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estate of Christian people was in worse case concerning that matter than were the Jews; and he counselled, that such yoke and burden should be taken away, as time would serve quietly to do it.
But what would St. Augustine have said, if he had seen the Ceremonies of late days used among us; whereunto the multitude used in his time was not to be compared? This our excessive multitude of Ceremonies was so great, and many of them so dark, that they did more confound and darken, than declare and set forth, Christ's benefits unto us.
And besides this, Christ's Gospel is not a Ceremonial Law, (as much of Moses' Law was ;) but it is a religion to serve God, not in bondage of the figure or shadow, but in the freedom of the spirit, being content only with those Ceremonies which do serve to a decent order and godly discipline, and such as be apt to stir up the dull mind of man to the remembrance of his duty to God by some notable and special signification, whereby he might be edified.
Furthermore, the most weighty cause of the abolishment of certain Ceremonies was, that they were so far abused, partly by the superstitious blindness of the rude and unlearned, and partly by the unsatiable avarice of such as sought more their own lucre than the glory of God, that the abuses could not well be taken away, the thing remaining still.
But now, as concerning those persons, which peradventure will be offended, for that some of the old Ceremonies are
retained still. If they consider that without some Ceremonies it is not possible to keep any order or quiet discipline in the Church, they shall easily perceive just cause to reform their judgments. And if they think much that any of the old do remain, and would rather have all devised anew; then, such men granting some Ceremonies convenient to be had, surely where the old may be well used, there they cannot reasonably reprove the old only for their age, without bewraying of their own folly. For in such a case they ought rather to have reverence unto them for their antiquity, if they will declare themselves to be more studious of unity and concord, than of innovations and new-fangleness; which (as much as may be, with the true setting forth of Christ's religion) is always to be eschewed. Furthermore, such shall have no just cause with the Ceremonies reserved to be offended. For as those be taken away which were most abused, and did burden men's consciences without any cause; so the other that remain are retained for a discipline and order, which (upon just causes) may be altered and changed, and therefore are not to be esteemed equal with God's law. And moreover they be neither dark nor dumb Ceremonies, but are so set forth that every man may understand what they do mean, and to what use they do serve. So that it is not like, that they in time to come should be abused as others have been. And in these our doings we condemn no other nations, nor prescribe any thing but to our own people only. For we think it convenient that every country
should use such Ceremonies, as they shall think best to the setting forth of God's honour and glory, and to the reducing of the people to a most perfect and godly living, without error or superstition: and that they should put away other things, which from time to time they perceive to be most abused, as in men's ordinances it often chanceth diversely in divers countries.
The Table and Calendar, expressing the Order of Psalms to be said at Morning and Evening Prayer throughout the Year; except certain Proper Feasts, as the Rules following more plainly declare.
THE Psalter shall be read through once every month, save February; and in that month so far as the Psalms are appointed for twenty-eight, or twenty-nine days in the Leap-Year.
And whereas many months have thirty-one days apiece, it is ordered that the Psalms shall be read the last day of the said months which were read the day before; so that the Psalter may begin again the first day of the next month ensuing.
And where the 119th Psalm is divided into twenty-two portions, and is over-long to be read at one time it is so ordered, that at one time shall not be read above four or five of the said portions, as you shall perceive to be noted in this Table following.
And here is also to be noted, that in this Table, and in all other parts of the Service where any Psalms are appointed, the number is expressed after the great English Bible, which from
the 9th Psalm unto the 148th Psalm (following the division of the Hebrews) doth vary in numbers from the common Latin translation.
The Order how the rest of Holy Scripture (beside the Psalter) is appointed to be read.
THE Old Testament is appointed for the First Lessons at Morning and Evening Prayer, and shall be read through every year once; except certain Books and Chapters which be least edifying, and might best be spared, and therefore are left unread.
The New Testament is appointed for the Second Lessons at Morning and Evening Prayer, and shall be read over orderly every year thrice, besides the Epistles and Gospels; except the Apocalypse, out of the which there be only certain Lessons appointed upon divers Proper Feasts.
And to know what Lessons shall be read every day, find the day of the month in the Calendar following; and there ye shall perceive the Books and Chapters that shall be read for the Lessons both at Morning and Evening Prayer.
And here is to be noted, that whensoever there be any Proper Psalms or Lessons appointed for the Sundays, or for any Feast, Moveable or Unmoveable; then the Psalms and Lessons appointed in the Calendar shall be omitted for that time.
Ye must note also, that the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel
appointed for the Sunday, shall serve all the week after, except there fall some Feast that hath his proper Collect Epistle, and Gospel; as it is on Ash-Wednesday, and on every day in the Holy Week next before Pash or Easter: but on all those days the Psalms and Lessons shall be the same which fall in course as they are in the Calendar.
When the years of our Lord may be divided into four even parts, which is every fourth year, then the Sunday Letter leapeth and that year the Psalms and Lessons which serve for the 28th day of February, shall be read again the day following, except it be Sunday; which hath proper Lessons of the Old Testament appointed in the Table serving to that purpose.
Also, wheresoever the beginning of any Lesson, Epistle, or Gospel, is not expressed, there ye must begin at the beginning of the Chapter. And wheresoever is not expressed how far shall be read, there shall you read to the end of the Chapter.
Item, So oft as the first Chapter of St. Matthew is read either for Lesson or Gospel, ye shall begin the same at (The birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise, &c.) and the third Chapter of St. Luke's Gospel shall be read unto (So that he was supposed to be the son of Joseph.)