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Forms Of Worship

We have seen that Unity of Intention is necessary to congregational
worship. When a few people, animated by the same sentiments, are drawn
together by one motive, and incur the same dangers, it matters little
whether they use a form of worship or not. Whatever words are used in
their name, their unity of intention is secured by the fact that they
have no diversity of desires.

If the small body becomes a large one and times grow peaceful,
diversity of desires will destroy unity of worship unless they adopt a

Forms of worship should, if possible, unite the most diverse features
of character, occupation, danger, trial, suffering, joy, &c. in the
expressions of Praise or Prayer which are common to them all. Local
colouring and personal references are admissible only when they arouse
a common emotion. The Lord's Prayer {18} is in this, as in other
respects, an ideal Form of Worship.

Christian Worship began amongst people who were already accustomed to
Forms. The Jews had Psalms for Worship (1 Chron. xvi. 4-43), and two
Lessons in their Synagogue Service (Acts xv. 21, First Lesson: Acts
xiii. 27, Second Lesson). The two Lessons were followed by the
Exhorter (Acts xiii. 15; St Luke iv. 16, 17).

The word Amen, being Hebrew, gives further evidence of the derivation
of the first Christian forms from the Synagogue Services, with, of
course, a Christian character infused into them (1 Cor. xiv. 15, 16;
cf. Deut. xxvii. 15-26).

Amen, as a Hebrew adjective, means firm, faithful; and, as an adverb,
verily, or, as the Catechism explains it, so be it. "Its proper
place is where one person confirms the words of another, and adds his
wish for success to the other's vows and predictions" (Gesenius). Each
of the first four Books of the Psalms ends with it--see Psalms xli.,
lxxii., lxxxix., cvi.

For some time the first Christians were able to resort to the Temple
and Synagogues, and both worship and teach there (Acts ii. 46, iii. 1,
3, 8, 11, v. 12, 21, 25, 42: xiii. 5, 14, xiv. 1, xvii. 1, 2, xix. 8).
They were joined by a number of the Priests (Acts vi. 7) whose help in
arranging the services would bring a considerable influence in the same
direction. At Ephesus (Acts xix. 9) a division arose in the Synagogue,
causing S. Paul and the Christian disciples to remove into a school.
At Corinth, for a similar {19} reason, they set up the Christian
worship in the next house to the Synagogue, and the Ruler of the
Synagogue went with them (Acts xviii. 7, 8). It is not very surprising
that under these circumstances they derived some of their forms of
Worship from the Synagogue.

Forms assist the mind to take its due part in the worship which we
offer to the Almighty. Worship is offered with body, mind and spirit.
If one of these encroaches on the others, their share is in danger. If
the tongue and the knees and the hands are too much engaged in it, the
mind grows weary or idle. If the mind is too busily employed, the
spirit has a diminished share, or the body is indolent. It is
necessary to provide occupation for the mind, but not to occupy it in
following great mental efforts for which it is unprepared. If the mind
is unprepared, it no sooner reaches one point than it has to follow the
speaker to another; and thereby the spirit loses its power of speeding
the utterance to the throne of God.

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