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Southern District of New-York, ss.
BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the twenty-sixth day of September. 1846, STANFORD AND SWORDS, of the said District, hath deposited at this Office the title of a book. the title of which is in the words following, to wit:
"The Family Prayer Book, or the Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, accompanied by a General Commentary, historical, explanatory, doctrinal, and practical: compiled from the most approved Liturgical works, with alterations and additions, and accommodated to the Liturgy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Stereotype Edition Revised. By Thomas Church Brownell, D.D. L L. D., Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of Connecticut. Μία δέησις εἰς νῆς ἔσω. St. Ignatius.
The right whereof he claims as Proprietor. In conformity with an Act of Congress, entitled "An Act to amend the several Acts respecting copy-rights." CHARLES D. BETTS,
Clerk of the Southern District of New York.
I do hereby certify that the edition of the Common Prayer Book, the Articles and Offices, to which this Commentary is attached, having been compared and corrected by the Standard Book, by a Presbyter appointed for the purpose, according to the Canon, is permitted to be published accordingly.
BENJAMIN T. ONDERDONK,
New York, June 26, 1841.
Bishop of the Diocese of New York.
P R E F A СЕ.
THE considerations which have led to the publication of the following work, were stated at large in the Prospectus of the Editor. Some of the leading ones may properly be recapitulated in this place. It is well known that the Scholars and Divines of the Church of England have expended much labour in the elucidation of her Book of Common Prayer. The history of its several Offices has been investigated, and their import fully explained ; the system of doctrines it inculcates has been successfully defended and established; and the whole has been commended to the judgment, and enforced upon the conscience and the heart, by the most earnest practical appeals. But the works of these writers on the Liturgy are diffused through a great number of volumes. Some of them have become, in a measure, obsolete in their style, and some of the most valuable of them are hardly to be obtained, even in England; while no complete work on the Liturgy has yet been issued from any American Press. The result is, that those among us who wish to profit by such works, can only gratify their inclinations at great expense, and with much difficulty; while a very large portion of the members of our Church remain but imperfectly instructed in the full import of those services which constitute the formulary of her worship, and the ritual for the administration of her sacraments.
A judicious compilation from the works of the best English writers on the Liturgy; so comprehensive as to contain all that is most interesting and useful, and yet at so moderate a price that it may be brought into general use, seems greatly to be needed by our Church; and it has been the object and endeavour of the Editor to supply this desideratum.
In the prosecution of his work, he has thought it expedient to present the Commentary on the Morning and Evening Prayers of the Church, mostly in his own language, and somewhat at large; condensing what has been said by many writers into single articles, attached to each particular part of the service. As this portion of the work will probably be most frequently read in a devotional way, such an arrangement was thought convenient, to preserve the connexion, and to prevent those interruptions which must otherwise occur in passing from the observations of one writer to those of another. But in most other
parts of the work, the Comments selected from various authors have been inserted in their own words, with the name of the author subjoined to his remarks. And on all controverted doctrines, those writers have been resorted to, who have been most distinguished for their judgment, learning, and piety, and whose opinions have received the most unanimous sanction of the Church. The remarks for which the Editor may feel himself responsible, either as their author, or as having collected them from various sources with alterations, will be designated by having the initials of his name annexed to them. Great use has been made of the excellent Compilation of Dr. Mant, the present Bishop of Killaloe, which was printed at the Oxford press in the year 1820. Where the notes have been taken from this work, the names of the authors will be found printed in Italics.
It has been a leading object, in the following work, to notice all the principal alterations of the English Liturgy, which have been made by the compilers of our American Book; and to state, as far as practicable, the considerations on which they were founded. In this part of his labour, the Editor has been kindly assisted by the correspondence of the venerable Presiding Bishop, as well as by the valuable information contained in his "Memoirs of the Church."
In the use of the English Commentators, omissions, alterations, and additions have been made, for the purpose of accommodating their remarks to the state of the American branch of the Church; and on some subjects, illustrations have been sought in the writings of the American Bishops, and other Clergy.
The several parts of the Liturgy have afforded a wide range for comments and reflections. The history of each particular part, the ideas intended to be conveyed or excited, and the doctrines of faith and practice inculcated or recognised, have severally occupied the attention of the Compiler. But it has been his main design to give to the whole work a practical character, for the purpose of recommending it to the use of Families, and making it a help to their domestic devotions. He is persuaded that many who habitually use the Book of Common Prayer, have a very imperfect apprehension of the full import of its several Offices and catch but a faint inspiration from that spirit of piety which animates them.
If, by collecting together the lights which have been shed upon the Liturgy, he can afford a guide to its clearer comprehension, and a more pious use of it, his labours will not have been in vain.
New-Haven, January, 1823.
I. OF THE ADVANTAGES OF FORMS OF PRAYER FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP.
THE Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, following ancient, primitive, and, until within these few centuries, universal usage, has prescribed a FORM OF PRAYER, OF LITURGY, for public worship. This form she has received, and with few and unessential alterations adopted, from the Church of England, "to whom she is indebted under God, for her first foundation, and for a long continuance of nursing care and protection." (1.)
She conceives that forms of prayer are justified by many particular and important advantages, as well as by Scripture, and ancient and primitive usage.
Forms of prayer possess many important advantages. When public worship is conducted according to a prescribed form, the people are previously acquainted with the prayers in which they are to join, and are thus enabled to render unto God a reasonable and enlightened service. In forms of prayer, that dignity and propriety of language, so necessary in supplications addressed to the infinite Majesty of Heaven, may be preserved. They prevent the particular opinions and dispositions of the minister from influencing the devotions of the congregation. They serve as a standard of faith and practice, impressing on both minister and people, at every performance of public worship, the important doctrines and duties of the Gospel. And they render the service more animating, by uniting the people with the minister in the performance of public worship.
prescribed form of worsl.ip is not subject to the same inconveniences with extemporary effusions. If there should be nothing absurd and unbecoming in them, yet the audience must first endeavour to understand the words; and then they must weigh and consider the sense and meaning; and then they must deliberate whether such requests are proper for persons in their condition, before they can lawfully join in them; and by that time the minister is passed on to some other subject, which requires the like attention and consideration; and so their curiosity may be raised, and they may exercise their judgment, but there can scarce be any room left for devotion."
"A precomposed form of prayer-is so far from obstructing or quenching our devotion, as is pretended, that it assists and inflames it; the matter and the words are both prepared to our hands; we know before what is to follow, that we may lawfully join in it; and no other attention is required but to raise our affections. And let me ask, is not the spirit of the congregation equally stinted, whether the minister pray in an extemporary or in a composed regular form? And which is the more fit and proper for the people to receive, a form of prayer from the wisdom and authority of the whole Church, or to depend upon the discretion of every single minister ?"
"But a precomposed form of prayer is not only liable to no just objection; but hath besides several advantages to recommend it. It is more for the honor of Almighty God, expresses more reverence and devotion, pre serves greater propriety and decency of language.—It is likewise more for the edifica
Dissertations on the prophecies. See his sermon on forms of prayer in the 3d vol. of his works.
tion of men as well as for the honor of God. For who can question, which is likely to be most instructive and edifying, hasty conceptions, or studied compositions; the productions of an individual, or the wisdom of the Church, prepared and digested into form and order? It is better not only for the people, but for the Ministers too; for as it prevents any vain ostentation of their talents in the more learned, so it supplies the more ignorant with what, perhaps, they could ill compose of themselves. Moreover it better establishes and secures the unity of faith and worship; hinders the heterodox from infusing their particular notions in their prayers, which is, perhaps, the most artful and plausible way of infusing them; reduces all the Churches to an uniformity, prevents any disagreement or contradiction in their petitions, and instructs them, as they worship the same God, to worship him with the same mind and voice." The use of precomposed forms of prayer for public worship is also justified by Scripture and the practice of the primitive Church. The public service of the Jews. was conducted according to prescribed forms. The Levites who were appointed by David (3.) " to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and also at even," must have performed this duty according to some set form, in which they could all join. The book of Psalms was indited by the Holy Ghost, with the view of supplying forms of prayer and praise for the joint use of the congregation. (4.) Our Saviour, by joining in communion with the Jewish Church, and particularly by giving to his disciples the form of prayer called the Lord's Prayer, testified, in the strongest manner, his approbation of set forms. The Apostles and disciples no doubt joined, until our Lord's ascension, in the Jewish worship, which was conducted according to a prescribed form. In the writings of the earliest Fathers, we find the expressions, common prayers, constituted prayers; from which it is evident that the primitive Christians had forms of prayers.
(3.) 1 Chron. 23-30.
(4.) See Prideaux's Conn. B. 6. Part 1. Sec. 2.
The pious Author of the Ecclesiastical polity, termed by way of eminence "The learned and judicious" HOOKER, thus delivers his judgment concerning forms of prayer: (5.) "No doubt from God it hath proceeded, and by us it must be acknowledged, as a work of singular care and providence, that the Church hath evermore held a prescript form of prayer; although not in all things every where the same, yet for the most part retaining still the same analogy. So that if the Liturgies of all ancient Churches throughout the world be compared among themselves, it may be easily perceived they had all one original mould, and that the public prayer of the people of God in Churches throughly settled, did never use to be voluntary dictates proceeding from any men's extemporal wit. To him who considers the grievous and scandalous inconveniences whereunto they make themselves daily subject, with whom any blind and secret corner is judged a fit house of common prayer; the manifold confusion which they fall into, where every man's private spirit and gift, as they term it, is the only Bishop that or daineth him to this ministry; the irksome deformities by which, through endless and senseless effusions of indigested prayers, they, who are subject to no certain order, but pray both what and how they list, oftentimes disgrace, in most insufferable manner, the worthiest part of Christian duty towards God; to him, I say, who weigheth duly all these things, the reasons cannot be obscure; why God doth in public prayer so much respect the solemnity of places where, the authority and calling of persons by whom, and the precise appointment even with what words and sentences, his name should be called on amongst his people." Bp. Hobart's Companion for the Book of Common Prayer.
It has been objected to forms of prayer, that they are "a hindrance to a zealous praying by the Spirit." To this objection the following reply of the learned and pious
(5.) See his Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V. Section 25.