2 Timothy 1:13
Hold fast the form of sound words, which you have heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
The Book of Common Prayer, which has guided the devotions of so many millions, in all lands, to-day, and which has been the comfort of a great multitude which no man can number, in ages past, has been welt described as "The Sanctuary of our Faith and our Language." Its words are familiar in every ear, and its ancient forms hallow our daily life. The Prayer-book speaks to us most tenderly of birth, baptism, marriage, and death. Forms of prayer and praise were used in the Jewish Church, by God's own appointment, and liturgies have given shape and permanence to the worship of the Christian Church since apostolic times. Our own Prayer-book is especially rich in its ancient treasures, from the fact that it embraces the choicest selections from those heirlooms of the past. It was not the work of a day, nor of a generation, but the legacy of saints and martyrs and confessors; and the words now uttered by God's children in this distant age were once spoken by those who faced the rack and the devouring flames, and whose only abiding-places were the dens and caves of the earth. The Communion Service, by itself, is a compact and complete summary of the Christian's belief, and a powerful and persuasive sermon enforcing holiness of life. In our every-day, struggling, checkered existence, the Prayer-book bears an important part. When Archbishop Cranmer had resumed his manly courage, and was ready to seal with his blood his faithfulness to the truth of God, he reverently began his dying testimony by reciting the Apostles' Creed. John Rogers, as he was led in handcuffs through weeping crowds, to be burned at the stake, chanted, with loud and unfaltering voice, the thrilling words of the Miserere. The gentle and gifted Lady Jane Gray nerved herself to lay her head upon the fatal block by reciting the same sweet words, exchanging, in a moment, the earthly crown, with its thorns and trials, for an immortal diadem of glory. St. and St. rise up before us when the grand Te Deum recalls the memorable baptism at Milan. Recent as are the historical records of the Church in this Western world, they are by no means lacking in interest and significance. On the sultry August day in 1583, when Sir Humphrey Gilbert landed on the craggy shores of Newfoundland, to take possession of the continent for England's queen, the Cross of Christ was set up, and the solemn offices of the were duly celebrated. Well may we rejoice that this Book of Common Prayer, so powerful for good, has been preserved, by God's kind providence, as the heritage of His people! The morning sun, as he rises successively on the nations of the earth, is ever followed by these prayers and praises of martyred saints, and he sinks, at close of day, behind no mountain nor plain nor ocean wave where these holy offices are not heard. After even so brief a summary of what might be said concerning this, the only meet companion volume for the Holy Bible, does not every one among us feel disposed to yield cheerful obedience to the apostle's direction concerning the preservation of the casket of sacred truth, "Hold fast the form of sound words"? The dying Hammond, amidst the most excruciating pains, stopped his friends, who were praying for him in irregular and unpremeditated words, saying, "Let us call on God in the voice of His Church!" When the saintly George Herbert was asked what prayers should be offered in his death-chamber, he answered, With warmth, "The prayers of my mother, the Church of England; there are no prayers like them!" Hannah Moore records her testimony that "never, in the most rapturous moments of the saintliest minds, have they failed to find in the Prayer-book their most soaring and sustaining wings." The most devoted Churchman is not disposed to place the Prayer-book above the Bible, but, like the moon in the heavens, it is only a satellite of the Church, borrowing all its light from Christ, the Sun of Righteousness.
Parallel VersesKJV: Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.