« PreviousContinue »
TO THEM THAT SHALL USE THESE PRAYERS.
BECAUSE no Prayers are the more pleasing to God for being long, and they are oftentimes displeasing even to good men if they be very long; and yet, on the other side, if the devotion be long it is the better;— and if that be lasting, it ought to be supplied with materials, like gums to the altar of incense, and fuel for the holy fires: he that collected these devotions did design to serve the advantages both of length and shortness, that the most devout may be fitted, and the most secular and employed may not be wearied.
1. Therefore, although every thing is set down at length, that the trouble of references and turnings back might be avoided, and, therefore, seem longer than they are; and the hymns are sometimes double, that the variety might be more apt to please and to instruct,
* The reason for omitting the Preface to the "Collection of Offices," has been stated at page 312 of Vol. VII.
and the offices are made full, that upon the more solemn days, when people come with a greater and more active devotion and greater leisure, their time and their piety might be employed; yet, on other days, there is but one lesson appointed, and one hymn to follow it.
2. The prayers are divided into smaller portions, that with ease any of them may be omitted by persons, whose occasions force them from their attendance on longer offices; besides that there are two forms of Morning and Evening Prayer, the one shorter, the other longer.
3. In the beginning of Morning and Evening Prayer, some of the devotions which are set down, are desired and intended to be used but seldom; not only to avoid tediousness, but for other reasons very obvious, that the minister's more solemn power and office might not be less regarded, by being daily (and consequently very often without just dispositions) offered: I mean it concerning the form of Absolution. The Confession may be shortened as there is cause, by making use only of some of the sections, and leaving out the other.
4. If, upon communion days, the Morning Prayer and the Communion Office be not read at one time, but the Morning Prayer be read at seven or eight o'clock in the morning; and the Communion Office at the time
of celebration; or if it be convenient that they be both together, if then the sermon be in the afternoon, the length will be very tolerable.
5. These Prayers being intended only as a charitable ministry to them, who are not permitted to use those which were appointed formerly, there is no necessity upon any one, and he may use as much or as little as he please; and therefore no man will have cause to complain of length or shortness.
For the Offices themselves, I pray God bless them to all those ends whither they are designed, and to which in their own nature they can minister. And as I humbly recommend them to God's blessing, so I do submit them to the judgment of my afflicted mother the Church of England, and particularly to the censure of my spiritual superiors: and I desire that these prayers may no longer be used in any public place, than my lords the bishops, upon prudent inquiries and grave considerations, shall perceive them apt to minister to God's glory, and useful to the present or future necessities of the sons and daughters of the Church of England.
THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.
Say one or more of these Sentences.
HE that covereth his sins, shall not prosper: but he that confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Prov. xxviii. 13.
To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him. Neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God to walk in his laws, which he hath set before us by his servants the prophets. Dan. ix. 10.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John, i. 8, 9.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
Psal. li. 17. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart, and a new spirit. For why will ye die? I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God. Wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye. Ezek. xviii. 31, 32.
After which say,
Draw nigh, therefore, unto God, and he will draw nigh unto you. Cleanse your hands, and purify your hearts. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and make a confession of your sins unto him, with a hearty sorrow and an humble hope, begging for pardon at the throne of grace.
Let us pray.
O ALMIGHTY God, great Lord of heaven and earth, we miserable sinners, with fear and shame, cast ourselves down