Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of the church of Rome, to that purity of faith and simplicity of worship by which the church of England is now distinguished; and we shall find that it required the labours of the pious and learned of several successive periods to bring our Liturgy to its present state of excellence.

Though Henry himself was by no means a: sincere and uniform friend to the cause of the Reformation, yet his resentment against the Roman pontiff induced him to authorize many publications (a), which were calculated to expose

the abuses and corruptions that had so long prevailed ; and the several translations of the Bible into English, mentioned in the last chapter, contributed greatly to enlighten the minds of men, and to prepare them for that important change which took place immediately after his death.

In the first years of Edward the Sixth, who was firmly attached to the principles of the reformed religion, in which he had been educated, the King and his council nominated Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, Ridley, afterwards bishop of London, and other eminent divines, to draw up a

Liturgy

(a) The King's Primer; the Godly and Pious Institution of a Christian Man; a necessary Doctrine and Erudition for Christian Men, &c. &c.

Liturgy in the English language for the general use of the church, free from those unfounded doctrines and superstitious ceremonies which had disgraced the Latin Liturgies. These commissioners entered upon the work with the greatest alacrity and zeal; and when they had finished it, Cranmer presented it to the young King, and in the end of the year 1548, it was ratified by parliament, under the title of “ The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, after the Use of the Church of England."

It was the principle of Cranmer to proceed in the glorious work of Reform with moderation; he cautiously avoided the rejection of too much at once of what the people had been accustomed to consider as parts of religion, not merely to prevent public commotions, but in order to procure a gradual change in their opinions, rather than give a shock to their faith. It was, however, soon perceived that this first attempt to establish an English Liturgy upon the authority of Scripture and the practice of the primitive church, was imperfect, and in some respects liable to objection; and we find Cranmer, very soon after its publication, consulting such of the

foreign foreign divines (b) as were most celebrated for their learning and discretion, respecting further improvements. The portion of Scripture which was now daily read in the churches, and the zeal and diligence with which the genuine truths of Christianity were disseminated among the people, opened their minds, and operated so strongly upon their understandings, that in about two years a general revision of the Liturgy was thought expedient, and commissioners were appointed for that purpose. The revision was made with the utmost care and judgment: and the book, thus improved, was confirmed by parliament in the beginning of April 1552, and ordered to be used in all churches throughout the kingdom, from the feast of All Saints following. In this “ Second Book," as it is called, of King Edward, there were many additions and corrections. Among the former were the sentences, exhortation, confession, and absolution, at the beginning of the morning and evening prayer, and the ten commandments in the communion service. The principal omissions were, the use of oil and the sign of the cross in confirmation, extreme unction at the

visitation

(b) Particularly Bucer and Martyr, who, through his recommendation, were now divinity professors in Cambridge and Oxford.

visitation of the sick, and prayers for the dead, both in the communion and in the burial service, the use of the cross and the invocation of the Holy Ghost, and the mixture of water with wine in the celebration of the holy supper; and there were also several other alterations in the communion service. By these additions and alterations, our public offices were, in all important points of doctrine, brought nearly to their present state.

Soon after the publication of this book, King Edward died, and his successor Mary, immediately upon her Accession, caused both the statutes to be repealed which had authorized and directed the use of these two books, and restored the Latin Liturgies according to the popish forms of worship

Early in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, commissioners were again appointed to prepare an English Liturgy. Elizabeth had certainly not imbibed the same pure spirit of Christianity, which had directed the pious and enlightened Edward and the venerable Cranmer; and it was at first debated, whether the First or Second Book of King Edward should be made the basis of the Liturgy, which was now to be offered to parliament. It was decided in favour of the second

book; book; and the commissioners having entered upon their business in December 1558, finished it in the April following. This new book was immediately ratified by act of parliament, which took effect on the day of St. John the Baptist 1559. The following were the most considerable circumstances in which it differed from the second book of King Edward the Sixth : power was given to the ordinary to appoint the part of the church where morning and evening prayer should be read, the chancel having hitherto been the place commonly used for that purpose; proper first lessons were appointed for Sundays, no distinction of that sort having been made in former Liturgies; in the litany, a sentence, praying to be delivered “ from the bishop of Rome, and all his detestable enormities,” was omitted, and prayers were added for the “ queen's majesty,” and “ for the clergy and people;” and several alterations were made in the communion service and in the rubric, with a view to conciliate the Roman Catholics. * This comprehensive plan, added to the Queen's apparent attachment to usages that had obtained under the antient establishment, induced many of the Roman Catholics to continue to join in the communion of the established church. Even the Pope was ready to give his sanction to the

Liturgy,

« AnteriorContinuar »