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we do, the very existence of such a body of men at variance with the

ciples of the scriptures; so we confess that, in practice, we have not found them distinguished by any peculiar degree of enlightenment or honesty, of purity or disinterestedness.

The matters of doctrine and practice which have, separately, fallen under our review, have chiefly been_First, the practice of social or joint prayer. In abstaining from this practice, and in enjoining, as the privilege of the christian, the individual prayer of the closet only, we, as a religious body, stand single and alone. Anxious to state the grounds of this singularity of conduct, we, in this series of essays, are employed in shewing, that joint or social prayer is at once irrational and unscriptural. Secondly, The belief in the immortality of the soul; this subject has been examined historically and argumentatively, as well as with a view to the scriptures. Thirdly, the fall of man, as supposed to be taught in the early part of the book of Genesis. And, Fourthly, the observance of fasts, festivals, and sabbaths, as held both by the establishment and by dissenters. These inquiries yet remain to be completed; but, as far as they have gone, it has been our endeavour to try the doctrines and practices in question, by the strict tests of reason and of scripture. An article entitled, Dissenters' Murriages, has contained a review of the law and practice on this subject ; and of the efforts made, chiefly by our own body, to obtain legal redress ; an article, which, we are given to understand, is likely to excite legal attention.

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In illustration of our own peculiar views and practices, deduced from the scriptures, as to the organization and discipline of the church, or family of God, we have given four extracts or documents; one, professing to be an account of our body, by Mr. J. Nightingale ;-two, being portions of reports relative to our proceedings as a religious body; and the fourth, an extract from a private letter on the formation and discipline of religious character. The above, with various other articles on moral, religious, or literary subjects; some few striking quotations, and a small portion of original poetry, (all, however, directed to the important end before adverted to)'will be found to describe, generally, the contents of the present volume.

Our success in the sale of this work, and the degree of public attention which has been directed towards it, have far exceeded our previous expeetation; convincing us that, so long as the continuance of the undertaking may be consistent with our own convenience and our views of duty, (for profit, in a pecuniary point of view, we put wholly out of the question) we shall not find any difficulty in meeting with readers who will prize a work laying claim to no other qualifications, than the search after enlightened principles, the prosecution of fearless inquiry, and the inculcation of scripture truth.

U

a ta

THE

FREETHINKING

CHRISTIANS'

QUARTERLY REGISTER.

ON RELIGIOUS WORSHIP.-ESSAY I.

6. What is man?
Where must he find his Maker? with what rites
Adore him? Will he hear, accept, and bless?
Or does he sit regardless of his works?
-'Tis Revelation satisfies all doubts.”—Cowper's Task, Book II.

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IF
F Religion be to man of all matters the most important,

there cannot be a more useful or a more interesting inquiry than that concerning the correct mode of religious worship. An endeavour to ascertain this by the aids of reason and of scripture; and, at the same time, to correct the mistakes, remove the prejudices, and expose the abuses which have prevailed upon this matter, are the chief objects proposed in this and the succeeding Essays.

WORSHIP has been defined as signifying reverence, homage, adoration, in whatever way expressed; having a civil as well as a religious application, it is used to denote the honour rendered either to man or his creator."

Lord, I believe!” was the exclamation of a blind man restored to sight by Jesus; and it is added immediately, that "he worshipped,* that is, paid respect or shewed reverence to him. The children of Israel, in the presence of David, " bowed down their heads and worshippedboth the Lord " and the king.+ In our own country and language the husband, in the course of the marriage ceremony, is made to worship, that is, to express respect towards his intended wife;

* John ix. 38.

i Chron. xxix. 20.

VOL. I. NO. I.

B

*

whilst every magistrate and country squire, however undeservedly, is approached in the language of homage, and hailed as worshipful!

Worship being the generic term, prayer has been correctly described as a specific mode of religious homage; as one, amid the various ways which may be adopted by man to express his feelings towards, and to mark his reverence for, his great creator. Prayer is sometimes, in a loose sense, taken as including adoration, thanksgiving, confession, and petition; strictly and properly speaking, however, it means the latter only; and in that sense, except in cases where the contrary is explained, the word will be used throughout the following inquiries. The prayer of a petition is that essential part of it in which the request intended is actually made. To ask; to request with earnestness; to entreat; to implore —these are the ideas usually attached to the word prayer when occuring in the common occurrences of life; and there seems no good reason why, when engaged on religious subjects, we should use this, or indeed any word, in a sense different from that which it uniformly bears in other matters, or on other subjects.

Prayer is by many regarded as a duty on the part of every human being; à SERVICE which all owe and should pay to their Maker; a means by which man has it in his power to PLEASE, to MAGNIFY, and to GLORIFY God.

A doctor of the established church has, in this spirit, published a work expressly entitled The indispensable DUTY * of frequenting the Public Worship of God;"* and a bishop of the same body (Beveridge, in his “Great Necessity and Advantage of Public Prayer) thus expresses himself:

By praying to' and praising this is properly to serve God and glorify him in the worldthe great work we were made for, and for which we are still supported and maintained by "him;”+ adding "that we should assist in public prayers is God's will, und for his glory; and therefore it is our duty, and

we are bound to do it.” Mr. Thomas Moore, in his recent work in defence of public social prayer, repeatedly speaks of it as a duty;and it is, consequently, by all these regarded

* By Thomas Talbot, D.D.--12mo. London, 1765.

+ The Great Necessity and Advantage of Public Prayer and frequent Communion, designed to revive Primitive Purity. By the Right Rev. Father in God William Beveridge, Lord Bishop of St. Asaph's.--8vo. London,

p.

47. # Ibid. p. 52.

An Inquiry into the Scriptural Authority for Social Worship. By Thomas Moore.-12mo. London, 1821, p. 44 and 109.

1709,

as a practice which it is dangerous and reprehensible to neglect or discourage.

A question, however, arises whether these ideas (common as they may be) on the subject of prayer, or religious worship of any kind, are not wholly founded in ignorance and error; whether they do not betray at once false ideas of ourselves, and erroneous impressions of the Deity. Can man render a service to God? In all religious exercises is not the benefit to be derived wholly and exclusively his own? Is prayer a duty, a debt which all should pay? Or is it not rather a privilege to be sought for with ardour, and which only a few--those who are worthy and to whom it is benevolently given--can pretend to possess? These are important questions; and it will be necessary, in some degree, to answer these, before we go into the more immediate subject of our inquiry.

Accustomed as we daily are to see the externals of religion -to listen to the forms of worship-and to hear the common use of the name of God, it is with difficulty that we can go back to first principles and see things as they really exist. The Jews, perhaps, acted wisely when they wholly abstained from repeating the hallowed name of Jehovah; it is certain that many,

who call themselves Christians, act impiously in the frequent and familiar use which they make of the title and attributes of Deity. Let us consider for a moment God and man—the creator and the created: that eternal, omnipotent being wholives for ever--preserving and upholding

all things by the word of his power"--with that weak, imperfect, mortal creature whose life is a life of trouble,whose

days are as grass,” and who, when assembled in countless nations, evenall the inhabitants of the earth,is reputed as

nothing before him and counted less than nothing and vanity. * Not for himself, surely, but for our sakes, must God have formed us.

Our praise cannot exalt-our worship cannot serve-our fidelity cannot gratify Him; neither can our abstaining from these things degrade, or injure, or hurt Him for a moment. Well was it asked, by one of old, “ Can a man be profitable unto God, or is it gain to Him that thou makest

thy ways perfect? Thy wickednesss may hurt a mun as thou

art, and thy righteousness may profit the son of man; but if " thou sinnest, what dost thou against Him; or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what dost thou against Him? If thou be righteous, what givest thou unto Him, or what receiveth He at thy hands?+ So much for the duty-theindispensable

66

Isaiah xl. 17.

+ Job xxii. 2, 3; xxxv. 6, 7, 8.

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whilst every magistrate and country squire, however undeservedly, is approached in the language of homage, and hailed as worshipful!

Worship being the generic term, prayer has been correctly described as a specific mode of religious homage; as one, amid the various ways which may be adopted by man to express his feelings towards, and to mark his reverence for, his great creator. Prayer is sometimes, in a loose sense, taken as including adoration, thanksgiving, confession, and petition; strictly and properly speaking, however, it means the latter only; and in that sense, except in cases where the contrary is explained, the word will be used throughout the following inquiries. The prayer of a petition is that essential part of it in which the request intended is actually made. To ask; to request with earnestness; to entreat; to implore --these are the ideas usually attached to the word prayer when occuring in the common occurrences of life; and there seems no good reason why, when engaged on religious subjects, we should use this, or indeed any word, in a sense different from that which it uniformly bears in other matters, or on other subjects.

PRAYER is by many regarded as a duty on the part of every human being; à SERVICE which all owe and should pay to their Maker; a means by which man has it in his power to PLEASE, to MAGNIFY, and to GLORIFY God.

A doctor of the established church has, in this spirit, published a work expressly entitled “The indispensable DUTY

of frequenting the Public Worship of God;"* and a bishop of the same body (Beveridge, in his “Great Necessity and Advantage of Public Prayer") thus expresses himself:

By praying to' and praising this is properly to serve God " and glorify him in the world--the great work we were made for, and for which we are still supported and maintained by him;”+ adding that we should assist in public prayers is God's will, and for his glory; and therefore it is our duty, and we are bound to do it." +

Mr. Thomas Moore, in his recent work in defence of public social prayer, repeatedly speaks of it as a duty;ş and it is, consequently, by all these regarded

* By Thomas Talbot, D.D.-12mo. London, 1765.

+ The Great Necessity and Advantage of Public Prayer and frequent Communion, designed to revive Primitive Purity. By the Right Rev. Father in God William Beveridge, Lord Bishop of St. Asaph's.--8vo. London, 1709, p. 47.

Ibid. p. 52. $ An Inquiry into the Scriptural Authority for Social Worship. By Thomas Moore.-12mo. London, 1821, p. 44 and 109.

+.

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