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"The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers."-1 Peter iii. 12.
THE whole of the communion service was originally, as you will have understood from the conclusion of my last address to you, a separate service. No part of it was used, except at the times of the celebration of the holy sacrament. the practice to add a portion of it on Sundays, and on other special occasions, to the original morning service.
But it has since become
This part of the service begins with the Lord's Prayer, as being the most holy words which it is possible for us to use on so solemn an occasion as that of the celebration of the Lord's Supper. After the Lord's Prayer is a short collect, in which we beseech Almighty God to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts. And I beg, my dear children, that you will not pass over this prayer with indifference.
For unless the thoughts of your hearts are cleansed, neither the words of your mouths, nor the actions of your lives, can be acceptable to God.
Next follow the Ten Commandments, the same which God our Heavenly King himself vouchsafed to give into the hands of his servant Moses from Mount Sinai, to be a law to his people Israel, whom he moreover commanded to teach all the words of this law dili
gently to their children, that they and all generations after them might know, and not only know, but obey, his will thus delivered to them. The four first commandments relate expressly to our duty towards God; the six last to our duty towards our neighbour. I have no doubt but that the words of all these commandments have, by the kindness of your friends and teachers, been firmly engraved on your memories. I trust that their meaning will also dwell in your recollections; and that “the Lord will have mercy on you, and incline your hearts to keep his laws."
At the conclusion of the Ten Commandments, otherwise called the decalogue, from
the Greek word for the number ten, are two prayers for the king, of which one is read by the clergyman. In these prayers, which are very similar to each other, we beseech God to govern the king's heart, that in all his thoughts, words, and works, he may ever seek God's honour and glory; and that we his subjects may faithfully serve, honour, and humbly obey him. The collect, together with the epistle and gospel appointed for the day, are next read. Of the collects I have already spoken, and will only add that they, any or all of them, well deserve to be committed to your memories, and will be found very admirable helps to your devotion. The epistles and gospels are small portions of Scripture, selected, as their names imply, from the different parts of the New Testament. There is a separate epistle and gospel, as well as a separate collect, for each Sunday throughout the year, and for the several festivals. The congregation sit while the epistle is read, but stand during the reading of the gospel, and while the Nicean Creed is repeated. This creed is so called
because the chief part of it was composed in the council held at Nice, in Bithynia, in the year of our Lord 325; and it differs, as you will observe, but very little from the Apostles' Creed.
The usual service ends here; but another prayer, entitled "A Prayer for the whole state of Christ's Church militant here on earth," is added occasionally. The word militant means, in its literal sense, a carrying on war; and is here used to signify the perpetual warfare which a Christian is required to maintain against the enemy of his soul. This fine prayer begins with a supplication for the universal Church of Christ, beseeching God to inspire all its members, that is, the whole body of Christians, with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord. It implores God's blessing on all persons in authority, and that he
will enable them to fulfil their several duties here on earth. It intreats him to comfort and succour all those who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, sickness, or any other adversity. Even the healthiest and the happiest of us are seldom without knowing
some persons who stand in need of the mercies which thus we intreat for them.-The prayer then concludes with a solemn thanksgiving for those who have gone through their earthly trials, and have departed this life in God's faith and fear, and with beseeching him to give us grace so to follow their good examples that with them we may be partakers of his heavenly kingdom.
I have now, my dear young friends, given you a general account or view of the several parts of the morning service of our church. The evening service differs little from that for the morning, except in the omission of the litany, and of the part taken from the service for the communion. Though what I have said has been too brief to explain any difficulties, I still trust that I have said enough to afford some useful guidance to the attention which you ought always to give to the subject before us. Without attention you can, of course, learn nothing, but with it you may always do, if you will, everything that God ever requires of you. Let me again, therefore, repeat my intreaties