« AnteriorContinuar »
For in what is here proposed is very little but what hath the authority of law, and the declaration of the whole state that it was composed by the aid of the Holy Ghost; and that little such as is not like to offend any man of judgment, and truly religious. And I should be glad to have no occasion to proceed any further to the opening such sores, as I had rather see insensibly healed and covered, than exposed to public view. But I have such assurance, and divine attestations, that the work I am employed in, for the restitution of this most holy, solemn, and peculiar part of the Christian Worship to its integrity, as well as just frequency of a Daily Celebration in places proper for it, and weekly in all Churches, is the special work of God, (not only for his service, but ordered by himself, by his own hand of Providence, and under his Divine conduct,) that as it is no little comfort and encouragement to me, so it is a special and great obligation to be faithful in it. I am very sensible of the obligation upon me, and very much desire to pay all due respect and observance to all human authority, whether ecclesiastical or civil, as the ordinance of God: but if they in authority will give unnecessarily occasion for a contest, we must obey God rather than man, and prefer the authority of the Catholic Church before that of any particular Church whatever ; and especially the honour of God and of our Saviour before that of man, or any society of men, be it what it will. And if nothing else will do, I must proceed, and open the whole matter, in the cause of God, to the whole Church, in the best manner that I can. And this is what I have to say here, at present, in order to the restitution of this Holy Service to its integrity : for, for the reasons of what is here done, they may be more proper to have their place in the Notes, which are intended for that purpose.
But as for that of its just Frequency of Celebration, there needs not that caution, though what I have to say do reflect shame upon our Clergy. For, (1,) that may be without disparagement to the constitution of this Church in this matter; because there be learned men who have asserted in public, and are ready to prove, that, by the constitution of this Church, there ought to be a Daily Celebration in all places where there are but a competent number of devout persons to attend and communicate. And, (2,) it is but just and reasonable to do it, notwithstanding, for their humiliation before God, and reformation, to prevent what might be worse for them. Our wise and gracious God hath given them a gentle tacit admonition, by a small company of Daily Communicants, excited and conducted by his hand, from a private room, to a public Church ; and, by degrees, from one without the walls, at last, to one in the very heart of this city, where they have constantly assembled for this Holy Service, without intermission of a day, for a twelvemonth together, and thereby borne a testimony for him, and been a tacit admonition to all others, but especially the Clergy. And I have formerly proposed the case by way of Questions, in print, which have come to the hands of some of the principal of those concerned, and been under their consideration, besides many others: and since those have had no more effect, I know nothing more proper for this purpose than these Theses and Conclusions, concerning the Frequent Celebration and Participation of the Holy Eucharist, which I lately drew up upon a private occasion, little thinking then of this, for which they serve much better, and (which) possibly might be so designed then by that overruling wisdom, whose thoughts are as far above ours as the heaven above the earth.
Thes. 1. That this one Unbloody Sacrifice, or holy rite of the Blessed Eucharist, doth succeed as an antitype and memorial in the Christian Church, in the place of all those Bloody Typical Sacrifices of the Jews ; as is taught both by ancient Christians, and by learned men of our own Church and times.
Concl. 1. That it is very unworthy of a Christian to imagine our memorial of what is actually done and consummate, to be less effectual for Christians, than were their types of what was then yet to be done, for the Jews, for any intent or purpose whatever.
2. That this, being of as great use to us as were theirs to them, ought as frequently to be used among us as were theirs among them, upon all just occasions.
Thes. 2. That this holy rite was a rite in use among the Jews, for solemn thanksgiving to God for any great mercy or bless. ing, as often as they met together to celebrate any such ; and was appropriate by our Saviour for a Eucharistical Commemoration of his passion before God, as often as Christians should have any Solemn Assembly for the Worship of God.
Concl. That this, being instituted by our Saviour as the peculiar solemnity of that memorial, ought to be used as often as we assemble to give solemn thanks for that great blessing, or to offer up solemn prayers for the obtaining of the benefits thereof.
Thes. 3. That it is a rite of the greatest honour to God, and to our Saviour, and of the greatest benefit to men, of any in the Christian Church.
Concl. 1. Both these considerations are both great motives, and great obligations, to a Frequent Celebration and Participation of it.
2. The neglect thereof, in respect of the honour of God, and of our Saviour, is ingratitude and impiety; and in respect of the benefit to man, as to others uncharitableness ; and as to themselves profaneness and folly : like that of Esau. Heb. xii. 16.
Thes. 4. It is the principal and most solemn part of the Christian Worship; and so essential a part, that, in the judgment of most eminent men of our own Church, our Service is not complete without it, but defective, and defective in the principal part wanting.
Concl. 1. Concerning Reading of a part of the Communion Service at the Altar, where no Communion is prepared for, intended, or expected; what conclusion is to be made, in respect of God, to whom it is offered ; in respect of the Minister, who doth offer it; and in respect of the people, who should attend and communicate; is not hard to be understood.
Thes. 5. Not any one Solemn Assembly of Christians, for the Worship of God, in the times of the Apostles, or among the ancient Christians of the first ages, is known ever to have been held without it.
Thes. 6. No Church upon the face of the earth, from the time of the Apostles to the time of the Reformation, nor to this day, except among Protestants, is known to have kept the Lord's-Day, or had any Ordinary Assemblies for the Solemn Worship of God, without it: except their Matins, Vespers, Nocturnal and Diurnal Hours, and certa Dies Aliturgici, and some innovations peculiar to some particular Churches ; all such exceptions as do confirm the general rule and obser. vation.
Thes. 7. And for the Church of England ; that by the constitution of this Church, if but three of a Parish do desire it, and will be ready constantly to attend it, it is the duty of the Priest or Minister, in his Parish, to celebrate it every day, hath been asserted in public by some of the most eminent men of the C1
rch of England, and will be maintained, if there be occasion.
Concl. 1. That this neglect of the Protestant Churches is a great sin, and a shameful fault and blemish to the Reforma