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extempore prayer, we rejoice that their souls are benefited, though it be not precisely in our way; but still we cannot be insensible to the advantages which we enjoy; and much less can we concede to any that the use of a prescribed form of prayer is the smallest disadvantage.
We say then, that the Liturgy was of great use at the time it was made. At the commencement of the Reformation, the most lamentable ignorance prevailed throughout the land : and even those who from their office ought to have been well instructed in the Holy Seriptures, themselves needed to be taught what were the first principles of the oracles of God. If then the pious and venerable Reformers of our Church had not provided a suitable form of prayer, the people would still in many thou-. sands of parishes have remained in utter darkness; but by the diffusion of this sacred light throughout the land, every part of the kingdom became in a good measure irradiate with scriptural knowledge, and with saving
truth. The few who were enlightened, might indeed have scattered some partial rays around them; but their light would have been only as a meteor, that passes away and leaves no permanent effect. More. over, if their zeal and knowledge and piety, had been suffered to die with them, we should have in vain sought for compositions of equal excellence from any set of governors from that day to the present hour: but by conveying to posterity the impress of their own piety in stated forms of prayer, they bave in them transmitted a measure of their own spirit, which like Elijah's mantle, has descended on multitudes who have suc. ceeded them in their high office. It is not possible to form a correct estimate of the benefit which we at this day derive from having such a standard of piety in our hands; but we do not speak too strongly if we say, that the most enlightened amongst us, of whatever denomination they may be, owe much to the existence of our Liturgy ; which has been, as it were, the pillar and ground of the truth in this kingdom, and
has served as fuel to perpetuate the flame, which the Lord himself, at the time of the Reformation, kindled upon our altars.
But we must go further, and say, that the use of the Liturgy is equally expedient still. Of course, we must not be understood as speaking of private prayer in the closet; where though a young and inexperienced person may get help from written forms, it is desirable that every one should learn to express his own wants in his own language; because no written prayer can enter so minutely into his wants and feelings as he himself may do: but in public, we maintain, that the use of such a form as ours is still as expedient as ever. To lead the devotions of a congregation in extempore prayer is a work for which but few are qualified. An extensive knowledge of the Scriptures must be combined with fervent piety, in order to fit a person for such an undertaking: and I greatly mistake if there be found & humble person in the world, who, after egaging often in that arduous work, does not wish at times that he had a suitable form prepared for him. That the constant repetition of the same form does not so forcibly arrest the attention as new sentiments and expressions would do, must be confessed : but, on the other hand, the use of a wellcomposed form secures us against the dry, dull, tedious repetitions which are but too frequently the fruits of extemporaneous devotions. Only let any person be in a devout frame, and he will be far more likely to have his soul elevated to heaven by the Liturgy of the Established Church, than he will by the generality of prayers which he would hear in other places of worsbip : and, if any one complain that he cannot enter into the spirit of them, let him only ex amine his frame of mind when engaged in extemporaneous prayers, whether in public, or in his own family; and he will find, that his formality is not confined to the service of the Church, but is the sad fruit and consequence of his own weakness and corruption,
Here it may not be amiss to rectify the notions which are frequently entertained of spiritual edification. Many, if their imagi. nations are pleased, and their spirits elevated, are ready to think, that they have been greatly edified: and this error is at the root of that preference which they give to extempore prayer, and the indifference which they manifest towards the prayers of the Established Church. But real edification consists in humility of mind, and in being led to a more holy and consistent walk with God: and one atom of such a spirit is more valuable than all the animal fervour that ever was excited. It is with solid truths, and not with fluent words, that we are to be impressed; and if we can desire from our hearts the things which we pray for in our publicforms, we need never regret, that our fancy was not gratified, or our animal spirits raised, by the delusive charms of novelty.
: In what we have spoken on this subject it must be remembered, that we have spo.. ken oply in a way of vindication : the true,