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THE Obligations that lie upon Christians of every Denomination, and in every Country, to the -Practice of Public Religious Worship, arc many and great, jt's singular Use in preserving a Sense qf Religion in the Minds of Mankind, to spread it through the World, and transmit the same to Posterity, together with it's being virtually appointed bv God himself, as well as constantly observed by our blessed Savior, and his Apostles, render it a Matter of the highest Importance to be, (Luly:attended upon, by all who have any Regard for the Honor of God, the Interest of Christianity, or the Peace and good Order of Society. On these Accounts also it is a. most desireable Thing, to have the Same, through all it's Parts^ conducted in such a Manner, as may be most likely to promote the good Ends, for which it is instituted, viz. The-Edjsication, Improvement, and Understanding of all that Join in it; according to the Apostle's own Direction, itiiaUfThings. be done-to edifying, (i Car. xiv. 26.)
The principal Part, of Religious Worship consists of Prayer, in the most large and comprehensive Sense* in which the Word is frequently used in Scripture, and in our cornmon Way of Speaking, (perhaps always, when applied to Public Worship,) so. as to signify every Address or Application to the Supreme Being, whether by Way of Invocation, or of Adoration, Praise, and Thanksgiving, Confession of Sins, with bnplorations for Pardon and Acceptance, Professions of Repentance, Vows of Amendment, Petitions for Blessings on ourselves, Supplications and Intercessions for one another, and for all Mankind, together with ascribing •" "A 2 * Ghty Glory and Honor to God, commonly called Doxologies: And all this is to be done in the Name and through the Mediation if Jesus Christ. (John xiv. 14. xv. 16. xvi. 24—26. "—Ephef. ii. 18. v. 19, 20.—Colojl tii. 16, 17.—Heb. xiii. 15.—1 Pet. ii. 5.)
.. The chief End and Dejign of Prayer being to cherish and strengthen all pious and good Affections in our own Hearts and the Hearts of others, to promote Reverence towards God, an habitual Sense of His DivinePresence, with our entire Dependence upon Him, and also to excite in us the several Graces and Virtues of the Christian Character, particularly Charity and Benevolence towards our FellowCreatures, and by the saithful Exercise thereof to procure the Favor and Acceptance of the Supreme Creator; the Author of the following Liturgy or Plan for Christian TVorJhlp humbly submits it to the candid and judicial Consideration of all serious and religiously disposed Christians, of every Rank and Denomination, to approve or disapprove, to alter or am 'nd the same, as shall be thought expedient; not intending (nor even wishing) it to be imposed upon any Church or Society, as the only System of Public Prayer for constant Practice. But as He is of Opi- . nion, that Forms of Prayer, judiciously drawn up, are of very great Use in private Families, and from Experience is convinced of the absolute Necessity of them in Churches, or public Assemblies of Worshippers; so He presumes the following Performance may be found of some Service towards reviving, encreasing or strengthening real Christianity amongst us, as his main View, throughout the Whole, has been to impress the amiable Dispositions required by the Gospel in every sincere Believer, and to enforce a suitable Practice: And if herein his Aim be not answered, it is hoped that others, of better Judgment and superior Abilities, may hereby be excited to pursue and complete so useful a Design. At least, the Author trusts that the Integrity of his own Intentions, in this Attempt, will sussiciently screen him from Slander and Obloquy, if not gain him the Approbation of all Men of true Piety and Christian Candor. Nothing surely can justly be objected against a Design so harmless, so benevolent, and so lilcely to be serviceable to the Interest of that Religion, in which He prosesses to live, '. . • • and
and dares to die; as through the Whole of it, He has carefully avoided every Expression that might give Ofsence, by occasioning Disputes among Sects or Parties, and hath endeavored to compose it in such a Manner, as to suit every denomination of Christians, who own the Scriptures for their only Rule of Faith and Praclice.
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There are indeed two very numerous Bodies of professing Christians, some of whom He is apprehensive will be alarmed, if not displeased, at this or any other Attempt made by a private Person to reform Pubac lf'orship; viz. Many, who by long Use of the Liturgy by Law established in England and Ireland, have contracted a Sort of Veneration for every Part of it's Forms, and think it vain, if not impossible, to amend the fame: Another Set on the contrary, who by being so entirely unaccustomed to any Forms at all in Public Worship, as those of the Established Church of Scotland, and the Dissenters in England, are apt to think them altogether needless and inexpedient, yea some perhaps think the Use of them sinful, at least contrary to God's own Direction and Promise of Assistance in this Duty. But each of these Parties will, by all candid and unprejudiced Judges, be found to be mistaken; as Extremes on both Sides are equally culpable, arising from unreasonable Prejudices, which ought never to be indulged in the momentous Affairs of Religion: And to such as are thus obstinately bent against all Reformation or Alteration whatsoever, " whose "Minds are less enlarged, whose Views are more con"tracted, and whose Rust and Canker is not yet worn "off," He cannot foibear applying the Words of a very sensible Writer*, speaking of those who were against any Review of the Liturgy, that " native Prejudice sways them, *' inherent Bigotry urges them on, Zeal witht ut -Know"ledge mifleads them, or Superstition blinds them."—For certain it is, that Religious Worship may be performed acceptably, and to Edification, either with or without a Form: Both Ways have their peculiar Advantages as well as Disadvantages: But it is too great Presumption in any Side to say, that their present Manner of conducting Public Worship. is completely persect, or entirely Scriptural, or that it will A 3 not
• Appeal to F.eascn and Candor, Part I. No, xxi, P. J27.
ftbt admit of some Reformation dr Improvement: Therefore every candid and Christian Attempt for this Purpose justly merits some savorable Regard. And perhaps the Plan here offered unites the Advantages of Eacby without the material Inconveniences of Eitbtr. •
It is presumed here, that it would be more expedient, for the Generality of Worshipping Societies of Christians, to make Use of a good Form, wherein the People may bear a considerable Part with their Voices, as the most likely Way to keep their Hearts closely engaged in the Devotion they offer, and that their Addresses to God may be (as they are required to be, Rom. xii. r.) a reasonable Service, persectly pleasing and intelligible to all the Addressers; which in Places and Occasions, where no Form at all is used, or known beforehand by the People, 'tis often to be lamented they are not. For very frequently it happens, and oftenest in the largest 'AJjemblies for IVorJhip, that tor want of distinctly hearing, or rightly understanding, the Expressions of the Minister, and sometimes also perhaps not approving the Sentences when heard, the humble pious Christian is puzzled, pained or disgusted in the midst of Prayer; and ivhen once Uneasiness or Disgust begins, Devotion ends. Is not this, in some Respect,'like offering the blind, the lame,and the sick for Sacrisice, which the Prophet Malachi exclaims against, Chap. 1. v. 8.? Offer it now unto thy Governor, will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy Persons' faith the Lord of Hosts. — Besides, If we were to address any Human King or Governor in a Body, we should undoubtedly think it necessary to know, or prepare beforehand, what is to be offered for the Whole by any One, who is to be the Speaker: And is it a Matter of less Consideration, to address the King Of Kings, in the most important of all Concerns, on which our eternal Happiness so much depends?
Although it is believed " there are many serious *' well-meaning Christians, who from the too rigorous Tm*' position of a Liturgy, liable to Exception in several In** stances, have conceived a Dislike to ail stated Forms of ** Devotion in general: Yet the Author cannot help ob"serving, that the old Puritans (as they were formerly « called) or Protestant Nonconformists in these Kingdoms,
"not 4t slot only allowed the Lawfulness of praying by a Form, "but even the greater Expediency of it in some Cases. "Nor do the Bulk of the Protestant 'Dissenting Laity at this "Day found their stated Dissent from the Worship of the "established Church, merely upon the Use of a Liturgy; "but their main Objection is, that there are several Pas"sages in the Liturgy es the Church whictl they think un; "scriptural, and therefore cannot join in; yet the Use of ** it is so rigoroufly imposed, that there is no Liberty to ** add, alter, or omit any Thing in it,'- whatever particular Circumstances arise to make such an Alteration necessary, useful, or edifying to a particular Congregation. "And ■* it is well known, that the main Body of the Dissenters in "England at the Restoration of King Charles II. in 1660, "would, for the Sake of Peace, have complied with the Use "of the present Liturgy, had it not been lo rigidly ehjoin* ed, that not the least Word or Sentence was left to the "Discretion of the Minister or People; an Honor too "great for any Work composed by sallible Men, and ** which cannot but occasion great Dissiculty and Uneasi"ness to honest ingenuous Minds, that are tied down to "such an invariable Use of it, many of whom may well ** be supposed to differ in their Judgment from what is the "plain and obvious Meaning of several Expressions which .** occur in it."
"Some, otherwise very great and good Men, have "strangely departed from the Simplicity of the Gospel"Worship in several Respects, but particularly in this, ".that they have introduced into their Prayers and public "Liturgies, the doubtful and disputable Opinions of private V Persons and Parties, or have sometimes expressed them"selves in a Manner quite unintelligible. Whereas no"thing should be introduced into Public Prayers, but what "every Christian may with a little Attention easily under"* stand, and can without the least Scruple or Hesitation "join in. If this Rule were observed as it ought to be, *' Christians would never sind any Dissiculty in joining "with one another in religious Worship, notwithstanding "any different Opinions that might be amongst them; for nothing would be in their Prayers, but what allChristians "well agree in." And in composing the following LiA 4 TUrGY