Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

probable, that nothing more was inte..Jesented to first instance, than to assert the unanim: livines in actual compilers. The objectors, it is ihdeacons, presented this assertion as made of a larg' by their mittee than that which really brought thi clergyto a close. Even of such among the presh had commissioners as dissented from what was uusurit is not, indeed, reasonable to suppose, that e objections were very material. Every man of education was aware, that the new offices were either translated from Romish formularies, or were selected from Scripture. Hence there was no part of the compilation to which a learned Romanist would venture to object. All that he could allege against it related to its omissions : These were certainly numerous and important; wholly sweeping away the errors, absurdities, and fictions accumulated during the dark ages. In asserting, that their labours had been conducted under favour of Divine assistance, the liturgists, probably, meant only to intimate, that they had not forgotten to supplicate earnestly for that heavenly influence of which God has encouraged the expec

i“I myself have heard some Jesuits confess, that in the Liturgy of the Church of England, there is no positive error. And being pressed, why then they refused to come to our churches, and serve God with us? they answered, they could not do it, because, though our Liturgy had nothing in it ill, yet it wanted a great deal of that which was good, and was in their service." (Archbishop of Laud's conference with Fisher, the Jesuit. Lond. 1686. p. 200.) King Edward's first service-book was, however, still less offensive to Romish prejudices than the Liturgy used in Archbishop Laud's time.

distingù, t..ose who ask for it". While the comoppositit vas in hand, the prayers of ecclesiastics the bill

| were claimed by royal proclamation for it by th ho were thus occupied in providing for stall, wiritual wants of their countrymen. By this Day:iate of authority all preaching was suspended Thả time,“ to the intent, that the whole clergy in this mean space, might apply themselves to prayer to Almighty God, for the better achieving of the same most godly intent and purpose!” By many devout spirits, in every part of England, it cannot be doubted, this proclamation was obeyed, as well as by the liturgical committee. Nor were the members of this justly censurable in claiming for their labours the sanction which they had every reason to expect. The integrity of their lives was notorious, the moderation of their proceedings undeniable, their attainments of the first order, and the result of their undertaking was strictly conformable to the recorded Word of God. Popes and councils, it should be recollected, had been wont to publish their decisions with an assertion that in making them the Holy Spirit was their guide. Such, however, of these eminent ecclesiastical authorities as were awakened to the knowledge of true religion, might reasonably fear to claim this sanction for all their judgments founded upon tradition ". This fatal defect not

* St. Luke xi. 13.

I Collier, II. 262. m“ A blasphemous proverb was generally used, that, The Synod of Trent was guided by the Holy Ghost sent thither from time to time, in a cloak-bag from Rome.” F. Paul. 197.

attaching to our Reformers, and being otherwise not unworthy, they were warranted in considering their labours as favoured from on high. They were, moreover, bound, in justice to their cause, to avow their honest conviction in a manner confident, though temperate. Eminent spiritual gifts had long been claimed by the Romish hierarchy as its exclusive inheritance, and its influence could not be destroyed, until men were shaken in their belief as to the validity of these claims. It became, therefore, the duty of those who laboured to reform the Catholic Church to insist, that their particular branch of it possessed every privilege promised by Christ to his faithful disciples. Hence they would have betrayed an injurious timidity, if they had forborne to assert, on a great public occasion, that they felt assured of having acted under that Divine guidance which Holy Scripture encourages pious Christians to expect in all their well-intentioned and well-directed undertakings. Had any unusual diffidence been displayed by the liturgical committee, it is indeed highly probable, that Romanists would have dwelt upon it as a proof, that the Reformers themselves distrusted the soundness of their cause.

Such an impression respecting any party can never prevail without impairing its influence. The virtuous, learned, and enlightened divines, therefore, who re modelled the public devotions of Englishmen, displayed their usual wisdom in boldly assigning to their labours that heavenly character which individuals similarly

employed were wont to claim, and upon which those especially could calculate with reasonable assurance who rejected every thing, that was not either Scripture, or in unison with it.

The act to enforce the use of the new Liturgy contains a clause evidently intended to gratify the taste for devotional pieces in rhyme then prevalent, especially with the reforming party. Psalms, or prayers taken out of the Bible, were to be allowed in public worship, provided that no part of the legal service were omitted". Hymns in rhyme are of high antiquity in the West, and many such, some of them very pleasing, are admitted into the Latin service-books. The Bohemian and German Reformers published such pieces in their vernacular tongue, and Marot did the same thing in France about the year 1540. His version, which originally comprised thirty of David's Psalms, was no sooner published than it became highly popular. Even Francis I., and most of the licentious or thoughtless persons who figured at his court, committed these devotional poems to memory, adapted them to agreeable tunes, and sang them habitually. Marot afterwards presented his countrymen with twenty more of the Psalms in French rhyme. But this new publication appeared at Geneva, whither the poet had been obliged to flee in order to escape a prosecution for heresy. He died in 1544, and Beza then accomplished a metrical version of the

[blocks in formation]

remaining Psalms. Towards the close of King Henry's reign were attempted such English versions. One of them, chiefly by Sir Thomas Wyatt, was printed in 1549. In the same year appeared fifty-one Psalms versified by Sternhold. His labours formed the basis of that metrical collection which is yet used in many of our churches, but which has long sunk into general disesteem. It should, however, be observed in justice to these ancient psalmodists, that although many poets have subsequently trodden in their steps, no one hitherto has satisfied the public.

From another act passed in this session, it may reasonably be presumed, that the unsettled state of ecclesiastical affairs continued to supply avaricious minds with pretences for resisting the payment of tythes. After observing that the legislative enactments of the late reign had failed of securing the tythe owner in his rights, it was decreed, that all, who should for the future subtract their predial tythes, unless already compounded for, should be liable to a forfeiture of treble their value. It was also provided, that tythe-owners, or their servants, might lawfully see the said tythes set out, and carry them off without molestation. Another clause renders cattle feeding upon commons, not certainly known as parcels of any particular parish, liable to a demand for tythes from the tythe-owner of the nearest parish. Another clause subjects land newly taken into cultivation

o Dr. Rees's Cyclopædia. Art. Psalmody.

« ZurückWeiter »