Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

blished not only among the British Christians, but also in the private chapel of his illustrious patroness. Having been despatched upon his mission by Gregory, an industrious ritualist, the Kentish apostle appears to have felt some desire to gratify that celebrated pontiff by introducing into Britain the Roman office. But Gregory's good sense rejected this compliment. He suggested to Augustine the propriety of making no violent innovations, and of selecting from the services of different churches such things as might appear best suited to the people among whom he was labouring to establish himself. This national

“Mihi (Gregorio sc.) placet, ut sive in Romana, sive in Galliarum, seu in qualibet ecclesia, aliquid invenisti quod plus Omnipotenti Deo possit placere, solicite eligas, et in Anglorum Ecclesia, quæ adhuc ad fidem nova est, institutione præcipua, quæ de multis ecclesiis colligere potuisti, infundas." (Ibid. 81.) Perbaps there might be something of worldly policy in this. It was hardly to be expected, that a ritualist should recommend any service but his own, or that a bishop eagerly upon the watch against the claims to universal episcopacy preferred by a rival bishop, should not have anxiously desired the extension of that office which his own church had adopted. But then he longed to intrude his pretensions to supremacy upon his brethren in Britain, who wished for nothing less than to be troubled with the arrogant interference of a distant Italian. It was, therefore, necessary to proceed with the utmost caution, lest the whole scheme should miscarry, and the Kentish mission end in a junction of converted Saxons with aboriginal Christians, forming together an independent national Church. In order to prevent this consummation so advantageous to Britain, and so mortifying to Rome, it was essential to awaken jealousy as little as possible. Hence Gregory had too much tact to advise, that his own service-book should be imposed upon Britain ; at the same time,

liturgy, however, was probably never formed. Augustine failed of evangelising the great majority of Englishmen. That important labour chiefly fell into the hands of zealous natives, and they scorned the insidious interference of Roman emissaries. After no long interval, however, political events gave an ascendancy to the Italian party, and there was no longer laid upon them any necessity to temporise. The Roman missal now became the basis of English service-books; but this importation did not produce an absolute uniformity. The northern province used a missal of its own. The extensive diocese of Lincoln had also its peculiar liturgy. South Wales followed the use of Hereford, the northern countries of the Principality, that of Bangor". At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the cathedral of St. Paul in London used a peculiar service, but then, that church, in common with the whole South of England, adopted the use of Sarum'. Osmund, Bishop of that see, who died possessed of a blameless reputation in 1099', and who was

he would not give an express sanction to that of any other country. He recommended, accordingly, that a liturgy should be composed expressly for Britain. By this devise, an impolitic appearance of dependence upon Rome might have been avoided ; the establishment of such a dependence in reality, Gregory knew might be safely entrusted to his creatures, if they could only manage so as to acquire a primacy over the insular prelacy. & Burnet, Hist. Ref. II. 115.

This alteration took place at St. Paul's in 1414. Dugdale's St. Paul's. 'Godwin, de Præsul. 337.

eventually canonised, is considered as the compiler of this service-book. His work, however, was not allowed to reach posterity as he left it. Interpolations were made in it to suit the taste of succeeding times 8.

It was not the sole object with those excellent men to whom England owes her liturgy, to reject the errors and absurdities which had gradually crept into the service-books during the dark ages. Their intention also was to enable men to pray not with the lips only but with the understanding too. A serious European would look with pity and concern upon an Asiatic kneeling before an image of Boodh or Brahma,

5 “Before Osmund's time, as Harpsfield (the Romish ecclesiastical historian) observes, almost every diocese had a different liturgy. Osmund collected his matter out of the Holy Scriptures, and other valuable church-records, and digested it in so commodious a method, that it was generally approved, and made the standard of public devotion almost every where in England, Ireland, and Wales. But after his death, as this historian continues, there were several interpolations thrown in, which were not altogether defensible ; the bishops, it seems, conniving at this alteration." (Collier, I. 277.) From a missal given to his cathedral by Leofric, who died Bishop of Exeter in 1073, it appears, that direct addresses to angels, or to departed spirits were then unknown in England. Their prayers and intercession are, indeed, made a ground of the suppliant's hope, but it does not seem to have been taken for granted, that they could hear the voice of mortals. In another instance, however, this missal is represented as utterly indefensible. “God is addressed to restore the Energumeni (persons of unquiet mind, thought to be under demoniacal influence) for the merits of the angels, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, virgins, &c. But here the blessed Virgin is not particularly mentioned." Ibid. 245.

and muttering words in a language unintelligible to him, while his fingers were employed in counting a string of beads or pebbles, equal in number to the prayers which, parrot-like, his lips repeated. But because habit, or flimsy apologies, or want of thought, has reconciled the eye to such humiliating spectacles among Christians, they pass by some unheeded, and by others they are considered merely as the- harmless folly of a priest-ridden sect. Our Reformers, however, knew from God's infallible word ", that they were not justified in allowing the public devotions of those who looked up to them for spiritual food, to retain this character of superstition and absurdity. Nor could they forget, that the actual state into which the verbal forms of Romanism had fallen, was an evil which had reached its height at no very remote period, and which flowed from the criminal negligence of the hierarchy. At the time when every bishop framed a liturgy for his own church, no man will suppose that he put together words unintelligible to his people. When, at length, liturgies of extensive use appeared, the Orienal Churches acquired them in their vernacular tongues, the Western Christians in Latin ; then common to the great majority of men in Italy, Spain, Gaul, and Britain. Centuries rolled away after that language was alloyed by Gothic and Arabic admixtures, before it ceased to be spoken by persons in superior life, and to be intelligible

h I Cor. xiv.

ordinarily in the humbler classes. Even when it seldom met the general ear, books being rarely seen in any other idiom, literary and professional men were still familiar with it, and down to the Reformation many persons spoke the dialect of ancient Rome habitually. At that period, however, the vulgar languages of Europe had attained consistency. Already authors of ability had written in the tongues which they lisped in infancy, and those who sought books for amusement, or for superficial information, needed to resort no longer to a dead language. Latin became unintelligible to the populace, even of Italy; to the man bred in any other country its sounds scarcely conveyed a hint of their proper meaning, unless he had accomplished a peculiar course of study. An important change having thus arrived, never contemplated by the ancient Latin liturgists, it was obviously the duty of existing ecclesiastics, high in their profession, to remedy the evil. The Trentine council overlooked that duty, and thus permanently rendered to unlettered Romanists, even unexceptionable portions of their worship, an irrational superstition'. Innocent III., though

Mr. Gother tells us, that the Romanist " is commanded to assist at the church-service, and to hear mass; and in this he is instructed, not so much to understand the words, as to know what is done. For the mass being a sacrifice, wherein is daily commemorated the death and passion of Christ, by an oblation, made by the priest, of the body and blood of the immaculate Lamb, under the symbols of bread and wine, according to his own institution ; it is not so much the business of the congrega

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »