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Sect. I. Of COMMON PRAYER and its essentials ;

and of the early Liturgies.

1. What is meant by Common PRAYER ?

Answer. COMMON PRAYER is that which is offered to the Deity by a whole congregation, and indeed by a whole Church, in behalf of all its members in common, as well as of mankind in general; and is thus distinguished from private or family prayers, which have more immediate regard to individual and domestic wants.

2. In what does its peculiar efficacy consist; and what great end does it especially promote ?

The peculiar efficacy of Common Prayer, consists in its being a united service. The Christian Church forms one spiritual body, of which their divine master is the head; and its members are enjoined to be" of one heart and of one soul, and with one mind and one mouth to glorify God.” (Rom. xv. 6.) Thus “ being knit together in love" (Col. ii. 2.), and “not forsaking the assembling of themselves together" (Heb. v. 25.), they maintain that fellowship to which Christ has promised his peculiar blessings.


3. Point out certain essentials which are necessary to ensure its efficacy.

In order to ensure this efficacy, it is essential that Common Prayer should be offered in a consecrated place, by an appointed minister, and in a language which is understood by the congregation.

4. Whence does it appear that Christians are called upon to worship God in a consecrated place?

As we have “houses to eat and to drink in,” to which St. Paul (1 Cor. xi. 22.) opposes the “ Church of God;" and since God expressly set apart the Temple of the Jews “ as a house of prayer" (Isai. lvi. 7. Matt. xxi. 13.), it follows that Christians also are called upon to worship in a place consecrated to his service, and in which therefore “ his honour dwelleth."

5. Give the meaning and derivation of the word Church?

The word Church is derived from the Greek word Kuplakni, subaud. oiria, signifying the Lord's house.

6. What important end is obtained by the services of a regular ordained ministry?

If the place of public prayer is an important aid to devotion, much more so, observes Hooker (E. P. v. 25. 3.), is an appointed minister, whose ordination“ is a seal that God will effect the thing whereto he ordained him, in blessing his people, and accepting the prayers which he offers for them.”

7. Whence does it appear that a distinct order of men have ever been set apart for the ministry of God's word; and under what circumstances are they so set apart in the Church of Christ?

Under the Patriarchal dispensation, the head of each tribe or family was invested with sacerdotal functions (Gen. xiv. 18. xviii. 19. xx. 7. xxii. 3. Job i. 5. Psal. cv. 22. Heb. vii. 7.); among the Jews, Aaron and his descendants, the Priests and Levites, were “ ordained for men in things pertaining to God” (Heb. v. 1.); and so also in the Church of Christ, there have ever been three orders of ministers, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, who having been “ tried, examined, and known to have such qualities as are requisite for their office, are also by public prayer, and the imposition of hands,” appointed to the administration of God's Holy Word and Sacraments. (Ordinal and Canons.)

8. What part is borne by the people in the public worship of God; and how does it thence follow that prayer in an unknown tongue is an unprofitable service?

Although the minister presents the prayers of the people to God, it is manifestly required that the hearts of the people should accompany him, and that they should pray both“ with the spirit and the understanding” (1 Cor. xiv. 15.); whence it is “plainly repugnant to the word of God,” as well as to the custom of the primitive Church," to worship God “in a tongue not understanded of the people” (Art. XXIV.).

9. Shew that such a practice is repugnant to the word of God.

“ If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle ?” And in like manner, argues St. Paul,“ how shall he that is unlearned say Amen, if he understandeth not” the meaning of the prayer which is offered up? (1 Cor. xiv. 9. 16.)

10. Prove also that it is contrary to the usage of the primitive Church.

In accordance with this view of the matter, it is admitted even by Aquinas and other writers of the Romish communion, that for seven or eight hundred years, the service of the Church was performed in the respective languages of every country.

11. Is any thing else required for the profitable offering of Common Prayer?

Besides the essentials already mentioned, it is highly important that the Common Prayers of the Church should be offered according to a prescribed form.

12. Mention some of the principal advantages de rived from the use of prescribed forms of prayer.

Among the advantages derived from the use of set forms of public prayer, it is manifest that they tend to preserve that uniformity of worship which is a principle of Christianity ; that the congregation, not having their minds preoccupied with the expectation of what is to be the subject of their prayers, can join in them both with heart and voice, and pray themselves instead of listening to the words of another ; that the extravagances of fanaticism, the indecency of irreverent and familiar expressions, and the tiring monotony of endless repetitions, are thereby excluded; that pride and ostentation on the part of the minister less likely to be excited ; and that the practice is founded on the Scriptures, and sanctioned by the usage of the primitive Church.

13. What arguments for set forms may be obtained from the Old Testament, and the example of our Saviour and his Apostles in the New ?

In the Old Testament we find instances of precomposed songs of praise in the hymns of Moses and Miriam, and of Deborah and Barak (Exod. xv. Judg. v.), not to mention that many of the Psalms were designed for the service of the Temple. The service of the synagogue was also conducted according to a prescribed form, which our Lord not only attended, but framed the prayer, which he recommended to the general use of his disciples, upon the model of prayers which are found in the Jewish Liturgies. He also gave directions to the chief pastors of his Church, that they should agree touching the petitions which they offered in his name; and in accordance with these directions the sublime prayer recorded in the Acts (iv. 24. sqq.) was manifestly a precomposed form, in which the whole company lifted up their voices with one accord. Indeed it were a palpable absurdity to offer up joint prayers, without agreeing as to the subject of them.

14. How then do you interpret those passages of Scripture, which speak of prayer as offered under the influence of the Holy Spirit?

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