The history of the Revisions of the Prayer-book during the Reformation period can hardly be considered complete without some account of that which was made for the Church in Scotland. Its interest lies in the two facts, that it was the nearest approach to the First Prayer-book of Edward VI. yet made, and that, though failing in its immediate object, it had important results in its influence upon the Caroline Settlement in this country.
King James's desire for a Liturgy.
In 1610 A.D. King James turned his attention to the restoration of order and government in the Scotch Church, by the appointment of several Bishops and the recovery of Episcopal jurisdiction from the encroachments of the laity. His next step was to prepare the way for the introduction of an uniform Liturgy, but this was surrounded by so many difficulties that he was able to do little more than set an example by establishing the English Service-book in his private chapel at Holyrood.
When Charles I. succeeded to the throne he determined to carry out his father's object, and intrusted the negotiations to Laud. Maxwell, one of the leading Scotch clergy, came over to England, and in opposition to Laud, who was anxious for the introduction of the English Liturgy, with a view to uniformity of worship throughout the King's dominions, pleaded for one compiled by his own countrymen. The arguments he used were that it would meet with a better reception, as the people were ill-disposed towards the English Church, and also that such a course would afford them the opportunity of obtaining a more perfect Liturgy, which, if lost then, might never recur.King Charles I. Encourages the project. The request was acceded to by the King, who in 1633 A.D. intrusted the compilation to a Committee of Scotch Bishops, of whom the chief were Spottiswood, Archbishop of Glasgow, Maxwell, Bishop of Ross, and Wedderburn, Bishop of Dunblane. It was arranged that the work, as it progressed, should be submitted for the approval of Archbishop Laud and Bishops Juxon and Wren. Juxon took little or no interest in the matter, but the other two threw themselves heartily into the revision, and examined the suggestions of the Commissioners with the greatest care and attention. The King too was most desirous of promoting the efficiency of the work, and not only took part in criticising the draft sheets submitted for his sanction, but made many provisions in Scotland, which he hoped would insure for the Service-book a ready acceptance. But unfortunately all his efforts were defeated.The King being ill-advised courts failure. The course he adopted, under the misguidance of his advisers, seems, as we look at it, to have been so shaped that no other result was possible. It may well be doubted whether under any circumstances a nation which was rooted in its attachment to such principles of Public Worship as John Knox had bequeathed to them, could have risen at once to the level of the First Prayer-book; but it is quite certain that they could not do it under such arbitrary compulsion as the King exercised. The first false step was the publication of the Canons before the Liturgy, for one of them enforced, under pains and penalties, the use of Forms of Worship which were not even framed at the time. The next error was made when the Service-book after receiving the Royal sanction, was thrust upon the nation with the most inconsiderate haste, without any opportunity given either to the Clergy or the laity to examine or express any opinion upon it. The King's Proclamation simply appointed it to be read throughout the Churches on the Sunday following its first publication.
The Scotch Presbyters, apart from their innate dislike to the use of any precomposed Form of Prayer, regarded the action of the King as an inroad upon the rights of the Church and roused themselves to resistance. The introduction of the Liturgy into the Cathedral was attended by a riot, which the presence of the Chancellor was powerless to suppress. The riot became a revolution. The scare of Popery was raised throughout the country, and soon the whole nation was in arms against the King.
We need not follow the history of the civil war which ensued. Suffice it to say that the Liturgy and Canons were swept away, Episcopacy was abolished, and the |Solemn League and Covenant| was signed by every member of the Church under pain of excommunication.
Laud himself thus sums up the history |What way soever was taken, or in whomsoever there was a failure, this was certain in the event: the Bishops were deceived in their expectation of a peaceable admission of that Service-book: the King lost the honour and safety of that settlement: and that kingdom such a form of God's Service, as I fear they will never come near again.|
The interest attaching to the Service-book.
But the Scotch Liturgy, as we said above, is full of interest on other grounds than its speedy and eventful rejection. Wren, who watched over its progress with unfailing interest, and made so many valuable suggestions to the Scotch Committee, must have been bitterly disappointed when its adoption in Scotland became utterly hopeless. The labour, however, which be had bestowed upon the revision was by no means wasted, for when, twenty-five years later, he was called to preside over the deliberations of the Caroline Revisionists, he fell back upon the results of his previous efforts, and had the satisfaction of embodying in the Final Settlement not a few of the rejected alterations.
The following may be taken as specimens in the Communion Office: --
|Then shall the Presbyter, turning to the people, rehearse distinctly the Ten Commandments.| The principle of turning to the people when delivering to them a message from God, as distinct from turning from them when directing petitions to God in their beha1f, is recognised in the Rubric at this place for the first time. It was introduced again in 1662 A.D.
The Nicene Creed was to be said or sung as at present. The Alms were to be reverently brought in a bason and humbly presented, and set upon the Holy Table: -- a direction enforced almost word for word in the Rubric of the Caroline Prayer-book.
In the Prayer for the Church Militant the following commemoration of the dead occurred, and we have no difficulty in tracing its spirit, and to a considerable extent its language also, in that which we now use: --
|And we also bless thy holy Name for all those thy servants, who, having finished their course in faith, do now rest from their labours. And we yield unto thee most high praise and hearty thanks, for the wonderful grace and virtue declared in all thy saints, who have been the choice vessels of thy grace, and the lights of the world in their several generations: most humbly beseeching thee, that we may have grace to follow the example of their stedfastness in thy faith, and obedience to thy holy commandments: that at the day of the general resurrection we, and all they which are of the mystical body of thy Son, may be set on his right hand, and hear that his most joyful voice, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.|
The title |the Prayer of Consecration| is peculiar to these two Revisions. The marginal directions for |the manual acts| during the Consecration, which bad been entirely omitted since 1552 A.D., were reintroduced in an enlarged form in 1637 A.D., and almost totidem verbis, with a further Rubric providing for the fraction, in 1662 A.D.
The reverence paid to the unconsumed Elements, by placing them upon the Holy Table and |covering them with a fair linen cloth,| was continued by the adoption of a Rubric to the same effect.
Its Catholic teaching.
In some particulars the Scotch Liturgy was in advance of the present English Form, Wren and Cosin not being able at the Final Revision to restore all that they wished. It brought o ut more distinctly the sacrificial aspect of the Holy Eucharist as well as the doctrine of the Real Presence. In illustration we quote the following instances: --
One of the early Rubrics provides that the Holy Table should be vested in a manner |meet for the holy Mysteries then to be celebrated,| and should |stand at the uppermost part of the Chancel or Church,| the force of which language is obvious.
Another directs that the Presbyter |shall offer up . . . the bread and wine prepared for the Sacrament.|
On the sacrificial aspect of the Holy Eucharist.
In the Prayer for the Church Militant when there was a Communion a clause was inserted which ran thus: -- |And we commend especially unto thy merciful goodness the congregation which is here assembled in thy Name to celebrate the commemoration of the most precious death and sacrifice of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.| And the title |Memorial or Prayer of Oblation| was prefixed to the words, |Wherefore, O Lord and heavenly Father, . . . we thy humble servants do celebrate and make here before thy divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, the memorial which thy Son hath willed us to make,| etc.
Furthermore, its position was the same as in the First Prayer-took after the Consecration but preceding the act of communion.
On the doctrine of the Real Presence.
In support of what we said about its fuller recognition of the doctrine of the Real Presence, the following will suffice: -- The act of Consecration was immediately preceded by the Invocation: |Hear us, O merciful Father, we most humbly beseech Thee, and of thy goodness vouchsafe so to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son.|
Again, the Benediction or Form of Administration consisted of the first clause only of that now in use: |The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life:| which was followed by the Rubric, |Here the party receiving shall say, Amen.|
The second clause, |Take, eat,| etc., which was substituted for the above in 1552 A.D. to escape from the obvious conclusion that the Body of Christ was given in the Sacrament, was altogether omitted. Lastly, when all had communicated, it was provided that |he who celebrates shall go to the Lord's Table and cover with a fair linen cloth, or corporal, that which remaineth of the consecrated elements.|
Nothing could be more significant than this direction, especially when it is remembered that the |fair linen cloth| had acquired the name of Corporal because it was supposed to represent that in which Joseph had wrapped the body of our Lord.
It would be interesting to dwell upon other features of this Liturgy, but we trust enough has been said to justify our inserting an account of it in a treatise which deals with the progressive history of the English Service-books.