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contrary, prove an aggravation to our offence, that we have the best, the most rational, the most pious form of prayer in the world, if we shall not be found to have imbibed the spirit, and, in our practice, illustrated the excellency, of that service, If, as in many other reformed Churches, our devotions were left at the discretion of the officiating minister, and were thus liable to fall, as he may fall, into coldness of affection, perhaps into wrongness of faith, then, indeed, our responsibility would be less awful, because our advantages, and opportunities of improvement, would be far less certain. But, as it is, we have no excuse; none, that can satisfy our own conscience; much less, that can be pleaded, before the holy and heart-searching God. In the service of our church, we are not only taught our duty, we are invited and drawn to the love and practice of it; we are provided, with the happiest expressions of deep, yet cheerful piety; of simple, yet sublime devotion. All, evidently, comes from the heart of the composers; and all, undoubtedly, should come home to the business and bosoms of us, my brethren. Let me, then, be permitted to recommend, that you should set apart a portion of this, and of your future Sabbaths, to serious and private recollection. Let your prayer-books be the com
panions of your retirement: reflect upon the truths which they teach, the duties which they inculcate, the blessed hopes which they afford you, for the future, the divine aids and consolations, which they furnish for the present, — and then, ask your own hearts, whether there can be a more reasonable, a more profitable, or a more truly Christian determination, than, through God's most gracious favour, and by the continual help of his blessed Spirit, to make our Liturgy, in subordination only to the sacred word of God, the rule of your faith, the standard of your holiness, and the measure of your proficiency, in every Christian grace and virtue.
And now, my brethren, I will conclude, with this earnest wish and prayer: that the God of peace may give us meek hearts, quiet spirits, and devout affections; that, whether in public, or in private, in the sanctuary, or in our closets, we may be so united in our prayers and praises here, that we may eternally join in adoration and thanksgiving hereafter.
PSALM xxix. 2.
GIVE THE LORD THE HONOUR DUE UNTO HIS NAME; WORSHIP
THE LORD, WITH HOLY WORSHIP.
I TRUST you are disposed to agree with me, that, while our Liturgy uniformly “ gives the Lord the honour due unto his name,” it may no less justly be pronounced, that, so far as we enter into its genuine spirit, we “worship the Lord with holy worship.” For every view which it gives of God, every reference which it makes to the leading principles of our nature, every prospect which it opens, every aspiration which it breathes, unite in teaching us, that we are formed for holiness; and that, without making us holy, not even Omnipotence can make us happy.
But it is very far from my wish, that these characters of our Liturgy should rest on mere general assertion. They deserve, and they demand, close investigation. They call upon you to examine, and to judge for yourselves. In the limited observations, therefore, which I am about to make, it is my chief purpose to call your attention to the subject, that you may be induced to search, like the noble Bereans, “ whether these things be so." And, it is the sober conviction of my judgment, that your labour will be amply repaid; that, if you examine with a right spirit, you will find in our common prayer, a depth and fulness, exceeded only in the sacred volume: that you will discover in it, the most luminous order, accompanied with ease and freedom; the profoundest meaning, clothed in the most unlaboured simplicity of expression, and addressed, at once, to the imagination, and the heart.
It shall be my humble effort, then, to clear the avenues to the sanctuary. May you be led, by the good Spirit of God, to explore its inmost recesses; to acquaint yourselves with its just proportions; to derive light and heat, from the pure fire of its altar; so that, like the Psalmist, you may supremely desire “ to dwell in the house of the Lord, all the days of your life; to behold the fair beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.”
- It is certain, that we enter, each morning, on a new period, not only of existence, but of danger and of duty: in which, we have temptations to resist, trials to encounter, difficulties to surmount, and a variety of social, civil, and religious obligations, to discharge. With what happy fitness, then, is it ordered, that our morning service should be a special preparation for active holiness; for safety, during our intercourse with a dangerous world; for such calm, collected self-possession, even in the busiest scenes of life, that we may “ attend upon the Lord,” as the apostle expresses it, “ without distraction.” To establish this fact by extended investigation, would far exceed my limits : let us, then, narrow the field, by briefly adverting to the last morning, Collect.
The introduction is full of encouragement : the God whom we address, is our · Lord, and, therefore, we belong to him ; he is our heavenly Father,' and, therefore, tenderly loves us; he is · Almighty,' and, therefore, can abundantly protect us; He is everlasting,' and, therefore, may be entrusted with the hidden issues of eternity. By the remembrance of his most recent mercies, we are emboldened to seek for present support, and confirmation; assured, that the same ‘mighty power,' which has “safely