THE present Age pretends so great Love to Reason, that this Rationale may even for its Name, hope for acceptation ; which it will the sooner have, if the Reader know, that the Author vents it not for a full and just, much less a public and authentic Piece, but as his own private Essay ( wholly submitted to the censure of our Holy Mother, The Church, and the Reverend Fathers of the same, and ) composed on purpose to keep some from moving that way, which, it is feared, some will say, it leads to. The Author’s design was not, by Rhetoric first to Court the Affections, and then by their help, to carry the understanding : But quite contrary, by Reason to work upon the Judgment, and leave that to deal with the Affections.
The Poor Liturgy suffers from two extreams ; one sort says, it is old superstitious Roman Dotage ; the other, it is Schismatically New. This Book endeavours to shew particularly, what Bishop Jewel ( Apol. p. 117. ) says in general, 1. That it is agreeable to , and so, not Novel. 2. , and so not Superstitious. As for those that love it, and suffer for the love of it, this will shew them Reasons, why they should suffer on, and love it still more and more. To end, if the Reader will cast his Eye upon the sad Confusions in point of prayer, ( wherein are such contradictions made as God Almighty cannot grant ) and lay them as Rubbish under these Fundamental Considerations ; First, How many Set Forms (of Petition, Blessing, and Praise) be recorded in the Old and New Testament, used both in the Church Militant and Triumphant ; Secondly, How much of the Liturgie is very Scripture ; Thirdly, How admirable a Thing Unity, Unity in Time, Form, &c. is ; Fourthly, How many Millions of poor souls are in the world ; ignorant, infirm by nature, age, accidents, (as blindness, deafness, loss of speech, &c.) which respectively may receive help by Set Forms, but cannot so well ( or not at all ) by extemporary voluntary effusions, and then upon all these will build what he reads in this Book ; he will, if not be convinced to joyn in Communion with, yet perhaps be so sweetned, as more readily to pardon those, who still abiding in their former judgments, and being more confirmed hereby, do use The Ancient Form.
The Compilers of The Common-Prayer-Book of the Church of England wereCranmer, Arch-Bishop of Canterbury
Goodrick, Bishop of Ely.
Skip, Bishop of Hereford.
Thirlby, Bishop of Westminst.
Day, Bishop of Chichester.
Holbeck, Bishop of Lincoln.
Ridley, Bishop of Rochester.
May, Dean of S. Pauls.
Taylor, Dean of Lincoln.
Heynes, Dean of Exeter.
Redman, Dean of Westminster.
Cox, K. Edwards Almoner.
M. Robinson, Arch-Deacon of Leicester.
Mense Maio 1549.
Anno regni Edwardi Sexti tertio.
Book of Common-Prayer.
contains in it many holy Offices of the Church : As Prayers, Confession of Faith, holy Hymns, Divine Lessons, Priestly Absolutions and Benedictions : all which are Set and Prescribed, not left to private men’s fancies to make or alter. So was it of old ordained . . Can. 106. It is ordained that the Prayers, Prefaces, Impositions of hands which are confirmed by the Synod, be observed and used by all men. These and no other. So is our English Can. 13. The of gives the reason of this Constitution, Can. 12. [ Lest through ignorance or carelesness, any thing contrary to the Faith should be vented or uttered before God, or offered up to him in the Church. ]
Of Daily saying of and .
ALL Priests shall be bound to say Daily the Morning and Evening Prayer. The end of the Preface before the Service, Rubr. 2. So was it of old ordered in the Church of Christ, S. . 6. hom. in 2. cap. 1. ep. ad Tim. and Clem. Const. l. 2. c. 39. And this is agreeable to God’s own Law. Ex. 3 29. 38. Thou shalt offer upon the Altar Two Lambs of the first year, day by day continually ; the one Lamb in the Morning, the other at Evening. Besides the daily private devotions of every pious Soul, and the more solemn Sacrifices upon the three great Feasts of the year ; Almighty God requires a daily public worship, a continual burnt offering, every day, Morning and Evening, teaching us by this, saith S. . That God must be worshipped daily when the day begins and when it ends, and every day must be a kind of holy day. Thus it was commanded under the Law ; and certainly we Christians are as much at least, obliged to God, as the Jews were, our grace is greater, our promises clearer, and therefore, our righteousness should every way exceed theirs, our Homage to Almighty God, should be paid as frequently at least. Morning and Evening to be sure, God expects from us as well as from the Jews, a public worship, a sweet savour, or savour of rest, as it is in the Hebrew, Num. 28. 6. without which God Almighty will not rest satisfied.
This public Service and worship under the Law was appointed by God himself, both for matter and manner of performance, Ex. 29. 38. but under the Gospel our Lord hath appointed only materials and essentials of his public worship : In general, Prayers, Thanksgivings, Confessions, Lauds, Hymns, and Eucharistical Sacrifices are commanded to be offered up in the name of Christ, in the virtue and merits of that immaculate Lamb, whereof the other was but a type, and for whose sake alone that was accepted : But for the manner and order of his public worship, for the method of offering up Prayers or praises and the like ; our Lord hath not so particularly determined now, but hath left that to be ordered and appointed, by those, to whom he said at his departure out of this world, As my Father sent me, so send I you, S. John 20. 21. to govern the Church in his absence, viz. the Apostles and their Successors in the Apostolic Commission. And therefore Acts 2. 42. the public prayers of the Church are called the Apostles Prayers. The Disciples are commended there for Continuing in the Apostles Doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and Prayers. And therefore S. Paul writes to Timothy the Bishop and Governour of the Church of Ephesus, to take care that Prayers and Supplications be made for all men, especially for Kings, &c. And 1 Cor. 11. 34. concerning the manner of celebrating the holy Eucharist, S. Paul gives some directions, and adds, The rest will I set in order when I come. And 1 Cor. 14. 40. Let all things, i. e. ( all your public services, for of those he treats in the Chapter at large” ) be done decently, and
κατὰ τάξιν, according to Ecclesiastical Law and Canon.
The Service and worship of God thus prescribed, according to our Lord’s general rules, by those to whom he hath left a Commission and power to order and govern his Church, is the right public Service and worship of God, commanded by himself in his Law ; for though God hath not immediately and particularly appointed this public worship, yet he hath in general commanded a public worship in the second Commandment. For where it is said, Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them, by the rule of contraries, we are commanded to bow down to God and Worship Him. A public worship then God must have, by his own Command ; and the Governors of the Church, have prescribed this form of worship, for that public service and worship of God in this Church, which being so prescribed, becomes God’s service and worship by his own Law, as well as the Lamb was his sacrifice, Exod. 29.
For the clear understanding of this, we must know, that some Laws of God do suppose some human act to pass and intervene, before they actually bind : which act of man being once passed, they bind immediately. For example, Thou shalt not steal, is God’s Law, which Law cannot bind actually, till men be possest of some goods and property ; which property is not usually determined by God himself immediately, but by the Laws of him, to whom he hath given Authority to determine it. God hath given the earth to the children of men, as he gave Canaan to the Israelites in general ; but men cannot say this is mine, till human Laws or acts determine the property, as the Israelites could not claim a property on this or that side Jordan, till Moses had assigned them their several portions : but when their portions were so assigned, they might say, This is mine, by God’s, as well as man’s Law ; and he that took away their right, sinned not only against man’s, but God’s Law too, that says, Thou shalt not steal. In like manner ; God hath in general commanded a public worship and service, but hath not, under the Gospel, assigned the particular form and method ; That he hath left to his Ministers and Delegates, the Governors of the Church to determine agreeable to his general rules ; which being so determin’d, is God’s service and worship not only by human, but even by divine Law also : and all other public services whatsoever, made by private men, to whom God hath given no such Commission are strange worship, Lev. 10. 1. because not Commanded ; for example, as under the Law, when God had appointed a Lamb for a burnt-offering, Exod. 29. that alone was the right daily worship, The savour of rest, because Commanded, and all other sacrifices whatsoever, offered up in the place of that, though of far more value and price than a Lamb, suppose 20. Oxen, would have been strange Sacrifice ; so now, the public worship of God prescribed as we have said, by Those to whom he hath given Commission, is the only true and right public worship, and all other forms and methods offered up in stead of that, though never so exactly drawn, are strange worship, because not Commanded. It is not the elegancy of the phrase, nor the fineness of the Composition that makes it acceptable to God, as his worship and service ; but obedience is the thing accepted. Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, or any fat of Rams, 1 Sam. 15. 22.
This holy service offered up to God by the Priest, in the name of the Church, is far more acceptable to Almighty God, then the devotions of any private man.
For, First, it is the service of the whole Church, which, every man that holds Communion with that Church, hath consented to and said Amen, and agreed, that it should be offered up to God by the Priest in the name of the Church, and, if what any two of you shall agree to ask upon earth, it shall be granted, S. Mat. 18. 19. how much more, what is ask’d of God or offered up to God by the common vote and joynt desire of the whole body of the Church?
Besides, this public service and worship of God is commanded by God, ( i. e. by those whom he hath impowr’d to command and appoint it ) to be offered up to him in the behalf of the Church, and therefore must needs be most acceptable to him, which is so appointed by him : For, what he Commands he accepts most certainly. Private devotions and services of particular men which are offered by themselves, for themselves, are sometimes accepted, sometimes refused by God, according as the persons are affected to vice or virtue ; but this public worship is like that Lamb, Ex. 29. commanded to be offered by the Priest for others, for the Church, and therefore accepted, whatsoever the Priest be that offers it up. And therefore, King David prays, Psal. 141. 2. Let the lifting up of my hands be an evening Sacrifice, i. e. as surely accepted as that Evening Sacrifice of the Lamb, which no indevotion or sin of the Priest could hinder, but that it was most certainly accepted for the Church, because commanded to be offered for the Church, S. Chrys. Hom. in Psal. 140.
This public service is accepted of God, not only for those that are present and say Amen to it, but for all those that are absent upon just cause, even for all that do not renounce Communion with it and the Church ; for it is the Common service of them all, Commanded to be offered up in the names of them all, and agreed to by all of them to be offered up for them all, and therefore is accepted for all them, though presented to God by the Priest alone ( as the Lamb offered up to God, by the Priest, Ex. 29. was the sacrifice of the whole Congregation of the children of Israel, ) a sweet smelling savour, a savour of rest, to pacifie God Almighty daily, and to continue his favour to them, and make him dwell with them, Ex. 29. 42, 45.
Good reason therefore it is, that this sweet smelling savour should be daily offered up to God Morning and Evening, whereby God may be pacified and invited to dwell amongst his people. And whatsoever the world think, thus to be the Lord’s Remembrancers, putting him in mind of the peoples wants, Esay 62. Being as it were the Angels of the Lord, interceding for the people, and carrying up the daily prayers of the Church in their behalf, is one of the most useful and principal parts of the Priest’s office. So S. Paul tells us, who in the 1 Ep. Tim. chap. 2. exhorts Bishop Timothy, that he should take care, First of all, that this holy service be offered up to God. I exhort first of all, that prayers, and supplications, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men. For , &c. What is the meaning of this first of all ? I will that this holy service be offered up daily, and the faithful know, how we observe this rule of S. Paul, offering up daily this holy sacrifice Morning and Evening. S. Chrys. upon the place. S. Paul, in the first Chapter of this Epistle at the 18. ver. had charged his son Timothy to war a good warfare, to hold faith and a good conscience, and presently adds, I exhort therefore, that first of all prayers &c. be made. As if he had said, You cannot possibly hold faith and a good conscience in your Pastoral office, unless, First of all, you be careful to make and offer up prayers, &c. For this is the first thing to be done and most highly to be regarded by you. Preaching is a very useful part of the Priest’s office ; and S. Paul exhorts Timothy to preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, and the more because he was a Bishop, and to plant and water many Churches in the Infancy of Christianity among many Seducers and Temptations : But yet First of all he exhorts, that this daily office of presenting prayers to the throne of grace in the behalf of the Church, be carefully lookt to. This charge of S. Paul to Tim. holy Church here lays upon all those that are admitted into that holy office of the Ministry, that they should offer up to God this holy sacrifice of prayers, praises and thanksgivings, this savour of rest, daily, Morning and Evening : And would all those whom it concerns, look well to this part of their office, I should not doubt, but that God would be as gracious and bountiful to us in the performance of this service, as he promised to be to the Jews in the offering of the Lamb Morning and Evening, Exod. 29. 43, 44. He would meet us and speak with us, that is graciously answer our petitions : he would dwell with us, and be our God, and we should know, by comfortable experiments of his great and many blessings, that he is the Lord our God.
Of the Mattins, or, .
The Priest and the People, being thus prepared, make their which is to be done with [ an humble voice, ] as it is in the Exhortation. Our Churches direction in this particular, is grave and conform to ancient rules. The sixth Counc. of . Can. 75. forbids all disorderly and rude vociferation in the execution of Holy Services ; and S. Cyprian de Orat. Dominica advises thus, [ Let our speech and voice in prayer be with Discipline, still and modest : Let us consider that we stand in the presence of God, who is to be pleas’d both with the habit and posture of our body, and manner of our speech : for as it is a part of impudence to be loud and clamorous, so in the contrary, it becomes modesty to pray with an humble voice. ]
We begin our Service with Confession of sins, and so was the use in Saint Basil’s time, Ep. 63. And that very orderly. For before we beg any thing else, or offer up any praise or Lauds to God, it is fit we should confess, and beg pardon of our sins, which hinder God’s acceptation of our Services. Ps. 66. 16. If I regard iniquity with mine heart, the Lord will not hear me.
This Confession is to be said by the whole Congregation, says the Rubr. And good reason. For could there be any thing devised better, than that we all at first access unto God by prayer, should acknowledge meekly our sins, and that not only in heart but with tongue ; all that are present being made earwitnesses, even of every man’s distinct and deliberate Assent to each particular branch of a Common Indictment drawn against our selves ? How were it possible that the Church should any way else with such ease and certainty provide, that none of her children may dissemble that wretchedness, the Penitent Confession whereof is so necessary a preamble especially to Common Prayer ? Hooker.
Next follows the to be pronounced by the Priest alone, standing. For though the Rubric here does not appoint this posture, yet it is to be supposed in reason, that he is to do it here, as he is to do it in other places of the Service. And in the Rubric after the general Confession at the Communion, the Bishop or Priest is ordered to pronounce the Absolution, standing. Besides, reason teaches, that Acts of Authority, are not to be done kneeling, but standing rather. And this Absolution is an Act of Authority, by virtue of a [ Power and Commandment of God to his Ministers, as it is in the Preface of this Absolution. ] And as we read S. John 20. Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted. And if our Confession be serious and hearty, this Absolution is effectual, as if God did pronounce it from Heaven. So says the Confession of Saxony and Bohemia : and so says the Augustan Confession, and which is more, so says S. Chr. in his fifth Hom. upon Esay. [ Heaven waits and expects the Priest’s sentence here on Earth ; the Lord follows the servant, and what the servant rightly binds or looses here on Earth, that the Lord confirms in Heaven. ] The same says S. Gregory Hom. 26. upon the Gospels. [ The Apostles, ( and in them all Priests ) were made God’s Vicegerents here on earth in his Name and stead to retain or remit sins. ] S. Augustine and Cyprian, and generally Antiquity says the same ; so does our Church in many places, particularly in the form Absolution for the sick : but above all, holy Scripture is clear, S. John 20. 23. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them. Which power of remitting sins was not to end with the Apostles, but is a part of the Ministry of Reconciliation, as necessary now as it was then, and therefore to continue as long as the Ministery of Reconciliation, that is, to the end of the world. Ep. 4. 12, 13. When therefore the Priest absolves, God absolves, if we be truly penitent : Now this remission of sins granted here to the Priest, to which God hath promised a confirmation in heaven, is not the act of Preaching, or Baptizing, or admitting men to the holy Communion. For all these powers were given before this grant was made. As you may see S. Mat. 10. 7. As ye go, preach, saying, &c. And S. John 4. 2. Though Jesus baptized not, but his disciples. And 1 Cor. 11. In the same night that he was betrayed, he instituted and delivered the Eucharist, and gave his Apostles authority to do the like, Do this, that I have done, bless the Elements, and distribute them. Which is plainly a power of admitting men to the holy Eucharist. And all these powers were granted before our Saviours Resurrection. But this power of remitting sins, mentioned S. John 20. was not granted ( though promised, S. Mat. 16. 19. ) till Now, that is, after the Resurrection. As appears first by the ceremony of Breathing, signifying that then it was given : And secondly, by the word Receive, used in that place, Ver. 22. which he could not properly have used, if they had been endued with this power before. Therefore the power of Remitting, which here God authorizes, and promises certain assistance to, is neither Preaching nor Baptizing, but some other way of Remitting, namely, that which the Church calls Absolution. And if it be so, then to doubt of the effect of it ( supposing we be truly penitent, and such as God will pardon ) is to question the truth of God : and he that under pretence of reverence to God denies or despises this power, does injury to God in slighting his Commission, and is no better than a Novatian, says S. Ambrose l. 1. de Poenit. cap. 2.The present Rubric expresly injoins the Priest to pronounce it standing.
After the Priest hath pronounced the Absolution, the Church seasonably prays, Wherefore we beseech him to grant us true repentance, and his holy spirit, &c. For as repentance is a necessary disposition to pardon, so as that neither God will, nor man can absolve those that are impenitent ; So is it in some parts of it, a necessary consequent of pardon ; and he that is pardoned, ought still to repent, as he that seeks a pardon. Repentance, say Divines, out to be continual. For whereas Repentance consists of three parts, as the Church teaches us in the Commination, 1. Contrition or lamenting of our sinful lives ; 2. Knowledging and confessing our sins ; 3. An endeavour to bring forth fruits worthy of penance, which the Ancients call satisfaction ; Two of these, Contrition and Satisfaction, are requisite after pardon. The remembrance of sin though pardoned, must always be grievous to us. For, to be pleased with the remembrance of it, would be sin to us : and for Satisfaction or amendment of life, and bringing forth fruits worthy of penance, that is not only necessary after pardon, but it is the more necessary, because of pardon, for divers reasons ; as first, because immediately after pardon, the Devil is most busie to tempt us to sin, that we may thereby lose our pardon, and he may so recover us again to his captivity, from which, by pardon we are freed : And therefore in our Lord’s prayer, assoon as we have begg’d pardon, and prayed, Forgive us our trespasses, We are taught to pray, And lead us not into temptation, suffer us not to fall into sin again : which very method holy Church here wisely intimates, immediately after pardon pronounced, directing us to pray for that part of repentance which consists in amendment of life, and for the grace of God’s holy Spirit enabling us thereunto. Again, Repentance in this part of it, viz. an endeavour of amendment of life, is the more necessary upon pardon granted, because the grace of pardon, is a new obligation to live well, and makes the sin of him that relapsed after pardon the greater ; and therefore the pardoned had need to pray, for that part of repentance and the grace of God’s holy Spirit, that both his present service and future life may please God : that is, that he may observe our Saviour’s rule given to him that was newly cured and pardoned by him, that he may go away and sin no more, lest a worse thing happen to him, S. John 5. 14.
There be three several forms of Absolution in the Service. The first is that which is used at Morning Prayer. Almighty God the Father of our Lord Iesus Christ, &c. And hath given power and commandment to his Ministers to declare and pronounce to his people being penitent, the Absolution and Remission of their sins. He pardoneth and Absolveth.
The second is used at the Visitation of the Sick. Our Lord Jesus Christ who hath left power to his Church to absolve all sinners which truly repent, of his great mercy forgive thée : and by his Authority committed to me, I absolve thée, &c.
The Third is at the Communion. Almighty God our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all them that with hearty repentance and true faith turn to him, Have mercy upon you : pardon and forgive you, &c.
All these several Forms, in sense and virtue are the same ; For as when a Prince hath granted a Commission to any servant of his, to release out of Prison all penitent offenders whatsoever, it were all one in effect, as to the Prisoners discharge, whether this servant says, By virtue of a Commission granted to me, under the Prince’s hand and seal, which here I shew, I release this prisoner ; Or thus, The Prince who hath given me this Commission, He pardons you ; Or lastly, The Prince pardon and deliver you ; the Prince then standing by and confirming the word of his Servant : So is it here all one as to the remission of sins in the penitent, whether the Priest Absolves him after this form ; Almighty God who hath given me and all Priests power to pronounce pardon to the penitent, He pardons you. Or thus, By virtue of a Commission granted to me from God I absolve you. Or lastly, God pardon you, namely by me his servant according to his promise, whose sins ye remit, they are remitted. All these are but several expressions of the same thing, and are effectual to the penitent by virtue of that Commission mentioned Saint John 20. Whose sins ye remit, they are remitted. Which Commission in two of these forms is expressed, and in the last, viz. that at the Communion is sufficiently implied and supposed. For the Priest is directed, in using this form, to stand up and turn to the people. Rubr. immediately before it. Which behaviour certainly signifies more than a bare prayer for the people ( for if it were only a prayer for the people, he should not be directed to stand and turn to the people when he speaks, but to God from the people ) this gesture of standing and turning to the people signifies a message of God to the people by the mouth of his Priest, a part of his Ministery of Reconciliation, a solemn application of pardon to the penitent by God’s Minister, and is in sense thus much, Almighty God pardon you by me. Thus the Greek Church, from whom this form is borrowed, uses to express it and explain it. Almighty God pardon you, by me his unworthy Servant ; or, Lord, pardon him, for thou hast said, whose sins ye remit, they are remitted : sometime expressing, always including God’s Commission. So then in which form soever of these the Absolution be pronounced, it is in substance the same ; an act of authority by virtue of Christ’s Commission, effectual to remission of sins in the penitent.
THen follows the . The Church of Christ did use to begin and end her Services with the Lord’s Prayer, this being the Foundation upon which all other Prayers should be built, therefore we begin with it ; that so the right Foundation being laid, we may justly proceed to our ensuing requests ; Tertul. de orat. c. 9. And it being the perfection of all prayer, therefore we conclude our prayers with it, S. August. Ep. 59. Let no Man therefore quarrel with the Churches frequent use of the Lord’s Prayer. For the Church Catholic ever did the same. Besides, if we hope to have our prayers accepted of the Father only for his Son’s sake, why should we not hope to have them most speedily accepted, when they are offered up in his Son’s own words ?
Both in this place and other parts of the Service, where the Lord’s prayer is appointed to be used, the Doxology, For thine is the Kingdom, &c. is left out. The reason is given by Learned Men, because the Doxology is no part of our Lord’s Prayer. For though in S. Matt. 6. it be added in our usual Copies, yet in the most ancient Manuscripts it is not to be found, no nor in S. Luke‘s Copy, S. Luke 11. and therefore is thought to be added by the Greek Church, who indeed use it in their Liturgies ( as the Jews before them did, ) but divided from the Prayer as if it were no part of it. The Latin Church generally say it as this Church does, without the Doxology, following S. Luke‘s Copy, who setting down our Lord’s Prayer exactly, with this Introduction, when you pray say, not after this manner, as S. Matthew hath it, but say Our Father, &c. leaves out the Doxology : and certainly it can be no just matter of offence to any reasonable man, that the Church uses that Form which S. Luke tells us was exactly the prayer of our Lord.The Doxology is in the present Office in this Place.
In some places, especially among those Ejaculations which the Priest and people make in course, the People are to say the last words — But deliver us from evil, Amen. That so they may not be interrupted from still bearing a part, and especially in so divine a Prayer as this, thereby giving a fuller testification of their Concurrence and Communion.
Then follow the Verses,
O open Thou our Lips.
And our mouth shall shew forth thy praise, &c.
This is a most wise order of the Church in assigning this place to these Verses ; namely, before the Psalms, Lesson and Collects : and yet after the Confession and Absolution ; insinuating that our mouths are silenc’d only by sin, and opened only by God. And therefore when we meet together in the Habitation of God’s Honour, the Church, to be thankful to him, and speak good of his Name, we must crave of God Almighty first pardon of our sins, and then that he would put a New Song in our mouths that they may shew forth his praise. And because without God’s Grace we can do nothing, and because the Devil is then most busie to hinder us, when we are most desirously bent to serve God : therefore follow immediately those short and passionate Ejaculations, O Lord open thou our Lips, O God make spéed to save us. Which verses are a most excellent defence against all Incursions and invasions of the Devil, against all unruly affections of Human Nature, for it is a Prayer and an earnest one, to God for his help, an humble acknowledgement of our own inability to live without him a minute, O God make haste to help us. If any be ready to faint and sink with sorrow, this raises him, by relling him that God is at hand to help us. If any be apt to be proud of spiritual success, this is fit to humble him, by minding him that he cannot live a moment without him. It is fit for every Man in every state, degree, or condition, says Cassian, Col. 10. c. 10.
THis is an Invitatory Psalm, For herein we do mutually invite and call upon one another being come before His presence, to sing to the Lord, to set forth His praises, to hear His voice, as with joy and chearfulness, so with that reverence that becomes His infinite Majesty, worshipping, falling down, and kneeling before Him, using all humble behaviour in each part of His service and worship prescribed to us by His Church. And needful it is that the Church should call upon us for this duty, for most of us forget the Psalmist’s counsel, Psal. 69. 7. To ascribe unto the Lord the honour due unto his Name : into his Courts we come, before the presence of the Lord of the whole Earth, and forget to worship him in the beauty of holiness.
THe PSALMS follow, which the Church appoints to be read over every Month, oftner than any other part of holy Scripture : So was it of old ordained, saith S. Chrys. Hom. 6. de poenit. All Christians exercise themselves in David’s Psalms oftner than in any other part of the Old or New Testament. Moses the great Law-giver that saw God face to face, and wrote a Book of the Creation of the World, is scarce read over once a year. The holy Gospels, where the Miracles of Christ are preached, where God converses with Man, where Death is destroyed, the Devils cast out, the Lepers cleansed, the blind restored to sight ; where the Thief is placed in Paradise, and the Harlot made purer than the Stars, where the waters of Jordan to the sanctification of Souls, where is the food of immortality, the holy Eucharist, and the words of life, holy precepts and precious promises, those we read over once or twice a Week. What shall I say of blessed Paul, Christ’s Orator, the Fisher of World, who by his Fourteen Epistles, those spiritual Nets, hath caught Men to salvation, who was wrapt into the third Heaven, and heard and saw such Mysteries as are not to be uttered ? him we read twice in the week. We get not his Epistles by heart, but only attend to them while they are reading. But for holy David’s Psalms, the grace of the holy Spirit hath so ordered it, that they should be said or sung night and day. In the Churches Vigils, the first, the midst and the last, are David’s Psalms : in the Morning David‘s Psalms are sought for, and the first, the midst and the last is David. And Funeral Solemnities the first, the midst and the last is David. In private houses where the Virgins spin, the first, the midst and the last is David : Many that know not a letter, can say David’s Psalms by heart : In the Monasteries, the quires of Heavenly Hosts, the first, the midst and the last is David : In the Deserts, where Men that have crucified the world to themselvs converse with God, the first, the midst and the last is David. In the Night when Men are asleep, David awakes them up to sing ; and gathering the Servants of God into Angelical troops, turns Earth into Heaven, and makes Angels of Men singing David’s Psalms. The holy Gospels and Epistles contain indeed the words of eternal life, words by which we must be saved : and therefore should be sweeter to us than Honey or the Honey-comb, more precious than Gold, yea than much fine Gold : but they are not of so continual use as David’s Psalms, which are digested forms of Prayers, Thanksgivings, Praises, Confessions and Adorations, fit for every temper and every time. Here the penitent hath a form of Confession ; he that hath received a benefit, hath a Thanksgiving ; he that is in any kind of need, bodily or ghostly, hath a prayer ; all have Lauds, and all may adore the several excellencies of Almighty God in David’s forms: and these a Man may safely use, being compos’d by the Spirit of God, which cannot erre : whereas other Books of Prayers and Devotions are, for the most part, compos’d by private men, subject to error and mistake, whose fancies, sometimes wild ones, are commended to us for matter of devotion, and we may be taught to blaspheme, while we intend to adore ; or at least, to abuse our devotion when we approach to the throne of grace, and offer up an unclean Beast instead of an holy Sacrifice. May we not think that this amongst others hath been a cause of the decay of right and true devotion in these latter days, namely, the neglect of this excellent Book, and preferring men’s fancies before it ? I deny not but that Collects and other parts of Devotion which the consentient Testimony and constant practice of the Church have commended to us may, and especially the most divine Prayer of our ought to be used by us in our private devotion, but I would not have David’s Psalms disused, but used frequently and made as they were by Athanasius and S. Jerome, a great, if not the greatest part of our private devotions, which we may offer up to God as with more safety, so with more confidence of acceptation being the inspiration of that holy Spirit of God, who, when we know not what to say, helps our infirmities both with words and affections ? Rom. 8. 26. If any man thinks these Psalms too hard for him to understand, and apply to his several needs, let him make trial awhile, and spend that time in them, which he spends in human compositions ; let him study them as earnestly, as he does books of less concernment ; let him pray the holy Spirit that made them, to open his eyes, to see the admirable use of them ; let him intreat holy and learned guides of Souls to direct him in the use of them, and by the grace of God, in the frequent use of them he may attain to the Primitive fervour, and come to be a Man, as holy David was, after God’s own heart.
S. . in Epitaph. Paulae. [ In the Morning, at the third, sixth and ninth hour ; in the Evening at midnight David’s Psalms are sung over in order, and no Man is suffered to be ignorant of David’s Psalms. ]
These we sing or say by course, “The Priest one verse, and the People another ; or else one side of the Quire one verse, and the other side another,” according to the ancient practice of the Greek and Latin Church. Socrat. Hist. l. 6. c. 8. Theodoret. l. 2. c. 24. Basil. Ep. 63. And according to the pattern set us by the Angels, Esay 6. 3. who sing one to another, Holy, Holy, Holy. These reasons may be given for this manner of Singing by course.
First, that we may thus in a holy emulation contend, who shall serve God most affectionately, which our seeing and hearing, is not a little pleas’d. Ter. l. 2. ad ux.
Secondly, that one relieving another we may not grow weary of our service. S. Aug. l. Conf. 9. c. 7.
When we say or sing these Psalms, we are wont to stand, by the erection of our bodies, expressing the elevation or lifting up of our souls to God, while we are serving him in these holy employments.
At the end of every Psalm, and of all the Hymns, ( except , which because it is nothing else almost, but this, Glory be to the Father, &c. enlarg’d, hath not this Doxology added ) we say or sing Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the holy Ghost ; which was the use of the ancient Church, never quarrel’d at by any till Arius, who, being prest with this usage as an argument against his Heresie of making the Son inferiour to the Father, laboured to corrupt this Versicle, saying [ Glory be to the Father by the Son, in the Holy Ghost. Theodoret, Hist. l. 2. c. 24. ] The Church on the contrary was careful to maintain the ancient usage, adding on purpose against Arrius, As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, Conc. Vas. can. 7. Now if this joyful Hymn of Glory, have any use in the Church of God, can we place it more fitly, than where it now serves as a close, and conclusion to Psalms and Hymns, whose proper subject and almost only matter, is a dutiful acknowledgment of God’s excellency and glory by occasion of special effects ?
AFter the Psalms follow two ; one out of the Old Testament, another out of the New. This was the ancient custom of all the Churches in Egypt, Cassian. l. 2. cap. 4. who says it was not taught by men, but from heaven by the ministery of Angels. This choice may be, to shew the harmony of them : for what is the Law but the Gospel foreshewed ? what other the Gospel, but the Law fulfilled ? That which lies in the Old Testament, as under a shadow, is in the New brought out into the open Sun : things there prefigured are here performed. Thus as the two Seraphims cry one to another, Holy, holy, holy, Esay 6. 3. So the two Testaments Old and New, faithfully agreeing, convince the sacred truth of God. First, one out of the Old Testament, then another out of the New, observing the method of the holy Spirit, who first published the Old, then the New ; first the precepts of the Law, then of the Gospel. Which method of their reading either purposely did tend, or at the least-wise doth fitly serve, that from smaller things the mind of the hearers may go forward to the knowledge of greater ; and by degres climb up from the lowest to the highest things, says incomparable Hooker.
A wise constitution of the Church it is, thus to mingle Services of several sorts, to keep us from wearisomness. For whereas devout Prayer is joyned with a vehement intention of the inferior powers of the soul, which cannot therein continue long without pain, therefore holy Church interposes still somewhat for the higher part of the mind, the understanding to work upon, that both being kept in continual exercise with variety, neither might feel any weariness, and yet each be a spur to other. For Prayer kindles our desire to behold God by speculation ; and the mind delighted with that speculation, takes every where new inflammations to pray ; the riches of the mysteries of heavenly wisdom continually stirring up in us correspondent desires to them ; so that he which prays in due sort, is thereby made the more attentive to hear, and he which hears, the more earnest to pray.
The Minister that reads the Lessons standing & turning himself so as he may be best heard of all such as are present. Rubr. 2. before Te Deum. Turning himself so as he may best be heard of all, that is, turning towards the people, whereby it appears that immediately before the Lessons he lookt another way from the people, because here he is directed to turn towards them. This was the ancient custom of the Church of England, that the Priest who did officiate, in all those parts of the Service which were directed to the people, turn’d himself towards them, as in the Absolution. See the Rubr. before Absolut. at the Communion. Then shall the Priest or Bishop if present, stand and turning himself to the people say, &c. So in the Benediction, reading of the Lessons, and holy Commandments : but in those parts of the office which were directed to God immediately, as Prayers, Hymns, Lauds, Confessions of Faith, or Sins, he turn’d from the people ; and for that purpose in many Parish-Churches of late, the Reading-Pew had one Desk for the Bible, looking towards the people to the Body of the Church, another for the Prayer-Book looking towards the East or upper end of the Chancel. And very reasonable was this usage ; for when the people were spoken to, it was fit to look towards them ; but when God was spoken to, it was fit to turn from the people. And besides, if there be any part of the World more honourable, in the esteem of Men, than another, it is fit to look that way when we pray to God in public, that the turning of our bodies towards a more honourable place, may mind us of the great honour and majesty of the person we speak to. And this reason S. Augustine gives of the Churches ancient custom of turning to the East in their public prayers, because the East is the most honourable part of the World, being the Region of Light, whence the glorious Sun arises, Aug. l. 2. de Ser. Dom. in Monte c. 5.
That this was the constant practice of the Church to turn toward the East in her public prayers may sufficiently appear by S. Augustin in the place last cited, where he says,
Cum ad orationes stamus, ad Orientem convertimur ; When we stand at our prayers, we turn towards the East. And by Epiphan. l. 1. haer. 19. c. 19. who there detests the madness of the Impostor Elzaeus, because that amongst other things he forbad praying toward the East. And the Church of England, who professes to conform to the ancient practices, as far as conveniently she can, as may be seen in many passages of her Canons and other places, did observe the same custom in her prayers, as appears by the placing of the Desk for the Prayer-book above mentioned, looking that way, and as may be collected from this Rubric, which directs the Priest in the reading of the Lessons to turn to the people, which supposes him, at prayer and the Psalms to look quite another way, namely, as in reason may be concluded, that way which the Catholic Church uses to do for divers reasons : and amongst other, for that which S. Augustin hath given, because That was the most worthy part of the World, and therefore most fit to be lookt to when we come to worship God in the Beauty of Holiness. Again, another reason may be given of turning from the people towards the upper end of the Chancel in our Prayers, because it is fit in our prayers to look towards that part of the Church or Chancel, which is the highest and chief, and where God affords his most gracious and mysterious presence, and that is the holy Table and Altar, which anciently was placed towards the upper or East end of the Chancel. This is the highest part of the Chancel, set apart to the highest of Religious Services, the consecration and distribution of the holy Eucharist, here is exhibited the most gracious and mysterious presence of God that in this life we are capable of, the presence of his most holy Body and Blood. And therefore the Altar was usually call’d the Tabernacle of God’s Glory, His Chair of State, the Throne of God, the Type of Heaven, Heaven it self. As therefore the Jews in their Prayers lookt towards the principal part of the Temple, the Mercy-Seat, Psalm 28. 2. So the Christians in their prayers turned towards the principal part of the Church, the Altar, of which the Mercy-Seat is but a type. And as our Lord hath taught us in his Prayer, to look up towards Heaven when we pray, saying, Our Father which art in Heaven ; not as if God were there confin’d, for he is every where, in Earth as well as in Heaven, but because Heaven is his Throne, whereas Earth is but his Footstool ; so holy Church by her practice teaches us in our public and solemn prayers to turn and look, not towards the inferior and lower parts of the Footstool, but towards that part of the Church which most nearly resembles Heaven, the holy Table or Altar. Correspondent to this practice, was the manner of the Jews of old, for at the reading of the Law and other Scriptures, he that did Minister, turned his face to the people, but he who read the prayers, turned his back to the people, and his face to the Ark. Mr. of Relig. Assem. pag. 231.
For the choice of these Lessons and their Order, holy Church observes a several course.
For the Ordinary Morning and Evening prayers she observes only this : to begin at the beginning of the year with Genesis for the first Lesson, and S. Matthew for the Second in the Morning : and Genesis again for the First, and S. Paul to the Romans for the Second Lesson, at Even, and so continues on till the Books be read over, but yet leaving out some Chapters, either such as have been read already, upon which account she omits the Chronicles, being for the most part the same with the book of Kings which hath been read already ; and some particular Chapters in some other Books : having been the same for the most part read either in the same book or some other : or else such as are full of Genealogies, or some other matter, which holy Church counts less profitable for ordinary hearers. Only in this she alters the order of the books, not reading the prophet Esay, till all the rest of the books be done : Because the Prophet Esay being the most Evangelical Prophet, most plainly prophesying of Christ, is reserved to be read a little before .
For Sundays somewhat another course is observed ; for then Genesis is begun to be read upon Septuagesima Sunday ; because then begins the holy time of penance and mortification, to which Genesis is thought to suit best, because that treats of our misery by the fall of Adam, and of God’s severe judgment upon the world for sin. Then we read forward the books as they lye in order, yet not all the books, but only some choice Lessons out of them. And if any Sunday be, as they call it, a priviledged day ; that is, if it hath the history of it expressed in Scripture, such as Easter, Whitsunday, &c. then there are peculiar and proper Lessons appointed for it.
The . Te Deum, &c.
AFter the Lessons are appointed Hymns. The Church observing, S. Paul’s Rule, Singing to the Lord in Psalms and Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, every way expressing her thanks to God.
The antiquity of Hymns in the Christian Church, doth sufficiently appear by that of our Saviour, S. Matth 26. When they had sung an Hymn, they went out, upon which place, S. Chrys. says, They sung an Hymn, to teach us to do the like. Concerning singing of Psalms and Hymns in the Church, we have both the Precepts and Examples of Christ and his Apostles, S. Aug. Ep. 119. S. Paul ordered it in the Church of Coloss. Singing to your selves in Psalms and Hymns, Col. 3. Which we find presently after practised in the Church of Alexandria, founded by S. Mark, Eus. Hist. l. 2. c. 17. where Philo reports that the Christians had in every place almost Monasteries wherein they sang Hymns to God, in several kinds of Meeter and Verse. S. Ambrose brought them into Millaine, to ease the peoples sad minds and to keep them from weariness, who were praying night and day for their persecuted Bishop, and from hence came all Hymns almost to be called Ambrosiani, because that by him they were spread over the Latin Church. With the Morning and Evening Hymns God is delighted, says S. Hierom : and Possidius in the life of S. Augustine tells us, c. 28. that towards the time of his dissolution, S. Augustine wept abundantly because he saw the Cities destroyed, the Bishops and Priests sequestred, the Churches prophaned, the holy Service and Sacraments neglected, either because few or none desired them, or else because there were scarce any Priests left to administer to them that did desire them ; lastly, because the Hymns and Lauds of God were lost out of the Church.
These Hymns are to be said or sung ; but most properly to be sung ; else they are not so strictly and truly called Hymns, that is, Songs of praise ; and not only by the Church of England, but by all Christian Churches of old, was it so practised : and so holy David directs, Psalm 47. 6. O sing praises, sing praises unto our God : O sing praises, sing praises unto our King. The profit of which singing Hymns is much many ways ; especially in this, that they inkindle an holy flame in the minds and affections of the hearers. O how I wept, says S. Aug. in the Hymns and holy Canticles, being enforc’d thereunto by the sweet voices of thy Melodious Church ! by reason of the proneness of our affections to that which delights, it pleas’d the wisdom of the Spirit to borrow from melody that pleasure, which mingled with heavenly mysteries, causes the smoothness and softness of that which touches the ear, to conveigh as it were by stealth, the treasure of good things into men’s minds : to this purpose were those harmonious tunes of Psalms devised. And S. Basil. in Psal. By pleasing thus the affections, and delighting the mind of man, Music makes the service of God more easie.
When we sing or say these Hymns, we stand, which is the proper posture for Thanksgivings and Lauds, Psal. 134. Praise the Name of the Lord standing in the Courts of the Lord. And 2 Chron. 7. 6. The Priests waited on their office, the Levites also with instruments of music of the Lord, which David the King had made to praise the Lord ( with the 136. Psalm ) because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministery, and the Priest sounded Trumpets before them, and all Israel . The erection of the body fitly expresses the lifting up of the heart in joy : whence it is, that rejoycing in Scripture is called the lifting up of the head, S. Luke 21. 28. Lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh. So then, joy being a lifting up of the soul, and praise and Thanksgiving being effects of joy, cannot be more fitly expressed, then by erection and lifting up of the body, Standing in the Courts of the Lord, when we sing praise unto him.
After the Morning first Lesson follows Te Deum, [ We praise thee O God, ] or [ O all ye works of the Lord, &c. called Benedicite. ] The first of which [ We praise thee O God, &c. ] was, as is credibly reported, framed miraculously by S. Ambrose and S. Augustin at his Baptism, and hath been in much esteem in the Church ever since as it deserves, being both a Creed, containing all the mysteries of Faith, and a most solemn Form of Thanksgiving, Praise, Adoration and what not ? and so hath that other Canticle [ O all ye works of the Lord ] in the which the whole Creation praises God together, been received and esteemed universally in the Church. Concil. Toletan. 4. c. 13.
After the Second Lesson at Morning Prayer is appointed, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, called Benedictus, or, O be Joyful in the Lord, called Jubilate.
After the Evening Lessons are appointed Magnificat, or My soul doth magnifie the Lord, and Nunc dimittis, Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace : or else two Psalms. And very fitly doth the Church appoint sacred Hymns after Lessons : For who is there, that hearing God speak from Heaven to him for his soul’s health, can do less than rise up and praise him ? and what Hymns can be fitter to praise God with for our salvation, than those which were the first gratulations, wherewith our Saviour was entertained into the world ? And such are these. Yet as fit as they are, some have quarrel’d them, especially at Magnificat, [ My soul doth magnifie the Lord, ] and Nunc dimittis, [ or, Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace. ] The Objections are these : That the first of these was the Virgin Mary’s Hymn for bearing Christ in her womb : The latter old Symeon’s, for seeing and holding in his arms the blessed Babe : neither of which can be done by us now, and therefore neither can we say properly these Hymns.
The answer may be, that bearing Christ in the womb, suckling him, holding him in our arms, is not so great a blessing, as the laying up his holy word in our hearts, S. Luke 11. 27. by which Christ is formed in us, Gal. 4. 19. and so there is as much thanks to be returned to God for this as for that. He that does the will of God taught in his word, may as well say, My soul doth magnifie the Lord as the holy Virgin ; for Christ is formed in him, as well as in the Virgin’s womb. S. Matth. 12. 50. Whosoever doth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. And why may not we after the reading of a part of the new Testament, say, Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, as well as old Symeon ? for in that Scripture by the eye of Faith, we see that salvation which he then saw, and more clearly reveal’d. We have then the same reason to say it, that old Symeon had, and we should have the same spirit to say it with.
There can nothing be more fitting for us, as we have said, than having heard the Lessons and the goodness of God therein Preach’t unto us, to break out into a Song of Praise and Thanksgiving, and the Church hath appointed two to be used ( either of them ) after each Lesson, but not so indifferently but that the Former Practice of exemplary Churches and Reason may guide us in the choice : For the Te Deum, Benedictus, Magnificat, and Nunc Dimittis being the most expressive Jubilations and rejoycings for the redemption of the world, may be said more often than the rest, especially on Sundays and other Festivals of our Lord, excepting in Lent and Advent, which being times of Humiliation, and Meditations on Christ as in expectation, or his sufferings, are not so fitly enlarged with these Songs of highest Festivity, ( the custom being for the same reason in many Churches, in Lent, to hide and conceal all the glory of their Altars, covering them with black to comply with the season ) and therefore in these times may be rather used the following Psalms than the foregoing Canticles, as at other times also, when the Contents of the Lesson shall give occasion, as when it speaks of the enlargement of the Church by bringing in the Gentiles into the Fold of it, for divers passages of those three Psalms import that sense.
The Creed follows. At ordinary Morning and Evening prayer, and most Sundays and Holy-days, the Apostles Creed is appointed ; which Creed was made by the Apostles upon this occasion, says Ruffinus in Symb. n. 2. The Apostles, having received a Commandment from our Lord to Teach all Nations, and withal being commanded to tarry at Hierusalem till they should be furnish’d with gifts and graces of the holy Spirit, sufficient for such a charge, tarried patiently, as they were enjoyned, expecting the fulfilling of that promise. In the time of the stay at Hierusalem, they agreed upon this Creed as a Rule of Faith, according to the analogy of which, they and all others should teach, and as a word of distinction, by which they should know friends from foes. For as the Giliadites distinguished their own men from the Benjamites, by the word Shibboleth, Judges 12. 6. and as Souldiers know their own side from the Enemy by their Word : so the Apostles and the Church should know who were the Churches friends, and who were enemies, who were right believers, who false, by this word of Faith : for all that walkt according to this Rule, and profest this faith, she acknowledged for hers, and gave them her peace : but all others that went contrary to this rule and word, she accounted Enemies, Tertul. de praescrip. led by false spirits. For he that hears not us, is not of God ; hereby know we the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error, 1 John 4. 6.
This Creed is said daily twice, Morning and Evening. So it was of old. Aug. l. 1. de Symb. ad Catech. cap. 1. Take the Rule of Faith, which is call’d the Symbol or Creed, say it daily, in the Morning before you go forth ; at Night before you sleep. And l. 50. Hom. 42. Say your Creed daily Morning and Evening. Rehearse your Creed to God ; say not, I said it yesterday, I have said it to day already, say it again, say it every day : guard your selves with your Faith : And if the Adversary assault you, let the Redeemed know, that he ought to meet him, with the Banner of the Cross and the shield of Faith, above all taking the shield of Faith, Ephes. 6. Faith is rightly called a Shield, S. Chrys. in loc. For as a Shield is carried before the body, as a wall to defend it, so is faith to the soul ; for all things yield to that : This is our victory whereby we overcome the world, even our Faith. Therefore we had need look well to our Faith, and be careful to keep that entire ; and for that purpose it is not amiss to rehearse it often, and guard our soul with it.
Cum horremus aliquid recurrendum est ad Symbolum : When we are affrighted, run we to the Creed, and say, I believe in God the Father Almighty, this will guard your soul from fear : If you be tempted to despair, guard your soul with the Creed, say, I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was crucified, &c. for us men and our salvation ; that may secure your soul from despair : If you be tempted to Pride, run to the Creed, and a sight of Christ hanging upon the Cross, will humble you : If to Lust or uncleanness, to the Creed, and see the wounds of Christ, and the remembrance of them, if any thing will quench that fiery dart : If we be tempted to presume and grow careless, take up again this shield of Faith, see Christ in the Creed coming to judgment, and this terrour of the Lord’s will perswade men. In a word, the Creed is a guard and defence against all temptations of the world, all the fiery darts of the Devil, all the filthy lusts of the flesh : Therefore, above all, take the shield of Faith, saith S. Paul, and be sure to guard your soul Morning and Evening with the Creed, thy symbol of the most holy Faith. Besides, This solemn rehearsing of our Creed, is a plighting of our faith and fidelity to God, before Devils, Angels, and Men ; an engaging and devoting of our souls in the principal faculties and powers of it, our reason and understanding and will, wholly to God the Father, Son, and holy Ghost, to believe in the ever blessed Trinity, whatsoever flesh and blood shall tempt to the contrary ; which is an high piece of loyalty to God ; and cannot be too often perform’d. It is that kind of Confession, that S. Paul says is necessary to salvation, as well as believing, Rom. 10. 10. For it is there said Verse 9. If we confess with our mouth, as well as, if we believe with the heart, we shall be saved ; it is that kind of Confession that our Lord Christ speaks of, S. Matth. 10. 32. Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in Heaven. And therefore since it is a service so acceptable, it cannot be thought unreasonable for the Church to require it Morning and Evening. The Creed follows soon after the Lessons and very seasonably ; for in the Creed we confess that Faith, that the Holy Lessons teach.
The Creed is to be said not by the Priest alone, but by the Priest and people together. Rubr. before the Creed. For since Confession of Faith in public before God, Angels and men, is so acceptable a service to God, as is shewn ; Fit it is that every man as well as the Priest, should bear his part in it, since every man may do it for himself as well, nay, better than the Priest can do it for him, for as every man knows best what himself believes, so it is fittest to confess it for himself, and evidence to the Church his found Belief, by expresly repeating of that Creed and every particular thereof, which is and alwayes hath been accounted the Mark and Character, whereby to distinguish a True Believer from an Heretic or Infidel.
We are required to say the Creed standing, by this Gesture signifying our Readiness to Profess, and our Resolution to adhere and stand to this holy Faith.
Of Athanasius’s .
Besides the Apostles Creed, holy Church acknowledges two other, or rather two explications of the same Creed, the Nicene, and Athanasius his Creed : of the Nicene Creed shall be said somewhat in the proper place, the Communion-Service where it is used. Athanasius his Creed is here to be accounted for, because it is said sometimes in this place in stead of the Apostles Creed. It was composed by Athanasius, and sent to Pope Julius, for to clear himself and acquit his Faith from the slanders of his Arian Enemies, who reported him erroneous in the Faith. It hath been received with great Veneration as a treasure of an inestimable price, both by the Greek and Latin Churches, Nazianzen. de laud. Athan. orat. 21. and therefore both for that authority, and for the testification of our Continuance in the same Faith, to this day, the Church rather uses this and the Nicene explanations, than any other Gloss or Paraphrase devised by our selves ; which, though it were to the same effect, notwithstanding could not be of the same credit nor authority.
This Divine Salutation taken out of Holy Scripture, Ruth 2. was frequently used in Ancient Liturgies before Prayers, before the Gospel, before the Sermon, and at other times, and that by the direction of the holy Apostles, says the Council of Bracchara. It seems as an Introit or entrance upon another sort of Divine Service, and a good Introduction it is, serving as an holy excitation to Attention and Devotion, by minding the people what they are about, namely such holy Services, as without God’s assistance and special grace cannot be performed ; and therefore when they are about these Services, the Priest minds them of it by saying, The Lord be with you, And again, it is a most excellent and seasonable Prayer for them, in effect thus much, The Lord be with you, to lift up your Hearts and raise your Devotions to his Service. The Lord be with you, to accept your Services. The Lord be with you, to reward you hereafter with eternal life.
The people Answer, And with thy Spirit. Which form is taken out of 2 Tim. 4. 22. and is as much as this, Thou art about to Offer up Prayers and spiritual Sacrifices for us, therefore we pray likewise for thee, that He, without whom nothing is good and acceptable, may be with thy spirit while thou art exercised in these Spiritual Services, which must be performed with the Spirit ; according to S. Paul, 1 Cor. 14. 15. Thus the Priest prays and wishes well to the people, and they pray and wish well to the Priest. And such mutual Salutations and Prayers as this and those that follow, where Priest and people interchangeably pray each for other, are excellent expressions of the Communion of Saints, Both acknowledging thus, that they are all one body, and each one members one of another, mutually caring for one another’s good, and mutually praying for one another, which must needs be, if well considered, and duly performed, excellent Incentives and provocations to Charity and love one of another ; and ( as S. Chrys. observes hom. 3. in Col. ) if these solemn mutual Salutations were religiously performed, it were almost impossible that Priest and people should be at Enmity. For can the People hate the Priest that blesses them, that prays for them, The Lord be with you, or, Peace be with you ? which was anciently the Bishop’s Salutation, instead of the Lord be with you. Or can the Priest forget to love the People that daily prays for him, And with thy Spirit ?
These words are often used in ancient Liturgies, as well as in ours, and are an Excitation to prayer, to call back our wandring and recollect our scattered thoughts, and to awaken our Devotion, bidding us mind what we are about, namely, now when we are about to pray, to pray indeed, that is, heartily and earnestly. The Deacon in antient Services was wont to call upon the people often
ὲκτενῶς δεηθῶμεν, Let us pray vehemently ; nay,
ὲκτενέστερον, still more vehemently ; and the same vehemency and earnest devotion which the manner of these old Liturgies breathed, does our Church in her Liturgy call for, in these words, Let us pray ; that is, with all the earnestness and vehemency that we may, that our prayers may be such as S. James speaks of, active, lively spirited prayers, for these are they that avail much with God. And there is none of us but must think it needful thus to be call’d upon and awakened ; for thoughts will be wandring, and devotions will abate and scarce hold out to the prayer’s end, though it be a short one ; so that well said the old Hermit, ( whom Melanc. mentions in his discourse de Crat. ) There is nothing harder than to pray.
These words, Let us pray ; as they are an Incitation to prayer in general, so they may seem to be sometimes an Invitation to another Form of petitioning, as in the Litany and other places : it being as much as to say, Let us collect our alternate supplications by Versicles and Answers into Collects or Prayers. In the Latin Liturgies ( their Rubrics especially ) Preces and Orationes seem to be thus distinguished, that Preces or Supplications were those alternate Petitions, where the people answered by responsive Versicles ; Oratio, or prayer was that which was said by the Priest alone, the people only answering, Amen.
This short Litany ( as it was called by some Ancients ) this most humble and piercing Supplication to the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, was frequently used in ancient Liturgies, as it is to be seen in them, and also in the of . c. 5. Anno Dom. 440, or thereabouts. Because ( saith that Council ) the sweet and wholsom Custom of saying Kyrie Eleeson ; or Lord have mercy upon us, with great affection and compunction, hath been received into the whole Eastern and most of the Western Church : Therefore be it enacted that the same be used in our Churches at Mattins, Evensong, and Communion-Service. ]
It was anciently called
ἐκτενὴς ἱκεσία, the earnest or vehement supplication ; because as it is a most pathetic Petition of mercy to every Person of the Blessed Trinity, so it was uttered by those primitive good men, with much earnestness and intention of Spirit, being sensible of their danger of sinking into endless perdition, without the mercy of the Blessed Trinity, and therefore ( with no less earnestness than S. Peter cried, Master Save, when he was sinking into the Sea ) did they cry out Lord have mercy. God the Father have mercy, God the Son have mercy, God the holy Ghost have mercy : have mercy upon us in pardoning our sins, which make us worthy to be cast out of thy favour, but unworthy to serve thee : Have mercy, in helping our weakness, and inability of our selves to serve thee : Many are our Dangers, many are our wants, many ways we stand in need of mercy, therefore Lord have mercy, &c. This excellent Comprehensive Litany is seasonable at all times, and all parts of the Service, after our Singing of Hymns and Psalms, after our Hearing and Confession of Faith ; such is our unworthiness, such our weakness, that it cannot be thought amiss to beg God’s Mercy, after we have pray’d ; such is our dulness and coldness in our prayers that we had need pray, Lord have mercy upon us.
It may be observed that this earnest and humble supplication was usually in old Services, and so is in ours, set immediately before the Lord’s Prayer, as a preparation to it, and very fitly ; For as we cannot devise a more suitable preparation to prayer than this humble Petition of Mercy, and acknowledgement of our own misery ; so is there no Prayer whereto greater preparation is required than that Divine Prayer sanctified by the sacred Lips of our Lord, wherein we say, Our Father, &c. Clem. in Const. l. 7. c. 25. advises when we say this prayer to be careful to prepare our selves, so that we may in some manner be worthy of this divine Adoption to be the Sons of God ; lest if we unworthily call him Father, He upbraid us as he did the Jews, Mal. 1. If I be your Father, where is mine Honour ? The Sanctity of the Son is the Honour of the Father. Indeed it is so great an Honour to call God Our Father, 1 John 3. that we had need with all humility beg pardon of his Majesty, before we venture upon so high a title. Therefore our Mother the Church hath been careful to prepare us for this divine Prayer, sometimes by a confession of our sins and Absol. as at Morning and Evening Service ; but most commonly by this short Litany : First, teaching us to bewail our unworthiness and pray for mercy, and then with an humble boldness to look up to Heaven and call God our Father, and beg further Blessings of Him.
AFter the Lord’s Prayer follow short Versicles and Answers taken out of Holy Scripture, Psalm 85. 7. Psalm 20. 10. Psalm 132. 9. Psalm 28. 10. 2. Kings 20. 19. Psalm 51. 10, 11.
The Priest beginning and the people Answering, contending in an holy Emulation who shall be most devout in these short, but pithy Ejaculations, or Darts cast up to Heaven. Such short Ejaculations were much used by the devout Brethren, which S. Augustine commends as the most piercing kind of prayer, Ep. 121. Such as these were that of the Leper, S. Matth. 8. 1. Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me clean : and that of the Disciples, S. Matth. 8. 24. Master save us, we perish. Short, but powerful, as you may see by our Saviour’s gracious acceptance of them.
And here I must further commend the Order of of the in all places of the Service where it stands. It refresheth their attention, it teaches them their part at publick prayers, not to stand by and censure how well the Priest plays the mouth of the Congregation. Lastly, it unites the affections of them altogether, and helps to keep them in a league of perpetual amity. For if the Prophet David did think that the very meeting of men together in the house of God, should make the bond of their love indissoluble, Psalm 55. 15. How much more may we judge it reasonable to hope that the like effects may grow in each of the people toward other, in them all towards the Priest, and in the Priest towards them ; between whom there daily and interchangeably pass, in the hearing of God himself, and in the presence of his holy Angels, so many heavenly Acclamations, Exultations, Provocations, Petitions, Songs of comfort, Psalms of praise and thanksgiving. In all which particulars, as when the Priest makes their suits, and they with one voice say, Amen ; Or when he joyfully begins, and they with like alacrity follow, dividing betwixt them the Sentences, wherewith they strive which shall most shew his own, and stir up others zeal to the glory of God, as in the Psalms and Hymns ; Or when they mutually pray for each other, the Priest for the people, and the people for him, as in the Versicles immediately before the morning Collects ; Or when the Priest proposes to God the peoples necessities, and they their own requests for relief in every of them, as in the Litany ; Or when he proclaims the Law of God to them as in the Ten Commandments ; they adjoyning an humble acknowledgement of their common imbecillity to the several branches thereof, together with the lowly requests for Grace to perform the things commanded, as in the Kyries or Lord have mercy upon us, &c. at the end of each Commandment : All these Interlocutory Forms of Speech, what are they but most effectual, partly testifications, partly inflammations of all piety ?
The Priest when he begins these short prayers is directed by the Rubric to .
It is noted that the Priest in the holy offices is sometimes appointed to kneel, sometimes to stand. The reason of this we shall here once for all enquire.
The Priest or Minister being a man of like infirmities with the rest of the Congregation, a sinner, and so standing in need of grace and pardon, as well as the rest, in all confessions of sins, and penitential prayers, such as the Litany is, directed to beg his pardon and grace upon his knees. He being moreover a Priest or Minister of the most high God, that hath received from him an office and authority, sometimes stands, to signifie that his office and authority. Which office of his may be considered, either in relation to God, or the people. As it relates to God, so he is God’s Embassador. 2 Cor. 5. 20. to whom is committed the Ministery of Reconciliation, in which respect he is to Teach, Baptize, Consecrate the holy Eucharist, Bless and Absolve the penitent ; and in all these acts of Authority, which he does in the name and person of Christ, he is to stand.
The Collects follow, which are thought by divers to be so called, either because they were made by the Priest,
super collectam populi, over, or in behalf of the Congregation, meeting, or collection of the people ; or rather, because the Priest doth herein Collect the Devotions of the people, and offer them up to God ; for though it hath been the constant practice from the beginning, for the people to bear a vocal part by their Suffrages and Answers in the public service of God ( which for that very reason was by the Ancients called Common Prayer, as may be gathered out of Justin Martyr, Apol. 2. S. Aug. Epist. 118. and others ; ) yet for the more renewing and strengthning of their earnestness, importunity, and as it were wrestling with God, and hope of prevailing, they desired that themselves and their devotions should in the close be recommended to God by the Priest, they all adjoyning their assent and saying Amen to it. And that is the reason why in many of the Collects, God is desired to hear the petitions of the people ( to wit, those that the people had then made before the Collect ) that they come in at the end of other devotions, and were by some of old called Missae, that is to say, Dismissions, the people being dismissed upon the pronouncing of them and the Blessing, the Collects themselves being by some of the Ancients called Blessings, and also Sacramenta, either for that their chief use was at the Communion, or because they were uttered Per Sacerdotem, by one consecrated to holy Offices.
But it will not be amiss to enquire more particularly what may be said for these very Collects which we use, they being of so frequent use and so considerable a part of the Devotion of our Church.
And first concerning their Authors and Antiquity, we may observe, that our Church endeavouring to preserve, not only the Spirit, but the very Forms ( as much as may be, and in a known tongue ) of ancient Primitive Devotion, hath retained these very Collects ( the most of them ) among other precious Remains of it : for we find by ancient testimony that they were composed or ordered, either by S. Ambrose, Gelasius, or Gregory the Great, those holy Bishops and Fathers of the Church ; and therefore having daily ascended up to Heaven like Incense from the hearts and mouths of so many Saints in the Ages since their times, they cannot but be very venerable, and relish well with us, unless our hearts and affections be of a contrary temper.
Secondly, for the object of these Collects, they are directed to God in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, for so usually they conclude, and very fitly : For Christ is indeed the Altar upon which all our prayers are to be offered, that they may be acceptable ; Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my Name he will give it you, S. John 16. 23. And so it was the custom of old :
Itaque Orationes nostras. vitam & Sacrificia, & omnia nostra offerimus tibi, Pater, assidue per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, &c. Bernard de Amore Dei, cap. 8. But yet we may observe that a few Collects are directed to Christ, and in the Litany some supplications to the holy Ghost, beside that precatory Hymn of Veni Creator in the Book of Ordination, and that some Collects, especially for great Festivals conclude with this acknowledgement, that Christ with the Father and the holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth one God world without end. And this seems to be done to testifie what the Scripture warrants, that although for more congruity we in the general course of our prayers go to the Father by the Son, yet that we may also invocate both the Son and the Holy Ghost, and that while we call upon one, we equally worship and glorifie all Three together,
Quia dum ad solius Patris personam honoris sermo dirigitur, bene credentis fide tota Trinitas honoratur, saith Fulgentius, lib. 2. ad Monimum.
Thirdly, for their Form and proportion, as they are not one long continued prayer, but divers short ones, they have many Advantages to gain esteem : The practice of the Jews of old, in whose prescribed Devotions we find a certain number of several prayers or Collects to be said together ; the example of our Lord in prescribing a short form ; the judgement and practice of the Ancient Christians in their Liturgies, and S. Chrysostome among others commends highly short and frequent prayers with little distances between, Hom. 2. of Hanna, so doth Cassian also, and from the judgment of others that were much exercised therein. 2 Lib. cap. 10. de
Institut. Coenob. And lastly, as they are most convenient for keeping away coldness, distraction and illusions from our devotion ; for what we elsewhere say in praise of short Ejaculations, is true also concerning Collects, and that not only in respect of the Minister, but the people also, whose minds and affections become hereby more erect, close and earnest by the oftner breathing out their hearty concurrence, and saying all of them Amen together at the end of each Collect.
Fourthly, the matter of them is most Excellent and remarkable : It consists usually of two parts : An humble acknowledgement of the Adorable Perfection and Goodness of God, and a congruous petition for some benefit from him. The first is seen not only in the Collects for Special Festivals or benefits ; but in those also that are more general ; for even in such what find we in the beginning of them but some or other of these and the like acknowledgements ? That God is Almighty, everlasting, Full of Goodness and Pity, the Strength, Refuge and Protector of all that trust in him, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is Holy, no continuing in safety or Being, that such is our weakness and frailty that we have no power of our selves to help our selves, to do any good, to stand upright, cannot but fall ; That we put no trust in any thing that we do, but lean only upon the help of his heavenly Grace ; That he is the Author and giver of all good things, from whom it comes that we have an hearty desire to pray or do him any true or laudable Service ; That he is always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we desire or deserve, having prepared for them that love him such good things as pass man’s understanding.
These, and the like expressions can be no other than the breathings of the Primitive Christians, who with all self-denial made the grace of God their Hope, Refuge, Protection, Petition, and Profession against all proud Heretics and Enemies of it : And the Petitions which follow these humble and pious acknowledgements and praises are very proper, holy and good, which will better appear, if we consider the matter of each Collect apart.
The first in order among the Collects is that for the day. Now as on every day or season there is something more particularly commended to our meditations by the Church ; so the first Collect reflects chiefly upon that, though sometimes more generally upon the whole matter of the Epistle and Gospel, desiring inspiration, strength and protection from God Almighty, in the practice and pursuance, of what is set before us. But concerning the matter of the Collects for the day, is spoken afterward in the particular account that is given of each Epistle, Gospel and Collect.
The second Collect is for Peace, according to S. Paul’s direction, 1 Tim. 2. and Orbem Pacatum, that the World might be quiet, was ever a clause in the Prayers of the Primitive Church ; and good reason : For Peace was our Lord’s Legacy, My peace I leave with you, his New-year’s gift,
Pax in terris, Xenium Christi, He prayed for peace, paid for peace, wept for it, bled for it : Peace should therefore be dear to us, all kind of peace, outward peace and all : for if there be not a quiet and peaceable life, there will hardly be godliness and honesty, 1 Tim. 2. This Collect then is fit to be said daily, being a prayer for peace, and so is that which follows.
The third for Grace to live well : for if there be not peace with God by an holy life, there will never be peace in the World. No man can so much as think a good thought, much less lead a godly life without the grace of God ; therefore that is also prayed for, together with God’s protection for the day or night following.
Then the Prayers—-according to S. Paul. 1 Tim. 2. who exhorts that Prayers and Supplications be made for all men. In particular for Kings ; and the Reason he there gives, sufficiently shews the necessity of Praying particularly and especially for them ; namely, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty : which can hardly be done if they do not help towards it. For as the Son of Syrach says Chap. 10. 2. As the Judge of the people is himself, even so are his officers, and what manner of man the Ruler of the City is, such are all they that dwell therein. A good Josiah, Hezekiah, or David, promote religion and honesty and the right worship of God among the people; but a Jeroboam by setting up Calves in Dan and Bethel, makes all the people sin.
After this follows a prayer for the Church, [ excellently described by Bishops, Curats, and the people committed to their Charge. ] By Curates here are not meant Stipendaries, as now it is used to signifie, But all those whether Parsons or Vicars, to whom the Bishop, who is the chief Pastor under Christ, hath committed the cure of souls of some part of his flock and so are the Bishop’s Curates. The Bishop with these Curates, a flock or Congregation committed to their charge, make up a Church. For according to our Saviours definition, a Church is a Shepherd, and his Sheep that will hear his voice ; to which S. Cyprian‘s description agrees, Ep. 69.
Illi sunt Ecclesia plebs Sacerdoti adunata, & pastori suo grex adhaerens. The Church is a Congregation of Believers united to their Bishop, and a Flock adhering to their Shepherd ;
whence you ought to know, says he, that the Church is in the Bishop, and the Bishop in the Church, and they that are not with the Bishop, are not in the Church. Now because the Bishops are the guides and governors of the Church, so that all acts of the Church are ordered and directed by them, as the same Cyprian says, therefore the Custom of the Church always was, and not without reason, to pray particularly by name for their Bishop, as they did for the King.
To make this Church, to gather it from among Infidels and Heathens, and to preserve it from all her subtil and potent enemies, by the healthful Spirit of his Grace, is an act of as great power, and a greater miracle of Love, than to create the world. Although thou beest wonderful, O Lord, in all thy works, yet thou art believed to be most wonderful in thy works of piety and mercy, says S. Augustine, and therefore the Preface is suitable, Almighty God which only workest great marvails, send down upon thy Church, Bishops, Curats, and the Congregations committed to their charge, the healthful spirit of thy grace.
We end our Service with a , which is to be pronounced by the Bishop, if he be present. See the Rubric before the Blessing in the Communion-Service. Then the Priest or Bishop, if present, shall let them depart with his Blessing. This is order’d for the honour of the Bishop’s authority, Heb. 7. 7. Without contradiction the less is blessed of the greater.
Therefore blessing being an act of Authority, the Bishop ought not to be blest by the Priest, but the Priest by the Bishop.
This blessing of the Bishop or Priest was so highly esteem’d in the Primitive times, that none durst go out of the Church till they had received it, according to the Councils of Agatha, Can. 31. in the year 472. and Orleans the third, Can. 22.
And when they received it, they did it kneeling or bowing down their heads. And the Deacon, to prepare them to it, was wont to call out immediately before the time of the Blessing in such words as these, Bow down your selves to the Blessing, Chrys. Liturg. The Jews received it after the same manner, Ecclus. c. 50. v. 23. When the Service was finished, the high Priest went down, and lifted up his hands over the Congregation to give the blessing of the Lord with his lips, and they bowed down themselves to worship the Lord, that they might receive the Blessing from the Lord the most high. And doubtless did we consider the efficacy and vertue of this blessing of Priest or Bishop, we could do no less than they did. For it is God from heaven that blesses us by the mouth of his Minister. We have his word for it, Numb. 6. 22. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, On this wise shall ye bless the children of Israel, The Lord bless thee, &c. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them. And the same promise of God’s assistance, and ratifying the Priest’s Blessing, we have in the Gospel, S. Matth. 10. 13. S. Luke 10. 5. where our Saviour charges his Apostles and Disciples that into whatsoever house they enter they should say, not pray ; say with authority, Peace be to this house, and ( not if your prayers be servent, or if they in the house joyn in prayer with you, but ) if the Son of peace be there ; that is, if he that dwells in the house hinders not, nor resists your blessing, if he be a person capable of so much good as your blessing ; ( for this is signified by this Hebrew phrase, Son of peace ) your peace shall rest upon him : but if he be not such a son of peace, your blessing shall return to you again, which it could not be said to do, unless vertue together with the blessing had gone out from them.
signifies an humble an earnest Supplication. These Forms of prayers call’d Litanies, ( wherein the people are more exercised than in any other part of the Service, by continual joyning in every passage of it, ) are thought by some to have been brought into the Church about four hundred years after Christ, in times of great calamity, for the appeasing of God’s wrath. True it is, that they are very seasonable prayers in such times, and therefore were by Gregory and others used in their Processions, for the averting of God’s wrath in public calamities ; but it is as true, that they were long before that time, even in the first Services that we find in the Church, used at the Communion-Service, and other Offices, as Ordination of Priests, and the like : witness Clem. Const. l. 8. c. 5, 6, 10. where we find the Deacon ministring to the people, and directing them from point to point what to pray for, as it is in our Litany, and the people are appointed to answer to every Petition,
Domine miserere, Lord have mercy. And in all Liturgies extant, ( as Mr. Thorndyke hath well observed in his Book of Religious Assemblies, ) the same Allocutions or
προσφωνήσεις, which are indeed Litanies, may be seen. And S. Aug. Ep. 119. c. 18. tells us of the Common-prayers, which were indited or denounced by the voice of the Deacon. All which make it probable, that the practice of Litanies is derived from the Apostles, and the custom of their time. And S. Chrys. in Rom. c. 8. seems to assert the same : For upon that verse, We know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit helps our infirmities, he says thus ; In those days amongst other miraculous gifts of the Spirit, this was one, Donum precum, the gift of making prayers for the Church, to help the ignorance of the people that knew not what to pray for as they ought : he that had this gift, stood up, and prayed for the whole Congregation, and taught them what to pray for : whose Office now the Deacon performs : viz. by directing them from point to point, what to pray for. To every of which Petitions, says Clem. above cited, the people were to answer, Domine miserere. This continual joyning of the people in every passage of it, tends much both to the improving and evidencing that fervour and intention, which is most necessary in prayers. Hence was it that these Forms of prayers, ( where the peoples devotion is so often excited, quickned, and exercised by continual Suffrages, such as Good Lord deliver us, We beseech thee to hear us good Lord, ) were called
ἐκτενεῖς δεήσεις, earnest or intense Petitions. In which, if they were relished aright, the earnest and vehement devotion of Primitive times, still breaths ; and in these prayers, if ever we pray with the Spirit.
Concerning the Litany of our Church, we may boldly say, and easily maintain it, that there is not extant any where ; 1. A more particular excellent enumeration of all the Christians either private or common wants ; Nor 2. A more innocent, blameless form, against which there lies no just exception ; Nor 3. A more Artificial Composure for the raising of our devotion, and keeping it up throughout, than this part of our Liturgy.
In the beginning it directs our prayers to the right object, the Glorious . For necessary it is, that we should know whom we worship. Then it proceeds to Deprecations, or prayers against evil ; lastly, to Petitions for good. In the Deprecations, as right method requires, we first pray against sin, then against punishment ; because sin is the greatest evil. From all which we pray to be delivered by the holy actions and passions of , the only merits of all our good. The like good order is observed in our Petitions for good. First, we pray for the Church Catholic, the common mother of all Christians ; then for our own Church, to which, next the Church Catholic, we owe the greatest observance and duty. And therein, in the first place for the principal members of it, in whose welfare the Churches peace chiefly consists. After this we pray particularly for those sorts of men that most especially need our prayers, such amongst others, as those whom the Law calls miserable persons.
The Litany is not one long continued prayer, but broken into many short and pithy Ejaculations : that the intention and devotion which is most necessary in prayer, may not be dull’d and vanish, as in a long prayer it is apt to do ; but be quickned and intended, by so many new and quick petitions ; and the nearer to the end, the shorter and livelier it is, strengthening our devotions by raising in us an apprehension of our misery and distress, ready, as it were to sink and perish ; and therefore crying out as the Disciples did, Master, save us, we perish : O Lamb of God hear us, O Christ hear us, Lord have mercy upon us. Such as these are the active, lively spirited prayers,
ἐνεργούμεναι, which S. James mentions and tells us, avail much, S. James 5. 16.
The Doxology, or Glory be to the Father, &c. is much used in our Service, after Confession, after Athanasius‘s Creed, and especially after each Psalm and Canticle, as a most thankful adoration of the holy Trinity, upon reflection on the matter going before, and therefore is very fitly divided betwixt the Priest and people in saying it, according as the matter going before was ; and it is in those places said standing, as the most proper posture for thanksgiving or Adoration. Here in the Litany, it is said in a way somewhat different ; for after that the Priest and people have in the supplications afore going besought God that he would arise, help and deliver them, as he did their forefathers of old, for his Names sake and Honour, the Priest does Collect-wise sum up This ; praying, that by such deliverances, all glory may redound to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, &c. the people answering only, Amen, as it were after a a Collect, and continuing kneeling ; because both this, as it is here used, and other parts of the Litany before and after, are matters of humble supplication, and so most fit to be tendred to God in that posture.
In the former part of the Litany, the Priest hath not a part so proper but that it may be said by a Deacon, or other, and it useth to be sung by such in Cathedral and Collegiate Churches and Chappels, and both it and all other our alternate Supplications, which are as it were the Lesser Litanies, do much resemble the ancient Prayers indicted by the Deacons, as we have said ; but in the latter part of the Litany, from the Lord’s prayer, to the end, the Priest hath a part more peculiar, by reason of the eminency of that prayer, and that other Collects follow wherein the Priest doth recommend again the petitions of the people to God ( as in that prayer, We humbly beseech thee O Lord mercifully to look upon our infirmities, &c. ) and Solemnly offers them up to God in the behalf of the people, to which the people answer, Amen : and therefore these Collects after the Litany, though the matter of them hath been prayed for before particularly in the Supplications foregoing, may be said, without the charge of needless tautology ; for here the Priest does by vertue of his sacred Office, solemnly offer up and present to God these petitions of the people, as it was usually done in ancient Liturgies ; Praying God to accept the peoples Prayers, as he doth more than once in S. Chrys. Liturgy, particularly in that Prayer which we have out of it in our Litany. For when the Deacon hath ( as we have observed ) ministred to the People several petitions, to which they answer, Lord have mercy, Litany-wise, then the Priest Collect-wise makes a Prayer to God to accept the peoples petitions, the Deacon in the mean time proceeding to dictate to the people more Supplications, which the Priest in another Collect offers up to God Solemnly, but secretly, so that though in some of those Collects the Priest at the Latter end, spake out so that the people might hear and answer, Amen, or Glory be to the Father, or the like, ( which they might well do, for though the Prayer were said by the Priest secretly, yet it was prescribed, and such as the people knew before-hand ) yet some of them were said throughout secretly by the Priest, to which the people were not required to make any Answer.
The reason of these Secreta, secret prayers said by the Priest, may be partly for variety to refresh the people, but chiefly, as I conceive, that by this course the people might be taught to understand and reverence the office of the Priest, which is to make an atonement for the people, and to present their prayers to God, by that very offering of them up, making them more acceptable to God. All which depends not upon the peoples consent or confirmation of his office, but upon God’s alone appointment and institution ; who hath set him apart to these offices of offering gifts and Sacrifices for the people, Heb. 5. 1. And therefore as it was appointed by God, that when Aaron by his Priestly office was to offer for the people and make an atonement for them, none of the people were to be present, Levit. 16. 17. So the Church ordered that at some times, when the Priest was making an atonement for the people, and offering up for them and the acceptation of their prayers, the Merits and Passion of Christ, none should seem actually to assist, but the Priest should say it
μυστικῶς secretly and mystically. Yet lest the people should be unsatisfied, and suspicious that the Priest had neglected this his office, which they could not be assured that he had performed, because it was done secretly ; therefore the Church appointed that the Priest should at the end of the Service come down from the Altar, and standing behind the Pulpit in the midst of the people say a loud prayer, ( call’d
εὐχὴ ὁπισθάμβωνος, Goar. p. 154. ) which was a summ or Compendium of all that the people had before petition’d for, which he then solemnly offered up to God.
The Church of England is generally in her Common Prayers, as for an humble, so for an audible voice, especially in the Lord’s Prayer appointing it to be said, in the Rubric before it, with a loud, that is, an audible voice, not secretly ; and this, for the more earnest repetition of so divine words, and to make them more familiar to the people. But though this Church does not order the Priest to say these Prayers secretly, yet she retains the same order of offering up by the Priest in Collects following the peoples foregoing supplications.
The Litany is appointed in the Rubric to be read Wednesdays and Fridays, the days kept in the Greek Church for more solemn Fasts, because the Bridegroom was then taken from us, being sold by Judas on Wednesday, and murdered on Friday, Epiphan. adv. Aerium. And though our Church in imitation of the Western hath chang’d the Wednesday-Fast to Saturday, yet in memory of the Eastern custom, the still appoints the Litany to be used upon Wednesday.
HOly in Scripture phrase is all one with separate or set a part to God, and is opposed to common. What God hath clean’d, that call not thou common, Acts 10. 15. Holy days then are those which are taken out of common days, and separated to God’s holy service and worship, either by God’s own appointment, or by holy Churches Dedication. And these are either Fasting and Penitential days ( for there is a holy Fast, Joel 2. as well as a holy Feast, Nehem. 8. 10. ) such as are Ash-wednesday, Good-Friday, and the whole week before Easter commonly called the Holy-week, which days holy Church hath dedicated to God’s solemn worship, in religious fastings and prayers. Or else holy Festivals which are set apart to the solemn and religious commemoration of some eminent mercies and blessings of God. And amongst those Holy-days, some are higher days than other, in regard of the greatness of the blessing commemorated, and of the solemnity of the Service appointed to them. So we read, Lev. 23. 24. &c. The Feast of Tabernacles was to continue seven days, but the first and the eighth were the highest days because then were the most solemn Assemblies.
This sanctification or setting apart of Festival-days, is a token of that thankfulness, and a part of that public honour which we owe to God for admirable benefits ; and these days or Feasts so set apart are of excellent use, being, as learned Hooker observes, the
1. Splendor and outward dignity of our Religion.
2. Forcible witnesses of ancient truth.
3. Provocations to the exercise of all Piety.
4. Shadows of our endless felicity in heaven.
5. On earth, everlasting records teaching by the eye in a manner, whatsoever we believe.
And concerning particulars. As the Jews had their Sabbath, which did continually bring to the mind the former World finished by Creation ; so the Christian Church hath her Lord’s days or Sundays, to keep us in perpetual remembrance of a far better World begun by him who came to restore all things to make Heaven and Earth new. The rest of the holy Festivals which we celebrate have relation all to one Head . We begin therefore our Ecclesiastical year ( as to some accounts, though not as to the order of our service ) with the glorious Annunciation of his Birth by Angelical message. Hereunto are added his blessed Nativity it self, the mystery of his legal Circumcision, the Testification of his true Incarnation by the Purification of his blessed Mother the Virgin Mary : his glorious Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, the admirable sending down of his Spirit upon his chosen.
Again, for as much as we know that hath not only been manifested great in himself, but great in other his Saints also ; the days of whose departure out of this world are to the Church of Christ, as the birth and Coronation-days of Kings or Emperors ; therefore especial choice being made of the very flower of all occasions in this kind, there are annual selected times to meditate of Christ glorified in them, which had the honour to suffer for his sake, before they had age and ability to know him, namely, the blessed Innocents : glorified in them which knowing him as S. Stephen, had the sight of that before death, whereinto such acceptable death doth lead : glorified in those Sages of the East, that came from far to adore him, and were conducted by strange light : glorified in the second Elias of the World, sent before him to prepare his way : glorified in every of those Apostles whom it pleased him to use as founders of his kingdom here : glorified in the Angels, as in S. Michael : glorified in all those happy souls that are already possest of bliss.
Besides these, be four days annext to the Feasts of Easter and Whitsunday, for the more honour and enlargement of those high solemnities. These being the days which the Lord hath made glorious, Let us rejoyce and be glad in them. These days we keep not in a secret Calendar, taking thereby our private occasions as we list our selves to think how much God hath done for all men : but they are chosen out to serve as public memorials of such mercies, and are therefore cloathed with those outward robes of holiness, whereby their difference from other days may be made sensible, having by holy Church a solemn Service appointed to them.
Part of which Service are the Epistles and Gospels : of which in the first place we shall discourse, because these are peculiar and proper to each several Holy-day, the rest of the Service for the most part being common to all.
Concerning these, two things are designed.
1. To shew the Antiquity of them.
2. Their fitness for the day to which they belong, or the reason of their choice.
Concerning the Antiquity of Epistles and Gospels, it will be sufficient once for all, to shew that the use of them in the Christian Church was ancient. Concerning the antiquity of the days themselves, to which the Epistles and Gospels appertain, it will be fit to be more particular.
That the use of Epistles and Gospels peculiar to the several Holy-days was ancient, appears first by ancient Liturgies : Secondly by the testimony of the ancient Fathers. Let S. testifie for the Latin-Church, in his Preface to his Comment upon the Epistle of S. John, and in his X. Sermon De verb. Apost. We heard first, says he, the Apostolical Lesson, then we sung a Psalm, after that the Gospel was read : Now let S. . testifie for the Greek, Rom. 19. in cap. 9. Act. The Minister stands up, and with a loud voice calls, [ Let us attend : ] then the Lessons are begun : which Lessons are the Epistles and Gospels ( as appears in his Liturgy ) which follow immediately after the Minister hath so call’d for attention.
The fitness of the Epistle and Gospel for the day it belongs to, and the reason of the choice will plainly appear, if we observe that these holy Festivals and Solemnities of the Church, are, as I have touch’d before, of Two Sorts ; The more high days, or the rest : The First commemorate the signal Acts or Passages of our Lord in the Redemption of mankind, his Incarnation and Nativity, Circumcision, Manifestation to the Gentiles, his Fasting, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension, the sending of the Holy Ghost, and thereupon a more full and express manifestation of the Sacred Trinity. The Second sort is of Inferiour days that supply the Intervals of the greater, such as are either the remaining Sundays, wherein without any consideration of the sequence of time ( which could only be regarded in great Feasts ) the holy Doctrine, Deeds and Miracles of our Lord are the chief matters of our meditations ; or else the other Holy-days of which already hath been spoken. And for all these Holy-Times we have Epistles and Gospels very proper and seasonable ; for not only on high and special days, but even in those also, that are more general and indifferent, some respect is had to the season, and the holy affections the Church then aims at, as Mortification in Lent, Joy, Hope, newness of Life, &c. after Easter ; the Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit and preparation for Christ’s Second coming in the time between Pentecost and Advent. But these things I shall shew in the Discourse of the Holy-days severally. As for the Lessons, although they have another Order, and very profitable, being for each day of the week, following usually the method of Chapters, and taking in the Old Testament also ( the Communion dealing chiefly with the New as most fit for the nature of that Service ) yet in them also regard is had to the more solemn times by select and proper readings, as hath been shew’d. This being the Churches Rule and Method ( as she hath it from the Apostle ) that all things be done unto edifying, that we may be better acquainted with God, and with our selves, with what hath been done for us, and what is to be done by us. And this Visible as well as Audible preaching of Christian Doctrine by these Solemnities and Readings in such an admirable Order is so apt to infuse by degrees all necessary Christian knowledge into us, and the use of it to the ignorant is so great, that it may well be feared ( as a Reverend person hath forewarned ) that When the Festivals and Solemnities for the Birth of Christ and his other famous passages of Life, and Death, and Resurrection, and Ascension, and Mission of the Holy Ghost, and the Lessons, Gospels ( and Collects ) and Sermons upon them, be turned out of the Church together with the Creeds also, ’twill not be in the power of weekly Sermons on some head of Religion to keep up the knowledge of Christ in men’s hearts, &c. And no doubt for this and other good Reasons which he gives us, it was that the primitive Christians were so exact and religious in these Solemnities and Meditations on the occasions of them, and therefore the Sermons of the Fathers were generally on the Readings of the Day, as hereafter is shewed. And we have from another the like hand thus : The Blessings of God whereof these Solemnities renew the Remembrance are of that esteem to the Church, that we are not able to express too much thankfulness in taking that occasion of Solemnizing his Service. And the greatest part of Christians are such as will receive much improvement in the principal Mysteries of our Faith by the Sensible instruction which the Observation of such Solemnities yieldeth. The remembrance of the Birth, the Sufferings, the Resurrection of Christ, the Coming of the Holy Ghost, the Conversion of the Gentiles by sending the Apostles, the way made before his coming by the Annunciation of the Angel and the coming of the Baptist, as it is a powerful mean to train the more ignorant sort in the understanding of such great Mysteries, so it is a just occasion for all sorts to make that a particular time of Serving God, upon which we solemnize those great works of his. See Dr. Hammond’s View of the Directory, pag. 38. Mr. Thorndyke of public Assemblies pag. 256. and what we have above said concerning the excellent use of Festival days at pag. 90.
The same Method shall be observed in this Discourse of Holy-days, which the Service-Book uses ; not that in the Title-page in the beginning of the book ( which perhaps reckons for Holy-days only those days in which we are solemnly to worship God, and also to rest from usual labour ) but that in the Services appointed by the Book which adds over and above, that old Catalogue of Holy-days, S. Paul, And S. Barnabas, Ashwednesday, and the Holy-Week : All which must be reckoned for Holy-days in the Churches account, because they have Holy-day service, Epistles and Gospels, and Second-service appointed to them, though there be no Law that inflicts a penalty upon them that do their usual works upon those days, they being only desired to be present at the Churches service at the Hours appointed.
THe Principal Holy-days as Christmas, Easter, and Whitsunday, have some days appointed to attend upon them : some to go before, some to come after : as it were to wait upon them for their greater solemnity.
Before Christmas are appointed four Advent-Sundays, so called because they are to prepare us for Christ his Advent or coming in the flesh. These are to Christmas-day, as S. John Baptist to Christ forerunners to prepare for it, and point it out.
First Sunday in Advent.
The Gospel S. Matth. 21. 1. seems at first more proper to Christs Passion than his Birth ; yet is it read now principally for those words in it, Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord, That is, Blessed is he for coming in the Flesh, the cause of all our joy, for which we can never say enough, Hosanna in the Highest.
The Epistle labours to prepare us to behold with joy this rising Sun, bidding us awake from sleep, according to the Prophet Esay 60. 1. Arise, and shine, for thy light is come.
The Collect is taken out of both, and relates to both, the first part of it is clearly the words of the Epistle, That we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light. That which follows, In the time of this mortal life, in the which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us, in effect is the same with that in the Epistle, Let us put off the works of darkness, &c. because the night is spent, the day is at hand, and our salvation is near ; that is, our Saviour Christ, the light of the world is coming into the world to visit us in great humility, according to the Prophet, Zach. 9. 9. which the Gospel records, Tell ye the daughter of Sion ( to her great joy ) that behold Her King comes unto her, meek, ( or in great humility ) sitting upon an Ass.
2. Sunday Adv.
The Gospel treats of Christ’s second coming to judgment, an excellent meditation to prepare us for the welcome and joyful entertainment of Christ’s first coming. A Saviour must needs be welcome to him that is afraid of damnation.
The Epistle mentions the first coming of our Lord for the Salvation even of the Gentiles, that is of us, for which all praise is by us, to be given to him. Praise the Lord all ye Gentiles, and laud him all ye nations together.
The Collect is taken out of the Epistle ; and though it seems not to relate to the day, yet is it an excellent prayer for all times, and so not unseasonable for this.
3. Sunday Adv.
The Epistle mentions the second coming of Christ ; the Gospel, the first. The Collect prays for the benefit of this light.
This week is one of the four Ember weeks, concerning which see after the first Sunday in Lent.
4. Sunday Adv.
The Epistle and Gospel set Christ, as it were, before us, not prophesied of, but being even at hand, yea standing among us ; pointing him out as S. John Baptist did to the people ; Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.
The Collect prays most earnestly and passionately to him, to succour us miserable sinners.
Feast of -day.
THe Epistle, Gospel, and Collect are plainly suitable to the day, all mentioning the birth of Christ. Besides, this Feast hath proper Psalms, in which some Verses are peculiar to the day, as will appear, if they be well considered. The First Psalm for the Morning Service, is the 19. The heavens declare the glory of God ; very suitable to the Feast, for at His Birth a a new Star appeared which declared his Glory and Deity so plainly, that it fetcht the Sages of the East to come and worship him, S. Matth. 2. Where is he that is born King of the Jews ? for we have seen his Star in the East, and are come to worship him.
The Second Psalm for the Morning is 45. which at the beginning of it is a Genethliack or Birth-song of Christ, The fairest of the children of men, v.3. And of his mighty success in subduing the Devil and the world by the word of truth, of meekness and righteousness, vers. 5. &c.
The third is Psalm 85. which is principally set for the Birth of Christ. For it is a thanksgiving to God for sending a Saviour, which should save his people from their sins, the greatest captivity that is ; and therefore cannot properly be meant of any but Christ, who was therefore call’d Jesus, because be should save his people from their sins, S. Matth. 1. 21. And so the Primitive Church understood it, and therefore selected it out as a part of their Office for this day, as being proper and pertinent to the matter of the Feast : For the meeting here specified, ver. 10. 11. of Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace, was at Christ’s birth, who said of himself, that he was the Truth ; who as he had a birth from Heaven, to wit, his Divine nature, so had he another as Man from Earth from the Virgin ; which birth drew Righteousness to look from Heaven, upon poor sinners with a favourable look, and made righteousness and peace kiss, for the delivering of sinners from their captivity. True it is, the Prophet in the first Verses speaks of this delivery as of a thing past, Lord thou hast turn’d away the captivity of Jacob : Yet for all this it may be a prophecy of our salvation by the coming of Christ hereafter : for as S. Peter says, Acts. 2. 30. David being a Prophet, and seeing this before, spake of Christ’s Nativity, as if it were already past.
The Evening Psalms are 89, 110, 132. The first and last of which are thankful commemorations of God’s merciful promise of sending our Lord Christ into the world, that seed of David, which be had sworn to establish, and set up his Throne for ever. For which, O Lord, the very heavens shall praise thy wondrous works, and thy truth in the congregation of the Saints, v. 5. Psal. 89. The Church was in affliction now, as is plain in both these Psalms : but such was the joy that they were affected with, at the promise of Christ’s birth and coming into the world, that they could not contain, but even in the midst of their misery, break forth into Thanksgiving for it : and how can the Church excite us better to Thanksgiving to God for the birth of Christ, upon the day, than by shewing us how much the promise of it afar off wrought upon the Saints of old ? The 110. Psalm expresly mentions the birth of Christ, ver. 3. The dew of thy birth, is of the womb of the Morning ; as the morning dew brings forth innumerable fruit, so shall the birth of Christ bring forth innumerable faithful people : and therefore the Prophet here does, as we should this day, adore and praise the goodness of God for the birth of Christ, the cause of so much good.
It is admirable to behold the frame of the Churches holy Office and Service this day. In the First Lessons, she reads us the prophecy of Christ’s coming in the flesh : in the Second Lessons, Epistle and Gospel, she gives us the History of it. In the Collect, the teaches us to pray, that we may be partakers of the benefit of his birth : In the proper Preface for the day, as also in the proper Psalms, she sets us to our duty of Adoring and Glorifying God for his mercy. In the Lessons and Gospels appointed, holy Church does the Angels part, brings us glad tydings of our Saviour’s Birth, Behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy, for unto you is born this day a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord, S. Luke 2. 10. In pointing the special Hymns and Psalms, the calls upon us to do the Shepherds part, to glorifie and Praise God for all the things that this day we hear and see, ver. 20. And to sing with the Angels, Glory to God in the highest, for this good will to Men.
For the Antiquity of this day, many testimonies might be brought out of the Ancients; but, because I intend brevity, I shall be content with two beyond exception. S. Augustine, Ep. 119. witnesses, that it was the custom of holy Church to keep this day : And upon the five and twentieth of December, in Psalm 132. S. Chrysostom makes a Sermon to prove that the keeping of Christmas-day was ancient, even from the first times ; and that the Church kept the true day. In the same same sermon he says, It is a godly thing to keep this day. Nay further, that the keeping of this day was one of the greatest signs of our love to Christ. Amongst other Arguments which he uses there, to perswade his hearers to keep this day, he brings this, that the custom of keeping this day was religious, and of God, or else it could never have been so early spread over the whole World, in spight of so much opposition. Orat. in Natal. Dom. Tom. 5. Edit. Savil.
S. Stephen, S. John, Innocents.
IMmediately after Christmas follow as attendants upon this high Festival S. Stephen, S. John, and Innocents ; not because this was the very time of their suffering, but because none are thought fitter attendants on Christ’s Nativity, than the blessed Martyrs, who have laid down their lives for him, from whose birth they received spiritual life. And there being three kinds of Martyrdom ; 1. In will and deed, which is the highest. 2. In will, but not in deed. 3. In deed, but not in will : in this order they attend. S. Stephen first, who suffered both in will and deed. Next S. John, who suffered Martyrdom in will, but not in deed, being miraculously delivered out of boyling Cauldron, into which he was put before Port-Latin in Rome. Lastly, the holy Innocents who suffered in deed, but not in will ; yet are reckoned amongst the Martyrs, because they suffered for Christ : whose praise these his witnesses confest, and shewed forth not in speaking but in dying. [ Collect for the day. ]
The reason of the choice of the Epistles, Gospels and Collects for these days is plain, these being all priviledged days, that is, days which have in Scripture their peculiar histories. But for the Collect for S. Stephen’s day we may note in particular, That as the Church offers up some of her Collects directly to the Second Person of the Trinity, so one of them is this for S. Stephen’s day, and very properly ; For as S. Stephen in the midst of his Martyrdom prayed to Jesus saying, Lord Jesus receive my spirit, and, Lord lay not this sin to their charge ; so the Church in imitation of this blessed Proto-Martyr upon his day calls upon the Lord Jesus also desiring of him such a spirit as that of S. Stephen, to love and pray for our Enemies, which is that Heroical and Transcendant vertue which is peculiar to Christian Religion.
Before we endeavour to shew the antiquity of these days in particular, it will not be amiss to give some account of the ancient observation of Saints days in general.
That the observation of Saints days was very ancient in the Church will appear by these testimonies following. The Council of Carthag. 3. c. 47. tells us that the Church did celebrate the Passions and Anniversaries of the Martyrs. This Counc. was held in S. Augustine‘s time. S. Aug. in Psal. 88. Attend therefore my Dearly Beloved ; All of you unanimously hold fast God your Father and the Church your Mother. Celebrate the Saints Birthdays ( so they Anciently called the days of their Death and Martyrdom ) with sobriety, that we may imitate them that have gone before us, that they may joy over us, who pray for us, that so the Blessing of God may remain upon us for ever, Amen, Amen.
Chrys. Hom. 66. ad Pop. Antioch. The sepulchres of the Saints are honourable, and their days are known of all, bringing a festival joy to the world.
Before these S. Cyprian, l. 4. ep. 5. We celebrate the Passions of the Martyrs and their days with an anniversary commemoration. And before him Anno 147. the Church of Smyrna says the same, Euseb. Hist. l. 4. c. 15.
If it be demanded why the Church kept the days of the Saints deaths, rather than of their Birth or Baptism ? The answer may be : 1. Because at their deaths they are born Citizens of Heaven, of the Church triumphant, ( which is more than to be born either a man or a Christian, a member of the Church Militant ) whence ( as above said ) these days were usually styled by the Ancients, Their Birth-days. 2. Then do they perfectly triumph over the Devil and the world, by which the Church Militant hath gained, to her comfort, an example of persevering constancy and courage, and the Church Triumphant hath gained a new joy by the addition of a new member. For surely if the Saints and Angels in heaven joy at the conversion of a sinner, much more do they joy at the admission of a Saint into Heaven.
Thus much of the Saints days in general. For these three holy days in particular, that they are ancient, S. Augustine shews us, who hath Sermons upon all these days, Tom. 10. And Chrysol. who hath Sermons upon S. Stephen, and Innocents : And Origen in his Comment upon these words, A voice was heard in Rama, tells us, the Church did, and did well in it to keep the Feast of Innocents ; and there is as much reason for the keeping of S. Steven‘s day, who was the first Martyr, and of S. John‘s the beloved Disciple and Evangelist, as for the keeping of Innocents ; and therefore it is to be thought, that the Church did then as well observe them as this, since, as we have proved, she did keep the days of Martyrs.
Sunday after Christmas.
THis Sunday hath the same Collect with Christmas-day ; and the Epistle and Gospel treat about the same business, the birth of Christ ; for we have not yet done with the Solemnity of Christmas. Thus great Solemnities have some days after them, to continue the memory of them, in prorogationem Festi.
Feast of , or Newyears-day.
THe Feast of the Circumcision is affirmed by Learned men to be of a later institution : for though many of the ancients mention the Octave of Christmas and Newyears-day, yet they do not mention or seem to keep it, say they, as a Feast of the Circumcision. But suppose it be so ; yet surely it cannot be denied that there is reason enough for the keeping of this day solemn, as it is the Feast of Christ’s Cirumcision : For as at Christmas was made of a woman like us in nature, so this day he was made under the Law, Gal. 4. 5. and for us took upon him the curse of the Law ; being made sin for us, and becoming a surety to the offended God, for us sinners. Which suretiship he seal’d, this day with some drops of that precious blood which he meant to pour out whole upon the Cross.
As by his Birth we received the adoption of Sons ; so by his Circumcision, the redemption of the Law : and without this, his Birth had not availed us at all.
The Epistle, Gospel, and Collect are plainly fit for the day.
This Holy-day hath no fast before it, the Reason we shall shew : and to save trouble, we will here once for all shew Why some Holy-days have Fasts before them : and then, Why this and some other have none.
For the First. It was the religious custom of the primitive times to spend the night ( or a greater part of it ) before the Holy-days, in watching and prayers and tears, partly to prepare them for the more solemn and religious observation of the Holy-day following ; partly to signifie that we should be as the blessed Saints were, after a little time of mortification and affliction, translated into glory and joy, according to the Psalm, Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. ] Thus after a Vigil comes a Holy-day. These Vigils, or night-watches, being in continuance of time, abused by the wickedness of some, who under colour of those holy nightly exercises stole a liberty of intemperance, lust and other villany, were, say some, by the wisdom of holy Church, to avoid scandal, turn’d into Fasts, which still retain the old name of Vigils. The truth of this Assertion I question ; for neither do I find any decree of holy Church forbidding these Vigils : ( the 35. Can. of the Counc. of Eliber ; and the fifth Can. of the Counc. of Altisiodorum or Auxeres, which are usually produced to this purpose, coming far short of such a prohibition ) nor is it so probable, that the Church should, for some particular men’s abuse, forbid a practice so religious, commanded by our Saviour, S. Matth. 25. 13. commended to us by his practice at Gethsemane, S. Matth. 26. 38. S. Luke 6. 12. earnestly urged by the Fathers of the Primitive times. I therefore rather think, that, whereas it was the ancient custom to fast the day and watch the night before the Holy-day, as S. Bernard tells us. Ser. de Vigil S. Andrei : in time, as charity and devotion grew cold, through sloth and restiness, this more troublesom part of devotion, the nightly watches were laid aside, and the Fast only retained, and that but slenderly observed. But it were to be wished, that, as the Fast might be retained, and more strictly observed, so the holy Vigils might be in part at least revived. For the night was not made only for sleep. Tradesmen, Mariners, Merchants, will tell you so much ; they spend a good part of the night in watching for gain ; will not you do as much for your soul ? Besides, the darkness and silence of the night, are helps to compunction and holy sorrow ; helps to meditation and contemplation : the soul is the more free from outward distraction. The sight of men lying asleep in their beds, like dead men in the grave, suggests a meditation of Doomsday. Let me therefore perswade men and women ; Bend your knees, sigh, watch and pray in the night, Blessed is he, whom our Lord when he cometh shall find so doing : and because we know not what hour he will come, watch therefore. See Chrys. Hom. 26. in Act. This for the first ; why some Holy-days have Fasts before them.
Now why this Feast of , and some other have no Fasts, the reason is double.
First, because sometimes the signification of the Vigil or Fast, mentioned above, ceases : and the signification or mystery failing, the Vigil or Fast is omitted. For example, S. Michael upon this account hath no Fast, because the Angels did not by sufferings and mortifications, enter into their joy, but were created in the joy they have. But then secondly, though this signification and Mystery of Vigils and Fasts holds good in S. Mark, S. Philip and S. Jacob, and some other, yet they have no Fasts for another reason ; because they fall either betwixt Easter and Whitsunday, or betwixt Christmas and Epiphany, which holy Church held for such high times of joy and Festivity, that they would not have one day among them sullied by pensive sorrow and fasting : Con. Turon. 2. c. 13.
Epiph. in brevi expos. Fidei.
If the Fast for a Holy-day, fall upon a Holy-day ; that is, if the day before the Holy-day upon which the Fast regularly is to be kept, be it self also a Holy-day, then the Fast must be kept the day before that. Decretal. l. 3. Tit. 46.
THis Greek Word signifies Manifestation, and hath been of old used for Christmas-day, when Christ was manifested in the flesh ; and for this day, wherein the Star did appear to manifest to the Wise men : as appears by Chrys. and Epiphan. Upon this identity of the word, some unskilful ones were missed, to think that anciently the Feasts of Christmas and Epiphany were one and the same : but plain it is by Chrys. Epiphan. Nazianzen in their Sermons upon this day, that these two Feasts were observed, as we do, upon several days. Nazianzen calls this day on which Christ was baptized, The holy lights of Epiphany ; which to day we celebrate, says he, having already celebrated the holy Feast of Christmas. S. Chrysostom says the day of Christ’s birth is not so usually and properly called Epiphany, as the day of his Baptism.
This Feast is called in Latin
Epiphaniae, Epiphanies, in the plural ; because upon this day we celebrate three glorious apparitions or manifestations, all which happened upon the same day, though not of the same year, Chrys. Serm. 159.
The first manifestation was of the Star, ( mentioned in the Gospel ) the Gentiles guide to Christ.
The Second Epiphany or manifestation was that of the glorious Trinity at the baptism of Christ, mentioned in the second Lesson at morning prayer, S. Luke 3. 22.
The third was of Christ’s glory or Divinity, by the miracle of turning water into wine, mentioned in the second Lesson at Evening prayer, S. John 2.
The Collect is plain. The Epistle and Gospel mention Christ’s manifestation to the Gentiles ; for this was the day of the Dedication of the Gentiles Faith, Chrys. in diem.
For the Antiquity of this day, we have already seen Nazianzen Chrysost. and Epiphan. to which I shall adde only S. August. de temp. Ser. 32. [ The solemnit) of this day known throughout all the world, what joy doth it bring us ? But the Donatists, says he, will not keep it, both because they are Schismatics and love not unity, and also because they hate the Eastern Church, where the Star appeared. ]
1. Sunday after Epiphany.
From Christmas to Epiphany, holy Churches design, is, to set forth Christs Humanity, to make Christ manifest in the flesh, which the offices do, as we have seen ; but from Epiphany to Septuagesima, especially in the four next Sundays after Epiphany, she endeavours to manifest his glory and Divinity, by recounting some of his first miracles, and manifestations of his Deity, so that each Sunday is in this respect a kind of Epiphany.
The Gospel of this day mentions Christ’s manifestation to the Doctors of the Jews, astonishing all his hearers with his miraculous answers.
The Epistle exhorts us to make a spiritual use of the wisemens mysterious offerings, especially of Myrrhe ; which signifies very rightly the mortifying of the flesh, and the offering of our bodies as an holy Sacrifice to God by Christ.
The Collect prays for grace to enable us thereunto.
2. Sunday after Epiphany.
The Gospel mentions Christ’s turning water into wine, by which, he manifested both his glory by the miracle, and his goodness in ministring to the necessities of others : to which virtue, the Epistle exhorts us, that whatsoever gifts we have, we should use them as Christ did, to the good and benefit of others.
The Collect as divers others recommends to God the supplications of the people, &c. See more of the Collects in general, Pag. 67. and for the Day 73.
3. Sunday after Epiphany.
The Gospel is concerning our Lord’s healing of the Leper that believed in him.
The Epistle at first sight seems not to agree to the Gospel ; but yet, if rightly applied, it suits well with it in the mystical sense. For the healing of the Leper, signifies, that Christ will heal us from the Leprosie of sin, if we believe in him, and come to him for cure as the Leper did.
The Epistle labours to prevent the most over-spreading leprous sins of pride ( against which the first verse is directed, Be not wise in your own conceits ) and wrath and revenge in the following words, rendring to no man evil for evil. Or rather, the Epistle doth remove the two great impediments of Christ’s cure of our sinful leprosie : namely pride, which God resists, S. James 4. 6. and malice or revenge which makes us unpardonable and uncurable, For unless we forgive, Christ will not forgive us, S. Matth. 6. 15.
The Collect prays to God through Christ to heal us.
4. Sunday after Epiphany.
The Gospel treats of Christ’s miraculous stilling of the waves and the wind. By the tempest on the Sea, may be signified the tumultuous madness of the people, which endangers the peace of the Church, Christ’s ship : so the Psalmist expounds it, Thou stillest the raging of the Sea, and the madness of the people : which would never be quiet, unless Christ by his word and power should command it to be still : And because he does now rule the peoples madness by Ministers of his vengeance to whom he gives his power : therefore the Epistle teaches and exhorts us to submit conscientiously to that power of Christ, that so the ship of the Church may be still and safe.
The Collect prays to God to keep the Church safe amidst the many storms and waves that shake it.
5. Sunday after Epiphany.
The four precedent Sundays have manifested Christ’s glory to us in part, by the miracles He wrought while He conversed with us on Earth : The Gospel for this day mentions his Second coming to judgement, when he shall appear in his full glory, and all the holy Angels with him : which glorious appearance, as it will be dreadful to those who have resembled the Tares, for they shall then be burned with unquenchable fire : so it will be a joyful appearance to such as the Epistle perswades us to be, viz. The Meek, and Gentle, and Charitable. And the Collect is for such, praying God to keep his Church and Houshold continually in the true Religion, &c.
MAny reasons are given of this name ; but in my apprehension the best is
a consequentia numerandi, because the first Sunday in Lent is called
Quadragesima, containing about forty days from Easter ; therefore the Sunday before that being still farther from Easter, is called Quinquagesima, five being the next number above four ; and so the Sunday before that Sexagesima, and the Sunday before that Septuagesima.
This and the two next Sundays and weeks were appointed as preparatives to the Lenten Fast, that when it came, it might be the the more strictly and religiously observed. And the Regulars and those of the strictest life did fast these weeks, though the common people began not their Fast till Ash-wednesday. Bernard in Septuages.
The observation of Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima, are to be sure as ancient as the Great.
The Epistle perswades us to works of penance and holy mortification : and lest we should shrink from these hardships, it encourages us by propounding the reward of these religious exercises ; namely, an everlasting crown.
The Gospel is much to the same purpose. It tells us that God’s vineyard is no place for idle loyterers ; all must work that will receive any penny or reward.
The Epistle propounds the example of S. Paul, who was eminent for works of mortification, and Lenten Exercises : and lest we should think that there is no need of such strictness and holy violence in Religion, the holy Gospel tells us what danger we are in of coming short of heaven, how that scarce one of four that profess Religion, and hear the word, brings forth fruit to salvation, most losing it after they have received it, for want of due care and heed.
THe Antiquity of Lent is plain by these Testimonies following, Chrysol. Ser. 11. Chrys. in Heb. 10. 9. Ethic. Cyril. Catech. 5. August. Ep. 119. [
Ut quadraginta dies ante Pascha observentur, Ecclesiae consuetudo roboravit, That forty days should be observed before Easter, the custom of the Church hath confirmed, Hieron. ad Marcellam.
Nos unam quadragemam toto anno, tempore congruo jejunamus, secundum traditionem Apostolorum, &c. One Fast in the year of forty days we keep at a time convenient, according to the Tradition of the Apostles.
Epiphanius adv. Aerium, tells us, that the Aerians were the most brain-sick Heretics that ever were ; for they held that Bishops and Priests were all one ; that Presbyters might ordain Presbyters : besides, they held that they were not bound to keep Lent, and the holy week, as holy Churches laws required, but would then feast and drink drunk in spite, saying, that it was against Christian liberty to be tied to Fast.
This forty days Fast of Lent was taken up by holy Church in imitation of Moses and Elias in the old Testament ; but principally, in imitation of our Saviour‘s Fast in the New Testament, Augustin. ep. 119. That we might, as far as we are able, conform to Christ’s practice, and suffer with him here, that we may reign with him hereafter.
But if this Fast were taken up in imitation of our Saviour ; it may be asked, why we do not keep it at the same time that he did, who fasted immediately after his Baptism, S. Matth. 4. 1. which was at Epiphany ; whereas our Fast begins not till some weeks after ?
For answer of this, many reasons may be given, why now, rather than at that time we keep our Lent.
1. Because at this time when blood and affections are at the highest, it is most fit to restrain them ; and to that perhaps S. Jerom alludes, when he says,
Jejunamus tempore congruo, we fast at a time convenient.
2. As Christ’s sufferings ended in an Easter, a Resurrection ; so did holy Church think fit that our spiriturl afflictions and penances should end, as his did, at Easter. The fast of Lent signifies this present troublesome life, and Easter signifies eternal happiness and rest. August. Ep. 119.
3. Holy Church appoints that all Christians whatsoever should receive the holy Communion at Easter ; and therefore appoints this time before, to prepare themselves by fasting and prayer ; thus judging themselves that they might not be judged of the Lord ; and this is after God’s own pattern, who commanded the Israelites to afflict themselves, and eat bitter herbs before they should eat the Paschal Lamb. All Churches therefore agreed that Lent should end in Easter, though some difference there was when it should begin.
This Fast is called Lent from the time of the year in which it is kept, for Lent in the Saxon Language is Spring. The Spring-Fast, or Lent.
THe Church begins her Lent this day to supply the Sundays in Lent, upon which it was not the Churches custom to fast, Sundays being high Festivals in memory of our Saviour’s joyful Resurrection. Now if you take out of the six weeks of Lent, Six Sundays, there will remain but thirty six Fasting-days ; to which, these four of this week, being added, make the just number of forty.
This was anciently call’d
Caput jejunii, the Head of Lent, and was a day of extraordinary humiliation. Upon this day were Ashes sprinkled upon their heads, to mind them of their mortality and also to mind them what they had deserved to be, namely, burnt to Ashes.
Hence was it call’d [ Dies cinerum, ] : and upon this day they were wont to cloath themselves in Sackcloth. These rites are mentioned Esay 58. 5. as the usual rites of penitents. This was common to all penitents. But notorious sinners were this day put to open penance. Which godly discipline, says our Church [ in her office of Commination ] it is much to be wished that it might be restored again. Now that we may know what it is the Church wishes there ; it will not be amiss to set down in part the solemnity used upon those sinners at this time, which was ordered thus.
Let all notorious sinners who have been already, or are now to be enjoyned public penance, this day present themselves before the Church doors to the Bishop of the place, clothed in sackcloth, barefooted, with eyes cast down upon the ground, professing thus by their habit and countenance, their guilt. There must be present the Deans or Arch-Presbyters, and the public penitentiaries, whose office is to examine the lives of these penitents, and according to the degree of their sin to apportion their penance, according to the usual degrees of penance. After this, let them bring the penitents into the Church, and, with all the Clergy present, let the Bishop sing the seven penitential Psalms, prostrate upon the ground, with tears for their Absolution. Then the Bishop arising from prayer, according to the Canons, let him lay his hand upon them ( that is, to ratifie their penance, not to absolve them ) let him sprinkle ashes upon their head, and cover them with sackcloth : and with frequent sighs and sobs, let him denounce to them ; that as Adam was cast out of Paradise, so are they cast out of the Church for their sins. After this, let the Bishop command the Officers to drive them out of the Church-doors, the Clergy following them with this Respond, In the sweat of thy brows shalt thou eat thy bread : that these poor sinners seeing holy Church afflicted thus, and disquieted for their sins may be sensible of their penance, Gratian, dist. 50. c. 64.
1. Sunday in Lent.
The Epistle exhorts to patience in afflictions. The Gospel reads to us Christ’s victory over temptations, to keep us from despair of conquest, that we should be of good cheer and heart, since he our Captain hath overcome the world. S. John 16. ver. last. The Collect for the day is another of those Collects wherein the Church directs her Petitions to Christ, thereby manifesting her belief that he is the true Son of God, for she prays to none but God ; in praying to him therefore she professes to believe him to be God, as it is in the close of the Collect ; and this in opposition to the Tempter Satan and all his Adherents, who are still tempting Christ in his Members, to misbelief in that Article.
THe Week after Ash-wednesday is Imber or Ember-week, of which Fast we will here treat in general. There be Four Ember-weeks, called in Latin
Jejunia quatuor Temporum, the Fasts of the four Seasons, because they were kept in the four parts of the year, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. The first of these begins upon Wednesday next after Ash-wednesday. The second upon Wednesday next after Whitsunday : The third upon Wednesday next after Holy cross, Sept. 14. The last upon Wednesday next after S. Lucie. Dec. 13. The days of fasting and prayers in these weeks are, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. Wednesday, because then our Lord Christ was betrayed by Judas : Friday, because then he was crucified : Saturday, because then we represent the Apostles sorrow for the loss of their Lord lying in the grave. The causes of such religious fastings and prayers upon these weeks were formerly many, as namely that Christians in these religious duties might let the World know, that they were as devout, as the Jews formerly had been, whose custom it was to observe four solemn Fasts, Zach. 8. 19. That they might dedicate to God, as the first-fruits, the beginnings of the several seasons of the year set apart to his religious worship, and by this means obtain God’s-blessing upon them, the remainders of those times. But the principal cause was for preparation to the solemn Ordination of Ministers ; holy Church imitating the Apostles practice, who when they were to set a-part men to the Ministery, prayed and fasted, before they laid on their hands, Acts 13.3. And in after-times, at these solemnities, these Ember-Fasts, special regard was had to the Ordination of Priests and Deacons. In what manner, and with how much care and Christianity these Fasts have been heretofore observed, may be gathered from S. Leo in his Sermons upon them, and from others : And the second Councel of Millain decreed herein to good purpose ( Tit. 1. Dec. 22. ) That upon the Sundays before these Fasts, the Priests should not only in their Parishes bid the solemn Fast, but every one in his several Parish should piously and religiously say the Prayers and Litanies, &c. That God’s assistence being implored, both the Bishop may be guided by the Holy Spirit, in the choice of those whom he shall Ordain, and also that they that are ordained, may grow in Learning and holiness of life. These four Fasts have been anciently observed, both in the Church of England, and in other Churches. In the Laws of K. Canute, Chap. 16. thus it is said, Let every man observe the Fasts that are commanded, with all earnest care, whether it be the Ember-Fast, or the Lent-Fast, or any other Fast. And the like Decrees are found in other Councels of our Nation before his time. See Sir Henry Spelman‘s Concil. Britan. p. 256. & 518. & 546. Now for the reason of the name, we find in Tho. Becon. ( as he delivers it out of others that wrote before him ) By opinion of much people, these days have been called Ember-days, because that our Fathers would on these days eat no bread, but Cakes made under Embers ; so that by eating of that they reduced into their minds, that they were but ashes, and so should turn again, and wist not how soon. These Fasts are still appointed by the Church of England. For though she hath not reckoned them amongst the Holy days, because there is no peculiar Office appointed for them, ( as there is to all those that are reckoned in the Catalogue of Holy days ) yet by custom they have been always kept with Litanies, Prayers and Fasting, and are commanded to be kept still as formerly they were by that excellent Can. 31. Anno Dom. 1603. Forasmuch as the Ancient Fathers of the Church, led by example of the apostles ( who set men apart to the ministery of the Gospel by imposition of hands with prayer and fasting, ) appointed prayers and fasts at the solemn ordering of Ministers, and to that purpose allotted certain times, in which only sacred orders might be given or conferred, we following their holy and religious example, do constitute and decree, that Deacons and Ministers be Ordained or made, but only upon the Sundays immediately following
jejunia quatuor temporum, commonly called Ember weeks, appointed in ancient time for Prayer and Fasting, purposely for this cause at their first institution, and so continued at this day in the Church of England.
The Epistle perswades to temperance and abstinence from all uncleanness.
The Gospel tells us how we may subdue that Devil, namely, by stedfast faith and fervent and importunate prayer.
The Epistle, as the time, calls for strictness of life.
The Gospel commends perseverance shewing the danger of relapsing, For the end of that man is worse than the beginning.
This is called Dominica Refectionis. For the Gospel tells us of Christ’s miraculous feeding and satisfying the hungry souls, that hunger after him and his doctrine : and the Epistle tells us of a Jerusalem which is above, which is free, and a joyous place, to which, we as children, are heirs. Thus holy Church mixes joy and comfort without sorrow and afflictions.
This is called . For now begins the commemoration of the Passion of our Lord, and after a long funeral pomp and train, the corps follows upon Good-Friday.
The Epistle treats of the Passion.
The Gospel, of our Lord’s being slandred by the bold malice of the Jews, who call him Samaritan, and tell him he hath a Devil, which must needs be a thorn in his side, and a part of his Passion.
This is on which came from Bethany to Jerusalem, and was received with joy, some strewing their garments, others cutting down branches, and strewing them in the way ; whose religion it is fit that we should imitate : Bernard [ We should meet Christ by keeping innocency ; bear Olive, by doing works of mercy ; carry Palms, by conquering the Devil and our vices ; green leaves and flowers we carry, if we be adorned with vertues ; and we strew our garments in the way, when by mortification we put off the old man. ]
This week was called of old, the , because it hath a larger Service than any other Week, every day having a Second-service appointed.
It was called also the Holy-week, because men gave over all worldly employments, and betook themselves wholly to devotion this week. The Courts were shut up, and civil affairs laid aside, and prisoners that were put in for small faults were freed. Chrys. Hom. 30. in 10. cap Gen. Code. l. 1. tit. 4. 3.
It was also called the week of Fasts ; Because fasting was then heightned and intended with watching and prayers : for these six days were spent in lying upon the ground and afflicting the body, in prayers, watchings and fastings longer than ordinary. And when they did eat, their refreshing was only bread, salt and water. Epiphan. adv. Aerium. It will not be amiss to set down Epiphanius somewhat more at large : [ Aerius and his disciples had flouted at the Catholic Christians severities at this time. Why, say they, do you keep Easter ? why do you keep such a strict fast before it ? it is Jewish thus to keep days of fasting by a law : it is an enslaving your selves to a yoke of bondage : if I would determine to fast at all, I would fast what day I pleased, at mine own liberty. Upon this principle it is, saith that Father, that Aerius and his followers affect to fast on Sunday, and feast on Friday, and to spend this week of Religion and Devotion in jollity and sport, rising early to fill themselves with flesh and wine, with which being full stuft, they sport and scoff at the Catholic Christians folly in afflicting themselves with such severities. But who, says he, are the more fools ; Aerius a silly fellow of yesterday still living with us, or we who observe this severe discipline which our Fathers delivered us, which they received from their Fathers, and they from theirs, and so from the Apostles ?
The Epistles and Gospels of this week are concerning Christ’s Passion, to the contemplation of which this week is dedicated.
THis day washt his Disciples feet, and gave them a commandment to do likewise. Hence it is called Dies mandati, Mandate or Maundy Thursday.
This day, the penitents that were put out of the Church upon Ash-wednesday, were received again into the Church : partly, because there was this day an holy Communion in memory of our Lord’s institution of the same this day ; and the Epistle is fitted to that purpose : fit therefore it was that penitents should be reconciled this day ( upon which this Sacrament was instituted for the remission of sins ) to receive the holy Communion. Partly, because this day our Lord was apprehended and bound, whose binding wrought our deliverance and freedom.
The form of reconciling penitents was in short this. The Bishop goes out to the doors of the Church, where the penitents lye prostrate upon the earth, and thrice in the Name of he calls them, Come, Come Come ye children, hearken to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord : then after he hath prayed for them, and admonished them, he reconciles them, and brings them into Church. The peniterts thus received, trim their heads and beards, and laying off their penitential weeds, they reclothe themselves in handsome apparel. The Church doors were wont to be set all open this day ; to signifie that penitent sinners coming from North, or South, or any quarter of the World, shall be received to mercy and the Churches favour.
THis day holy Church keeps a most strict Fast ; It is called . For a good day it was for us, even the cause of all our good, and ground of all our joy : And so in respect of the effect of it, Christ’s Passion may be a Gospel for a Feast ; and so it is upon Palm-Sunday. But if we consider that our sins were the cause of his Sufferings, and that it was we that crown’d his head with thorns, nail’d his hands and feet, and gored his side with a Spear ; so his Passion considered in the cause of it, is matter of the greatest sorrow, and in this respect we keep it a Fast.
The Gospel is taken out of S. John rather than out of any other Evangelist ; because he was present at the Passion, and stood by the Cross, when others fled ; and therefore the Passion being represented as it were before our eyes this day ; his Testimony is read, who saw it himself ; and from whose example we may learn not to be asham’d, nor afraid of the Cross of Christ.
This day holy Church prays expresly for all Jews, Turks and Infidels, Enemies of the Cross of Christ ; for this day Christ both prayed and died for his Enemies ; and as he exprest the height of his love this day, by dying for them ; so does the Church her height of Charity in praying for them.
The Antiquity of this Holy day appears by Euseb. Hist. l. 2. c. 17. who there tells us, That it was an Holy day in his time, and long before. That day of our Saviour’s Passion we are wont to celebrate, not only with fastings and watchings, but also with attentive hearing and reading of the holy Scriptures.
THis day the Gospel treats of Christ’s body ly in the Grave : the Epistle, of his Soul’s descent into Hell.
Of the Collects from Septuagesima to Easter.
THough the Church be always militant while she is upon Earth, yet at this time ( the time when Kings go out to battel, 2 Sam. 11. ) she is more than ordinary militant, going out to fight against her avowed enemies, the World, the Flesh and the Devil, making it her especial business to get the mastery over them, so far, that they may not be able to prevail over her the year following. Now because ( as S. Paul saith 1 Cor. 9.25. ) Every one that strives for mastery is temperate in all things ; therefore at this time especially, when she is seeking the mastery over her Enemies, holy Church does more than ordinary addict her self to temperance, fasting and other works of Penance and Mortification : and accordingly she suits her Readings, not aiming to fit them to each particular day ( this is to be expected only upon priviledged days, the subject matter of whose solemnity is more particularly recorded in holy Scripture ) but to the Season in general and the Churches design at this time, commending to us Fasting, Repentance, Alms, Charity and Patience in undergoing such voluntary afflictions. And the Collects are suitable also to the Readings and the time, praying earnestly for those Graces and vertues before mentioned, which are especially requisite to this her holy undertaking. And because she knows her own weakness and her Enemies both craft and strength, who will then be most active and busie to hurt when we thus set our selves to fight against them, therefore does she earnestly and frequently also in divers Collects pray for God’s protection and defence from those Enemies, for his strength and assistence whereby she may overcome them, That he would stretch forth the right hand of his Majesty, and by his power defend us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls, which of our selves have no power to help our selves. And in such prayers as these the Church continues, lifting up her hands ( as Moses did his against the Amalekites ) all the time of this spiritual conflict.
THis is the highest of all Feasts, says Epiphanius upon the day. This day Christ opened to us the door of Life, being the first-fruits of those that rose from the dead : whose Resurrection was our life, for he rose again for our justification, Rom. 4.45.
Instead of the usual Invitatory, O come let us sing unto the Lord, holy Church uses special Hymns or Anthems concerning Christ’s Resurrection. Christ rising again from the dead, &c. And, Christ is risen, &c. set down before the Collect on Easter-day. Having kept company with the Apostles and first Believers, in standing by the Cross weeping upon Good-Friday, and kept a Fast upon the Saturday following to comply with the Apostles and Catholic Church who were that day sad and pensive, because their Lord was taken away from them, we are directed this day to rejoyce with them for the Rising again of our Lord, and to express our joy in the same words that they then did, and the Church ever since hath done, Christ is risen, S. Luke 24. 34. the usual Morning salutation this day, all the Church over ; to which the Answer in some places was, Christ is risen indeed ; and in others, this, And hath appeared to Simon.
Holy Church her aim is in all these chief days, to represent as full as may be the very business of the day, and to put us into the same holy affections that the Apostles and other Christians were, when they were first done ; she represents Christ born at Christmas, and would have us so affected that day yearly, as the first believers were at the first tidings delivered by the Angel. So at his Passion she would have us so affected with sorrow, as they were that stood by the Cross. And now at his Resurrection she desires to represent it to us, as may put us into the same rejoycing, that those dejected Christians were, when the Angel told them, He is not here, but is risen, S. Luke 24. 6. Holy Church supposes us to have fasted and wept upon Good-Friday, and the day following, because our Lord was taken away according to that of our Saviour, The time shall come that the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, then shall they fast in those days, and now calls upon us to weep no more, for Christ is risen. And that she may keep time also with the first tidings of the Resurrection, she observes the Angel’s direction to the Women, S. Matt. 26. 7. Go quickly and tell his Disciples that he is risen. Supposing us as eager of the joyful news of Christ’s Resurrection, as they were, she withholds not the joy, but immediately after Confession and Absolution, she begins her Office with, Christ is risen.
Proper Psalms at Morn. are 2. 57. 111.
The first of these is a Triumphant Song for Christ’s victory over all his Enemies that so furiously raged against him, Ver. 6. Yet I have set my King upon my holy hill of Sion. Notwithstanding all the fury of his Enemies that persecuted and murdered him, Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Sion, by his glorious Resurrection from the dead, as it is expounded, Acts 13. 33.
The 57. Psalm is of the same nature. It mentions Christ’s Triumph over Hell and Death, My Soul is among Lions, Verse 4. And the children of men have laid a net for my feet, and pressed down my soul, crucifying the Lord of glory, but God sent from Heaven, Ver. 3. and saved him from the Lions, both Devils and Men by a glorious Resurrection. And therefore he breaks forth, Ver. 9. Awake up my glory, awake Lute and Harp, I my self will awake right early : I will give thanks unto thee O Lord, &c.
The third Psalm is a Psalm of Thanksgiving for marvellous works of redemption, Ver. 9. works worthy to be praised and had in honour, Ver. 3. And therefore though it be not set particularly for the Resurrection, but may serve for any marvellous work of mercy, yet is it most fit for this day and the work of this : for amongst all the marvellous works of Redemption, this of Christ’s Resurrection is the chief, and most worthy by us to be had in honour. For If Christ be not risen, we are yet in our sins, we are utterly lost, 1 Cor. 15. But Christ is risen, The merciful and gracious Lord hath so done his marvellous work of Christ’s Resurrection, that it ought to be had in remembrance. For which holy Church teaches us to sing, as we are bound, I will give thanks unto the Lord with my whole heart secretly amongst the faithful, and in the Congregation, Ver. 1.
Evening Psalms are 113, 114, 118.
The first is a Psalm of thanksgiving, especially for raising up Christ, Ver. 6, 7. Taking him out of the dust, and lifting him out of the mire, to set him with and above the Princes ; when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all Principalities and powers, and Might and Dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, Ephes. 1. 21.
The 118. Psalm is ( part of it at least ) of Christ’s Resurrection, as it is expounded S. Matth. 21. and Acts 4. 11. The stone which the builders refused, is become the the head of the corner, this day. And therefore This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoyce and be glad in it, ver. 27.
The 114. Psalm may seem at first sight not so appliable to Christ’s Resurrection : for it is a Thanksgiving for the Jews deliverance out of Egypt. Yet notwithstanding if we look well into it, we shall find it proper enough for the day. For as the Apostle teaches us, All things happened to them in types and figures ; not only words but actions were typical. Egypt was a type of Hell, and their captivity there, a type of our captivity under sin and the Devil. Their deliverance from thence, a type and figure of our deliverance from Hell : and that which the Psalmist here gives thanks for as past, in the History, is understood to be meant as much or more in the prophecy of Christ’s Redemption of his Church, ( the true Israelites, that walk in the steps of the Faith of our Father Abraham ,) from sin and Hell, by the power of his glorious Resurrection this day.
The first Lesson Morn. is Exod. 12. in which is mentioned the Institution of the Passeover, proper for this day, the feast of the Passeover : For as S. Aug. observes, Ep. 119. We do in this Feast not only call to mind the history of our Saviour’s Resurrection, but also celebrate the mystery of ours. That as Christ this day rose again from death to life, so by Christ and the vertue of his Resurrection shall we be made alive, and rise from death to life eternal. Christ is therefore our true Passeover, where of the other was a type. The Lesson then is proper for the day.
So is the first Lesson Even. Exod. 14. For it is concerning the Israelites deliverance out of Egypt, a type of our deliverance from Hell this day by Christ’s gloririous resurrection. As that day Israel saw that great work, which the Lord did upon Egypt, Ver. 31. So this day we see the great conquest over Hell and Death finished, by Christ’s triumphant Resurrection from the dead.
The Second Lessons are plain.
The Gospel gives us the full evidence of Christ’s Resurrection. The Epistle tells what use we should make of it, If Christ be risen, seek those things that are above, &c.
The Collect prays for grace, to make that use of it which the Epistle directs.
Thus holy Church is careful to teach and instruct all her children in the matter of the Feast, preaching Christ’s Resurrection to us, both in the type and Prophecy out of the Old Test. and in the History of it out of the New. And she does not only teach us to know what God hath done for us this day, but also she is careful that we may do our duty to God for this his marvellous goodness, commanding and directing us to pray for grace to do our duty, prescribing us excellent forms of adoring and blessing God for his mercy, this day such methods as the Holy Ghost hath set down, in which we may be sure to pray and praise God by the Spirit.
For the Antiquity of this Feast, heaps of Testimonies might be brought, but these two following may suffice.
1. S. August. Epist. 118. These things which are not written, but we keep them by tradition, if they be observed all the world over, are to be understood to be commended to us, and commanded either by General Councels ( whose authority in the Church is most safe ) or else by the Apostles : as for example, That the Passion of our Lord, his Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, and the coming of the Holy Ghost, should be observed by an Anniversary solemnity.
2. Constantine The Great. c. 17. The Feast of Easter we have kept from the first day of the Passion until now. Euseb. de vita Constant. l. 3. c. 17. And this was not in the practice of some few, but of all Churches, as he there testifies, and is apparent, from the great contention in the Church about the day. Some following the Jewish accompt who kept this Feast the Fourteenth day of the first Month ( The first Month began with the new Moon whose fourteenth day ( or Moon as they call’d it ) was the day of the Vernal Equinox, or if none such hapned, then that whose fourteenth day came the soonest after the Equinox ) but the most Churches kept their Easter the first Sunday after the fourteenth day of the first Month, which usage the Council of Nice confirmed for these reasons.
First, because it was the most general custom of the Churches.
Secondly, because they would not in this particular comply with the Jews; for though in some other cases they did it on purpose to sweeten them and make them pliable to Christianity, as our Lord himself did and his Apostles, Acts 21. 24. retaining many of their laudable and useful Rites, as of Excommunication, Benediction, Imposition of hands, with many more which you may see in Grotius Annot. in S. Matth. 18. and Append. p. 54. ( for they loved not Innovation, nor measured the goodness of their Religion by their distance from the Jews in things lawful and useful ) though I say the Primitive Christians did not like the Jewish Rites ever the worse because they were Theirs, i.e. of God’s Institution, but did use as many of them that were useful as they had occasion for, yet in this of the time of keeping Easter they would not, because it was of ill signification and scandalous, for the Jews keep their Easter as typical and prefiguring Christ to come ; the Christians kept their Easter in thankful remembrance of Christ come, and risen from the dead : and therefore differing so much in the main of the Feast, they would not comply with them, no not so much as in the Time, lest by that they might have been though to have complied also in the very Feast, and so have seemed to have denied their Lord as the Jews did.
Thirdly, because after the Jews fashion of keeping of Easter ( they following at that time an Erroneous Account which had not due regard to the time of the Equinox ) it might happen that there might be two Easters in one year, ( viz. one in the first Month and another in the last ) and none in the next year.
After our English Account Easter is found by finding out Shrove-Tuesday ; which is always the first Tuesday in the New Moon after Candlemas ; the Sunday six weeks after, is Easter.
and in Easter-week.
THese two Holy days are added as Attendants upon Easter-day in honour of this high Feast and the more solemnity of it. And we find S. Austin upon occasion mentioning them De civit. Dei l. 22. c. 8. although both from him ( elsewhere ) and others we may gather that these two days were not all which at that time were added to the Feast : For of old, this Queen of Feasts, as the Fathers call it, was so highly esteemed, that it was in a manner solemnized fifty days together, even from Easter to Whitsuntide. See Ambr. Ser. 61.
Per hos quinquaginta dies nobis est jugis & continuata Festivitas, &c. See also Euseb. de vit. Constant. l. 4. c. 64. And Tertul. de Jejuniis. And in his Book de Idol. where he affirms that all the Heathen Festivals put together could not equal this one great and solemn Feast of the Christians. From these and the like places some conclude, and most probably, That every day of that time the Christians met together in public to sing with greatest joy Psalms and Allelujahs to God Almighty, and to take the Cup of Salvation, the holy Communion, praising the Name of the Lord. All which time they did not kneel at their prayers which was accounted a posture of mourners, but Stand, ( as upon Sundays they were wont ) in token of joy, thus making every of those days equal in a manner to Sundays. The reason of this so great and long Festivity at this time, was principally because it was the Feast of Easter, or of our blessed Lord’s Resurrection, a principal Article of our faith : for as S. Paul says, 1 Cor. 15. If Christ be not risen we are yet in our sins, and we Christians of all men most miserable. Now that Christ is risen, needs must there be in Christians hearts an overflowing of joy, which in those times they expressed by such daily public exercises of Religion, principally of receiving the holy communion, the pledge of our resurrection ( as our Saviour says S. John 6. He that eats my flesh shall live for ever ) that by this means the memory of the resurrection might be fixt deeply in their minds. We must not think that the Christians then did keep all this Time holy, so as to cease from labour ( for the poverty of many, and the care and charity required in all, would not permit that ) but only as to religious exercises and services. As devotion abated, the Feast was shortned ; yet long after Tertullian, even till Gratian‘s time and downward, the whole week of Easter, as also of Whitsuntide, were reckoned among Holy-days. Gratian. de Consec. Dist. 3. And our Church, though she enjoyns only Monday and Tuesday of this week for Holy-days, yet seems to me to commend the keeping holy of this whole week, as also of the whole week after Christmas, Ascension, and Pentecost : For she directs the proper Prefaces for Christmas, Easter, Ascen. and Pentecost to be used every day the week after ; Which Prefaces are to be used only at the Communion, as appears by the Rubric ; so that by prescribing the Prefaces to be used upon every day of the week, she doth withal prescribe the Communion every day likewise, which is properly the keeping of a day Solemnly Holy ; and this week’s solemnity is principally, as we have said, for the expressing of our joy for our Lord’s Resurrection, and the honour of the Feast, which Christians were not willing to make shorter than the Jews Feast of unleavened Bread.
Among the Ancients there was another peculiar Reason for the keeping of the whole week of Easter Holy, besides that of the Resurrection. For they ministring Baptism ( except in case of necessity ) at no other times but the Eves of Easter and Whitsunday, did make it a part of their Festivity, the week following to congratulate the access of a new Christian progeny ; the new Baptized coming each day to Church in white vestures with lights before them : where Thanksgivings and Prayers were made for them, with Instructions also to those that were of years of discretion ( for at that time, there were many such that came in from Heathenism ) in the principles and ways of Christianity. But afterwards, when most of the baptized were Infants, and so not capable of such solemnities, this custom was altered, and Baptism administred all times of the year, as at the beginning of Christianity. Tertul. de Bapt. S. Chrysost. Hom. 1. in Act. Apost.
1. Sunday after Easter.
It was the custom of our fore-fathers to observe the Octave or Utas of their high and principal Feasts : and this is the Octave or eighth day after Easter. Upon every Octave, the use was to repeat some part of that Service, which was perform’d upon the Feast it self ; and this is the reason that the Collect used upon Easter, is renewed upon this day.
The Epistle exhorts the new baptized persons that are born of God, to labour to overcome the World, which at their baptism they vowed to do.
The Gospel shews how Christ conversed with his Disciples after his Resurrection ; instructing and confirming them in the faith of the Resurrection.
This Sunday is called Low-Sunday, because it is Easter-day repeated, the Octave of Easter, but the Sunday before is high Easter, and this is a lower Feast, Low Easter : in Latin
Dominica in albis, or rather,
Post Albas ( sc. depositas ) as some old Rituals call it : because those that were baptized on Easter-eve, wore, seven days after, white garments, called Chrysoms ; signs of the purity which they received in Baptism ; which white clothes they this day put off.
As the last Sunday instructed the young and new-born Christians, how they should imitate Christ in a Resurrection from sin and death to life ; so this Sunday instructs the Shepherds of the flock, how to imitate their great shepherd. And the Epipistle sets before us his great patience and goodness in the work of our redemption. The Collect prays for thankfulness and imitation of his holy life.
3. Sunday after Easter.
Hitherto since Easter the Church hath been as it were overwhelmed in the joyful meditation of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead, or chiefly about it, and that hath been the subject of all the Collects since then. Now in this Collect ( as somewhat also in one of the Readings aforegoing ) the Church reflects upon that other ancient Paschal Solemnity, the general Baptism that was used at that time ; so that this Collect is for the new baptized or new Regenerates by Baptism : desiring Almighty God who shews the light of his truth, to them that be in error, ( enlightning them by baptism, which was therefore called
φωτισμὸς, illumination, and the baptized the Enlightened ) to grant them that be admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s religion, namely by baptism, that they may eschew those things that be contrary to their profession, or vow in baptism, &c. Though this custom of general baptism at Easter be not in use now, yet this Collect is still seasonable, as a general anniversary commemoration of the great blessings received from God by our baptism, and our solemn vow and profession made to him therein.
The Ancients were wont to observe
Pascha annotinum, an anniversary commemoration of their baptism ; they that were baptized at Easter the year before, came the year following the same day to the Church, and solemnly with oblations and other religious offices commemorated the anniversary day of their new birth. Though our Church does not in every particular observe the same custom, yet she draws near to the ancient practice, in this solemn, though general Anniversary Commemoration of baptism this day, minding us all this day of our baptism, and our vow made therein, and praying to God to enable us all to keep it. And for this very reason does she appoint children to be baptized upon Sundays and other Holy-days when most people are present, that they may be put in remembrance of their own profession made to God in baptism ; Preface before Baptism : and happy were it for us, if we would made good use of this care of the Church, and be often remembring that solemn vow ; by which we have dedicated our selves to God to be an holy people ; the wilful breach of which vow is horrid Sacriledge.
In the Gospel our Saviour tells his Disciples, that though they should weep and lament ( by reason of his death ) their sorrow should be turned into joy, which no man should take from them ( namely after his Resurrection. ) And such joy belongs to this time and to us in it, if we be also his true Disciples and followers ; which how we may be, the Epistle shews by minding us of ( what we promised and vowed, when admitted into Christ’s School, and gave up our names to him ) the abstaining from fleshly lusts, and having honest conversation in all our Relations. And this is the main drift of the whole Epistle ( the first of S. Peter ) out of which this is taken, to perswade them that were born again, and lately become Christians, to walk suitably to such an holy profession and that chiefly in regard of the lively hope unto which they were begotten again by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and so is most agreeable to the Churches meditations this day and season.
4. Sunday after Easter.
This Collect is fit for this Paschal time from Easter to Pentecost, a time of greatest joy, the Church therefore prays that we may rightly observe the time ; be full of joy in a joyful time ; withal that our joy may be a true and real joy, that our hearts may surely there be fixt, where true joys are to be found : Such joys as Christ’s Resurrection, and the promised comforter affords. And one or both of these two grand occasions of Joy and Exultation ( to wit, Christ’s Resurrection, and the promise of a Comforter ) are the principal Subject of the Gospels from Easter to Whitsuntide ; but lest our joy should grow presumptious and luxuriant ( as joy is apt to exceed ) the Epistles for the same time admonish us of duties answerable, as to believe in Christ, to rise from the grave of sin, to be patient, loving, meek, charitable, &c. having our Lord for an example, and the promise of his Spirit for our guide, strength and comfort.
5. Sunday after Easter.
The Gospel before promised a Comforter. The Epistle and Gospel this day direct us what to do to obtain that promise. Two conditions are required on our parts for the receiving of that promised Comforter : First prayers or Rogations, this the Gospel teaches, Ask and ye shall receive that your joy may be full. Secondly to love God and keep his Comandments, S. John 14. 15. This the Epistle exhorts to, See that ye be doers of the Word. &c. The Collect prays that we may feel the fruits and comforts of this holy Spirit in our hearts by good thoughts and abilities to perform them.
Of Rogation week.
This is called Rogation Sunday, because upon the three following days Rogations and Litanies were used, and Fasting, for these two reasons. 1. Because this time of the year, the fruits of the earth are render and easily hurt : therefore Litanies extraordinary are said to God to avert this judgement. 2. Because our Lord‘s Ascension is the Thursday following, therefore these three days before are to be spent in prayers and fasting. Conc. Aurelian. that so the flesh being tamed, and the soul winged with fasting, we may ascend with Christ.
The Gospel is concerning Rogations, teaching us how to ask of God, so as we may obtain, and withal foretels his approaching Ascension.
The Fast this week is voluntary : for there is no Fast commanded betwixt Easter and Whitsunday, as hath been observed before.
The Service formerly appointed in the Rogation days of Procession was the 103 and 104. Psalm with the Litany, and Suffrages, and the Homily of Thanksgiving Artic. Eliz. in the 7th. year of her reign. The 2. Psalms were to be said at convenient places, in the common perambulation : the people thus giving thanks to God, in the beholding of God’s benefits, the increase and abundance of his fruits upon the Earth. At their return to the Church, they were to say the rest of the Service mentioned, Eliz. Injun. 18, 19.
THis day was Christ’s perfect triumph over the Devil, Leading captivity captive, Ephes. 4. 8. This day He opened the kingdom of Heaven to all believers, as we say daily in the Te Deum. See S. John 3. 13. Acts 2. 24. Heb. 10. 23. His flesh opened that passage, in that he deserved to enter there first : For when he was taken up on high, then he opened the Gates of Heaven, Chrysost. upon that place of the Hebrews. Therefore the Church appoints for this day the 24. Psalm. Lift up your heads O ye gates, and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in. This day gives us hopes of Heaven, in that our flesh in the first-fruits is thither ascended. For if God had not intended some great good to our nature, he would not have received the first-fruits up on high : Christ taking the first-fruits of our nature, this day carried it up to God, and by those first-fruits, hath made the whole stock to be sanctified. And the Father highly esteemed the gift, both for the worthiness of him that offered it up, and for the purity of the offering, so as to receive it with his own hands, and to set it at his right hand. To what Nature was it that God said, Sit thou on my right hand ? To the same, to which formerly he had said, dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return. This gift went far beyond the loss ; Paradise was the place from which we fell ; but we were this day carried up to heaven, and mansions are there provided for us, Chrys. in diem. Christ ascended up into heaven in the sight of his Disciples, that they and we might assuredly believe, that we should follow, and not deem it impossible for us body and soul, to be translated thither, Cypr. in diem.
This day hath proper Lessons and Psalms.
The First Lesson at Morning Service is Deut. 10. Wherein is recorded Moses going up into the Mount to receive the Law from God, to deliver it to the Jews, a type of Christ’s ascension into Heaven to send down the new Law, the Law of Faith : For when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men, Apostles, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, to publish the new Law to the world, Ephes. 4. 8.
The First Lesson at Even. is 2. Kings 2. Wherein Elias his ascending into Heaven was a type of Christ’s Ascension, but Christ went far beyond his type in many particulars. Elias went up with a single Chariot, but Christ was attended with thousands, Psal. 68. 17. The Chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of Angels, and the Lord ascending is among them. Elias upon his ascension doubles his Spirit upon Elisha ; But Christ gave such an abundance of the holy Spirit to his Disciples upon his Ascension, that they not only were filled with it themselves, but it ran over upon others from them, by laying on of hands they imparted it to others, Acts 8. 17.
We have no proper Second Lessons appointed ; but in Edw. 6. Liturgy were appointed S. John 14. Ephes. 4. both very fit for the day.
Psalms for the Morning are 8. 15. 21. Psalms.
The 8. Psalm begins, O Lord our Governour, how excellent is thy name in all the world, thou that hast set thy glory above the heavens ! This was fulfilled this day. For this day he set his glory above the Heavens, ascending from earthly humility to heavenly glory. This made thy Name wonderful in all the world : For hereby it appears, that thou that didst before descend so low, and wert for a time so vile reputed, art greater than all Principalities and Powers in Heaven and Earth ; since some saw, and all men now believe, that thou didst ascend into Heaven, whereby thou hast gotten A name above all names, That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, both of things in Heaven, and earth, Phil. 2. 9, 10.
Psalm 15. Who shall dwell in thy Tabernacle, or who shall rest upon thy holy hill ? even he that hath clean hands, &c. shews both how just it was that Christ should ascend and rest upon the holy Hill, the highest Heaven, of which Mount Sion was a type ; for he of all others had clean hands and a pure heart : and withal tells us the way which we must walk, viz. the way of righteousness and holiness, if we desire to follow Christ to heaven.
The 21. Psalm is to be understood of Christ. S. Aug. in loc, Ver. 4. Thou gavest him a long life, even for ever and ever, his honour is great in thy salvation. “The raising him from death, hath made his honour great, and all the world to believe in him. Glory and great worship shalt thou lay upon him, by setting him at thy right hand in Heaven.” The rest of the Psalm is to the same purpose, of Christ’s absolute triumph over his enemies, which was this day fulfilled, when he led captivity captive.
The Even. Psalms are 24. 68. 108. Psalms.
The 24. was sung this day at Christ’s Ascension, by a Quire of Angels, some going before the Lord Christ, knocking, as it were, at Heaven’s gates, and singing, Lift up your heads O ye gates, and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in : to whom other Angels in Heaven, desirous to know, who this King of glory was, sing the next words, Who is the King of glory ? The first Angels, that waited upon our Lord in his Ascension answer, The Lord strong and mighty, even the Lord mighty in battel, as ye may see by the prisoners that he leads captive in his triumph. Therefore Lift up your heads, O ye gates, that never were yet opened to human nature, where never man yet entred, S. John 3. 13. Acts 2. 24. Heb. 10. 20. The other Angels as yet, as it were, amazed at the glory of the triumph, ask again, who is the King of glory ? what Lord is it that is so mighty ? His heavenly Guard answer again, The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory ; Theodor. in Psal. Then Heaven gates were opened, and our dear Lord entred, and took possession for us, and prepared places for us S. John 14. 2.
The 68. Psal. at the 18. ver. is by the Apostle applied to the Ascension of Christ, Ephes. 4. 8. Thou hast ascended up on high, and led captivity Captive. It is not to be denied, but that it may be applied to others also, ( for the Scripture is full of sense, ) as to Moses. For he from the bottom of the Red Sea, went up to the top of Sinai, leading with him the people of Israel, that long had been captive to Pharaoh : and there received gifts, the Law, the Priesthood, but above all, the Ark of the Covenant to be the pledge of God’s presence amongst them : this is the literal sense.
This of Moses, by analogy, doth King David apply to himself, to his going up to mount Sion, and carrying up the Ark thither. For all agree, this Psalm was set upon that occasion. The very beginning of it ( Let God arise, ) shews as much ; the acclamation ever to be used at the Ark’s removing, Num. 10. 35. This was done immediately upon his conquest of the Jebusites, whom he had taken captives, what time for the honour of the solemnity, he dealt gifts, bread and wine to the people, 1 Chron. 15. But in the prophetical sense, this Psalm belongs to Christ, to the Testimony of Jesus, which is the Spirit of all prophecy, Rev. 19. 10. For that was the greatest captivity that ever was led captive ; his the highest up-going, higher than Sion or Sinai far : that the most gracious and glorious triumph, when Christ made a shew of Principalities and Powers of Hell, triumphing over them in his own person, Col. 2. 19. which was this day’s triumph. Bishop Andrews Serm 7. in Pentecost.
In the 108. Psalm The Prophet awakes himself and his Instruments of Music, to give thanks to God among the people, and among the Nations, for setting himself above the heavens, and his glory above all the earth, which was most litterally fulfilled in his Ascension into Heaven, and sitting down at the right hand of God. It is true, this Psalm is thought to be set upon another occasion, viz. God’s promise of subduing the Ammonites and Idumeans under David, for which, he here vows his best thanks : yet for all this, it may be, and that principally, meant of Christ and his triumphant Ascension. For God Almighty did so direct the mind of the Prophets, that, that which was spoken by them of other persons and actions, is oft-times more exactly fulfilled in and by Christ. Osee 11. 1. Out of Egypt have I called my Son, was there spoken of the deliverance of the people of Israel out of Egypt ; fulfilled in Christ, S. Matth, 2. 15. What David says of himself, I will open my mouth in a payable, was fulfilled by Christ, S. Matth. 13. 35. The 72. Psalm was written for Solomon, as the title shews, but more exactly fulfilled of Christ. David‘ss complaint or his own misery, Psalm 35. 19. verified in Christ,, S. John 15. 25. Nay more, ( which is worth our observation ) some things David speaks of himself, which do not agree to him, but in a figure, which agree to Christ in the letter ; as, They parted my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture, Psalm 22. 17, 18. Nay, in the same Psalm, ( and sometimes in the same verse ) some words will not agree to Christ, as Psalm 69. 5. My faults are not hid from thee : These cannot be spoken of Christ who knew no sin. Some words again most properly belong to Christ, as verse 22. They gave me gall to eat, and when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink.
Thus holy Church hath in the Lessons and Gospel preached to us the Ascension of Christ, in the type and antitype. In the Epistle she teaches us our duty not to stand gazing up to Heaven, wondring at the strangeness of the sight, but to take heed to demean our selves so, as that we may with comfort behold him at his second coming, his coming to judgment, Acts 1. 11. Why stand ye gazing up into heaven ? there is other business to be done, fit your selves for another coming, for this same Jesus which was taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, even as ye have seen him go into heaven.
In the Collect we are taught to pray, that we, as far as may be, may conform to our Lord in his Ascension, that like as we believe him to have ascended into the Heavens, so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell. In the special Psalm and Hymn we adore and bless God for our Saviour’s glorious Ascension. It is pleasant to behold the rare beauty of the Churches offices, as on others, so on this day, how each part suits the other.
The Gospel to the Lessons, the Epistle to the Gospel, the Collect and Psalms and Hymns, all fitted to the same, and all to the day.
For the Antiquity of this day, See S. Aug. Epist. 118. cited upon Easter day, Epiphan. and Chrys. upon the day.
Sunday after Ascen.
This is called Expectation-week ; for now the Apostles were earnestly expecting the fulfilling of that promise of our Lord, If I go away I will send the Comforter to you, S. John 16. 7.
The Epistle exhorts to earnest prayer for the Comforter promised in the Gospel ; which the Church performs in the Collect.
THis day the came down from Heaven upon his Church as the Epistle tells : according to the promise of the Gospel.
As in a long war it happens ; when the war is ended, and peace concluded, Pledges and Hostages are mutually sent, both as tokens of, and securities for, the mutual agreement and peace: so was it betwixt God and Man. After our Lord Jesus had ended the long war betwixt God and Man, and finished the reconciliation, he sent up, or rather he carried up himself, our Hostage, our flesh and nature ennobled by the union with his Divine Person, as a royal pledge to his Father : on the other side, God sent this day his royal Hostage, his holy Spirit, a security for our future peace. 1. S. Iohn 4. 12, 13. Chrys. Hom. 1. in Pentecost. Edit. Savil. tom. 5. The Devil had taken us captive, our Lord Christ undertakes the quarrel, his death was his battel, but then he seem’d to be overcome : but up he got again at his Resurrection ; that was his victory ; his Ascension was his triumph : and as the ancient custom was for Conquerours to scatter gifts amongst the beholders, especially on the last and great day of the triumph : so does our Lord, in this last day of the Feast, the Conclusion of his triumph, he doth, as it were, make the Conduits run with Wine ; he poured out his Spirit so upon all flesh, that some mockers said, they were full of new wine, Acts 2. 12. He casts abroad his new wine, new gifts and graces of the world, giving to some the word of wisdom, to others the gift of knowledge, to others faith, to others the gift of healing, to others the working of miracles, to others prophecy, to others discerning of spirits, to others divers kinds of tongues, to others the interpretations of tongues : all these worketh one and the same spirit, the Holy Ghost ( 1 Cor. 12. 4. ) whom the Lord Christ as he promised, sent down this day with these gifts, in honour of whom and his gifts we keep this day holy.
This time was also appointed of old for solemn baptism. The reason was : 1. Because this day the Apostles were baptized with the holy Ghost and fire, Acts 2. 3. 2. Because this day three thousand were baptized by the Apostle, Acts 2. 40. In memory of which, the Church ever after held a solemn custom of baptizing at this Feast. Gratian. de Consec. Dis. 3. c. 13.
This day is called Pentecost, because it is fifty days betwixt the true Passeover and Whitsunday.
As there were fifty days from the Jews Passeover to the giving of the Law to Moses in Mount Sinai, which Law was written with the finger of God : ( for from the 14. day of the first month, the day of the Passeover, to the third day of the third month, the day of the Laws giving, Exod. 19. are fifty days ) so from the true Passeover which was celebrated, when Christ was offered up for us, are fifty days to this time when the Holy Ghost came down upon the Church, to write the new Law of Charity in their hearts. Upon this meditation S. Aug. breaks out thus, Who would not prefer the joy and pleasure of these mysteries, before all Empires of the world ? Do you not see, that as the two Seraphins cry one to another, holy, holy, holy, Esay 6. 3. So the two Testaments Old and New faithfully agreeing, convince the sacred truth of God ? S. Aug. Ep. 119. Note that we must not count the fifty days from the very day of the Passeover, but from the Sunday following ; and so God directed the Jews Lev. 23. 15. speaking of their Pentecost or Feasts of Weeks, And ye shall count from the morrow after the Sabbath, from that day seven weeks shall be compleat.
It is also called Whitsunday from the glorious Light of Heaven which was then sent down upon the Earth, from the Father of Lights : so many tongues, so many Lights, which kindled such a light in the world on this day, as never shall be put out to the world’s end : as also because the new baptized, which were many at that Feast ( Whitsunday and Easter, being the two solemn times of baptism ) and of old called Illuminati, the Enlightned, Heb. 6. 6. from the spiritual light they received in Baptism, were then clothed in white garments, as types both of that spiritual whiteness and purity of soul, which they received in Baptism, and were carefully to preserve all their life after; as also of their joy for being made then by baptism members of Christ, Children of God, and Heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. White is the colour of joy, says Eccles. 9. 8. Let thy garments be always white, for God now accepts of thy works. S. Cyril in his 4. Cat. myst. alluding to this ancient custom of the new baptized, of putting off their old garments, and clothing themselves in pure white, hath words to this effect. This white clothing is to mind you, that you should always hereafter go in white. I speak not this to perswade you always to wear white clothes, but that you should ever be clothed with spiritual white, brightness and purity of soul, that so you may say with divine Esay 61. 10. I will greatly rejoyce in the Lord, for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness. Of which robe of righteousness and garment of salvation, the white vestment was a resemblance. Apoc. 19. 8. And to her was granted, that he should be arrayed in fine linnen, clean and white, for fine linen is the righteousness of the Saints.
Whitsunday then is as much as
Dominica in albis, the Sunday in white. The Greeks for the same reason call Easter
Κυριακὴ λαμπρὰ, the Bright Sunday, because then also the new baptized wore white : But the Latins call neither of these days from thence, but give them their names from the Resurrection, and Pentecost, and the Octave of Easter or Low Sunday is by them called
Dominica in Albis, as is abovesaid, pag. 154, 155.
This Holy day hath Proper Lessons and Psalms.
The Second Lessons are plain. The Morning first Lesson Deut. 16. gives us the Law of the Jews Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks, which was a type of ours.
The Evening first Lesson Wisd. 1. is fit for this day. For it treats of the holy Spirit, ver. 5, 6. how it fills the world, ver. 7. which was most exactly fulfilled this day, in which they were all filled with the holy Ghost. Acts 2.
The Psalms for the morning 45. 47. are very proper to the day. The beginning of the 45. is concerning the Birth of Christ, and therefore used upon Christmas-day ; but the latter part is concerning the calling of the Gentiles, ver. 10, 11. and the glory of the Church the King of Heaven’s Daughter, v. 14. Who is all glorious within, through the heavenly gifts and graces of the holy Ghost, sent down this day ; which glorious gifts miraculously poured upon the Church brought in the Gentiles to the Christian faith, ver. 15. The Virgins that be her fellows shall bear her company ; and shall be brought unto thee. For which all the people shall ( as holy Church directs us to do this day ) give thanks unto thee, verse 18. In holy David‘s Psalms, as we do, so Theodoret in Psal. I will remember thy Name from one generation to another, therefore shall the people give thanks unto thee, world without end : That is, all people to the world’s end shall praise God for these blessings upon the Church with those Psalms which I compose, and so, ( though I be dead long before ) yet in my Psalms sung by them, I will remember thy Name from one generation to another.
The 47. Psalm is a song of praise for the conversion of the Gentiles, by the Gospel published this day in all Languages, Acts 2. for which the Prophet invites them to active praises, ver. 1. O clap your hands together all ye people ; O sing unto God with the voice of melody, for God is gone up, in jubilo, with a merry noise, ver. 5. That was upon Ascension-day. And now he is set upon his holy and royal seat, he reigns over the heathen, makes the Princes of the people joyn in one body unto the people of the God of Abraham, brings the Gentiles in to the Jews, and makes one Church of both ; and that by the Gospel of the kingdom, published this day, to all Nations, and so, that was done this day, for which this Psalm gives thanks.
Evening Psal. are 104, 145. These two are thankful Commemorations of the various gifts of God the Holy Ghost, who then gave temporal, this day, spiritual gifts, which spiritual gifts of this day were shadowed out by those temporal, and all come from the same spirit, 1 Cor. 12. 4. to whom this Feast is held sacred : So that in blessing the Author of them, we bless the Author of these, the holy Spirit, from whom these divers gifts come. Some part of the 104. is more particularly appliable to this Feast. He maketh the clouds his chariots, that was upon Ascension day, when he went up to Heaven in a cloud, Acts 1. 9. ver. 5. Then follows ver. 30.
Emittis spiritum, Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, and they shall be made, thou shalt renew the face of the earth, which is proper to this day ; for this day the Holy Spirit was sent, and renewed the face of the Earth, with new Creatures, new Men of new hearts and new tongues, Acts 2. Old things passed away, and all things are become new.
The same Harmony of Epistle, Gospel and Collect, and Lessons and Psal. that we have observed upon Christmas and Easter, and Ascension, may with pleasure be meditated upon this day.
The same Ancients testifie the Antiquity of this Feast, that gave in evidence for Easter.
Monday and Tuesday in Whitsun-week.
THe Epistles for both relate not only to the sending of the Holy Ghost, but also to Baptism, which the Church takes often occasion to remember us of by her Readings and Usages, and would have us improve them all towards most useful Meditations.
IN Ancient Liturgies and Ritualists, we find this day lookt upon as an Octave of Pentecost, or as Dominica vacans ( of which Name is spoken p. 190. ) and that the observing of it as a Feast of the Trinity was of later use, and more late in the Roman Church than in some other, (See Decretal. lib. 2. T. 9. De Feriis ) And there were who objected, that because on each day ( and especially Sundays ) the Church celebrates the praises of the Trinity, in her Doxologies, Hymns, Creeds, &c. Therefore there was no need of a Feast on one day for that which was done on each. But yet the wisdom of the Church thought it meet, that such a Mystery as this, though part of the Meditation of each day, should be the chief subject of one, and this to be the day. For no sooner had our Lord ascended into Heaven, and God’s holy Spirit descended upon the Church, but there ensued the notice of the glorious and incomprehensible Trinity, which before that time was not so clearly known. The Church therefore having solemnized in an excellent order all the high Feast of our Lord, and after, That of the descent of God’s Spirit upon the Apostles, thought it a thing most seasonable to conclude these great solemnities with a Festival of full, special and express Service to the holy and blessed Trinity. And this the rather in after-times, when Arrians and such like Heretics had appeared in the world, and vented their blasphemies against this Divine Mystery.
Some proper Lessons this day hath, as the Morning First and Second.
The first Lesson is Gen. 18. wherein we read of three that appeared to Abraham, or the Lord in three Persons, ver. 1, 2. A type of that mysterious Trinity in Unity, which was after revealed in the Gospel: So Theodor. l. 2.
ad Graec. Because the Jews had long lived in Egypt, and had learned there the worship of many God’s ; the most wise God did not plainly deliver to them the mystery of the Trinity, lest they should have mistaken it for a doctrine of a plurality of God’s. Yet the Doctrine of the Trinity was not wholly hidden in those times, but some seeds of that perfection of Divinity were dispersed : and for that cause, the Quire of Angels sing thrice Holy, but once Lord, holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts ; and here Three Men appeared to Abraham.
The Second Lesson, S. Matth. 3. is thought fit for this Feast, because it delivers to us the baptism of Christ, at which was discovered the mystery of the Trinity ; for there the Son is baptized, the holy Spirit descends upon him, and the Father speaks from Heaven, This is my beloved Son.
The Epistle and the Gospel are the same that in Ancient Services were assigned for the Octave of Pentecost, ( The Epistle being of the vision of S. John, Rev. 4. and the Gospel the Dialogue of our Lord with Nicodemus ) And the mentioning ( which we find therein ) of Baptism, of the holy Spirit and gifts of it, though it might then fit the day, as a repetition ( as it were ) of Pentecost, so is it no less fit for it as a Feast to the Blessed Trinity. The mission the Holy Ghost brings with it ( as aforesaid ) more light and clearness to the doctrine of the Trinity, and when more fit to think of the gifts of the Spirit, than on a solemn day of Ordination ( as this is one ) when Men are consecrated to spiritual Offices ? But besides this, we have in the Gospel set before us, all the Three Persons of the Sacred Trinity, and the same likewise represented in the Vision which the Epistle speaks of, with an Hymn of praise, Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, &c. which expressions by ancient interpretation relate to the holy Trinity, as is above said.
Of the Sundays after till .
THe Church hath now finished the celebration of the high Festivals and thereby run, as it were, through a great part of the Creed, by setting before us in an orderly manner the highest Mysteries of our Redemption by Christ on earth, till the day he was taken up into Heaven, with the sending down of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. Now after she hath in consequence and reflexion upon these Mysteries, broke out into a more solemn and special Adoration of the Blessed Trinity, she comes according to her Method in the Intervals of great Feasts ( of which see Pag. 93. ) to use such Epistles, Gospels, and Collects, as suit with her holy affections and aims at this season. Such, namely, as tend to our edifying, and being the living Temples of the Holy Ghost our Comforter with his Gifts and Graces ; that having Oil in our Lamps, we may be in better readiness to meet the Bridegroom at his second Advent or coming to judgment. And this done in the remaining Sundays till Advent, which in their Services are, as it were, so many Echo’s and Reflexions upon the Mystery of Pentecost ( the life of the Spirit ) or as Trumpets for preparation to meet our Lord at his second coming. Which will be more manifest if we take a general view of the Gospels together, and afterwards of the Epistles and Collects.
The for this time, according to the method which hath before been declared, pag. 93. are of the holy Doctrine, Deeds and Miracles of our Saviour, and so may singularly conduce to the making us good Christians, by being followers of Christ, and replenished with that Spirit which he both promised and sent, and for which the Church lately kept so great a solemnity : For to be charitable, heavenly-minded, repentant, merciful, humble, peaceable, religious, compassionate and thankful, to trust in God and abound with such spiritual qualities, are the Lessons taught us by our Lord in these Gospels ; and that not only by word and deed, but many miracles also, for divers Gospels are of such, and tend much to our edifying. From his healing of the sick, and going about doing good, we may learn to employ that power and ability we have, in works of mercy and goodness. He that raised the dead, and did such mighty works, can be no other, we may be sure, than God and Man, the Saviour of the world, and able to protect us, even against death it self, to raise our bodies from the dust, and glorifie them hereafter.
Thus we have in general the intent of these Gospels ( as may easily appear by particular observation ) and withal, how pertinent they are to the time. And with them the Church concludes her Annual course of such readings, having thereby given us ( and in such time and order as most apt to make deep impression ) the chief matter and substance of the four Evangelists.
True it is, that in ancient Rituals, and particularly in S. Hieromes Comes ( or Lectionarius ) where we find this same order of Epistles and Gospels ( See Pamelii Liturg. Eccles. Lat. T. 2. ) there are some other besides these which our Church useth, as for Wednesdays, Fridays and other special times and Solemnities. But these for Sundays and other Holy-days, which are retained by our Church, are so well chosen for the fitness, variety and weightiness of the matter, and out of that Evangelist that delivers it most fully, that the chiefest passages of all the Evangelists are hereby made known and preached to us ; and what we meet not with here is abundantly supplied by the daily Second Lessons. And the like also may be said concerning the Epistles.
In the for this time there is an Harmony with the Gospels, but not so much as some have thought in their joynt propounding of-particular considerations, and those several and distinct, as the days they belong to ( for that belongs to more special solemnities ) but rather as they meet all in the common stream, the general meditation and affection of the season.
We may therefore observe, that as all the Gospels for Sundays since Easter day hitherto are taken out of the beloved Disciple S. John, who therein gives us many of the last and most tender and affectionate words of our dear Lord before his Passion and Ascension ; his promising of a Comforter bidding them not fear, bequeathing his peace to them, and the like : so now the two first Epistles are taken ( and most fitly ) out of the same Apostle, who therein minds us with much earnest affection of that spirit which our Lord promised for our Comforter, and of the great effect and sign of it, the love of one another : If, saith he, we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfect in us : Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And the Epistle for the second Sunday exhorteth us in like manner, To love one another as he gave commandment, and he that keepeth his Commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him ; and hereby we know that he abideth in us, even by the Spirit which he hath given us. In the Epistle for the third Sunday, we are put in mind by S. Peter of submission, and being humble, ( for God gives grace to such ) of sobriety, watching, faith and patience in affliction, with an exhortation to cast our care upon God, who cares for us, and shall perfect, settle, strengthen and stablish us, which is according to what Christ said, That he would not leave us Comfortless. The fourth Epistle is out of Rom. 8. and is a comfort against afflictions, as not worthy of that glory which shall be shewed upon us, provided we be such as they whom the Apostle there speaks of, who had received the first-fruits of the Spirit. The Epistle for the fifth being taken out of S. Peter, exhorts us to Love, Peace, Innocence and such spiritual affections ; and if any trouble us, not to be afraid, but to sanctifie the Lord God in our hearts. The rest of the Epistles for all the days following, relate much to the same business, as newness of life, and all the fruits and gifts of God’s holy Spirit, and as a particular insight will sufficiently manifest. But being not the first that are used in this season, they seem to have been chosen with more indifferency, for they are taken out of S. Paul, and keep the very order of his Epistles, and the place they have in each Epistle. For of them the first are out of the Epistle to the Romans, and ( so in order ) the next out of the Epistles to the Corinthians ( first and second ) Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, for so far the Order reacheth till the time of Advent. Only two of the Sundays ( the 18. and 25. ) do vary from this method in the choice of their Epistles, and there is reason for both.
And first, for the 25. or last Sunday the reason is manifest : for it being lookt upon as a kind of preparative or fore-runner of Advent, as Advent is to Christmas ( and in S. Jeromes Lectionarius it is comprized within the time of Advent ) an Epistle was chosen not as hapned according to the former method, but such an one as prophesied of Christ’s Advent or Coming ; for that plainly appears in This out of Jeremy, Behold the time cometh saith the Lord, that I will raise up the righteous branch of David, which King shall bear rule, and he shall prosper with wisdom, and shall set up Equity and Righteousness again in Earth. The like Prophecy is implied in the Gospel, and applied to Jesus in the words of the people when they had seen his miracle. This is of a truth the same Prophet that should come into the world. And therefore when there are either more or fewer Sundays than twenty five between Trinity and Advent, if we so dispose of the Services as always to make use of this for the last of them, it will be agreeable to reason and exemplary practice, and that from time of old, for we find such a Rule in Micrologus an ancient Ritualist. The other Sunday that follows not the method of the rest, is the 18. after Trinity ; for its Epistle is taken out of the first to the Corinthians, not out of that to the Ephesians, as other are for the Sundays that go next before and after. This seems to be occasioned by a particular circumstance for which a fit Epistle was to be found out, though it were not taken out of its place in the usual order, and that was the Ordination of Ministers ; for the understanding of which, and the ancient care about Ordinations, it will not be amiss to be somewhat the larger. We may therefore note that what was said of Collects ( pag. 69. ) is true also of this order of Epistles and Gospels, that it comes down to us from Ancient Times, as appears by S. Hieromes Lectionarius above mentioned, and other old Liturgists and Expositors. And by them we find that it was the Custom of old to have proper Services for Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays in each Ember-week, and then followed ( as with us ) the conferring of Holy Orders. But care being taken that the Ordination should be performed after continuance the same day in Prayer and fasting, and yet be done upon the Lord’s day also ; and because by ancient Canon that day was not to be fasted, they therefore took this course, to perform it on Saturday ( it being one of the Ember Fasts ) and yet in the Evening of it, for that time was accounted as belonging to the Lord’s day following ; or if they would continue so long fasting, to do it early in the morning following. See Leo Epist. 81. ad Diosc.
In regard therefore that this was accounted a Sunday’s work, and that there had been so much Exercise and Fasting on Saturday, the Sunday following had no public Office, and was therefore called Dominica Vacat ( or Vacans ) a vacant Sunday. But it was afterwards thought better not to let that day pass in that manner, nor to continue so long and late on Saturday in such abstinence and Exercise ; and therefore the Ordination came to be dispatcht sooner on Saturday, and the Sunday following had a Service said on it, which at first for some time was borrowed of some other days, but afterwards One was fixt, being fitted to the day or season with some respect in the frame of it to the Ordination at that time. For although there were peculiar Readings, Rites and Prayers for the Ordination it self ( as there is also in our Church much resembling the ancient Form, ) yet besides that, in the general Service of the day, some reflexion was made on the business of Ordination.
Only the Vacant Sunday for the Ember week in September had no constant peculiar Service ; for being fixt to a certain time of that Month, it chanceth that the said Sunday sometimes is the 18. after Trinity, sometimes the 17. or sooner, as Easter falls out ; and accordingly takes the service of the 18. Sunday, or some other before it, as it happens to be that year. But of old after other Vacant days had their proper Services, this day continued for some while to make use of borrowing ; so Berno and Micrologus say it was in their times : and what Service can we think could be more useful for that purpose, than this of the 18th Sunday, especially if we consider it with all the accessaries It had then ?
In ancient Rituals, as S. Hieromes Lectionarius, S. Gregories Antiphonarius, Liber Sacramentorum, &c. we find the service of Ember-week placed immediately before that of this Sunday, and the chief reason may be this aforesaid, their affinity of matter. Rupertus Tuitiens. in his 12. Book De Divin. Officiis, and 18. Chap. is very copious in shewing, how much the office of this day ( in that largeness it then had ) concern’d them that had the cure of souls : and Berno Augiens. in his 5. Chap. is as large in shewing how well it might serve in that regard for a supplement to the Vacant Sunday. All which considered, and withal that the usual order of the Epistles from 5. to the 25. was changed only in This, and that according to the course of Easter, the Ordination falls on this Sunday, or some other before it, we may very probably conclude that the choice of this Epistle ( and Gospel also ) was with design to exercise our meditations somewhat on the Ordination this day celebrated, or not long before it. And hereby a good ground was given to the Preacher in his Sermon ( for that was usually upon the Readings of the day ) to declare in a fit season the duty of Pastors and their flocks, according as he saw occasion.
The Epistle is a Thanksgiving in behalf of the Corinthians for the grace of God which was given them by Jesus Christ : It appears by what the Apostle saith of them in divers places, that they had been taught by many learned Instructers, and that many of them had much profited, and abounded in many spiritual gifts : And such gifts are here mentioned as are specially requisite for them that are Ordained to be Spiritual Guides, as the being enriched in all utterance, and in all knowledge, and being behind in no good gift. And the Gospel is of our Saviour’s answering a question of a Doctor of the Law, of his silencing both Pharisees and Sadduces by his doctrine and questions : whereby he shews how those whom he sends on Divine Messages should be qualified, how able to speak a word in due season, to give a reason of their faith, and to convince gain-sayers. This is the Gospel in the ancient Lectionary above mentioned ; and though some Churches use other, yet we may observe that they are all very appliable to this occasion. And the old Anthems or Versicles for the day S. Greg. Antiphonary ( which are to be found most of them in some Latin Services ) are herein most express : desiring of God, That his Prophets may be found faithful ; and speaking of being glad of going into the house of God, bringing presents, coming into his Courts, &c. Of telling out among the Heathen that the Lord is King ; Of Moses hallowing an Altar, and offering Sacrifices, ascending into the Mount, praying for the people, of God’s shewing himself to him, &c.
It is true, that other Ordination-Sundays relate principally ( as is most meet ) to the chief Meditations of those special seasons wherein they fall, but yet therein we may find matter very pertinent to this occasion. How fit the Service of Trinity Sunday is in this regard, hath already been declared p. 182. nor could any season have been more aptly chosen for this occasion. In that of Lent the Epistle tells us what holiness of life is required in all, and therefore certainly in them whom God hath called to such an holy profession: and that saying of Christ ( in the Gospel for the same day ) that he was sent to the lost sheep, &c. may mind them of their duty who are sent by him to be Pastors of his flock. The like Advertisements they may gather from both Epistle and Gospel of the Sunday of Ordination in time of Advent as may be obvious to view. And no less proper is that Epistle, which the Lectionary and some Churches appoint for the same day : Let a man, saith the Apostle there, thus-wise esteem us, even as the Ministers of Christ, and Stewards of the Secrets of God. Furthermore it is required of Stewards that a man be found faithful. Which Epistle with us, and some other Churches, is applied to the Sunday next before this, changing place with another Epistle, not unfit for this occasion, and more fit to come next to Christmas : For by those words in it. The Lord is even at hand, it may excite us to such a preparation for the Feast of Christ’s coming in the flesh, as may prepare us for that other coming in glory which we look for.
Thus have we taken a view of these Epistles and Gospels, and upon occasion also of those which are used after Ordinations, and somewhat also of the time when holy Orders were given. Our Church herein keeps to the day that is most proper : and that is to the Sunday which next follows the Ember-Fast. A day on which Christ bestowed his Spirit upon his Apostles, gave them their Commission and many wonderful gifts for the good of the Church. For this and other reasons doth Leo shew, how congruous the Lord’s day is for such a work. Besides this may be added, that a business of such consequence being done upon such a day, is attended with more solemnity and presence of the Congregation. See the discourse of Ember weeks, pag. 128. and Leo Epist. 81. ad Diosc.
The remain to be now spoken of : and they in the same manner with the Epistles and Gospels have a general congruity with the affection of the season. For as Faith, Hope and Charity, graces and gifts of the Holy Ghost are the general subject more or less of these Epistles, and the same taught, exemplified and confirmed in the Gospels ; so are these Collects certain general Invocations upon God for the assistance of his holy Spirit, and bringing forth the fruits of it, and consist usually of a most humble acknowledgment, and a petition suitable, as is above declared, Pag. 71, 72.
And as we have taken there a brief view of the pious sense and spirit of these acknowledgments, so will it not be amiss to do the same here concerning the petitions ; which in each Collect are some or other of these following, or such like : That God would be pleased to prevent and follow us always with his grace, and with his mercy in all things direct and rule our hearts, to stir up our wills, pour into our hearts ( graff in them ) the love of his holy Name, make us to have a perpetual fear and love of it, to ask such things as shall please him, to have the Spirit, to think and do always such things as be rightful ( to please him, both in will and deed ) that he would encrease, nourish, keep us in true Religion and all goodness ; give unto us the encrease of Faith, Hope and Charity, that we may live according to his will, with pure and free hearts follow him ; accomplish those things he would have done, may be cleansed, assoyled, delivered from all our offences, have pardon, peace, protection and defence ; may plentifully bring forth the fruits of good works, and by him be plenteously rewarded, and obtain his promises which exceed all we can desire. Such requests as these ( besides some other, That God would hear the prayers of the people, of which see, pag. 68, and 85. ) are by the Priest presented to God, fit for the Churches meditations at this time after Pentecost, and not unfitly following the Lessons, the Decalogue, and the following Supplications of the people, as the proper place of Collects : Being all of them ( though in several branches and expressions ) in effect thus much : That by the merciful Grace, Inspiration, Defence and Protection of God Almighty, we may be cleansed from our sins, may obey his Commandments, may live as Christians ought, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, and so to be fitter to meet our blessed Lord at his second Advent to judge the world.
And this meditation of the second Advent of Christ is thought so seasonable in the last place, that some Churches instead of those Readings which we have for the last Sunday of this Time, make use of some other which concern the day of judgement : But our Church, as she hath good reason for her method, as we have seen, p. 187, 188. So is she not at all defective in her thoughts of Christ’s second coming : In time of Advent, and often afterwards she takes occasion to remember it, but most especially at this season. The last Gospel ( except that which implies a prophecy of Christ’s advent ) sets before us his raising up of one from the dead, a great ground of our faith and hope of a Resurrection. The Epistle that goes with it, and all the rest in a manner aim most evidently at this, the Quickning us to a life spiritual by the hopes of an eternal. The last Collect, with some other, is for the enjoyment of it according to God’s promises. So that we see the Church in her Meditations for the conclusion of the year, takes in that for her subject which is the close of our Creed, end of our Faith, and Crown of our Devotions : The Rosurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
THis Saint’s day is the first that is kept solemn, because he first came to Christ, and followed him before any of the other Apostles, S. John 1. 38. He brought his brother Simon to Christ, 42. He it was that said, We have found the Messiah, and therefore his day is right set at the beginning of Advent for ever, to bring news
De Adventu Domini, of the Advent or coming of our Lord.
Conversion of .
WHereas other Saints martyrdoms, or at least the days of their death are celebrated by holy Church ; S. Paul‘s Conversion is made the Holy-day. For these reasons :
1. For the Example of it : that no sinner, how great soever, might hereafter despair of pardon, seeing Saul a grievous persecutor made S. Paul : For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first, Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe, 1 Tim. 1. 36.
2. For the joy which the Church had at his Conversion.
3. For the miracle wrought at his Conversion.
Purification of , or Feast of Candlemas.
SOme Churches keep four Holy-days in memory of the blessed Virgin, namely, The Annunciation, the Assumption, the Nativity, and Purification. Our Church keeps only the Purification and Annunciation which are common to her and our Blessed Lord.
The Purification is a double Feast, partly in memory of the Virgin’s purification ( this being the fourtieth day after the birth ) which she observed according to the Law, Leviticus 12. 4. though she needed it not : but chiefly in memory of our Lord’s presentation in the Temple, which the Gospel commemorates.
Our Saviour thus presented in the Temple, offered himself alive Oblation for us, that so the whole obedience of his life might be ours.
This day had one solemnity of old peculiar to it : namely, Procession ; the order and manner of which I shall set down briefly out of S. Bernard.
We go in Procession two by two, carrying Candles in our hands, which are lighted, not at a common fire, but a fire first blest in the Church by a Bishop. They that go out first return last ; and in the way we sing ; Great is the glory of the Lord.
We go two by two, in commendation of Charity and a social life ; for so our Saviour sent out his Disciples.
We carry lights in our hands : First, to signifie that our light should shine before men. Secondly, this we do this day especially in memory of the wise virgins ( of whom this blessed Virgin is the chief ) that went to meet their Lord with their Lamps light and burning. And from this usage and the many lights set up in the Church this day, it is called Candelaria or Candlemas.
Because our works should be all done in the holy fire of Charity ; therefore the Candles are light with holy fire.
They that go out first, return last, to teach humility, in humility preferring one another, Phil. 2. 3.
Because God loves a cheerful giver, therefore we sing in the way.
The Procession it self, is to teach us, that we should not stand idle in the way of life, but proceed from vertue to vertue, not looking back to that which is behind, but reaching forward to that which is before.
For the Antiquity of this day, see Cyril. Alex. Gregory Nys. in diem. And for the Feast of the Annunciation Athanas. Ser. de Deipara.
S. Philip and S. James.
WHereas in the Primitive Church, the Apostles had not several days of solemnity ; it was appointed that one day should be allowed for them all ; namely, in the Latin Church, the Calends or first of May : in the Greek, the Feast of S. Peter and S. Paul. Afterwards, when the other Apostles had peculiar days appointed, this first of May was left to S. Philip and S. Jacob, because it was thought that they suffered upon that day. Thus Durandus and some other deliver it : but upon further enquiry it seems to be a mistake ; for it ( as hath been proved in the discourse upon S. Stephen‘s day ) Martyrs and other Saints had their several days observed in the first times, it is not probable, that the Apostles, those Founders of Churches, those Princes over all Lands ( as they are called Psal. 44. 10. ) should be hudled up all into one day, and have a less respect given them by the Church than other Saints and Martyrs had. I conceive therefore that they had several days allowed them as well as other Saints : and this mistake of Durandus was occasioned by this, that in some old Martyrologists, this Feast of Philip and Jacob, was called the Feast of S. Philip and Jacob and all the Apostles, and in some, the Feast of Philip and Jacob and All-saints. The reason of which was not because the Apostles had no other Feasts appointed them but only this, but because the Feast of Philip and Jacob is upon the Kalends of May, and so falls within the Paschal Solemnity betwixt Easter and Whitsuntide ; All which time the Church of old was wont to commemorate not one Saint alone, but all together ; and therefore not Philip and Jacob alone, but all the Apostles and Saints together with them : The reason of which was, says Gemma de Antiq. Mis. rit. cap. 140. Because in our heavenly Country, which that time signifies, the joy of all is the joy of every one ; and the joy of every Saint, the common joy of all. Or because as Micrologus says, De Eccl. Offic. c. 55. At the general Resurrection ( of which Easter solemnity is a type ) there is a common Festivity and joy of the Righteous.
The Philip this day commemorated, was Philip the Apostle, whom the Gospel mentions, not Philip the Deacon. Yet the Church gives us a Lesson Acts 8. concerning him ; and it was a thing not unusual in ancient Martyrologies to commemorate divers of the same name on the same day.
The James that is commemorated this day is not one of the sons of Zebedee whose day is kept in July, but James who was called the brother of our Lord, the first Bishop of Jerusalem ; who wrote the Epistle called the Epistle of S. James, part of which is this day read.
This day hath no Fast, because it falls betwixt Easter and Whitsuntide. See the Feast of Circumcision.
S. John Baptist.
WE celebrate the birth of S. John Baptist, and of our Saviour, For these reasons :
The Births of both were full of joy and mystery. Our Saviour’s we have already observed. Now for S. John‘s, it is plain, there was more than ordinary joy at his birth, S. Luke 1. 14. And full of mystery and wonder it was. As a Virgin conceived our Lord, so a barren woman brought forth S. John, S. Luke 1. 36. Again, his birth was prophetical of our Lord, whom he saluted out of his mother’s womb. Lastly, his birth was made memorable by the prediction of the Angel Gabriel, S. Luke 1. 19.
There was formerly another Holy-day for the beheading of S. John Baptist ; but our Church keeps only this Holy-day in memory of him, wherein though she principally commemorates his mysterious Nativity, as you may see in the Gospel ; yet she does not omit his Life and Death ; his Life and Office in the Morning Lessons are recorded. His death is related in the Second Lesson Evening, and the Collect prays for grace to imitate his example, patiently suffering for the Truth’s sake.
HOly Church holds a Feast in memory of the holy Angels. First, because they minister to us on earth, Heb. 1. 14. being sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation. Secondly, because they fight against the Devil for us, by their prayers and recommendation of us and our condition at the throne of grace ; as appears bp the Epistle, and the Gospel at the end of it.
The Church in this Feast particularly commemorates S. Michael, because he was Prince or tutelar Angel of the Church of the Jews, Daniel 10. 13. 12. 1. and so of the Christian Church : For the Church, which was once in the Jews, is now in the Christians.
BEcause we cannot particularly commemorate every one of those Saints in whom God’s graces have been eminent, for that would be too heavy a burthen : and because in these particular Feasts, which we do celebrate, we may justly be thought to have omitted some of our duty, through infirmity or negligence : therefore holy Church appoints this day, in commemoration of the Saints in general.
The , or Second Service.
IN the Liturgy it is called The Communion, and well it were that the piety of the people were such as to make it always a Commwnion. The Church as appears by her pathetical Exhortation before the Communion, and the Rubric after it, labours to bring men oftner to communicate than she usually obtains. Private and solitary Communions of the Priest alone she allows not ; and therefore when other cannot be had, she appoints only so much of the Service, as relates not of necessity to a present Communion, and that to be said at the Holy Table ; and upon good reason, the Church thereby keeping, as it were, her ground, visibly minding us of what she desires and labours towards, our more frequent access to that holy Table, and in the mean while that part of the Service which she uses may perhaps more fitly be called the Second Service than the Communion. And so it is often called, though not in the Rubr, of the Liturgy, yet in divers Fast books and the like set out by Authority. If any should think that it cannot properly be called the Second Service, because the Morning Service and Litany go before it, which we prove in the following discourse to be two distinct Services, whereby this should seem to be the Third rather than the Second Service, it is Answered, that sometimes the Communion Service is used upon such days as the Litany is not ; and then it may without question be called the Second Service : nay, even then when the Litany and all is used, the Communion Service may be very fitly called the Second Service : For though in strictness of speech the Litany is a service distinct, as is shewn ; yet in our usual acception of the word Service, namely for a compleat Service with all the several parts of it, Psalms, Readings, Creeds, Thanksgivings, and Prayers, so the Litany is not a Service, nor so esteemed, but called The Litany, or Supplications ; and lookt upon sometimes, when other Offices follow, as a kind of Preparative ( though a distinct form ) to them, as to The Communion, Commination, &c. And therefore it was a custom in some Churches, that a Bell was tolled, while the Litany was saying, to give notice to the people, that the Communion Service was now coming on. This Service consists of Four parts, The first reaches to the Offertory, called anciently Missa Catechumenorum, the service of the Catechumens : The second is the Offertory, which reaches to the Consecration. The third begins at the Consecration, and ends at the Angelical Hymn, Glory be to God on high. The last is the Post-Communion, or Thanksgiving, which with us is nothing but that holy Hymn.
Part 1. We begin the first part as the Church was wont to begin her Services, with the , concerning which, see the Morning Service.
After this follows an excellent prayer to God to cleanse our hearts by his holy inspiration.
Then follow the , with a Kyrie, or Lord have mercy upon us, after every one of them. Which though I cannot say it was ancient, yet surely cannot be denied to be very useful and pious. And if there be any that think this might be spared, as being fitter for poor Publicans than Saints ; let them turn to the Parable of the Publican and Pharisee going up to the Temple to pray, S. Luke 18. and there they shall receive an answer.
Then follows the for the day, with another for the King, which the Priest is to say standing, &c. Of this posture enough hath been said in the Morning Service. Though there hath been a Prayer for the King in the Morning Service, and another in the Litany ; Yet the Church here appoints one again, that she may strictly observe S. Paul‘s rule, 1 Tim. 2. who directs that in all our public prayers for all Men, an especial prayer should be made for the King. Now the Morning Service, Litany and this Communion-Service are three distinct Services, and therefore have each of them such an especial prayer.
That they are three distinct Services will appear. For they are to be performed at distinct places, and times. The Morning Service is to be said at the beginning of the day, as appears in the third Collect for Grace.
Πρωΐα, says S. Chrys. which is translated, S. Matth. 27. 2. in the Morning, and S. John 18. 28. Early, in S. Mark 13. 35. it is translated, The dawning of the day. The place for it is the accustomed place in the Chancel or Church, says the Rubr. before Morning prayer, or where the Ordinary shall appoint it.
The Litany is also a distinct Service, for it is no part of the Morning Service, as you may see Rubr. after Athanas. Creed. Here ends the Morn. and Even. Service. Then follows the Litany. Nor is it any part of the Com. Service, for that begins with Our Father, and the Collect, Almighty God, &c. and is to be said after the Litany. The time and place for this, is not appointed in the Rubr. but it is supposed to be known by practice. For in the Commination, the 51. Psalm is appointed to be said, where they are accustomed to say the Litany, and that was in the Church. Eliz, Inj. 18. before the Chancel door. Bishop Andrews notes upon the Liturgy : It being a penitential Office, is there appointed, in imitation of God’s command, to the Priests in their penitential Service, Joel 2. 17. Let the Priests weep between the Porch and the Altar. The time of this, is a little before the time of the Com. Service, Inj. 18. Eliz.
The Communion-Service is to be some good distance after the Morn. Service, Rubr. 1. before the Communion-Service, So many as intend to be partakers of the holy Communion, shall signifie their names to the Curate, over night, or before Morning prayer, or immediately after, which does necessarily require a good space of time to do it in. The usual hour for the solemnity of this Service, was anciently, and so should be, Nine of the clock, Morning. C. Aurel. 3. c. 11. This is the Canonical hour De Consecr. dist. 1. c. Et Hoc. Thence probably call’d, the holy hour, Decret. dist. 44. c. fin. In case of necessity it might be said earlier or later, Durant. de Ritibus ; but this was the usual and Canonical hour, for it. One reason which is given for it is, because at this hour began our Saviour’s Passion, S. Mark 15. 25. the Jews then crying out Crucifie, &c. At this hour therefore is the Com. Service ( part of which is a commemoration of Christ’s Passion ) performed. Another reason given is, because this hour the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles, Acts 2. 15. Lastly, because it is the most convenient hour for all to meet, and dispatch this with other offices before Noon. For, till the Service was ended, Men were perswaded to be fasting ; and therefore it was thought fit to end all the Service before Noon, that people might be free to eat. Durant. l. 2. c. 7. Why this Service is called the Second, see pag. 207, 208.
The place for this Service is the Altar or Communion Table, Rubr. before the Com. And so it was always in Primitive times, which is a thing so plain as it needs no proof.
After this, the Priest reads the Epistle and Gospel for the day. Concerning the antiquity of which, and the reason of their choice, hath been said already : nothing here remains to be shewn, but the antiquity and piety of those Rites, which were used both by us and the ancient Church, about the reading of the Gospel.
First, when the is named, the Clergy and the people present, say or sing, Glory be to thee O Lord. So it is in S. Chrys. Liturg. Glorifying God that hath sent to them also the word of salvation. As it is in the Acts of the Apost. 11. 18. When they heard these things they glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
2. While the Gospel is reading, all that are present stand. Grat. de Conser. dist. 1. c. 68. And Zozomen in his Hist. l. 7. c. 19. tells us it was a new fashion in Alexandria, that the Bishop did not rise up when the Gospel was read : [
Quod apud alios usquam fieri, neque comperi neque audivi ; Which, says he, I never observed nor heard amongst any others whatsoever : ] The reason was this. Anciently, whensoever the holy Lessons were read, the people stood, to express their reverence to the holy word. Aug. l. hom. 50. hom. 26. Nehem. 8. 5.
But because this was counted too great a burden, it was thought fit to shew our reverence, especially at the reading of the Gospel, which historically declares somewhat which our Saviour spake, did, or suffered in his own person : By this gesture, shewing a reverend regard to the Son of God, above other messengers, although speaking as from God. And against Arrians, Jews, Infidels, who derogate from the honour of our , such ceremonies are most profitable. As judicious Mr. Hooker notes.
3. After the Gospel is ended, the use was to praise God, saying, Thanks be to God for this Gospel. So was it of old ordained, Tolet. Conc. 4. c. 11. that the Lauds or Praises should be said, not after the Epistle, but immediately after the Gospel, for the glory of Christ, which is preached in the Gospel.
In some places the fashion was, then to kiss the book. And surely this book, by reason of the rich contents of it, deserves a better regard than too often it finds. It should in this respect be used so, as others may see we prefer it before all other books.
Next is the ; so called, because it was for the most part framed at the great Council of Nice. But because the great Council of Constantinople added the latter part, and brought it to the frame which we now use, therefore is it called also the Constantinopolitan Creed. This Creed began to be used in Churches at the Communion Service immediately after the Gospel, in the year of our Lord 339.
Afterward it was established in the Churches of Spain and France, after the custom of the Eastern Church, Conc. Tolet. 3. c. 2. and continued down to our times.
The Reason why this Creed follows immediately after the Epistle and Gospel, is the same that was given for the following next after the Lessons at Morning and Evening prayer. To which the Canon of Toledo last cited, hath added Another Reason of the saying it here before the people draw near to the holy Communion : namely, [ That the breasts of those that approach to those dreadful mysteries may be purified with a true and right faith. ]
A third reason is given by Dionys. Eccl. Hierar. c. 3. par. 2. & 3. It will not be amiss to set down some passages of his at large, because they will both give us a third reason of using the Creed in this place, and discover to us, as I conceive, much of the ancient beautiful order of the Communion-Service.
The Bishop or Priest standing at the Altar, begins the melody of Psalms, all the degrees of Ecclesiastics singing with him. This Psalmody is used, as in almost all Priestly Offices, so in this, to prepare and dispose our souls by holy affections, to the celebration of the holy mysteries following ; and by the consent and singing together of divine Psalms, to work in us an unanimous consent and concord one towards another. Then is read by some of the Ministers, first a Lesson out of the Old Testament, then one out of the New, in their order, ( for the reasons before mentioned in the discourse of Lessons at Morning Service : ) After this the Catechumens, the possessed, and the penitents are dismist, and they only allowed to stay, who are deem’d worthy to receive the holy Sacrament : which being done, some of the under Ministers keep the door of the Church, that no Infidel or unworthy person may intrude into these sacred Mysteries. Then the Ministers and devout people ( reverently beholding the holy signs, not yet consecrated, but blest and offered up to God on a by-standing Table, called the Table of Proposition,
τράπεζα προθέσεως ) Praise and bless the Father of Lights, ( from whom, as all good gifts, so this great blessing of the Communion does come ) with the Catholic hymn of praise, which some call the Creed ; others more divinely, The Pontifical Thanksgiving, as containing in it all the spiritual gifts which flow from Heaven upon us, the whole mystery of our salvation. When this hymn of praise is finished, the Deacons with the Priest, set the holy Bread and Cup of Blessing upon the Altar ; after which, the Priest or Bishop says the most sacred, that is, the Lord‘s Prayer, gives the Blessing to the people ; then they ( in token of perfect charity, a most necessary vertue at this time of offering at the Altar, S. Matth. 5. 23. ) salute each other. After which, the names of holy Men that have lived and died in the faith of Christ are read out of the Diptychs, and their memories celebrated, to perswade others to a diligent imitation of their vertues, and a stedfast expectation of their heavenly rewards. This commemoration of the Saints, presently upon the setting of the holy signs upon the Altar, is not without some mystery ; to shew the inseparable sacred union of the Saints with Christ, who is represented by those sacred signs. These things being rightly performed, the Bishop or Priest, that is to Consecrate, washes his hands, a most decent Ceremony, signifying, that those that are to do these holy Offices should have a special care of purity, I will wash mine hands in innocency, O Lord, and so will I compass thine Altar, Psal. 26. 6. After he hath magnified these divine gifts, and God that gave them, then he consecrates the holy Mysteries : and having uncovered them, reverently shews them to the people, inviting them to the receiving of them. Himself, and the Priests and Deacons receive first, then the people receive in both kinds ; and having all received, they end the Service with a Thanksgiving, which was Psal. 34.
After the Epistle and Gospel and the confession of that Faith which is taught in holy Writ, follows . Amb. ep. 33. ad Marcel. Leo 1. Ser. 2. de Pascha, which usually was an exposition of some part of the Epistle or Gospel, or proper Lesson for the day, as we may see in S. Augustine in his Serm. de Temp. according to the pattern in Nehem. 8. 8. They read in the book, in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused the people to understand the reading. And the Preacher was in his Exposition appointed to observe the Catholic interpretation of the old Doctors of the Church ; as we may see in the 19. Can. of the sixth Council of Constantinople held in Trull. The Canon is this. Let the Governours of Churches every Sunday at the least, teach their Clergy and people the Oracles of piety and true Religion ; collecting out of Divine Scripture, the sentences and Doctrines of truth, not transgressing the ancient bounds and traditions of the holy Fathers. And if any doubt or controversie arise about Scripture, let them follow that interpretation, which the Lights of the Church and the Doctors have left in their writings. By which they shall more deserve commendation, than by making private interpretations, which if they adhere to, they are in danger to fall from the truth.
To this agrees the Canon made in Queen Elizabeth‘s time, Anno Dom. 1571. The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholic Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine. These Golden Canons had they been duly observed, would have been a great preservative of Truth and the Churches peace.
The Sermon was not above an hour long. Cyril. Catech. 13.
Before the Sermon no prayer is appointed but the Lord‘s Prayer, the petitions being first consigned upon the people, by the Preacher or Minister, who is appointed to bid the prayers, as it is in Edw. 6. and Queen Eliz. Injunctions, that is, to tell the people before-hand, what they are at that time especially to pray for in the Lord’s Prayer ; which in the 55. Can. of the Constit. Anno Dom. 1603. is called, moving the people to joyn with the Preacher in praying the Lord’s Prayer. Of old, nothing was said before the Sermon, but Gemina Salutatio, the double Salutation, Clem. Const. l. 8. c. 5. Optat. 1. 7. The Bishop or Priest never begins to speak to the people ; but first in the Name of God he salutes the people and the salutation is doubled, that is, the Preacher says, The Lord be with you, and the people answer, And with thy Spirit. Much after this manner was the Jews practice, Neh. 8. 4. & 6. Ezra the Scribe stood upon a Pulpit of wood, &c. and opened the book in the sight of all the people ; and when he opened it, all the people stood up, and Ezra blessed the Lord the great God, and all the people answered Amen, Amen, and worshipped. Verse 8. Then Ezra read in the Book, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. So we see, that both amongst Jews and Christians of old, the Preacher before his Sermon used only a short Salutation, or Blessing, to which the people having answered, the Sermon began. And though the Church of England uses not the very same form, yet in this she follows the ancient practice, prescribing only the short prayer of our Lord : and indeed what need any more ? For whatsoever we can desire, is abundantly prayed for before in the Liturgy, and needs not be prayed over again immediately. And therefore there being no need of such a solemn prayer, the Church hath appointed none, but only the Lord’s Prayer : and no other being appointed, no other should be used by the Preacher. For, as hath been shewn, Pag. 1. No prayers should be used publicly, but those that are prescribed ; lest through ignorance or carelesness, any thing contrary to the faith should be uttered before God. How necessary such restraint of private men’s prayers in public is, and how good that reason is for such restraint, a little experience of licentious times will abundantly shew. The pulpit is no security from errors. Men may as well speak blasphemy or vanity before the Sermon, as in it. Is it not reason then that the Church should take care what she can, to prevent this danger, by restraining that liberty, which is so likely to run men into it ? Suppose some Preacher should be so careful, as not to vent any thing unsavory, yet the Church cannot be secured of all, and therefore must not allow a general liberty. Nay, suppose the Church could be assured of all Preachers care in this particular, that their prayers should be for matter sound and good ; yet how should it be reasonable for the Church to allow any private person or Preacher to offer up to God a prayer in the name of the Congregation, as their joynt desire, to which, they never before consented themselves, nor their Governors for them. A Preacher may pray for his Auditory by himself, though they know it not, nor consented to it before-hand ; but it is not imaginable how he should offer it up in their name, or call it their prayer to God, as sometimes the use hath been, which neither they themselves, nor their Governours, whom Christ hath impowred to make prayer for them, have consented to, or acknowledged for theirs : no more than any man can call that the Petition of a Town, which he shall present in their names, though they never before consented to it, or so much as saw it before it was presented.
This Form of bidding Prayers is very ancient : we may see the like in S. Chrys. and other Liturgies which they called
προσφωνήσεις, Allocutions, in which the Deacon speaks to the people from point to point, directing them what to pray for ( as hath been said before. ) This is all the difference betwixt them and this ; that in them the people were to answer to every point severally, Lord have mercy, &c. In this, they are taught to summ up all the Petitions in the Lord‘s Prayer, and to pray for them all together.
This was the practice in King Edw. the Sixth’s time, as appears by Bishop Latimer, Jewel, and others in those days, whose Forms of Bidding Prayers, before Sermon, are to be seen in their writings.
If there be no Sermon, there shall follow one of the Homilies set forth. So was it of old appointed, Conc. Vas. c. 4. [ If the Parish Priest be sick, or cannot preach, let the homilies of the holy Fathers be read by the Deacon. ]
Part 2. The follows, which are certain sentences out of holy Scripture, which are sung or said while the people offered. Durant.
Offerings or Oblations are an high part of God’s service and worship, taught by the light of nature and right reason : which bids us to honour God with our substance, as well as with our bodies and souls : to give a part of our goods to God as an homage or acknowledgement of his Dominion over us, and that all that we have comes from God ; 1 Chron. 29. 14. Who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort ; for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee ? To bring presents to him that ought to be feared, Psal. 76. 11. This duty of offerings was practised by the Fathers before the Law, with a gracious acceptation. Witness Abel, Gen. 4. 4. Commanded in the Law, Exod. 25. 2. Speak to the children of Israel that they bring me an offering. So Deut. 16. 16. Confirmed by our Saviour in the Gospel, S. Matth. 5. 23. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the Altar, and there remembrest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. If any man conceives that this offering here mentioned was a Jewish perishing rite, not a duty of the Gospel to continue ; let him consider,
First, that there is the same reason for this duty under the Gospel, as there was under or before the Law, God being Lord of us and ours as well as of them ; and therefore to be acknowledged for such by us, as well as by them.
Secondly, that all the rest of our Saviour’s Sermon upon the Mount was Gospel, and concerning duties obliging us Christians : and it is not likely that our Saviour should intermix one only Judaical rite amongst them.
Thirdly, that our Saviour before all these precepts mentioned in this his Sermon, whereof this of oblations is one, prefaces this severe sanction, S. Matth. 5. 19. Whosoever shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven ; which could not be truly said concerning the breach of a Jewish outworn rite.
4. That, our Saviour hath carefully taught us there, the due manner of the performance of this duty of oblations, like as he did concerning alms and prayers, and no man can shew that ever he did any where else ; nor is it probable that he should here carefully direct us, how to do that which was presently to be left, and was already out of force, as this was, supposing it to be a Jewish rite. We may then, I conceive, suppose it for a truth, that oblations are here commanded by our Saviour.
Add to this, that offerings were highly commended by the Gospel, in the Wise men that offered Gold, Frankincense and Myrrhe, S. Matth. 2. 11. and that they were practised by the Fathers in the Christian Church. So says Epiphan.
Irenaeus l. 4. c. 34. [ By a gift to the King, his honour and our affection is shewn ; therefore our Lord willing us to offer with all simplicity and innocency, preached, saying, When thou bringest thy gift to the altar, &c. We must therefore offer of our goods to God, according as Moses commanded, Thou shalt not appear before the Lord empty. There are offerings under the Gospel, as well as under the Law : the kind of offerings is the same : Here is all the difference, they were offered then by servants, now by sons. ] S. Hier. ep. ad Heliodor. The axe is laid to the root of the tree, if I bring not my gift to the Altar : nor can I plead poverty, since the poor widow hath cast in two mites. ] We should do well to think of this.
Though oblations be acceptable at any time, yet at sometimes they have been thought more necessary, as
First, when the Church is in want, Ex. 35. 4, &c.
Secondly, when we have received some signal and eminent blessing from God. Psal. 76. When David had recounted the great mercy of God in breaking the bow and the shield of the Churches enemies, at the 11. verse, he presses this duty, Bring presents to him that ought to be feared.
Thirdly, at our high and solemn Festivals, Deut. 16. 16. Three times in the year shall they appear before me, and they shall not appear empty ; Especially when we receive the holy Communion. Theodoret. Hist. l. 5. c. 17. tells us, that it was the ancient custom, before the receiving of the holy Sacrament, to come into the Quire and offer at the holy Table. And surely it becomes not us to be empty-handed, when God comes to us full-handed, as in that Sacrament he does.
Next to the is that excellent for the , wherein we pray for the Catholic and Apostolic Church ; For all Christian Kings, Princes and Governors ; for the whole Clergy and people ; for all in adversity. Such a prayer hath S. Chr. in his Liturgy, a little before the Consecration.
After which follow some wholsome Exhortations to those that are coming to the holy Communion, seriously exhorting the unprepared to forbear. So was the custom of old in the Greek Church. The Priest admonishes all that are coming to that holy Sacrament, driving away the unworthy, but inviting the prepared, and that with a loud voice, and hands lifted up, standing aloft, where he may be seen and heard of all. Chrys. in Heb. hom. 9. in Ethic.
Those that after these exhortations stay to receive, the Church supposing prepared, invites, to draw near ; and after their humble confession the Priest or Bishop absolves and comforts them with some choice sentences taken out of holy Scripture. After which the Priest says, Lift up your hearts. For certainly at that hour when we are to receive the most dreadful Sacrament, it is necessary to lift up our hearts to God, and not to have them groveling upon the earth : for this purpose the Priest exhorts all, to leave all cares of this life and domestic thoughts, and to have our hearts and minds in heaven upon the lover of mankind. The people then answer, We lift them up unto the Lord, assenting to the Priest’s admonition. And it behoves us all to say it seriously : For as we ought always to have our minds in heaven, so especially at that hour we should more earnestly endeavour it.
The Priest goes on, Let us give thanks to our Lord God ; and many thanks we ought to render him, that calls and invites such unworthy sinners as we be, to so high grace and favour, as to eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of the Son of God.
The people answer, It is meet and right so to do. For when we give thanks to God, we do a work that is just, and of right due to so much bounty.
Then follow for great days some proper Prefaces, containing the peculiar matter or subject of our thanks that day, which are to be said seven days after, Rubr. ibidem, except Whitsunday Preface, which is to be said but six days after; because Trinity Sunday is the seventh day after, which hath a peculiar Preface. By this it appears that the Church intends to prorogue and continue these high Feasts several days, even eight days together, if another great Feast comes not within the time, which requires a peculiar Service. But when we say that the Church would have these high Feasts continued so long, it is not so to be understood, as if she required an equal observance of those several days, for some of those days she commands by her Canons and Rubric, Some she seems only to commend to us to be observed ; some are of a higher festivity, some of less. The first and the last, namely, the Octave of the first, are usually the chief days for solemn Assemblies; yet every of those days should be spent in more than ordinary meditation of the blessings of the time, and thanksgiving for them : according to that which the Lord commanded to the Jews concerning the Feast of Tabernacles, Lev. 23. 36. Upon every one of the days of that Feast an offering was to be made, but the first and last were the solemn Convocations.
The reason of the Churches proroguing and lengthning, out these high Feasts, for several days, is plain. The subject matter of these Feasts, as namely, Christ’s Birth, Resurrection, Ascension, the sending of the holy Ghost, is of so high a nature, so nearly concerning our salvation, that one day is too little to meditate of them, and praise God for them as we ought. A bodily deliverance may justly require a day of thanksgiving and joy ; but the deliverance of the soul, by the blessings commemorated on those times, deserve a much longer Feast. It were injurious to good Christian souls to have their joy and thankfulness for such mercies confined to a day, therefore holy Church upon the times when these unspeakable blessings were wrought for us, by her most seasonable commands and counsels here invites us, to fill our hearts with joy and thankfulness, and let them overflow eight days together.
See above, of the continuation of great Solemnities, pag. 1110. 150. 155. and of the service of Octaves. p. 154.
Quaeries here may be fit to be satisfied.
First, why eight days are allowed to those high Feasts, rather than another number ?
For which the reasons given are divers ; one is from the example which Almighty God sets us, commanding his people the Jews, to keep their great Feasts some of them seven days, and one, namely, the Feast of Tabernacles, eight days, Lev. 23. If the Jews were to keep their Feasts so long by a daily Burnt-offering ( which were but as types of the Christians great Feasts ) the Christians ought by no means to come short of them, but offer up to God as long, daily, hearty thanksgivings, presenting our selves, souls and bodies, a reasonable, holy and lively Sacrifice unto him. Other reasons, for an Octave to great Feasts, are given, which are mystical. The Octave or eighth day, signifies Eternity ; for our whole life is but the repetition or revolution of seven days. Then comes the eighth day of Eternity, to which, by God’s mercy we shall be brought, if we continue the seven days of our life in the due and constant service and worship of God. Or else, which is much the same in sense, the eighth day is a returning to the first, it is the first day of the week begun again, signifying, that if we constantly serve God the seven days of our life, we shall return to the first happy estate that we were created in.
Quaere is, how the Prefaces appointed for these eight days can be properly used upon each of them : for example, how can we say eight days together, Thou didst give thine only Son to be born this day for us ? as it is in the Preface.
To which the Answer may be, That the Church does not use the word Day, for a natural day of twenty four hours, or an ordinary artificial day, reckoning from Sun to Sun ; but in the usual acception of it in holy Scripture, where by the word Day, is signified the whole time designed to one and the same purpose, though it lasts several natural days. Thus all the time that God appoints to the reclaiming of sinners by merciful chastisements or threatnings is called, The day of their visitation, Luke 19. 42, 44. So all the time allotted us for the working out of our salvation, though it be our whole life long, is called a day, Work while it is day, the night comes when no man can work ; and most directly to our purpose speaks S. Paul, Heb. 3. 13. Exhort one another daily, while it is called to day, or this day, that is, while you live here in this world. In like manner all that time which is appointed by the Church, for the thankful commemoration of the same grand blessing, for the solemnity of one and the same Feast, is as properly called a day, and all that time it may be said daily, to day, as well as all our life S. Paul says is called Hodie, this day.
After which follows the thrice holy and triumphant song, as it was called of old [ Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnifie thy glorious name, evermore praising thee and saying, holy, holy, holy, &c. ] Here we do, as it were, invite the heavenly host to help bear a part in our thanks to make them full. O praise the Lord with me, and let us magnifie his name together. And in this hymn we hold communion with the Church triumphant. Which sweet hymn, in all Communions is appointed to be said ; and though it should be said night and day, yet could it never breed a loathing. Conc. Vasen. c. 6. All that is in our Service from these words, Lift up your hearts, to the end of the Communion-Service, is, with very little difference to be seen in S. Chrys. Liturg. and in S. Cyril’s Catech. mystag. 5.
Part 3. Next is the . So you shall find in Chrysost. and Cyril last cited. Which Consecration consists chiefly in rehearsing the words of our Saviour’s institution, This is my body, and this is my blood, when the Bread and Wine is present upon the Communion-Table. Can. Anglic. 21. S. Chrys. Ser. 2. in 2. ad Tim. The holy Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, which the Priest now makes, is the same that Christ gave to his Apostles. This is nothing less than that. For this is not sanctified by men, but by him that sanctified that : for as the words which God our Saviour spake are the same, which the Priest now uses, so is the Sacrament the same. Again, Ser. de Juda, lat. Ed. tom. 3. Christ is present at the Sacrament now, that first instituted it. He consecrates this also : It is not man that makes the body and blood of Christ by consecrating the holy Elements, but Christ that was crucified for us. The words are pronounced by the mouth of the Priest, but the Elements are consecrated by the power and grace of God, , saith he, : By this word the bread and wine are consecrated. ]
Before these words [ ] the bread and wine are common food fit only to nourish the body ; but since our Lord hath said, Do this, as oft as you do it in remembrance of me, This is my body, this my blood : as often as by these words and in this faith they are consecrated, the holy bread and blessed cup are profitable to the salvation of the whole man : Cyprian
de coena Dom. The same says S. Ambr. l. 4. de Sacram. c. 4. & 5. S. Aug. ser. 28. de verb. Dei, and others.
After the Consecration, the Priest first receives himself. So is it ordain’d Conc. Tolet. 12. 5. wherein it is decreed that, The Priest shall receive whensoever he offers up the Sacrifice. For since the Apostle hath said, Are not they which eat of the Sacrifice, partakers of the Altar ? 1 Cor. 10. it is certain, that they who sacrifice and eat not, are guilty of the Lord’s Sacrament. ]
After he hath received, he is to deliver it to the people in their hands. So was it in Cyril‘s time, Cat. mystag. 5. and Let every one be careful to keep it, for whosoever carelesly loses any part of it, had better lose a part of himself, says he, And Whosoever wilfully throws it away, shall be for ever excluded from the Communion. Conc. Tolet. 11. c. 11.
It is to be given to the people : for a sin it is not to adore when we receive this Sacrament, Aug. in Psal. 98. And the old custom was to receive it after the manner of Adoration, Cyril. ibidem.
This Sacrament should be received fasting. 3. Counc. of Carthag. can. 29. And so was the practice of the universal Church, says S. Aug. Epist. 118. which is authority enough, ( in things of this nature, namely, circumstances of time, &c. ) to satisfie any that do not love contention, 1 Cor. 11. 16. Yet it will not be amiss in a word to shew the reasonableness of this Catholic usage. And the first reason may be this, because our minds are clearest, our devotion quickest, and so we fittest to perform this most high service, when we are in our Virgin spittle, as Tertullian expresses it. A second is this ; it is for the honour of so high a Sacrament, that the precious body of Christ should first enter in to the Christian’s mouth before any other meat. S. Aug. Ep. 118. It is true that our Saviour gave it to his Disciples after Supper ; but dare any man quarrel the universal Church of Christ, for receiving it fasting? This also pleased the holy Ghost, that, for the honour of so great a Sacrament, the body of Christ should first enter into the Christian’s mouth, before all other meats. Neither, because our Saviour gave it to his Disciples after Supper, will it necessarily follow that we should receive it so, mingling the Sacrament with our other meats : a thing which the Apostle seems to reprehend, 1 Cor. 11. There was a special reason for our Saviour’s doing so, his Supper was to succeed immediately to the Passeover ; and therefore as soon as that was over, he instituted his ; and that he might the more deeply imprint the excellency of this mystery into the minds and hearts of his Disciples, he would give it them the last thing he did, before he went from them to his Passion, knowing that dying men’s words move much : but he no where appointed what hour and time it should afterward be received ; but left that to be ordered by them that were after his departure, to settle the Churches, namely, the Apostles, and accordingly we find S. Paul 1 Cor. 11 rectifying some abuses, and prescribing some rules for the better ordering of some Rites and Ceremonies about the Sacrament, and promising when he should come, to settle and order for the rest, verse 34. from whom S. Aug. seems to think that the Catholic Church received this custom of receiving the Sacrament fasting, Ep. 118.
When the Priest hath said at the delivery of the Sacrament, The body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul into everlasting life, the Communicant is to answer, Amen. Cyril, Myst. 5. By this Amen professing his faith of the presence of Christ’s Body and Blood in that Sacrament.
The people were of old called out of the Body of the Church into the Chancel, even up to the Rails of the Holy Table, there to receive it of the Priest, Niceph. l. 18. c. 45. So Clement. Const. l. 2. c. 57. these be his words in English, Afterwards let the Sacrifice be made, all the people standing and praying secretly ; and after the Oblation let every Order apart receive the Body and precious Blood of the Lord, coming up in their Order with fear and reverence as to the Body of a King.
Where you see they were to come up to the Sacrament, and to, or near the Rails of the Holy Table, says S. Chrys. Liturgy. For after the Priest and Deacons have received, the Deacon goes to the door of the Rails,
πρὸς τὴν θύραν τοῦ ἁγίου βήματος, and lifting up the holy Cup, shews it to the people, saying, In the faith and fear of God,
προσήλθετε, come hither, or as our Liturgy says, draw near, the people answer, Amen, Amen, Amen, Blessed be he that comes in the Name of the Lord, and so come and receive in both kinds.
Every Parishioner shall communicate at the least three times in the year, whereof Easter to be one. Rubr. last after the Communion.
In the Primitive Church, while Christians continued in their strength of Faith and Devotion, they did communicate every day. This custom continued in Africa till S. Cyprian‘s time, Orat. Dom. We daily receive the Eucharist, for to be our food of salvation. And after him till S. Augustine‘s time Ep. 23. ad Bonifac. Insomuch as these words in our Lord’s Prayer, Give us this day our daily bread, they interpreted of the Eucharist, as being daily to be celebrated. But afterward when charity grew cold and devotion faint, the custom grew faint withal ; and within a small time began to be left by little and little ; and some upon one pretence, and some upon another, would communicate but once a week. In the East-Church they grew to a worse custom betimes, which in after Ages came into the Latin Churches too. They fell from every day to Sundays and Holy days only, and from thence to once a year, and no oftner. S. Ambr. is cited for the proof of this, De Sacram. l. 4. c. 4. But this wicked custom of receiving the Eucharist but once a year, was but of some Greeks in the East, says S. Ambrose there ; which cannot properly be understood of any but the Diocess ( as it was anciently called ) or Patriarchate of Antioch. For though the Eastern Empire, whereof Constantinople was the Metropolis, contained many Provinces, yet the Eastern Church, or Greeks in the East, were properly those of Antioch, Theodor. Hist. 1.5. c. 9. And possibly some of these might be so supine, as hath been observed ; but of the Greeks in general, no such careless custom can be affirmed : for S. Chrysost. tells us that in his time, in every meeting or congregation of the Church, the healthful mysteries of the Eucharist are celebrated, Hom. 26. in Matth. In regard of this neglect, after-Councels did, as the Church of England, make Canons, that if men could be got to receive it no oftner, yet they should be forc’d to receive it, at least three times in the year ; Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide. Nor was he to be reckoned amongst good Catholic Christians, that did not receive at those feasts, Conc. Agat. c. 18. [ Eliber. c. 81. as they are cited by Gratian. de Consecr. dis. 2. ] Three times a year at the least they were to receive, whereof Easter to be one ; and good reason : For when Christ our Passeover was Sacrificed for us, then, of all times, let us keep a Feast with this holy banquet, 1 Cor. 5. 7. These Canons were made for the Laity, but for those of the Clergy that lived in Cathedral and Collegiate Churches, ( where there were enough of themselves, to make a sufficient company to receive the Sacrament ) they were bound to receive much oftner, every day, Edw. 6. Liturg. every Sunday at the least, Rubr. 4. after the Communion. Thus we see holy Church her care to bring all her Children ; Clergy and Laity, to the heavenly banquet of the body and blood of Christ ; she invites all to a frequent and due receiving of this holy Sacrament in most passionate and kind manner, in that most excellent exhortation, next after the prayer for the Catholic Church militant here on earth. An exhortation, fit to be read weekly by the Priest, and seriously considered daily by all the people. In which holy Church one while exhorts us by the mercies and bowels of Christ, to come to this holy Feast ; another while terrifies us by the indignation of God against those that despise his so great love, and refuse to come ; she sends her Ministers, as the man in the Gospel S. Luke 14. to tell them all things are ready, and to bid them in the Name of God, to call them in Christ’s behalf, to exhort them as they love their own salvation, to come to this holy Supper ; and those, that, notwithstanding all this bidding, shall go about to make excuses, because they had bought a Farm, or would try their yoke of Oxen, or because they were married, holy Church by her Canons and Laws endeavours to compel to come in at least three times in the year. And it were to be wished that all those that despise the Churches passionate exhortations, and contemn her wholsome Canons and commands in this particular, would seriously at last, think of that dreadful sentence of our Lord, upon those that still refuse so great mercy, I say unto you that none of those men which were bidden, shall taste of my Supper. S. Luke 14. 24. None of those that are thus bidden by Christ and his Church to his holy Supper, the holy Communion, and shall refuse to come, shall ever taste of his great Supper hereafter, or eat and drink with him at his Table in his Kingdom S. Luke c. 22. 29.
If any of the Bread and Wine remain, the Curate shall have it to his own use. [Rubr. 5. after the Communion Service. ] That is, if it were not consecrated : for if it be consecrated, it is all to be spent with fear and reverence by the Communicants, in the Church. Gratian de Consecr. dist. 2. c. 23. Tribus Concil, Constant. Resp. ad. Qu. 5. Monachon. apud Balsam. Theophil. Alexand. cap. 7.
Part 4. After all have received, we say the according to ancient Custom, Ambr. l. 5. de Sacram. c. 4. The people are to repeat every Petition after the Priest. Rubr. If the Church did ever devise a thing fit and convenient, what more than this. That when together we have all received those heavenly Mysteries, wherein Christ imparts himself to us, and gives visible testification of our blessed Communion with him, we should in hatred of all Heresies, Factions, and Schisms declaredly approve our selves united as Brethren in one, by offering up with all our hearts and tongues that most effectual prayer, Our Father, &c. In which we profess our selves Sons of the same Father, and in which we pray for God’s pardon no otherwise than as we forgive them that trespass, &c. For which cause Communicants have ever used it, and we at that time do shew we use, yea every syllable of it, as Communicants, saying it together with one consent and voice.
This done, the Priest offers up the Sacrifice of the holy Eucharist, or the Sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for the whole Church, as in all old Liturgies it is appointed, and together with that is offered up that most acceptable Sacrifice of our selves, souls and bodies devoted to God’s service. Of which see Rom. 12. and S. Aug. de Civit. Dei, l. 10. c. 6.
Then we say or sing the Angelical Hymn, , &c. wherein the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy does admirably imitate the Heavenly, singing this at the Sacrament of his Body which the Angels did at the Birth of his Body. And good reason there is to sing this for Christ’s being made One with us in the Sacrament, as for his being made One of us at his Birth. And if ever we be fit to sing this Angels song, it is then, when we draw nearest to the estate of Angels, namely, at the receiving of the Sacrament. After the receiving of the holy Sacrament, we sing an Hymn in imitation of our Saviour ; who after his Supper sung an Hymn, to teach us to do the like. Chrys. Hom. 83. S. Matth. And when can a Psalm or Hymn of thanksgiving be more seasonable and necessary, than after we have received this heavenly nourishment ? Is it possible to hear these words, This is my Body, take and eat it ; Drink ye all of this, This is my Blood : and not be filled, as with a kind of fearful admiration, so with a sea of joy and comfort for the Heaven which they see in themselves ? Can any man receive this Cup of Salvation, and not praise and bless God with his utmost strength of soul and body ? The Ancients did express their joy at this time in the highest manner that they could. Some were so ravished with joy, that they immediately offered themselves to martyrdom, impatient of being longer absent from their so gracious Lord, unable to keep themselves from expressing their love to Christ, by dying for him, the highest expression of love. All men then counted it a sin, to sully the day of their receiving the Eucharist with any sorrow or fasting ; these days they called days of mirth, days of remission, days of Immunity, solemn days, Festival days.
This Angelical Hyman was made of old by Ecclesiastical Doctors, and who refuses it, let him be excommunicated, Conc. Tolet. 4. c. 4.
HOly Churches aim being in all her Services to make them Reasonable, that according to S. Paul, 1 Cor. 14. We may all joyn with her in her Offices, both with our spirit and understanding, she hath been careful, not only to put them into a known tongue, but also to instruct us in the nature of them : making thus her Prayer-Book a summ of Divinity. Therefore here in the beginning, she instructs out of holy Scripture concerning the necessity and efficacy of Baptism, as very briefly, so very pithily and fully. First, laying down this for a rule, that we are all born in sin, as it is Rom. 5. 18, 19. all guilty in Adam‘s fall, ( so the Catholic Church spread over the world always understood it, . c. 2. ) and therefore by our first birth have no right to heaven, into which no unclean thing shall enter, Ephes. 5. 5. Secondly, that therefore there is need of a second birth, to give us right to that, as it is S. John 3. 3. Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. Thirdly, that this second or new birth is by Water and the Holy Ghost, S. John 3 5. Except a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. By Water and the Holy Ghost is there meant holy Baptism. For first, this is the most literal interpretation of the words ( for what is Baptism but Water and the Holy Ghost ? ) and therefore the best : for that is certainly the sense of the Holy Ghost, who, as we all believe, was the Author of the letter of the Scriptures, and therefore of the literal sense, where that is not contrary to, but agreeable with the other Scriptures. Now this literal sense given is agreeable to other texts : as namely, to Acts 8. 38. and 10. 47. Where Water is declared to be the element of Baptism. And expresly again, Ephes. 5. 26. Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctifie and cleanse it with the washing of water. And as this is the most literal, so is it the most Catholic interpretation of the words, and therefore also the best, by S. Peter‘s rule, 2 S. Pet. 1. 20. Knowing this first, that no prophesie of Scripture is of private interpretation. That this is the most Catholic interpretation appears by S. August. l. 1. de peccator. mer. & rem. c. 30. Tertul. de Bapt. and all the ancient interpreters upon the place, who expound it all of Baptism. And indeed if it were lawful to expound it otherwise, seeing no other Scripture contradicts this literal sense ; I know not how it can be avoided, but that men may lose all their Creed, by playing so with Scripture, leaving the letter for figures. Thus are we instructed in the nature, necessity, and efficacy of holy Baptism, that it is the only ordinary means of our Regeneration or second birth, which gives us a right and title to Heaven.
Then is prescribed a Prayer, usually called the Benediction or Consecration of the Water, which is used only for reverence and decency, not for necessity, as if the Water without this were not available to Baptism : For, as the Prayer hath it, Jordan and all other waters are sanctified by Christ to the mystical washing away of sin. So that there needs no Consecration here, as in the other Sacrament there is, where the Bread and Wine must be blessed by us, saith S. Paul, 1 Cor. 10. 16. before it be the Communion of the body and blood of Christ to us. And that the Church does not think any Consecration of Water necessary, appears in her office of , where, haste admitting no delays, no such Prayer or blessing is used.
Then follows a Prayer for God’s merciful acceptance of the Infant that is brought ; that, as he is to receive the Sacrament, so he may receive all the benefits of it. And lest any should doubt whether will accept an Infant to Baptism, and the Effects of it, holy Church propounds to us the 10. chap. of S. Mark, out of which she concludes love and good will to children in general ; For he commanded them to be brought to him ; he rebuked those that would have kept them from him, he embraced them in his arms, and blessed them : which are all plain arguments that he will receive them when they are brought to him : Yea, and that he will so far embrace them as to receive them to eternal life, if they be brought to him, is plain by his own words in that Gospel ; Suffer little children to come unto me, for to such, and therefore to themselves ( for
Quod in uno similium valet, valebit in altero, what belongs to others because they are such as children are, must needs belong to the children ) belongeth the kingdom of God. Since then they be capable of the Kingdom of heaven, and there is no ordinary way for them to the Kingdom of heaven, but by a new and second birth of Water and the Holy Ghost, that is, Baptism ; Doubt ye not, but that He who exprest so much love to them as is mentioned in the Gospel, will favourably receive the present infant to baptism, and graciously accept our charitable work in bringing it to him. Thus holy Church concludes out of Scripture according to the practice and doctrine of the Catholic Church.
tells us that no Infant is to be hindred from baptism, Ep. 59. This was the sentence of that Council, Anno Dom. 246. and this was no new decree, but
fides Ecclesiae firmissima, the most established faith of the Church, . ep. 28. ad Hieron.
Haec sententia olim in Ecclesia Catholica summa authoritate fundata est. This definition was long before S. Cyprian settled in the Catholic Church by the highest Authority. . de verb. Apost. Ser. 14. Let no man whisper to you any strange doctrines. This the Church always had, always held, this she received from our forefathers, and this she holds constantly to the end. And,
Quicunque parvulos recentes, ab uteris matrum, baptizandos negat, Anathema sit, saith the . of Milevis, c. 2. being the CXth in the African Code. That Council pronounced Anathema to any that shall deny the baptism of Infants. And that Council is confirmed by the fourth and sixth .
Next follows a Thanksgiving for our Baptism, which we are put in mind of by this occasion, with an excellent prayer for our selves ; and the Infants before us, that we may walk worthy of baptism ; and they be accepted to it graciously.
Then shall the Priest demand of the Godfathers, &c. these questions, Dost thou forsake, &c. This Form of interrogating the Godfathers in the name of the child, is very Ancient and Reasonable.
For the Antiquity of it, see S. Chrys. in Psal. 14.
Adducit quisquam infantem ubera fugentem, ut baptizetur, & statim sacerdos exigit ab infirma aetate, pacta, conventa, assensiones, & minoris aetate fidejussorem accipit susceptorem, & interrogat an renunciat Satanae ? The sucking Infant is brought to baptism. The Priest exacts of that Infant covenants, contracts and agreements : and accepting of the Godfather in the Infant’s stead, he asks, whether he does forsake the Devil, &c. ] Cyprian ep. 7. We renounc’d the world when we were baptized : and their form of abrenunciation was much like ours, as you may see, Salvian. l. 6. Aug. Ep. 23. and Cyril. Cat. Mist. 1. Where you may see at large the ancient Form and Manner of Abrenunciations. First, you entred into the Church Porch the place of the Font or Baptistery, and standing towards the West, you heard it commanded you, that with hands stretched out you should renounce the Devil, as if he were there present. It behoves you to know that a Type or Sign of this, you have in the Old Testament. When Pharaoh the most bitter and cruel Tyrant oppressed the free people of the Jews, God sent Moses to deliver them from the grievous servitude of the Egyptians, the posts of the doors were anointed with the blood of the Lamb, that the destroying Angel might pass by the houses which had that sign of blood : and the people were delivered beyond expectation. But after that the Enemy saw them delivered, and the Red sea divided ; he followed and pursued them, and was overwhelmed with the waves of the Sea. Pass we from the Figure to the Truth, there was Moses sent by God into Egypt, here Christ is sent into the world ; he to deliver the people oppressed by Pharaoh, Christ to deliver the Devil’s captives ; there the blood of the Lamb turn’d away the Destroyer ; here the blood of the immaculate Lamb Christ Jesus is the defence against the Devil ; That Tyrant followed our Fathers to the Red Sea, this impudent Prince of wickedness the Devil, follows there even to the waters of Salvation ; he was drowned in the Sea, this is stifled in the waters of Life. Hear now what with a beck of the hand is said to the Devil, as present ; I renounce thee Satan : It is worth the while, to explain why you stand to the West when you say this. The sun-set is the place of darkness, and the Devil is the Prince of darkness : and therefore in token of this, ye renounce the Prince of darkness, looking towards the West, I renounce thee Satan thou cruel Tyrant, I fear thy force no more, for Christ hath dissolved the power of darkness, I renounce thee, subtle Serpent, who under the shew of friendship, actest all thy villany. Then he adds, and all thy works. Those are sins of all sorts, which you must of necessity renounce. And this you must not be ignorant of, that whatsoever thou sayest in that dreadful hour, is written down in God’s book, and shall be accounted for. After this you say, And all his pomp, all vain shews from which holy David prays to be delivered, Turn away mine eyes lest they behold vanity, Psal. 119. and all thy worship, all Idolatry and Superstition, all Magic and Southsaying, all worship of, and prayers to the Devil. Take heed therefore of all these things which thou hast renounced : For if after the renunciation of the Devil, you fall back again into his captivity, he will be a more cruel Master than before ; the last state of that man is worse than the beginning.
When you have renounced the Devil, then the Paradise of God is opened to you, which was planted in the East ; and therefore as a Type of this you are turn’d from the West to the East, the Region of light.
We have seen that it was Ancient ; And that it is Reasonable we shall perceive, if we consider, that in baptism we are making or concluding a Covenant, the New Covenant of the Gospel ; in which Covenant God’s part is promises, precious promises, as S. Peter calls them, 2 S. Pet. 1. 4. for performance of which he hath given his word ; and therefore good reason it is, that we also should give our word, and promise for performance of conditions on our parts, viz. to renounce the Devil and the World, and swear fidelity to our . In all other Covenants and Contracts it is thought reasonable, that the several parties should mutually engage for performance of conditions, and that at the making and concluding of the Contract.
And why should not that which is thought reasonable in all other contracts, be thought reasonable in this ? As thus to give our faith and word for performance of conditions is reasonable ; so, if it be done with grave solemnity and in public, it is so much the better, and more obliging : For grave solemnities make a deep impression upon the apprehension : ( whence it is, that a corporal oath vested with the religious solemnity of laying on the hand upon, and kissing the holy Gospels, is more dreaded, than a naked and sudden oath ) and promises made in public bind more, because of the shame of falsifying, where so many eyes look on : which very shame of being noted to be false, oft-times is a greater bridle to sin, than the fear of punishment, as the World knows.
And this use the ancient Fathers made of it, to shame gross offenders by remembring them of their solemn promise made in Baptism to renounce the Devil, and give up themselves to God. Children, who by reason of their tender age, cannot perform this solemnity, have appointed them by the Church,
Susceptores, Godfathers, who shall in the name of the child do it for them. As, by the wisest laws of the World, Guardians may contract for their Minors or Pupils to their benefit ; and what the Guardians in such cases undertake, the Minors or Pupils are bound, when they are able, to perform. For the Law looks upon them, not the Guardians, as obliged. So did the Church always account, that these promises which were made by the Godfathers in the name of the child, did bind the child, as if in person himself had made it. And when the Ancients did upbraid any offenders with the breach of their promise made in baptism ; none of those that were baptised in their infancy, were so desperate, as to answer scornfully, it was not I but my Godfathers that promised ; and if any should so have answered, he would have been loudly laught at for that his empty criticism.
Though this promise of Abrenunciation made in baptism be ancient and reasonable ; yet is it not absolutely necessary to baptism, but when danger requires haste, it may be omitted, as the Church teaches in Private Baptism : yet if the child lives, it is to be brought to Church, and this solemnity to be performed after baptism, Rubr. at private Bapt.
Then follow certain short prayers, O merciful God, &c. which I conceive to be the same in substance with the ancient Exorcismes, which were certain prayers taken out of holy Scripture, Cyril. Cat. 1. and compos’d by the Church, 4. c. 7. for the dispossessing of the person to be baptized ; who being born in sin is under the Devil’s tyranny, from which the Church by her prayers, endeavours to free him. And so available they were, that oftentimes those that were corporally possessed, were freed by them, Cyp. ep. 77. and thereupon Cyril, Nazianz. Gennadius, and others, earnestly perswade not to despise the Churches Exorcisms. That it was ancient to use these Exorcisms before baptism, Nazianz. in lavacrum, S. Cypr. ep. 77. and Gennadius witness, who says, that it was observed
Uniformiter in universo munndo, uniformly throughout the World.
Next follows the Commemoration of Christ‘s institution of Baptism ; and his Commission to his Disciples to Baptize. Thus the Priest reads his Commission, and then acts accordingly : and because no man is sufficient for these things, 2 Cor. 2. 16. therefore he prays for God’s assistance and acceptance of his ministration.
Then the Priest asks the child’s name. As under the Law at Circumcision the name was given, so now at Baptism ; because then we renounce our former Lord and Tyrant, and give up our names to God as his servants.
Then the Minister Baptizes the child dipping or spinkling it, &c. either of which is sufficient, Gennad. dog. 74. For it is not in this spiritual washing, as it is in the bodily, where if the bath be not large enough to receive the whole body, some part may be foul when the rest are cleansed. The soul is cleansed after another manner,
Totum credentibus conferunt divina compendia, a little water can cleanse the believer, as well a whole River, . ep. 77.
The old fashion was to dip or sprinkle the person thrice, to signifie the mystery of the , and the Apost. can. 50. deposes him that does otherwise. The Church so appointed then because of some Heretics that denied the Trinity : upon the same ground afterwards it was appointed to do it but once (signifying the unity of substance in the Trinity ) lest we should seem to agree with the Heretics that did it thrice. Toletan. 4. c. 5.
This baptizing is to be at the . What the Font is, everybody knows, but not why it is so call’d. The rites of baptism in the first times were perform’d in Fountains and Rivers, both because their converts were many, and because those ages were unprovided of other Baptisteries : we have no other remainder of this rite but the name. For hence it is that we call our Baptisteries, Fonts ; which when Religion found peace, were built and consecrated for the more reverence and respect of the Sacrament. These were set at first some distance from the Church, Cyril cat. myst. 1. after, in the Church-Porch, and that significantly, because Baptism is the entrance into the Church mystical, as the Porch to the Temple. At the last, they got into the Church, but not into every, but the City-Church, where the Bishop resided, hence call’d The Mother Church, because it gave spiritual birth by baptism ; afterward they were brought into Rural Churches. Wheresoever they stood, they were had in high veneration. Anastas. ep. ad Orthodox. complains sadly of impiety in his time ; such as never was heard of in war, that men should set fire to Churches and Fonts, and after mentioning the Fonts. Good God ! Christ-killing Jews, and heathenish Atheists, have without all reverence entred and defiled the Fonts.
After the Priest hath baptized the child, he receives it into the congregation, by this solemnity declaring that he is by baptism made a member of the Church, 1 Cor. 12. 13. We are all baptized into one body. And when he thus receives it, he signs it with the sign of the Cross, as of old it was wont, . in Psal. 30. and on the forehead, the seat of blushing and shame, that he may not hereafter blush and be ashamed of the disgraced cross of Christ, Cypr. ep. 56. By this badge, is the child dedicated to his service, whose benefits bestowed upon him in baptism, the name of the cross in holy Scripture does represent. Whosoever desires to be fully satisfied concerning the use of the cross in baptism, let him read the 30. Can. of our Church, Anno 1603.
After thanksgiving for God’s gracious admitting the child to baptism, and a most divine Prayer, that he may lead his life according to that beginning : This Office ends with a grave and pious exhortation to the Godfathers, to remember their duty towards the Infants ; the like to which you may read, S. Aug. de Temp. Ser. 116.
THough holy Church prescribes the Font for the place, and Sundays and Holy-days for the usual times of baptism, that she may conform as much as conveniently may be to the usages of Primitive Antiquity, ( which is her aim in all her services ) and for other reasons mentioned Rubr. 1. before Baptism : Yet in case of necessity she permits and provides that a child may be baptized in any decent place at any time : in such cases requiring the performance only of Essentials, not of Solemnities of baptism : according to the practice of the Apostles who baptized at any time as occasion required, and in Fountains and Rivers : and according to the use of succeeding Ages. . 2. c. 3. Dist. de Consec. 4. c. 16, 17. Elibert. Conc. c. 38. Anno 313. He that is baptized himself, may in a case of necessity baptize, if there be no Church near. Nor can I see what can be reasonably objected against this tender and motherly love of the Church to her children, who chuses rather to omit solemnities, than hazard souls : Which indulgence of hers cannot be interpreted any irreverence or contempt of that venerable Sacrament ; but a yielding to just necessity ( which defends what it constrains ) and to God’s own rule, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, S. Matth. 12. 7.
If it be objected that this may be an occasion of mischief, that the form of baptism may be vitiated and corrupted in private, by heretical Ministers, and so the child robb’d of the benefits of baptism ; it is answered, that this is possible ; but were it not great folly to prevent a possible danger, by a certain ? to deny all infants in such cases baptism, lest some few should be abused by the malice of the Priest ? Which possible, but scarce probable mischief, the Church hath taken all possible care to prevent. For if the child lives, it is to be brought to the Church, 1. Rubr. in private baptism, and there the Priest is to demand [ by whom the child was baptized, and with what matter and words : ] and if he perceives plainly that it was well baptized for the substance, then shall he add the usual solemnities at public baptism, that so the child may want nothing, no not of the decent pomp : but if he cannot by such questioning be assured that it was truly baptized for essentials, then shall he baptize it thus, [ If thou be not already baptized, I baptize thee ] as it was ordered Carthag. 5. c. 6. Anno Dom. 438.
IT is ordered Rubr. 1. at Confirm. That none should be confirm’d till they come to the use of reason, and can say their Catechism, for these reasons.
1. Because then they may with their own mouth ratifie and confirm the promise made for them by their Godfathers.
2. Because they then begin to be in danger of temptation, against which they receive strength in confirmation.
3. Because this is agreeable with the usage in times past ; by times past, we must not understand the first times ( for then confirmation was administred presently after baptism, ) but later times ; in which the first order hath been of a long time omitted for these reasons given ; and this order, which our Church observes generally received throughout Christendom.
Lest any man should think it any detriment to the child to stay till such years, holy Church assures us out of holy Scripture, that children baptized, till they come to years to be tempted, have no need of confirmation, having all things necessary for their, that is, childrens salvation, and be undoubtedly saved. The same says Antiquity, S. Aug. Ser. 2. post Dom. Palmar. You are coming to the holy Font, ye shall be washt in baptism, ye shall be renewed by the saving laver of regeneration ; ascending from that laver, ye shall be without all sin : if so, then safe ; for blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven, Psal. 32. 1. S. Chrys. Hom. 11. in ep. ad Rom. c. 6.
Quemadmodum corpus Christi sepultum in terra fructum tulit, universi orbis salutem, ita & nostrum sepultum in baptismo, fructum tulit, justitiam, sanctificationem, adoptionem, infinita bona, feret autem & resurrectionis postea donum. The body of Christ buried in the earth, brought forth fruit, namely the salvation of the whole world ; so our body buried in baptism hath brought forth fruit, righteousness, sanctification, adoption, infinite good things, and shall afterwards have the gift of the Resurrection.
It were too long to cite particulars, take the . of for all, Can. 2.
Ideo parvuli qui nihil peccatorum in semetipsis committere potuerunt, in peccatorum remissionem veraciter baptizantur, ut in eis regeneratione mundetur, quod generatione contraxerunt. Therefore infants, who could not sin actually, are truly baptized for the remission of sins, that that which they have contracted by their birth might be cleansed by their second birth.
And the Council pronounces Anathema to them that deny it. But more than all this is the express words of Scripture, Gal. 3. 26. where S. proves that they were the children of God, for, or because they were baptized ; if they be children, then are they heirs of God, Romans 8. 27. 1 S. Pet. 3. 21. Baptism saves us. Again, Gal. 3. 27. As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ, and that surely is enough for salvation. By all this, we see the effect of Baptism is salvation : Now if children be capable of baptism, as hath been proved, then sith they no way hinder or resist this grace, it necessarily follows that they are partakers of the blessed effects of baptism, and so are undoubtedly saved.
The children that are to be confirmed are to be brought to the Bishop by one that shall be their Godfather, who may witness their confirmation. The Godfather may be the same that was at baptism, but in most places, the custom is to have another. De Cons. Dist. 4. c. 100.
And the Bishop shall confirm them. Rubr. before confirmation. So was it of old, S. Aug. de Trinit. l. 15. c. 20. Chrys. hom. 18. in Act. speaking of Philip, when he had baptized, He did not give the holy Ghost to the baptized, for he had no power, for this was the gift of the Apostles alone. Before him Cyprian ep. 73. Those that were baptized by Philip the Deacon, were not baptized again, but that which was wanting was supplied by Peter and John, by whose prayers and imposition of hands the holy Ghost was called upon, and poured upon them. Which very thing is done amongst us now ; they that are baptized, are offered up to the Bishops of the Church, that by our prayer and imposition of hands they may receive the holy Ghost. Before him Urban Anno Dom. 222. tells us, that Bishops only did confirm. And S. Hierom. dial. adv. Lucifer. says it was,
Totius orbis consensus in hanc partem, the general acknowledgement of the whole Christian World.
The Office begins on this wise, Our help standeth in the Name of the Lord. Of such short ejaculations in general hath been said in the Morning Prayer ; concerning these in particular, that they are fitted to the Office, will appear to them that consider, that Confirmation is appointed for the strengthning of us against all our ghostly enemies ; which though they be many and great ; yet is there no reason to despair of obtaining strength enough to resist them, for Our help stands in the Name of the Lord, who hath made heaven and earth : who is therefore able enough and willing also to help them that call upon his Name, Blessed therefore be the Name of the Lord hence forth and for ever.The Office now begins with an excellent Preface, explaining the Nature and End of Confirmation, and a solemn Stipulation or Renewal of the baptismal Vow. 1722 ed.
After these Versicles follows a Prayer, that God would strengthen the baptized, with the holy Ghost the Comforter, who had in their baptism received him as a Sanctifier. These two ways, to omit others, we are taught in holy Scripture, that the holy Ghost may be received, as a sanctifier and cleanser in holy baptism, Tit. 3. 5. He saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the holy Ghost : and after baptism we may receive him again as a Comforter and strengthener. The Apostles, who received him the first way in baptism, are promised to receive him the second ; S. John 16. 7. Acts 1. 8. which was performed Acts 2. 4. They were filled with the holy Ghost.
Then shall the Bishop lay his hands upon them severally. By this sign certifying them of God’s Goodness towards them, and consigning it upon them. This is the most ancient and Apostolical Rite of Confirmation, Acts 8. 17. and by this name it is known, Heb. 6. 2. The doctrine of baptisms, and laying on of hands.
After a most excellent prayer for their continuance in God’s love, and obedience to him, the Bishop departs them with a Blessing. Of such blessings hath been said already.
This holy Rite hath been too little understood by many, and therefore too lightly esteem’d and valued : for the remedy whereof, it may not be amiss to shew the benefit of it in these conclusions following.
1. The Holy Ghost was given to persons baptized, by the Apostles prayers and laying on of hands, Acts 8. 14, 15, 16. Acts 19. 6.
2. This gift of the Holy Ghost so given, was not only, nor principally, the gift of miracles or speaking with tongues. For, first, Confirmation is reckoned by S. Paul amongst Fundamentals, Heb. 6. 1, 2. which were necessary to all ages of the Church ; but the gift of miracles was not such, for that lasted but a while, as experience hath taught us. Again, confirmation was administred to all baptized persons, Acts 8. 15. 19. 6. but all baptized persons were not to have the gift of miracles, 1 Cor. 12. 8, 9. To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the working of miracles. And again, 29. verse, Are all workers of miracles ? It is true that in the Apostles times, the inward grace of confirmation was attended with miracles, but it will not thence follow that miracles were the principal intended gift in confirmation, no more than that the visible opening of Heaven is the proper effect of baptism, because at our Saviour’s baptism, the heavens were so opened, S. Matthew 3. or that the proper effect of preaching is to work miracles, because that at the Apostles preaching miracles were wrought, Acts 10. 44. In those first times, the Holy Ghost fell upon Believers and they spake with tongues.
Signa erant tempori opportuna, [ Those signs were seasonable to those times : ] does any man now expect that those, that receive the holy Ghost by our prayers and imposition of hands, should speak with tongues ? and if they do not speak with tongues, is any man of so perverse a heart, as to say, that they have not received the holy Ghost ? S. Aug. in ep. S. Joh. tractat. 6. In the beginning of spiritual and marvellous dispensations, outward signs appeared to confirm the new preached faith, but now that the faith is sufficiently confirm’d, although such miracles be not wrought, yet we receive those inward graces and vertues, which were signified and demonstrated by those signs : Chrys. in S. Mat. Hom. 13.
3. The proper and principal effect of confirmation was, and is, Ghostly strength and power to resist temptations, as our Church teaches Rubr. 1. before the Catechism. That the baptized, when they come to years and the use of reason, may have, not their baptism confirm’d ( which needs no confirmation to perfect it, ) but themselves and their souls, by some new vertue and power, or by an addition and increase of former graces, by which they may be enabled against those temptations that shall assault them, whence it is called Confirmation.
Regeneramur ad vitam per baptismum, in hoc confirmamur ad pugnam. [ By baptism we are regenerated to life, in confirmation we are strengthned to fight, against our enemies : Melchiad. ep. ad Epis. Hisp. about the year 311. ] In Confirmation the Holy Ghost is given for strength, as he was given to the Apostles at Pentecost, that Christians may boldly confess the Name of Christ, Conc. Flor. Tertul. de bapt. Cypr. ep. 2. ad Donat. For our fuller perswasion of this, it will be necessary to consider that our Lord Christ promised to his Apostles after they had been baptized, that, When he went away, he would send them the holy Ghost to be their Comforter or strengthener, S. John 16. 7. to make them able to bear witness of Christ, notwithstanding all the threats and terrors of men, S. John 15. 27. 16. 1, 2, 3. And Acts 1. 5. he promises them, that, Not many days hence, they should receive the holy Ghost, or the power of the Holy Ghost, whereby they ( that forsook him formerly and fled ) should be henceforth emboldned and encouraged to bear witness to him all the World over, vers. 8. This promise was performed at Pentecost, Acts 2. 4. They were filled with the holy Ghost, and began to speak, and to bear witness of Christ with courage, verse 36. This very promise made to the Apostles formerly, and perform’d at Pentecost, belongs to every one of us that are baptized, Acts 2. 38. Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the holy Ghost : For this promise of the holy Ghost fulfilled on us, verse 33. is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off. And what S. Peter here promises them, was fulfilled by him and the other Apostles ; for by their prayer and imposition of hands, they received, after baptism, the holy Ghost, not only enabling them to speak miraculously, but also strengthening and comforting them inwardly, as he did the Apostles. For the same that was promised to the Apostles, belonged to them and their children, and was given by imposition of hands. Now that which was promised to the Apostles, was principally, ghostly strength and comfort, on which that gift of miracles was an attendant, as we have seen : this then is the principal effect of confirmation, the gift of the holy Ghost by way of eminence, Acts 2 38. Hence this phrase, Full of the holy Ghost, is interpreted by Scripture to be the same in effect with this, Full of ghostly courage and strength. Act. 4. 8. 31. They were all filled with the holy Ghost, and spake with boldness the word of the Lord, Acts 7. 55. and Acts 6. 5. Stephen full of faith and the holy Ghost, that is, full of faith and power, verse 8.
4. This Office of Confirmation, as well as that of Baptism, is to continue in the Church as long as that shall be Militant here on earth. For S. Paul Heb. 6. l, 2. joyns them together, calling them Fundamentals ; and a Fundamental in one age is so in another. Besides we have seen that Confirmation was the means used by the Apostles, ( and doubtless not without their Lord’s directions and guidance of his Spirit, ) for conveying the holy Ghost the Comforter into persons baptized : and since that all ages have as much need of that ghostly strength as the age of the Apostles had, and that the promise of it belongs to us all, as well as to them, as formerly hath been proved ; and since that we find no other means appointed instead of Confirmation, for the conveighing of the gift of the holy Ghost, then given by confirmation ; it remains, that we conclude, that Confirmation is still to continue. And so the Church Catholic hath taught us both by her doctrine and practice : as may be seen by the quotations cited above.
FIrst, holy Church instructs us in the ends of Matrimony, which are three. 1. The procreation of children. 2. A remedy against sin. 3. A mutual help to each other.
Then the Priest requires the parties to be married, by the terror of the dreadful judgment day, to declare, if they know any impediment, why they may not be lawfully married ? which is as much care and caution as can be used by those that are not able to discern the secrets of the heart.
Then follows the Contract in the future tense, whereby these persons mutually promise to the Priest, God’s Minister, before the Congregation, to enter into that holy state of Wedlock, and strictly to keep those sacred laws of marriage which Almighty God hath ordained. This is that, as I conceive, which S. August. de Gen. ad lit. l. 11. c. 4. calls
Votorum solennitatem, [ the solemnities of vows and promises, ] which was in his time and formerly an usual ceremony of marriage : And of very good use is this solemnity ; for by this have the persons bound themselves to their duty, by all the obligations that a sacred solemn vow or promise can lay upon the soul.
Then the Priest asks [ Who gives this woman to be married to this man ? ] This was the old custom, that the Bride should be given by the Father or friend, Aug. de Gen. ad lit. 11. c. 41. to which S. Paul may be thought to allude, 2 Cor. 11. 2. I have espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. And Psal. 45. 13. The Queen the Spouse, shall be brought to the King. The reason of this saith learned Mr. Hooker l. 5. Eccl. Pol. Sect. 73. was, That in ancient times all women which had not Husbands or Fathers to govern them, had their Tutors, without whose authority, there was no act, which they did warrantable ; and for this cause they were in marriage delivered unto their husbands by others. Which custom retained, hath still this use, that it puts women in mind of a duty, whereto the very imbecillity of their sex doth bind them, namely, to be always directed and guided by others. Whether this were the very cause of this custom, I will not determine, nor what else was : but whatsoever was the first cause of it, this is certain, that it is a decent custom. For it cannot be thought fit, that a woman, whose chiefest ornament is modesty and shamefacedness, should offer her self before the Congregation to marriage to any person, but should rather be led by the hand of another, and given by him.
After the marriage it self [ The man puts a Ring upon the woman’s finger. ] The Ring hath been always used as an especial pledge of faith and fidelity. Nothing more fit to serve as a token of our purposed endless continuance in that which we never ought to revoke ; and therefore fitly used in marriage, which is a contract not to be dissolved but by death.
Aurum nulla norat praeter uno digito, quem sponsus oppignorasset pronubo annulo. No woman was permitted to wear gold, save only upon one finger, which the husband had fastned to himself with a wedding Ring. This he puts upon the fourth finger of the left hand, because there is a vein that goes from thence to the heart ; by which is signified that the love should be hearty, say some Rituals.
Then follows [ With my body I thee worship, &c. ] For the better understanding of this phrase, we must know that anciently there were two sorts of wives ; One whereof was called the primary or lawful wife ; the other was called the half wife or Concubine. The difference betwixt these two, was only in the differing purpose of the man, betaking himself to the one or the other : If his purpose was only fellowship, there grew to the woman by this means no worship at all ; but rather the contrary. In professing that his intent was to add by his person, honour and worship unto hers, he took her plainly and clearly to be his Wife, not his Concubine. This is it which the Civil Law doth mean, when it makes a Wife to differ from a Concubine in dignity. The worship that grew unto her, being taken with declaration of this intent, was, that her children became by this means free and legitimate, heirs to their father : Gen. 25. 5, 6. her self was made a mother over his family : Lastly, she received such advancement of state, as things annexed to his person might augment her with. Yea, a right of participation was thereby given her both in him, and even in all things which were his ; and therefore he says not only [ With my body I thee worship, ] but also, with all my worldly goods I thee endow. The former branch having granted the principal, the later granteth that which is annexed thereto, Hooker Eccl. Pol. l. 5. Sect. 73.
The Jews anciently used the same phrase [ Godwin Jew. Customs. ] Be unto me a wife, and I according to the word of God, will worship, honour and maintain thee, according to the manner of husbands amongst the Jews, who worship, honour and maintain their wives. And that no man quarrel at this harmless phrase, let him take notice, that to worship here signifies, to make worshipful or honourable, as you may see, 1. Sam. 2. 30. For where our last Translation reads it, Him that honours me, I will honour ; in the old Translation, which our Common-Prayer book uses, it is, Him that worships me, I will worship ; that is, I will make worshipful, for that way only can God be said to worship man.
After the Priest hath prayed for grace and God’s assistence, for the married persons, to enable them to keep their solemn vow and contract, then does he as it were seal that bond and contract, by which they have mutually tied themselves, with God’s seal, viz. Those whom God hath joyned together, let no man put asunder.
The persons having consented together in wedlock, and witnessed the same before God and the Church, and plighted their troth each to other, and declared the same by giving and taking of a Ring, and joyning of hands ; and the Priest having sealed and ratified all, as it were, with God’s seal, which no man must break, he pronounces them man and wife, in the Ntame of the Father, Son, and holy Ghost. Which Proclamation, or pronouncing of the married persons to be man and wife; thus in the Church by the Priest, was one of those laws and rites of marriage, which the Church received of the Apostles. Euar. ep. ad Epis. Aphric. Anno 110.
Then the Priest blesses them solemnly according to the old rules, Conc. Carth. 4. c. 13. Of the efficacy of which blessings hath been said formerly.
After this follows the 128 Psalm which was the Epithalamium or marriage-song used by the Jews at Nuptials, says Muscul. in loc.
of the .
THe Priest entring into the sick man’s house, shall say, Peace be to this house : so our commanded, S. Luke 10.5. And if the Son of peace be there, his peace shall rest upon it.
Then kneeling down, he prays those prayers and ejaculations following, which whosoever reads and considers impartially, shall find them to be both very pious and suitable to the occasion.
Then shall the Priest exhort the sick person after this manner. The prayers are all prescribed, but the exhortation is left arbitrary to the discretion of the Priest, who can hardly be thought to make a better.
Then shall the Priest examine the sick person concerning his Faith, whether it be Christian. And this is very necessary, for if that be wrong, all is wrong. Christian Religion consists in these two, a right Faith and a righteous Life ; and as a right Faith without a righteous Life, will not save, so neither will a righteous Life, without a right belief. He that hath said, Do this and live, hath said, Believe and live : and how then can we think him safe, that lives indeed justly, but blasphemes impiously ? Cyril. Cat. 4. This then is a principal Interrogatory or question to be put to the sick person, whether he believes as a Christian ought to do ? And this he does by rehearsing to him the . And there can be no better rule to try it by. For whatsoever was prefigured in the Patriarchs, or taught in the Scriptures, or foretold by the Prophets, concerning God the Father, Son, and holy Ghost, is all briefly contain’d in the Apostles Creed. S. Aug. Ser. de Temp. 137. This Creed, ’tis the touchstone to try true faith from false, the rule of faith, contrary to which no man may teach or believe, Ruffin. in Symb. Tertul.
de praescrip. This the Catholic Church received from the Apostles. Holding this rule, we shall be able to convince all Heretics whatsoever, that they be departed from the truth, Irenaeus, l. 1. c. 3, & 19.
In the next place holy Church directs the Priest to examine the sick person concerning his life and conversation ; especially concerning these two particulars. 1. Whether he forgives all the World. 2. Whether he hath satisfied all injuries done to others : without which the medicine of repentance, which is necessary to the sick person’s salvation, will not profit him. For the first, our Saviour tells S. Matth. 6. 14. That unless we forgive others, neither our persons nor our Prayers will be accepted : God will not forgive us. And for the second,
Non remittetur peccatum nisi restituatur ablatum, Repentance without restitution and reparation of injuries cannot be true and serious ; or if it can, it cannot profit, Aug. ep. 5. For if he that is injured by another cannot be forgiven of God, unless he forgives him that injured him ; how can he that injures others, and does not make him restitution, hope for pardon ? Chrysost. Hom. 15. in S. Matth. The Priest therefore is to advise him, that whereinsoever he hath injured any, he should make satisfaction to the uttermost of his power. By the uttermost of his power, is not meant that he must give to the injured persons all his estate, nor that he must restore four-fold, for injuries done, ( which was required in some cases under Moses Law, by way of punishment, rather than of satisfaction ) but that he be careful to the uttermost of his power, that the person injured be so repair’d, that he be no loser by him ; which is all, that by the law of justice, which commands to give every man their due, is required, Ezek. 33. 14, 15. When I say to the wicked, he shall surely die : if he turn from his sin, if he restore the pledge, give again that he hath robbed, it is not, if he restore four-fold, but if he restore that which he hath robbed, he shall surely live.
Then the Priest is to admonish the sick person to settle his estate, For the discharging of his own conscience, and quietness of his Executors. But holy Church exhorts men to do this work in their health, that when they are sick, they may not be troubled about the world, but may bestow their whole time and care, as it is fit, about setling and securing their future estate. And were men possest with that fear and trembling, that S. Paul speaks of, Phil. 2. 12. they would be careful to gain all the time that might be then, to work out their salvation.
Balsam. in Nomocan. tit. c. 2.The Minister may not forget to move the sick person, and that most earnestly, to liberality towards the poor. This is to have mercy upon our own souls, says S. Aug. or
Christum scribere haeredem, [ to make Christ our heir. ] For when the poor receives from us, Christ stands by and reaches out his hand to receive with them. In as much as ye have done it to one of these little ones, ye have done it to me, S. Mat. 25. 40. As it is always necessary to be put in mind of this duty, so especially, at this time of sickness. For then we are failing, and therefore most necessary it is then, to make friends of the unrighteous Mammon, that, when we fail, they may receive us into everlasting habitations, S. Luke 16. 9. Then we are going to give up our account to God, and therefore then most necessary it is to do the best we can to procure a gracious Absolution at the day of Judgment. Now nothing seems more powerful with God to procure that, than liberality to the poor, Come ye blessed, for I was hungry, and ye gave me meat, S. Matth. 25. 34, 35.
Here shall the sick person make a special Confession, if he féel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter. It would be considered, whether every deadly sin be not a weighty matter?
After which Confession the Priest shall absolve him. After which, follows a most excellent prayer or two, and the 71. Psalm, all very fit to a sick person’s condition ; as will appear without an Interpreter, to the attentive Reader.
A most excellent and pious Benediction of the Priest concludes all, and so ends this Office.
Of the Communion of the Sick.
THe Churches care for the sick, ends not here : For, besides all this, she appoints, that if the sick person desires it, the Priest may communicate him in his private house, if there be a convenient place, where the Curate may reverently minister. [ Rubr. before priv. Com. of Sick ] so was the ancient decree of holy Church. Nic. Can. 13. Cod. Eccl. univer.
Generaliter omni cuilibet in exitu posito, & Eucharistiae participationem petenti, Episcopus cum examinatione oblationem impartiat. [ To every man that is ready to depart out of this world, let the Bishop after examination and trial give the holy Communion, if he desires it. ] For this, saies the Council, is
antiqua & Canonica lex, ut siquis vita excedat, ultimo & necessario viatico minime privetur. [ This is the ancient law of the Church, says this Conc. there, concerning him that is dying, that whosoever he be, he shall not be denied the last and most necessary viaticum of his life. ] This viaticum, or provision for the way, is the holy Communion, as is plain in the Canon cited. For though as learned Albaspineus observes, this word Viaticum was applied to more things besides the Eucharist, as to Alms, to Baptism, to Absolution, which are all necessary helps in our journey to heaven ; Yet in this Canon I conceive the Viaticum or provision for the way, to be the holy Eucharist. For in the first part of the Canon it is call’d Ultimum Viaticum, the last provision for the way ; which cannot be meant of any other properly but of the holy Eucharist : For the rest, for instance, Absolution, ( of which Albaspineus understands this Canon, ) is
Reconciliatio Altaribus, a Reconciliation to the Altar, or Sacraments, as it was anciently call’d, a fitting or qualifying of the Communicant for the holy Eucharist, and therefore to go before it, as the 76. Can. of Carth. 4. directs ; and for Alms, they are part of the fruits of penance, and so necessary to fit us for Absolution, and Baptism is
janua Sacramentorum, the first admission into Christ’s Church, which gives the first right to the Communion and Sacraments of the Church ; and therefore, all these being precedaneous to the holy Eucharist, cannot be call’d any of them
ultimum viaticum, the last provision, but only the Eucharist it self. Besides, in the last part of the Canon there is expresly mentioned, the participation of the Eucharist, which must be the same with the Viaticum in the first part, as may appear by this : The Canon immediately before this, had directed, that penitents, especially those of the first or second degree, should fulfil the Churches tax, before they were received to the Churches prayers : but if those should fall into danger of death, the ancient Canon shall be observed ( saith this Canon in the beginning ) that they shall be admitted, notwithstanding the former Canon, to the last Viaticum ; the reason is given in the later part of this Canon : Because that to every one whatsoever, that shall in danger of death desire the Eucharist, it shall be given to him if he be found fit to receive it. This could be no reason of the former part of the Canon, namely, of giving the last viaticum to penitents in danger of death, unless that Viaticum and the Eucharist, here be all one. To that which may be objected that this Viaticum cannot be the same with the Eucharist mentioned in the last part of the Canon, because this Viaticum here is allowed to persons in danger of death without any examination, but the Eucharist is granted to persons in the same danger with this exception, if the Bishop after examination shall find him fit ; It may be answered, that notwithstanding this, the Viaticum and the Eucharist may be all one, for the Canon in the first part, where it allows it to persons in necessity without examination, speaks only of penitents, who had already undergone the examination, and had received their penance, and submitted to the Churches discipline, and so professed themselves truly penitents, and were in such necessity desiring the Eucharist, in the judgment of charity supposed fit to receive it ; though the Church denied the same to them, when there was no such necessity, for the maintenance of holy discipline, and in terror of offenders. But
generaliter de quolibet for every one that should desire it, before he had given testimony of his repentance, there could not be sufficient ground of charity to believe so well ; and therefore they were to be examined by the Bishop, or some others by his appointment. So then I think the Canon may be interpreted thus of the holy Communion, without any contradiction ; and that it ought to be so understood, may, I think, be concluded by these Testimonies following, Con. Ilerd. c. 5. Const. Leon. 17. And most clearly by S. Cyprian Ep. 54. After consultation we have determined, that those that have faln in time of persecution, and have defiled themselves with unlawful Sacrifices, should do full penance : yet if they were dangerously sick, they should be received to peace. For divine clemency does not suffer the Church to be shut against them that knock ; nor the succour of saving hope to be denied to those that mourn and beg it ; nor to send them out of the World without peace and the Communion.” This is exactly agreeable to that Canon of Nice. What Communion that was, he tells us soon after ; “that it was not only Absolution but the holy Eucharist besides, as appears by that which follows : Formerly we made this rule, That penitents, unless in time of extream sickness, should not receive the Communion. And this rule was good, while the Church was in peace and quiet ; but now in time of persecution, not only to the sick, but to the healthful peace is necessary ; not only to the dying, but to the living, the Communion is to be given ; that those whom we perswade to fight manfully under Christ’s Banner, and to resist even to blood, may not be left naked and unarmed, but be defended with the protection of the body and blood of Christ ; which for this cause was instituted, that it might be a strength and defence to them that receive it. How shall we teach them to shed their blood for Christ, if we deny them Christ’s blood to strengthen them ? Or how shall we fit them for the cup of Martyrdom, if we do not admit them to the Communion of the Cup of the Lord ? Upon this very ground was it provided, that “all dying men might have the holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, the great defence in that dangerous hour, when the Devil is doing his worst and last. Agreeable to this of S. Cyprian is the 76. Canon of the 4. Carth. Counc. He that in time of sickness desires penance, if happily while the Priest is coming to him, he falls dumb, or into a phrensie, let them that heard his desire bear witness to it, and let him receive penance : and if he be like to die speedily, Let him be reconciled by imposition of hands, and let the Eucharist be put into his mouth. If he recovers, let him be acquainted with what was done by the former witnesses, and be subject to the known laws of Penance. And those penitents which in their sickness received the Viaticum of the Eucharist, let them not think themselves absolved without imposition of hands, if they shall recover, c. 78. Car. 4. And the Counc. of Orange c. 3. says the same. They, that after penance set them, are ready to depart out of this life, it hath pleased the Synod to give them the Communion, without the reconciliatory Imposition of hands. Which suffices for the reconciling of a dying man, according to the definition of the Fathers, who fitly call’d the Communion a Viaticum. But if they recover, let them stand in the rank of penitents, that by shewing the necessary fruits of penance, they may be received to the Canonical Communion by the reconciliatory Imposition of hands.
It will not be amiss for the clearer understanding of all passages in these Canons, to consider the Church her discipline in this particular. Holy Church for preserving of holy discipline and deterring men from sin, did appoint for wasting sins, such as Adultery, Murder, Idolatry, and the like, severe penance for three or four, six or seven years, more or less, according to the quantity and quality of the offence. In the Greek Church they had several degrees of penance to be gone through in this set time.
1. First, they were
πρσκλαίοντες, Lugentes, Mourners, standing without the Church Porch ; they were to beg of all the faithful that entred into the Church, to pray for them : in this degree they continued a year or more, according as their crime deserved.
2. They were
ἀκροώμενοι, Audientes, Hearers ; these might come into the Church Porch into a place call’d
νάρθηξ, Ferula ( so called, because those that stood there, were subjected to the Churches censure or Ferula ) where they might stand and hear the Scriptures read, and Sermons, but were not admitted to joyn with the Church in her prayers.
3. They were
ὑποπίπτοντες, Substernentes, the prostrate, as we may say ; so called, because they were all to prostrate themselves upon their faces, and so continued till the Bishop said certain prayers over them, and laid his hands upon them. They might be present at Sermon and the first Service of the Catechumens, and then go out. Laodic. Conc. 19. apud Nicolin. These were admitted into the Nave of the Church, and to stand behind the Pulpit.
Συνισόμενοι, the Consistents ; they might stay after the rest of the Penitents were gone out, and pray with the faithful, but not receive the holy Sacrament.
Μετέχοντες, Communicants, they were received to the participation of Sacraments, but were still to wear some marks of penance, till by prayers and intreaties they had obtained the full Communion of the Churches favours and honours, says Goar.
in Euch. Graec.
These several degrees were poor penitents to go through in the Greek Church, and as much affliction in the Latin, unless the Bishop should think fit to remit any thing of it, before they were fully admitted to the Churches favour : but if any of these were desperately sick, Holy Church took care, that upon their desire they should have the Churches peace by Absolution, 4. Carth. c. 76. and 78. and the holy Communion, sayes the same Canon, and Cypr. Epist. 54. lest they should want that great strengthening and refreshing of their souls in their last and greatest necessity. Provided nevertheless, that if they should recover, then they should resume their several places and degrees of penance they were in before, and go through and perfect their task of penance, which having done, they should receive Ultimam reconciliationem, their last and highest reconciliation ; a favour which was denied to some that had been admitted to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as you may see Con. Vas. 2. c. 2. This last Reconciliation was a solemn Absolution from all the Churches censures and penances, by the laying on of the hands of the Bishop, and some of his Clergy, says Cypr. l. 3. Ep. 14. A Declaration to all the Church, that they were received not only to necessary Viatica, and assisting such as the former Absolution mentioned, 76. Can. 4. Carth. and the holy Sacrament of the Eucharist were ; which they were permitted to receive in case of necessity ; but also to all the honour and solemnities, and priviledges of the faithful, quite free from all brands and marks of penitents. They were restored
Legitimae Communioni, to the Canonical and Legitimate Communion, Orang. c. 3. they might offer with the faithful, and their offerings be received by the Church ; and they might receive the kiss of peace, and all other favours of the Church. This that hath been said, may help us to understand the true meaning of the so much controverted Canon of Orange, before mentioned, together with the 78. Can. Carth. 4.
Qui recedunt de corpore, &c. “They, that after penance received, are ready to depart out of this life ; it hath pleased, that they shall be received to the Communion, without the Reconciliatory Imposition of hands : ” that is, they shall be admitted to the Communion without that last, outward, solemn Absolution in the Court of the Church, which Balsamon rightly calls
καταλλαγὴν, the full reconciliation to the Churches honours and dignities,
ἤτοι λύσιν τῶν ἐπιτιμιῶν, a loosening of the Churches censures ; which those penitents in case of extremity could not receive, because, as by the Canons appears, they were, if they recovered, to return to their several tasks of penance again, till they had fulfilled them. It was enough for them to be reconciled to the Altar and Sacrament, by the Absolution
in foro Coeli in Heaven’s Court. The power of which was granted to the Apostles and their Successors, S. John 20. Whose sins ye remit, &c. Which Balsamon calls
χάριν, or the Absolution from sin ; and this they were to receive Can. 76. Carth. 4. and after that the holy Eucharist. And this says the Canon of Orange, was sufficient for a dying man’s Reconciliation according to the definition of the Fathers. And this the Church of England provides for all dying men that shall desire it. And infinitely bound to their Mother, for this her care, are all true Sons of the Church. For thrice happy souls are they, who shall have the happiness at their last and greatest extremity, worthily to receive the Reconciliation and the holy Communion, the Bread of Heaven, the Blood of God, our Hope, our Health, our Light, our Life. For if we shall depart hence guarded with this Sacrifice, we shall with much holy boldness ascend to the holy Heavens, defended as it were with golden Arms, says S. Chrys.
We have seen the Churches care to provide all necessaries for sick person’s salvation : ‘Twere an happy thing to see in the people an answerable diligence in the use of these Ghostly Offices, that they would, when they are sick, send for the Priest ; not verbally only to comfort them, by rehearsing to them comfortable texts of Scripture, whether they belong to them or not ( which is not to heal the sick, but to tell them that they have no need of the spiritual Physician, by which means, precious souls perish, for whom Christ died : ) but to search and examine the state of their souls, to shew them their sins, to prepare them by ghostly counsel, and exercises of penance, for absolution, and the holy Communion, whereby they might indeed find comfort, remission of sins and the holy Ghost the Comforter. And this should be done while the sick person hath strength and ability to attend and joyn with him in these holy Services. There is an excellent Canon to this purpose, Decretal. l. 5. tit. 38. c. 13. By this present Decree we strictly charge and command all Physicians, that when they shall be called to sick persons, they first of all admonish and perswade them to send for the Physicians of souls, that after provision hath been made for the spiritual health of the soul, they may the more hopefully proceed to the use of corporal medicine : For when the cause is taken away, the effect may follow. That which chiefly occasioned the making of this good Law, was the supine carelesness of some sick persons, who never used to call for the Physician of the soul, till the Physician of the body had given them over. And if the Physician did, as his duty was, timely admonish them, to provide for their soul’s health, they took it for a sentence of death, and despair’d of remedy, which hastned their end, and hindred both the bodily Physician from working any cure upon their body, and the ghostly Physician from applying any effectual means to their soul’s health. It is good counsel that Eccles. gives c.38. 9. where we are advised, not first to send for the Physician, and when we despair of his help, and are breathing our last, then to send for the Priest, when our weakness hath made him useless ; But first to make our peace with God by ghostly offices of the Priest, and then give place to the Physician. Which method our Saviour hath taught us also by his method of Cure ; who, when any came to him for bodily cures, first cured the soul of sin, before he healed the bodily infirmity : teaching us, that sin is the cause of sickness, and that cure first to be lookt after. And by thus doing, we may possibly save the body, without the Physician, S. James 5. 14. Is any sick, let him send for the Elders or Priests of the Church to pray over him, and the prayer of faith shall save the sick. But if he fails of that bodily cure by these means, yet he may be sure to obtain remission of sins by their means : If he hath committed sins, they shall be forgiven him, ver. 15. by the benefit of absolution, so the words import. For
άμαρτίαι, sins, being a feminine plural, seems not to agree with the verb
ἀφεθήσεται, it shall be forgiven, of the singular number, and therefore this word more properly seems to be rendred impersonally thus, If he hath committed sins, pardon or absolution shall be given him : and so by this means the sick person shall be sure, if not to save his body, yet at least to save his soul.
There was an ancient Canon, which that it might be truly practised and observed, it must be the wish of all good men. It is Can. 7. Con. Aurelian 5.
Ut qui pro quibuscunque culpis in carceribus deputantur, ab Archidiacono seu a Praeposito Eccles. diebus singulis Dominicis requirantur, ut necessitas vinctorum, secundum praeceptum divinum, misericorditer sublevetur ; That all prisoners, for what crime soever, shall be call’d for and visited by the Archdeacon or Bishop of the Church, every Lord’s day, that the necessities, bodily and ghostly, of the prisoners, according to God’s command, may be mercifully relieved. The neglect of which duty, how dangerous it is, we may read, S. Mat. 25. 43. Go ye cursed, for I was sick and in prison, and ye visited me not. The Rubric at the Communion of the sick, directs the Priest, to deliver the Communion to the sick, but does not there set down how much of the Communion-Service shall be used at the delivering of the Communion to the sick ; and therefore seems to me, to refer us to former directions in times past. Now the direction formerly was this :
If the same day ( that the sick is to receive the Communion ) there be a celebration of the holy Communion in the Church, then shall the Priest reserve ( at the open Communion ) so much of the Sacrament of the body and blood as shall serve the sick person, and so many as shall communicate with him. And as soon as he may conveniently, after the open Communion ended in the Church, shall go and minister the same first to them that are appointed to communicate with the sick, if there be any ; and last of all to the sick. But before the Curate distribute the holy Communion, the appointed general Confession, ( in the Communion-Service ) must be made in the name of the Communicants, the Curate adding the Absolution, with the comfortable sentences of Scripture, following in the open Communion immediately, and so proceeding in the Communion-Service to the end of the Consecration and Distribution : and after the Communion ended, the Collect is to be used, which begins : Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee, &c.
But if the day wherein the sick person is to receive the Communion, be not appointed for the open Communion, in the Chruch ; then upon convenient warning given, the Curate shall come and visit the sick person afore noon. And cutting off the form of the visitation at the Psalm, In thee O Lord, shall go straight to the Communion, Rubr. 3. Com. of Sick ; that is, after he hath said the Collect, Epist. and Gosp. there directed, he shall go to the Communion-Service. K. Edw. 6th. 1.
THe Priest meeting the Corps at the Church stile, shall go before it to the grave, saying or singing, I am the resurrection and the life. This, in triumph over death, O death where is thy sting ? O grave where is thy victory ? thou mayest a while hold the corps, but he that is the resurrection and the life, will make the dead man live again. Therefore thanks be to God, who gives this victory through Iesus Christ our Lord. Much after this sort did the Ancients, Hieron. ep. 30. ad Ocean. de Fabiola. Chrys. Hom. 4. in Hebr.
Quid fibi volunt istae lampades tam splendidae ? nonne sicut athletas mortuos comitamur ? quid etiam hymni ? nonne ut Deum glorificemus, quod jam coronavit discedentem, quod a laboribus liberavit, quod liberatum a timore apud se habeat ? [What mean the bright burning torches ? do we not follow the dead like Champions ? what mean the Hymns ? do we not thereby glorifie God, for that he hath crowned our departed brother, that he hath freed him from labours, that he hath him with himself, freed from fear ? All these are expressions of joy, whereby we do in a holy valour laugh at death,
saith Chrys. there. ] And this is Christian-like, whereas if we be sad and dejected as men without hope,
mortem Christi, qua mors superata est, calumniamur ; [ we disgrace the death of Christ, that hath conquered death : ]
and Heathens and Atheists will deride us, saying, how can these contemn death, that cannot patiently behold a dead friend ? Talk what you will of the Resurrection, when you are out of passion, it is no great matter, nor perswades much ; but shew me a man in passion of grief for the loss of his friend, playing the Philosopher, and triumphantly singing to God for his happy deliverance, and I will believe the Resurrection. Of so good use are such triumphant hymns at this time : and of this sort are the three first.
When they come to the Grave, while the Corps is made ready to be laid into the grave, the Priest shall say or sing, Man that is born of a Woman, &c., closing with a most devout prayer for grace and assistence in our last hour ; a prayer very suitable to such a time, and such a spectacle before us.
Then they commit the body to the earth ( not as a lost and perished carkass, but as having in it a seed of eternity ) in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life. This is to bury it Christianly ; the hope of the resurrection, being the proper hope of Christians. Such was the Christians burial of old, that it was accounted both an evident argument and presage of the resurrection ; and an honour done to that body, which the Holy Ghost had once made his Temple for the Offices of piety. Aug. de Civit. l. 1. c. 13.
After follows another Triumphant Hymn. Then a Lesson out of S. to the same purpose ; Then a Thanksgiving for that our brother’s safe delivery out of misery ; Lastly a Prayer for his and our consummation in Glory, and joyful Absolution at the last day. By all which prayers, praises, and holy Lessons, and decent solemnities, we do glorifie God, honour the dead, and comfort the living.
Take away these prayers, praises and holy lessons, which were ordained to shew at Burials, the peculiar hope of the Church of the Resurrection of the dead, and in the manner of the dumb funerals, what one thing is there, whereby the world may perceive that we are Christians ? 1. 5. Eccl. Pol. §. 75. There being in those dumb shews nothing but what heathens and pagans do, How can any unlearned or unbeliever be convinced by them, that either we who are present at them do, or that he ought to believe any part of Christian Religion ? But when the unlearned or unbeliever hears us sing triumphant songs to God for our victory over death, when he hears holy Lessons and discourses of the Resurrection, when he hears us pray for a happy and joyful Resurrection to Glory : by all these he must be convinced, that we do believe the Resurrection, which is a principal Article of Christian faith, and the same may be the means to convince him also, and make him believe the same, and so fall down and worship God. And this is according to S. Paul‘s rule, 1. Cor. 14. 23, 24, 25. who thence concludes, that all our public religious services ought to be done, that the unlearned or unbeliever may be convinced, and brought to worship God.
For the due performance of these holy public services, a Priest, ordained for men in things pertaining to God, Heb. 5.1. is required by the Church, as it ought to be, and as it was of old. S. Chrys. Hom.4. in Hebr. Ambr. Ser. 90.
It was an ancient custom, after Burial to go to the holy , unless the office were performed after noon. For then, if men were not fasting, it was done only with Prayers. Conc. Carth. 3. 29. Can.
Thanksgiving of Women after Child-birth, commonly call’d the of .
THe Woman when she comes to give her thanks, shall kneel near to the place where the holy Table stands : but in the Church of Rome, she was to kneel at the Church door.
The Woman may come to give her thanks, whensoever she shall be able, Decretal. l. 3. Tit. 4. But if she be likely to live, she is required by the Civil Law, according to the Tradition of the Church, to forbear the coming to partake of the holy Mystery forty days after the birth. Not for any unholiness in the Woman, or incapacity of receiving the holy Mysteries at that time ; ( for if there be fear of death, she may receive them, as soon as she please after the birth ; ) but for some secret reasons in the Law, which are set down, Constit. Leon. 7.
The Woman that is to be Churched, is to have a veil ; and good reason ; For if as S. Paul 1 Cor. 11. says, Every woman, when she prays in public, ought to have a veil or covering on her head, in token of her modesty and subjection : then much more, when she is to sit in a more eminent place of the Church, near to the holy Table, apart from the rest of her Sex, in the public view, ought she to have such a Veil or covering. Nor can it be deemed unreasonable for her at that time to have a Veil or habit distinct from others ; that so it may be known, for whom thanks is then particularly given.
The Preface following. Forasmuch, &c. is left arbitrary to the Priest, but the prayers are all prescribed.
Then shall the Priest say the 121. Psalm, I have lifted up mine eyes unto the Hills, &c. The Church appointing this Psalm at this time, does not intend to perswade us by this, that this Psalm was pen’d for such a particular occasion as this ; or that the promises of God’s protection and assistence there expressed, were directly and primarily made to persons in that danger of child-birth : but because the Psalm at the very beginning tells us all, that our help comes from God, it is thought seasonable at this time to be used, to mind the woman from whom she hath received that mercy of deliverance, and to whom she is to return the honour due for such a mercy, even to him from whom comes all our help, the Lord that made heaven and earth. And this were enough to justifie the Churches choice of this Psalm at this time ; in that, part of it is so fit for this business in hand, though it were not penn’d upon this very occasion ( for so we find Hezekiah commended, for appointing of the Psalms of David and Asaph, to set forth the praises of God in the public services, 2. Chr. 29. 30. although neither had Hezek. and the Church then, the very same occasions to use them, which David and Asaph had, nor did every particle of those songs, so directly and properly belong to Hezekias and the Church then, as they did to David and Asaph. ) But not only the beginning of this Psalm, but even the whole body of it is fit and suitable to this service. And those promises of divine assistence therein exprest, though they were primarily and in their first intention made to the Church of the Jews : yet in their proportion they do belong to the person coming to give thanks, and to every one that shall lift up their eyes to the Hills, and trust in God. For not Israel at large, but Israel lifting up her eyes to God, and trusting in God, is the formal and true object of this promise ; which therefore belongs to every such person as shall be so qualified, so depending upon God. This rule S. Paul hath taught us, Heb. 13. 5. applying there the promise made particularly to Joshua Chap. 1. 5. to every one of us that shall contentedly depend upon God, as Joshua was commanded to do in expectance of that promise. Let your conversation be without covetousness ; and be content with such things as ye have ; For he hath said, I will not leave thee nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper.
One verse of this Psalm may perhaps at the first sight seem not so well expressed, namely this, the sun shall not burn thee by day, nor the Moon by night ; for the Moon does not burn but cool. But it is easily cleared, by taking notice that to burn is not always taken in the strict and proper sense, but usually in a larger ; whereby it is the same with, to grieve or hurt ; as ordinary skill in language will inform us ; so the meaning is, The Sun shall not hurt thee by day, nor the Moon by night, whose shine is held to be very hurtful.
After the Psalm follow the Kyrie or short Litany, and the Lord‘s Prayer, so admirably good and useful, that there is scarce any public service dispatcht without them : after these follow some Verses and Responds, of which and the reason of their use, together with the antiquity of it, hath been said already, and need not be here repeated. But there is one thing observable in these Responds or Answers which was not spoken of hitherto, nor was so observable in some of the former Verses and Responds as in these here ; and that is this, that some of these Answers are not of themselves intire sentences or petitions, as the others were, but are parts or ends of the foregoing verses, the verse and Answer together making up one entire petition. For example,
O Lord save this Woman thy Servant,
R. Which putteth her trust in thee.
Be thou to her a strong Tower,
R. From the face of her Enemy.
This I observe, because it seems to be the remain of a very ancient custom. For Eus. in Hist. l. 2. c. 17. tells us, that the Primitive Christians in the singing of their hymns, had this use ; that one began and sung in rhythm ; the rest hearing with silence, only the last part, or
ἀκροτελεύτια the ends of the Psalm or Hymn, all the rest joyned and sung together with him. Agreeable to this, says Clem. Const. l. 2. c. 57. was the usage in his time and before. After the readings of the Old Testament, says he, Let another sing the Psalms of David, and let the people answer
τὰ ἀκροστίχια, the extreams or ends of the Verses. What the reason of this ancient custom was, I will not peremptorily determine ; whether it were only for variety, which much pleases and delights, and is a great help against weariness : which those Primitive Christians, ( who continued in sacred exercises from morning to night ) had need of. For which cause says Euseb. in the place above cited, they used all decent and grave variety of rhythmes and Meeters in their Hymns and Psalms. Or whether it were to avoid the inconvenience of indecorum and confusion, which the people ( usually not very observant of decency ) were guilty of in their joynt singing : and yet to reserve them apart in these Offices ; that it was so appointed, that they should only sing the extreams or ends of the Verses. Or what else was the cause, I leave it to others to judge.
The prayer following is clearly fitted to the occasion.
THis Office the Church confesses not to be ancient, but appointed instead of an ancient godly discipline of putting notorious sinners to open penance, which being lost with us, holy Church wishes might be restored again.
Though it be not ancient, yet is it a very useful penitential service, either in public or private, consisting of holy sentences taken out of God’s word, fit for the work of repentance ; God’s holy Commandments, the glass wherein we see our sins ; Holy penitential prayers taken for the most part out of holy Scripture : so that, he which prays this form, is sure to pray by the Spirit, both for words and matter.
Nothing in it seems to need exposition, but the , which is to be said after the Curses, which being commonly used after prayers, may perhaps here be accounted by some, a wish or prayer ; and so the people be thought to curse themselves.
For the satisfying of which scrupulosity, it is enough to say, that God himself commanded these Amens to be said after these Curses. Deut. 27. and therefore good there may be in saying of them, but harm there can be none, if men when they say them understand them. Now that we may understand them when we use them, let us consider, that Amen is not always a wish or prayer. For, it signifies no more but verily or truly, or an assent to the truth of that to which it is added. If that to which it is added, be a prayer, then this must needs be a joyning in the prayer, and is as much as so be it ; but if that to which it be added be a Creed, or any affirmative proposition, such as these curses are, then the Amen is only an affirmation, as that is, to which it is annexed. In this place therefore it is not a wishing that the Curses may fall upon our heads, but only an affirming with our own mouths that the curse of God is indeed due to such sins, as the Church here propounds it. The use of it is to make us flee such vices for the future, and earnestly repent of them, if we be guilty : since, as we acknowledge, the curse and vengeance of God doth deservedly follow such sins and sinners.
Of the Dedication of and to God’s Service.
THe public Service and Worship is to be offered up in the Church. Last Rubr. of the Preface.
And the Curate that ministreth in every Parish Church or Chappel shall say the same in the Parish Church or Chappel. And where may it be so fitly done as in the Church ? which is the house of Prayer, S. Matth. 21. 13. My house shall be called the house of Prayer. Almighty God always had both Persons and Places set apart for his public Service and worship,
ὄργανον ἱερουργίας ὁ ναός τε καἲ ὁ ἱερεύς. A Temple and a Priest are necessary instruments of public and holy worship. The Priest, to offer it up, and the Church with an Altar to offer it upon. Simeon Thessal. The Light of Nature taught Heathens thus much ; and they obeyed that Light of Nature, and dedicated and set apart to the worship of their God’s, Priests and Temples. The Patriarchs, by the same Light of Nature, and the guidance of God’s holy Spirit, when they could not set apart houses, being themselves in a flitting condition, dedicated Altars for God’s service, Genesis 22. 9. 28. 22. &c. Under the Law, God call’d for a Tabernacle, Exodus 25. within which was to be an Altar, upon which was to be offered the daily Sacrifice, Morning and Evening, Exod. 29. 38. David by the same Light of Nature, and the guidance of the holy Spirit, without any express direction from God, ( as appears 2 Sam. 7. 7. and also by this, that God did not suffer him to build it ) intended and designed an House for God’s service and worship ; which, ( though for some reasons, viz. because he had shed much blood, being a man of war ) God did not suffer him to build, yet he accepted it highly from him, and for this very intention promised to bless him and his, for many generations, 2. Sam. 7. But Solomon built him an house, which God accepted, and our Saviour owns under the Gospel, for His house of prayer, whither the Apostles go up to pray, Acts 3.1.
Afterwards the Christians set apart and consecrated with great solemnity of religious Rites and holy Prayers, Churches and Oratories for the same solemn service and worship. Nor can it with reason be thought needless or superstitious to use solemn religious Rites and Prayers, at the Consecration and setting of those Houses, apart to religious uses and services. For as S. Paul argues in another case, Doth not even nature teach you, that it is unseemly for any man to go about the building of an house to the God of Heaven with no other apparance, than if his end were to rear up a Kitchin or a Parlor for his own use ? Did not this light of Nature teach the Patriarchs in the state of Nature, when they erected Altars for God’s service, to consecrate and set them apart with religious solemnities ? Gen. 28. 18. &c. And did not Moses, by the direction of the God of Nature, consecrate the Tabernacle and Altar, with the like solemnities ? Exod. 40. And Solomon after consecrated the Temple, with religious Prayers and Rites, 1. Kings 8. without any particular direction from God, that we find, only by the Light of Nature and right reason, which teacheth, that it is fit, that the House which is dedicated and given up to God, should be solemnly surrendred into his possession, and by religious Rites guarded and defended from Sacrilegious usurpation.
Again, Nature teaches us by these solemnities, that the House so consecrated, is to be no more used to Common and prophane employments, but set apart to holy and religious services, such as those are, with which it is consecrated. These things, those pious Christians in Primitive times did not account superfluous. They knew how easily that which was meant should be holy and sacred, might be drawn from the use whereunto it was first provided. They knew how bold men are to take even from God himself ; how hardly those Houses would be kept from impious profanation : they knew, and right wisely therefore endeavoured by such solemnities to leave in the minds of men that impression, which might somewhat restrain their boldness, and nourish a reverend affection towards the House of God. Thus therefore they built and set apart to God’s holy service and worship by religious solemnity, Churches and Oratories, which they called Dominica‘s, the Lord‘s Houses, and Basilica‘s, Royal and Kingly houses ; because Sacrifices and holy worship were offered up there to the great King of all the world. And when persecutors at any time destroyed those holy places, as soon as the storm was over, those blessed Souls, the first thing they did, re-built, and re-beautified them, Euseb. l. 10. c. 2. that they might worship God, according to the Psalmist’s rule, in the beauty of holiness.
Thus to offer up God’s public service and worship in separate and dedicated places, which we call Churches, is most fit ; both for the honour of God, and our own profit. It is for the honour of God to have a House of his own, for his service alone, where flesh and blood hath no right or interest, where no common or profane thing may be done, S. Matth. 21. 22. therefore called the habitation of his honour. Psal. 27. 8.
Of Chancels, Altars, Fashion of Churches.
ANd the Chancels shall remain as they have done in times past.
That we may the better understand the intent of this Rubric, it will not be amiss to examine, how were in time past both for the fashion and necessary furniture ; for as they were then, so they are to continue still in the same fashion, and with the same necessary Appendices, Utensils, and Furniture. All this may be, and for ought appears to me, must be meant in these words, The Chancels shall remain as they have done in times past.
In times past, the fabric of the Church, as to the Nave or Body, was built somewhat in the form and fashion of a Ship, which very figure might mind us thus much ; That we were in this world as in a Sea, tossed and hurried with the troublesome waves and boisterous winds of divers temptations, which we could not be carried safely through, to our haven of rest and happiness, but only in the ship of the Church.
The Church of old was parted into two principal parts. Navis, the or body of the Church ; and Sacrarium, the . The first, the Nave, was common to all the people that were accounted worthy to joyn in the Churches Service : the Chancel was proper and peculiar to the Priests and Sacred persons. The Nave represents the visible world, and the Chancel typifies heaven, or as Symeon Thessal. applies it :
The whole Church is a type of heaven, Gen. 28. 17. the house of God is heaven upon earth ; the Nave represents the visible or lowest heaven or Paradise ; the lights shining aloft, represent the bright Stars ; the circling roof, the Firmament ; the Priests within the Quire beginning the divine Hymns, represent the first order of Angels that stand before God ; the Deacons with the Readers and Singers orderly succeeding, the middle order or quire of heaven ; the whole company of true believers joyning with the Priests and Deacons in heart and affection, saying Amen to the divine Hymns and prayers, and so inviting and alluring the mercy of God, resemble the lowest rank of Angels, with whom no prophane Heretic, or unclean notorious sinner is suffered to assemble ; for, what fellowship hath light with darkness ? thus the whole Church typifies heaven, but the Chancel, parted and separated from the Nave or body of the Church, so as that it cannot be seen into by those that are there, typifies the invisible heaven, or things above the heaven, not to be seen by the eye of flesh.
The Nave or body resembles the lowest visible heaven or Paradise : and as man for sin was cast out of Eden‘s Paradise into the earth, accursed to briars and thorns, there to eat his bread in sorrow, and not suffered by the flaming sword to enter again, Gen. 3. till, after much affliction and sorrow in this troublesome world, he shall be reconciled to God by repentance, and so, his peace being made, be received, as the thief upon the Cross was, to our Lord Christ in Paradise ; so in like manner notorious sinners were by the sentence of excommunication cast out of that Paradise the body of the Church, abroad into the Church porch, which represents the earth, not to be received in again to the society of the faithful, till after a wearisome attendance there in a place, call’d of old Narthex or Ferula ( because those that stood there, were under the Churches Ferula or censure ) begging the prayers, entreating the tears, hanging upon the knees of all that entred into the Church, by much spiritual affliction and castigation they had made their peace and were reconciled.
In the Nave, we shall mention but two things as observable here ; First, the Doors, called
ὡραίας, the beautiful Doors or Gate, Acts 3. 2. because those that had entred them, might see the whole beauty of the Church ; and the Pulpit
Ἄμβων, which stood in the midst or side of the Nave, Sym. Thess. This signifies the stone rolled away from the Sepulchre ; and because the Angel sitting upon it, preacht the Gospel of the Resurrection of Christ to the women, S. Matth. 28. 6. the Priests and Deacons, imitating the Angel’s pattern, from this Pulpit, publish and proclaim the glad tidings of the Gospel.
The Chancel was divided from the Body of the Church, Cancellis, whence it is called the Chancel. This was, as was said, peculiar to the Priests and sacred persons. In it were, at least in some principal Churches, these divisions ; Chorus Cantorum, the Quire ; where was an high Seat for the Bishop, and other Stalls or Seats for the rest of the Quire : yet perhaps this Chorus, as also the next, called Soleas, might be more properly reckoned a part of the Nave ; and the Chancel properly that which of old was called
ἅγιον βῆμα, the Sanctuary, which was separated from the rest of the Church with rails, and whither indeed none but sacred persons entered : whereas the Laity entred into the other, as will appear after ; but account it to which you please, such a place there was, and immediately beyond it, divided from the Quire with boards on the one side, and from the Sanctuary by the rails of the Altar on the other side, was a place called Soleas, from the Latin Solium or Throne, because this was Christ’s lower Throne ; his higher or upper Throne was the Altar, where the precious body and blood of Christ was consecrated and offered : And this was his lower Throne, where the Bishop or Priest in Christ his stead, stood and distributed the holy Sacrament to the people. Beyond this is
ἅγιον βῆμα, the Sanctuary, rail’d in of old, as you may see plainly Syn. Calc. Acts 1. that it might not be prest upon by the multitude, Euseb. Hist. l. 10. c. 4. At the upper end of this Sanctuary or Chancel is a large Arch or Absis ; within that a Seat called
σύνθρονος, a Seat or Seats built for the Bishop and his assistent Priests in the Celebration ; the middle of which is the highest, where the chief Bishop sate, which S. Chrys. in his Liturgy calls
τὴν ἄνω κάθεδραν. Of this Seat is the 56. Can. of Laodic. to be understood, The Priests ought not to go into the Church and sit in Tribunalibus, before the Bishop be entred, unless he be sick, and cannot come. The Bishop sitting in this Seat by the Altar ( having his assistent Priests sitting with him, ) resembles Christ ( with his Apostles by him ) instituting the holy Sacrament, and blessing the prayers offered up at the Altar by the Priest ; Right under this Seat stood the Altar or holy Table, the Propitiatory, Christ’s Monument, and the Tabernacle of his glory. The Shop of the great Sacrifice, Sym. Thessal.
Now that no man take offence at the word Altar, Let him know that anciently both these names Altar or holy Table were used for the same things, though most frequently, the Fathers and Councils use the word Altar. And both are fit names for that holy thing : For the holy Eucharist, being considered as a Sacrifice, in the representation of the breaking of the Bread, and pouring forth the Cup, doing that to the holy Symbols, which was done to Christ’s Body and Blood, and so shewing forth and commemorating the Lord’s death and offering upon it the same Sacrifice that was offered upon the Cross, or rather the commemoration of that Sacrifice, S. Chrys. in Heb. 10. 9. may fitly be call’d an Altar, which again is as fitly call’d an holy Table, the Eucharist being considered as a Sacrament, which is nothing else but a distribution and application of the Sacrifice to the several receivers.
To put all out of doubt, it is questionless lawful and safe to speak the language of the New Testament, and to give this holy thing the name, which is given it there ; now there it is called an Altar, Heb. 13. 10. We have an Altar : S. Paul in the verse before had perswaded that they should not be carried away with strange doctrines of Jewish and carnal observances, which are grown unprofitable to those that walk in them. For we have an Altar now, whereof they that serve at the Tabernacle, the Jewish Priests, have no right to eat, unless they will receive the Faith of Christ ; our Altar is better than theirs, and theirs was but a shadow of ours ; the Sacrifices of their Altar, but types of ours ; theirs are vanished and ours only continue. And for this reason, do you leave strange doctrines of legal observances, and Jewish Altars, and continue in the grace of the Gospel, whose Altar is to continue ; for we have an Altar. Again S. Matth. 5. 23. When thou bringest thy gift to the Altar. That precept and direction for Offerings is Evangelical, as is proved at large, p. 225. [ in the office for the Communion, ] and if the duty there mentioned be Evangelical, then Altars are to be under the Gospel ; for those gifts are to be offered upon the Altar, so that I hope, we may go on and call it Altar without offence.
To return then to the appendices of the Chancel : On each side or Wing of the Altar, in the Transverse Line, which makes the figure of the Cross, stand Two Side-Tables. The one
τράπεζα προθέσεως, a by-standing Table, appointed for the Peoples offerings, which the Bishop or Priest there standing received from the people, offered upon that Table in their name, and blessed ; and though the oblations there offered were not yet Consecrated, yet were they there fitted and prepared for Consecration, and were types of the body and blood of Christ, says Sym. Thess. The other was
Sacristae Mensa, The Vestry where the holy books and Vestments were laid up and kept by the Deacons, who also sat there at the time of the Communion-Service, at least, as many of them as were necessary to assist the Bishop or Priest in his ministration. Thence was the same place call’d also Diaconicum. These several places, and this furniture some principal and Cathedral Chancels had ; which I have named, not that I think this Rubric does require them all in every Chancel, but because I conceive the knowledge of them may serve to help us in the understanding of some ancient Canons, and Ecclesiastical Story. But though all Chancels of old had not all these, yet every Chancel had even in Rural Churches an Altar for the Consecrating of the holy Eucharist, which they always had in high estimation. The Ancients, says S. Chrysost. would have stoned any one, that should have overthrown or pull’d down an Altar, Hom. 53. ad pop. Antioch. S. Gregory Nazianz. commends his Mother for that she never was known to turn her back upon the Altar, Orat. 28. in Fun. Patr. And Optat. l. 6. accuses the peevish Donatists of the highest kind of Sacriledge, because They broke and removed the Altars of God, where the people’s prayers were offered, Almighty God was invocated, the holy Ghost was petitioned to descend ; where many received the pledge of eternal life, the defence of faith, the hope of the Resurrection. What is the Altar, but the seat of the Body and Blood of Christ ? and yet your fury hath either shaken, or broken, or removed these : every of these is crime enough, while you lay sacrilegious hands upon a thing so holy. If your spite were at us, that there were wont to worship God, yet wherein had God offended you, who was wont to be there call’d upon ? What had Christ offended you, whose Body and Blood, at certain times and moments dwelt there ? In this you have imitated the Jews, they laid hands upon Christ on the Cross, you have wounded him in his Altars. By this doing, you are entred into the list of the Sacrilegious. You have made your selves of the number of them that Elias complains of, 1 Kings 19. Lord, they have broken down thine Altars. It should have sufficed your madness that you had worried Christ’s members, that you had broken his people, so long united, into so many Sects and Factions, at least you should have spared his Altars. So he, and much more to the same purpose.
Many more testimonies to the same purpose might be brought ; but this may shew sufficiently the respect they had to the Altar ; First, the Epithets they gave it, calling it the Divine, the Dreadful Altar : Secondly, their bowing and adoring that way, turning their faces that way in their public prayers, as towards the chiefest and highest place of the Church : Lastly, placing it aloft in all their Churches at the upper end, the East. For so both Socrates and Niceph. l. 12. c. 34. tell us, the Altar was placed Ad Orientem, at the East, in all Christian Churches, except in
Antiochia Syriae, in Antioch. And so they stood at the East in the Church of England, till Q. Elizabeth‘s time, when some of them were taken down indeed, upon what grounds I dispute not ; but wheresoever the Altars were taken down, the holy Tables, which is all one, were set up in the place where the Altars stood, by the Queen’s Injunctions, and so they continued in most Cathedral Churches ; and so ought to have continued in all ; for that was injoyned by Queen Elizabeth‘s Injunctions, forbidden by no after-Law, that I know, but rather confirm’d by this Rubr. For the Chancels are to remain as in times past.
The Divine Service may be said privately.
WE have seen the reason of the Churches command, that the holy Service should be offered up in the Church or Chappel, &c. But what if a Church cannot be had to say our Office in ? shall the Sacrifice of Rest, the holy Service be omitted ? By no means. If a Church may not be had, The Priest shall say it Privately, says the same Rubr. 2. And good reason ; for God’s worship must not be neglected or omitted for want of a circumstance. It is true, the Church is the most not convenient place for it, and adds much to the beauty of holiness. And he that should neglect that decency, and despising the Church should offer up the public worship in private, should sin against that Law of God that says, Cursed is he that having a better Lamb in his flock, offers up to God a worse : For God Almighty must be serv’d with the best we have, otherwise we despise him. He that can have a Church, and will offer up the holy service in a worse place, let him fear that curse : but if a Church cannot be had, let him not fear or omit to offer up the holy Service in a convenient place in private, having a desire to the Church, looking towards the Temple in prayer, 2 Chron. 6. 28. for it will be accepted, according to that equitable rule of S. Paul, 2 Cor. 8. 12. If there be a willing mind, God accepts according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.
Agreeable to this command of holy Church, we find it directed in Clem. Constit. l. 8. c. 34. If, O Bishop, or Priest, you cannot go to the Church because of Infidels or persecutors, gather a congregation in a private house ; but if you cannot be suffered to meet together, no not in a private house,
Psallat sibi unusquisque. Let every man say the Office in private by himself.
Let every Lay-man say this Morn. and Even. Office, his Psalter, leaving out that which is peculiar to the Priest, Absolution, and solemn benediction ; and let him know that when he prays thus alone, he prays with company, because he prays in the Churches communion, the Common prayer and vote of the Church. But let not the Priest of all others, fail to offer this service of the Congregation. This public worship, this savour of rest, though by himself in private looking towards the Temple, Lifting up his hands toward the mercy seat of the holy Temple, Psal. 84. that is, having in his soul a desire and longing to enter into the courts of the Lord, praying with David, that he may go unto the Altar of God, the God of our joy and gladness, to offer up his service there, and it will be acceptable.
Of the Ornaments to be used in Divine Service.
THe Minister in time of his ministration shall use such Drnaments as were in use in the 2. of Edw. 6. Rubr. 2. viz. A Surplice in the ordinary Ministration, and a Cope in time of Ministration of the holy Communion, in Cathedral and Collegiate Churches, Qu. Eliz. Artic. set forth the seventh year of her reign. This appointment of decent sacred vestments for the Priest in his holy ministration is according to God’s own direction to Moses, Exod. 28. 2. Thou shalt make holy raiments for Aaron and his Sons, that are to minister unto me, that they may be for Glory and Beauty. And good reason : For if distinct habits be esteem’d a Beauty to solemn actions of Royalty and Justice, so that Princes and Judges appear not without their Robes, when they appear in public to do those solemn acts ; shall they not be esteemed a Beauty likewise to solemn religious services ? Or shall it be thought necessary to preserve respect and awe to Royalty and Justice ? and shall it not be counted as necessary to preserve an awful respect to God’s holy service and worship ? And if such respect to God’s service be indeed necessary, then cannot sacred distinct vestments, nor sacred separate places be thought unnecessary : For by these and such like decencies, our awe to Religion is preserved : and experience teaches, that where they are thrown off, Religion is soon lost.
Of the word Priest.
THe Greek and Latin words which we translate Priest, are derived from words which signifie holy : and so the word Priest according to the Etymology, signifies him whose meer charge and function is about holy things : and therefore seems to be a most proper word to him, who is set apart to the holy public service and worship of God : especially when he is in the actual ministration of holy things. Wherefore in the Rubrick, which direct him in his ministration of these holy public services, the word Priest is most commonly used, both by this Church and all the Primitive Churches Greek and Latin as far as I can find, and I believe it can scarce be found, that in any of the old Greek or Latin Liturgies the word Presbyter was used in the Rubrics that direct the order of service, but in the Greek,
ἱερεὺς and in the Latin Sacerdos, which we in English translate Priest, which I suppose to be done upon this ground, that this word Priest is the most proper for him that ministers, in the time of his ministration.
If it be objected, that according to the usual acception of the word, it signifies him that offers up a Sacrifice, and therefore cannot be allowed to a Minister of the Gospel, who hath no Sacrifice to offer.
It is answered : that the Ministers of the Gospel, have Sacrifices to offer, S. Peter 1 ep. 2. 5. Ye are built up a spiritual house, a holy Priesthood to offer up spiritual Sacrifices of prayer, praises, thanksgivings, &c. In respect of these the Ministers of the Gospel may be safely in a metaphorical sense called Priests ; and in a more eminent manner than other Christians are ; because they are taken from among men to offer up these Sacrifices for others. But besides these spiritual Sacrifices mentioned, the Ministers of the Gospel have another Sacrifice to offer, viz. the unbloody Sacrifice, as it was anciently call’d, the commemorative Sacrifice of the death of Christ, which does as really and truly shew forth the death of Christ, as those Sacrifices under the Law did foreshew it, and in respect of this Sacrifice of the Eucharist, the Ancients have usually call’d those that offer it up, Priests. And if Melchisedeck was called a Priest, ( as he is often by S. Paul to the Hebrews ) who yet had no other Offering or Sacrifice that we read of, but that of Bread and Wine, Gen. 14. He brought forth Bread and Wine ; and, or, for ( the Hebrew word bears both ) he was a Priest, that is, this act of his was an act of Priesthood, for so must it be referred, he brought forth Bread and Wine ; for he was a Priest ; and not thus, and he was a Priest, and blessed Abraham ( for both in the Hebrew and Greek there is a Full point after these words, and, or, for he was a Priest. ) If, I say, Melchisedeck be frequently and truly call’d a Priest, who had no other Offering, that we read of, but Bread and Wine, why may not they whose Office is to bless the people as Melchisedeck did, and besides that to offer that holy Bread and Wine, the Body and Blood of Christ, of which, his Bread and Wine, at the most, was but a type, be as truly and without offence called Priests also ?
If it be again objected, that the word Priest is a Jewish name, and therefore not to be used by Christians.
1. It is answered, first, that not every thing that was Jewish is become unlawful for Christians to use. I find indeed that those things amongst the Jews that were shadows of things to come, are abolished now that Christ is come, Col. 2. 16, 17. and therefore to use them, as still necessary and obliging to performance, is unlawful under the Gospel, for it is virtually to deny Christ to be come, Gal. 5. 3. An entangling our selves again in the yoke of bondage, from which Christ hath set us free, Col. 2. And therefore S. Paul tells the Colossians there, that he was afraid of them for their superstitious observation of Sabbaths which were shadows of things to come : and in that Chapter to the Galat. he does denounce damnation to them that entangle themselves again in that yoke of bondage, v.2. But that other things, rites or usages of the Jews, which were no such shadows, should be unlawful to Christians if they were used without such an opinion of necessity, as we formerly spake of ; I cannot perswade my self can ever be proved by either direct Scripture, or necessary inference from it. It will not therefore follow, that the name of Priest, ( which is no shadow of things to come ) though it were Jewish, would become unlawful to Christians.
2. The names of those rites and ceremonies, which were most Jewish, and are grown damnable to Christians, may still be lawfully used by Christians in a spiritual and refined sense. S. Paul who tells that the Circumcision of the Jews is become so unlawful, that if it be used by Christians ( with an opinion of the necessity aforesaid ) it forfeits all their hopes of salvation by Christ, Col. 2. 2. uses the word Circumcision frequently, particularly in that very Chapter, Ver. 11. In whom ye Christians, are circumcised, See p. 149.
Of the Translation of the in the Book of Common Prayer.
THe in our English Liturgy are according to the Translation set forth in the latter part of King Henry the Eighth’s Reign, after that Petrus Galatinus had brought in the pronouncing and writing the name Jehovah, never before used or heard of in any Language : which is used in this our Translation. Psal. 33. 12. & Psal. 83. 18.
The Bishops Bible ( set forth in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth‘s reign, and used in Churches till the New Translation under King James, ) though a much different Translation from the former in other parts, yet retains the same Psalms without any alteration. And therefore whereas it hath Notes upon all the rest of the Books both of the Old and New Testament, it hath none at all upon the Psalms, not so much as references to parallel places.
The Reason hereof I suppose was to avoid offending the people, who were used to that Translation, and to whom the Psalms were more familiar than any other part of the Bible. As S. Hierom in his Edition of the Latin Bible retains the Psalms of the Old Latin Translation out of the Septuagint, though himself also had translated them
juxta Hebraicam Veritatem, as they are extant at the end of the Eighth Tome of his works.
This our Translation was doubtless out of the Hebrew. And though it tyes not it self so strictly to the Letter and words of the Hebrew as the Later Translations would seem to do, but takes the Liberty to vary a little for the smoothing of the Language : yet it holds to the sense and scope more than some suppose it doth, and many times much more than those who would seem to stick so close to the Letter.
Here ends the book of Common prayer, truly so called, being composed by the public spirit, and prescribed by the public Authority of the Church, for the public service and worship of God, to be offered up to him, in the name and spirit of the Church, by those who are ordained for men in things pertaining to God, to which every person of the Church, may according to S. Paul, say Amen with understanding, because he knows beforehand to what he is to say Amen.
Πάντες ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ ἐν τῇ προσευχῇ προσέρχεσθε, μία δέησις ἔστω κοινὴ, εἷς νοῦς. Come all together to the same prayer, let there be one Common prayer, one and the same mind and Spirit.
Ignat. ad Magnesianos.
I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also.