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formed Christian assemblies, it is plain they used in them precomposed forms, more especially in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, Ephes. v. 10; which, and the like descriptions of public devotion, so frequently mentioned in the New Testament, give an idea of some liturgical order observed among those, who had conversed with Christ; and give a degree of credit to the Liturgies, which have been, from the earliest ages, ascribed to St. Peter, St. Mark, and St. James; which, though not composed by those persons, are certainly of an age very near to them.
That the primitive Christians used set forms of Prayer, is also evident from the expressions to be found, in the earliest fathers, of Common Prayers, Constituted Prayers, and Solemn Prayers. But this matter is put out of all doubt, by the evidence of the Apostolical Constitutions, where the forms both of morning and evening prayer are given, with as much regularity as in any modern Liturgy. After the period of that work, which though not Apostolical, as it purports to be, is of very high and acknowledged antiquity, the forming of Liturgies became an exercise for some of the most eminent among the fathers. St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, and St. Ambrose, composed each their orders and forms of Prayer, which we now possess. In this class of works may be reckoned, the Lectionary of St. Jerome, and the Sacramentary of St. Gregory; #which last person seems to have brought the Offices of the Western Church to a more complete form, than they had yet received, and by such eminent services to the Church, he Robtained the surname of the Great.
Out of these various Liturgies had been compiled, at different times, the forms of Public Service that were used in this kingdom, for many centuries during the reign of Popery. They were known, under the several names of Breviaries, Missals, and Mass Books; and those of the same name and description differed, the one from the other; hence there were in the kingdom divers forms of Public Prayer; there was the use of Sarum, the use of York, the use of Bangor, and the use of Lincoln. These Offices were all in Latin; so that the Laity, who had not the advantage of a learned education, could not join in them, or receive any edification from them: they were also mixed with many of those corruptions, into which Προσταχθείσαι ευχαὶ
a Κοιναὶ ἐυχαὶ.
ePreces solennes. ·
the mother Church of the Western World, the Church of Rome, had fallen; namely, addresses to the Saints, adorations of the Host, Images, and other inventions, that were no longer looked on with reverence, when Henry VIII. began the great work of Reformation. It was then thought necessary to correct, and amend these Offices; and not only to have the Service of the Church in the English tongue, but to restore it to its original purity; it being the design of our Reformers not to introduce a new Form of Worship, but to correct and amend the old one, till it was rendered more agreeable to Scripture, and the practice of the Primitive Church, in the purest ages of Christianity. In this Reformation they proceeded with moderation, and gradually, according as they were able.
The first step taken in this attempt to reform our Public Worship, was in the year 1537; when the Convocation appointed a Committee for that purpose. This Committee composed a book, intitled, The Godly and Pious Institution of a Christian Man; containing a declaration of the Lord's Prayer, the Ave Maria, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Seven Sacraments. This book was republished in 1540, and again in 1543, with alterations, under the title of A necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christian Man. Also, in the year 1540, a Committee of Bishops and Divines was appointed by the King, to reform the Rituals, and Offices of the Church: what they did was reconsidered by the Convocation in 1543; and in the next year, the King ordered the Prayers for Processions and Litanies, to be put into English, and publicly used. Finally, in 1545, the King's Primer came forth, wherein were contained, amongst other things, the Lord's Prayer, Creed, Ten Commandments, Venite, Te Deum, with other Hymns and Collects, in English; and several of them in the same version, in which we now use them. This is all that seems to have been done, with relation to Liturgical matters, in the reign of Henry VIII.
In the first year of Edward VI. anno 1547, the Convocation declared, nullo reclamante, the opinion, that the Communion ought to be administered to all persons, under both kinds; whereupon it was ordained, by the first Statute passed in this reign, that the Communion should be so administered. The next measure was to appoint a Committee of Bishops, and other learned Divines, for composing an uniform Order of Communion according to the rules of Scripture, and
the Use of the Primitive Church. Within a few days, the Committee drew up that form, which is to be seen in Bishop Sparrow's Collection. Being empowered by a new Commission to proceed further in this pious work, they finished in a few months, the whole Liturgy, having drawn up Public Offices for Sundays, and Holidays, for Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony, Burial of the Dead, and for other special occasions; among these services, the before-mentioned Office for the Communion was inserted, but with several alterations. The Liturgy was thus composed by learned Bishops, and Divines of eminence; many of whom afterwards became Martyrs for the Reformation in which they had laboured. It was revised and approved by the Convocation, and was established by Stat. 2 and 3 Ed. VI. chap. i. under the title of The Book of the Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, after the Use of the Church of England.
Some exceptions being taken at certain things in this Book, as savouring too much of the former superstition, Archbishop Cranmer proposed, that it should be submitted to a review; on which occasion he desired the assistance of two foreigners, Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr, whom he had invited into this country during the troubles that prevailed, on account of religion, in Germany. These persons were very forward in censuring various parts of the book; and they prevailed so far as to procure the rejection of many things in it, which others think were primitive and very venerable usages: these foreign advisers lay under the reproach of being actuated more by the prejudices they had, in favour of certain reformed Churches abroad, and particularly of the Calvinistical Church of Geneva, than by the suggestions of a sound judgment, or the lights to be derived from a thorough knowledge of Christian antiquity.
Some useful additions, however, were made at this Review; of which one was, prefixing the Sentences, Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution, at the beginning of the Morning and Evening Prayer. Some things were properly expunged; such as, the use of oil in baptism; the unction of the sick; "prayers for souls departed, both in the Communion Office, and in the Burial of the Dead. There was also expunged the Invocation of the Holy Ghost, in the consecration of the Eucharist; the prayer of Oblation, that used to follow it; and the Rubric that ordered water to be mixed with the
sacramental wine. The habits prescribed by the former Rubric were now to be laid aside; and a Rubric was added at the end of the Communion Service, to explain the reason of kneeling at the Sacrament. The Book thus revised and altered, was confirmed by Stat. 5 and 6 Ed. VI. chap. i. which, at the same time, declares, that the doubts which had arisen respecting the first Book, were, rather by the curiosity of the ministers, and mistakers, than of any other worthy cause. To this work was also added, for the first time, a Form and Manner of consecrating Archbishops, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. But this act, and the former act of uniformity, were both repealed when Queen Mary came to the throne; who re-established the Romish form of worship in all its rites and ceremonies.
Upon the accession of Queen Elizabeth, several learned Divines were appointed by the Queen to make another Review of King Edward's two Liturgies, and to frame, from them both, a Book for the use of the Church of England. After some debate, which of the two Books should be received, it was at last agreed, that the second should be preferred; and it was accordingly altered in some particulars, and proposed to Parliament: the Parliament approved it; and having, by the first act passed in this reign, revived the two statutes of Edward VI. they passed a second for re-establishing the Book of Common Prayer," with one alteration, 66 or addition, of certain Lessons to be used on every Sunday "in the year; and the form of the Litany, altered and cor"rected; and two sentences only added in the delivery of "the Sacrament to the Communicants; and none other, or "otherwise."
The alteration in the Litany was, the leaving out of these words, from the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome, and all his detestable enormities, which was a part of the last deprecation in both the Books of King Edward. The addition was, of these words to the first petition for the Queen, strengthen in the true worshipping of Thee, in righteousness, and holiness of life. The two sentences added in the delivery of the Sacrament were these, the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for Thee; or, the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for Thee, preserve thy body and soul to everlasting life. These were taken out of King Edward's first Book, and were the only forms then used: in the second Book, in the room of them, were prescribed, take eat, or drink this, with the words that
follow. Now, in Queen Elizabeth's book, both these forms were united.
Though the Act of Parliament mentions only these alterations, there were others. The first Rubric, concerning the Chancel and the place of reading, was altered; the habits enjoined by the first Book, and forbidden by the second, were restored; at the end of the Litany was added, a Prayer for the Queen, and another for the Clergy; and the Rubric in the second Book, at the end of the Communion Service, against the real, or essential presence, in the Holy Sacrament, was left out.
In this state, the Liturgy continued till the first year of James I. when, after the conference at Hampton Court (in which that Prince took part) between the Bishops, on one side, and Dr. Reynolds, and other Puritans, on the other, there were made some few alterations. At the end of the Litany, some forms of Thanksgiving were added; to the Catechism, an addition was made concerning the Sacraments: the Catechism before that time, ending with the Answer to the Question that follows the Lord's Prayer. In the Rubric, at the beginning of the Office for Private Baptism, the words lawful minister, were inserted, to prevent midwives, or laymen, from presuming to baptize. There were one or two more alterations. What was done on this occasion, was without any interference or sanction of Parliament.
So the Liturgy continued till the reign of Charles II. when the Presbyterians requesting another Review, the king issued a commission, dated 25th of March, 1661, empowering twelve Bishops, and twelve Presbyterian Divines, to make such reasonable, and necessary alterations, as they should jointly agree upon; to these were added nine assistants on each side: these commissioners had several meetings at the Savoy, but to little purpose. The Presbyterians shewed themselves so little disposed to proceed in the temperate way pointed out by the Commission, that the Conference broke up without any thing done; except that some alterations were proposed by the Episcopal Divines, which, in the May following, were agreed to by the whole Convocation. The principal alterations were, that several Lessons in the Calendar were changed for others, which were thought more proper for the days: the Prayers for particular Occasions were disjoined from the Litany; the two Prayers to be used in the Ember Weeks, the Prayer for the Parliament, that for all Conditions of Men, and the General