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Lord's Supper-the great point of difference between the Romanists and Protestants-the great field of controversy with the Romanising party in the Established Church to-day. The restoration of the Sacerdotal Vestments encouraged the idea of a material Eucharistic Sacrifice; and the words now appointed to be said to communicants were so expressed as to suggest, though they would not necessarily involve, the doctrine of the Real Presence"; while, in like manner, the omission of the "Black Rubric" seems to leave that doctrine an open question.
IV. THE THIRD REVISION.
The Prayer Book of James I., A.D. 1604.
At the commencement of the reign of King James I. "The Millenary Petition" (so called from its having nearly one thousand signatures) was presented to the King, asking, among other reforms, for a Revision of the Prayer Book.
This led to the so-called "Hampton Court Conference," at which an excellent opportunity for good was turned to evil. The Prayer Book was revised; but only so as to make matters rather worse than before.
If, at the commencement of Queen Elizabeth's reign, the critical position of affairs could be pleaded in extenuation of the guilt of some unhallowed and dangerous concession, for the time, to Romish traditions (in the hope and expectation that the next generation would rectify the error), there was now, on the contrary, an urgent need to conciliate and consolidate the sound and loyal Protestantism of the country. Yet the tendency of this Revision, so far as it went, was to recede still further from the Reformation. The most important of the changes made was the addition to the Catechism of the portion referring to the "Sacraments" (so-called) or Ordinances of Christ, which does not harmonize very well with the XXXIX. Articles, favours the "Sacramental" teaching of Rome, and gives increased countenance to the doctrine of the "Real Presence."
V. THE FOURTH REVISION.
The Prayer Book of Charles II., A.D. 1662.
The Savoy Conference took place in London in 1661; but it came to nothing, owing to the determined obstinacy of the Bishops and their supporters. Another great opportunity was thus lost. But the Prayer Book was again revised by a Committee of Convocation. In this Revision, while a considerable number of small improvements, and some of a higher value, were made in the ordinary services, a still stronger Anti-Reformation tone was given to the Book, especially by the following changes: the "Absolution" to be pronounced by "the priest," instead of by "the minister"; the words
bishops, priests, and deacons," in the Litany, instead of "bishops, pastors, and ministers of the Church"; the direction for placing the bread and wine upon the Communion table, taken from the First Prayer Book of Edward VI., and suggestive of a sacrificial offering; the restoration of the "Black Rubric," with the slight but significant substitution of the words "corporal presence," for "real or essential presence"; the re-enactment of the Vestments' or "Ornaments' Rubric," which Queen Elizabeth's "Book of Advertisements" had modified, and which now gave renewed encouragement to sacerdotal pretensions; a consecration of the material elements in both the Holy Ordinances, which consecration had been discontinued in the Church of England for more than a hundred years, and, moreover, the consecration of the water, now for the first time introduced into the Baptismal Service, favoured the notion of a change in the material element more strongly even than the Consecration Prayer, which had been so wisely omitted in A.D. 1552.
Finally, in addition to all these retrograde changes, the new Act of
Uniformity cut off communion with the Reformed Churches at home and abroad by requiring now, for the first time, that all Incumbents must have received episcopal ordination.
The above historical review cannot be concluded in more appropriate language than that in which the Rev. Dr. Jacob closes his valuable and learned work, entitled, The Ecclesiastical Polity of the New Testament:
"This was the last revision of the Prayer Book (for the one recommended in 1689 fell to the ground); and it may well be asked, Was absolute perfection then certainly secured, so that nothing should ever afterwards be done? Was that time of violent exasperation in the Church, and of debased morals in the Court and gentry, of all times in the world the one best fitted for settling a Liturgy, and binding it upon all posterity for evermore?"
"Our Prayer Book is not the genuine work of the Reformation. All the last three revisions were more or less of an anti-Reformation character. It was, therefore, most natural that when the Church awoke out of its long sleep, the reactionary impulse should give birth to some strong tendencies to assimilation, if not reunion, with Rome. But the Church of England, as a national institution, is a Church of the Reformation; and if the principles of the Reformation are to be maintained, and the National Church preserved, it has become absolutely necessary that the Prayer Book should be again revised upon the avowed basis of those principles. The intelligence and religious feeling of the English people are not, and ought not to be. satisfied with the existing state of things. Men are looking for something to be done. Will those who ought to lead them in the present crisis of the Church continue to hang back with a timid inactivity, or blind their eyes to the real position of affairs, and speak peace when there is none?"
Such, briefly told, is the history of the Four Revisions of the Book of Common Prayer, actually carried out in the past,
If inquiry be made as to the effect of this remarkable Book upon the fortunes of the Nation and the Church of England, the answer must be made that the compromise of A.D. 1559 gave rise to the School of Land, whose priestly tyranny, Popish tendencies, and persecution of the Puritans, in conjunction with the Absolutism of the King, drove the nation into Rebellion, and brought himself and his Sovereign to the block.
The Episcopal Reactionaries of 1662 compelled the secession or expulsion of nearly 2,000 of the clergy, including many of the most distinguished Divines whom our country has ever possessed, who declined to accept and conform to the Book thus manipulated by the Bishops.
Such was the origin of modern Non-conformity (or "Dissent"), and severe were the pains and penalties imposed upon Non-Conformists.
The results destined to flow naturally from the imposing of such a Book upon the Church were retarded in their development by that great event-the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
Political Protestantism then triumphed on the dismissal of the Romish King James II., and the accession of William and Mary.
An attempt was at once made, by the appointment of a Royal Commission for the Revision of the Prayer Book, to remove stumblingblocks, and thus prepare the way for a reunion of all Protestants in one grand National Church.
Unhappily, from various causes, the effort proved abortive. The
The above sketch is taken almost verbatim from The Ecclesiastical Polity of the New Testament (Appendix E on "Liturgical Revision "), by the Rev. G. A. Jacob, D.D. (2nd Ed. May, 1878).
roots of error were still retained, destined in the fulness of time to bring, as before, trouble and disaster upon the land.
But the Protestant Constitution of 1689 and the political suppression of Popery accomplished great things.
The Sovereign was bound by oath to maintain to the utmost of his power the Protestant Reformed Religion Established by Law, and to sign a Declaration against Transubstantiation, and Prayers to the Virgin Mary and the Saints.
Members of Parliament were similarly called on to reject Popish superstition and idolatry.
Papists were disfranchised, and excluded from office, and from the Army and Navy.
The Protestant Religion being thus safe-guarded, the power and influence of the Laudian Party in the Church of England by degrees well-nigh died out. The Nation, both in Church and State, appeared to be thoroughly Protestantized, and England under her Protestant Constitution attained, through the grace and blessing of Almighty God, to almost unexampled grandeur, and to a commanding position amongst the nations of the earth.
But at the zenith of her fame, in 1814, when she had struck down Napoleon, she became a party to the restoration of the Papal Antichrist, who had been detained as a prisoner in France, to his usurped dominions.
The Pope, thus reinstated, at once resuscitated the order of the Jesuits, who immediately addressed themselves to the task of subjugating England to the Papacy. England subdued, the world would be theirs.
Mindful of the well-known principle, "He who would England win, must with Ireland first begin," they proceeded to stir up strife, sedition, and tumult, and to threaten civil war, unless so-called "Roman Catholic Emancipation" were conceded, and Papists were admitted to the Legislature.
In the short space of fifteen years they succeeded!
The British Government yielded to their threats in 1829. Protestant Constitution was surrendered. Romish Idolaters were introduced into the British Parliament-the Parliament of "this Protestant Kingdom "-and the Pope at this moment, through their influence and by the power of their votes, being able to bring each successive Government to terms, is practically master of the British Empire. But this terrible surrender was not accomplished without a determined resistance in both Houses of the Legislature.
It was pointed out by the opponents of the Measure that such an Act would be one of Apostasy from the Lord Jehovah, and that in elevating Popery to political power, England would incur the dis pleasure of that God who had so wonderfully blessed and protected her in days of National peril, and that the Popery which she was now electing to foster, would become predominant both in Church and State.
We have lived to see these predictions verified to the letter.
In the course of four years, in 1833, the "Oxford Movement" was inaugurated by John Henry Newman, and a conspiracy was formed within the bosom of the Established Church for un-Protestantizing the Church and nation, and effecting a (Roman) "Catholic Revival."
The mischievous elements reintroduced, as we have seen, into the Book of Common Prayer, afforded Mr. Newman and his confederates, Dr. Pusey, Mr. Hurrell Froude, Mr. Keble, and others, a basis of operations, and in their hands the Prayer Book itself became the most formidable weapon for the overthrow of the Protestant Religion established by law.
The Tractarian" or Oxford Movement of 1833, was developed by the publication of the "Tracts for the Times," in which the Sacerdo
tal and Sacramental system was advocated, and it was claimed that by this system alone could the principles of the Church of England, described as "Church Principles," be fairly represented and fully brought out. The opponents of the movement maintained, and very justly, that such a system and such "Church principles " practically identical with Popery.
The doctrine that we are saved by union with Christ, a union effected only by the "Sacraments" of Baptism and "The Holy Eucharist," and that these Sacraments are invalid unless adminis tered by "Priests" who derive their authority in an unbroken line called "The Apostolical Succession" from Christ and His Apostles, is precisely the doctrine of the apostate Church of Rome. The movement, however, steadily advanced, the "Tractarians" relying upon the language in the Services to which attention has been already called, until in 1841 the Rev. J. H. Newman, then Vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford, issued the Tract, "No. XC.," in which it was argued that the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion might be so explained as to be reconcilable with the Decrees of the Council of Trent and the Roman Creed of Pope Pius IV., and that consequently they might be signed by men who held all Romish doctrine.
It had now become evident to all attentive observers, acquainted with the Romish Controversy, that there were weak points in the Services and Teaching of the English Church which had been brought to light and exposed during the controversy.
It would have been well for the cause of truth if Protestants had then looked facts in the face and grasped the situation, and had resolutely determined that the Reformation should be saved, as under God might have been the case, by the immediate removal from the Prayer Book and Articles of the Established Church of every Rubric and every phrase which afforded plausible ground for the Teaching and Practice of the Sacerdotal and Romanising Party.
But such was not the case.
That Party continued to make successful progress, notwithstanding the secession of Mr. Newman to Rome in 1845, with many of his friends.
In 1859 the " English Church Union" was formed to support the Romanising Body by legal advice, pecuniary aid, and other forms of active sympathy, in their effort to eliminate from the Established Church every Protestant characteristic.
This powerful organization compelled Protestants on their part to combine, and the Church Association" was called into existence in 1865 to re-assert the Protestant Doctrines and the simplicity of Service which had for some generations prevailed in the Church of England, and it elected to conduct the struggle on the basis of "the Prayer Book as it is."
The controversy now gathered, as in the 16th century, around the Second Figurative Ordinance, the Supper of the Lord.
In earlier years it had more especial reference to Baptism. The unconditional Regeneration of Infants in Baptism, administered by Priests, was the Dogma of the Tractarians. This was brought to the test of Law by the Rev. G. C. Gorham, M.A., who maintained that "Regeneration may take place before, at, or after Baptism."
The Bishop of Exeter regarding this position as Heresy, refused to institute Mr. Gorham to the living of Brampford Speke. The case was carried into the Court of Arches, and thence to the Court of Final Appeal, where their Lordships, upon a full Review of the Articles and Services, in 1850, gave judgment that "the doctrine held by Mr. Gorham was not contrary or repugnant to the declared doctrine of the Church of England as by law established."
This was a heavy blow, for the time, to the Sacerdotal Party. Unfortunately this decision was not followed by such alterations in
the wording of the Baptismal Service and of the Catechism as would have removed the grounds of controversy, and it can be, and has continuously been, too successfully, argued, that the phraseology em ployed therein, and read independently of the Articles, distinctly favours the contention of the Sacramentalists, with whom therefore, as a practical result, the advantage has remained.
In their teaching with regard to the Lord's Supper the Rev. Dr. Pusey (who after Mr. Newman's secession led the Romanising party), and his followers, maintained the "Real Objective Presence," or the Doctrine that the Priests by the Act of Consecration of the Elements brought down the Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven and localised Him upon their "altars," where the same Lord Jesus who had lain in the manger at Bethlehem now lay, under the veils of Bread and Wine, to receive the Adoration of the Faithful.
The "Priests" assumed the Mass Vestments in accordance, as they pleaded, with the "Ornaments Rubric," and the Ritual of the Romish Mass re-appeared in the Churches of "the Protestant Reformed Religion established by Law." (See Coronation Oath.)
The Council of the Church Association determined to test the legality of these proceedings, and upon appealing to the Courts of Law obtained authoritative decisions in their favour upon nearly sixty points of Ritual.
But it was necessary to deal with the false system of Doctrine, and the Rev. W. J. E. Bennett, Vicar of Frome, was singled out for prosecution. His teaching was precisely that stated above. He represented a Party in the Church, and with him, in this Trial, that Party must stand or fall.
It was of the highest importance to ascertain whether such teaching was to be tolerated in the Church of England.
The case was carried to the highest Court, and in 1872 the Judges determined that "the question was not so much what the Church of England taught as what she excluded," and taking a lenient and merciful view of the case, they acquitted Mr. Bennett.
This was a fatal blow to the Protestant character of the Communion Service of the Church of England, and was equivalent to the appending of the following additional Rubric to the Black Rubric at the end of the Communion Service :
"But note, notwithstanding, that it shall be lawful for the Priest to teach a Real and Essential Presence of Christ, and to adore, and instruct the people to adore, Christ present upon the Altar' under the Veils of Bread and Wine."
The Protestant and Evangelical Members of the Church of England might then have nobly followed the splendid example of the Scotch Seceders of 1843, and, withdrawing from an un-Protestantized Church, have formed on solid foundations a "Protestant Church of England," with a Prayer Book brought completely into harmony with Holy Scripture and with itself. Or they might have first approached the authorities in Church and State, and signified their intention so to do unless effectual measures were instantly taken to purify the Establishment from Popish Doctrine and Ritual. Failing which, they might have carried out the policy of withdrawal and reconstruction with dignity and with success.
But nothing effectual was attempted.
The opportunity was lost, and the tide of Popish innovation flowed rapidly on.
In 1877 Judgment was delivered in the case of a Prosecution, conducted by the Church Association, against the Rev. J. Ridsdale, who was charged with wearing the Mass Vestments, and assuming the Eastward Position during the Prayer of Consecration.
The Mass Vestments were disallowed, but the Eastward Position was practically conceded.