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HE Obligations that lie upon Chrißians of every. Denomination, and in every Country, to the Practice of PUBLIC RELIGIOUS WORSHIP, are many and great. It's fingular Ufe in preferving a Senfe of Religion in the Minds of Mankind, to spread it through the World, and tranfmit the fame to Pofterity, together with it's being virtually appointed by GoD himself, as well as conftantly obferved by our bleffed SAVIOR, and his Apoftles, render it a Matter of the higheft Importance to be duly attended upon, by all who have any Regard for the Honor of GOD, the Intereft of Chriftianity, or the Peace and good Order of Society. On these Accounts alfo it is a moft defireable Thing, to have the Same, through all it's Parts, conducted in fuch a Manner, as may be moft likely to promote the good Ends, for which it is inftituted, viz., The Edification, Improvement, and Understanding of all that join in it; according to the Apoftle's own Direction, Let all Things be done to edifying. (1 Cor. xiv. 26.)
THE principal Part of RELIGIOUS WORSHIP Confifts of PRAYER, in the most large and comprehenfive Senfe, in which the Word is frequently used in Scripture, and in our common Way of Speaking, (perhaps always, when applied to Public Worship,) fo as to fignify every Addrefs or Application to the SUPREME BEING, whether by Way of Invocation, or of Adoration, Praife, and Thanksgiving, Confeffion of Sins, with Implorations for Pardon and Acceptance, Profeffions of Repentance, Vows of Amendment, Petitions for Bieffings on ourselves, Supplications and Interceffions for one another, and for all Mankind, together with afcribing. A 2
Glory and Honor to GOD, commonly called Doxologies: And all this is to be done in the Name and through the Mediation of JESUS CHRIST. (John xiv. 14. xv. 16. xvi. 24-26. -Ephef. ii. 18. v. 19, 20.—Coloss. iii. 16, 17.—Heb. xiii. 15.—1 Pet. ii. 5.)
THE chief End and Defign of PRAYER being to cherish and ftrengthen all pious and good Affections in our own Hearts and the Hearts of others, to promote Reverence towards GOD, an habitual Senfe of His Divine Prefence, with our entire Dependence upon Him, and alfo to excite in us the feveral Graces and Virtues of the Chriftian Character, particularly Charity and Benevolence towards our FellowCreatures, and by the faithful Exercise thereof to procure the Favor and Acceptance of the SUPREME CREATOR; the Author of the following LITURGY or Plan for Chriftian Worship humbly fubmits it to the candid and judicial Confideration of all ferious and religiously disposed Chriftians, of every Rank and Denomination, to approve or difapprove, to alter or amend the fame, as fhall be thought expedient; not intending (nor even wifhing) it to be impofed upon any Church or Society, as the only System of Public Prayer for conftant Practice. But as He is of Opinion, that Forms of Prayer, judiciously drawn up, are of very great Ufe in private Families, and from Experience is convinced of the abfolute Neceffity of them in Churches, or public Affemblies of Worshippers; fo He prefumes the following Performance may be found of fome Service towards reviving, encreafing or ftrengthening real Christianity amongst us, as his main View, throughout the Whole, has been to imprefs the amiable Difpofitions required by the Gospel in every fincere Believer, and to enforce a fuitable Practice: And if herein his Aim be not answered, it is hoped that others, of better Judgment and fuperior Abilities, may hereby be excited to purfue and complete so useful a Defign. At leaft, the Author trufts that the Integrity of his own Intentions, in this Attempt, will fufficiently fereen him from Slander and Obloquy, if not gain him the Approbation of all Men of true Piety and Chriftian Candor. Nothing furely can justly be objected against a Design soharmless, fo benevolent, and fo likely to be ferviceable to the Intereft of that Religion, in which He profelles to live,
and dares to die; as through the Whole of it, He has carefully avoided every Expreffion that might give Offence, by occafioning Difputes among Sects or Parties, and hath endeavored to compofe it in fuch a Manner, as to fuit every Denomination of Chriftians, who own the SCRIPTURES for their only Rule of Faith and Practice.
THERE are indeed two very numerous Bodies of profeffing Chriftians, fome of whom He is apprehenfive will be alarmed, if not difpleafed, at this or any other Attempt made by a private Perfon to reform Public Worship; viz. Many, who by long Ufe of the LITURGY by Law eftablifhed in England and Ireland, have contracted a Sort of Veneration for every Part of it's Forms, and think it vain, if not impoffible, to amend the fame: Another Set on the contrary, who by being fo entirely unaccustomed to any Forms at all in Public Worfhip, as thofe of the Established Church of Scotland, and the Diffenters in England, are apt to think them altogether needlefs and inexpedient, yea fome perhaps think the Ufe of them finful, at leaft contrary to God's own Direction and Promife of Affiftance in this Duty. But each of these Parties will, by all candid and unprejudiced Judges, be found to be mistaken; as Extremes on both Sides are equally culpable, arifing from unreasonable Prejudices, which ought never to be indulged in the momentous Affairs of Religion: And to fuch as are thus obftinately bent against all Reformation or Alteration whatsoever, "whofe "Minds are lefs enlarged, whofe Views are more con"tracted, and whofe Ruft and Canker is not yet worn "off," He cannot forbear applying the Words of a very fenfible Writer, fpeaking of thofe who were against any Review of the Liturgy, that "native Prejudice fways them, "inherent Bigotry urges them on, Zeal without Know"ledge mifleads them, or Superftition blinds them."-For certain it is, that Religious Worship may be performed acceptably, and to Edification, either with or without a FORM: Both Ways have their peculiar Advantages as well as Dif advantages: But it is too great Prefumption in any Side to. fay, that their prefent Manner of conducting Public Worship. is completely perfect, or entirely Scriptural, or that it will
Appeal to Reafon and Candor, Part 1. No, xxi, P. 127.
not admit of fome Reformation or Improvement: Therefore every candid and Chriftian Attempt for this Purpose justly merits fome favorable Regard. And perhaps the Plan here offered unites the Advantages of Each, without the material Inconveniences of Either.
It is prefumed here, that it would be more expedient, for the Generality of Worshipping Societies of Chriftians, to make Ufe of a good FORM, wherein the PEOPLE may bear a confiderable Part with their Voices, as the most likely Way to keep their Hearts clofely engaged in the Devotion they offer, and that their Addreffes to GOD may be (as they are required to be, Rom. xii. 1.) a reasonable Service, perfectly pleafing and intelligible to all the Addreffers; which in Places and Occafions, where no FORM at all is used, or known beforehand by the PEOPLE, 'tis often to be lamented they are not. For very frequently it happens, and of teneft in the largest Assemblies for Worship, that for want of diftinely bearing, or rightly understanding, the Expreffions of the MINISTER, and fometimes alfo perhaps not approving the Sentences when heard, the humble pious Chriftian is puzzled, pained or difgufted in the midft of Prayer; and when once Uneafinefs or Disgust begins, Devotion ends. Is not this, in fome Refpect, like offering the blind, the lame, and the fick for Sacrifice, which the Prophet Malachi exclaims againft, Chap. 1. v. 8. Offer it now unto thy Governor, will he be pleafed with thee, or accept thy Perfon? faith the Lord of Hofts.Befides, If we were to addrefs any Human King or Governor in a Body, we fhould undoubtedly think it neceffary to know, or prepare beforehand, what is to be offered for the Whole by any One, who is to be the Speaker: And is it a Matter of lefs Confideration, to address the KING OF KINGS, in the moft important of all Concerns, on which our eternal Happiness fo much depends?
ALTHOUGH it is believed there are many ferious "well-meaning Chriftians, who from the too rigorous Im"pofition of a Liturgy, liable to Exception in feveral In
tances, have conceived a Diflike to all ftated Forms of "Devotion in general: Yet the Author cannot help ob"ferving, that the old Puritans (as they were formerly called) or Protefiant Nonconformists in thefe Kingdoms,
"not only allowed the Lawfulness of praying by a Form, but even the greater Expediency of it in fome Cafes. "Nor do the Bulk of the Proteftant Diffenting Laity at this "Day found their ftated Diffent from the Worship of the " established Church, merely upon the Use of a Liturgy; "but their main Objection is, that there are feveral Paf "fages in the Liturgy of the Church which they think un"fcriptural, and therefore cannot join in; yet the Ufe of "it is fo rigorously impofed, that there is no Liberty to "add, alter, or omit any Thing in it," whatever particular Circumstances arife to make fuch an Alteration neceffary, ufeful, or edifying to a particular Congregation. "And "it is well known, that the main Body of the Diffenters in "England at the Reftoration of King Charles II. in 1660, "would, for the Sake of Peace, have complied with the Ufe "of the present Liturgy, had it not been fo rigidly enjoin❝ed, that not the leaft Word or Sentence was left to the "Difcretion of the Minifter or People; an Honor too "great for any Work compofed by fallible Men, and "which cannot but occafion great Difficulty and Uncafii nefs to honeft ingenuous Minds, that are tied down to fuch an invariable Ufe of it, many of whom may well "be fuppofed to differ in their Judgment from what is the plain and obvious Meaning of feveral Expreffions which ❝ occur in it."
"SOME, otherwife very great and good Men, have "ftrangely departed from the Simplicity of the Gofpel"Worship in feveral Refpects, but particularly in this, "that they have introduced into their Prayers and public
Liturgies, the doubtful and difputable Opinions of private "Perfons and Parties, or have fometimes expreffed them"felves in a Manner quite unintelligible. Whereas nothing fhould be introduced into Public Prayers, but what "every Chriftian may with a little Attention cafily underftand, and can without the leaft Scruple or Hefitation join in. If this Rule were observed as it ought to be, "Chriftians would never find any Difficulty in joining "with one another in religious Worship, notwithstanding any different Opinions that might be amongst them; for "nothing would be in their Prayers, but what all Chriftians "well agree in." And in compofing the following Li