the reasonable services of religion, and ex
temporary prayers as necessarily crude and impertinent. Though the form of prayer meet the eye, when the ener. gies of devotion penetrate our hearts, the holy fire burns within us, and the prayers are not less our own than when we immediately conceive, and then clothe our petitions in the language which the fervor of the moment supplies. He must have no extended knowledge of the worship of Dissenters, who has not often, whatever his sentiments may be with respect to the comparative excellence of liturgical or extemporary prayer, given his hearty Amen to petitions expressed in simple, but in correct language, which proceeding from the heart, have made his own heart to burn within him. It is not even decent that Christians, from the circumstance of devotion being conducted by a Liturgy, should represent the prayers of other Christians as necessarily vapid and dead. Nor is it decent that those who employ a Liturgy in their addresses to the throne of Divine Grace, should represent all extemporary prayers as strange fire on the altar of God, and as the jargon of enthusiasm, calculated neither to elevate the affections nor to expand the heart. Let the advocates of these two different modes of worship, (if they think it necessary again to travel over the ground which has so often been gone over, on both sides, before), show us, if they can, from Scripture and from reason, which is the more excellent way; but let the law of charity and kindness dwell upon their hearts and lips. The Christians whose minds are best informed, whose taste is most spiritual and refined, whose devotion is the most ardent; and whose judgment is the most acute, are always found to be the most candid in judging the conduct of others, in those cases in which no express Divine precept is interposed. On the other band, no men are so precipitate, so
loud and censorious in judging others, as those whose incapacity, whose angry passions, and the insincerity of whose hearts, render them the most incompetent to decide on such subjects.
The Conference at the Savoy broke up without effect. ing any thing, and the different parties separated with minds more alienated from each other, and with tempers more inflamed and exacerbated, by their acrimonious disputes. Some alterations were proposed by the Episcopal Divines, which, in the May following, were agreed to by the whole Clergy in Convocation. The principal of these were, that several lessons in the Calendar, were changed for others that were reckoned more proper for the days; the prayers upon particular occasions were separated from the Litany: and the two prayers to be used in the Ember-weeks; the prayer for the Parliament ; that for all conditions of men, and the General Thanksgiving, were added. Some of the Collects were also altered ; and the Epistles and Gospels were taken out of the last translations, which formerly had been given in the old translation of the Bible. The office for the Baptism of those of riper years ; and the Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea, were added. Finally, the whole Liturgy was at that time brought to its present condition, and on the twentieth day of December, 1661, it was unanimously subscribed by both Houses of Convocation of both Provinces. In March following, it was brought into the House of Lords, and an act for its establishment was passed by both Houses of Parliament.*
• The facts of this statement are mostly taken from Mr. Wheatly's Appendix to the Introductory Discourse Concerning the Common Prayer.