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and do love you with an unfeigned speculative, but humane and praclove in Christ Jesus; who entreat tical; for it appears that many you, by the mercies of God, that persons, either in deplorable ignoyou will be content and willing to rance, or, like the Mohammedans, hear what, for your good, upon in a spirit of fatalism, or from not mature deliberation, they do write thinking the sickness contagious, unto you; not as of themselves, refused to use any precautions but in the blessed name of the most against it. But, says the Exhortglorious Trinity, to whom they ation, "If we desire that Almighty cease not to commend you in all God should withdraw his heavy hand their daily prayers." Too many from us, and deliver us from this modern statesmen would call this affliction, it is not sufficient by fastcant and absurdity; but where it ing and prayer to humble ourselves really sprang from Christian prin- under his Divine Majesty, except ciple, and devout sympathy, it we join therewith our best endeawould find an echo in the hearts vours and diligence by using such of men, and bind rulers and sub- other means as God hath appointed jects together in a far holier and for the staying of it. Otherwise, dearer tie than that of modern po- if we despise all good means; if litical commutation and expediency. we neither regard to keep ourself There is nothing that can render in a good estate of bodily health, such a mode of address improper, by the counsel of the learned phyexcept its being hypocritical; and sician, if we make a mock of all if it would in modern days be hy- preservatives of art, if we neglect pocritical, that is indeed a good (take no precaution against) all evil reason why it should not be em- and infectious savours, and refuse ployed; but the inapplicability is the benefit of the purer air; if we our misfortune and disgrace, and run desperately and disorderly into ought not to be accounted a mark all places, and amongst all persons, of our increase either in good and pretend our faith, and trust in taste or religious attainment. This God's providence, saying, If he will "godly exhortation," among other save me, he will save me; and if I points, dwells upon the causes, both die, I die; this is not faith in God, physical and spiritual, to which the but a gross, ignorant, and fool-hardy plague was to be traced. The presidence and presumption." physical causes are stated to be "not so much any general corruption of the air, or distemperature in the blood, or humours of men's bodies, as the contagion that the disease itself bath bred." There seem, in those days, as well as in our own, to have been some anticontagionists, with whom the Homily-we beg pardon, the "Exhortation"-zealously remonstrates: "If any man should think that the disease of the plague is not contagious and infectious, so gross a conceit is rather to be pitied than confuted; being contrary to the common and lamentable experience of these times, and contrary to the judgment of all learned and wise men in all ages." The object of these remarks was not however
The spiritual causes are traced to the grievous sins of the people. Truly in all ages the sins of a nation are seminally the same. The following passage, for example, might apply as well in the year 1830, and the reign of George the Fourth, as to the year 1625, and that of Charles the First. What a catalogue! Sensual indulgencies, impatience of authority, national pride, dishonest practices in business, the violation of the Sabbath, contempt for the Christian ministry, neglect of the ordinances of religion, espe cially the holy sacrament! To which of these charges can we in modern times plead not guilty? "The people of Israel required meat for their lust, and the people of England nourish their lust for
their meat, giving over themselves to surfeiting and drunkenness; and as those that make their belly their God, and their glory their shame, are become a bye-word unto neighbour nations for gluttony and belly-cheer. The people of Israel murmured and rebelled against Moses and Aaron, their leaders; and there have been also among us in England, not only such as have despised government, and spoken evil of those that are in authority; but such also as St. Paul prophesied of that there should come in these latter days, traitors, heady, high-minded, murmurers, malcontents, fault finders, as St. Jude calleth them. Too many are like unto Zimri, whose fornications are notorious in the sight of the world; not caring to conceal their abominations, and therefore no marvel if God himself stand forth to plague the land for them. Add unto these, that haply with David, we have lifted up our hearts in the multitude of our people, and magnified our selves, that we are a mighty and populous nation, ascribing unto ourselves, and our own strength, the honour and victory over our enemies, which God with his own right arm hath gotten unto himself for his glory. Add, moreover, that swearing, outrageous oaths, and cursed speakings, are to be heard out of the mouths of all estates; yea, even of very children in our streets, whereby the name of God is very grievously profaned. Add also, that our trades and traffic is become the practice of deceit and theft, while we make our gain by lying, forswearing, false measure, false weights, and false lights, which are an abomination unto the Lord. And, therefore, no marvel if that flying book of the curse of God against the swearer, and the thief, have entered into our houses, and taken hold of the stone and timber thereof. Besides all these, the Lord's day is not kept holy, but polluted; the word of God, and the ministry thereof, is not reverenced
In glancing over the pile of records before us, we observe many things which incidentally illustrate our present invaluable Liturgy. We throw together a few cursory memoranda.
King Edward's service directs, that after the Epistle is given out the clerks and people shall say, "Glory be to thee, O Lord." We retain the custom without the rubric. The same book of services directs in a rubric in the Communion, that where there are no clerks the priests shall say all things appointed for them. The versicles and responses, and the Amen at the conclusion of prayers were therefore intended to be read consecutively by the minister, when, as often in a sick room, there would otherwise be a hiatus. "Let us beseech him," in the absolution was formerly, "We beseech him;" which latter doubtless was thought at the revision more than the priest ought to assume of a whole congregation. There was formerly no mention of " oblations" in the prayer for the church militant. What was meant by oblations appears from the passages omitted at the revision of the Liturgy; for in King Edward's service we find that while the sentences for the offertory were being read, not only were the alms for the poor man's box, as at present, to be presented, but also "the due and accustomed offerings to the curate." The object of these is referred to in another rubric, which says that the clergyman was to provide bread for the sacrament at his own cost, in recompence for which his parishioners were "to offer every Sunday at the time of the offertory the just value of the
holy loaf, with all such moneys and other things as were wont to be offered at the same." King Edward's service (1548) prefaces the Absolution and the Communion Service with the words: "Our blessed Lord, which hath left power to the church to absolve penitent sinners from their sins, and to restore to the grace of the heavenly Father such as truly believe in Christianity, have mercy upon you, &c." There are other occasional touches of Popery in this service-book. Thus the Baptismal Service directs that the child shall be "dipped into the water thrice; first, the right side; secondly, the left side; and third, the face towards the font." The child was also anointed on the head, and clad in the white vesture called the chrisom, which he was to wear till the mother came to return thanks. The communion for the sick directs that the curate shall reserve at the open communion at church, " as much of the sacrament of the body and blood as shall serve the sick person, and as many as shall communicate with him;" but other rubrics in the same office strongly guard against the doctrine of the sacrament being a necessary viaticum for heaven; and we find that true Protestant anti-opus-operatum rubric added, which adorns our own Prayerbooks, that "If a man do truly repent him of his sins, and stedfastly believe that Jesus Christ hath suffered death upon the cross for him, and shed his blood for his redemption, earnestly remembering the benefits he hath thereby, and giving him hearty thanks therefore, he doth eat and drink spiritually the body and blood of our Saviour Christ, profitably to his soul's health, although he do not receive the sacrament with his mouth." In the prayer for the church militant, while thanking God for all his servants departed this life in his faith and fear, we find," and chiefly for the glorious and most blessed Virgin Mary, mother of thy Son Jesus CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 337.
Christ our Lord and God." The same prayer commends to God's mercy, "his servants departed with the sign of faith." The prayer at the burial of the dead, "O Lord, with whom do live," &c. in like manner supplicates that "the sins of the defunct, committed in this world be not imputed to him in the next," with much more which the consummators of our then incipient Reformation with some dexterity, in this as in other instances, converted into Protestantism by changes of expression which the multitude would scarcely observe or be offended at; much as they allowed the people the scriptural Magnificat in our afternoon service, that they might better submit to the loss of the Ave Maria. We would not reproach Edward's Reformers for these lingering vestiges of papal superstition any more than those of a later reign, for leaving us the legacy of the Apocryphal Lessons. They did what they could; that is, so far as their own not perfect knowledge, and the prejudices of the people, would allow. We bless God for their labours; and are ever deeply pained when we hear of efforts to traduce them as crafty time-servers, if not semi-papists. The fabric which they erected was indeed but human in its structure; but it was posited on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; and though some parts of it may appear antiquated or even cumbersome, yet where could we make the first breach without endangering the whole. Has the reader never seen a venerable gothic edifice attacked by the rude hand of unskilful improvement, till, under the pretence of letting in more light, or removing unsightly projections, the whole pile has become a heap of deformity, or perhaps a ruin, to give place, at the next project, to a crazy cement and plaster decorated Regent-park sort of edifice, much admired for a time, but with little
of the solidity necessary to enable it to resist the ravages of time, and to survive in pristine dignity for the benefit of future ages.
A particularly interesting feature of many of these forms of supplication is the spirit of intercession and brotherly love which pervades them. Our Reformers and their immediate successors, having themselves recently escaped from the perils of false doctrine and papal persecution, felt an ardent interest for the welfare of their fellow-Protestants on the continent, especially at seasons when they were exposed to imprisonment, confiscation, or banishment for the love of their Redeemer and the purity of the Gospel. The communion of saints was with them not a mere article of faith, but a bond of Christian sympathy, joining together in a holy brotherhood the true disciples of Christ, of every age and name and nation.
We subjoin one of these prayers as a specimen. It occurs in the service issued in 1628, entitled "A Form of Prayer for these dangerous Times;" it being a time of war and danger. "Oh God of all might and mercy, who by thine only grace hast incorporated us into that mystical body of Christ, which is his church; we as lively members thereof, mourning with them that mourn, and rejoicing with them that rejoice, do in a special sympathy and fellow-feeling, as well of the calamities, as of the prosperities of our brethren, now present our supplications and prayers before thy fatherly goodness, in the behalf of all the Reformed churches in Christendom: beseeching Thee first to look down, with thy wonted eye of mercy and pity upon the now mournful and miserable estate of such of them, whom thou hast already delivered over to be chastened (as by thine own rods and scourges) into the bands of superstitious and merciless men, under their more than Egyptian bondage .... Further
more, in our humble and thankful acknowledgment of thy gracious Providence, in still protecting divers other churches of the same catholic faith, in freedom from all antichristian tyranny; continue, we beseech thee, O heavenly Father, thy powerful assistance unto them, that their hearts (maugre the malice of whatsoever enemy whether ghostly or bodily) may be all united together, both in the sincerity of one Christian faith, and in an invisible and mutual faithfulness one with another...... Nor do we offer these our prayers and supplications unto Thee, O Lord our God, as presuming of our own strength, wisdom, or worthiness, but in that thy accustomed goodness which useth to manifest and magnify thy mercy in man's misery, thy wisdom in his folly, and thy power in his infirmity; but in the experience of thy marvellous deliverances unto us (who now in humiliation of body and soul prostrate ourselves before Thee) when suddenly and immediately thou didst banish thy plague from us, and vanquish that navy prepared for invasion, even that huge navy, and in the boast of our adversaries invincible; and didst curse and confound that matchless treason hatched in the vault, and as it were, the forge of hell. But especially our trust is in the mediation of Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour, by whom we are invited to approach with boldness before the Throne of Grace, in confidence to receive aid in the time of need."
Many curious notices incidentally occur among these documents. Occasionally a prayer is found too vindictive in its language, or too inflated or affected in style and manner. Flattery to princes per vades some of them. Thus, in a prayer for Queen Elizabeth on, her birth-day, we find her styled "that precious jewel of inestimable price, whose sacred person we do reverently repute and call the breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord, by whose breath we live, and
by whose life we breathe." But this was the language of the age, as extreme on the one side, as the modern affectation of despising titles of respect for authority is on the other. If a somewhat vindictive prayer is occasionally found, as, for example, some in the time of the civil wars, we are on the other hand refreshed with "a prayer for our enemies," praying that it would please God "to guide their feet into the way of peace;" and that "we may rejoice with the holy angels in heaven at their conver sion." This prayer we find in a form of Thanksgiving, April 16, 1695, for “discovering and disappointing a horrid and barbarous conspiracy of Papists and other traitorous persons to assasinate and murder his most gracious majesty's royal person, and for delivering this kingdom from the invasion intended by the French." This prayer is preceded by another "for the Reformed churches" abroad, in their hour of "persecution for truth and righteousness-sake," beseeching God to be "a shelter and defence to them," and in his good time to deliver them out of their troubles; and whatever they have lost, for his sake to return it to them according to his gracious promise, in the blessings of this and of a better life."The form of Thanksgiving for the capture of Namur, in 1695, directs that it should be read in London on the 8th of September, and in the country on the 22d; thus allowing a fortnight's interval; a curious illustration of the slow rate of travelling and public communication.The application of Scripture, in the manner usually called Puritanical, we find in not a few of these regular Church-of-England State-prayers. Modern fastidiousness scoffs at a Puritan for praying that "his soul may be bound up in the bundle of life;" yet the same prayer occurs for King Charles the Second himself, in the form for November 30 1678, on "the bringing to light," as the title expresses it, " more
and more all secret machinations against his majesty and the whole kingdom."-The "Papist-and-Heretic" proclamation issued after the Bible was first printed in English directs, that no person shall slanderously and maliciously call another Papist," unless "he can and do lawfully prove the same." This proclamation might have been well revived last year when the term "Papist" was invidiously applied in party-spirit to not a few of the best Protestants in the nation. --The wine at the Lord's Supper was directed to be mixed with water in King Edward's service. The same service directs that the women and men should arrange themselves in two distinct parties at the altar, a practice still kept up at many country churches. This service also gives the Commandments in the Catechism in short, without the appended reasons or sanctions.
But it were endless to continue the cursory notitia which occur on turning over this pile of documents. Throughout we feel our hearts more than ever inclined to bless God for that pure and apostolical church which his Providence has etablished among us. Only let us take heed that for our sins our candlestick be not removed. We know not that we can better urge the warning than in the language of the Exhortation added to some of the formularies now before us. We copy from that for 1626.
"O but some will say, Are we not professors of God's truth, having the light of his Gospel among us, together with the holy seals of his covenant? True, our Church of England, by the singular mercy of God in Christ Jesus, may truly and confidently boast herself in comparison with any other, that she under a most gracious and religious king, is for truth of doctrine and purity of worship as truly catholic and orthodox as ever any church of Christ hath been since the days of the Apostles......And therefore, say you, what can be expected from