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and sympathy of worship require it to be so; and there is something always interesting and instructive in the spectacle of a Christian gentleman, with erect and decided aspect, testifying aloud the great articles of his belief, and the grounded convictions of a trusting heart.
As our liturgy is so framed as to call imperiously upon the people to give audible utterance to their part in the service, so does it call upon the minister to give time for the congregation: to finish what the rubric has appointed to be answered or repeated by them before he proceeds with the service. It is scarcely consistent with the decorum of good manners, much less with the dignity and efficacy of our forms of worship, so to tread upon the heels of those who are endeavouring to respond according to the rubric, as to force them to sacrifice a moiety of what they had to say, or hurry to the conclusion. There is an impatience in this proceeding, which does not surprise us in a clergyman who treats his function as a task to be dryly and technically performed; but it is a perfect solecism in the practice of a spiritual minister; it is a blemish in the beauty of holiness; a fraud upon the liturgy; a robbery of God, who has a right to every part of the service, whether it appertains to the minister or to the congregation: and if
the contumacious silence of a congregation is dangerous on their part, it is still more dangerous in the minister of God's word to throw any difficulty in the way of their return to their duty.
It is sometimes in defence of this sullen taciturnity affirmed, that to recite aloud any part of the service is an interruption to the devotion of others. Fastidious, unfounded objection! fallaciously set up in opposition to the spirit and intention of all social worship. No true Christian is ever disturbed by surrounding devotion; he loves to breathe the atmosphere of piety; nothing is more delightful to him than the sympathy of sacred sounds; the companionship of godly affections; the collective strength of prayer; the chorus of praise; the echoes of inward joy; the music of disburdened bosoms; the songs of secret deliverance; to feel himself part of a circumference of love gathered round a common centre; and to be placed where the magazines of private sorrow, comfort, joy, and hope, are all emptied into the common stock of the blessed company of all faithful people. Though not for ostentation, yet for profit and edification, Christians should let their light shine before others. Within the camp of Christ's soldiers there may be allowed to be some stir;
some notes of preparation; some noise of arms. The public worship of God was never meant to be cold, or mute, or sad, or dull; it should imitate rather the angels of the Apocalypse, falling before the throne on their faces, saying, (and surely with united voices and loud acclaim,) "Amen. Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God, for ever and ever."
POSTURES APPROPRIATE TO THE SEVERAL
THE postures prescribed by the rubric, the Christian gentleman will be scrupulous to maintain. He does not say, with the psalmist, "Oh come, let us worship, and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker; let us fall down low on our knees before his footstool," without honestly intending to give to God the homage of his obedience. And yet how many act as if by "Let us pray," were meant only, as far as regards themselves, "Let us all sit at our ease." Like sacks of meal in a row, each drops into his place, with a look of indifference to the business that should engage all the interest of his mind, and most actively stir his affections. No Christian gentleman, unless infirmity compel him, can maintain a sitting posture during the praying part of the church service. Can sinful man at such a moment sit unconcerned, or sit at all, in the courts of his palace, to whom sin is so hateful that he spared not to make his Son a sacrifice to his offended holiness for the sake of his guilty
creatures? Did Job abhor himself in dust and ashes in the presence of Him whom he had but little offended? Did Christ pray to his Father, with agony and bloody sweat? Do the angels fall down, and hide their faces before God, and tremble at his presence? And shall the son of pollution and the heir of vengeance sit at ease, and look carelessly about him, when the Church of his crucified Saviour is calling upon him to present himself as a suppliant sinner? Is it safe to sit in secular composure, neither hot nor cold, while God is expecting prayer, and proffering grace? Is it a time to sit in complacent security, while a double death and a single way of escape are before us? Can we be so insensible to the soul's jeopardy, and all the frightful possibilities of a dark futurity; can we be so untouched by the long-suffering of our compassionate Father, who still holds open the door to repentance, as to sit unmoved amidst all these challenges, vocations, and alarms, disdaining the attitude of subjection, and the homage of a humbled spirit?