ALL Priests shall be bound to say Daily the Morning and Evening Prayer. The end of the Preface before the Service, Rubr. 2. So was it of old ordered in the Church of Christ, Saint CHRYS. 6. hom. in 2. cap. 1. ep. ad Tim. and Clem. Const. l. 2. c. 39. And this is agreeable to Gods own Law. Exo. 29. 38. Thou shalt offer upon the Altar Two Lambs of the first year, day by day continually; the one Lamb in the Morning, the other at Evening. Besides the daily private devotions of every pious Soul, and the more solemn Sacrifices upon the three great Feasts of the year; Almighty God requires a daily publick worship, a continual burnt offering, every day, Morning and Evening, teaching us by this, saith Saint CHRYS. That God must be worshipped daily when the day begins and when it ends, and every day must be a kind of holy day. Thus it was commanded under the Law; and certainly we Christians are as much at least, obliged to God, as the Jews were, our grace is greater, our promises clearer, and therefore, our righteousness should every way exceed theirs, our Homage to Almighty God, should be paid as frequently at least. Morning and Evening to be sure, God expects from us as well as from the Jews, a publick worship, a sweet savour, or savour of rest, as it is in the Hebrew, Num. 28. 6. without which God Almighty will not rest satisfied.
This publick Service and worship under the Law was appointed by God himself, both for matter and manner of performance. Exod. 29. 38. but under the Gospel our Lord hath appointed only materials and essentials of his publick worship: In general, Prayers, Thanksgivings, Confessions, Lauds, Hymns, and Eucharistical Sacrifices are commanded to be offered up in the name of Christ, in the virtue and merits of that immaculate Lamb, whereof the other was but a type, and for whose sake alone, that was accepted, but for the manner and order of his publick worship, for the method of offering up Prayers or praises and the like; our Lord hath not so particularly determined now, but hath left that to be ordered and appointed, by those, to whom he said at his departure out of this world. As my Father sent me, ssend I you, S. Iohn 20. 21. To govern the Church in his absence. viz. The Apostles and their Successors in the Apostolick Commission. And therefore Acts 2. 42.
The publick prayers of the Church are called the Apostles Prayers.
The Disciples are commended there for Continuing in the Apostles Doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and Prayers. And therefore S. Paul writes to Timothy the Bishop and Governour of the Church of Ephesus, to take care that Prayers and Supplications be made for all men, especially for Kings, &c. And 1 Cor. 11. 34. Concerning the manner of celebrating the holy Eucharist, St. Paul gives some directions, and adds, The rest will I set in order when I come. And 1 Cor. 14. 40. Let all things, i. e. ( "all your publick services, (for of those he treats in the Chapter at large) be done decently, and kata taxin, according to Ecclesiastical Law and Canon.
The Service and worship of God thus prescribed, according to our Lords general rules, by those to whom he hath left a Commission and power to order and govern his Church, is the right publick Service and worship of God, commanded by himself in his Law; for though God hath not immediately and particularly appointed this publick worship, yet he hath in general commanded a publick worship in the second Commandment. For where it is said, Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them, by the rule of contraries, we are Commanded to bow down to God and Worship Him. A publick worship then God must have, by his own Command; and the Governors of the Church, have prescribed this form of worship, for that publick service and worship of God in this Church, which being so prescribed, becomes Gods service and worship by his own Law, as well as the Lamb was his sacrifice, Exod. 29.
For the clearer understanding of this, we must know, that some Laws of Gods, do suppose some humane act of pass and intervene, before they actually bind: which act of man being once passed, they bind immediately. For example, Thou shalt not steal, is Gods Law, which Law cannot bind actually, till men be possest of some goods and property; which property is not usually determined by God himself immediately, but by the Laws of him, to whom he hath given Authority to determine it. God hath given the earth to the children of men, as he gave Canaan to the Israelites in general; but men cannot say this is mine, till humane Laws or acts determine the property, as the Israelites could not claim a property on this or that side Iordan, till Moses had assigned them their several portions: But when their portions were so assigned, they might say, this is mine, by Gods, as well as mans Law; and he that took away their right, sinned not only against mans, but God, Law too, that says, Thou shalt not steal. In like manner; God hath in general commanded a publick worship and service, but hath not, under the Gospel, assigned the particular form and method; That he hath left to his Ministers and Delegates, the Governors of the Church to determine agreeable to his general rules; which being so determin'd, is Gods service and worship not only by humane, but even by divine Law also: and all other publick services whatsoever, made by private men, to whom God hath given no such Commission are strange worship, Lev. 10. 1. Because not Commanded; for example, As under the Law, when God had appointed a Lamb for a burnt-offering, Exod. 29. that alone was the right daily worship, The savour of rest, because Commanded, and all other sacrifices whatsoever, offered up in the place of that, though of far more value and price than a Lamb, suppose 20. Oxen, would have been strange Sacrifice; so now, the publick worship of God prescribed as we have said, by Those to whom he hath given Commission, is the only true and right publick worship, and all other forms and methods offered up in stead of that, though never so exactly drawn, are strange worship, because not Commanded. It is not the elegancy of the phrase, nor the fineness of the Composition that makes it acceptable to God, as his worship and service, but obedience is the thing accepted. Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, or any fat of Rams, 1 Sam. 15. 22.
This holy service offered up to God by the Priest, in the name of the Church, is far more acceptable to Almighty God, then the devotions of any private man.
For, First, it is the service of the whole Church, to which, every man that holds Communion with that Church, hath consented to and said Amen, and agreed, that it should be offered up to God by the Priest in the name of the Church, and, if what any two of you shall agree to ask upon earth, it shall be granted, S. Matt. 18. 19. How much more, what is ask'd of God or offered up to God by the common vote and joynt desire of the whole body of the Church?
Besides, this publick service and worship of God is Commanded by God, (i. e. by those whom he hath impowr'd to command and appoint it) to be offered up to him in the behalf of the Church, and therefore must needs be most acceptable to him, which is so appointed by him: For, what he Commands he accepts most certainly. Private devotions and services of particular men which are offered by themselves, for themselves, are sometimes accepted, sometimes refused by God, according as the persons are affected to vice or virtue; but this publick worship is like that Lamb, Exod. 29. commanded to be offered by the Priest for others, for the Church, and therefore accepted, whatsoever the Priest be that offers it up. And therefore, King David prayes, Psal. 141. 2. Let the lifting up of my hands be an evening Sacrifice, i. e. as surely accepted as that Evening Sacrifice of the Lamb, which no indevotion or sin of the Priest could hinder, but that it was most certainly accepted for the Church, because commanded to be offered for the Church, S. Chrys. Hom. in Psal. 140.
This publick service is accepted of God, not only for those that are present and say Amen to it, but for all those that are absent upon just cause, even for all that do not renounce Communion with it and the Church, for it is the Common service of them all, Commanded to be offered up in the names of them all, and agreed to by all of them to be offered up for them all, and therefore is accepted for all them, though presented to God by the Priest alone (as the Lamb offered up to God, by the Priest, Ex. 29. was the sacrifice of the whole Congregation of the children of Israel,) a sweet smelling savour, a savour of rest, to pacifie God Almighty daily, and to continue his favour to them, and make him dwell with them, Exod. 29. 42, 45.
Good reason therefore it is, that this sweet smelling savour should be daily offered up to God Morning and Evening, whereby God may be pacified and invited to dwell amongst his people. And whatsoever the world think; thus to be the Lords Remembrancers putting him in mind of the peoples wants. Esay 62. Being as it were the Angels of the Lord, interceding for the people, and carrying up the daily prayers of the Church in their behalf, is one of the most useful and principal parts of the Priests office. So S. Paul tells us, who in the 1 Ep. Tim. chap. 2. Exhorts Bishop Timothy, that he should take care, First of all, that this holy service be offered up to God. I exhort first of all, that prayers, and supplications, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men. For KINGS, &c.
What is the meaning of this first of all? I will that this holy service be offered up daily, and the faithful know, how we observe this rule of S. Paul, offering up daily this holy sacrifice Morning and Evening.
S. Chrys. upon the place. S. Paul in the first Chapter of this Epistle at the 18. verse, had charged his son Timothy to war a good warfare, to hold faith and a good conscience, and presently adds, I exhort therefore, that first of all prayers &c. be made, as if he had said, you cannot possibly hold faith and a good conscience in your Pastoral office, unless, First of all, you be careful to make and offer up prayers, &c. For this is the first thing to be done and most highly to be regarded by you. Preaching is a very useful part of the Priests office; and S. Paul exhorts Timothy to preach the word, be instant in season, out of season. And the more because He was a Bishop, and to plant and water many Churches in the Infancy of Christianity among many Seducers and Temptations: But yet First of all he exhorts, that this daily office of presenting prayers to the throne of grace in the behalf of the Church, be carefully lookt to.
This charge of S. Paul to Tim. holy Church here laies upon all those that are admitted into that holy office of the Ministery, that they should offer up to God this holy sacrifice of prayers, praises and thanksgivings, this savour of rest, daily, Morning and Evening: And would all those whom it concerns, look well to this part of their office, I should not doubt, but that God would be as gracious and bountiful to us in the performance of this service, as he promised to be to the Jews in the offering of the Lamb Morning and Evening, Exod. 29. 43. 44. He would meet us and speak with us, that is graciously answer our petitions: he would dwell with us, and be our God, and we should know, by comfortable experiments of his great and many blessings, that he is the Lord our God.