DEAR AND REVEREND BRETHREN,
At your request and for your use, I commit to print so much of my late Charge as relates to the Public Services of the Church. The general exhortations to uniformity, with which my Charge was prefaced, are omitted, not as being unimportant in themselves, but as, happily, unnecessary in your case. The same remark applies to some sentences of admonition and encouragement at the close. However I might have deemed it proper or necessary "to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance," the intercourse I have since enjoyed with you has convinced me that you fully appreciated, if not anticipated, on these points, all my wishes and views. To repeat, then, such general remarks and exhortations would needlessly swell a publication more large and lengthy in its present state than desirable, and cause me additional labour and expense, neither of which I can well afford.—I trust I may with propriety, as I can in all sincerity, take leave of you in the Apostle's words; "joying and beholding your order and the steadfastness of your faith in CHRIST,"
Reverend and Dear Brethren,
Your affectionate Brother and Servant,
ST. JOHN'S, OCTOBER 4, 1844.
I proceed now to tender you some information and advice on the Public Services in our Prayer Book, and the manner of conducting and performing them; in doing which I shall be almost necessarily led to the kindred subject of Church-arrangement.
First in order, and first in importance, are the Public Services of the Lord's Day.—There are four distinct, though no longer necessarily separate, Services for each Lord's Day, appointed and set forth in our Book of Common Prayer.—1st., The Order for Morning Prayer; 2d., The Litany; 3d., The Communion Office; and 4th., The Order for Evening Prayer.—The three offices of Morning Prayer, the Litany, and Holy Communion, are now commonly used, one in immediate succession after the other; but that they are really and essentially distinct Services will appear from the following considerations:—
1st., The Order for Morning Prayer is appointed to be, and is frequently, used on other days of the week, as a complete Service in itself, without either the Litany or Holy Communion. 2d., The Litany is, in many Cathedral Churches, still said at a considerable interval after the Order for Morning Prayer, and may be used occasionally as a separate Service, under the direction of the Ordinary. It was to mark and maintain this distinction between the Order for Morning Prayer and the Litany that the Rubric has been preserved after the third Collect, "IN QUIRES AND PLACES WHERE THEY SING, HERE FOLLOWETH THE ANTHEM." It is true that the Rubric applies, and should be observed, when the Litany is not said, and both in the Morning and Evening Prayers; yet such, I am persuaded, was its original object and use. And a very little reflection shews the purport and propriety of this direction; for, if impatience of multiplied services, and of frequent attendance at Church on the part of the people, or the paucity of Ministers (which obliges their resorting to different parishes or places of worship,) will not allow of the sufficient and intended interval, there is the more reason we should mark the distinction and difference of these Services, I mean of the Order for Morning Prayer and the Litany, by some pause or change. It must, I think, have occurred to many, and would, no doubt, to more, if long custom had not made the practice familiar, that to proceed at once from the third Collect to the Litany, without break or pause, is somewhat abrupt and ungraceful; and has, no doubt, given occasion (contrary, you see, to the mind and purpose of the Church) to the complaint sometimes made of the longsomeness of the Morning Prayers. The fact is that the Litany is not part of the Order for Morning Prayer, but a distinct Service; and to mark, I say, the distinction (of course for the higher purpose of assisting our devotion) the Anthem was directed here to be sung. By the help of this pause and refreshment, it is supposed we shall be better prepared for that solemn and affecting Service of general supplication. Now, with this Rubric, the meaning and propriety of which are so easily understood and readily approved, (though I do not know that all are concerned to approve them) it cannot but seem strange—I will not say that no Anthem or Hymn should HERE be sung—but that, instead of it, a Hymn should be inserted and used where there is no authority for one, and by no means the same necessity or propriety:—for instance, (as I have sometimes heard) after the Second Lesson and immediately before a Canticle appointed by the Church; or, more commonly, before the Sermon, for which there is only the self-imposed necessity that the Minister should then change his surplice for the black gown, as if, when he ascended his pulpit to read his Sermon or Homily, he were no longer ministering in the Church. It is my wish that the distinction between the order of Morning Prayer and the Litany should be noted and observed in places where they sing, by an Anthem or Hymn after the third Collect, as the Rubric directs. There is another method of marking the division of these Services, once common, if not universal, and still retained in a few Churches—viz., by saying the Litany at a different desk, facing East, and nearer to the East end of the Church. This is called the Litany Desk, and is still used in many Cathedrals, particularly during the season of Lent. As, however, this custom has generally been discontinued, and there is no direction on the point in the Rubrics or Canons, it would not, I think, be well to revive it, (as changes are always attended with some inconvenience,) though its propriety is evident when we consider the Litany as a distinct and separate Service. The practice, also, of facing to the East, in saying the Prayers, has many recommendations, supposing the people generally can hear and follow the Minister, which, with the help of their books, may easily be done. For in whatever character and capacity the Priest or Minister then acts, whether he be regarded as praying with or for the people, or offering up his supplications together with theirs to the Throne of Grace as a deputation with or for them,—in whatever light you regard his action, it is, surely, unnatural and unbecoming that he should, as it were, address himself to the Congregation and people, as instructing, or encouraging, or exhorting them. I have noticed, however, one objection to this change of posture, which, no doubt, where it applies, is of great weight; for we never should be satisfied if our people cannot hear and follow the Prayers, and say Amen at our giving of thanks. We do not, and should not, think it enough that GOD should hear and understand the Minister's words, or that the people should have a general knowledge only of the substance and subject of our petitions; for we believe it to be intended and ordered that they should pray with the spirit, and with the understanding also; but—that grand and important point being secured—it may assist devotion, and prevent that confusion which often, I fear, exists in men's minds between instructions to, and petitions for or with, them,—between preaching and praying,—if they are taught not to direct their attention too closely and particularly to the Minister. If, indeed, the people are, as they are directed, all devoutly kneeling, they will have no temptation to turn their eyes to him; and then at least it will be of no moment that his face is turned away from them. It is sometimes, I know, urged that the Clergyman must look around him to detect and prevent irregularities of behaviour; but this is, surely, a painful duty to be imposed upon him, and which can hardly issue in the benefit of his flock, to say nothing of his own comfort and edification, a matter of some moment even to his Congregation. The same reason, however, which I gave for not recommending a separate Litany Desk, induces me to request you not suddenly or abruptly to reverse your usual position in saying the Litany or other Prayers; but, to avoid that unmeaning, and, to the Clergyman at least, inconvenient arrangement of looking towards the whole Congregation, and being gazed at by them, I would recommend such an expedient as we have adopted in this Church, to which, I conceive, no just objection can attach [NOTE: A short time before this Charge was delivered, the Pulpit, Reading Pew and Clerk's Desk had stood in the middle passage, immediately in front of the Communion Table; and, being a large and lofty pile, very much obstructed the view towards the East, and threw all the Services of the Holy Table into the shade. The Pulpit is now placed against a pillar on the South side, and an open Praying Desk opposite to it. A stand for the Holy Bible, from which the Lessons are read, is placed in the middle passage. The space within the Communion-rails has been considerably enlarged; and the Singers have been brought down from a Western gallery, and placed in two seats on each side of the passage, between the Reading Desk and Communion-rails on one side, and the Pulpit and Rails on the other, as in most Cathedrals. A capacious Stone Font has, for the first time, been introduced, with decent Almsbasins and a Silver Flagon for the Wine.].
The distinction between praying with or for our people, and reading or preaching to them, is or should be obvious;—and, with respect to preaching, it is sufficiently shewn by the Pulpit facing, as it should do, to the people. The stand for the Holy Bible, from which the lessons are read, is not necessarily separated from the Praying Desk, though commonly in Cathedrals and ancient Churches it was so; and there is a Rubric which implies that a different Minister and different position are required in reading as in preaching—different, I mean, from the Prayers and Psalms. "HE THAT READETH," it is said, "SO STANDING AND TURNING HIMSELF AS HE MAY BEST BE HEARD OF ALL SUCH AS BE PRESENT;" and there is something surely pleasing and appropriate in the open Bible laid in the centre of every Church,—a plain and perpetual testimony of the grounds of our Faith and Hope. Where this arrangement is not convenient, on account of the want of space, or the difficulty of a single Minister leaving and returning to the Desk, or from any other cause, I would recommend that, (the Praying-Desk being placed as in this Church,) another Desk be joined to it at right angles, looking West, on which the Holy Bible should be placed, and then the Minister will only require to turn half round, in order to face, in reading the Lessons, the great body of his Congregation.
The third distinct Service is that of the Holy Communion, which was intended to be, and originally was, performed at some considerable interval after the Morning Prayer—allowing the Minister time to converse with those who had signified their names as intending to communicate, and to call and advertise any of them who should be open and notorious ill-livers, or who had done any wrong to their neighbours, by word or deed, whereby the Congregation might be offended, that they presumed not to come to the Lord's Table until they had openly declared themselves to have truly repented and amended their former naughty life. —Even this small remnant of discipline seems now to be forgotten or despised.—The union or connection of this Service with the Litany is grounded, I presume, upon the same circumstances which I before mentioned as probable causes for saying the Litany in immediate connection with, or continuance of, the Morning Prayer—viz., the paucity of ministering Priests, or the dislike, on the part of the Congregation, of numerous or multiplied Services;—causes to be sadly pondered, both of them. But even when more closely connected, as in the present day, a distinction was noted by the practice, which still obtains, of singing before the Communion a Psalm or Hymn, called, originally, an Introit, because at that time the ministering Priest ENTERS the Chancel or Communion-rails to approach the Holy Table. The very circumstance of passing to another part of the Church clearly shows that a fresh or distinct Service is about to commence;—and I would hope, that though we have not in this Country the benefit and beauty of the Chancel to mark more significantly and impressively the change and advance from a communion and open service to that which is ever considered the highest and most sacred of our Religion—those Holy Mysteries, as our Prayer Book calls them;—though we have not, I say, the benefit of those Chancels, so beautiful and appropriate in all the old Churches, I hope you do as far as possible mark the change, by going up to, and standing as you are directed at the North side of, the Holy Table. And if the Service you perform there be, as I have supposed, the highest and most sacred of all, surely it can hardly be necessary to insist upon the inconvenience, not to say indecency, of placing the Pulpit and Desk immediately in front of the Communion-rails—an intrusion unknown, and, I would venture to say, never thought of, in any ancient Church. To what cause this too common, but utterly unauthorized innovation may be ascribed, I cannot pretend to say; except it be to a preference and exaltation of preaching, not only above Prayers, but above Communion also. Whether such preference be wise and righteous,—for the honour of our Redeemer, or the edification of His Church,—I need not pause to enquire. I would earnestly hope that wherever it be necessary, and may be effected without serious inconvenience, some arrangement may be made similar to that now adopted, or restored, in this Church; I mean, that the Pulpit be placed against a side-pillar or side-wall, and no longer be allowed to obstruct the view of the Holy Table. It is not the least in my intentions or my thoughts to depreciate the ordinance of Preaching, or to make it in any way less honourable or acceptable than at present it is in the eyes of our people, or to diminish one iota of the care and consideration and study and prayer which you devote to your Sermons and Discourses from the pulpit: I would rather, if it were necessary and possible, heighten and increase them: but no candid person would suspect me of such designs, merely because I would restore the Communion Table and its sacred Services and ministering Priests to the view and regard of the whole Congregation.—I trust I may venture even further without fear of being so misjudged or mistaken, and say that though the Pulpit is a convenient instrument and contrivance for addressing a Congregation, it is by no means the most essential or first requisite in a Church. Any Clergyman, I conceive, may very fitly and properly preach from the rails of his Communion Table, as was the most ancient practice at least in the country Churches. And I wish it to be understood that, in fitting up or arranging Churches, the Pulpit should not be considered and provided, as is commonly the case, before the Communion Table, with its steps and rails—and for this obvious and sufficient reason, that while the Sermon may very well be preached from the Communion-steps and rails, the Holy Sacrament cannot at all be administered from the Pulpit. I might still further add that the Pulpit ought not to be considered and provided even before the Font. From what unhappy necessity the too common omission in this country (for I cannot suppose there is a wilful neglect or indifference about it) of this most necessary and essential instrument and ornament of all Christian Churches has arisen, I do not exactly know; but I trust you will all endeavour, to the best of your ability, to supply it. You are, no doubt, aware that the Canons of our Church require that there should be a Font of Stone in every Church; and it is a well- ascertained fact that in all our Churches at home the most ancient relic is the Font of Stone—many, I believe, upwards of 800 years old.—I need not detain you by detailing the reasons, sufficiently obvious, why the Church has required a Font of Stone, but it may not be superfluous to remind you that the proper position of the Font is near to the West end or principal entrance of the Church—to instruct us, of course, that by Holy Baptism we enter Christ's Church,—"are made," so the Catechism declares, "members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven."—The Fonts should be made large enough for immersion, because though the Church permits us to pour water upon the child, you will perceive by the Rubric that She distinctly recognizes and approves the practice of dipping, and directs it to be so done when the Sponsors "SHALL CERTIFY THAT THE CHILD MAY WELL ENDURE IT."
Before I quit the subject of Church-arrangement, I would beg that, as far as your power or influence may extend, you will always provide that there be one unencumbered and sufficiently wide passage up the centre of the Church, from West to East; that the seats placed on either side of this passage, be all open, without doors or other enclosures, and all ranging one way, that the faces of the Congregation may be directed towards the upper or East end of the Church—that the backs of the seats be so low as not to interrupt the view of any persons looking up to the East from the remotest parts of the building, and, particularly and especially, that they be both wide and low enough that all may decently and devoutly kneel. Where people say in the present day that they have A SEAT OR SEATS in a Church, it would have been said formerly that they had so many KNEELINGS —a sadly significant change. Let there be no galleries, except where absolutely necessary for accommodation.—Let there be sufficient and ample space round or about the Font for the Sponsors to stand and kneel; and in like manner about the Communion-rails and between the rails and Holy Table, (until we are blessed with proper Chancels) for the solemn preparation and administration of the Sacred Elements. It is desirable, in most cases, that the rails should run across the whole width of the Church from the North to the South walls, and the Holy Table should be raised two, three, or more steps, according to its distance from the Western end. The Pulpit may stand indifferently on the North or South of the Church, as may be most convenient, (though ancient custom inclines us to the North;) and the Praying-Desk either on the same or opposite side, but not facing, as I have shewn, directly to the people.—These directions will appear minute, and, I fear, tedious; but cannot by any pious persons be judged unnecessary or unimportant, having regard to the subject and purposes to which they relate:—and if we look into the directions which GOD, Almighty and All-wise, Himself gave up for the Service and furniture of the Tabernacle,—these are far more minute, numerous, and particular: not less so, it has been observed, (and why should they be?) than the spots on the wings of an insect, or the streaks and colours of a flower. My meaning is, that GOD, who had taken such abundant care (if we may presume to speak so) that there should be order and arrangement and beauty in all the works of His hands, which HE has pronounced "very good," and which all praise HIM, will not be displeased, nay, rather expects and requires of us, (having also sufficiently declared His will, in this regard, by express revelation,) that we provide, according to our ability, for a similar accuracy and propriety even in the minutest parts and circumstances of His worship. The proper position of the Singers is clearly at the upper or East end of the Church. You are, no doubt, aware, that the Chancel is intended for the Choir as well as for the ministering Priests—they together performing or leading the Service, which the Congregation below may hear and follow —and nothing can be more foreign to the spirit and purposes of our Service than that the Congregation should turn and gaze at certain professional performers in a gallery. Singers, as such, not being recognized in our Prayer Books, you are at liberty to make what arrangements you think most suitable and conducive to the work of solemn and united Praise, as to their position in the Church, number, instruments of music, tunes, &c.; and you will, I trust, see reason to regulate their performances and place, as nearly as possible by the ancient and best models, taking care that their instruments and tunes be such as suit a Church and Church-worship. With respect to the metrical version of Psalms and Hymns, I desire none other than the Old and New Versions, with the Hymns printed in our Books of Common Prayer —and where already introduced, I object not to the Psalms and Hymns authorized by the American branch of the Episcopal Church. If any other have been introduced, or used, I beg they may be discontinued and laid aside. By a judicious selection from the Old and New Versions, you will be enabled, I think, to meet all the common occasions of Praise and Thanksgiving in the Church, and will avoid the bold and irregular flights and indecent familiarities, not to mention graver errors of speech and doctrine, of too many modern effusions.
We cannot, I fear, have much regard in our present wooden edifices to the Symbolism of ancient Churches, where the minutest ornaments had their peculiar and appropriate significance;—but a Chancel might, I conceive, be frequently added at very small cost; and the windows generally should be both smaller and higher than I have commonly seen them. Let it be remembered that the design of Church-windows is not that passers by may gaze in, or that the Congregation may look out, but merely that light sufficient for our Services may be provided;—and I need scarcely say how convenient, as well as appropriate, it is that this light should descend upon us, as it were, from above. The roofs of our Churches may be made with advantage of a sharper pitch, and so will be not only more pleasing to the eye, but stronger and press less heavily upon the walls, and the inside timbers, being a little better finished and ornamented, may be left open with very good effect. I must not omit to draw your particular attention to the Sacred Vessels, which should always be (the Cup and Paten at least) of silver, and to purchase these a special collection or collections (in default of any person desiring to present them) should at the earliest opportunity be made. To no other pious object, I conceive, could the alms at the Offertory be more properly devoted. While almost every private house is furnished with some vessels or ornaments of silver, I will not easily believe but that every Congregation might and would provide, at least, a Silver Paten and Cup for their common use at the Lord's Table, in the Lord's House,—I say at least the Paten and Cup, because we ought not, I think, to be satisfied till the Alms-basin and Flagon are of the same pure material; remembering, I say, for whose House and Service they are provided.
I feel satisfied there is no occasion that I should instruct or remind you that in conducting the Prayers and Praises of the Church, (whether it be with or for our people,) we stand and act between GOD and them, we present ourselves and them, as it were, at the very gates of Heaven and foot-stool of GOD'S Throne.—With what awe and reverence, with what regard even to outward appearance and behaviour—and still more to inward thoughts, feelings, and affections,—should we appear in such a Presence and engage in such an errand. Nothing can be too serious, and earnest and holy, I mean, in our thoughts and affections, as to be above what the reason and propriety, not to say the necessity, of such a case requires. Now, if the mind be really and devoutly intent upon the duty and service in which we are engaged, it will be affected differently according to the different employment and business in hand,—I mean, differently in confessing, differently in praying, differently in saying or singing the Psalms. This difference, if really felt, will appear naturally and almost necessarily in corresponding ways of utterance and tones of voice. There will be little room then, as I am sure there is no occasion, for that wretched mistake of GIVING EFFECT, as it is said, TO OUR ADMIRABLE LITURGY, by studied pauses, or sudden depressions or elevations of the voice, or loud, sonorous intonations, as if it were the recital of some piece to please or move our Congregation, instead of a solemn and earnest address to our GOD and Father. I speak especially now of our Prayers and Praises, including all the Psalms and Hymns of the Church—and the same very nearly may be said of the Creeds, which are not so much read or repeated for the instruction of the people, as devoutly to recite even before GOD Himself the great verities of our Christian Faith and Hope. Apply these remarks to the Athanasian Creed, and it takes off an objection sometimes ignorantly urged against it—viz., that being, as it is supposed, an EXPLANATION of certain high and holy mysteries, it is itself full of difficulties. I apprehend, however, that it is not read, or rather said, so much in EXPLANATION, as in DECLARATION, of those great truths which the Church has drawn from, or established on, Holy Writ, over and for which her Confessors and Martyrs have studied and prayed and wept and died. And, surely, such considerations will produce a far different feeling, and occasion a correspondent difference of expression, than if we should consider ourselves reading a lesson, or reciting our own feeble discourses.
I am not aware of any variations in the manner of saying the Litany which call for any notice, except that I do not know upon what authority we insert a special petition, as is sometimes done, for those who desire the prayers of the Congregation, though, as the practice prevails so generally, and with such good effect, I am not prepared to condemn it.
The Litany ended, is sung the Introit or Psalm upon the going up of the Minister to the Holy Table, and then commences the third Service, viz., as I have said, of the Holy Communion. I have supposed that every Clergyman will attend to the direction to stand on the North side of the Holy Table, as well as to the other Rubrics in that Service—among which this one requires our notice, that "NOTHING SHALL BE PROCLAIMED OR PUBLISHED IN THE CHURCH DURING DIVINE SERVICE BUT BY THE MINISTER;" which I should be glad to have extended to the Psalms and Hymns to be sung by the Congregation; the Minister giving out and reading each verse, to prevent mistakes, and assist those who have no books. After the Notices, or, if there be none, immediately after the Creed, follows the Sermon or one of the Homilies;—and, here we must remark that, there appears no authority (except that of common practice, if not common consent) for introducing either a psalm or any additional prayers before the Sermon.—I am aware, of course, of the Canon which prescribes the Bidding Prayer before Sermons, but, I apprehend, that refers only to the occasions, formerly frequent, when Sermons were preached without the Liturgy, as at the public crosses, in the University Churches, or Cathedrals, and many other places. The practice of making or using other prayers before the Sermon arose, I imagine, in an evil time, and was adopted by perverse and self-righteous men, to introduce their own conceits and fancied improvements [NOTE: The following remarks in a letter from Archbishop Laud to the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford (published in his autobiography) seem to refer to the prayer before Sermon:—"That Greenwood who preached on Sunday last is like to prove a peevish man; which I am the more sorry for, because you write he is a good master of his pen, and therefore like to do the more harm. But since he hath so cunningly carried it, FOR THE FASHION IS NOW TO TURN THE LIBELLOUS PART INTO A PRAYER, &C."]. After the Restoration, the licence was reduced to a Collect and the Lord's Prayer; but, the Collect not being prescribed, leave is still taken to use this or that, or none, or introduce some extemporaneous or original petitions. I am not bold enough to condemn a practice so common, and, I conclude, acceptable, but I confess my own feeling to be, that in this, as in other points, the Rubric is our best and safest guide, and that we should pass with greater propriety immediately from the Nicene Creed to the Sermon or Homily. For a Psalm in this place there is no authority, and it comes in inconveniently, when we consider that the Nicene Creed has just been sung or said, which the Church, I have remarked, regards rather, or uses in our Service, in the light of a Holy Hymn [NOTE: These remarks do not apply to the Sermon in the Afternoon, which, being no part of the appointed Service, may properly be preceded by a Prayer or Collect, and concluded in the usual way.].
The proper Prayer after the Morning Sermon,—(concluded, of course, with an ascription when our Congregations should be instructed to stand,)—is that "FOR THE WHOLE STATE OF CHRIST'S CHURCH MILITANT HERE IN EARTH," preceded by the Offertory or Sentences to be said by the Priest at the Lord's Table, who for that purpose is directed to return thither, either, it may be, from the Pulpit, or the Communion-rails. But here, again, I am aware that long custom has almost grown into a rule and law, that the whole Service, except when the Holy Communion is administered, should end with the Sermon, and some Collect or Collects at the discretion of the Minister. I would only, then, venture to recommend that the more ancient and authorized mode of returning to the Lord's Table, and saying the Offertory and Prayer for the Church militant, be generally adopted in NEW churches; in others with great caution and consideration. After the Prayer for the Church militant we are directed, if there be no Communion, to use one or more of the Collects at the end of the Communion Service, concluding with the Blessing.
Among the notices which the Curate—that is, the ministering Parish Priest,—is to give after the Nicene Creed, you will find that he is particularly DIRECTED to "DECLARE UNTO THE PEOPLE WHAT HOLY-DAYS OR FASTING-DAYS ARE IN THE WEEK FOLLOWING TO BE OBSERVED." I need hardly tell you why it is my wish this Rubric should be punctually obeyed; but I draw your attention to it, because I have remarked that in some Churches where the Holy-Days are mentioned, and even kept by their proper and appointed Public Services, the Fasting-Days are passed over in silence. Now, surely, none can suppose that any branch of the Church —and, I might perhaps say, least of all our own—is entitled, and in a condition, to keep Holy-Day with feast and festival, without any corresponding seasons of fast and humiliation and repentance. As little can it be supposed that people do not need to be reminded of those Fasting-days and their duties. The evidences to the contrary are, alas! too manifest. Feast and festival— though little, perhaps, according to the will of GOD and the directions of the Church—feast and festival everywhere;—but where are the signs of afflicting ourselves or mourning for our sins—or of remembering CHRIST'S sufferings—or of renouncing, even for a season, the vanities of a perishing world? It cannot, then, but seem inconsistent or inconsiderate, to use the mildest terms, to begin with restoring feasts and festivals, when, both for the Church and ourselves, there is so much more occasion, and far greater need, of fasting and abstinence, sorrowing and self- abasement. You are all, no doubt, aware that there is in our Prayer Books "a Table of the Days of Fasting and Abstinence, to be observed in the Year," following, and in immediate connection with, the "Table of Feasts and Holy-days;" and of all these notice should be given in due course on the Sunday, when any of them occur in the Week following. It is, of course, desirable, if I should not rather say necessary, to follow up this notice, by using the Services appointed in our Prayer Books,—I mean particularly for the Saints' Days, the Monday and Tuesday in Easter and Whitsun Week, Ash Wednesday, and all the days of Passion Week;—and let us not be deterred from a plain, and, I hope I may add, a delightful duty, however much we may be grieved, by the thinness of our Congregations. Whether it be that numbers cannot, or whether it be that they will not, join us in these holy Services of thanksgiving and praise, or of repentance and humiliation, there is surely the more reason that those few who are willing and able, should unite their prayers as well for their absent brethren—absent it may be only in body—as for themselves,—remembering the encouragement of our Lord's most gracious promise,—"Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I will be in the midst of them."
I will now add a few words on the Occasional Services among which we may reckon, first of all, the remaining portion of what I have called the third Morning Service,—that of the Holy Communion. You will, no doubt, have observed, that no direction is given as to the time when those who do not communicate should depart and leave the Church. Of this apparent omission two explanations may be offered—one, that the Holy Communion, being formerly a separate, as well as distinct, Service, it was supposed that none but Communicants would attend it. Such is actually the case where, on high Festivals, as Christmas and Easter, the Communion Service is used by itself in populous places, to divide and so lessen the numbers each time. It is common at those Festivals, in the large towns in England, to administer the Holy Communion with the proper Service singly and separately, at 8 o'clock, as well as afterwards in the usual course of the Morning Prayers—and when none but Communicants attend, there is no occasion than any should depart; and this would be a probable explanation of the seeming omission. Or, the Church may purposely have omitted any directions about departure, using a wise and pious caution, lest she might appear to sanction or allow it. However, so it now is, that the Communion Service is no longer, or very seldom, used separately and distinctly, and many attend the commencement of it who have made no preparation and feel no inclination to communicate.—And the question forces itself upon us, When shall these depart? In the absence of any positive directions, custom and the ancient Services seem to authorize and require their departure at the same time as on other days when there is no Communion,—that is,—where the Prayer for the Church militant is commonly read—after that Prayer, or otherwise, as usual after the Sermon. I am aware that the custom has of late begun to prevail, of requesting the whole Congregation to remain on Communion-days, during the recital of the Offertory and the Prayer for the Church militant, and collecting alms from all—a custom which has certainly some obvious and great recommendations, particularly in increasing the amount of contributions for pious and charitable purposes; and, it may be hoped, enlarging the hearts, as well as opening the hands, of the brethren towards the Church and her poorer members, by the recital of those earnest appeals on this behalf from Holy Writ. There is, however, or may be, one inconvenience attending it, which, as it involves a principle of some importance, should, I think, be known and considered,—I mean the tendency of it to make people think much of their contributions, and little of the sin of turning their backs on the Holy Supper, when their alms are received and presented with those of the Communicants. I do not say that we must wait and refuse contributions for the Church or poor till we can accomplish it, but surely what we should desireand aim at, is to persuade our people that it is a privilege to be allowed to give, specially granted and extended to those who can draw near with Faith, and take that Holy Sacrament to their comfort. In any case the alms collected, whether from the whole Congregation or Communicants only, must be "REVERENTLY BROUGHT TO THE PRIEST, WHO SHALL HUMBLY PRESENT AND PLACE THEM ON THE HOLY TABLE."
"WHEN THERE IS A COMMUNION THE PRIEST SHALL THEN PLACE UPON THE TABLE SO MUCH BREAD AND WINE AS HE SHALL THINK SUFFICIENT." I do not know that there is any reason to suppose any variations from the directions in the Rubrics, which (as far at least as they concern the Minister) are all plain and explicit enough, till we come to what is sometimes called the delivery, when the Minister is directed to say those solemn words,—"The body of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, which was given for THEE, preserve THY body and soul unto everlasting life." Now the Rubric directing the use of these words, and the words themselves, sufficiently and plainly shew, that they should be used and addressed separately and singly to each Communicant. The Rubric says,—"WHEN THE MINISTER DELIVERETH THE BREAD TO ANYONE HE SHALL SAY," —"The body of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, which was given for THEE." "AND THE MINISTER THAT DELIVERETH THE CUP TO ANYONE SHALL SAY,"—"The blood of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, which was shed for THEE." Can the import, I pray, of any words be more solemn, or more precise, than of these? Upon what pretext, then, can any Minister presume to alter both the action and the words, and, delivering to two or more persons at once, to say,—"The body of our Lord JESUS CHRIST, which was given FOR YOU." I am aware that in the present state of your Congregations these remarks may appear superfluous, as directed against a practice to which you are not even tempted. But I may confess an anxiety to anticipate and prevent an evil which, I lament to know, is sometimes excused on other pleas than that of necessity; but which, if you will allow me to say so, I never would, under any circumstances, sanction or countenance. If it should be asked, what must be done when the number of Communicants is so large that the delivery cannot be made to one and each person without great fatigue and inconvenience both to the Communicants and the Minister, it would be quite competent and just to answer, that this at least must NOT be done—You must NOT disobey a plain Rubric—you must NOT alter perhaps the most precise and precious words in the Liturgy. And when you know that the alteration has been made not merely for convenience, but to obscure, or, rather, to avoid, the declaration of a cherished doctrine of the Church, you will, I am persuaded, be the more afraid to offend. The excuse, however, commonly pleaded for this general, rather than particular, address and delivery, is the time consumed in addressing the words and delivering the Sacred Elements to each one, and the consequent inconvenience and fatigue. Now it is very obvious that this excuse might equally extend and apply to the curtailment or mutilation of other portions of the Service. If we are at liberty to alter or omit one portion or one sentence, because of inconvenience or fatigue, we surely are at liberty to alter or omit any other or others; and what Minister, or what Congregation would plead for, or allow, such liberty as this? But the question recurs,—When the numbers are so large—as we all hope and desire they may be—that one Minister is oppressed and exhausted by the Service, what is to be done? Now the obvious, and, I sincerely think, the only just or lawful, answer to that question is, that in every such case the number of Ministers must be increased. And it will be asserted, or is it to be believed, that a large number of faithful Communicants—for that is the case supposed, and the only one which requires to be considered—can see their Minister sinking under the burden and responsibility of a right and conscientious discharge of his duty to and for them, and not provide the remedy and relief for themselves and him? Then it was not without occasion or necessity that the Church inserted, at her first review of the Liturgy, those solemn and almost indignant appeals of the Apostle,—"If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your worldly things?"—"Who goeth a warfare any time of his own cost? Who planteth a vineyard and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock and eateth not of the milk of the flock?"—"Do ye not know that they who minister about holy things live of the sacrifice, and they who wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord also ordained that they which preach the Gospel, should live of the Gospel?" Read these appeals, then, as you are directed, in the ears of your Congregations—and, with Prayer to GOD, leave the matter in their hands. And I will not readily believe that a large number of Communicants, with hearts inflamed with zeal and charity—zeal for GOD'S honour, and charity at least for their own souls—large enough to require such assistance, for their own or their Minister's sake, will be either unable or unwilling to provide it, rather than see their Ministers exhausted, or their services abridged and mutilated, or be defrauded of their proper and appointed Spiritual food and sustenance. If, however, this relief cannot be obtained, I would far rather consent, nay, advise, that the Sermon on that occasion be indefinitely abridged, to which no particular form or extent is assigned, either in Canons or Rubrics; or that the Morning Prayers be separated from the other Services and said at an earlier hour, which I have already shewn to be the ancient arrangement, and only altered for general convenience.
The first Rubric which calls for notice in the Baptismal Service is that which directs, that "BAPTISMS SHOULD NOT BE ADMINISTERED BUT ON SUNDAYS OR OTHER HOLY-DAYS, WHEN THE MOST NUMBER OF PEOPLE COME TOGETHER, &C." The nature and necessity of the attendance and duties of Sponsors are, I doubt not, sufficiently understood and considered—and I have only to direct your attention to the Rubric next in order, that "THE GODFATHERS, GODMOTHERS, AND THE PEOPLE WITH THE CHILDREN, MUST BE READY AT THE FONT EITHER IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE LAST LESSON AT MORNING PRAYER, OR THE LAST LESSON AT EVENING PRAYER, AS THE CURATE, BY HIS DISCRETION, SHALL APPOINT—AND THE PRIEST COMING TO THE FONT, (WHICH IS THEN TO BE FILLED WITH PURE WATER) AND STANDING THERE, SHALL SAY."—It is very obvious that to neglect this direction renders nugatory the purpose and reason given of requiring the Baptisms to be performed on the Sundays or Holy-Days; and on this account, and because the direction is plain and express, I would hope that you will, as quickly as possible, restore this Service to its proper place, and, I will add, its proper dignity; if you have thought it expedient hitherto to baptize at any other time. It may be some encouragement to you to know, that having served for 16 years as a Parish Priest, I constantly observed this rule of the Church, to the great edification, I am persuaded, and I believe also to the entire satisfaction, of my Congregations.—And can any Service be more interesting or more edifying to all parties concerned?—And what Christian friend or neighbour is not concerned in the reception of new, though infant, members into the Congregation of CHRIST'S flock, to be made heirs together with us of the Christian Name and Hope? When two or more Children are brought to be baptized, the questions should be addressed to the Godparents of each separately, because each set of persons must make answer in the singular number for each child, and we are not allowed to alter the form of address from,—"Dost THOU in the name of THIS CHILD?" to, "Do YE in the name of THESE CHILDREN?" If the Godparents certify that the child is weak, which it may be understood all who do bring the child not prepared for immersion, "IT SHALL SUFFICE," the Rubric says, "TO POUR WATER UPON IT," using, of course, the Sacred form of words. I draw your attention to this Rubric, because we rather too frequently hear of SPRINKLING children in Baptism; and some of you, perhaps, without reflecting about it, may have fallen into that very imperfect, and, I must add, improper mode of administering this Sacrament. When we remember that it is only of the Charity of the Church that it "SUFFICES TO POUR WATER," we shall hesitate to adopt an action or a word in so sacred and important a rite, which the Church nowhere recognizes, nor, I may add, allows. Nothing, as I have already remarked, can be trifling or of no importance in such high and sacred concerns,—I might say, in any of the concerns of Religion, —but most certainly and chiefly in those two great Sacraments which our Church has declared "generally necessary to Salvation."
The next of our public Occasional Services is the Catechism. I would that it were possible (and why is it not possible?) that all the Rubrics relating to it, or connected with it, should be noted and observed. That which chiefly concerns your practice is the direction that "THE CURATE OF EVERY PARISH SHALL DILIGENTLY, UPON SUNDAYS AND HOLY-DAYS, AFTER THE SECOND LESSON AT EVENING PRAYER, OPENLY IN THE CHURCH, INSTRUCT AND EXAMINE SO MANY CHILDREN SENT UNTO HIM, AS HE SHALL THINK CONVENIENT, IN SOME PART OF THIS CATECHISM." It may not be superfluous to remark that this Rubric says, UPON SUNDAYS AND HOLY-DAYS, but not ALL Sundays and Holy-Days. You will, therefore, fulfil the letter at least, if not the spirit, of the rule, by thus instructing and examining the Children on the first or some other Sunday of every month; or, as is more commonly done, though by no means so conveniently and profitably, on all the Sundays in Lent. I am aware that some persons contend that the Sunday Schools and general education have done away the necessity of this direction, if not superseded the direction itself. Such is not my opinion —the necessity, though different, is, I conceive, equally great and equally urgent; except it should so happen that the Clergyman himself attend and instruct at the Sunday School. The necessity, in these days, may not be so much to discover, as formerly, what the children have not learnt, but what they have—not so much to add as to diminish, or not to supply but to correct. I feel as sincere gratitude as any person can do for the gratuitous and valuable services of Sunday School Teachers and Monitors, but still it must be remembered they are not the Curates of the Parish, neither yet Pastors and Teachers;—I mean, to whom CHRIST has given commission and commandment to feed His lambs;—and we still are bound, as ever, to examine and instruct them, and, of course, according to that order and rule which the Church has prescribed. And I can hardly conceive any exercise more pleasant or profitable to the Sunday School Teachers themselves, and generally to our people, than to hear from their Ministers' lips the true explanation and application of those simple but sublime truths which the Catechism contains, and which are the ground-work of all Christian education. Still further, there is danger in the present day, not only that the matter of instruction be altered and attenuated, but that instruction itself, from the mode and manner of it, may be treated with but little regard and reverence—an evil which, we trust, might in some measure be corrected by solemnly conducting it in the Church as part and parcel of Divine Service. I am persuaded there is much need of this caution.
With respect to the "Solemnization of Matrimony," I will now only express my wish and hope that you may by degrees, and as quickly as possible, bring the parties to be married within the Canonical hours. And as in the absence of Parishes it is impossible that the Banns should be duly published, there will be the greater need of making other enquiries, and using all due circumspection, that you be not betrayed into solemnizing Matrimony between parties who, from near affinity or any other cause, cannot lawfully or honourably be joined together. Great shame, if I should not rather say great guilt, must attach to the Minister who, neglecting these due and necessary enquiries, "pronounces them to be man and wife together in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost," who are forbidden to enter that sacred relation by the positive denunciations of GOD'S Holy Word—or the only by one degree less awful and less authoritative prohibitions of Parents and lawful Guardians. The whole of the prescribed Service you, I trust, always read without omission or mutilation—and it would be well if you should be able to remind the newly- married persons of that Rubric at the close of the Service, that "IT IS CONVENIENT THEY SHOULD RECEIVE THE HOLY COMMUNION AT THE TIME OF THEIR MARRIAGE, OR AT THE FIRST OPPORTUNITY AFTER THEIR MARRIAGE."
I am not aware of any variation in "The Order for the Burial of the Dead" which calls for remarks, or any doubt or difficulty which can need to be removed or explained.
"The Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth" is the only one that remains of the public Occasional Services— and there is some variation in the time of introducing and using it, which has no doubt arisen from the want of any positive rule and direction. Some introduce it after the second Lesson; some before, and others after, the General Thanksgiving—and others again have deferred it till the conclusion of the Morning or Evening Prayers. The most common, and I therefore conclude the most approved, time is just before the General Thanksgiving: though some have remarked that the acknowledgments specially ordered such as that lately on Her Majesty's behalf, are always used AFTER it, and have, therefore, with some reason inferred that to be the most correct place for such acknowledgements on common occasions [NOTE: It may be remarked, also, that the General Thanksgiving stands, in our Prayer Books, BEFORE the Thanksgivings upon particular occasions; while, on the other hand, the Collect or Prayer for all Conditions of men, comes AFTER the Prayers for particular parties or persons.]. It does not seem easy, and happily it is of no great importance, to decide which of these two places is the most proper and authentic, before or after the General Thanksgiving; or whether, in fact, either of them is the right and authorized one. My opinion is that it was designed and originally ordered that this Service should be used either before the Morning Prayer, or between the Order of Morning Prayer and the Holy Communion—that so the woman, having made her special thanks and acknowledgments, might be prepared to join the Congregation in the general ones, and especially to receive the Holy Communion. But though such appears to me the most ancient and most fitting method, I would by no means press its adoption, contrary to that more common and, I suppose, more approved one, which has the QUASI authority of long consent and observance, no rule of the Church militating against it.
I cannot but hope, my Reverend Brethren, that this examination of our Public Services, and of the most solemn and approved modes of conducting them, is neither the least interesting nor least profitable of the many subjects which may have occurred to you as likely to occupy our attention on this important occasion. That it nearly concerns yourselves, your Congregations, and GOD'S honour, there can be no doubt or question, if we are right in supposing that the Church is GOD'S House and we are there as His ministering saints and servants, and that all, Ministers and people, are assembled and engaged chiefly and especially for His worship and praise:—"In His temple doth every man speak of His honour." We must earnestly protest, and to our power diligently and devoutly provide, that our Services in the Church be not considered and treated, (as sometimes, I fear, they are, even by pious and single- minded Christians) only as means of grace and ways to become religious—all which we thankfully acknowledge they are—but also and especially as acts of Religion acceptable to GOD through CHRIST. Viewing and using them in this light, with what awe and reverence, what gratitude and joy, shall we come into His courts, and fall low on our knees before His footstool! And for the result and effect—if such may be enquired into—surely the balm and blessing of Services so regulated and conducted, so loved and honoured, would remain upon our hearts, and appear in our lives, till our people would gladly and devoutly say, "We will go with you, for GOD is with you." But let us beware of considering ourselves or men only in our sacred Services. Does not the Prophet Isaiah testify that on the walls of the Heavenly Jerusalem her watchmen are never silent, singing the praises of GOD, day and night;—and the Holy Seraphim, while with their wings they cover their faces in His presence, cry one to another, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory." And when Angels and Archangels and all the Company of Heaven laud and magnify His glorious name, surely it is our honour and privilege that we may thus copy and join in their worship —may antedate our occupations and enjoyments in the Heavenly courts,—