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ciples. There were few among them who were not composers of prayers, with which they themselves prayed first, and which, after having thus proved them, they made over to the service of the Church. Our whole liturgy is, in fact, a collection of such spiritual weapons, sorted and arranged for public use. Who are we, then, that we should pretend to dispense with that which the holy Church has thus carefully provided for us? Who are we, that we should think of despising what the holiest and best of men have used themselves, and recommended and made over to us? What, indeed, is the whole of our religious system, as drawn from the Bible, and in operation in the Church, but this?- -8 system of ordinances for producing spiritual effects-forms pregnant with blessings-material steps for ascending the heights of holiness, simple means, in short, which may not be rested in, still less be dispensed with, but which must be used, faithfully used, and which, when thus used, are the channels of grace to the soul. Such is "the foolishness of preaching;" such are the simple waters of baptism; such is the Lord's supper; such is the laying on of hands; such is the gathering together of the Church for united prayer,-all these have one and the same characteristic-most simple, and yet most pow
erful; mean in themselves, precious only in the treasures of grace connected with them, the halo of glory which shines around them. It is in analogy with these, as a simple means to a most important end, that the pious Christian uses a form of prayer in private, which is to him individually what the liturgy is to the Church collectively a helper of his faith, a quickener of his devotion, an inspirer of good thoughts, a suggester of suitable petitions; by it and through it he rises to communion with God: he might perhaps do without it, but he is safer with it: piety may for a moment slumber over it, but it is too sure ere long to evaporate without it. The fact is, that in this, as in all the rest, our wants have been consulted, our weakness provided for, by Him who knows much better than we do what we want, and how weak we are. We want outward forms to lay hold of and attract the outward man, that so by them an entrance may be obtained into the inward man, and, through the senses, a lodging may be effected in the heart. We are not all flesh, therefore we want more than the mere form; we are not all spirit, therefore we cannot yet do without the form: we are a mixture of flesh and spirit, under a course of divine renewal; and in this state, so far from being able to dispense with the appliances which
are afforded us, we need them all, we need them to begin, to continue, to strengthen good holy feelings within us. Without the form, the spirit of prayer never could begin, nor, when begun, be duly carried on. Let those, therefore, who condemn forms of prayer, be counselled to beware lest, while they claim for themselves more spirituality than the rest of their brethren, they be haply found fighting against God, disobeying the Church, mistaking the mind of the Spirit, and ignorant of their real condition and necessities. And let the humble Christian go on using his forms of prayer without fear, and he will soon find the benefit of them: he will find that, so far from deadening his spirit, they rouse and quicken it; so far from cramping and fettering the mind, they enlarge and expand it; so that, in fact, the best way to pray well without a form is to begin by praying with one: and as an expert musician will first play the written tune over and over, and then, when filled with the harmony of it, will break out into beautiful variations and expansions of the original air, as the spirit of music within him gives them utterance, so will the devout Christian first use the written forms of prayer, and then, when his heart is filled with holy and heavenly affections, he will give vent to spontaneous expres
sions of love, and joy, and attachment to his God, -expressions, in one sense, his own, but for which he is originally indebted to the humble instrument which first aroused such feeling within him.
With respect to the authors of these prayers, it would have been a pleasing task to have given a short account of the lives, and labours, and sufferings of each of them, especially as there are some whose names are almost new to us-to have made suitable mention of Spinckes, of whom I find it recorded, that "he had no wealth, few enemies, many friends;" of Kettlewell, who "was learned without pride, devout without affectation, heartily zealous for the interest of religion without faction ;" and of that most holy man, Bishop Andrews, of whose book of devotions we are told, that "it was found after his death worn in pieces with his fingers, and wet with his tears." But this must not be now. I will only remark, how sweet, how solemn is the feeling produced by the sight of the prayers of so many holy men thus brought together; it reminds us of the golden vials which we read of in the book of Revelation, "full of odours, which are the prayers of saints:" and when we use them, does it not seem as though we were losing for the time our
individual character, and joining the devotions of the Church Catholic, alone and yet in company, in company with the spirits of the just made perfect, as well as with those of the living, who are still striving for perfection: by these prayers, they who are dead do yet speak; they pray by our lips, and we pray in their words: we need not pray for them, we must not pray to them, but we do pray with them, when we use their forms of devotion; and we praise God for them, for having left behind them so precious a legacy.
In conclusion, it will, I hope, be considered a great advantage in this collection, that it contains prayers for so many different seasons, and occasions, and circumstances of life. I have already observed, that the great object in this is to bring religion to bear upon every part of our existence, to introduce it into every class, and to spread it over the whole of our time, not confining it, as some would do, to Sundays as the only endurable time for it, and the clergy as the only authorised class; but, on the contrary, making it like leaven, which is to leaven the whole mass, to sanctify the whole body of mankind, the whole sum of our life: and this is the more needful, because I fear there is a growing disposition among men of the present day to deny the claim