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In the evening he dined with Evelyn, and told him of the occasion of his publishing these Offices. At the first coming of the Queen Henrietta into England, she and her French ladies, it appears, were equally surprised and dissatisfied at the disregard of the hours of prayer, and the want of breviaries.
Their remarks, and perhaps the strength of their arguments, and the beauty of many of their books, induced the Protestant ladies of the household to apply to King Charles. The King consulted Bishop White as to the best plan of supplying them with forms of prayer, collected out of already approved forms. The bishop assured him of the ease and the great necessity of such a work, and chose Cosin as the fittest person to frame the manual. He at once undertook it, and, in three months, finished it and brought it to the king
The Bishop of London (Mountain), who was commanded to read it over and make his report, is said to have liked it so well that, instead of employing a chaplain, as was usual, he gave it an“ imprimatur" under his own hand. There were at first only two hundred copies printed. There was, as Evelyn tells us, nothing of Cosin's own composure, nor any name set as author to it, but those necessary prefaces, &c., touching the times and seasons of prayer, all the rest being entirely translated and collected out of an Office published by authority of Queen Elizabeth and out of our own Liturgy. “ This,” adds Evelyn, “I rather mention to justify that industrious and pious Dean, who had exceedingly suffered by it, as if he had done it of his own head to introduce Popery, from which no man was more averse, and who was one who, in this time of temptation and apostasy, held and confirmed many to our Church.”
The book soon grew into esteem, and justified the judgment which had been passed upon it, so that many who were at first startled at the title, “ found in the body of it so much piety, such regular forms of divine worship, such necessary consolations in special exigencies, that they reserved it by them as a jewel of great price and value.” “Not one book,” it was said,
was in more esteem with the Church of England, next to the office of the Liturgy itself.” It appears, in fact, to have become exceedingly popular; and ran through ten editions, the last of which was published in 1719. Since that, an age has passed over us
which would be little likely to appreciate it, and it has become extremely
We have a slight trace of it in the Clergyman's Companion, in which the solemn “Declaration of Forgiveness,” and the “ Form for commending the soul of the dying into the hands of God,” are borrowed from it, with trifling alteration.
Of the “ Hours" little can be added to the testimonies quoted in the book itself as to their apostolic or primitive origin ; nor need any thing be said of the general nature of Catholic devotion, which was frequent rather than long. The primitive Christians endeavoured to obey the Apostle's injunction, to "pray without ceasing," by praying often and earnestly. And those who are familiar with our best devotional writers will have remarked how they bear witness
to the reality and beauty of this system.
Bishop Andrews, than whom few seem more fully and deeply and practically to have understood “how to pray,” immediately after the instruc. tions to pray “always,” and “at all times,"mentions first the three Hours, “morning and evening, and noonday,” and then the “ seven times a-day,” spoken of by the Psalmist, Ps. cxix. 164; and enumerates them under their several texts.
The unknown author of the “ Whole Duty of Man,” after the prayers for Morning and Night, reminds us that, in the ancient Church, there were, besides morning and night, four other times every day, which were called the Hours of prayer; and that the zeal of those Christians was such as made them constantly observed. And