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LESSONS OF OBEDIENCE INTRODUCED INTO OUR LITURGY.
1. Recapitulation of the general point of view in which the subject is treated.
BEFORE again entering upon the particular consideration of this subject, it will be expedient to keep in mind the point of view in which it has been our object to look upon the whole of the question. It must be remembered that nothing is said in approbation, or in censure, of these alterations. Some might be disposed to think that the changes in the Second Book of King Edward, brought about through the advice and influence (though, perhaps, not the open instrumentality) of foreigners, were opposed to the spirit of the previous declaration intended against Rome, that each Church was to regulate its own internal affairs; that it had not so much the free and spontaneous concurrence of the Church itself; and that therefore this Book had not the high sanction of the former. Or it might be supposed that any innovation at all on the ancient forms of worship savoured of irreverence, for it is written, "Remove not the ancient landmarks "which thy fathers have set," and that it therefore endangered the Church's forfeiting the blessing attached to the fifth commandment, which promises the strength of earthly inheritance to honour paid to parents; for it is a kind of parental authority which sacred antiquity claims over us. It is an easy matter now to think thus ; but, considering the state of the times, it should rather be ever remembered as the interference of a most merciful Providence, that any thing ancient was retained through those convulsions. The reverence for antiquity which guided our alterations was the admiration of foreigners. This Grotius remarks in terms of praise; and Casaubon': and Bucer himself could not but approve the first Book as agreeable to primitive usage as well as to Scrip
1 "In Angliâ vides quam bene processerit dogmatum noxiorum repurgatio; hâc "maxime de causâ, quod qui id sanctissimum negotium procurandum suscepere, VOL. V.-86.
ture'. Add to which the corrupt innovations which had been inserted into the ancient worship, rendered some change not only excusable but necessary, and occasioned at that period a great difficulty in ascertaining what was clearly Catholic. There was not, as abroad, the hand of Uzza; not unauthorized instruments raised to support the ark of God; but it was ever, as it moved from place to place, in the keeping of the Priest and the Levite. If therefore the work were necessary, and if in the fabrication of the material tabernacle, in which the ALMIGHTY was pleased to dwell, He called the workmen "by name," and "filled them with
"nihil admiserint novi, nihil sui; sed ad meliora secula intentam habuere oculo66 'rum aciem." Grotii Epist. ad Joan. Corvinum.
"Si me conjectura non fallit, totius Reformationis pars integerrima est in 66 'Angliâ; ubi, cum studio veritatis, viget studium antiquitatis: quam certi "homines dum spernunt, in laqueos se inducent, unde, nisi mendacio, exuere se "nequeunt." Isaac. Casaubon. Ep. Claud. Salmasio, quoted by Bishop Jebb, Practical Theology, p. 37.
1 The first committee of Bishops and Divines in the first year of King Edward VI. was appointed to compose "an uniform mode of Communion according "to the rules of Scripture, and the use of the Primitive Church." And the commission at the Savoy conference in the time of King Charles II. was "to compare "the Common Prayer Book with the most ancient Liturgies that had been used in "the Church, in the most primitive and purest times." So that from first to last our Church has sanctioned no other rule of guidance but that of Scripture and Catholic antiquity combined; and our altars have not been made, to use an expression of Bishop Taylor, " of unhallowed turf." And that up to that period the forms and modes of worship were of a traditionary nature, appears from their very names, as "The Salisbury Use, the Hereford Use, the Use of Bangor," &c. and that the people were familiar with them is indicated by an apology in the Preface to Edward's Book for the necessity of their reading "upon the book, "whereas before, by the reason of so often repetition, they could say many things "by heart." And that previous to the formation of these Liturgies, Divine Worship was regulated by traditionary use appears from this, that Gregory (A. D. 500) whose Sacramentary seems to have been the foundation of them, thinks it necessary to apologize for making some alterations and additions to the Collects, for which he pleads the sanction of a custom in the Greek Church. To which it may be added, that Mr. Palmer traces some of the Collects beyond that of Gregory to the Sacramentary of Gelasius, 494 A.D.; and to that of Leo, still more ancient. Nor is it at all apparent that St. Jerome, to whom the selection of the Epistles and Gospels is attributed, acted himself, without this restraint of traditionary custom.
"wisdom and understanding" for the work, surely we ought not to doubt but that in this most sacred undertaking a Divine control and superintendence was not forfeited. It was surely the part of a pious Israelite to hold in honour each part of that material work, though he knew not the significative emblems and deep meanings which it contained; and as succeeding ages more and more opened and revealed them, to inquire into each particular with reverence. While he saw on the retrospect indications of Divine Wisdom, in what he had before ignorantly but religiously revered, in pious adoration of the mysterious workmanship, he thought not of the name of Bezaleel, the son of Uri, though of the more favoured tribe of Judah, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, though of the less honoured tribe of Dan (Exod. xxxi.) who formed it. Surely with feelings akin to this, we may retrace the particulars of our own mould of worship, knowing not how much of heavenly import and providential admonition may secretly be hid, not only in the candlestick and the table, but even in the rings and the staves, (Exod. xxxviii.) the varied fringes of the garment, and the blue ribands.
2. Duty of considering these changes as a Divine work.
There are passages in the Gospels which we cannot fail to remark as intended beforehand against certain evils which should afterwards prevail. We cannot, for instance, but discern in the frequent repetition throughout the 14th and 15th chapters of St. John, of expressions respecting the "keeping of the com"mandments," as the only sign of Love, a prophetical warning against the evils of fanaticism; and a no less distinct denunciation anticipating the errors of Popery on more than one occasion; first, in our LORD's words respecting His holy mother; and, secondly, in those words, "It is the SPIRIT that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing;" which seem to provide against harsh definitions of His mysterious presence in the Eucharist, concerning which he had been speaking throughout that chapter. (St. John vi.) To which may be also added, the remarkable insertion of the word "all," in the delivery of the cup, "Drink ye all of this." (St. Matt. xxvi. 27.) If this be the case, as it is natural to suppose, may we not conclude that in some degree also His control
ling agency may have inserted prophetical cautions in the teaching of a particular Church against those peculiar evils which should afterwards assail it? Does not the very promise of our SAVIOUR'S unfailing Presence in His Church against which the gates of Hell shall not prevail, lead a meek and obedient spirit to feel after such guidance, and to rest assured that such a meek obedience to CHRIST'S Church would somehow or other afford him refuge and safety? "The LORD is a tower of strength; the righteous run "into it and are safe." For it is through matters of this nature that a spirit of affectionate submission speaks among the generality of Christians; not through inquiry and investigation into the principles and intentions of the Church, so much as by imbibing day by day its devotional and practical character; not so much by a definite act of acknowledged obedience, and a reflex consideration of that act, as by a tacit and almost unconscious participation of its spirit. If security is to be found in the Church, it must be in great measure by means of these indirect channels. If the Church be the robe of CHRIST, woven throughout without seam, he who prizes and cherishes as full of virtue, even the hem of His garment, though accused by the world of superstition, (as we must be when we make forms of so much importance,) yet shall he derive thereby the full benefit of his piety. Yea, though such be but touching the hem of CHRIST's garment in the spirit of charity, yet shall he partake, even in these days, of that anointing, which came of old on the Head of the Church, and went down to the skirts of His clothing.
It is necessary to call our attention again and again to considerations of this kind, as the proof necessarily depends so much on words, and sentences, and short prayers, which, humanly speaking, might not appear worthy of that importance which this argument attaches to them; and the combination of which, as a whole, contains so valuable a principle.
The difficulty of obtaining a fair hearing for this mode of inquiry, arises from the temptation we are under of allowing our thoughts to turn to the secondary causes. But surely, whatever the agents were, it is right to consider them merely as instruments in the hands of GOD, raised up for some particular design relating to His Church. For instance, that one of the Gospels
should abound very peculiarly with consolations to the Penitent, and that that Gospel should have been intended especially for the Gentiles, indicates a merciful purpose of God. Nor is the force of that indication lessened, when we find that it was "the "beloved Physician" who selected these lessons of comfort, as perhaps most congenial to his own temper of mercy; or that, when the world had been prepared for it, and rising heresies required it, another Gospel should have come forth replete with the higher mysteries of Wisdom and Charity, is the purpose of GOD to be less admired therein, because it was "the beloved "Disciple" who wrote that Gospel, and who, in doing so, was but following the bent of a holy frame of mind, which is ever dwelling upon heavenly things? And now, though it is not by the instrumentality of miracles, or a miraculous voice, that we receive the intimations of the Divine agency, yet they are not, in themselves, the less certain. The hand that bears it may appear human, but the lesson of humiliation which it bears is divine: "When I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a "roll of a book was therein. And it was written within and "without; and there was written therein lamentations, and "mourning, and woe." (Ezek. ii.)
3. Warnings introduced against the "lawlessness" of the last days.
Having said thus much on the general nature of the subject, we may again return to the particular inquiry. The second train of thought, suggested by a review of these changes in our Liturgy, is singularly coincident with, and in itself no less remarkable than the former. It is this; that there is providentially introduced, and inserted throughout, in some shape or other, the mention of obedience.
This is, I say, remarkable, and that in two points of view. First, because it perfectly agrees with, and confirms, the former argument, inasmuch as it is in accordance with reason and Scripture, that if the ALMIGHTY is pleased to put into our minds the language of penitence, He should accompany this also with calls to obedience, as the test of that repentance. Such is the general argument. And in the second place, this lesson, in all the various