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pable of the clearest demonstration, how much foever the contrary practice has prevailed in christian churches, that the introduction of any unnecessary doctrinal opinions into public liturgies, is wholly foreign to the nature and expediency of social worship It is subversive of the more general uuñón of fellow disciples of the same master, associated for the purpose of paying religious homage to almighty God; and destructive of the greater love and charity in the christian community at large.
It is scarcely necessary to observe that the BOOK OF COMMON-PRAYER of the church of England is the foundation of the present liturgy. A revision of that volume by the no less truly excellent, than eminently learned, Dr. Samuel Clarke, was the first step in the progress toward its further improvement. But his alterations were almost wholly confined to the correction of every ascription of the exclusive attributes of deity, and of every address of religious homage and worship to every other being, however confounded or however distinguished, than the one
GOD and father of the universe; the god and father of Jesus Christ, and of all mankind,
Some further considerable alterations were made by Mr. Lindsey, the editor's late learned and worthy colleague, in four successive editions of his liturgy, professed to be compiled “ according to the plan of Dr. Clarke.” But it would be unwarrantable to prefix Dr. Clarke's tenerable name to the extent of alteration comprehended in the following pages. It is, however, earnestly recommended to the ingenuous and inquiring christián, attentively to compare the present work, with the established liturgy, and with Dr. Clarke's interleaved copy of it; as also with the last edition of Mr. Lindsey's “Book of Common-prayer reformed :” for it is only by such attention, conducted with seriousness and candour, that he will become competent to ascertain the improvements or defects, or the scope and extent of the alterations now introduced, and submitted to the public; and more especially recommended to the congregation for whose use the present revision has been immediately undertaken,
It is confessedly true, that the editor dissents from several religious opinions, which are entertained by many very learned and very excellent persons; and which have received, and continue to receive, a great degree of public approbation : but he conceives it to be no less true, that many very respectable members, as well of the church of England, as of other churches or societies of christians, differ equally from each other upon
the same, or similar, questions. He is, nevertheless, fully persuaded that he shall not be found to have given just cause of offence to any description of his fellow-christians. He knows, or thinks he knows, the value, as well as the nature, of unity, both among the disciples of Christ, and among the brotherhood of mankind : but it is an unity in charity, or love, for the whole human race, and not an unity in doctrinal opinions, for which alone the christian should contend.
The reprinting THE PSALMS was, on the former occasion, postponed, with a view to effect their greater correctness : and it is hoped that the attention which has been given to
them, will have rendered them more intelligible, without having sacrificed the spirit of piety and devotion, which particularly characterizes these beautiful compositions; and consequently will have male them more subservient to just sentiments of gratitude and resignation to the great and benevolent parent of the universe. The two versions which are generally received, as also the translations by Mr. Green in 1762 ; by Mr. Merrick in 1765; and by Mr. Street in 1792, have been particularly consulted; and through the indulgence of his very learned and discerning friend, Dr. Geddes, the editor has been permitted to have access to a part of his translation of the psalms. He has, however, in all cases exercised his own judgment in the construction of the text, and in the phraseology of the language : he has done the same with respect to the arrangement or division of the matter, which is accommodated to the general purpose of public use and edification.
In consideration of the difficulty of meeting the expectation of different persons with respect
to the omission of certain psalms, which least accord with the mild and forgiving spirit of the gospel, he has thought it would be more satisfactory to the reader to have the whole before him, and to be left to reject the use of any particular psalm at pleasure, than to be prevented the perusal by the opinion of another.
To the collection of Hymns a short preface is prefixed, which precludes the necessity of any thing further being said respecting them.
The editor is sufficiently impressed with the difficulties attending the labours in which he has been engaged, to presume to say more in their behalf, than that he hopes they will contribute to the future revision, the gradual improvement, and more general reception of a plain and unsophisticated, a rational and consistent, a serious and pious service of the one GoD and father of all, in the public acts of religious homage and worship.
Nov. 26, 1801.