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and see what comparison the extemporaneous effusions will bear with our pre-composed forms. Having done this for one Sabbath, proceed to do it for a year; and then, after a similar examination, compare them again : were this done, (and done it ought to be in order to form a correct judgment on the case,) methinks there is scarcely a man in the kingdom that would not fall down on his knees, and bless God for the Liturgy of the Established Church.
All that is wanting is, an heart suited to the Liturgy, and cast as it were into that mould. It may with truth be said of us, “ They have well said all that they have spoken: 0 that there were in them such an 'heart !” Let us only suppose that on any particular occasion there were in all of us such a state of mind as the Liturgy is suited to express; what glorious worship would ours be! and how certainly would God delight to hear and bless us ! We will not say that he would come down and fill the house with his visible glory, as he did in the days of Moses and of Solomon; but we will say, that he would come down and fill our souls with such a sense of his presence and love, as would transform us into his blessed image, and constitute a very heaven upon earth. Let each of us, then, adopt the wish in our text, and say, “O that there may be in me such an heart !” Let us cultivate the moderation and candour which are there exhibited ; divesting ourselves of all prejudice against religion, and receiving with impartial readiness the whole counsel of our God. More particularly, whenever we come up to the house of God, let us seek those very dispositions in the use of the Liturgy, which our Reformers exercised in the framing of it. Let us bring with us into the presence of our God that spirituality of mind that shall fit us for communion with him, and that purity of heart which is the commencement of the divine image on the soul. Let us study, whenever we join in the different parts of this Liturgy, to get our hearts suitably impressed with the work in which we are engaged; that our confessions may be humble, our petitions fervent, our thanksgivings devout, and our whole souls obedient to the word we hear. In a word, let us not be satisfied with any attainments, but labour to be holy as God himself is holy, and perfect even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect. If now a doubt remain on the mind of any individual respecting the transcendent excellence of the Liturgy, let him only take the Litany, and go through every petition of it attentively, and at the close of every petition ask himself, What sort of a person should I be, if this petition were so answered to me, that I lived henceforth according to it? and what kind of a world would this be, if all the people that were in it experienced the same answer, and walked according to the same model ? If, for instance, we were all from this hour delivered “ from all blindness of heart; from pride, vain-glory, and hypocrisy ; from envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness ;” if we were delivered also “ from all other deadly sin, and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil ;” what happiness should we not possess ? How happy would the Church be, if it should "please God to illuminate all bishops, priests, and deacons, with true knowledge and understanding of his word, so that both by their preaching and living they set it forth and shew it accordingly!” How blessed also would the whole nation be, if it pleased God to “ endue the lords of the council, and all the nobility, with grace, wisdom, and understanding: and to bless and keep the magistrates, giving them grace to execute justice and to maintain truth; and further to bless all his people throughout the land !” Yea, what a world would this be, if from this moment God should “ give to all nations, unity, peace, and concord !” Were these prayers once answered, we should hear no more complaints of our Liturgy, nor ever wish for any thing in public, better than that which is provided for us. May God hasten forward that happy day, when all the assemblies of his people throughout the land shall enter fully into the spirit of these prayers, and be answered in the desire of their hearts; receiving from him an“ increase of grace, to hear meekly his word, to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit !” And to us in particular may he give, even to every individual amongst us, “ true repentance; and forgive us all our sins, negligences, and ignorances; and endue us with the grace of his Holy Spirit, that we may amend our lives according to his holy word.” Amen and Amen.
EXCELLENCY OF THE LITURGY.
Deut. v. 28, 29. They have well said all that they have spoken:
O that there were such an heart in them! THE further we proceed in the investigation of our Liturgy, the more we feel the difficulty of doing justice to it. Such is the spirit which it breathes throughout, that if only a small measure of its piety existed in all the different congregations in which it is used, we should be as holy and as happy a people as ever the Jews were in the most distinguished periods of their history. If this object has not been yet attained, it is not the fault of our Reformers : they have done all that men could do, to transmit to the latest posterity the blessings which they themselves had received: and there is not a member of our Church, who has not reason to bless God, every day of his life, for their labours. But they knew that it would be to little purpose to provide suitable forms of prayer for every different occasion, if they did not also secure, as far as human wisdom could secure, a succession of men, who, actuated by the same ardent piety as themselves, should perform the different offices to the greatest advantage, and carry on by their personal ministrations the blessed work which they had begun. Here therefore they bestowed the utmost care ; marking with precision what were the qualifications requisite for the ministerial office, and
binding, in the most solemn manner, all who should be consecrated to it, to a diligent and faithful discharge of their respective duties.
When we first spake of the Liturgy, we proposed, after vindicating its use, and displaying its excellency, to direct your attention to one particular part, which on that account we should reserve for a distinct and fuller consideration. The part we had in view was, The Ordination Service. We are aware, indeed, that in calling your attention so particularly to that, we stand on delicate ground : but, being aware of it, we shall take the greater care that no one shall have reason to complain of want of delicacy. It is the candour that has invariably manifested itself in this congregation, that emboldens me to bring this subject before you. Any attempt to discuss the merits of the Liturgy would indeed be incomplete, if we omitted to notice that part, which so pre-eminently displays its highest excellencies, and is peculiarly appropriate to the audience which I have the honour to address. I trust therefore I shall not be thought assuming, as though I had any pretensions to exalt myself above the least and lowest of my brethren. I well know, that, if my own deficiencies were far less than they are, it would ill become me to take any other than the lowest place; and much more, when I am conscious that they are so great and manifold. For my own humiliation, no less than that of others, I enter on the task; and I pray God, that, whilst I am shewing what our Reformers inculcated as pertaining to the pastoral office, we may
all apply the subject to ourselves, and entreat help from God, that, as we have well said all that we have spoken, so there may be in us such an heart.”
There are three things to be noticed in the Ordination Service; our professions, our promises, and our prayers: after considering which, we shall endeavour to excite, in all, that desire, which God has so tenderly, and so affectionately, expressed in our behalf.
Let me begin, then, with calling your attention to the professions which we make, when first we become candidates for the ministerial office.
So sacred was the priesthood under the Law, that no man presumed to take it upon himself, but he who was called to it by God, as Aaron was. And though the priesthood of our blessed Lord was of a totally distinct kind from that which shadoweth it forth,
yet did he not glorify himself to be made an HighPriest,” but was so constituted by his heavenly Father, who committed to him that office “ after the order of Melchizedec.” Some call therefore, as from God himself, is to be experienced by all who devote themselves to the service of the sanctuary. Of this our Reformers were convinced : and hence they required the ordaining bishop to put to every candidate that should come before him, this solemn interrogation; “ Do you trust that you are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon you this office ?” to which he answers, “ I trust so."
Now I am far from intimating that this call, which every candidate for Holy Orders professes to have received, resembles that which was given to the Apostles: it is certainly not to be understood as though it were a voice or suggestion coming directly from the Holy Ghost; for though God may reveal his will in this manner, just as he did in the days of old, yet we have no reason to think that he does. The motion here spoken of is less perceptible: it does not carry its own evidence along with it; (as did that which in an instant prevailed on the Apostles to forsake their worldly business, and to follow Christ ;) but it disposes the mind in a gradual and silent way to enter into the service of God; partly from a sense of obligation to him for his redeeming love, partly from a compassion for the ignorant and perishing multitudes around us, and partly from a desire to be an honoured instrument in the Redeemer's hands to establish and enlarge his kingdom in the world. Less than this cannot reasonably be supposed to be comprehended in that question : and the way to answer it with a good conscience is, to examine ourselves whether we have an eye to our own ease, honour, or preferment; or, whether we have really a love to the