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4. Lateinische und Griechische Messen, aus dem zweiten bis sechsten Jahrhundert. Herausgegeben von FRANZ JOSEPH MONE, Archivdirector zu Karlsruhe. Frankfurt am Main: 1850.
5. Liturgy, Episcopacy, and Church Ritual. Three Speeches by Dr. WILLIAM LAUD, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr. Oxford: 1840.
6. Two Speeches in Parliament of the Right Honourable William, Lord Viscount Say and Seale. London: 1541.
7. Dr. Martin Luther's Sämmtliche Werke. Bd. 22. Erlangen: 1833.
8. Η τοῦ ἁγίου Ἰακώβου Λειτουργία. The Greek Liturgy of St. James, edited with an English Introduction and Notes. By the Rev. W. TROLLOPE, M. A., Pembroke College, Cambridge. Edinburgh: 1848.
9. Reliquiæ Liturgica._Documents connected with the Liturgy of the Church of England. Edited by the Rev. PETER HULL. In Five Volumes. Bath: 1847.
10. Fragmenta Liturgica. Documents illustrative of the Liturgy of the Church of England. Edited by the Rev. PETER HULL, M. A. In Seven Volumes. Bath: 1848.
11. Origines Liturgicæ; or, Antiquities of the English Ritual, and a Dissertation on Primitive Liturgies. By the Rev. WILLIAM PALMER, M. A., of Worcester College, Oxford. Oxford: 1832.
THERE are few persons we are persuaded who would not, at
any time and under any circumstances, regard the investigation to which we are invited by the works before us as important and interesting in a very high degree. The history of Liturgies, of the various modes in which Christians, from times little subsequent to those of the Apostles, down to our own, have judged it decorous and becoming that they should collectively approach the Almighty, could never have been told in a Christian community to indifferent ears; but there are tendencies peculiar to our country and our time which, whilst they add to the permanent and universal interest of the subject, seem to impose upon each of us the duty of seeking, for his own individual guidance, the solution of various questions which fall within its scope.
After the lapse of more than a century and a half, during which men seemed tolerably agreed to hold external forms of worship as belonging to the non-essentials of religion, and their rejection or adoption, consequently, as a question of expediency,
Present Tendency to Religious Extremes.
we have had, without any very apparent cause, except the periodical recurrence of human folly, a revival of opinions more extreme than those either of Laud or the Covenanters. One class of persons we now daily see around us, approaching not only ritual forms, but even the most trivial and accidental usages of external worship, with an abject prostration of individual judgment which nothing could justify, short of a wellfounded belief that they were indeed the institution of Christ himself. We have no lack of living examples of those, of whom Milton said in his time, that they cannot think any doubt resolved, or any doctrine confirmed, unless they run to that indigested heap and fry of authors which they call antiquity,' and who conceive themselves as much bound by a well-authenticated custom of turning towards the altar when they mutter the creed, as by any article of faith which it contains. With such persons all power of distinguishing between the accidental and the necessary, the means and the end, is lost, and thus it is that the architectural arrangements of the church, its furniture, the dresses of the clergy, the order of the services, and the manner of reading them (none of them indifferent matters, when reasonably viewed), acquire a degree of importance which often seems scarcely consistent with mental sanity.
Opposed to these we have those with whom, in Laud's words, a barn is as good as a church, and no church holy but that 'which is slovenly even to nastiness.' In their case again the tendency is to repudiate, without scruple as without investigation, all that the good and the wise of former times have thought, said, or done, and to tread under foot the results of much learned and honest labour, as if to the institutions of Christian worship alone had been denied that progressive development, which they themselves would regard it an extravagance to doubt with reference to any other. One party denies all power of judging to the present, and trusts for its guidance solely to the dim and coloured light which shines through the painted windows of medieval tradition, whilst the other acts as if the opinions of mankind for more than a thousand years must necessarily have had no other foundation than folly or ignorance or chance.
Between the representatives of these extreme views, there is doubtless a very large portion of the community who are sane and sober enough, who neither distrust their own judgment nor are wholly sceptical as to that of their fellow men, either dead or living. We are even disposed to think that at no former period of our history has there existed so large a class of intelligent persons in a condition to regard the
question of forms or no 'forms with a dispassionate temper. There is no risk of any one in our day having a bloody rubric engraven with the sword on his back,' and though in many the pertinacity of opposition is unabated, its bitterness in the mass of laymen at least is no longer such as materially to distort the judgment. In the case of the unbiassed portion of the community, however, we apprehend that there is a tendency to dispose of such matters rather too hastily, and it is against this that we are anxious to guard ourselves in this Article. We would not willingly write down, under the head of non-essential or indifferent, every opinion which is capable of being pushed to an unreasonable length. There may be opinions very clearly indicated in Holy Writ, there may be recommendations to particular lines of conduct, which are intended to be received under certain limitations, which have reference to particular circumstances, and which within these limits, and dependent on these circumstances, we ought by no means lightly to overlook, but which, if raised up into positive injunctions, and placed unconditionally on the same level with the indispensable requisites to salvation, will carry us into endless absurdities and childish superstitions. Within the legitimate category of nonessentials again, there is a distinction between the expedient and the non-expedient, which as men, and by the aid of our mere human judgment, it is our province, and our privilege, and our duty, to draw.
But before we attempt to give consistency and clearness to the views of those who, with ourselves, incline to regard this question in the lower light, either of Scripture indication, or of mere expediency, we must endeavour to dispose of the opinions of the two contending parties who pretend respectively to solve it on higher grounds. Our first intention with reference to this branch of our subject, was to request our readers to accompany us through an enumeration of the texts commonly cited on either side, and then, by a process of mutual cancelling, to induce them to join in the opinion of their inconclusiveness, which previous acquaintance with them had long since impressed upon ourselves. We had proceeded but a little way in our systematic ordering, however, when we perceived that it was not apparent contradiction, but absolute silence, that we had to contend with. We had the holy Martyr Laud on the one side, and the honest Westminster divine Gillespie on the other, equally at fault in their attempts to wring from the texts a positive response. The self-same words were adduced by both parties, and so little way did they go on either side as to fill us with despair when we attempted to set up the
Inconclusiveness of Scripture upon Rituals.
semblance of a case of positive injunction for the one or the other. 'Let all things be done decently and in order,' exclaimed the ritualist, triumphantly, whilst these very words stood, with equal reason, at the head of the Westminster Directory, side by side with the twenty-sixth verse of the same chapter (1 Cor. xiv.), which was likewise the motto to Mr. Trollope's edition of the Greek Liturgy of St. James! We had St. Paul's affecting separation from the Church at Miletum produced as an instance, as it no doubt was, of proper genuine extempore prayer; but when we considered the occasion we could not but see that it made nothing for the argument in favour of its use in the congregation in ordinary circumstances. It was not an expression of the ordinary and normal feelings of assembled Christians, of their wants and necessities, by the mouth of one selected to approach the Almighty at stated times and seasons on their behalf, but it was an outpouring of supplication by the departing Apostle, dictated by his own individual anxiety for their welfare, and to which they doubtless responded, not by repeating his words, but by giving utterance, each after his own fashion, to corresponding petitions for his safety. Not only was the occasion so special as to render any general form of prayer inapplicable, it was likewise one which had filled the hearts of all to such an extent as to make it well nigh impossible that their speech could have been restrained within the limits of a prayer which had been composed for ordinary circumstances. If we could calculate on a daily and hourly recurrence of such sentiments as must then have burned within the breasts of the Elders at Miletum, we should have no need for artificial aids to devotion. Those who were sorrowing most of all for the words which he 'spake, that they should see his face no more,' would pray appropriately enough without the help of a liturgy.
A similar inconclusiveness hung so obviously over every other passage which we examined, that we were not long in concluding that our most prudent course was to take for granted, that our readers would be willing to dispense with further proof of a fact, the reality of which, every attempt to call it in question only served more firmly to establish. All that remained to us on the positive side, was the injunction with which the dominical prayer is introduced (Luke, xi. 2.) ὅταν προσεύχησθε λέγετε, when ye pray, say-' the binding nature of which we believe most, even of our modern Calvinists, are willing to recognise, and the practical recognition, by the daily conduct of our Lord and his disciples, of the Jewish ritual which existed in their time. This latter circumstance seems to hand the burden of VOL. XCV. NO. CXCIV.
proof over to the side of those who object to ritual observances, for neither a law nor a custom can be got rid of by mere inference, and consequently the part of the advocate of extempore prayer will not be ended even when he shall have explained away the texts of the ritualists, and cleared the ground from all injunction. It is besides important to the ritualist, because it accounts in a very satisfactory manner for the small amount of positive injunction by which his own case is supported. No one in Christ's time had called the propriety of formal prayer in question, and consequently no opinion in its favour was expressed otherwise than by implication. In such circumstances it is nothing more than natural to suppose that the conduct of Christ should be more significant than his words.
From this branch of our investigation then it results :
1. That the Lord's Prayer is the only form of words, the use of which is enjoined in the New Testament.
2. That the uniform practice both of Christ and his Apostles was such as to indicate their approval of ritual prayers.
3. That extempore public prayer, on ordinary occasions, is nowhere recommended or even sanctioned.
4: That extempore prayer, even in public, on extraordinary occasions, is sanctioned by Apostolic example.
It will be observed, that we distinguish between public prayer on ordinary occasions on the one hand, and public prayer on extraordinary occasions, and private prayer on the other; and the ground upon which the distinction rests furnishes, as it seems to us, a measure of the extent of applicability of a ritual. Wherever our object is to give utterance to the feelings, or to express the wants of mankind, in their normal condition and position towards their Creator, this we believe will be accomplished, not only as well, but better, by a form drawn up by several individuals, and in the composition of which, they shall avail themselves of the experience of many Churches and many ages, than by the extempore utterance of one person however earnest and however gifted. The circumstances with which we have to deal are here invariable, and consequently admit of having premeditation fully applied to them. But no two public calamities or private afflictions, the circumstances of no two families, of no two individuals are precisely identical: in these we have no fixed quantity-nothing to which a formula can accurately apply, and consequently a directory, in which a general idea of the train of thought and manner of supplication suitable to such circumstances should be indicated, would probably be preferable to any formulary.
The question of forms or no forms, in the general service of