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Two objects are kept in view throughout the subsequent pages, neither of which can be considered as destitute of importance. First, the confirmation of those members of our church-establishment in the precious truths which our liturgy, articles, and homilies inculcate, "who in these perilous times" are in danger of being "corrupted from the simplicity that is in "Christ." Many are the agents whom the Prince of darkness has enlisted and commissioned in the present age, for the subversion of those venerable bulwarks which have hitherto proved so effectual an impediment to the exercise of that unlimited dominion over the minds of men which he has been always aiming to obtain. Though the author most sincerely wishes success to the gospel of Christ in every channel through which it is likely to be promoted, yet he must be allowed to express his persuasion that the sacred walls of the establishment are, under God and in subservience to His most holy word, our strongest barrier against that inundation of infidelity which threatens to overwhelm the land. A second object, no less momentous, is a display of the character of a true churchman. For as the moral law is a speculum which discovers on inspection our likeness or dissimilitude to the image of God, so the liturgy of the church of England may produce a parallel effect, and represent us in our true colours, either as dissemblers with God, whilst we profess to embrace doctrines which at bottom we reject, use prayers from which our hearts recoil, and openly avow an attachment to God and His service which our lives demonstrate to have no existence; or else as sincere worshippers of the Triune Jehovah, in whom there is no guile, and who wish every day to be animated more and more by that
spirit of vital Godliness which our liturgy breathes through all her varied forms of devotion.
As some readers may not possess any of those authors who have given an historical account of the original compilation and subsequent improvements of our liturgy, it may be proper for their sakes to subjoin the following short narrative, extracted from Wheatly's rational illustration of the Book of Common Prayer, &c. "Before “the reformation, the liturgy was only in Latin, being "a collection of prayers made up partly of some ancient "forms used in the primitive church, and partly of "some others of a later original, accommodated to the
superstitions which had by various means crept by "degrees into the church of Rome, and from thence "derived to other churches in communion with it, like "what we may see in the present Roman Breviary and "Missal. And these being established by the laws of "the land and the canons of the church, no other "could publicly be made use of; so that those of the "laity who had not the advantage of a learned educa❝tion, could not join with them, or be any otherwise "edified by them. And besides, they being mixed "with addresses to the saints, adoration of the host,
images, &c. a great part of the worship was in itself "idolatrous and profane.
"But when the nation, in King Henry the Eighth's "time, was disposed to a reformation, it was thought 66 necessary to correct and amend these offices; and not "only have the service of the church in the English or "vulgar tongue (that men might pray not with the "spirit only, but with the understanding also, and that
"he who occupied the room of the unlearned might "understand that unto which he was to say amen, "agreeable to St. Paul's precept 1 Cor. v. 15, 16,); "but also to abolish and take away all that was idola"trous and superstitious, in order to restore the service "of the church to its primitive purity. For it was not "the design of our reformers, nor indeed ought it to "have been, to introduce a new form of worship into "the church, but to correct and amend the old one, "and to purge it from those gross corruptions which "had gradually crept into it, and so to render the Divine "service more agreeable to the Scriptures and to the "doctrine and practice of the primitive church in the "best and purest ages of Christianity. In which refor"mation they proceeded gradually, according as they were able.
And first, the conyocation appointed a committee, "A. D. 1537, to compose a book, which was called "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, &c.; which book was again pub"lished A. D. 1540 and 1543, with corrections and "alterations, under the title of A necessary Doctrine "and Erudition for any Chrysten Man: and, as it is "expressed in that preface, was set furthe by the King, "with the advice of his clergy; the Lordes bothe spi"rituall and temporall, with the nether house of Par"liament, having both seen and liked it well.
"Also in the year 1540, a committee of Bishops and "Divines was appointed by King Henry VIII. (at the
"petition of the convocation) to reform the rituals and "offices of the church. And what was done by this "committee for reforming the offices, was reconsidered "by the convocation itself two or three years afterwards, "viz. in February 1542-3. And in the next year the King and his clergy ordered the prayers for proces"sions and litanies to be put into English and to be "publicly used. And finally, in the year 1545, the "King's Primer came forth, wherein were contained "not only the Lord's prayer, creed, and ten command"ments, but also the whole morning and evening 66 prayer in English, not much different from what it is "in our present common-prayer; the venite, Te Deum, "Lord's prayer, creed, &c. being in the same version "in which we now use them. And this is all that 66 appears to have been done in relation to liturgical "matters in the reign of King Henry the Eighth.
"In the year 1547, the first of Edward VI. Decem"ber 2, the convocation declared their opinion, nullo "reclamante, that the communion ought to be admi"nistered to all persons under both kinds. Whereupon "an Act of Parliament was made, ordering the com"munion to be so administered. And then a com"mittee of Bishops, and other learned Divines, was "appointed to compose an uniform order of communion, "according to the rules of Scripture, and the use of "the primitive church. In order to this the committee "repaired to Windsor-Castle, and in that retirement, " within a few days, drew up that form which is printed in Bishop Sparrow's Collection, p. 17. And this being immediately brought into use the next year,
"the same persons, being impowered by a new com"mission, prepare themselves to enter upon a yet nobler "work, and in a few months time finish the whole.
liturgy, by drawing up public offices, not only for "Sundays and holidays, but for baptism, confirmation, "matrimony, burial of the dead, and other special "occasions, in which the forementioned office for the
holy communion was inserted, with many alterations "and amendments. And the whole book, being so "framed, was set forth by the common agreement and "full consent both of the Parliament and convocations "provincial, i. e. the two convocations of the provinces "of Canterbury and York.
"The committee appointed to compose this liturgy
were, 1. Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canter"bury, who was the chief promoter of our excellent "reformation, and had a principal hand, not only in "compiling the liturgy, but in all the steps made "towards it. He died a martyr to the religion of the "reformation, which principally by his means had been ❝established in the church of England, being burnt at "Oxford in the reign of Queen Mary, March 21, "1556. 2. Thomas Goodrick, Bishop of Ely. 3. "Henry Holbech, alias Randes, Bishop of Lincoln. "4. George Day, Bishop of Chichester. 5. John "Skip, Bishop of Hereford. 6. Thomas Thirlby,
"Bishop of Westminster. 7. Nicholas Ridley, Bishop "of Rochester, and afterwards of London. He was "esteemed the ablest man of all that advanced the "reformation, for piety, learning, and solidity of judg❝ment. He died a martyr in Queen Mary's reign, being burnt at Oxford October 16, 1555. 8. Dr.