Mr. Spectator, Having seen in several of your Papers, a Concern for the Honour of the Clergy, and their doing every thing as becomes their Character, and particularly performing the publick Service with a due Zeal and Devotion; I am the more encouraged to lay before them, by your Means, several Expressions used by some of them in their Prayers before Sermon, which I am not well satisfied in: As their giving some Titles and Epithets to great Men, which are indeed due to them in their several Ranks and Stations, but not properly used, I think, in our Prayers. Is it not Contradiction to say, Illustrious, Right, Reverend, and Right Honourable poor Sinners? These Distinctions are suited only to our State here, and have no place in Heaven: We see they are omitted in the Liturgy; which I think the Clergy should take for their Pattern in their own Forms of [Devotion. ] There is another Expression which I would not mention, but that I have heard it several times before a learned Congregation, to bring in the last Petition of the Prayer in these Words, O let not the Lord be angry and I will speak but this once; as if there was no Difference between Abraham’s interceding for Sodom, for which he had no Warrant as we can find, and our asking those Things which we are required to pray for; they would therefore have much more Reason to fear his Anger if they did not make such Petitions to him. There is another pretty Fancy: When a young Man has a Mind to let us know who gave him his Scarf, he speaks a Parenthesis to the Almighty, Bless, as I am in Duty bound to pray, the right honourable the Countess; is not that as much as to say, Bless her, for thou knowest I am her Chaplain?
Your humble Servant,
[Footnote 1: Devotion. Another Expression which I take to be improper, is this, the whole Race of Mankind, when they pray for all Men; for Race signifies Lineage or Descent; and if the Race of Mankind may be used for the present generation, (though I think not very fitly) the whole Race takes in all from the Beginning to the End of the World. I don’t remember to have met with that Expression in their sense anywhere but in the old Version of Psal. 14, which those Men, I suppose, have but little Esteem for. And some, when they have prayed for all Schools and Nurserys of good Learning and True Religion, especially the two Universities, add these Words, Grant that from them and all other Places dedicated to thy Worship and Service, may come forth such Persons. But what do they mean by all other Places? It seems to me that this is either a Tautology, as being the same with all Schools and Nurserys before expressed, or else it runs too far; for there are general Places dedicated to the Divine Service which cannot properly be intended here.]
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No. 313. Thursday, February 28, 1712. Budgell.