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sufficiently noted for encroachments upon civil and religious liberty, kept clear of this reproach. He commanded that ministers be found to celebrate Divine service in a language understood of those who waited upon their ministrations. In modern times attempts are made to palliate the monstrous abuse of inviting people to hear words which they do not understand, by printing liturgical books with translations parallel to the originals. This, however, to the unlettered worshipper, is obviously a mere mockery, and, as even persons of some education are often little disposed to exercise their minds, especially upon serious subjects, it cannot be doubted, that many will miss a benefit attainable only reading,
tion present, to employ their ears in attending to the words, as their hearts, in contemplation of the divine mysteries, hy raising up fervent affections of love, thanksgiving, sorrow for sins, resolutions of amendment, &c." (Papist Misrepresented, 54.) A future editor of this tract might advantageously exercise his ingenuity in devising reasons why the ancient Latin ritualists composed in the vernacular tongue, and why passages now spoken secretly were formerly spoken openly. Mr. Gother afterwards furnishes a passage which appears eminently well fitted to defend the silent meetings of that highly-respectable society, the Quakers. " Does any one think," asks the author, " that those holy women, who followed our Lord, and were witnesses of his sufferings, wanted holy affections in their souls because he spoke not ? Were they scandalized at his silence ?” As for other prayers besides the mass, we are told, it is “ an undeniable thing, that to say prayers well and devoutly, it is not necessary to have attention on the words, or on the sense of the prayers, but rather purely on God." Ibid. 58.
Bp. Jer. Taylor's Dissuasive from Popery, 304.
which they would have enjoyed if communicated by the ear. Evidently too, on another account, there was little hope of extensive utility from translations inserted in service-books, when our Reformers laboured; reading was not then the accomplishment of almost every man, nor did the frugal habits of the age allow the general purchase of books. Scripture, ecclesiastical antiquity, and expediency, therefore concurred in admonishing the ritualists of England not only to reject the impieties, absurdities, and superstitions which had long debased the church-service, but also to produce a compilation in the vernacular tongue. Thus pious minds, in every rank, might at once acquire comfort and information from an attendance upon public worship. While even inattentive ears might gradually convey the seeds of pure and rational devotion.
The compilers of our liturgy began their task by a diligent examination of existing servicebooks. Those of England naturally claimed their earliest attention, and as these were Romish, a reproach has been often cast upon the Common Prayer on account of the stigma justly cleaving to its presumed progenitor. But it should be remembered, that the papal liturgies are not deserving of indiscriminate censure. At an early period in the Christian history, our holy faith was professed no where in greater purity, than in the mighty metropolis of civilisation. Unhappily the Roman bishops, overcome by the worldly temptations of their position, adopted gradually
such features of exploded Paganism as were best suited to captivate the multitude; but though at last their whole system was overlaid with this vile tinsel, they never ventured to discard the solid gold. Romish formularies, accordingly, though shamefully patched with ridiculous and idolatrous rubrics, appeals to the dead, the mention of human merit, and lying legends, are mainly derived from the purer ages of ecclesiastical antiquity. To refuse a form redolent of an uncorrupted period, and of a holy mind, because interested or misjudging men had subsequently combined it with unauthorised fancies of their own, was a weakness to which our Reformers were superior. They appear, accordingly, to have aimed at little more, than a selection from the established liturgy of such parts as would bear to be confronted with Scripture, and with the genuine remains of the primitive Church. They were, indeed, evidently anxious that their work should prove as inoffensive to Romish prejudices as possible.
as possible. It must not, however, be supposed, that the result of these labours was a mere Romish book in the vernacular tongue. In fact, every thing, properly denominated Romish, in the established liturgies, was unsparingly retrenched; and to the new work were transferred those features only of its immediate predecessor which are among the venerable remains of the ancient Latin Church! This enlightened policy
1 " Here you have an order for prayer, and for the reading VOL. III.
proved the means of introducing to the nation a service remarkably resembling that established in Britain at a remote period". Indeed, upon the
of the Holy Scripture, much more agreeable to the mind and purpose of the old fathers, and a great deal more profitable and commodious than that which of late was used.” Preface to the Common Prayer.
m It appears that the ancient Gallican liturgy, brought into Britain in the fifth century, prescribed for the morning service, Scripture lessons, psalms, and hymns, each concluding with the Gloria Patri, an interval of silence, during which the people were to offer up in secret their particular prayers, and a collect, or general prayer. (Stillingfleet's Orig. Brit. 223.) The silent prayers of ancient times were retained at our Reformation, by means of the bidding, or enumeration of persons and things to be prayed for, enjoined before sermon, and still used in the Universities, and other places. The other parts mentioned, still make up nearly the whole of the ordinary service in our churches, und they are managed so as to edify the congregation. Under the Roman usurpation little edification could have been derived from the service, even if it had been generally intelligible. Especially did the Scripture lessons suffer by the treatment to which they were subjected. After the reading of a few verses, short anthems, called responds, were sung, and thus the whole chapter was disjointed. Many of the Romish hymns, too, are despicable, being compositions in monkish rhyme, originating in the darkest periods of ecclesiastical history. The rejection of all this trash, and of much that is even more indefensible, together with the giving of a prominent and edifying position to Scripture, were most important restorations of ancient usages adopted by our Reformers. In the ancient Gallican office was also a general confession made to God: but of confession to saints and angels, not a word. An examination of the whole matter leads Bishop Stillingfleet to this conclusion :-"Our Church of England hath omitted none of those offices wherein all the ancient churches agreed ; and where the British or Gallican,
whole, nothing could be more judicious than the conduct of those entrusted with this delicate commission ; for although the first service-book contained some concessions to Romish prejudices, afterwards properly denied, yet these were sanctioned by early usage among Christians, and it justly seemed expedient to deal cautiously with popular prepossessions. The candour and discretion of the liturgical committee were fully equalled by the literary execution of its task. The translations produced are among the happiest extant.
The morning service was still denominated matins, and began with the Lord's prayer. After this came the responses, which yet follow it in the Liturgy". Allelujah was then to be sung from Easter to Whit-Sunday'. Then came, as it does still, the ninety-fifth Psalm ”, then the
and Roman differed, our Church hath not followed the Roman, but the other.” Ibid. 237.
Taken from Ps.li. 15; xl. 13; together with the Doxology, which is founded on 1 St. John, v. 7, and which appears to have been used by Christians in the year 190. (Comber. 71.) This responsive mode of devotion is of such antiquity, that Eusebius infers the Christianity of the Essenes, from the fact of their singing alternately. (Ibid. 69.)
• “ The fifty days between Easter and Whitsunday were days of excessive joy in the primitive Church, in honour of our Sa. viour's resurrection, and were in some particulars observed with equal solemnity to the Lord's day, as in not fasting, not kneeling, and chanting this angelical allelujah on these days." L'Estrange, 77.
P This Psalm, which appears to have been composed for the public service of ancient Judaism, and which is expressly re