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HIS little manual I have called "The Child's Church Service," because I think even those who take for their rule "The Bible, and the Bible only," cannot gainsay that the service here printed was ordained by Christ Himself, and is the only one (except Baptism) recorded in the New Testament as definitely commanded by our Saviour's own lips. And then regarding the children's right to assist thereat, I would say-See how "Christ commanded the children to be brought unto Him." Note, also, "how He blamed those who would have kept them from Him; how He exhorted all men to follow their innocency; "how, by His outward gesture and deed, He declared His good-will towards them; for He embraced them in His arms; He laid His hands upon them and blessed them." Who then will be so rashly inconsistent as to say they may not approach as near to Him as we may? I would remind those who respect the voice of the Church of England, of her appeal to the Primitive Church, and of the fact that the Primitive Church suffered children not only to be present, but also to partake of these Holy Mysteries.
I at first intended these pages for my own children, but I have so adapted them that I think any parents, rich or poor, can give this little book to their children if they think fit.
HE whole Communion office is a memorial and representation of our Saviour's sufferings, and of the offering He made of Himself on the Cross.
The priest entering the chancel with his attendants reminds us of our Saviour's going up to Jerusalem to offer Himself upon the altar of the
He then kneels down and prays in silence; this reminds us of our Saviour's prayer for His disciples at His last supper with them.
The choir then sing the introit, or hymn, which reminds us of the hymn which the disciples sang before they accompanied our Saviour into the Garden of Gethsemane.
Here the priest incenses the altar and the acolyte incenses the priest, and the incense may be understood to represent the merit of Christ, for that which gives value, and weight, and dignity to the altar, to the priest, and to the prayers of the congregation, is that they are Christ's, and His merits are there pleaded before the Father by His appointment and in His name; as also every time we say, through Jesus Christ our Lord, we plead His merits, and these merits (symbolized by the smoke and sweet savour of incense) ascend "up before God," "with the prayers of the saints."
THE ORDER OF THE
ADMINISTRATION OF THE
So many as intend to be partakers of the holy Communion shall signify their names to the Curate, at least some time the day before.
The Table, at the Communion-time having a fair white linen cloth upon it, shall stand in the Body of the Church, or in the Chancel, where Morning and Evening Prayer are appointed to be said.
The priest then leaves the centre of the altar and goes to one side, to remind us of our Saviour's leaving His disciples and going apart to pray; he then says the Lord's Prayer and the prayer for good thoughts, thoughts cleansed from all evil and free from worldly desires. These remind us of our Saviour's prayer in the garden, a pattern to us of heartfelt prayer and Christian submission to God's will. Be careful, my dear child, that you are not inattentive, as were those disciples who slept while Jesus was in pain of mind for their welfare. Their carelessness caused them to fall into temptation, and they ran away when they should have remained with their Master, who was about to give Himself up as a sacrifice for them.
Pray to Jesus that He will receive the prayers and offerings of yourself, your friends, and most especially of the priest now performing this most solemn service; follow each sentence of our Lord's Prayer in your mind. It is being said for you and for all present. God in Heaven is really and truly your Father; He took you for His child when you were baptized.
When you say, "HALLOWED BE THY NAME," you pray that neither you nor others may profane God's name by using it irreverently, and that those who claim to be Christians may not behave so ill that the enemies of God can point at them and scoff.