« PreviousContinue »
forcibly do they excite our warmest Gratitude, and most devout Adoration With a View to illustrate these Points, and to lead Men to a serious and profitable Attention to our Church-Service, I have drawn up the following short Commentary on that Part of it, which is commonly used on Sundays : in which I have avoided all useless Criticisms and Speculations, that tend rather to amuse, than instruct; neither have I so much regarded Elegance of Language, Correctness of Stile, or Regularity of Method, as Clearness and Perspicuity, and the Promotion of useful Knowledge, and practical Improvement. To answer this purpose the more effectually, I shall now address myself to the several Bodies of Men, for whose Use this Work is intended : first, to the Members of the established Church ; secondly, to the orthodox Dissenters ; and lastly, to the People called Methodists.
As for you, my Brethren, who are not only Protestants, but Members of the purest and best constituted Church in Christendom, let me entreat you often and serioully to reflect on the great Privileges and Happiness you enjoy. Look on one Side
upon the thick Darkness that overspreads å
take a View, on the other Hand, of the enthusiastic Notions that abound among the Sectaries of various Denominations, and of the vague, unseemly Mode of Worship they pursue. Enter the Meetings of those Men, who pretend to an extraordinary inward Light, and Sanctity of Manners, as well as Purity of Worship; observe their fantastic Gestures, distorted Countenances, and ridiculous Groanings; and hear the unintelligible Jargon of their Harangues. I charitably hope they mean well; but surely they act most absurdly. With the two Sacraments, they seem to have laid aside their Reason and Understanding '. -Attend the Assemblies of our other Dissenters; and though you may often hear much found Doctrine, and use, ful Instruction, yet you cannot but disapprove their Manner of extemporary Praying ; in which the Minister alone speaks, while the Congregation is kept in a wearisome Atten
a I hope these Strictures will not be thought too severe upon the Quakers; who, in other Refpe&s, shew much good • Sense and Sagacity, and are in general eminent for their So
þriety, and for their quiet, peaceable Disposition. That such sensible Men should run into fo exceffive a Degree of Folly and Stupidity in their public Worship, is really afonishing.
tion, and anxious Sufpence, not knowing what they are next to join in. Go into some of these Places, and you will be entertained with the Refinements of Deism, or shocked with downright Heresy. In others you will hear strange incoherent Discourses, full of Zeal without Knowledge ; calculated rather to raise the Passions, than to reform the Heart; and tending more to confound, than instruct, the ignorant and bigotted Hearers. And, what is very amazing, you will hear in none of these Meetings any Portions of the Scriptures read (as is constantly practised among us) by Men who profess themselves most strongly attached to them, Compare now these various Modes of Worship with that established in our Church; and
cannot surely help seeing, and gratefully acknowledging, the
great Advantages you enjoy in being Members of it.-But, my dear Friends, what will all these avail us, unless we make the proper
Use of them? TO WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN, OF THEM WILL BE MUCH REQUIREÐ. This divine Rule of Equity will hold universally, and can in no Case be more justly applied than to Us, whom Providence
has distinguished with such peculiar Blessings, and Privileges. If the Light of the glorious Gospel of Christ shines so brightly amongst us, how studious ihould we be to walk as Children of Light? to shew the Ora thodoxy of our Faith by the Purity of our Manners ? If we have every Help and Incitement to a rational Piety and Devotion that can be wished or desired, how great
is our Obligation to be truly and cordially pious and devout? If our Service is in
Respect so edifying, so clear, and excellent, how inexcusable are we, if we do not attentively and fervently join in it? if we do not pray with the Spirit, and pray with the Understanding also? In this we should take Pattern from the Sectaries, who in general thew a far greater Regard and Attention to their public Worship, than we do to our's. It has, I know, been objected, that the frequent Repetition of the same Service cafts a Damp upon
upon the Mind, and takes off that Vigour and Earnestness of Devotion, which attends new and extemporary Praying. But I am certain 'that a fincere Heart, a steady Faith, and an honest Defire and Endeavour