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to what I proposed; which was to give you some account of the motives of my own conduct. It may not be improper to premise a few preliminary observations. I shall not weary you by attempting to justify every thing that obtains in our way, nor call your attention to all the minutiæ which might furnish subject for debate to those who know not how to employ their time better. It would be mere trifling to dispute for or against a surplice or a band, a gown or a cloak; or to inquire whether it be the size, or the shape, which renders some of these habiliments more or less suitable for a minister than the others. But, perhaps, a few strictures upon establishments and liturgies may not be wholly impertinent to

That national religious establishments, under the New Testament dispensation, are neither of express divine appointment, nor formed in all points upon a Scriptural plan, I readily admit. Whether upon this account they cannot be submitted to without violating the obedience we owe to the Lord Jesus, as head and lawgiver of his church, I shall consider hereafter. At present, permit me only to hope (for my own sake) that such submission is not absolutely sinful; and in that view, to offer a word in favour of their expedience. I plead not for this or that establishment, or the administration of one preferably to another but chiefly for that circumstance which I suppose is common to them all; I mean, the parcelling out a country, the government of which is professedly Christian, into certain districts, analogous to what we call parishes, and fixing in each of those districts a person with a ministerial character, who by his office is engaged to promote the good of souls within the limits of his own boundary. I think the number of parishes in England and Wales is computed to be not much fewer than ten thousand. The number of dissenting churches and congregations in England and Wales (if those whom I have consulted as the most competent judges are not mistaken) will not be found greatly to exceed one thousand. In how many, or in how few of these, the old puritan Gospel (if I may so call it) is preached or prized, I deem you a better judge than myself. It is certain, that the number of dissenting ministers who are very willing it should be publicly known that they differ widely from the sentiments of their forefathers, is not small. However, we will take them all into the estimate. Now let us for a moment suppose the establishment, with all its provisions, removed and annihilated. In this case some of the dissenting ministers might indeed change their situations, and fix in places where they might hope for more extensive influence; but as none of them could be in two places at once, about nine-tenths of the kingdom would be deprived, at a stroke, of the very form of

public religion, and reduced, in a short time, (for any relief the Dissenting Interest could afford,) to a state little better than Heathenism. That there is any regard paid to the Lord's day through the greater part of the land; that the holy Scriptures are publicly read to thousands, who, probably, would otherwise know no more of the Bible than they do of the Koran, are good effects of the national establishment, which, I think, can hardly be denied even by those who are most displeased with it. For this reason, if I could not conform to the establishment myself, I think I should speak respectfully of it, and bless God for it. Some established form of religious profession, with a full and free toleration for all who think they can serve God more acceptably upon a different plan, appears to me the most desirable and promising constitution, for preserving the rights of conscience, and for promoting the welfare of souls. I believe, therefore, that the church of England, as by law established, (for it claims no higher title,) though it be not a perfect institution, and notwithstanding its real or supposed defects, and the faults of individuals within its community, has been, upon the whole, and will be, a blessing to the nation; and that its preservation is an effect of the wise and gracious providence of the Great Head of the Church Universal.

From the expediency of parochial order, I would further deduce the expediency of a rubric and liturgy. For I cannot conceive of an established church, without including in my idea some determinate rule or line respecting doctrine and worship, by which it is discriminated from other churches which are not so established. As to our liturgy, I am far from thinking it incapable of amendinent; though, when I consider the temper and spirit of the present times, I dare not wish that the improvement of it should be attempted, lest the intended remedy might prove worse than the disease. As I am not called to defend it, I shall only say, what I believe will be allowed by many candid persons on your side, that the general strain of it is Scriptural, evangelical, and experimental. It recognizes with precision the One Great Object of worship, in his personal distinctions and glorious attributes, the honours and offices of the Redeemer, the power and agency of the Holy Spirit, the evil of sin, the depravity of man, and all the distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel. As to the composition. I question if any thing in the English language (our version of the Bible excepted) is worthy of being compared with it for simplicity, perspicuity, energy, and comprehensive fulness of expression. But I suppose the objection does not lie so much against our liturgy in particular, as in general against the use of liturgies of any kind. And, for ought I know, if the compilers of our liturgy could have expected, that all the parishes

in the kingdom, and from age to age, would be supplied with ministers competently acquainted with the mysteries of the Gospel, and possessed of the spirit of grace and supplication, they might have left them under less restraint in conducting public worship. I believe many of the Dissenters take it for granted, that a considerable part of our clergy are not only unable to pray in public, to the edification of their hearers, without a form, but are unfit for the ministerial office in every view. Should this be true, it is a truth which I hope would excite lamentation, rather than ridicule or invective, in all who profess a regard to the glory of God, or love to the souls of men. But, upon this supposition, I should think an evangelical liturgy a great blessing; as it must secure the people (that is, the bulk of the nation) from being exposed to the same uncertainty and disappointment from the reading-desk, as they are liable to from the pulpit. For they who cannot, or do not, preach the Gospel, are not likely to pray agreeably to the spirit of the Gospel, if that part of the public service was likewise left to their own management. Or shall we say, it is an advantage to some dissenting congregations, that their ministers not being confined to a form of sound words, there is little more of Christ or of grace to be found in their prayers than in their sermons? Is it not too hastily taken for granted by many, that God cannot be worshipped in spirit and truth by those who use a form of prayer? or that he will not afford them who so approach him any testimony of his acceptance? If the words. of a form suit and express the desires aud feelings of my mind, the prayer is as much my own as if I had conceived it upon the spot. On the other hand, if I have the greatest readiness and fluency in diversifying expressions, so that my prayer should always appear unstudied and new; yet if my spirit, or the spirit of those who join with me, be not engaged in it, though I may admire my own performance, and be applauded by others, it is no better than a mere lifeless form in the sight of Him who searcheth the heart. Not to say, that many who profess to pray extempore, that is, without either a printed or a written form, go so much in a beaten path, that they who hear them frequently can tell, with tolerable certainty, how they will begin, when they are about the middle, and when they are drawing towards the close of their prayer.

It is said, that a prescribed form precludes the exercise of a gift in prayer; which is true but then, as I hinted before, it in some good measure supplies the want of such a gift; and, blessed be the Lord, there are many living witnesses who can declare, to his praise, that a form does not restrain, much less preclude, the exercise of grace. They know, and are sure, that their Lord and

Master owns and comforts them in what their brethren hastily condemn them for. It is well for us, that He seeth not as man seeth, and is no more a respecter of parties than of persons.

It cannot be denied that the Lord himself appointed forms of prayer and praise to be used in the Old Testament church. When the ark set forward, and when it rested, Moses addressed the Lord, not according to the varied emotions of his own spirit, but statedly in the same determinate expressions, Numb. x. 35, 36. So likewise in the solemn benediction which the high priest was to pronounce upon the people, Numb. vi. 23-27. Again, at the presenting of the first-fruits, though the heart of the offerer might be filled with gratitude, he was not to express it in his own way; but the Lord himself prescribed the form of his acknowledgment, confession, and prayer, Deut. xxvi. 12-15. But it may be said, these were enjoined under the Levitical institution, which is now abrogated, and that we live under a dispensation of greater light and liberty. I wish, however, with all our light and liberty, we could more fully come up to the spirit of some of the devotional parts of the Old Testament, which were recorded for our instruction, and most certainly are not abrogated. The book of Psalms especially, contains a rich variety of patterns for prayer, if we may not call them forms, adapted to all the various exercises of the life of faith. And if, when I read or repeat such Psalms as the sixty-third, eighty-fourth, or eighty-sixth, I could feel, in the manner I wish, the force of every expression, I should think I prayed to good purpose, though I were not to intermingle a single word of my own. So, likewise, with respect to that summary which our Lord condescended to teach his disciples; though, I believe, it had a peculiar reference to the state in which they were before his passion, and while he was still with them; yet, agreeably to the fulness of his wisdom, it is so comprehensive, that I apprehend every part of a believer's intercourse with God in prayer may be reduced, without forcing, to one or the other of the heads of this prayer. And I should esteem it a golden hour indeed, one of the happiest seasons I ever enjoyed in prayer, if I could repeat it with a just impression of the meaning of every clause. But, alas! such are the effects of our unhappy differences, or rather of a wrongness of spirit in maintaining them ; and so prone are we to think we cannot be too unlike those whom we are not pleased with, that even the words which our Lord himself has taught us are depreciated and disused by many, I fear, upon no better ground than because they are retained in the usage of the church of England. Though, besides giving us a pattern to pray after that manner, He has, at least, permitted us

to use it as a form, directing us, when we pray, to say, 'Our Father which art in heaven,' &c. If Scriptural warrant be required, I think we have one more clear and express for the use of this prayer, than can be found for some things upon which no small stress is laid by our dissenting brethren.

Some persons might possibly allege, that if the use of Scriptural forms of prayer were admitted, it would plead nothing in favour of such forms as are of human composition. But, as I believe the more judicious part of the Dissenters would not make this distinction, a few words may suffice for an answer. Most of us, when we preach, profess to preach the word of God; and, I think, we are sufficiently authorized to use the expression, so far as our sermons are explanatory of Scriptural truths, and agreeable to them. For though the system of truth contained in the holy Scriptures has a peculiar authority, as the fountain from whence we are to derive our public discourses, and the standard by which they are to be tried, yet truth, as to its nature, does not admit of degrees; but all propositions, if they be true, must be equally true; and every conclusion which is rightly inferred from Scriptural premises, must be, in whatever words it is expressed, (if they are precise and clear,) as true as the premises from which it is drawn. If I give a just definition or explication of the doctrine of the Bible in my own words, the truth or importance of that doctrine are not affected or weakened by the vehicle in which convey it nor would a hearer have a right to withhold his attention or assent, from a pretence that, though the proposition itself was true, he was not concerned in it, because I had not expressed it in Scriptural phrases. It is only upon this ground that the propriety and authority of preaching can be maintained; and the like reasoning may be applied to prayer. A prayer is Scriptural, if conformable to the promises, patterns, and truths of Scripture, though it should not contain one phrase taken totidem verbis from the Bible.

May I not here appeal, to the practice of the Dissenters themselves? I suppose Dr. Watts' Hymns, and his imitation of David's Psalms, especially the latter, are used by a large majori-. ty of dissenting congregations in their public worship. Many of these are devotional; that is, they are in the strain of prayer and praise. They are, therefore, forms of prayer or praise; and when the first line is given out, it is probable that several persons in the assembly know before-hand every word they are to sing. In some congregations the psalm or hymn is delivered line by line; and in most, the bulk of the people are provided with books. Now it appears to me, that when a worshipper, who attends to what is going forward, aud is not content with a mere lip service,

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