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RATIONAL ILLUSTRATION

OF THE

BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER.

AN INTRODUCTORY DISCOURSE,

SHEWING THE LAWFULNESS AND NECESSITY OF A NATIONAL

PRECOMPOSED LITURGY.

Most of the objections urged by the Dissenters against the Church of England, to justify their separation from

it, being levelled against its form and manner of divine worship, prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer, &c., are, in the following Discourse, answered, as fully as its brevity would permit. So that, though the principal design of this book be

. to instruct such as are friends to our Church and Liturgy; yet it is not impossible but that, by the blessing of God, it may in some measure contribute to the undeceiving some that are enemies to both, (such I mean as are disaffected to the former, upon no other account, than a prejudice to the latter ;) especially could we, by first convincing them of the Lawfulness and Necessity of National precomposed LITURGIES in general, prevail with them to take an impartial view of what is here offered in behalf of our own. To this end therefore, and to make the following sheets of as general use as I can, I shall, by way of INTRODUCTION, endeavour to prove these three things ; viz.

I. First, That the ancient Jews, our Saviour, his Apostles, and the primitive Christians, never joined (as far as we can prove) in any prayers, but precomposed set forms only.

II. SECONDLY, That those precomposed set forms, in which they joined, were such as the respective congregations were accustomed to, and thoroughly acquainted with.

III. THIRDLY, That their practice warrants the imposition of a National precomposed Liturgy.

I. FIRST, I am to prove that the ancient Jews, our Saviour, his Apostles, and the prinitive Christians, never joined (as far as we can prove) in any prayers, but precomposed set forms only. And this I shall do by shewing,

1. First, That they did join in precomposed set forms of prayer.

2. Secondly, That (as far as we can conjecture) they never joined in any other.

1. First, I shall shew that the ancient Jews, our Saviour, his Apostles, and the primitive Christians, did join in precomposed set forms of prayer.

1st, To begin with the Jews, we find that the first piece of solemn worship recorded in Scripture is a hymn of praise, composed by Moses upon the deliverance of the children of Israel from the Egyptians, which was sung by all the congregation alternately; by Moses and the men first, and afterwards by Miriam and the women:1 which could not have been done unless it had been a precomposed set form. Again, in the expiation of an uncertain murder, the elders of the city which is next to the slain are expressly commanded to say, and consequently to join in saying, a form of prayer, precomposed by God himself. And in other places of Scripture we meet with several other forms of prayer, precomposed by God, and prescribed by Moses; which though they were not to be joined in by the whole congregation, are yet sufficient precedents for the use of precomposed set forms. But further, the Scriptures assure us, that David appointed the Levites to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at even, which rule was observed in the temple afterwards built by Solomon, and restored at the building of the second temple after the captivity. Lastly, the whole book of Psalms were forms of prayer and praise, indited by the Holy Ghost, for the joint use of the congregation; as appears as well from the titles of several of the Psalms, as from other places of Scripture.

Innumerable proofs might be brought, both ancient and modern, that the Jews did always worship God by precomposed set forms : but the world is fully satisfied of this truth, from the concurrent testimonies of Josephus, Philo, Paul | Exod. xv. 1, 20, 21.

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3 Numb. vi. 22, &c. chap. x. 35, 36.

5 Neh. xii. 44, 45, 46. 6 See Psal. xlii., xliv., &c. Psal. iv., V., vi., &c. Psal. xcii. Chron. xxix. 30. Ezra iži. 10, 11.

2 Deut. xxi. 7, 8. Deut. xxvi. 3, 5, &c. ver. 13, &c. 4 1 Chron. xxiii. 30.

7 1 Chron. xvi. 7. 2 8 View of the Directory, p. 136, and his Oxford Papers, p. 260, vol. i. foot's Works, vol. i. p. 922, 942, 946. 10 Ibid. vol. ii. part ii. p. 1036, &c. f'i, 1. xiii. 15. xvii. 2.

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Fagius, Scaliger, Buxtorf, and Selden in Eutychium. The reader may consult two learned men of our own, viz. Dr. Hammond (who both proves that the Jews used set forms, and that their prayers and praises, &c. were in the same order as our Common Prayers) and Dr. Lightfoot, who not only asserts they worshipped God by stated forms, but also sets down both the order and method of their hymns and supplieations.' So that there is no more reason to doubt of their having and using a precomposed settled Liturgy, than of our own having and using the Book of Common Prayer, &c., and of its consisting of precomposed set forms. We shall therefore proceed in the next place to inquire into the practice of our Saviour, his Apostles, and the primitive Christians.

And, lst, for our Saviour; there is not the least doubt to be made, but that he continued always in communion with the Jewish Church, and was zealous and exemplary in their public devotions; and consequently took all opportunities of joining in those precomposed set forms of prayer, which were daily used in the Jewish congregations, as the learned Dr. Lightfoot has largely proved. And we may be sure, that had not our Saviour very constantly attended their public worship, and joined in the devotions of their congregations, the scribes and Pharisees, his bitter and implacable enemies, and great zealots for the temple-service, would doubtless have cast it in his teeth, and reproached him as an ungodly wretch, that despised prayer, &c. But nothing of this nature do we find in the whole New Testament; and therefore, had we no other grounds than these to go upon, we might safely conclude, that our blessed Saviour was a constant attendant on the public service of the Jews, and consequently that he joined in precomposed set forms of prayer,

. And, 2ndly, as to the Apostles and our Lord's other disciples, their practice was doubtless the same till our Saviour's ascension; after which (besides that they did probably still join as before in the Jewish worship," which consisted of precomposed set forms) it is plain that they used precomposed set forms in their Christian assemblies, during the remainder of their lives.

As the primitive Christians also did in the following ages : as will appear,

9 Dr. Light11 See Acts

1. From their joining in the use of the Lord's prayer. 2. From their joining in the use of Psalms.

3. From their joining in the use of divers precomposed set forms of prayer, besides the Lord's prayer and Psalms.

1. They joined in the use of the Lord's prayer. And this is sufficiently evident from our Saviour's having commanded them so to do: for whatever dispute may be made about the word oőrws, in St. Matthew vi. 9, which is translated not exactly, but paraphrastically, after this manner, but ought with greater accuracy to be rendered so, or thus ; 12 yet if we should grant that our Lord in this place only proposed this prayer as a directory and pattern to make our other prayers by, we should still find afterwards, upon another occasion, viz. when his disciples requested him to teach them to pray, as John had also taught his disciples, he prescribed the use of these very words ; expressly bidding them, When ye pray, say, Our Father. 18

I suppose nobody hath so mean an opinion, either of St. John's or our Saviour's disciples, as to think they were ignorant how to pray: therefore it is plain they could mean nothing else by their request, but that Christ would give them this peculiar form, as a badge of their belonging to him; according to the custom of the Jewish Doctors, who always taught their disciples a peculiar form to add to their own; so that either our Saviour instructed them to use this very form of words, or else he did not answer the design of their requests.

But it is objecte that “if our Lord had intended this prayer should be used as a set form, he would not have added the Doxology, when he delivered it at one time, as it is recorded in St. Matthew, and omit it, when he delivered it upon another occasion, as in St. Luke.”

But to this we answer, That learned men are very much divided in their opinions, concerning the Doxology in St. Matthew; some thinking it is, and others that it is not, a part of the original text. Whether it be or be not, we need not here dispute, but argue

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with our adversaries

upon
either

supposition.

For, 1st, if they think it is not a part of the original text, 12 In which signification it is always used in the Septuagint Version of the Bible, as appears by comparing Numb. vi. 23. xxiii. 5. Isa. viii. 11. xxviii. 16. xxx. 15. xxxvii. 33. and some other places, with Numb. xxiii. 16. Isaiah xxx. 12. xxxvii. 21.

For in the former texts, outw Néyei ó Kúpros, thus saith the Lord, bears the same signification as ráde Méyel ó Kúplos, this saith the Lord, in the latter, xi. 1, 2, &c. 14 Dr. Lightfoot, vol. ii. p. 158.

liii. 3.

13 Luko 15 John xvi. 24.

then their objection is groundless : for there is nothing found in one Evangelist, but what is also found in the other ; and the form, as to the sense of it, is exactly the same in both : for though one or two expressions may differ, yet the Syriac words, in which we know our Lord delivered it, are equally capable of both translations.

But, 2ndly, if they think the Doxology is a part of the original text; we answer, The addition of it is as good an argument against the Lord's prayer being a directory for the matter of prayer, as it can be against its being an established set form of prayer. For we may say, in the language of our adversaries, if Christ had intended his prayer for a directory for the matter of prayer, he would not have given such different directions, ordering us to add a Doxology to the end of our prayers at one time, and omitting that order at another. If therefore the addition of the Doxology be (as they must grant upon their own principles) no objection against its being a directory for the matter of prayer; then certainly it is no objection against its being an established set form. For the difference of our prayers will be every whit as great in following this pattern, by sometimes omitting and sometimes adding a Doxology at the end of our prayers, as it can possibly be, by using the Lord's prayer, sometimes with, and at other times without, the Doxology. The utmost therefore that can be concluded from the Doxology's being a part of the original text in St. Matthew, is this: That our Lord, though he commanded the use of the Lord's prayer, does not insist upon

the use of the Doxology, but leaves it indifferent; or at most, orders it to be sometimes used, and sometimes omitted, as our established Church practises. But the other essential parts of the prayer are to be used notwithstanding; it being very absurd to omit the use of the whole, because the latter part of it is not enjoined to be used constantly with the rest.

But it is further objected, 1st, That, “supposing our Saviour did prescribe it as a form; yet it was only for a time, till they should be more fully instructed, and enabled to pray by the assistance of the Holy Ghost.” And to urge this with the greater force, they tell us, 2ndly, “That before Christ's ascension, the disciples had asked nothing in his name,!5 whereas they were taught, that after his ascension they should offer all their prayers in his name.

Now this prayer, say 16 John xiv. 13. and chap. xvi. 23.

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