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oratorical, or fine-familiar, tedious, or particulardidactic or sermonizing; and he has laboured to make them, as far as he could, simple, dignified, and devotional; suggesting as much as possible, without running into detail. He has also studied that they should assert, or rather imply, Christian doctrines in a catholic spirit, avoiding all sectarian vehemence, and controversial exaggeration. It has also appeared to him becoming that the prayers of the Church should express Christian doctrines, especially those doctrines which are termed mysteries, as much as possible in the language of Scripture: and that they should perpetually suggest the connexion of the duties and graces of the Christian character, with the great gospel verities; aiming at the production neither of a dead morality on one hand, nor of an equally dead and far more useless orthodoxy on the other; but seeking to combine Christian life with Christian motive and feeling-faith working by love.
Whether, or in what degree, those faults may have been avoided, or these virtues attained, in the following compositions, the author can only say that he has bestowed considerable labour in endeavouring to gain a just conception of what is demanded, and also to realize his conception. For these ends, he has taken some pains to make himself acquainted with the Liturgical Literature of the ancient Churches, both Latin and Greek, especially with the oriental Greek Liturgies, collected in the great
work of Renaudot (2 vols. 4to, Paris, 1847), as well as with the more important of the Presbyterian Liturgies, all of which were derived from that of Geneva. These studies have convinced him that while those venerable documents may suggest useful hints, and may help to guard us against some errors, our wisdom now consists not in seeking to revive, or even closely to copy any of them, either those which are more ancient, or those which originated at a comparatively late period; it being evident that both have faults, though of different and even opposite kinds, which would render them unsuitable and unacceptable to us; but in taking our devotional compositions more directly from the Scriptures themselves—especially the book of Psalms, which should be regarded as the standard liturgy and grand magazine of devotion for the Church of God, in all ages and countries. Under this impression, such portions of the Psalter as appeared suitable, have been extracted, and form the second part of this little Manual. Selections from the Psalms have, besides, been largely interspersed among the other prayers; an arrangement which gives to the service a peculiar richness and solemnity. These interjected quotations from the Psalms, being generally in the first person singular, furnish, to each individual, a kind of mental response, in the familiar and venerable language of Scripture, to those petitions which had just been uttered in the plural number, in name of the whole congregation.
The only deviation from the order generally practised in the Church of Scotland, which will be here remarked, is in beginning the service with calling upon the people to unite in the worship of God, instead of commencing with singing. This is done not only out of compliance with evident propriety, and with the practice of the Presbyterian Liturgies, but in obedience to the express Rule of the Directory for the Public Worship of God; a document which contains the present law of the Church on this subject, and indeed on the whole subject of public worship; and to which a recent General Assembly has “earnestly called the attention of all Presbyteries and ministers of this Church, trusting that its regulations will be duly observed.” ”
The numerous works of the same class with the present, which have within the last few years been published by ministers of Presbyterian and Independent Churches, are a pleasing sign that the prejudices which so long prevailed against composed prayers, are rapidly dying away, if they be not already extinct among all but the most ignorant; and that we are gradually returning to the wiser views and more edifying practices of the older Presbyterians in all countries; who, while averse
* Recommendation and Declaratory Act, General Assembly, 1856.
to the rigid ritualism of Episcopal Churches, and reasonably desirous not to exclude extemporaneous or free prayer, both used habitually the Liturgies which their great divines had composed, and transmitted them, as not the least precious fruits of the Reformation, to their children and successors.
It cannot but appear wonderful, that when sermons are composed with so much care and pains, we should leave our prayers altogether to the impulse of the moment; as if it were more needful that our speeches to our fellow-men should be well ordered, than our addresses to God. In every point of view, extempore preaching is far more natural and becoming than extempore prayer; because any want of order, simplicity, propriety, solemnity, and the like, which is so difficult to be altogether avoided in unpremeditated speech, is far less offensive in a discourse to our fellow-mortals, than in those solemn appeals which we present in their name and our own to the Father of our spirits.
It may be necessary to add in explanation, that the following Prayers are constructed so as to make the devotional part of the service more prominent in the forenoon, and to allow greater room for preaching in the afternoon : it being the general practice of the author to give a short exposition or lecture upon each of the chapters read in the Forenoon Service, instead of delivering a Sermon.
He takes the liberty of recommending this practice, especially to bis younger brethren-as one