1632 By George Herbert

The Parson praying.

He Countrey Parson, when he is to read divine services,
composeth himselfe to all possible reverence; lifting up
his heart and hands, and eyes, and using all other gestures
which may expresse a hearty, and unfeyned devotion. This
he doth, first, as being truly touched and amazed with the
Majesty of God, before whom he then presents himself; yet
not as himself alone, but as presenting with himself the
whole Congregation, whose sins he then beares, and brings
with his own to the heavenly altar to be bathed, and washed
in the sacred Laver of Christs blood. Secondly, as this is the
true reason of his inward feare, so he is content to expresse
this outwardly to the utmost of his power; that being first
affected himself, hee may affect also his people, knowing that
no Sermon moves them so much to a reverence, which they
forget againe, when they come to pray, as a devout be-
haviour in the very act of praying. Accordingly his voyce is
humble, his words treatable, and slow; yet not so slow neither,
to let the fervency of the supplicant hang and dy between
speaking, but with a grave livelinesse, between fear and
zeal, pausing yet pressing, he performes his duty. Besides
his example, he having often instructed his people how to
carry themselves in divine service, exacts of them all possible
reverence, by no means enduring either talking, or sleeping,
or gazing, or leaning, or halfe-kneeling, or any undutifull
behaviour in them, but causing them, when they sit, or
stand, or kneel, to do all in a strait, and steady posture, as
attending to what is done in the Church, and every one, man,
and child, answering aloud both Amen, and all other answers,
which are on the Clerks and peoples part to answer; which
answers also are to be done not in a hudling, or slubbering
fashion, gaping, or scratching the head, or spitting even in
he midst of their answer, but gently and pausably, thinking
what they say; so that while they answer, As it was in the
beginning,  &c.
they meditate as they speak, that God hath
ever had his people, that have glorified him as wel as now,
and that he shall have so for ever. And the like in other
answers. This is that which the Apostle cals a reasonable
service, Rom. 12 [:1]. when we speak not as Parrats, without
reason, or offer up such sacrifices as they did of old, which
was of beasts devoyd of reason; but when we use our reason,
and apply our powers to the service of him, that gives them.
If there be any of the gentry or nobility of the Parish, who
somtimes make it a piece of state not to come at the begin-
ning of service with their poor neighbours, but at mid-
prayers, both to their own loss, and of theirs also who gaze
upon them when they come in, and neglect the present
service of God, he by no means suffers it, but after divers
gentle admonitions, if they persevere, he causes them to be
presented: or if the poor Church-wardens be affrighted with
their greatness, notwithstanding his instruction that they
ought not to be so, but even to let the world sinke, so they
do their duty; he presents them himself, only protesting to
them, that not any ill will draws him to it, but the debt and
obligation of his calling, being to obey God rather then men.

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