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ers of the church must be read audibly, distinctly, and reverently.
1. Audibly, so that, if possible, all that are present may hear them, and join in them. There are some that mutter the prayers, as if they were to pray only to themselves, whereby they exclude most of the congregation from the benefit of them.
2. The prayers of the church ought to be read distinctly and leisurely; not to be galloped over, as the manner of some is, who read the prayers so fast, that they outrun the attention and devotion of the people, not giving them time to join with them, or to make their responses in their due places. This rule is to be observed in reading the prayers throughout, but especially in reading the Decalogue or Ten Commandments in the second service. There are some that read the Commandments so thick one upon another, that the people have not time to add that excellent prayer to each of them, Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
To this head, of distinct reading the prayers, I shall only add this one observation. Whereas upon Sundays and holydays the church hath appointed a first and second service to be read one after another, it is convenient that there be a decent interval betwixt them. For judge, I pray you, how absurd it may seem, to conclude the first service with St. Chrysostom's prayer, and The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and immediately, without any intermission, to enter upon the second service.
I verily believe, the first intention of the church was, that these two services should be read at two several times in the morning; but now custom and the rubric direct us to use them both at the same time. Yet in cathedral or mother churches, there is still a decent distinction between the two services: for before the priest goes to the altar to read the second service, there is a short but excellent anthem sung; in imitation whereof, in the churches of London, and in other greater churches of the country, instead of that anthem there is part of a psalm sung.
3. And lastly, the prayers of the church are to be read with great reverence and devotion, so as to excite and kindle devotion in the congregation. Thus the prayers of the church are to be read, if we would keep up the reputation of them, and render them useful to the people. But alas! there are too many ministers, who, by disorderly and indecent and irreverent reading of the liturgy, disgrace it, and expose it to contempt. To whom the church may complain, as one of old in the poet did of the ill rehearsal of his oration:
Quem recitas mens est, O Fidentine, libellus;
The book of prayers which ye read is indeed mine: but at the sad rate you read it, I am ashamed of it; it is none of mine, but yours.
I am verily persuaded, that this is one cause, that there are so many sectaries and separatists among us. They find so little reverence and devotion in the use of our common prayers, that they cannot away with them, but run from the church to the conventicle, where they hope to find more devotion.
II. Another part of the pastoral office is preaching, i. e. (as we commonly use the word,) taking a text or portion of scripture, explaining it, raising some useful point of doctrine from it, and applying it to the edification of the hearers. For otherwise the bare reading of the scriptures is sometimes called preaching; as Acts xv. 21. For Moses (that is, the writings of Moses) of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. But here 1 take the word preaching in the forementioned sense, as now it is used. This is a noble part of the pastor's duty, but difficult; it is not a work that every one should undertake, or can perform: for it requires the knowledge and understanding of the holy scriptures, and, in order thereunto, some skill in the learned languages, and other parts of human learning; it requires a good judgment and discretion, I add elocution too. The time will not give me leave (if I were able) to set before you all the rules or precepts of the art of preaching, and to give you an entire system of it. There are many learned men, who have written full treatises of this subject; I mention only our excellent bishop Wilkins, who hath published a treatise, entitled, Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher, which I recommend to the reading of younger divines, and first beginners in the art of preaching: to whom also I give this farther advice, that they should not at first trust to their own compositions, but furnish themselves with store of the best sermons that have been published by the learned divines of our church. These they should read often, and study to imitate them, and in time they will attain to a habit of good preaching themselves. Among the printed sermons, those of the late archbishop Tillotson are well known and approved by all.
But what shall be done in those poor parishes, where there are as poor ministers, altogether incapable of performing this duty of preaching in any tolerable manner? I answer, that in such places, ministers, instead of sermons of their own, should use the Homilies of the church, which ought to be in every parish. And they would do well also, now and then to read a chapter or section out of the Whole Duty of Man, which, I presume, is translated into the Welsh tongue. I add, that it would be a piece of charity, if the clergy of the neighbourhood to such places, who are better qualified, would sometimes visit those dark corners, and lend some of their light to them, by bestowing now and then a sermon on the poor people, suited to their capacities and necessities. They have my leave, yea and authority so to do; and they may be sure the good God will not fail to reward them.
III. The third work of the pastor's office is catechising, without which preaching will not be sufficient. For if people be not well instructed in the necessary principles of religion when they are young, they will hardly attain to any sound knowledge when they are old. .For according to the Greek apophthegm,
Nsxeov larpsusiv, xai ysgovru Vousstsiv, Tuvtov Iotj,
To instruct an ignorant old man, and to raise a dead man, are things almost equally difficult. I shall not insist upon this subject; for the usefulness and necessity of catechising is acknowledged by all, though the work itself is by many of the clergy sadly neglected. Where such neglect is, it is the duty of the churchwardens to present. I shall make it my business to see this fault amended.
IV. Another, and a main part of the priest's office, is the administration of the holy sacraments, baptism and the Lord's supper.
First, for baptism; the church strictly requires, that it be performed publicly, in the house of God, not in private houses, except in case of real necessity; as when a child is weak, and cannot without endangering itself be brought to church. But notwithstanding this strict order of our church, in most places in this country, baptism is altogether administered in private houses, and scarce any (if any) baptized in the church. If this may be allowed, away with the fonts in your churches, what do they signify? To what purpose are they there? If all the authority I am invested with can do it, I will see this lamentable abuse of the sacrament of baptism reformed.
But farther observe, that as our church strictly requires that baptism be administered in public, so it advises that it be performed (if conveniently it may be) on the Lord's day, in a full congregation of Christian people. Hear the words of the rubric.
"The people are to be admonished that it is most con"venient that baptism should not be administered but "upon Sundays and other holydays, when the most num"ber of people come together; as well for that the congre"gation there present may testify the receiving of them "that be newly baptized into the number of Christ's "church, as also because in the baptism of infants every "man present may be put in remembrance of his own "profession made to God in baptism."
I take leave to add, that it is most for the interest of the infant to be so baptized, that it may have the benefit of the united prayers of a full Christian congregation, which is much to be valued. Methinks there should be no need of urging this to parents, that have any real love or affection to their children. This would incline them to desire that themselves, which the church desires of them. Remember, I beseech you, that your children are to be but once baptized: and what is but once done ought to be well done, in the best and most perfect manner.
To come to the other sacrament, the eucharist, or holy supper: this is the most sacred and mysterious rite, the apex, the top, and perfection of Christian worship, as the ancients term it; and therefore it ought to be performed with the greatest reverence and solemnity in every punctilio of it, according to the direction of our church in her rubric to the Communion Office. But this you are especially to take care of, that you administer not the holy sacrament to persons known to be vicious and scandalous. Hear the rubric of the church to this purpose, viz.
"So many as intend to be partakers of the holy com"munion shall signify their names to the curate at least
"some time the day before. And if any of those be an
"open and notorious evil liver, or have done any wrong "to his neighbours, by word or deed, so that the congre** gation be thereby offended; the curate having know"ledge thereof, shall call him, and advertise him, that in "anywise he presume not to come to the Lord's table, "until he hath openly declared himself to have truly re"pented and amended his former naughty life, that the "congregation may thereby be satisfied, which before were "offended; and that he hath recompensed the parties to "whom he hath done wrong, or at least to declare him"self to be in full purpose so to do, as soon as he con"veniently may."
I am not ignorant that there are some who plead for a free admission to the Lord's table, of all that are members of the visible church, and not yet excommunicated; and exclaim against the exclusion of men from the holy communion, as a device, and usurpation of the presbyterians and other sectaries. But these men are grossly mistaken, for you see it is the express order of our church. I add, that the same order was observed in the primitive and apostolical churches. For Justin Martyr, who flourished within forty years after the apostolic age, (i. e. after the death of St. John the apostle,) in his second Apology tells us, that in his time none were admitted to the holy eucharist but those who lived according to the law of Christ. It is a received distinction among divines, that there is a twofold excommunication, excommunicatio major et minor, the greater and the lesser excommunication. The greater excommunication is an exclusion of a man from the communion of the church, and the public ordinances universally. The lesser excommunication is indeed in order to prevent the greater, and to bring men under the discipline and correction of the church, for the amendment of their lives, that so at length they may be fit to be admitted to the holy communion.
So our church informs us in her rubric to the Communion Office, where the minister repelling any from the communion, is required "to give an account thereof to "the ordinary within fourteen days after at the farthest; "and the ordinary shall proceed against the offending per"son, according to the canon." So much for the administration of the holy sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper.
V. I come to the fifth and last part of the pastoral office, viz. visiting the sick. For this we have an express command in the holy scriptures, Is any sick among you, let him call for the elders of the church b, i. e. the presbyters of the church; as supposing they may not otherwise have notice of his sickness. Sick men too commonly neglect this duty, oftentimes out of fear, proceeding from an evil conscience. They look upon the minister's coming to their sick bed as a kind of a messenger of death, for which they are not so well prepared. But if the sick man does not
b James v. 14. . - ."