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into the Church, with what solemnity are we dedicated to God in our Baptismal Service! What pledges does our Church require of our Sponsors that we shall be brought up in the true faith and fear of God; and how earnestly does she lead us to pray for a progressive, total, and permanent renovation of our souls? No sooner are we capable of receiving instruction, than she provides for us, and expressly requires that we be well instructed in, a Catechism, so short that it burthens the memory of none, and so comprehensive that it contains all that is neces. sary for our information at that early period of our life. When once we are taught by that to know the nature and extent of our baptismal vows, the Church calls upon us to renew in our own person the vows that were formerly made for us in our name; and, in a service specially prepared for that purpose, leads us to consecrate ourselves to
thus endeavouring to confirm us in our holy resolutions, and to establish us in the faith of Christ. Not content with hav. ing thus initiated, instructed, and confirmed
her members in the religion of Christ, the Church embraces every occasion of instil. ling into our minds the kpowledge and love of his ways. If we change our condition in life, we are required to come to the altar of our God, and there devote ourselves afresh to him, and implore his blessing, from which alone all true happiness proceeds. Are mercies and deliverances vouchsafed to any, especially that great mercy of preservation from the pangs and perils of child birth? the Church appoints a public acknowledgment to be made to Almighty God in the presence of the whole congregation, and provides a suitable service for that end. In like manner, for every public mercy, or in time of any public calamity, particular prayers and thanksgivings are provided for our use. In a time of sickness there is also very particular provision made for our instruction and consolation : and even after death, when she can no more benefit the deceased, the Church labours to promote the benefit of her surviving members, by a service the most solemn and impressive that
ever was formed. Thus attentive is she to supply in every thing, as far as human en deavours can avail, our spiritual wants ; being decent in her forms, but not superstitious; and strong in her expressions, but not erroneous. In short, it is not possible to read the Liturgy with candour, and not to see that the welfare of our souls is the one object of the whole; and that the compilers of it had nothing in view, but that in all our works, begun, continued, and ended in God, we should glorify his holy Name.
The excellencies of our Liturgy will yet further appear while we notice, next, Its fulness and suitableness.
Astonishing is the wisdom with which the Liturgy is adapted to the edification of every member of the Church. There is no case that is overlooked, no sin that is not deplored, no want that is not specified, no blessing that is not asked: yet, whilst every particular is entered into so far that every individual person may find his own case adverted to, and his own wishes ex pressed, the whole is so carefully worded, that no person is led to express more than he ought to feel, or to deliver sentiments, in which he may not join with his whole heart. Indeed there is a minuteness in the petitions that is rarely found even in men's private devotions ; and those very particularities are founded in the deepest knowledge of the human heart, and the completest view of men's spiritual necessities; for instance, We pray to God to deliver us, not only in all time of our tribulation, but in all time of our wealth also ;* because we are quite as much in danger of being drawn from God by prosperity, as by adversity; and need his aid as much in the one as in the other.
In the intercessory part of our devotions also, our sympathy is called forth in behalf of all orders and degrees of men, under every name, and every character that can
*“ In all time of our prosperity;" in the American Liturgy. Am. Ed.
be conceived. We pray to him to strengthen such as do stand, to comfort and help the weak hearted, and to raise up them that fall, and finally, to beat down Satan under our feet. We intreat him also to succour, help, and comfort all that are in danger, necessity, and tribulation. We further supplicate him in behalf of all that travel whether by land or water, all women labouring of child, * all sick persons, and young children, and particularly intreat him to have pity upon all prisoners and captives. Still further, we plead with bim to defend and provide for the fatherless children, and wid. ows, and all that are desolate and oppressed: and, lest any should have been omitted, we beg him “ to have mercy upon all men,” generally, and more particularly“ to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts.” In what other prayers, whether extemporaneous or written, shall we ever find such diffusive benevolence as this?
* 6 All women in the perils of child-birth,” in the American Liturgy. Am. Ed.