This Divine Salutation taken out of Holy Scripture, Ruth 2. was frequently used in Ancient Liturgies before Prayers, before the Gospel, before the Sermon, and at other times, and that by the direction of the holy Apostles, saies the Council of Braccara. It seems as an Introit or entrance upon another sort of Divine Service, and a good Introduction it is, serving as an holy excitation to Attention and Devotion, by minding the people what they are about, namely such holy Services, as without Gods assistance and special grace cannot be performed, and therefore when they are about these Services, the Priest minds them of it by saying, The Lord be with you; And again, it is a most excellent and seasonable Prayer for them, in effect thus much, The Lord be with you, to lift up your Hearts and raise your Devotions to his Service. The Lord be with you, to accept your Services. The Lord be with you, to reward you hereafter with eternal life.
The people Answer, And with thy Spirit. Which form is taken out of 2 Tim. 4. 22. and is as much as this, Thou art about to Offer up Prayers and spiritual Sacrifices for us, therefore we pray likewise for thee, that He, without whom nothing is good and acceptable, may be with thy spirit while thou art exercised in these Spiritual Services, which must be performed with the Spirit; according to S. Paul, 1 Cor. 14. 15. Thus the Priest prayes and wishes well to the people, and they pray and wish well to the Priest. And such mutual Salutations and Prayers as this and those that follow, where Priest and people interchangeably pray each for other, are excellent expressions of the Communion of Saints, Both acknowledging thus, that they are all one body, and each one members one of another, mutually caring for one anothers good, and mutually praying for one another, which must needs be, if well considered, and duly performed, excellent Incentives and provocations to Charity and love one of another; and (as S. Chrys. observes hom. 3. in Col.) if these solemn mutual Salutations were religiously performed, it were almost impossible that Priest and people should be at Enmity. For can the People hate the Priest that blesses them, that prayes for them, The Lord be with you, or, Peace be with you? which was anciently the Bishops Salutation, instead of the Lord be with you. Or can the Priest forget to love the People that daily prayes for him, And with thy Spirit.