The causes which led to the further change.
The Revised Prayer-book, after the opposition in Devonshire and Norfolk had subsided, received very general recognition. Of course there were some who, while grateful for the reforms which had been effected, could ill suppress their conviction that the hands of the Reformers had been stayed too soon. These, however, in England at least, were not a numerous body; and if no influence from without had been brought to bear upon them, they would probably have quietly acquiesced without taking any action in the matter. But there were many restless spirits on time Continent who watched the progress of reform in this country with the keenest interest, and whose hopes seemed to hang upon the English Church. All, they felt, would be safe if only they could indoctrinate England with a truly Protestant spirit, a genuine aversion to anything and everything which received the approval of Rome.
The foreign Reformers.
Foremost amongst these were Calvin, Melanchthon, John à Lasco, Bucer, and Peter Martyr.
Unfortunately they found in Cranmer, the Primate of the English Church, a too ready listener to their Proposals. All of them entered into correspondence with him upon ecclesiastical affairs; some of them came over in person, and were welcomed as guests in his Palace, and received much sympathy and encouragement at his hands.
Calvin, piqued by the manner in which the Archbishop had met his proposal to take part in the first Revision, hesitated to risk a second rebuff by direct negotiations, but endeavoured first to ingratiate himself with the Protector, hoping through him ultimately to attain his object. He was considerate enough to express his general approval of set forms of prayer, but, with time self-sufficiency which asserts itself in all his letters, enters upon an elaborate criticism and censure of many of those which had so lately received the sanction of the English Convocation, the King, and the Parliament. After this he wrote to Edward VI. pleading for more extensive revision.
Cranmer had no personal liking for Calvin, and if he had been the only discontented complainant, probably little notice would have been taken of his grievance, but a far more dangerous Reformer entered into the field of controversy in the person of Melanchthon. The connection between him and the Primate begun under most favourable circumstances. It would hardly be possible to find any other two men with such strong natural affinities to each other. The scheme for a general concordat. Now at this time Melanchthon was possessed by an intense desire to draw up a Concordat which should commend itself to the Protestant world at large, and act as a powerful engine against the Papacy. So long as this was attacked by the Churches singly he felt that it would always prove formidable, perhaps quite invincible, but if it could once be attacked by a combination of forces its downfall was secured.
The possibility of the scheme had been suggested to him by the cordial reception of the Confession which he had compiled throughout the Lutheran communities. It is characteristic, however, of Melanchthon's modesty, and strangely in contrast with the self-confidence of his brother Reformer, that he shrank back from all claim to take part even in drawing up the terms of agreement, and more than hinted at the imperfections of the document he had framed.
Melanchthon refuses to come to England.
The idea commended itself to Cranmer's judgment, and he lost no time in inviting its originator to settle in this country, but the invitation was not accepted. Again and again the Archbishop renewed his efforts, holding out every possible inducement, but Melanchthon persistently refused to leave his native land. The urgency of the invitations we may gather from the astonishment expressed in one of his letters, in which he writes that the English pressed hitting so hard that they took away his breath.'
To any one who had interested himself in the work of Reform the union of all the Reformed Churches in such a coalition must in itself have appeared a grand conception; but past experience of such combinations ought to have suggested difficulty and danger. If the alliance was to be more than nominal it would entail many sacrifices before satisfactory terms could he mutually agreed upon. Of these it was inevitable that by far the larger share would be called for from England. Unhappily Cranmer had already begun to drift away from the principles which he so boldly advocated at the Windsor Revision ; and the utter inconsistency of making the required concessions failed to deter him. There was certainly one most desirable object to be obtained by the project, and possibly this weighed largely with him. It would give back to the Lutheran and Calvinistic Churches the Episcopal government which they had lost. But he never calculated how much was to be set over-against this one advantage in the surrender of other Catholic privileges. The Swiss Protestants, for instance, were impatient of everything, either in doctrine or ritual, for which express direction was wanting in Holy Scripture. To conciliate them the authority of antiquity, the witness of tradition, the decrees of general Councils -- all must be disregarded -- and, in a word, the guiding principles of the First Revision completely reversed.
Influences brough to bear upon Cranmer.
Cranmer, unless he wilfully closed his eyes, must have seen all this at the outset; but he was egged on by the Privy Council and the King himself. The fiery Scotch Reformer, John Knox, already enrolled among the Royal Chaplains, was actually proposed for a vacant Bishopric, the King expressing a hope that if raised to the Episcopal Bench he might prove |a whetstone to quicken and sharpen the Bishop of Canterbury, whereof he had need.| But though the Utopian scheme of Melanchthon was soon relinquished as hopeless, the impulse in the direction of Protestantism which Cranmer had received lost little of its force. Indeed it gathered fresh energy from a new and unexpected cause. This produced ultimately such grave and unhappy results that we cannot pass on till we have traced its origin with care and attention.
The second Diet of Spires.
On March 15, 1529 A.D., a diet of the German Empire was ordered by Charles V. to Lake into consideration the state or religion in his dominions. A resolution was passed ratifying a previous condemnation of Luther, and pledging the members of the Conference to use their endeavours to stem the tide of innovation which was threatening to inundate the land.
The Elector of Saxony, the Landgrave of Hesse, the Prince of Anhalt, the Dukes of Lünenburg, together with the Commissioners from fourteen Imperial cities, made a manly defence for the rights of conscience, and solemnly protested against what they held to be an unjust decree, gaining from this circumstance the distinction of being the progenitors of all who have since borne the title of Protestant.'
The league of Smalcald.
The league of Smalcald, which followed not 1ong after, bound the Protestant States together for, mutual defence against all aggression upon their religious rights. The Emperor determined to leave no stone unturned to defeat their object, but it was not till some time had elapsed that he was able to take any decisive step. In 1548 A.D., by the aid of several divines, he drew up a system of Theology for general adoption, but although it was written with most carefully studied dissimulation, and every artifice which language could provide was employed to conceal its real effect, it was soon discovered to be conformable in all but a few unimportant articles to the old Roman Religion. The document purported to be merely intended as a provisional arrangement, of force only till a general Council could be summoned, and it was designated accordingly The Interim.'
The tyranny of the Emperor.
The Emperor was determined to bind the States to his will, and to coerce all who refused compliance. One prince after another suffered imprisonment, taking courage from the noble example of the Elector of Saxony, whom threats and promises alike failed to shake. |I cannot flow,| he said, |in my old age abandon the principles for which I formerly contended; nor, in order to procure freedom during a few declining years, will I betray that good cause on account of which I have suffered so much, and am still willing to suffer. Better for me to enjoy in this solitude the esteem of virtuous men, together with the approbation of my own conscience, than to return unto the world, with the imputation and guilt of apostasy, and to disgrace and embitter the remainder of my days.| The severity of his confinement was increased, and everything done to compel submission; but throughout Germany and in the Netherlands, there was an obstinate determination not to be drawn back again into the toils from which they had. extricated themselves, when Luther threw the Papal Bull into the flames at Wittenberg.
The oppressed Foreigners take refuge in England.
But in the midst of all this persecution it was not surprising that they looked abroad for a free country where they might hold and proclaim their opinions without molestation; and it was no less surprising that they turned instinctively to England to find what they desired. These were the circumstances which brought the bulk of the Foreign Protestants into this country. We have dwelt upon the history at length, at the risk of being tedious, because it was of such momentous consequence to the Church that it can hardly be too carefully considered.
The leading Foreigners who took refuge with us were John à Lasco, Peter Martyr, and Martin Bucer.
As they affected for a time the whole character of Liturgical worship in England, we shall adopt the plan which we followed with the First Revisionists, and endeavour to draw out the leading features of their lives and work for the better understanding of the influence which they exercised.
John à Lasco.
In May 1550 A.D., John à Lasco came to settle in London. Though by birth a Pole, of noble blood, he had been living in the capital of Friesland for some years, and taking a prominent part in all the Ecclesiastical controversies, which agitated the Netherlands, as well as the rest of the Continent. The Protestant cause made great progress in the province, and the Emperor, perhaps confounding its advocates to some extent with the turbulent Anabaptists, took the extreme measure of invoking the aid of the Spanish Inquisition to suppress them.
The fear of this, combined with the publication of |the Interim,| drove à Lasco to find a refuge in England. His great influence. The wide-spread influence which he exercised over the Foreign Churches, which had formed or were forming congregations in London, is very remarkable, and stamps him as a man of no inconsiderable power. He succeeded without difficulty in gaining the ear of the Lords of the Council, Cecil and Choke, and through them of the Protector Somerset. He held out to him the advantages to trade, especially in the branch of weaving, which was their speciality, likely to accrue to our country if his followers were permitted to dwell unmolested. The king's concessions to him. And he gained even more than he asked. The King was so fascinated by his conversation, and touched by his story, that he actually granted part of the dissolved monastery of the Augustinian Friars as a chapel for his congregation, together with the unprecedented privilege of absolute security from interference, civil and ecclesiastical, in their forms of worship and discipline. This remarkable concession, fraught with so much future trouble to the Church, was signed and sealed on July 24, 1550 A.D. It offered all that the restless spirits of the time could desire in the free exercise of religious worship, after other forms than those established by the law of the land. The home of à Lasco became a rendezvous for persecuted foreigners of whatever denomination or doctrinal opinion, and he reigned like a second Pontiff over a multitude of communities, Dutch, German, Italian, Florentine, Belgian and French. His doctrinal views.In doctrine, on the crucial question of the day, the nature of the Sacraments, he advocated strongly Zuinglian principles, and condemned as idolatrous the practice of kneeling to receive the consecrated elements. His aversion to Rites and Ceremonies manifested itself in his eagerness to shake off the fetters of English usage; while in the Vestiarian controversy, which was creating such trouble and bitterness at this time, Hooper expressed his satisfaction that though many men of influence and position from whom he expected support held entirely aloof, John à Lasco stood by his side.'
His piety was most marked, and his learning so profound, that Erasmus pronounced him to be |a man of such parts that he wished for no greater happiness than his single friendship,| and as an unmistakable mark of his esteem, he bequeathed to him in his will the then-priceless treasure of his Library.
Now while à Lasco was exercising his great influence in favour of Calvinistic doctrine and unrestrained liberty of private judgment in the metropolis, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge were being brought under the training of foreign minds in many respects of no very different type. Peter Martyr.Peter Martyr was teaching at Oxford; Martin Bucer at Cambridge. Martyr, a man of high birth, spent his early years in a Florentine monastery, but was at last compelled, like so many of his contemporaries, to become an exile for conscience sake. Like à Lasco he found a sanctuary in England. Shortly after his arrival, mainly through the Primate's influence he superseded Dr. Richard Smith in the Chair of Divinity at Oxford. He became at once unpopular with the University authorities; his first offence was taking his wife to live with him in his Canonical lodgings at Christ Church, she being the first woman who had ventured to invade by her presence |the sanctity of College life.| Dying shortly after, she was buried by the shrine of St. Frideswide in Christ Church Cathedral, but on the accession of Queen Mary the Celibates had their revenge, for her body was thrown out in scorn and buried in a dunghill without the precincts of the College.
In the earliest lectures that he delivered, ho took such a low view of the Sacraments as to assert that they were mere |figures of absent things,| and the general tone of his Theology roused a spirit of strong opposition, so strong that on one occasion when the Schools were thronged by town as well as gown, he owed his preservation from personal violence to the timely interposition of the Vice-Chancellor and his attendants.
Again, on the Vestiarian controversy he took up a position directly opposed to all the traditional usage of the Catholic Church, and was heard to boast that although a Canon of the Cathedral |he had never worn a surplice at Oxford, even when present in the Choir,| and his favourite designation for the Eucharistic vestments was |relics of the Amorites.|
And these are things which we must not forget when we come to consider the changes which the Second Edwardian Prayer-book effected both in doctrine and ceremonial.
We pass to the third of the distinguished Foreigners. His original name was Kuhhorn, but according to a pedantic fashion of the day he changed it to Bucer, bous keras, or in English |Cowhorn.| Much of his early life he spent at Heidelberg as a Dominican Friar, but was at length tempted to abandon the cloister, and entered the married state: and in doing so he not only violated his own sacred promise, but induced another to do the same, for he selected a nun for his partner; and when in the plague which devastated the country in 1541 A.D., she and five of her thirteen sons were carried off, the enemies who professed the old Faith boasted that judgment had overtaken her at last for her broken vows.
On coming to England at the same time as Martyr, Bucer was placed in the corresponding Chair of Divinity in the sister University, where he gave a fresh direction to the studies of the place. While his brother Professor at Oxford had been trained in the School of Calvin, he had sat at the feet of Luther. His doctrinal views.He did not, it is true, accept his master's teaching on the subject of subjects; he nevertheless held Sacramental views many degrees removed from the bareness of Calvin's pupil.
The vicious principle that the abuse of a thing is in itself a sufficient argument for its disuse had to much hold upon him, and it led him to oppose with fatal effect the Catholic practice of commending in prayer the faithful dead to the mercy of GOD. He did not hesitate to profess his cordial acceptance of the Revised Prayer-book, but inasmuch as in twenty-eight chapters of criticism of its contents, he finds abundant material for censure, it is difficult to acquit him of the charge of dissimulation, and certainly his views upon the utility of ceremonies, and |the circumstance| of religious worship, are utterly inconsistent with an unreserved approval of the principles oh the First Revision.His dislike of ceremonies. For instance, he confessed that the sign of the Cross in Holy Baptism, the symbolical act of investing with the Chrisom, and |the sanctification of water to the mystical washing away of sin,| were especially distasteful to him. Even the innocent practice of bell-ringing, except immediately before service, he denounced for reasons quite unintelligible.
The separation of the Clergy from the Laity during Divine Service, he designated an |antichristian practice.| The manual acts accompanying the words of Consecration in the Holy Eucharist he condemned as useless, and not only did he show an aversion to the Eucharistic vestments, but went so far as to object to wearing the Academic dress, though he shielded what we believe was a genuine detestation under the disguise of a quaint witticism, |that he could hardly be expected to wear a square cap, seeing that his head was round.|
His personal goodness.
But while we find so much with which we can feel little sympathy, we must not omit to bear testimony to his personal attractiveness and an amiability and sweetness of disposition towards those who differed from him, which often proved irresistible in winning them to his side.
His residence at Cambridge was of short duration, but sufficiently long to endear him to men of every class, and shade of opinion, and he was followed to his grave by the whole body of the University.
The learned ecclesiastic Redmayn, Master of Trinity, Cambridge, who delivered a panegyric upon his merits, confessed that his own high sacramental views might not improbably have undergone material modification had not the influence of the Professor's teaching been so prematurely closed. His labours in the Protestant cause were not forgotten when Queen Mary reigned, for his body was exhumed, and burnt in the market-place; but the dishonour was wiped out at a later date, when a special act of reparation was performed at St. Mary's, and the Church presented a spectacle unique in its history, the walls being covered with laudatory verses and tributes to his worth.
It to the spell of these three men that Cranmer yielded himself up. Whether he actually utilised their direct aid and counsel, during the progress of the Second Revision, or not, is really a matter of indifference, or at least of secondary importance.Chranges in the opinions of Cranmer. When we contrast him with what he was when he sat in the Chair in the Windsor Assembly, no one can deny that a vast change had passed over him; and when we go on to consider how the change had taken place in the very direction of the teaching of certain influential men, with whom he had been living in close intimacy or correspondence, there is only one consistent conclusion to be drawn.
In the alterations which mark the Revision under present consideration we see again and again such a significant coincidence between the proscription of forms or doctrine, and the peculiar tenets of one or other of these Foreign Reformers, that it is simple blindness to refuse to acknowledge the potency of this alien influence.
Now, while Cranmer and the King had been drawn into such close bonds of sympathy with the Exiles, and strongly impelled, as we have seen, to conciliate them by further revision of our Service-books in view of a great Protestant Alliance, matters were brought to a crisis by the outbreak of the Vestiarian controversy.
The Vestiarian dispute.
The prominent figure throughout was John Hooper.
On the passing of the |Bloody Statute| he fled to Zurich, and there became thoroughly impregnated with Swiss theology, and enamoured of the bareness of Zwingli's forms of service.
After his return home upon the accession of Edward VI., he was appointed to preach before the King and his Most Honourable Privy Council, and availed himself of the opportunity of advocating in several sermons a number of sweeping changes and most startling innovations. His first efforts were directed to the destruction of stone altars and the substitution of wooden tables, which he deemed imperative, for the overthrow of the Sacrificial doctrine of the Holy Eucharist; and in this crusade Ridley went heartily with him. As a necessary sequel it was followed up by an attack upon the Eucharistic Vestments, which he said were only |marks of Judaism| calculated to bring us back again to the Aaronic Priesthood. From this he went on to condemn the Academical habits, and the Convocation Robes of the Prelates especially as being of the colour which was held to identify the Papacy with the Babylonian harlot. But here the Bishop of London wisely quitted his side. Ho even contended so strongly for the mediæval dress, that, Sooner than yield, he advised the imprisonment of his old colleague for his obstinate refusal to wear them. Hooper was committed to the Fleet.
It was one of those unguarded moves, which so often lead to consequences the very opposite to what is desired.
Persecution endured for conscience sake not unfrequently terminates in favour of the persecuted. When the Prison door closed upon Hooper, the battle was won for his cause.
No sanction from Convocation for fresh reforms.
And, with this agitation, the combination of forces requisite to re-open the reform of Church worship was well-nigh complete. It only wanted the sanction of Convocation to insure recommencement and unimpeded progress afterwards. But, to the honour of the Church, that was never given.
At the urgent solicitation of Calvin, the two Houses seem to have taken into consideration the desirableness of proceeding with the work of revision, but though the records of their deliberations have perished, it would appear from contemporary evidence that they did not encourage, certainly not formally authorise, the proposed undertaking. Some of the Upper House, it is true, having been like the Primate brought under Continental influence, did suggest to the Lower House that they should consult upon certain controverted passages in the Book of Common Prayer; but when the latter were called upon by their spiritual superiors to give in the result of their deliberations, they found an excuse in the plea that insufficient time had been allowed, 1 but made no signs of proceeding with the business, which, as far as they were concerned, was altogether dropped. It is quite clear that they were averse to the proposal, and that the Ring was fully aware of it. Otherwise it would be impossible to account for his declaration, that he was determined to carry it through, despite all opposition, and if the changes he desired Were not secured by the ordinary process, he would, as head of the Church, exercise his prerogative and enforce revision.
Undertaken on the sole authority of Parliament.
Eventually an Act of Parliament was passed directing that the former Liturgy |should be faithfully and godly perused, explained, and made fully perfect.|
This was the authority upon which the Revision was undertaken.
Before we look at the changes which were made, let us prepare ourselves by a rapid glance at the distinctive features of Catholic and Puritan worship.
The broad distinction between Catholic and Puritan.
The Catholic clings to his Church as an historic Church. In every age of its existence its present is linked with its past. Its faith is a symbol of unity, because it is part of the great heritage of Catholic tradition: not an ever-changing system of religion and worship, but one inherited through a long line of ancestry, to be transmitted unimpaired to the latest posterity.
The Church of the Puritan is essentially unhistoric, with no reverence for ancient forms because of their antiquity, but ready at any time to sacrifice whatever in her judgment has become tainted with error; to supersede by modern innovations the most time-honoured usage.
The changes in the revised Prayer-book.
And now, in the light of this broad distinction, let us look at the changes themselves.
They were so numerous that without attempting to exhaust the list, we shall be satisfied to set forth those which from their significance seem most worthy of our attention.
The title of the book was changed. In the first Prayer-book of Edward VI. It was |The book of common prayer and administration of the Sacraments and other rites and ceremonies of the Church, after the use of the Church of England.|
In the second Prayer-book |of the Church| was omitted, and an indirect blow given to the claim of the Anglican branch to belong to the Catholic Church.
The spirit of the next change is worthy of all praise. Before the revision only such as |served the congregation| were expected to recite daily Matins and Evensong.The obligation to recite the Daily Office. Henceforward an obligation was laid upon all priests and deacons, |except they be letted by preaching, studying of divinity, or by some other urgent cause;| and also upon all Curates to say the same in their Parish Churches, unless they were absent from home or otherwise reasonably hindered.
These obligations, with a slight modification, remain in force at the present day. We cannot but think some evil has arisen from the causes of exemption not having been duly recognised. In many villages where the clergyman hesitates because he is single-handed, the Daily Service would be offered, if it were thoroughly understood by priest and people that its intermission from time to time from several causes, provided for in the rubric, would convey no impression of neglect of duty.
Changes in the Calendar.
In the Calendar the names of three Saints were admitted, viz., SS. George, Laurence, and Clement; upon what grounds the two former were so honoured it is difficult to divine, considering the strong objections felt by the Revisionists to the principle of commemorating any other than those whose place in Scripture history entitled them to distinction.
At the same time Mary Magdalene was allowed to drop out, probably from a doubt in their minds that she was the woman who was |a sinner,| to whom the portion of Scripture, St. Luke vii.36-50, read for the Gospel referred. There are few traditions more improbable and baseless than that which has resulted in the popular belief.
And though the Revisionists might have acted more wisely by substituting an appropriate passage, and thus retaining her place in the services of the Church, almost anything is better than the perpetuation of an error, which stained the memory of one of the most beautiful saints of Gospel story.
Then we notice the introduction of a rubric directing that the Prayers shall be said, |in such place of the Church, chapel, or chancel, and the Minister shall so turn him as the people may best hear.| This was intended as a relaxation of the rule or custom of the First Prayer-book, which placed the Reader in the Quire, where be stood or knelt facing eastwards, turning, that is, in the same direction as the congregation -- a position which seemed fit and appropriate to one who was acting for the time being as their head and representative. The modification was a concession to Bucer and Calvin, whose vehement denunciations of the prevailing practice as |Antichristian| and as an |insufferable abuse| are still extant.
Another change was the prefixing of the Sentences, Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution to the Matins, which had begun hitherto with the LORD's Prayer. This was necessary when the frequency of divine service had ceased to solemnise the minds of the congregation, and for this purpose a better preparation could hardly have been devised. It is when the conscience is relieved from the burden of its sins, that man is in the fittest mood to praise and give thanks to GOD. The main object however of the Revisionists in this was to discourage private confession and absolution by providing through the public ministration of daily service the benefits which had been sought hitherto from the priest singly and alone.
At the same time the |Alleluia,| which had been sung from Easter to Trinity before the |Venite,| and which had become most closely associated in the minds of the people with that joyful season, was omitted.
The use of the |Te Deum| and the |Benedicite| had varied largely in the Church services. In the Sarum Breviary the latter was to be substituted for the former both in Advent and from Septuagesima Sunday to Easter; in the First Prayer-book in Lent only. Henceforward it was made a simple alternative for it, and in a similar manner was the |Jubilate| for the |Benedictus,| the |Cantate| for the |Magnificat,| and the |Deus misereatur| for the |Nunc dimittis.| In the first instance the intention was probably to allow of greater freedom in using the |Benedicite,| which before had been confined to a definite season. On the score of ancient usage the claims of the two are equal: for if the |Te Deum| be regarded as a development of the hymn which the early Christians in Pliny's time sang |to Christ as GOD,| we have on the other hand the testimony of St. Chrysostom to the fact that the |Benedicite| had been sung from the beginning |everywhere throughout the world.| In point of propriety the one is the hymn of the Church, the other the song of the universe; while then the former is more adapted for general use, the latter may be fitly substituted on numerous occasions, when the blessings of creation are brought prominently forward, and for this reason its relegation to Lent was a patent inconvenience.
In the case of the |Jubilate,| the obvious intention was that it should only be substituted for the |Benedictus| on the occasions when the latter occurred elsewhere in the service, though this has been completely frustrated, and the special hymn has for the most part superseded the general. For obvious reasons this supersession is much to be deprecated. What influences led the Revisionists to offer the |Deus misereatur| for the |Nunc dimittis| we have no means of determining, but in the case of the |Cantate| for the |Magnificat| their motive was unmistakable. It was a needless compliance with the unreasonable objections of the Puritans, who did not scruple to banish from its time-honoured position one of the very noblest outpourings of inspired song, to gratify their aversion to everything which expressed the slightest reverence for the Mother of our LORD.
The Incarnation was the special idea embodied in the ancient Vespers, and it was very forcibly expressed in the thankful acknowledgment alike of the Blessed Virgin and of the aged Simeon. To attempt, therefore, to supersede their Canticles tended to break the continuity which the First Revisionists had been so careful to preserve.
The Athanasian Creed.
In the First Prayer-book the Athanasian Creed was directed to be recited on the six great Festivals of Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, Whitsunday, and Trinity. At the Second Revision seven Saints' Days were added, the selection being made, so as to provide for its being said, as nearly as possible, once a month.
Touching the Litany, Creed, etc.
The limitation of the use of the Litany to the penitential days of the week was withdrawn, as also the permission to omit the Litany, |Gloria in excelsis,| Creed, Homily and Exhortation to Holy Communion, if there was to be a sermon, or for other causes which were considered important.
The wish of the Revisionists to enforce the Litany on all Sundays is quite intelligible, when read in the light of their austere and gloomy views of Sabbath observance; and though we may regret the course they adopted in regard to this, they deserve all praise for refusing to sanction the omission of the Creed and the |Gloria in excelsis.| It is true we cannot trace the recitation of a creed in the Liturgy without interruption from primitive times, but it is obviously most desirable that every safeguard against heresy should be taken in celebrating the great Mysteries; neither is it wise to curtail that which helped to express our thanksgiving, and make the service a |sacrifice of praise.|
Divers rites and ceremonies in the baptismal office discontiuned.
In the Baptismal office the following rites and ceremonies were abolished: viz., the trine immersion, the anointing with oil, the signing the breast with the mark of the Cross, the form of exorcism in which the priest commanded the unclean spirit to come out and no more exercise tyranny over the infants whom Christ was calling to be of the number of his flock, and the investiture of the newly-baptized with the Chrisom, as the priest said |Take this white vesture for a token of the innocency, which by GOD's grace in this holy sacrament of baptism is given unto thee; and for a sign whereby thou art admonished, so long as thou livest, to give thyself to innocency of living, that after this transitory life, thou mayest be partaker of the life everlasting.| At the same time the custom of the sponsors laying their hands upon the child preparatory to this ceremony was given up, as well as the dedication of the Chrisom by the mother when she presented herself in Church at her purification.
Some of these ceremonies may have been fitly removed, some might be now recovered with advantage. What, for instance, could be more appropriate than the triple affusion accompanying the utterance of the triple Name of the Triune GOD?
And amongst ignorant people, who, as all experience proves, are taught most easily by signs and pictures, is it possible to conceive of anything more instructive of the whole teaching of Holy Baptism, than the immediate investiture of the newly-baptized in a robe of spotless purity?
An important addition was made by the intro- duction of the five prayers: |O merciful GOD, grant that the old Adam,| etc., of the form of reception into |the congregation of Christ's flock,| and of the declaration of the child's regeneration, |Seeing now,| etc., together with the thanksgiving for the same, |We yield Thee hearty thanks,| etc.
The Confirmation Service.
In Confirmation the rubric was withdrawn directing the Bishop to |cross them in the forehead,| and the beautiful prayer |Defend, O LORD, this thy child,| etc., substituted for another referring to |the sign| as well as the unction of the Holy Ghost.
The Matrimonial Office.
In Matrimony the sign of the Cross hitherto made when the priest blessed the man and the woman was omitted, and a reference to the apocryphal mission of the Angel Raphael to |Thobie and Sara| gave place to that of a Scriptural fact, viz., the blessing of GOD upon Abraham and Sarah.
Changes in the Office for the Visitation of the Sick.
In the Visitation, and the Communion of the Sick, the ancient rite of anointing with oil was no longer mentioned. The rubric provithng that the form of absolution used in this service should be available for all private confessions was erased; and the liberty of reserving the Blessed Sacrament from an open Communion celebrated on the same day, or from a Celebration in one sick-room for Communion in another, was withdrawn.
No doubt abuses had sprung up in connexion with the practice of reservation, but now that there is little probability of their breaking out afresh, a return to primitive custom might be allowed, and with every prospect of affording relief to the clergy and benefit to the sick. Instances of wide-spread sickness and mortality arising from some special cause must be within the experience of most parish priests, where they have had no alternative but to transgress the existing law, or leave men to die without the Food of eternal life.
In the Burial Service.
In the Order for the Burial of the dead, the service was robbed of its most comforting element when, as touching prayer for the departed, the mourners' lips were sealed, and not even a pious aspiration was allowed to relieve a stricken and sorrowful heart. Prayers for the Dead discountenanced in the Burial Service. Two special forms for commending the soul into the hands of the merciful GOD were altogether expunged from the Office, and a prayer that the sins which the departed bad committed might not be imputed to him, was turned into a thanksgiving that he had been delivered out of the miseries of this sinful world; and further a petition for our perfect consummation and bliss was couched in such ambiguous phrase that it is impossible to say whether it comprehends the dead as well as the living, or not.
The intention of the framers of it, judging from their general course of action, most likely was to pray for the latter alone; but their language was providentially so ordered that pious men in every generation since have been able to use it with larger views and in a more Catholic spirit.
And here I may be pardoned if I dwell awhile, because the action of the Foreign Reformers in this matter has not only left a most lamentable blot on the Book, but illustrates very clearly the principles by which they were guided. Their boast was that they cared little for antiquity, and had no reverence for the past the guidance to which they trusted was that of private judgment which many of them came at last to believe in as infallible.
For fourteen or fifteen centuries, prayers had been offered for those who died in the LORD: there was not a Liturgy from the very beginning, either in the East or the West, which did not contain such petitions, and yet in the face of this usage, the unbroken usage of the Church universal, because the Catholic belief in the intermediate state had been confounded with the errors of Purgatory, they paraded their pernicious rule, |the abuse is a sufficient reason for the disuse,| and disallowed in their cold and loveless creed even thanksgiving for the good example of a departed saint.
The Holy Eucharist no longer ordered.
From the earliest times a celebration of the Holy Eucharist had been associated with the burial of the dead, and the Revisionists of 1549 A.D. made full provision for a continuance of the custom. When their successors in 1552 A.D. omitted the Introit, Collect, Epistle and Gospel appointed for the Service, thereby discountenancing a Celebration, they left a void in our Prayer-book for which nothing but its full restoration can ever supply adequate consolation.
The Psalms altered.
In this Revision Psalms 116, 136, and 146, which were said in the First Prayer-book either before or after the burial of the corpse, were dropt out.
One object observable throughout appears to have been a desire to curtail the service as far as possible; a desire which developed in their successors to such an extent that in the next century Bishop Cosin testifies that |they would have no minister to bury their dead, but the corpse to be brought to the grave and there put in by the clerk, or some other honest neighbour, and so back again without any more ado; |and Hooker laments the miserable days in which an orderly burial service was deemed |unmeet, undecent, and unfit for Christianity.|
Changes in the Communion Office.
When we open the Communion Office we are confronted by the same reckless indifference to Catholic doctrine and practice, and an ever-widening divergence from the lines laid down by the first Revisionists.
The title was changed from |The Supper of the LORD and the Holy Communion, commonly called the Mass,| into |The order for the administration of the LORD's Supper or the Holy Communion.| And here we cannot but commend them at least in part for the alteration.
|Mass,| as most of us are aware, was derived from the Latin missa, in the formula |ite, missa est| -- |Depart, it is the dismissal,| at the utterance of which words the congregation left the Church. Now on the grounds that the designation is not Scriptural nor primitive nor significant, the action of the Revisionists in discontinuing it finds full and ample justification. We think they would have shown further discretion if they had eliminated also the title of |the LORD's Supper.| It is supposed to rest on the authority of St. Paul, |When ye come together into one place, this is not to eat the LORD's Supper,| but a careful examination of the passage leads to the conclusion that the Apostle there applies it to the Agape or Love-feast in combination with the Holy Eucharist, not to the latter considered by itself. Indeed, had this not been so, the extreme rarity of the designation among the early Fathers would be quite unaccountable. Not till the latter half of the fourth century is it adopted by any writer; and it is worth mentioning that at two of the early Councils, the title is distinctly appropriated for another Feast. The language is, |One day in the year in which the LORD's Supper is celebrated,| where it refers not to the Holy Communion, but to a commemorative Feast on Maundy Thursday evening in imitation of our Lord's Last Supper with His disciples preceding the institution of the Eucharist. Apart then from the uncertainty of its usage in Scripture and its extreme rarity in Patristic literature, it might well have yielded to titles with better claims and with no tendency to create confusion.
In the Exhortation read at the time of the Celebration the passage in which a blasphemer, adulterer, and any one guilty of grievous crime was exhorted not to Come to the Holy Table before he had bewailed his sins, was transposed and inserted in the exhortation to be read on the Sunday or holy day preceding. The propriety of this change is patent, |For,| writies Bishop Cosin, |is any person who comes at that time purposely to receive the Communion likely to discover himself (if he be guilty) in the presence of all the congregation by rising up and suddenly departing from it?|
There is a long array of omissions, as was naturally to be expected.
Besides some especially significant, to be considered presently, the following are to be noticed : -- The Introits, which were the shorter Psalms or portions of the 119th selected one for each Sunday or holy day, and sung immediately before the Collect and Epistle. It has been conjectured that they were omitted with a view to the substitution of the metrical version, which was partly composed by Sternhold at this time, but the speedy discontinuance of the Prayer-book at the accession of Queen Mary prevented them carrying out their intentions.
A second Service for Celebration on Christmas Day and Easter was erased from the Book.
The concluding paragraph of the Exhortation, following the direction for such as were troubled in conscience to resort to the priest |for comfort and absolution,| previously ran thus: |requiring such as shall be satisfied with a general confession, not to be offended with them that do use, to their further satisfying, the auricular and secret confession to the priest; nor those also which think needful or convenient, for the quietness of their own consciences, particularly to open their sins to the priest, to be offended with them that are satisfied with their humble confession to GOD and the general confession to the church. But in all things to follow and keep the rule of charity, and every man to be satisfied with his own conscience, not judging other men's minds or consciences; whereas he hath no warrant of GOD's word to the same.|
Few persons, who recognise the real teaching of the Church upon Confession and Absolution, can fail to regret that such valuable counsel should have been removed. In opposition to the Roman view it distinctly repudiates the necessity of private confession, by implying that in principle there is no advantage in private over public absolution: as one of the most eminent of our bishops writes to his clergy: |Any one who is sincerely penitent, even in the largest congregation, will receive as the absolving words are uttered, precisely the same benefit as if he knelt before the priest singly and alone.| . . . |He may die without having ever made a private confession, and yet he may have passed again and again with fulness of effect under the keys of the kingdom.| But at the same time it distinctly admits full liberty of conscience to have recourse to this special ordinance of the Church in time of need.
In the |Prayer for the whole state of Christ's Church,| all reference to the dead was left out, and thus the immemorial practice of remembering in the Eucharist those who had departed in the faith was disregarded.
A few others of more or less importance require notice: such as the withdrawal of the rubric directing the minister to put to the wine |a little pure and clean water.| No reason was assigned for this, nor can any be conjectured. The custom of admixture was a natural one, if it be true, as most Jewish authorities maintain, that it was the habit of the Jews generally to dilute their wine with water; and so we find the practice almost universal in the Primitive Church. It continues in the Eastern and Roman Churches, and as it is impossible to find in it any doctrinal symbolism of dangerous or doubtful import, and as many leading Divines since the Reformation have not hesitated to consecrate |the mixed Chalice,| it is to be regretted on Vincentian principles that the rubric should have been erased.
Two other less important directions were omitted: one that at the administration the Bread should be |unleavened and round| in shape: the other that it should be placed in the mouth of the Communicant at the priest's hands.
We next consider two additions to the Service, viz.: the Decalogue and the Second Exhortation.
The Revisionists desired to introduce some rule or standard for self-examination before communicating, in view of St. Paul's direction, |Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.| The Decalogue probably suggested itself to them from the existing practice of reading and expounding it during this service from time to time.
It was a happy thought which prompted them to take the Kyries, which in the First Prayer-book were repeated nine times at this part of the service, and with the addition of another, adapt them as ten responsory petitions for the ten commandments.
Whether it would have been more in harmony with the highest Christian service to have introduced the standard of self-examination from Christ's commentary in the Sermon on the Mount, rather than the stern formula of the Jewish code itself, may be an open question. The American Liturgy supplements it by St. Matt. xxii.37-40, and the Scotch Liturgy directs the people to |the mystical importance| of the commands, as well as |the letter.|
The second addition was an Exhortation for occasional use when the Curate found the people |negligent to come to the Holy Communion.| From 1552 A.D. to 1662 A.D. the following passage occurred in it; |And whereas ye offend GOD so sore in refusing this holy banquet, I admonish, exhort, and beseech you that unto this unkindness ye will not add any more; which thing ye shall do if ye stand by as gazers and lookers on them that do communicate, and be no partaker of the same yourselves. For what thing can this be accounted else than a further contempt and unkindness unto God? Truly it is a great unthankfulness to say nay, when ye be called; but the fault is much greater when men stand by and yet will neither eat nor drink this Holy Communion with others. I pray you, what can this be else but even to have the mysteries of Christ in derision? It is said unto all, Take ye and eat: take and drink ye all of this; Do this in remembrance of Me. With what face then, and with what countenance shall ye hear these words? What will this be but a neglecting, a despising and mocking of the testament of Christ? Wherefore rather than ye should do so, depart you hence and give place to them that be godly disposed. But when you depart, I beseech you, ponder with yourselves from whom ye depart. Ye depart from the LORD'S Table, ye depart from your brethren, and from the banquet of most heavenly food.|
This was what Cosin calls a |religious invective| against the principle of solitary Masses in which the priest alone communicated. It has in disregard of its true purpose been mixed up with the modern controversies on the legitimacy of |non-communicating attendance.|
Neither in its introduction in 1552 A.D. was it intended to discourage anything as practised in the present day; nor in its subsequent withdrawal was it designed to sanction it. An examination of its language will show that it is wholly irrelevant to the case. The Revisionists had in their mind irreligious men who never communicated, and therefore profaned the service by an irreverent presence, for they contrast them with |the godly disposed.| With such they are certainly not to be confounded, who, being frequent communicants, and realising fully that the greatest value of the ordinance lies in participation, are unwilling to forego a lesser blessing, if they have already partaken on the same day, or from some cause are unprepared for it.
But we pass to matters of greater moment.
The sacrificial aspect obscured.
In this revised Service, the Sacrificial aspect was greatly obscured by that of Communion. Sacrificial terms were for the most part suppressed: sacerdotal vestments forbidden: the position of the altar was changed, and the arrangement of important parts of the service disturbed. Everything, in short, was done, as the Revisionists fondly hoped, to dissociate the mind of the worshipper from all thoughts of oblation or sacrifice.
The direction was cancelled which ordered that at the appointed time the Celebrant should |put upon him a plain alb or surplice, with a vestment or cope,| which, whether invariably so from the beginning or not, was unquestionably and universally associated at this time with the idea of sacrifice. The term |Altar,| which was the correlative of sacrifice, was erased from this and every other rubric, and Table or Holy Table substituted. The most honourable place occupied by the Altar all through the Church's history was left vacant, and the Table brought down to the body of the Church, and as a necessary consequence regarded simply as a Board from which holy Food was distributed, and nothing more.
The Celebrant who had stood |humbly afore the midst of the Altar| was directed to stand |at the north side of the Table.|
And lastly, a displacement of the Prayer of Oblation was effected. It had long been inseparably united with the Act of Consecration by which the Bread and Wine were declared to be the Body that was broken and the Blood which was shed; but by disconnecting them, and placing the prayer after the consumption of the consecrated elements, the idea of offering these to the Father as a commemorative Oblation of Christ's Blessed Body and Blood was cast into the shade. Not content with emptying the words of their obvious force by the change of position, the Revisionists went further and made its entire omission possible by allowing the Thanksgiving Prayer to be used as an alternative. This was a direct breach of Catholic usage.
To pass on, they were no less anxious to discountenance the doctrine of the Real Presence.
Four things especially betray their design.
The doctrine of the Real Presence discountenanced in divers ways.
The discontinuance of the Invocation of the Holy Ghost upon the Elements, and of the singing of the |Agnus Dei;| the substitution of the second clause, |Take and eat this,| . . . and |Drink this| . . . for the first, |The Body of Our LORD,| etc. . . . |The Blood of our Lord,| etc.; . . . an lastly, the insertion of the |Black Rubric| or |Declaration of Kneeling :| upon each of these it will be necessary to dwell.
In almost every Primitive Liturgy there had been a distinct prayer that the Spirit of GOD would sanctify the Elements that they might become the Blessed Body and Blood of Christ. To eliminate this then was break away from Catholic usage as well as to ignore the immediate action of the Holy Ghost, which is the great vivifying Agent in holy things.
And here we would observe that this is happily recognised in the administration of the other great Sacrament, the operation of the holy Spirit being mentioned no less than three times in the opening of the Service.
The Agnus Dei.
With the discontinuance of the |Agnus Dei,| beautiful as it is, we can find no fault if we are satisfied not to overstep the paths of Primitive Antiquity. It had no place in the early Liturgies or Sacramentaries, and was probably not introduced in England till the times of Ælfric, in the middle of the tenth century, nor much earlier in any foreign Churches.
The formula of distribution.
The Form of Words previously used at the distribution of the Elements was deliberately abandoned in violation of an almost uniform tradition from the beginning. However far we go back we trace an inseparable connexion not only in idea, but in expression, between the Bread and the Body -- the Wine and the Blood. Often when the Priest gave the Sacramental Elements he simply said, |The Body of our LORD Jesus Christ,| |The Blood, etc.,| and the Communicant indicated his assent or his desire for its realisation by adding |Amen.|
In the Sarum Missal the Formula had expanded into |The Body of our LORD Jesus Christ keep thy soul unto eternal life,| Amen; and the same had been unhesitatingly adopted in the First Prayer-book. But when the second Revisionists approached it with the knowledge that it admitted of only one interpretation, viz., that the Body of Christ was given in the Sacrament, they determined to eliminate it altogether and substitute another which would give no countenance to the belief of those who maintained that the words of the institution, |This is my Body,| were more than a mere figure of speech.
The last of the four was the |Declaration of Kneeling,| in which it was asserted that that posture did not indicate that any adoration was offered unto the Sacramental Elements or to any |Real and Essential Presence| of Christ's natural Body. The words |Real and Essential| are to be noted, because they are no longer in the Rubric, having yielded to |Corporal| at the final Revision. The history of this Rubric affords sufficient evidence that its introduction was intended as a concession to pacify the foreigners, who never ceased to characterise kneeling to communicate as a superstitious and idolatrous act.
Now the above is a long and heavy bill of indictment against the Second Revisionists for departure from Catholic doctrine.
Suggested explanations of the principles adopted.
Can anything be urged generally in mitigation of the verdict which the Catholic mind is impatient to pronounce? Apologists here and there have argued in their defence, that they did riot in reality intend to abandon the doctrines and usages which they appeared to supersede: that many of the changes were made with the view of bringing into prominence principles which had been thrust out of sight to the great loss and injury of the Church in mediæval times and at the first Revision. |Altar,| for instance, was not withdrawn, as intimating a denial that what was offered thereon was in some sense sacrificial, but |Table| was substituted because the predominance of the Sacrificial aspect had completely obscured the other side of Eucharistic teaching, viz., the Communion of the Blessed Body and Blood. Again, touching the words of administration and |the Black Rubric,| the First Book, they say, had affirmed what the Elements were -- the Second Book aimed at explaining what they were not.
It is a very plausible defence, and finds some support in the official statements of the Revisionists themselves.
In the Act of Uniformity which gave legal force to their Revision they stated upon what grounds they had entered upon the work, and what their general opinion was of the Book they superseded.
The Revision had been necessitated, they said, because |divers doubts had risen for the fashion and ministration| of the services, which proceeded |rather by the curiosity of the minister and mistakers than of any worthy cause.|
And the First Prayer-book the Statute declared to be |a very godly order, agreeable to the Word of God and the Primitive Church, very comfortable to all good people desiring to live in Christian conversation, and most profitable to the estate of this realm.|
These statements seem well-nigh inexplicable on any other theory than that which the Apologists have set forth, viz., that the Revisionists, had not really wished to renounce in any essential matters the teaching of the First Prayer-book. But if we could bring ourselves to accept it, we should still have to hold them up to rebuke for the weakness of their judgment and a strange ignorance of the ways of the world. It saves them from Scylla to plunge them into Charybdis.
The difficulty of accepting the explanation.
The way to supplement is not to begin by taking away; and to remove one word or usage and replace it by another is substitution, not addition. If a particular phraseology, ever connected with one set of ideas, was ousted by another phraseology which had always been used to clothe ideas of a totally different order, no amount, of side-notes, still less general assertions, in a Statute, bound up at its first publication with the Service-book, but disconnected from it for ever afterwards, could insure later generations from the danger of being misled.
It seems difficult to acquit the Revisionists of hypocrisy or infatuation. He who best understands the times and circumstances will be best fitted to decide whether they had desired in their hearts to revolutionise the worship of the Church, and were too cowardly to own it, or whether they had only aimed at developing obliterated features, but had proved by their bungling their incompetence for the task; and it will be a matter of no little surprise if the verdict is not, that they were guilty of insincerity rather than mismanagement.
Their conduct expained by their views.
The study of their lives and opinions forces upon us the conviction that their object was to eradicate the ancient Catholic doctrines; and we may be thankful that though they were able to prosecute their end in so far as they succeeded in eliminating the most salient features, the principles were too firmly embedded in the whole framework of the Liturgical Office to be rooted out by their action.
Their aims defeated.
The reverent student will trace with satisfaction the over-ruling influence of GOD's good Spirit frustrating their designs, and leaving them so far hopelessly baffled, that at the final Revision, the Church was able solemnly to declare that the true Eucharistic doctrine had remained essentially unchanged from the, first Revision to the last.
The judgment of the Church upon this.
In the Preface to the Prayer-book of 1662 A.D., which is now in use, the Revisionists expressed their conviction of this in unhesitating language. |We find, that in the Reigns of several Princes of blessed memory since the Reformation, the Church, upon just and weighty considerations her thereunto moving, hath yielded to make such alterations in some particulars, as in their respective times were thought convenient: Yet so, as that the main Body and Essentials of it, as well in the chiefest materials, as in the frame and order thereof, have still continued the same unto this day and do yet stand firm and unshaken.| It is impossible to exaggerate the weight of this declaration, which we must never forget is |the assertion not of individual theologians, but the deliberate pronouncement of the Church speaking for herself.|