1. Whether a Divine purpose be ascertainable.

THE expression used by the Parliament of that day, respecting the First Book of King Edward, was, that it had been done "by the aid of the HOLY GHOST with mutual agreement." Such we may suppose was as it were the echo of GOD's voice in His Church, and that in these words that assembly, then perhaps to be considered Catholic, prophesied; though, in so doing, they, like Caiaphas of old, knew not the full meaning of their words. But these we may adopt in their amplest signification, nothing doubting but that, by the superintending care of CHRIST in His Church, there has been in that, and other circumstances of change, a controlling Power beyond the reach of man's wisdom; provisions against future evils in the dark womb of time, and adaptations to the existing condition of the Church, beyond what entered into the thoughts of those concerned.

The object of the present inquiry is to ascertain whether, after the lapse of time, we may not obtain some slight clue to the object of such dispensations; whether there are not discernible some remarkable indications of such a presiding Hand, not only controlling the tide of popular changes which have come over the Church, so as to have preserved to us that dispensation under which we now live, but also regulating and directing those changes to meet the wants of succeeding ages.

Had these revolutions been produced by persons acting in the largeness of human wisdom, and by forethought directing their views to one great design, and that design peculiarly suitable to the wants of the Church, even in this case we should have to acknowledge that superintending Hand in which are the hearts

of men. But if this does not appear to have been the case, excepting on some particular occasions, yet, notwithstanding, at one time by the aid of persons supporting the Catholic Truth, at another by that of those opposing it; at one time by the care of reverential men, at another by the passions of the inconsiderate, -there may be traced the predominance of one great and overruling purpose :-And if such a Providential Power, now converting and then controlling; now amalgamating, then neutralizing; in short, either by maturing or by frustrating the thoughts of men, has throughout, so far as we can discern, made all things to work to one great end, and that an end peculiarly suitable to our condition-if such be the case, then surely such an inquiry as the present may do something towards regulating the feelings with which we regard those events, and pointing out the line of conduct which our position requires.

I am aware that such an investigation demands the greatest circumspection and reverence, for although we have the promise that CHRIST shall be with His Church to the end of the world, yet therein, as in His natural Providence, "His ways are in the deep waters, and His footsteps are not known." But if even in our lives as individuals, where we can still less comprehend in our view the lengthened bearing or end of the circumstances which encompass us, yet even in the short course of our existence on earth we may trace in past events manifest Providential leadings, and something of a design with respect to ourselves— much more may we suppose that such indications of God's care may be discerned in the protection of His Church, where we have entire centuries through which to mark the footsteps of a Divine Governor. And if in the former case it be considered the part of widom and piety, in a review of our life, to divert the attention from persons and events, and thus divesting ourselves of human passions and prejudices, to acknowledge and discern the Hand of GOD, and to look upon apparent contingencies only as the instruments which He uses in conducting the great ends of His wisdom; in like manner also, with regard to the history and position of our Church, to turn our thoughts from man to GoD, is one of the best means of learning to judge and to feel correctly in

short, we ought to be very cautious how we consider events without recognising therein His Presence.

One protest only it is necessary to make, that the argument is very distinct from that unreal eclectic system, which confounds truth, and degrades our sense of Providence, by looking on the different forms of error only as various modes of educing good under the Divine control. The cases are perfectly distinct, inasmuch as it is one thing, where God has promised to be present for our guidance, to feel after Him, if haply we may find Him," in order to know what that guidance is; and another to acquiesce in, and reconcile ourselves to, shapes of evil, on the ground that they will ultimately redound to His glory.



2. Such an inquiry particularly necessary at present.

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The consideration which is here entered upon appears to be especially necessary at the present crisis: for the more our attention is turned to the ancient Liturgies and usages, the more, I suppose, shall we be convinced that such could have come from no other source than that from which the Holy Scriptures have hulingy, themselves proceeded. This thought, indeed, is familiar to most of us, from what we have retained. And, impressed with this awful sense of the sanctity of the ancient forms of worship, a reverential mind will naturally shrink from the idea of their being remodelled and altered by man. And the discovery that this has been to a certain extent the case in our own Liturgy may have a tendency to impair that (I may say) filial affection and respect which are due to her from whom we have received our Spiritual birth in one Sacrament, and the bread of life in the other. And, indeed, obedience to her, as standing in the nearest of parental relations, is a part of that charity without which even the understanding of mysteries and knowledge avail not. When our thoughts revert to earlier and better times, we shall, of course, be filled with some sad reflections at the melancholy contrast, looking upon the later Church as "the second temple," and, in the words of holy Herbert, "deserving tears ;" or, in the more sacred words in the Prophet Haggai, "Is it not in your


'eyes in comparison of it as nothing?" But He who spake these

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words, and who now alloweth us to see this contrast, added to them, "Yet now be strong, for I am with you, saith the LORD of "HOSTS. According to the word that I covenanted with you, "when ye came out of Egypt, so my SPIRIT remaineth among you." It is on this promised presence of CHRIST, who hath covenanted to abide with His Church, that these observations are founded. With regard to the general principle, of course, the only question can be, whether our Church has done any thing to forfeit those promises. But this, we may confidently trust, is not the case. Strong judicial withdrawings doubtless there may have been, and withholdings of light, as indicating a threatened removal of that candlestick itself, in which the light is placed, if we repent not. But those essentials, to which the promise has been annexed, have not been forfeited, while we retain those Mysteries which are "necessary to salvation ;" and Divinely-commissioned stewards to convey them. And with regard to an Apostolic form of Liturgy, the Church in all ages has allowed, that, as long as the substance continues the same, circumstantial varieties are permitted to particular Churches. This, Mr. Palmer maintains, in his "Origines Liturgicæ;" and Hooker implies the same. "No doubt," says he, "from GOD it hath proceeded, and by us "it must be acknowledged a work of His singular care and provi"dence, that the Church hath evermore held a prescript form of common prayer, although not in all things every where the same, "yet for the most part retaining still the same analogy. So that "if the Liturgies of all ancient Churches throughout the world be "compared amongst themselves, it may be easily perceived they "had all one original mould'." So that in these things we have not forfeited the promise. And surely if the use made of the Septuagint version in the New Testament furnishes us with a Scriptural proof that this translation of the Scriptures was conducted under the control of that SPIRIT from which those Scriptures themselves proceeded, notwithstanding alterations made in the text, and the persons engaged in that work: in like manner may we regard even the alterations which have taken place in our


1 B. v. c. 25. 2.

Liturgy. It may be we do not approve of the persons, or of the motives which produced them. It may be that those changes took from us a part of our ancient inheritance; yet, should we not rather say, with a religious caution, that the same Hand which has mercifully afforded us so much beyond our deserts, has in justice withdrawn such higher privileges for our unworthiness? And if we show ourselves meet to receive them by a pious use of what remains, then it may be we shall have them more fully restored. Or may they not be withholden in mercy, no less than in justice, as injurious to an age that cannot receive them but to condemnation, according to the words of a Latin hymn,

"Quam nos potenter allicis?
Te, CHRISTE, quando detegis,
Te quando celas, providus
Nobis peræque consulis."

TRANSFIG. DOм. Paris. Brev.



To recur to the reference just made to the Septuagint. If, as St. Augustin maintains', the same SPIRIT, which was in the Prophets when they spake, was in the translators of the Septuagint when they interpreted, expressing the same things differently, in the same manner that He does by different Prophets in Scripture, and omitting, or adding, or altering, as best suited the wisdom oft texamen His purpose; so also the omissions and additions and alterations in our own Liturgy, we may reverently trust, were ordered by the same SPIRIT under whose control the first rites of Catholic worship were ordained. For if the presence of CHRIST still continues in His Church, in what circumstances can we conceive His Divine control to be more exerted than in regulating these Saluyu changes? For rituals and forms of prayer, however unimportant in human eyes, assume a very high character and value. when considered as the appointed means of access from man to fo GOD; as methods of approach to Him, which He has Himself provided, and of which we are bound to make use,-for as individuals we have no choice ;- -as moreover objects of sacred asso


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1 De Civitate Dei, lib. xviii. c. 43.

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