Imágenes de páginas

ship of thee, in righteousness, and holiness of life.” In the form of address to communicants in the dispensation of the sacrament, two sentences were added.

- The body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee," and “ the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for thee; preserve thy body and soul to everlasting life.” These were taken out of King Edward's first book. In his second book, these sentences had been left out, and take, eat and drink this,put in their place; but now, in that of Queen Elizabeth, both these forms were united. --- The Habits enjoined by the first book of Edward, and prohibited by the second, were restored. At the end of the Litany, a prayer was added for the Queen, and another for the Clergy. The Rubrick that was added to the end of the Communion Office, in the second book of King Edward, was left out of Queen Elizabeth's Liturgy.

In this state the Liturgy continued, till the first year of James the First. After the conference at HampdonCourt, between that Prince, with Archbishop Whitgift, and other Bishops and Divines on the one side, and Dr. Reynolds, with some other Puritans on the other, some forms of Thanksgiving were added at the end of the Litany, and an addition was made to the Catechism, on the subject of the Sacraments. The Catechism before that time ended with the answer to the question, which immediately follows the Lord's Prayer. In the Rubrick, in the beginning of the office for private baptism, the words “ lawful minister” were inserted, to prevent midwives or laymen from presuming to baptize.

After the Restoration of Charles the Second, in 1661, a commission was issued to empower twelve of the Bishops, and twelve Presbyterian Divines, to consider the objections that had been made against the Liturgy, and to make such reasonable and necessary alterations as they should jointly agree upon. Nine assistants were added on each side, to supply the place of such of the twelve principals, as should happen to be absent. The commissioners had several meetings at the Savoy, but, with their different prejudices, the subjects of discussion admitted of no easy compromise. The one party felt little disposition to concede or conciliate, and the other as little to soften their asperities. Repulsive in their sentiments, and not very accommodating in their manners, though there were excellent men on both sides, the controversy seems to have been, not who should esteem each other most highly in love for their work's sake, but what party should, with the most rigid stiffness, reject the claims of their former opponents. Had they been mutually disposed to make some sacrifices of their animosities, to the interests of vi. tal religion, the wounds of which had long bled, and which was now convulsed in every nerve, by the blows she had received from all parties, in their mutual collision in the dark, they had erected at once a monument to their own piety, and a temple into which the quiet of the land might have entered, and worshipped in sweet counsel and fellowship. Some of the Bishops, it now appears, were desirous to prevent an union; and eagerly sought an opportunity of troubling the waters, not for the purpose of healing the divisions of Christians, but of embittering them. The Puritans also exhibited a disposition, too much calculated to rouse and to irritate the feelings of the Church, which required rather to be softened than to be enflamed. The dispute between them was not about the superior excellence of a Liturgy, or of extempore prayer; but whether the Liturgy of the Church of England should be continued, or give place to one entirely new. Had some corrections and alterations in the Liturgy been proposed, to meet the wishes of those whose religious scruples were hurt by ceremonies, or by modes of expression which they could not approve, and which they desired to be removed, the request of the Presbyterians would have presented, on the face of it, a strong and reasonable claim. But by an unaccountable act of that most excellent man, Mr. Baxter, who offered a new liturgy of his own, to be substituted in the place of the authorized one, all hopes of accommodation were disappointed. Thinking highly, as the author does, of the eminent piety, distinguished talents, and tried wisdom of that Apostolical man, he finds it difficult to conceive that the combined powers and unctions of all the worthy men at whose head he acted, were equal to the production of liturgical forms, worthy even to be compared, as a whole, with the Liturgy of the Church of England. The Liturgy of the Church has laid under contribution the collected piety and devotion of Christians, from the times of the Christian Fathers, down to those in which it was framed. It has collected, not only the rich harvest of the Reformation, but gleaned the choicest fruits from the vineyard of Israel in every age.

Like every thing human, that Liturgy is susceptible of correction, and consequently of improvement, in some of its parts, and were a wise and temperate hand applied to make a few alterations, it might be rendered the most perfect of human compositions. But where shall hands be found sufficiently pure, hearts sufficiently devout, and heads sufficiently wise and temperate, to which the deposite may be entrusted, with a confident expectation, that by their labours it shall be restored with the improvement of two or three of its offices, and without any diminution of its general worth and excellence? The spirit it breathes is that of devotion, resting upon Evangelical principles, and animated by a pure flame kindled at the altar of God. It directs the eye of the worshipper to the only hope of man, as a fallen and guilty creature, the Atonement and Intercession of the Son of God; to the only source, from whence the Restoration of our corrupted natures, to the image and love of our Maker, can arise,the influences of the Holy Ghost. It speaks that genuine language of humility which becomes the feelings and the lips of a creature, who has in himself the sentence of death, and yet the language of ardent gratitude, which becomes him who is begotten again to a lively hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is equally distinguished by its comprehension, and its compression, by its simplicity and its sublimity, by its ease and its elegance, by its spirituality and its rationality, by the correctness of its doctrines, and the perspicuity of its language. It unites majesty with plainness; solemnity with the gentlest flow of diction; the impassioned eloquence of the heart, with the chastest elocution of sentiment. It is vigorous without being harsh, and calculated to warm, without overpowering, the religious feelings.-Without entering into the question, whether public prayer is best conducted by liturgical forms; by a Directory such as that of the Presbyterians in Scotland, in which the heads of devotion are suggested, and left to be filled up by extemporary expressions; or by supplications, without any previous adjustment, as by the Independents, the author cannot withhold the just tribute of his admiration of the Liturgy of the Church of England, in general, as a noble composition. Too much weight has often been placed on the mode of prayer, both by the advocates of free and

[blocks in formation]

extempore prayer, and by those who plead for precomposed forms. In their turns they have argued, as if the Spirit of prayer were exclusively confined to the different modes for which they contend. And yet, surely, this is a subject on which men of the most exalted piety bave held opposite opinions. Humility certainly requires, that, when we form our judgments on this head, whatever our decision for ourselves be, we take care never to arraign the motives, or to impeach the devotion of those who have come to an opposite conclusion. It is neither because we pray in the words of a precomposed Liturgy, nor because we present our suplications to our Heavenly Father, in the words with which our present sentiments and feelings clothe them, that our petitions will either obtain success, or fail of obtaining it. Our prayers will be heard or rejected as we present them with bumble, contrite, and believing; or with proud, impenitent and disbeliering, hearts; with a reliance on the Saviour's Atonement and Intercession, or with a dependence on our own imaginary merit and goodness. When the soul rises to the spirit of prayer, in what manner soever our supplications are expressed, whether in liturgical forms, or in extemporary language, it has fellowship with the Father, with the Son, and with the Holy Ghost. When the spirit of devotion is wanting, the winds will disperse our prayers, howsoever expressed, and they will never reach the throne of God.

It is equally a breach of the law of charity, when the Presbyterian or the Independent represents the worship of the Church of England, not as the prayers of its members, but as their reading of prayers, and when the Churchman represents a prescribed form, as absolutely necessary to the reasonable services of religion, and ex

« AnteriorContinuar »