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I think there is room for amend- ances, which we generally hear ment; and I beg leave, through at ordinations, I take the liberty your religious publication, to oí- to mention what I consider, as fer the following hints to the con- faults. If they are really so, they sideration of those, who are par- should be corrected. ticularly concerned. Though First, Repetition. In each pray. not a clergyman, I am a decided er we frequently þear the same friend to gospel ministers ; and thought, and sometimes the same Lassure them, that in the re- expression repeated again and marks which follow, I have the again. And this repetition is genconcurrence of many learned and erally so far from being emphaticpious laymen, who wish for no- al or impressive, that it apparentthing more sincerely, than to give ly springs from vacancy or disrespectability and influence to the order of mind, from want of preclergy.
paration, or from inadvertence, I take it for granted, that a se. and is of course a severe exercise rious and careful examination of of the candour and patience of candidates for ordination is neces- hearers, sary and important. Is there Secondly, Prolixity is a fault not, then, great impropriety in ap- frequently objected against ordi: pointing the meeting of the coun- nation performances. I would cil at such a late hour, as to give not consult the taste of the irre, little or no opportunity for an ex- ligious, but the Spirit of inspira. amination? Is it not expedient, tion. Scripture precepts, and that the ordaining council be uni- scripture examples discounte. formly invited to meet on the nance long prayers. Solomon's evening before the ordination ? direction is this ; God is in heavBy this arrangement, they would en, and thou upon earth; there, have sufficient opportunity to ex. fore let thy words be few. The amine the candidate, to attend to instructions of Christ afford no the circumstances of the church encouragement to long prayers. and society, to consider any diffi, When ye pray, he says, use not culty deserving the notice of the vain repetitions,as the heathen do; council, and to finish in season for they think that they shall be their whole business preparatory heard for their much speaking. to ordination. This arrangement The general form or directory of would prevent the pain and disor.. prayer, which he gave his disci. der occasioned to a large assem- ples, is very short. There is bly by a long disappointment re- one example in the Bible of a specting the public services. long public prayer, viz. that of Such disorder I have often wit. Solomon at the dedication of the nessed; such pain I have of- temple. But it must not be forten felt. This arrangement gotten, that the occasion was imwould likewise give the perform- portant almost beyond compari. er's time
compose their son, and that his prayer was the thoughts, and by suitable premed- only performance of the kind on itation, to prepare their minds to that great occasion. And yet I. engage in the public solemnities. hazard the assertion, that the
While I am happy in admiring prayer of Solomon recorded in the excellence of the perform- scripture is not half so long, as
the introductory prayer often is ing prayer is sometimes such, at an ordination. Yea, after ve- that during a considerable part ry long performances preceding, of it, we should hardly be able
I have sometimes heard a closing to conjecture, what is the pecuprayer quite as long, as the whole liar object of the performance. of Solomon's prayer at the dedi- While attending to the concludcation. ' Nor does such length of ing prayer, we are frequently, for prayer commonly appear to flow a long time, wholly unable to from the fulness of the heart, nor see, that the performer has any from any remarkable copiousness suitable sense of the occasion, or of ideas. The lengthening out any design to close it. of prayer frequently appears the Fourthly, The parts commonly effect of mere labour, which is intrude upon each other. If the equally uncomfortable to speaker parts are really distinct in their and hearer. They, who lead in nature, they ought to be kept this exercise, seem not anfre- distinct in the execution. But quently to be influenced by the instead of this, the introductory opinion, that a prayer is excellent prayer generally contains much in proportion to its length. of that, which is the peculiar There could not be an opinion province of the consecrating more unnatural and groundless. prayer. The sermon often antiTedious length is often given to cipates the ground of the charge the other performances, as well and the right hand of fellowship. as to the prayers. This fault is The consecrating prayer consists connected with another, which is, in part of what belongs to an in
Thirdly, The introduction of troductory prayer. The right much impertinent matter.
hand of fellowship frequently reremarkable for sacred perti- turns upon the ground of the nence was the prayer of Sol- charge. The last prayer, which omon above mentioned. He should be considered as a devout entered directly into the spirit of and easy close, generally rehearthe occasion. Though he said ses a considerable part of the conmuch, he said nothing but what secration, and sometimes takes was perfectly adapted to the as formal and particular notice of great object of the assembly. every subject involved in the ocBut at ordinations it is frequent- casion, as though there were no ly otherwise. Expressions are other performance. Of course, abundantly used, and thoughts instead of being four or five min. expanded, which, though suita- utes long, it is fifteen or twenty. ble on ordinary occasions, are What sacred improvement and by no means adapted to this. pleasure does an ordination afThe greatest part of the first ford, where every performer has prayer, which ought to be mere- the true spirit of the occasion, ly a well adapted introduction to and executes the part assigned the solemn business of the ordi- him with readiness and propriedation, is frequently made up of ty. When every one enters imthings, which are heard every mediately on his appropriate Sabbath. The sermon is com- ground ; knows what to say, and monly, though not always, less which is almost equally importexceptionable. The consecrat- ant, what not to say; begins
where his part really begins, and it, which I think suited to the ends where it ends ; so that all design of your work, and adapted the parts together make up one to the present times. If you perfect whole. What a saving are of my opinion you will give of time is realized, and what a it a place in a future number. heightening of the general im- Showing how discord and conpression. If, in addition, all the tentions among Christians fulfil performers are animated by evan
the scripture, he says, gelical fervour ; if they show the “ Those sad jars and divisions, spirit of power, and of love, and which are so frequent in the of a sound mind ; if their hearts church of Christ, may seem very are enlarged with Christian af- strange, and be the cause of fection, and their mouths open stumbling and offence to many; to express with freedom the va- that whilst the world is at such riety of tender, dignified, and ho- an agreement, and of one mind ly sentiments, which the occa- to oppose the truth, those are oft sion naturally inspires ; no scene found at war, most bitterly concan be more interesting, or more tending amongst themselves, delightful
even those who should stand in A HEARER. the breach, for the truth, and in
defence of the gospel, the fellow To the Editors of the Panoplist. another, when they should be
servants at strife and smiting one GENTLEMEN,
striving together about their Mas. I Have observed with pleasure, ter's work, I confess, this is sad, that it is one object of your work and is a rock whereon many to revive attention to the charac- have split; of which they have ters and writings of eminent di- made that use to a further heightvines of the two last centuries. ening of their prejudice against Many of these men, in point of the truth : yea, it is strange that scriptural learning, deep views this destroying plague doth sọ of the things of God, and Chris- observably attend any peace or tian experience and piety, have calm, that the church bath in her not had their superiors, and rare- outward condition. But there is ly their equals in modern times. no cause for such stumbling; if Their works will ever be read, we will allow it some serious and the characters of their au- thoughts, it may rather help to thors revered, by all who love the fix and establish us in the way of Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity the Lord, and instead of being a and truth. There is a savour in poison, may be an effectual antitheir writings, which refreshes dote against the same, I mean the heart of the experienced the atheism of the time, which Christian. They are admired pretends so great an advantage and relished notwithstanding the from this. For the scripture is uncouthness of their style.
clear, I have lately been reading that 1. Though it is a sore stroke celebrated work, entitled “ The on the church, and the most sad fulfilling of the Scripture,” by departure of God from a people, Robert Fleming, and take the lib- which we have upon divine reerty to send you an extract from cord, we find usually attends
them in such a torn and divided friends, who have least latitude to case; yea, though in all the take or give in the interests of records of after times, this may truth; but it is oft found, how be traced in the breaking out of such indirect tamperings for a judgment, as a very immediate peace, have in the judgment of forerunner thereof; yet, have we the Lord caused a further breach. no warrant to expect the church There is no true jar betwixt the militant shall be in that condition zeal of God, and an ardent dein which there shall be no such dis- sire and endeavour for peace, but cord and breath. No, that is what our corruption causeth. O heaven, and it is there only that this is a blessed peace-maker, who perfect peace and concord will can go the furthest length to be found ; read 1 Cor. i. 10. yield in his own things, whether Rom, xv. 5. And what an early credit or private interest, yea, trial was this to the church, overlook the most sharp personal which did occasion that grave reflections, to promote that ex. and solemn meeting of the apos- cellent design : but hath nothing iles and elders, Acts xv. to let us to yield or quit upon his Master's see how the Lord can serve him- interest, and can resist whosoever self of the greatest evil for the they be that would prejudice advantage of his truth.(2.) There this, even to their face! Have we is no cause of challenge here or not that heroic practice of the reflecting on the truth, whatever apostle (Gal. ii. 5.) upon divine be on those, who profess it, since record to this day? to whom we the scripture shews that we know gave place, no not for an hour, that but in part, and prophesy in part, the truth of the gospel might con. and such a prevailing mixture of tinue with you. Is not that also corruption, that some will preach a special remark, that those who Christ out of strife and contention,
cause division in the church, and not sincerely. Phil. i. 15. Yea, were therefore to be noted (Rom. whilst there are such different xvi. 17.) were those who did opa sizes amongst the saints, that pose the doctrine of the church? those who eat not, are ready to For it is men's falling off from judge them who eat, and those the truth which is indeed the who eat, are ready to despise him cause of a schism and rent; but who eateth not. (3.) If we con- not their adherence to it, though sult the scripture, we shall find for this they should be men of cona that peace and concord within the tention, and looked on as signs and church, which is so excellent in wonders in the time. (4.) Whate itself and desirable, must be ever advantage some may take severely qualified with a respect to challenge the way of the Lord, to holiness. Heb. xii. 14. For from these breaches, I am sure, else such an agreement would they cannot deny, there is a fele not be the true peace of the lowship and concord in the church church, but her plague. And is of Christ beyond any in the world. not that wisdom, which is from There is a communion of the above, first pure, and then peacea. saints, even here, with one heart ble? It is sure, they are its best and mind : yea, in such a mea. Vol. I. No.9.
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sure, as may show the world this every jar and difference amongst is a bond that exceeds the most the followers of Christ, makes near and strait ties of natural re. not a breach.” lations, Eph. iv. 3. 16. and truly
the exhibition of human nature
under all her forms, and even in In the life of the celebrated her most amiable dress ; yet will Judge Hale, by Mr. Thirlwall, it not at the same time be alloware the following observations re- ed, that the gratification arising specting the Theatre, suggested from these sources is purchased by the determination of the Judge at much too dear a price, when never to see another play acted.. they court an alliance with pro
* Hale had reason,” he says, faneness and immorality, and the “to's congratulate himself on path to these pleasures is strewed his fortunate escape from with temptations to vice of the snare, in which thousands of most bewitching and alluring naboth sexes have been entan- ture? If, by chance, the characgled and ruined.
His exam- ter and moral of the dramatic ple cannot be too earnestly rec- composition itself be free from ommended to the imitation of the objection, yet when the circumyoung and inexperienced, who stances, which are inseparably wish to preserve the principles connected with the representaof chastity, modesty, and sobrie- tion of a modern playhouse, are ty, which they have imbibed in gravely considered, is it not at their education, pure and un- least unsafe for the sober youth tainted. - Though I am fully and unspotted virgin to visit it? aware of the tender ground on Is not the danger of corrupting which I venture, I hold it an im- the morals and inflaming the pasperious duty to warn every pa- sions too great to justify a partirent, who wishes to promote the cipation in these amusements ? present peace and future happi- “ It is possible, indeed, to imness of his children, to discour- agine such a regulated theatre, age, by his example and advice, as shall be exempt from the evils a propensity for dramatic enter- which are the ground of comtainments. Allow these exhibi- plaint; but until such a theatre tions all their boasted advan- can be realized, it will be diffitages; concede to their advocates cult to prove, that these evils are, the rational and harmless satis- not interwoven in the very confactions, which are to be found in stitution of a dramatic exhibithe charms of music, poetry, and tion, and vitally essential to its painting; in the specimens of success and popularity. brilliant wit and refined senti- “ There is implanted in our ment, the graces of elocution, the nature a veneration and respect delineation of the passions, and for the majesty of virtue. Even