Page images
PDF
EPUB

Westminster, after the king was driven from the seat of government, absolutely subverted the Church, defaced her sacred edifices, plundered her property, imprisoned and drove into exile her ministers, and levelled her "even with the ground, and her children within her :" And what was the conduct of the Church, at the Restoration, towards the Parliament? Why, as became a church named after Christ, she added this Prayer to her Liturgy :—she prayed for those that had despitefully used her. This Prayer was not placed in the Prayer-Book till the last time when it was revised, in the year following the Restoration, the year 1661.

The next Prayer is one which, to prevent repetitions, is to be used only when the Litany is not appointed to be said. It is styled "a Prayer for all conditions of men;" and in it we ask of God to make known VOL. II.

Q

the way of salvation to all the nations of the world; we pray for the welfare of the Universal Church of Christ; and that all who profess to be Christians, or call themselves such, may be reduced from doctrinal error, and led into the way of truth, and may hold the faith of Christ in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life:-it concludes with commending to God's mercy specially, if it be so desired, and generally, all who labour under calamities affecting their mind, their body, or their temporal prosperity, their estate; and that he will be pleased to comfort them according to their respective cases, enduing them with patience under their distresses, and an happy issue therefrom. It comprises, in few words, what the Litany details more at length; and though it be not a prayer of high antiquity, yet it may vie, both in form and in spirit, with

any that are preserved to these later ages in the treasures of the ancient Liturgies. Subjoined to this is a short Prayer that may be said after any of the former; but, in fact, this is an error in the common editions of the Prayer-Book. This Prayer should stand, as it does in the exemplary Prayer-Book which I have inspected at the Record-Office, in the Tower of London, before the Prayer for the Parliament.—A strange perverseness in the printers of the Prayer-Books has occasioned this departure from uniformity, notwithstanding the pains which have been taken to insure it, by depositing in sundry places copies of the genuine book, to which are appended impressions of the Great Seal of England, and the hand-writing of the commissioners. On account of this confusion, chiefly, as the use of it is optional, it is seldom read in the Church.

We are now come to the Thanksgivings. The text admonishes us to join thanksgiving to prayer; the fiftieth Psalm expressly says, "Offer unto God thanksgiving:"-and holy David asserts, most truly, in another Psalm, that a "joyful and a pleasant thing it is to be thankful.” Praise and thanksgiving are nearly allied. Many of the Hymns and Doxologies, and many of the Psalms fill our mouths with praise; but the Church, aiming at perfection, has given us also sundry forms of Thanksgivings. The occasional Thanksgivings take the same topics with the occasional Prayers. There is one for Rain; another for Fair Weather; and another for Plenty there is one for Peace and Deliverance from our Enemies; and another more particularly for restoring Public Peace at Home :-to which is added a choice of two, at the option of the

Minister, for Deliverance from the Plague, or any other common Sickness; and there is besides, a General Form of Thanksgiving, breathing the very language which ought to flow from the hearts of grateful Christians. You must have often remarked that I have praised many of our excellent Collects, because of their ancient use in the Church; not merely because of their old standing, but because of their combined excellence. The General Thanksgiving is a modern form. The ancient Liturgies have it not; and, therefore, on this account, as well as some others that might be mentioned, I scruple not, with many authorities for my preference, to prefer our own Liturgy to them all. The General Thanksgiving was drawn up by one of the clearest heads and devoutest hearts with which God ever blessed man; and saith one, from whom I have derived

« PreviousContinue »