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This leads us now to the SUBJECTS OF THE LITURGY. In the first place, two subjects here present themselves to our notice, the Minister, as preacher, to make known the word of Christ, and the Congregation to receive it; and who, that they may receive it, pray to God for the grace of his Holy Spirit. To the prayer we can attach no exclusive significance. We can ascribe to it no other, than that which it has in its reference to the sermon; not to the sermon indeed, as the subjective individual words of the preacher, but as it proclaims the salvation which is in Christ. The prayer accordingly must have reference to the preaching of salvation in Christ, as the central point of divine worship. To place the sermon, and the liturgical prayer aside of each other as two distinct paris of worship, without mutual relation--as is the case in the Anglican Liturgy-would be consistent only in case we were to deny, in reference to either, that the salvation in Christ must be iis inmost core. We could then, either make the Liturgical part of divine service have respect to the central point of redemption, and allow it to be sufficient for the sermon, if it only moved somewhere about the periphery; or we might insist that the sermon, in the exposition of every test, should conduct to Christ, and be satisfied, if the Liturgy furnished occasional intercessions for individual cases. Both these views are defective, and so soon as we see this, and are assured that Christ is the very heart, and core of both the sermon, and the prayers, we will be disposed to place them both in the most intimate reciprocal relation.
It follows from this, however, that a Liturgist in addition to the Preacher, and the Congregation, as a third subject of the Liturgy, cannot well be admitted. On the contrary, when the Congregation, togeiher chant one part of the prayer and repeat another part, word for word, after the officiating Minister, it is only a formal difference, grounded in the fact, that standing forms are better adapted to be spoken, and prayers of special contents, to be sung. In both cases, however, the Congrega. tion is the proper praying subject; and in pleno employed and active; and when the Minister leads in prayer, he does not pray as Priest for them, but as Pastor with them. This is the case, whether he confesses their faith, or their sins; whilst, on the other hand, when he pronounces absolution, he appears as Preacher.
But could not, and ought not the congregation again to divide itself into two subjects ? It is on the one hand, the ideal, educational, propelling congregation, and on the other the real concrete congregation needing advancement and improvement.
In our customary worship, she appears one-sidedly, and exclusively in this last point of view. She is only the needy, the asking the receiving congregation ; and not at all the possessing and imparting congregation. This is a real misfortune. The result is, that the Minister above stands forth in the name of the educational church ; and in this way it happens also that the congregation is sometimes led to look upon the ministry as a sort of Priest-hood, and to regard their exclusive privileges with feelings of envy. And yet the means of relief are so near at hand. The remedy indeed with instinctive anticipation, even here in Switzerland has already been applied. li is the introduction of Liturgical Choirs into Divine Worship. The Choir thus represents the ideal congregation. Only consider the following: According to the customary mode, the congrega. lion assembles in the vacant silent Church-not even an organ to take the place of the Choir. The people are filled with no sacred emotions—they hear no inspiring sounds—they are not made to feel that the Church of Christ is something already eristing, independently of their assembling at the time. The individual members do not feel that they are entering into the very midst of this already present divine power. On the contrary, they rather think that the Church is first to be constituted and properly made to exist. The concrete, real congregation with its need is in the foreground ; the ideal with its divine treasures is in the rear and it is the Minister alone who represents it. Now think for a moment of the difference in the effect, when the people entering the Church, are received by the Choir, as the representative of the ideal congregation. They feel that they are not strangers. The Church itself, to which they belong, meets them with friendly greeting. They need not first try by their singing to inspire their hearts with devotional feelings. As they enter, their minds are carried upward and fixed in a becoming frame, to take part in the singing, and become active in the worship. And as in the commandments, so in other parts of the service, places will be found, in which the Choir niay properly be introduced, as the representative of the ideal Church.
If we pass on now to the liturgical objects, we will find that prayer, the sermon, and the sacraments, are the three natural objects of Worship. I say the sacrament, and not sacraments, because only of the sacraments essentially belongs to the worship of the congregation, whilst the others may just as well, if not with more propriety, be performed in the family, the temple at hoine.
In holy baptism, the child is taken, it is true, into the Church,
but not into the particular congregation. The church, indeed, embraces all the congregations, as well as families belonging to them, and it is this congregation in the house, sanctified by christianity, into which the baptized child is received. It only becomes a member of the Church, the communicating congregation, when it is confirmed. Baptism can, therefore, take place in the Church, with the silent acquiescence of the congregation —and this for the Minister is more convenient—but the nature of the case, and experience, both assure us, that this silent acquiescence in the custom leads to a mere mechanical attention, or inattention rather, and that the advantages are greatly on the other side. The house itself is consecrated a temple, and the finest opportunity is afforded for the exbibition of a proper feeling of private pastoral solicitude.
In the judginent of the Reformed, as well as in that of the primitive christian church, there are three classes of members of the congregation: the ruling, the communicating, and the sive, or those who take no part in the active duties of religion. By baptism, we become passive, by confirmation, communicaling, and when we arrive at a particular age fixed by law, we are qualified to become ruling members—the communicating members have the right to partake of the Holy Sacrament; the ruling have, besides this, the right to participate in the government of the church, in the election of deacons, elders and ministers, and are themselves eligible to the first two offices. By excommunicatoa, the right to partake of the communion is suspended, until restored, and that of having any thing to do with government is forfeited forever.
It follows froin this, that the communicating congregation is different from the congregation altending upon the sermon, and that the solemnity of the Lord's Supper ditiers again from the homiletical part of divine service, alihough it properly follows it, as the highest grade of divine service-does not precede itand thus in connexion with it, constitutes the communion service. The sermon services may again be divided into the service for Feast-days (when some purricular theme, appropriate to the occasion is made the subject of the discourse,)-into the principal service for Sunday, and subordinate services for the afternoon, or week. To this, may be added special prayer meetings, in which there is no sermon, nothing but the simple reading of Scripture, accompanied with singing, and prayer.
As to the order of the principal service on the Sabbath, I would propose the following:
VOL. II.--NO. IV.
Confession of sin,
I need not attempt to vindicate this arrangement. It has for ils ground the correct principle of the Calvinistic liturgies; a regular ascent from a sense of the need of salvation in the inyo. cation for the help of the Holy Spirit in proclaiming salvation, and a gradual descent again from the prayer, for special and general blessings, to the blessings themselves. It is only new, so far that the two prayers, before and after the sermon, are separated from it by the singing of the congregation ; and although they have special reference to the sermon, are nevertheless in this way, made more independent. It would be very unnatural, if the congregation were first to be prepared for the sermon, by a special introductory hymn, and then engage in a general prayer; then listen to a very special sermon, then another general prayer and then again a special verse from the Bible! How unnatural too for the Minister, when he has preached his sermon with great fervency of spirit, and is waiting to see the impression made by it, to be obliged himself to lead his people away from the subject of his discourse, to something entirely different! How perfectly natural on the other hand, for the congregation to yield itself in feeling to the impression produced by the sermon, and to respond to it, in the singing of the hymn immediately following, and then after the impression is thus confirmed, and fixed, to proceed to the general prayer.
According to this order, the CONFESSION OF Sin, as the opening service, should be introduced, and chanted by the Choir, and for this purpose certain verses of Scripture should be selected, two for each of the periods of the Church year. The first of these verses should contain an exhortation to repentance, and be chanted by the Choir, as coming from the ideal, ever existing congregation, to the individual members present in the Church. The second verse should be recited by the Minister, in the name and as the response of the real, individual congregation. Can any thing be thought of, that more happily precludes the Roman idea of the priestly pre-eminence of the spiritual office, than this?
The PRAYER BEFORE THE SERMON should not be immediately appended to the confession of sin. On the contrary, the
natural order is, for the congregation, on their part, to join in with this previously made consession, in a short verse or two of a penitential psalm, !o be selected for each particular service, inasmuch as the constant repetition of one and the same verse would become mechanical. The Benediction, however, may immediately follow the prayer after the sermon, although the congregation should also unite in pronouncing the intermediate “ Amen.” The Choir should then properly conclude the ser
' vices by singing the well known brief strophe,“ The grace of our Lord, &c," or the Palestrinian strophe "Be with us, &c.”
“ To those FEAST-DAYS, which are not at the same time communion occasions, are to be reckoned the First Advent, Good Friday, on which in many places there is no communion, Ascension day, 'Trinity-Sunday, New Year and Fast-days. These Feast days are very different in their characters and objects. The First Advent, and Trinity Sunday particularly, are only distinguished from other Sundays, as the commencement of the two balves of the Church Year. In worship they are to be distinguished no farther, than that on the first there should be a special prayer before the sermon, and on the second, the Nicene Creed should be recited before the blessing. The New Year and Fast-days have their reason in worldly occurrences which sh be spiritually improved. Seasons, and political associations constitute their ground. In both instances the nature of the feast requires that the confession of sin should be more prominent than on other occasions, and that the absolution should be pronounced with due solemnity.
For the New Year the most appropriate opening would be this: New YEAR-EVE; singing by the Choir, Thanksgiving prayer. Singing by the congregation, in connexion with a brief address. Confession of sin and penitential passage. Absolution and Benediction. In conclusion the Thanksgiving Hymn “Bless the Lord, &c.” New YEAR: Singing by the Choir. Feast prayer before the sermon. Hymn, in connexion with the sermon. Prayer, and Apostles' Creed. Suitable Hymn and Benediction.
FAST-DAY: Singing by the Choir. Reading the Commandments. Hymn and sermon in connexion. Principal prayer adapted to the occasion. Confession of sin, with Absolution. The object of the sermon should be to direct to the confession, and therefore should precede it.
Good Friday and AscENSION-Day may properly be classed with the historical Feasts, and their special themes should be the events they are intended to commemorate. On Good Friday,