Forms


Forms
   One great objection brought against the Episcopal Church by many persons not members of it is what they call forms and ceremonies. They say what they want is "spiritual religion," and this objection seems to be so final with them there is evidently nothing more to be said. It is not the purpose of this article to go into a vindication of forms, but rather to point out how unreasonable this objection is. If it were real, it would do away with all social forms and all forms in business as well as in religion. But they who make this objection do not adhere to it in their own religion. They cannot come together, even in a "Prayer Meeting" without some method or form which must be gone through with. Even the Quakers who, above all others, lay the greatest stress on "spiritual religion," must have their form -- of silence, speech, dress and of even the architecture of their meeting-place, and which form is peculiar to them. This being the case the question, therefore, is not "Shall we have forms?" but, "What form shall we have in our Public Worship?" for we have learned that we must have some kind of FORM. The Episcopal Church simply clings to that which was from the beginning, because the experience of centuries demonstrates that this is best, more consonant to reason and more expressive of the religious wants of man. Hence she values her Book of Common Prayer which is the outgrowth of the devotions of the ages and she cherishes the usages and traditions that have grown up around it. The Episcopal Church does not insist on forms merely for the sake of forms, but she values them for their helpfulness, for what they convey to the soul faithfully using them, and also, because they enable us to worship God as did His faithful people in all the ages past.

American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. — New York, Thomas Whittaker. . 1901.

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