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7. Commencement of our Liturgy.
This subject of the Collects must be again resumed to set forth another view, which will, also, I think, do much by the way hike to confirm and establish the present one. Perhaps enough has been said to afford us a clue to the spirit of these changes; a spirit not appearing so much on the surface as to imply purpose in the agents, yet on inquiry so manifesting itself as clearly to indicate a secret tendency one way. With the clue thus furnished
let us take up the Prayer Book.
We find on opening it that it commences in a manner perfectly different from any of the liturgical books immediately preceding it, those of Sarum, York, and Hereford, to which we may also add the First Book of Edward the Sixth. All these commence, dowy I believe, with the LORD'S PRAYER, and from thence proceed to
Hooker, that "
abjection of mind," and this very term servility" is one of the charges which the Puritans brought against the Prayer Book. Alluding to two Collects, the one for the 12th Sunday after Trinity, and the other a prayer after the Offertory, similar to it, the words of Cartwright are-"This request "carrieth with it still the note of the Popish servile fear, and "savoureth not of that confidence and reverent familiarity that "the children of GOD have through CHRIST with their Heavenly "FATHER." And yet from the instances already adduced in this treatise, it would seem that this " note of servile fear" is one peculiarly our own, as differing from the forms of prayer which we have in common with the Church of Rome 2.
the Creed. Instead of this we have the Sentences, the Exhortation, the Confession, and the Absolution, preceding that Prayer. And all and each of these points, in the place which they hold, are so little analogous to other Liturgies, that they may be considered peculiarly characteristic of our own.
1 The 12th Collect after Trinity was then a literal translation from the Latin. "Ut dimittas quæ conscientia metuit, et adjicias quæ oratio non præsumit," giving unto us that, that our prayer dare not presume to ask, through Jesus "Christ our Lord."
2 See Hooker, b. v. c. xlvii. and note, Keble's edition.
Now, the LORD's Prayer is well known to have been always considered as especially the "Prayer of the faithful," the peculiar inheritance of sons. So much so, that in Primitive Liturgies it is supposed not to have been used openly, as their assemblies were resorted to by the Catechumens and others unbaptized, who, not having received the adoption, could not of course approach GOD as a FATHER'. It is thought that their prayers usually began with a Psalm. This objection to the public use of the LORD's Prayer was of course done away with, when the world became Christian. And it afterwards occupied the first place in the Breviaries. The position, therefore, that it holds with us speaks an emphatic language, as connected with the portions of the service which precede it, which are calculated to serve, as it were, for spiritual ablutions, preparatory to our being allowed to approach GoD with that filial prayer.
Each of the preceding parts of our worship is of this character. First of all, the Sentences. Fault is found with them for this very peculiarity; it is said that they go back to the Law, rather than abound in the privileges of the Gospel. They are calls to Repentance, or deep professions of Repentance throughout; three of them are from the most penitential of the Psalms (the 51st). And in fact they not only adopt the language of the Law and of the Baptist, the Preacher of Repentance, but the very words of the returning prodigal: “I will arise, and go to my Father, and
will say unto Him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven and 'before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son ;" and proceed in the same profession of humiliation, "Enter not into "judgment with Thy servant, O LORD."
This character (which also pervades the sentences in the Scotch Prayer Book, though they are themselves different) will appear more strongly by looking at the American Prayer Book. Though the members of that Church have adopted our prefatory sentences, yet they have prefixed three additional ones of their own, which seem quite to lose sight of this bearing on the Confession,
1 In Edward's First Book, where the LORD's Prayer preceded the Communion, it was introduced by the expression, that, using it according to CHRIST'S COMmand, we are bold to say."
and are of another tone; the first of these is, "The LORD is in "His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him." The next from Mal. i. 11. "From the rising of the sun even "unto the going down of the same, My name shall be great among "the Gentiles and in every place incense shall be offered unto
My name and a pure offering: for My name shall be great among "the Heathen, saith the LORD of Hosts ;" and the third, "Let the "words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be alway acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my strength and my Re"deemer"."
Now these texts of Scripture in our Prayer Book are followed by the Exhortation, which, it is needless to observe, is of the same character, viz. that of a call to repentance. Indeed, how much exhortation and such appeals indicate a low and decayed state, as the natural remedies for it, will appear from the great tendency to Sermons since the Reformation. At the same time it should be observed, in the words of one whose sentiments are ever to be remembered with affectionate esteem, that such passionate appeals to the feelings, as these often are, would not be so objectionable in themselves, if they were given outside the Church, and not allowed to occupy the place of Religious Worship.
We then come to the Confession. It is needless to show how deeply it is pervaded with this penitential tone. It appears new in itself, and also new in this place in the service, in which it is not supported by much authority in antiquity, excepting perhaps a passage referred to by Bishop Sparrow, and other ritualists, from St. Basil, professing it to be their custom to begin with Confession. May we not trust that these strong words of preparatory humiliation are put into our mouths by Him who spake the same language in His Church of old, under circumstances not dissimilar to our own? For it may be observed, that in the time of the captivity, and in the return from it, the prayers of Daniel, of Ezra, and of Nehemiah, in behalf of their people, begin with a Confession, the very words of which might be put into our mouths at the Reformation. And these Prayers of humiliation 3 The late Mr. Froude.
1 Hab. ii. 20.
2 Ps. xix. 14.
4 See Mr. Palmer, vol. i. p. 213. Antiquities of the English Ritual.
may be contrasted with that of Solomon, which commences with blessing and thanksgiving.
But there is still something wanting before we are allowed to approach GoD with the Christian's Prayer, and to use the language of the spirit of adoption; and this is the Absolution. A more merciful provision, than that it should have been preserved and occupied this place, can scarce be conceived.
Such a commencement, therefore, may prove the characteristic of our Church, as expressive of the position in which God has placed us. It might be said that these introductory parts were insertions in the 2nd Book of Edward, by the intervention of foreigners, who, having shorn and left us bare of so much that is holy and valuable, have necessarily put us into a degraded condition. But it must be remembered, that our object is to divest ourselves of the consideration of secondary agents; to drop all consideration of individuals, as such, is the peculiar privilege and duty of all true members of the Catholic Church. Such deprivations were doubtless judicial; but it may be shown hereafter, how overruling mercies blend with those judgments, frustrating the designs of men; and our purpose is to trace indications of our peculiar dispensation beyond the influences or intention of any set of persons.
8. The general tone and spirit of our Prayer Book.
The next point which may be observed, as showing the difference which pervades our own Prayer Book, is a certain spirit, which characterizes the whole tenor of it. We cannot look into Breviaries and Missals without observing their high choral tone in distinction from our own. To advert to particulars; we have the ancient Kúpiɛ ¿λéŋoov, but have not the Hallelujahs ; which indeed, in the solemn accents of the ancient Hebrew form, are so frequent in other Churches, that they remind one of the high evangelical promises alluded to in the Apocrypha, "The
streets of Jerusalem shall be paved with beryl,—and all her "streets shall say Allelujah'." The Introitus, or Psalm introducing
1 Tobit xiii. 17, 18.
the Communion, we have lost. The Hosannah, at the end of the Trisagion, the Gloria Deo at the Gospel (excepting as observed by traditionary use), are omitted. In King Edward's First Book were the words in the Communion, "Let us keep a joyful and holy "Feast with the Lord;" these find no place in ours'. But we have a penitential responsory on having broken each of the Commandments, and a peculiar prayer of humiliation as unworthy "to gather up the crumbs under the table." We have indeed the Gloria in Excelsis, but removed to the Post-Communion, and usually said kneeling. Add to this, that we are even to this day without Canonical Hymns, notwithstanding all efforts to obtain them; but instead of Psalms 2 and Spiritual Songs, even our Thanksgiving assumes the shape, and soon falls into the language of Prayer: like them of old in a condition in some degree analogous to our own, we sit down and weep, when we remember "thee, O Sion; as for our harps, we hang them up upon the trees "that are therein." Of the few hymns which we have at the end of the version of the Psalms, one is "the humble suit of a sin"ner ;" and two are "the lamentations of a sinner." With such a beautiful and touching adaptation to our position does the silence and the language of our Liturgy seem to conspire, all brought about by the influence of that unseen Hand, that changes night into day and summer into winter, by an imperceptible process that
1 The Service for Easter Day in Edward the VIth's First Book commenced with a high and triumphant anthem, appointed to be used "afore matins," with repeated Hallelujahs. This anthem is indeed retained on that day, but instead of ushering in the Service, it is used for the 95th Psalm, and has two verses prefixed to it, as they now stand in the nature of warning, viz., of keeping the Feast" with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
2 With regard to the daily appointed Psalms, is it not the case that the quantity of Psalms read in our own Church is less than that in any other, the quantity of the other parts of Holy Scripture (i. e. for doctrine and admonition), which are read continuously, more than in any other? The entire Psalter in the Roman and Parisian Breviaries is read through in a week; in our own it serves for a month. It is also curious to observe, that in the Breviaries the Lectios from Scripture and the Fathers occur in the Nocturns or Night services; the hymns in those for the Day. For night may of course be considered, when compared with the day, as the house (or season) of Mourning.