WE have seen the reason of the Churches command, that the holy Service should be offered up in the Church or Chappel, &c. But what if a Church cannot be had to say our Office in? shall the Sacrifice of Rest, the holy Service be omitted? By no means. If a Church may not be had, The Priest shall say it Privately, says the same Rubr. 2. And good reason; for Gods worship must not be neglected or omitted for want of a circumstance. It is true, the Church is the most convenient place for it, and adds much to the beauty of holiness. And he that should neglect that decency, and despising the Church should offer up the publick worship in private, should sin against that Law of God that says, Cursed is he that having a better Lamb in his flock, offers up to God a worse: For God Almighty must be serv'd with the best we have, otherwise we despise him. He that can have a Church, and will offer up the holy Service in a worse place, let him fear that curse: but if a Church cannot be had, let him not fear or omit to offer up the holy Service in a convenient place in private, having a desire to the Church, looking towards the Temple in prayer, 2 Chron. 6. 28. for it will be accepted, according to that equitable rule of S. Paul, 2 Cor. 8. 12. If there be a willing mind, God accepts according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
Agreeable to this command of holy Church, we find it directed in Clem. Constit. l. 8. c. 34.
If, O Bishop, or Priest, you cannot go to the Church because of Infidels or persecutors, gather a congregation in a private house; but if you cannot be suffered to meet together, no not in a private house, Psallat sibi unusquisque. Let every man say the Office in private by himself.
Let every Lay-man say this Morn. and Even. Office, his Psalter, leaving out that which is peculiar to the Priest, Absolution, and solemn benediction; and let him know that when he prays thus alone, he prayes with company, because he prayes in the Churches communion, the Common prayer and vote of the Church. But let not the Priest of all others, fail to offer this service of the Congregation. This publick worship, this savour of rest, though by himself in private looking towards the Temple, Lifting up his hands toward the mercy seat of the holy Temple, Psal. 84. that is, having in his soul a desire and longing to enter into the Courts of the Lord, praying with David, that he may go unto the Altar of God, the God of our joy and gladness, to offer up his service there, and it will be acceptable.