The Prayer Book Explained
To those who believe in One Holy Catholic Church wherein dwelleth the Holy Spirit, it will always be difficult to distrust the Service Book of any Branch of it. The old claim made at Jerusalem with regard to the vexed questions of the Church's infancy, It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us (Acts xv. 28), rested not on the presence there of the good and wise, on the prudence or self-sacrifice of those who had hazarded their lives for the Name, but on the reality of the Lord's promised Presence. Not because there were Apostles there, but because those there were the Catholic and Apostolic Church, they asked and received the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
It was a living and lasting Presence, touching with saving grace the treatment of such questions as the observance of Mosaic precepts, \'7bvi\'7d the eating of bought meat, as well as Purity of Life. We cannot doubt, then, that many Services which have been criticised on afterthoughts were essentially constructed in accordance with the Faith once for all delivered to the Church.
To renounce this conviction with regard to our own Church of England is to surrender its inheritance. Men of various tastes may prefer diverse rites: reasonable sequence may suggest one method, and glowing impulse another, fear of misunderstanding a third; but that which has seemed good to the Holy Ghost and His Temple, the Church, demands that we shall endeavour to believe it to be good, and use it in the temper of faith.
The critical spirit, as we now use criticism, is not the spirit of worship. For the spirit of worship is moved by Faith—Faith supremely in God, but also faith in the words which we use, and in the people with whom we use them.
Thus the truest cure for Doubt is Worship. If my faith in a friend weakens I must go to see him, to speak with him, to restore our mutual \'7bvii\'7d confidence and love. In like manner, if my faith in God through Christ weakens, I must go to Him, speak with Him, seek a return of the old confidence and love.
In the belief that God is calling us to know Him more perfectly by the Worship which we offer in heart and life, and in the confidence that our Branch of the Church has the guidance of the Indwelling Spirit, this book is dedicated to His glory.