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IN this mode, their devotion is not made to depend on the Minifter's frame of mind, which, like that of others, must be different at different times.
By the admiffion of pre-compofed printed forms, the people have an opportunity of perufing them in private, and by this means of being better prepared for ufing them in public.
To this it may be added, that though Liturgies are not exprefsly enjoined in Scripture, yet this mode of worthip was countenanced by the practice of Chrift and his apoftles, who flatedly joined in the fervices of the fynagogue. The form of prayer alfo which our blefied Lord prefcribed to his difciples, was chiefly extracted from the public liturgies then in ufe among the Jews.
WHERE fuch a provifion is made, public worfhip may, with more eafe and propriety, be conducted by a congregation, in cafe of a Minifter's illness, or neceffary abfence.
THOUGH for thefe, and other reafons, they have thought proper to introduce fome printed devotional forms, it is not intended that Free Prayer fhould be entirely excluded: The latter is ftill to be continued as part of the Service, whereby they hope to enjoy the advantages of both.
SOME have objected to the introduction of printed offices of devotion among Proteftant Diffenters,
that it is a deviation from the principles of their predeceffors. To this it may be answered, have not Chriftians of the present day as much a right to judge and act for themselves as their ancestors? The objection, however, is founded in mistake. The original non-conformists in thefe kingdoms not only allowed the lawfulness of praying by form, but even the expediency of it, in fome cafes.
THE main body of the Diffenters in England, at the restoration of Charles II. would have complied with the use of the Liturgy of the established Church (as to the main and general purport of it) if fome points, which appeared to them unfcriptural, might have been difpenfed with.
IT has also been objected, that Liturgies confine the congregations in which they are used, to a certain set of religious fentiments, and confequently have a tendency to impede the progress of free enquiry.
BUT this inconvenience may be prevented, by forming the Devotional Services on the general principles of Chriftianity; and especially, if there be an occafional review of them, as feems very proper, and a new edition printed, whenever any confiderable number of a Society exprefs a wish for it.
In order to avoid the too frequent return of the fame forms, this Volume contains TEN DIFFE
RENT SERVICES, eight of which have been principally compiled from Devotional Offices already in use among fome Societies of Proteftant Diffenters; to which are added two Services, chiefly felected from the Book of Common Prayer.
As to the postures fuitable to public worship, the compilers, in the directions they have given, wish to be understood as intending thereby merely to express their fentiments of propriety, and every worshipper is to judge for himself, and conform to them or not, as may best accord with his own views of propriety and decency.
In the compiling these Devotional Offices, care has been taken to adhere to the plain directions contained in the following paffages of Scripture, and many others of like import:
"Thou fhalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou ferve." Matt. iv. 10.
"In that day ye fhall ask me nothing (fays Christ.) Verily, verily I fay unto you, whatfoever ye fhall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." John xvi. 23.
"To us there is but one God the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jefus Chrift, by whom are all things, and we by him." 1 Cor. viii. 6.
"Through him (Chrift) we have an access, by one Spirit, unto the Father." Ephef. ii. 18.
THE compilers, apprehending that points of doubtful difputation ought not to be introduced into public fervices of devotion, have aimed at avoiding any expreffions which might be offensive to Chriftians of different fentiments. Whatever may be their peculiar views of fome difputable doctrines, may not all unite in worshiping the Father through his Son Jefus Christ?
THEY confider the good and pious of every denomination, as brethren of the fame family, and heirs with themselves to the fame glorious inheriThey earneftly wish and pray, that a candid and liberal spirit, a zeal founded in knowledge, and regulated by love and charity, may increase among Chriftians. May it be the defire of all religious profeffors, whatever are their modes of public worship, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and righteousness of life!