W.J. CLEAVER, BAKER STREET,
BY this day's work--its fasting, its prayers, and its humiliation--three great religious truths are established; and so established, as to fasten upon us all, even from the throne to the cottage, a solemn and a fearful responsibility. The three truths are these: first, that Almighty God punishes national sin; secondly, that by national confession, prayer, and fasting, God's wrath may be appeased, and punishment averted; and thirdly, that the duty of a nation thus formally acknowledging God's chastisements, is to cease from sin, to amend what has been wrong, to restore what has been lost, and to give heed in the time that may remain that they offend not again.
In regard to the first, we need not at present enter into any argument about its abstract truth. That penal visitations ever and anon descend upon the iniquities of a people is so manifest from all history, that we need not say a word; but joining our own present case with Sodom and Gomorrah, with Tyre and Sidon, with Nineveh and Babylon, and even with the holy city Jerusalem itself, we may rest satisfied as to the FACT. We have confessed it this day. It is publicly notified in the Royal Proclamation as a matter of State policy. It is set forth in the Form of Prayer which now we have been using, as a matter of Church discipline. This day is openly set forth before the whole people of this realm as a day of "General Fast and Humiliation before God in order [3/4] to obtain pardon OF OUR SINS"; and God is expressly described on the title-page of the Form of Prayer before us, as being "pleased to visit the INIQUITIES of THIS LAND by a grievous scarcity and dearth."
Nor need we so fully to enter upon the second great truth, namely, that God's wrath being once moved (speaking humanly), by the sins of a people, may be appeased; that His anger may cease; that He may forego the intended punishment, and hold back and stay His hand; and that, because of the humiliation of the offending people, their confession, their fasting, their repentance, and their prayers.
This doctrine arises of necessity from the notion of prayer altogether, and of confession of sins, and of atonement. It arises of necessity from the simplest notion of a moral governing power in the hands of God, and a retributive justice in Him inherent. And this also is by us as a people, a state, and a Church, this day acknowledged; for on the title-page of the Form of Prayer before you, you observe that it is said, that we use this form and ceremony "for the removal of these heavy judgments which our manifold sins and provocations have justly deserved"; and in the first prayer which we used in the Morning Service, we said, "Awaken in us, we beseech Thee, a deep sense of our many transgressions, and a godly sorrow for our sins, so sincere and lasting as may move Thee to withdraw Thy displeasure."
Herein then with Abraham, and with David, with Hezekiah, and with Josiah, with the inhabitants of Nineveh, and Jerusalem, and many other great kings, cities, and people; we also join in this solemn act of faith, assuredly trusting (for if we did not trust, it would be a blasphemy) that God will be moved by what we do, and have mercy, when He beholds our sorrow.
Therefore, I purpose now to pass over these two questions--as questions on their very front and bearing conceded, and believed by us all--certainly by all now present, who have been praying to Almighty [4/5] God as virtually holding them to be matters of belief. But I purpose, my brethren, the rather to draw your attention to that which issues out of them, the third great truth, namely, the responsibility, the great and fearful responsibility, which lies upon us as to the future.
Repentance, which now we profess--sorrow for past transgressions--deprecation of God's wrath--appointing a day for peculiar fasting and humiliation--all this surely must have some meaning beyond mere words. If it means anything, it means this, that as we deprecate God's wrath for the past, we intend to make a change in our habits, our thoughts, our course of life, our moral and religious conduct for the future. Something we have been doing sinful, wicked, and abominable in God's sight; that we intend to change and amend; some things we have omitted to do--we intend no longer to omit them; some things we have done which we ought not to have done--those things we do not intend any longer to do. Surely we mean this, for contrition without amendment is valueless--worse than valueless; to confess sin and not forsake it, is to increase sin; to say we have done wrong, and continue in the wrong, is not to avert but to aggravate the wrath of God, to plunge deeper and deeper into the very punishment which now hangs so terribly over our heads. And in fact we have said that we mean this, in the service which we have performed,--for we have prayed in one of the Collects that we may "bring forth fruits of repentance through the whole course of our lives,"--and we have read for instruction in the Gospel, of the barren fig-tree. "He answering, said: Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung it, and if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." But then, in order to repent of our sins, we must examine what they are; in order to amend or restore, we must be made aware what has been amiss, or what has been broken. And here too we have not further to go than the Form of [5/6] Prayer which we have been using. What are the words which we have said? First, in the Collect for Morning Prayer, we have said: "We confess with shame and contrition, that in the pride and hardness of our hearts," we have shewn ourselves unthankful for Thy mercies. In the Communion office, after having received humbly and penitentially the Holy Sacrament, we shall say, "Through our neglect of Thine ordinances, and misuse of Thy bounties, offences have multiplied in the land"; and in another Collect we have already said, "We acknowledge that by our strifes and divisions we have deserved punishment."
So that the ground of our past sins, lies by the confession of our own lips, in the following:
I. Pride and hardness of heart. II. Neglect of ordinances. III. Strifes and divisions.
I. Is pride and hardness of heart a sin? Is it our sin? It was certainly the great national sin (of that people of whom the words which I have chosen for the text were spoken): "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people." A very great resemblance exists between that people and our own. A great commercial people; a people singularly sagacious and politically wise; a people fond of pomp and glory; a people with indomitable perseverance; the highest national pride; a most intense patriotism; a most ardent and glowing generosity; a people who sent forth from their own little city the greatest adventurers in trade, and compassed the whole world with their merchants; a people who displayed the greatest delight in kingly power, and royalty of dominion--as in David and Solomon--and the most enthusiastic devotion to God their Creator, in the solemn and sublime ritual of a service, which for splendour and magnificence has never been equalled: and yet withal this people fell (it was their besetting sin) by pride and hardness of heart. They fell into the grossest of idolatry in Jeroboam and the kings of Israel, and partially so in Rehoboam and the kings of Judah; they fell into schism in the revolt of the ten [6/7] tribes; into gross formalism and hypocrisy as represented in the Pharisee; heresy and infidelity as represented in the Sadducee; political separation of religion from the Church, as represented in the Herodian. They "were a wise and understanding people." But, how wise? How understanding? In the things of personal and national aggrandizement; in the things of worldly wealth and power; in the things of outward regal glory.
And in these matters we are with the children of Israel most closely and singularly identified. In our royal state and national love of pomp and circumstance; in the acts which conduce thereto and cherish them; in the vast military preparations which we make, and naval armaments which we send forth; in the victories which we achieve in war--and the schemes of aggrandizement which we plan in peace; in the trackless paths of our commerce; in the unlimited extent of our colonies--the enterprise, perseverance, and success, with which we act upon and achieve the grandest works of art and science;--in all these, with the children of Israel, we may be confessed to be "a wise and understanding people." And yet withal--"great nation" as we may be--"a wise and understanding people" as we may be: is it, if it stop here, real wisdom, real understanding? And does it stop here?
We advance into all lands with our commercial enterprise. But have we in parallel line advanced the kingdom of God and the truths of His Gospel? We subdue heathen nations. Do we christianize them? We reap hundreds of thousands of pounds from illicit traffic, and then subdue the people with whom we have so trafficked, and take their land. Do we send them a Missionary Bishop to preach to them the glad tidings of the Gospel? We are very careful about great armies of soldiers, and make laws for their discipline, their maintenance, and their order. Are we as careful of the soldiers of Christ, the discipline of His Church, the [7/8] maintenance of His clergy, and the order of His service? We push forward speculation and trade, and make many rich in our wisdom. Does our wisdom look to the only solid foundation of a continuance in national prosperity, namely, a well-ordered, a well-educated, and a religious poor? We have great wisdom and political sagacity in reforming legislatures, and adapting forms of government to the exigencies of the times; altering, remodelling, and expanding our institutions, as circumstances may arise. Do we shew the same wisdom in the affairs of the legislature of God--His Church--in throwing new life and spirit, and expansive power into that which by the lapse of time and the carelessness of man, is swiftly degenerating into a mere shell and carcase; inapt for the work which God bids it to do; inefficient from desuetude, and incompetent from paralyzed hands and dead hearts? The answer, alas! is too clear--"PRIDE AND HARDNESS OF HEART:" Hardness of heart refuses means for the supply of education for the children of the poor; while it is a known fact, that there are upwards of a million and a half of poor children who are left to perish in mental darkness, very little above the brutes of the field. Hardness of heart suffers a population, increasing at the rate of a thousand a-day, to remain without any systematic plan for the increase of religious instructors--of clergy--of pastoral superintendence--of churches--of sacraments--or of any means of grace whatsoever.
There is a head growing up above us--high above us--of gold--glittering, bright, and gorgeous gold; but withal, look to the feet of this image, they are of clay: they have no strength--they crumble, they totter, they fall. What is this greatness, this wisdom in fleets, and armaments, in commerce, and in glory; if, withal, the people--the great stay and support of all--THE PEOPLE--are becoming daily less conscious of religion, less lovers of God, more alienated from all that is holy--deeper and deeper sunk in grossness and apathy towards the things of the Spirit? Can this, after all, in REALITY, be a wise and understanding [8/9] people? We have the Jewish nation before us. How they perished, we know. What they are now, we know. "Pride and hardness of heart" destroyed them. We confess the same "pride and hardness of heart." It will be well if this famine--God's visitation--shall move us in good time to reconsider our ways; to have a gentler and kinder heart towards the poor, and to give them the blessings of religion, and of knowledge; of which now as a matter of fact it can be demonstrated, that they are in millions quite as destitute as the heathens of unknown lands. [It may be said in answer to all this, that much has been done of late in advance--much building of Churches--missionary Bishops sent to some of our Colonies--four new Bishoprics shortly to be appointed in England, and a new measure now before Parliament on the subject of Education. For all this indeed it behoves us to be very thankful; but after all examine it in comparison with what is required. It is a move, certainly a move, but it has been very slow; it seems very forced and dry. People talk about funds, and stop disheartened. Funds in England! A thousand souls every day in the kingdom of England more than there were on the day preceding, would require an additional church a day, i. e. 365 new churches a year; and that not to supply past deficiencies, but the present annual increase. China, with whom we have been now in commercial relationship many years, and with whom it cannot be well said that our dealings in the matter of the opium traffic, and the war thence ensuing, were very creditable--China, with its peculiar heathenism and dreadful idolatry, has received from us no Bishop even yet. As to the four Bishoprics about to be appointed for ourselves; instead of four, we ought to read forty, if we mean to do any real episcopal work. And as to the Education minutes of the Privy Council, they are very well as a stop-gap; but to be anything like a plan or system by which we shall reach the evil of a demoralized, and an ungodly population, such as ours now is--it has, and I believe was confessed by the Government to have, no pretensions. It is just a little play to amuse the clerks of the Privy Council in the educational department, and to keep their hands in; but as to doing much real good in comparison with the real evil, I fear it will be as nothing. I would beg the reader's attention to my pamphlet entitled, "Crime and Education--The Duty of the State therein," in which I have more fully set forth the consideration of the education of the poor.]
II. But secondly--we have this day confessed to [9/10] God that a great part of our national sins have been in the neglect of ordinances. These are the words which we shall presently use in the Communion office: "Through our neglect of Thine Ordinances and misuse of Thy Bounties, offences have been multiplied in the land."
The word "Ordinances," of course, directs us to the religious observances of the Church. It will not, I fear, cost much labour, nor involve any intricate examination, to shew how fearfully these words are true.
I. Our Church contemplates a Daily Service of Prayer; night and morning the curate of every parish, every priest, and every deacon throughout the land, is bound by the tenor of his ordination to offer the daily service of the Church according to the Book of Common Prayer. The curate is directed, unless hindered by sickness or other urgent reason, to cause the bell of his church to be tolled every day, to invite the people to come and pray with him. Passing over remote rural districts and other accidental cases where the difficulty of doing this may be allowed; still, what is the general aspect of this matter throughout this great country--this, in other respects, "wise and understanding people"? In the year 1714, with, of course, a much less number of churches than we possess now, and with a population more than one third, perhaps, nearly one half, less, there were FORTY-NINE churches in addition to St. Paul's cathedral and Westminster abbey, in which daily service was performed; whereas, at present, out of two hundred and twenty churches in London and Westminster, there are only sixteen in which the daily prayers of the Church are offered.
Now let us look at this case. At the present moment we are driven by the special visitation of Almighty God to acknowledge the efficacy of prayer--not only private or family prayer--but united, congregational, Church Prayer; and yet, withal, as a Church with an ordinance before us, in which Daily Church Prayer is commanded as a necessary part of [10/11] ecclesiastical and pastoral duty, only sixteen churches out of two hundred and twenty use it. And still more, while the sound of famine has been poured forth over the whole land, and the dark clouds of pestilence, misery, and starvation, have been gathering in fearful gloom around us since October last--and while in the Book of Common Prayer, there is a petition specially appointed for use at such seasons; when, therefore, if ever, we should have looked for the opening of churches and the use of this prayer, even though churches had never been opened before; when we should have imagined that both priests and people would have flocked together to the churches, and the gates of the sanctuary have been opened far and wide--Yet no--we hear of no increase; still they are closed; still damp and chill; still no voice resounds within, and no people bow down; no priest intercedes and no sins are confessed: they are as they were--Sunday Preaching Houses, and not Houses of Prayer. [The number sixteen is assumed upon the authority of the Bishop of London's Charge, delivered in 1846. I have heard but of one increase, and that in a Church consecrated since the delivery of the charge.]
II. Next, let us take the great, we should say the greatest ordinance of the Church; the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. The whole theory of the Church, since the time of our Lord, has maintained in most places a daily Eucharist, in all places a weekly Eucharist. It never was confined to the merely great FESTIVALS; but times of fasting, such as this day, were constantly used as times of COMMUNION. The only day of fasting on which the holy Communion was not received, was, and still continues to bean the Catholic Church both of the East and of the West, GOOD FRIDAY; that being the day of the ACTUAL SACRIFICE OF THE SON OF GOD UPON THE CROSS. The day of Crucifixion, let me repeat, was, and is, the only day on which the Holy Communion would not be [11/12] rightly received. On all other days it was universally offered and received. [See the Appendix No. 1 on the subject of Holy Communion on Fasting days.]
But now what is our case, as to the general character of the Church? In most country parishes the Holy Sacrament is administered at furthest three times a year. In great towns, and specially in London, it is administered in the greater number of churches once a month; while in its fulness, according to the Church's command, i. e., every Holy-Day, and every Lord's Day, it is not administered perhaps in as many as twenty churches throughout the whole kingdom. And even in this we include places specially founded and endowed for the religious; such as cathedrals, and collegiate churches and chapels--places where numbers of priests dwell together--and so dwell under rules, as to be specially dedicated to God; supposed to be men of special prayer, and retirement, and study; supposed to be men withdrawn from the world for a holy and contemplative life.
Let us reflect upon the mere fact of the cathedral church of this great metropolis, and Westminster abbey, with its noble foundation, without a Eucharist from Sunday to Sunday; with their canons, and their choirs, their clergy of various orders, their deans, and their chapters, passing on a whole month, may be, without "shewing forth the Lord's death"; and that in the very heart of a population teeming with vice and sin around them, thousands upon thousands who have no thought of God. And yet the men who minister in these noble sanctuaries, read this rubric of the Book of Common Prayer, or may read it, every day of their lives:--"And in cathedral and collegiate churches and colleges, where there are many priests and deacons, they shall all receive the Communion with the priest EVERY SUNDAY AT THE LEAST, except they have a reasonable cause to the contrary."
Is not this then very fearful? May we speak of [12/13] it without offence? Dare we speak of it? From the bishops who preside over us down to the lowest of the clergy, in its ADMINISTRATION; from the highest nobility down to the humblest cottier, in its RECEPTION--the holy Sacrament has ceased to be that continuous and weekly offering of the Church, which the Church has most unquestionably directed it to be. We have gone back--we have forgotten the Lord's command. We no longer "shew forth the Lord's death" in that full sense, with which the Church of the Apostles, full of the Holy Ghost, clothed the Sacrament of the Altar.
III. A third ordinance of the Church there is, which has met with no better fulfilment--the ordinance of Fasts and Festivals. Looking through the Prayer Book, we shall find very nearly half of that portion of it which relates to special Services of Days, occupied in particular Fasts and Festivals beyond those of the Sundays. But of these Fasts and Festivals, which have ever been Holy Days in the Church, and which our own Church (after rejecting many which were modern decrees and interpolations of the Romanists) thought fit, solemnly and deliberately, to retain in her Book of Common Prayer, how many, I would ask you, my brethren, are, in any degree, observed throughout England now? It is only one Church in one hundred in which the sound of prayer and praise goes forth to Almighty God on the Festival Days; and as to Fasts, as to the abstract doctrine of Fasting, how many, nominally in the Church, utterly reject it? and how many more in practice forsake it? And now especially in this Fast of Lent, what, let me ask you, my brethren, is the usual practice of Lent? Formerly all theatres and places of public amusement were closed throughout the forty days; afterwards this dwindled down into the Wednesdays and Fridays, and not many years back, even this small vestige of the Fasting season, (and I believe without any remonstrance from the Church,) was abolished; so that now, as far as we are nationally concerned, there exists no [13/14] difference between Lent and any other period of the year. In fact, the whole idea of Lent is gone; it is an ordinance obsolete, useless, forgotten. The habits of the people are all opposed to it, and will not tolerate it. Among the rich there is very nearly the same ostentation and luxury as at other times, dinners and festivities, theatres and operas, banquetings and balls; and among the great mass of the middle classes any idea of self-denial or abstinence is abandoned. Even Good Friday, even that great and solemn Fast Day of the Church,--even that day of the Crucifixion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ--is made by the great bulk of the people more a day of feasting and rejoicing than of penitence and prayer.
Suffer me to read to you an account of the manner in which Good Friday of last year was observed in London. It is an account which I extracted at the time, and speaks conclusively to the national neglect which now we are bewailing.
"GOOD FRIDAY HOLIDAY EXCURSIONS.
The extraordinary fineness of the weather on Good Friday, and that too after a succession of fine weather, produced an immense influx of persons from the metropolis to Gravesend, Greenwich, Woolwich, Chelsea, &c., by the river steamers; omnibuses were also fully freighted to the suburban retreats; while excursion trains, fully laden, proceeded on the London and Brighton, South Eastern, South Western, Eastern Counties, and Great Western lines. It is computed that Gravesend, Woolwich, Greenwich, and Chelsea, had each an average influx of 50,000 visitors. The Gem alone left London Bridge with about eight hundred passengers, and was compelled to leave about two hundred behind, and an extra boat was started at half-past twelve, taking at least five hundred more. All the other steam vessels proceeding up and down the river, carried an average of two hundred and fifty persons each journey." [From the Morning Post.]
Now you will not imagine that I would for an instant speak generally against the rightful and the suitable enjoyments of our poor or middle classes in such holiday excursions as are here described. On the contrary, I would strenuously advocate and promote any plan by which "holiday excursions" might be extended, and every facility given for their more frequent [14/15] exhibition among the over-worked population of great towns; but it is their wrong use, the improper use as to the day of which I now complain. Good Friday and Christmas-day are now the only days left in which absence from labour or business is permitted. What wonder then, that the people, with so little opportunity of religion, and so little knowledge of the Church, turn the idea of absence from labour into festivity, and so Good Friday becomes a Feast. Give the people the real Festivals. Do not grind them down so closely to the dust with perpetual toil. Let them enjoy those days which our ancestors enjoyed for "holiday excursions," and then Good Friday will no longer be a Festival.
But as it is now--Is it not natural? Is it not the result which we might expect--when the Church shuts up her Houses of Prayer--when the very Clergy themselves, in many instances, speak against the doctrine of Fast or Festival,--and when any system of religious ordinances beyond the bare attendance for Public Worship once on the Sunday, is all that is thought requisite by the great bulk of our Laity.
And yet, my brethren, where is our consistency? Observe what we are doing this day--observe the proportion in which we serve God at the Church generally in comparison with man and the State specially--observe how we alter our conduct when temporal misfortunes come upon us, and recur to those very principles which in our prosperity we made light of and denied.
The whole of this is a season of penitence and fasting: this very day, the Vigil of the Annunciation, is specially so, and is marked in the Prayer Book to be so by the Church's ordinance. But would the great bulk of this congregation, and specially, would the clergy whose duty it surely is to maintain ordinances, would they have observed this day? would they have remembered that the Church has appointed a great Festival to-morrow, the Annunciation? or would they have noticed but with a smile the fact that a vigil or [15/16] day of abstinence is prefixed to this festival day? And yet this is an ordinance of the Church! And now most strange it is we meet together from other causes, and we confess that this very forgetfulness and neglect--neglect of ordinances--has brought upon us the chastisement of God; and so confessing, we are compelled by a special decree of God to come into His House and bow down before Him, and acknowledge the sin of our neglect. Thus God has now made us to pronounce a judicial sentence against ourselves. With our own lips, with our own words, and with our own presence we have condemned our own iniquity.
But I cannot go further on this head--surely, my brethren, it is enough. Were there time for me to point out to you other ordinances of our holy Church in the same way neglected or misused, I could indeed do so at a most fearful cost. From the bishops and rulers of our Church, down to the humblest curate, in almost every service and ordinance of the Prayer Book, I am prepared to shew the most lamentable failures and shortcomings. In every ordinance which the Church commands--in baptism, in marriage, in the burial of the dead, in visiting the sick and dying, in confirmations, in ordinations, it is all the same. [The reader is requested to turn to the Appendix.] At other times it would not be well for a humble parish priest to speak thus in censure as it would seem of his superiors,--no, it would not, it would be presumption,--but in this time of national humiliation, in this time of special confession of sins, nothing should be concealed,--the shortcomings of all, from the highest to the lowest, even of the rulers, should be laid bare. If the people confess their sins, so much more ought the clergy; if the priests, so much more the bishops. If the sins of the nation are said to bring down from Almighty God our present punishment, it must be a very fearful thing for the clergy to reflect how many of the people's sins are attributable to their own sins. If the people have neglected ordinances, what wonder, [16/17] when the bishops and priests have led the way? If the people wander from the Church, indulge in habitual ungodliness, profane the temple, and violate sacraments, what wonder, when they to whom is committed the power to bind and loose, to admonish and to reprove, neglect that power, and shrink away, on every side, in a temporizing and cowardly spirit, from preaching God's holy truths in the fulness of their integrity, according to the Church's ordinance? What saith the prophet Ezekiel?When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die, and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way to save his life, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thy hand."
What we really require as "a wise and understanding people," is COMMON HONESTY. If the ordinances of our Church are wrong ordinances, wrong for the clergy, or wrong for the laity;--if they are superstitious, if they are unnecessary, if they are burdensome--then why do we not hold a Church synod, and, like reasonable men, abolish them? How grievous and unreasonable a thing it is for men to retain ordinances in open theory, and to deny them in secret practice! how it approaches the great crime and abomination which our blessed Lord set forth as the ruin of the Jewish nation, hypocrisy! Surely it would be better for us, more manly, more honourable, and more just, that our bishops and rulers should take the Book of Common Prayer into public and deliberate council, review it, expunge those parts of it which, in their estimation, were unsuitable to the enlightenment of the present times, and inadequate to supply the attainments in righteousness of the present generation, and then suffer to remain such parts only as could really be observed by the clergy and tolerated by the people; surely this would be better than our present case of miserable inconsistency. Conscientious and good men are induced, by love of God and desire to advance His kingdom, to take upon themselves the office of [17/18] the priesthood; they enter upon the service of the Church, and there they find a form and ritual before them which, from the prejudice of some and the errors of others, is impracticable in its performance: and yet withal they are bound down with solemn vows, and ordained with holy sacrament, faithfully, and without reservation, to observe this form and ritual in every particular, that and no other.
If the Prayer Book remain as it is, and the clergy are bound to use it, is it not little better than a piece of hypocrisy to come before God on such a solemn day as this, and confess that we have neglected ordinances, and still withal intend to neglect them? Either let us abolish the ordinances, and then there will not be the sin of neglecting them; or let the people manfully, and as "a wise and understanding people," from this time forth observe them. What have we done this day? What shall we say? How shall we be excused? Whither shall we turn unless we are of threefold brass in hardness of heart, when with the Prayer Book in every layman's hand full of neglected ordinances, and with the ordination vow on every bishop and priest, to ensure, enforce, and obey these ordinances, there exists confessedly among us, an annual, a weekly, and a daily violation of them; and not only that, but now withal a deliberate confession before God, that such violation is the very cause, partly, of our national punishment; and not only that, but still withal (if so it should be, which God forbid), if no attempt be made by those who have the power to cure or remedy the evil. All this put together, and weighed honestly in the balance, does indeed seem so fearful a desecration of all that is honest, sincere, real, and good, that whether this day's Fast (if we remain as we are) will not add to rather than diminish the difficulties of our position is a very fearful question.
And now, my brethren, you will forgive me if I detain you longer to-day than usual; you will forgive me, because of the day, and of the great interests [18/19] involved in it, and of the pecuiliarity of the subject on which we treat, and also because there is nothing for you to do this day but fast and pray and meditate on these things. For a few minutes longer, then, I desire to speak to you of the THIRD subject of our confession,--"OUR GREAT STRIFES AND DIVISIONS."
Of course there are strifes and divisions. How can it be otherwise? How can seriously-minded, devout, earnest, spiritual men look upon our practice as Church people so utterly contradicting our theory, without danger to their faithfulness in adhering to the Church. It is a great trial, a severe trial to many good and holy men. You have seen--as the consequence of our want of truthfulness to ourselves and to our doctrines, and to the theory which we outwardly maintain--you have seen in the last century a great and fearful schism. A large body, a very large body of enthusiastic and religious men, unable to endure the apathy of the clergy of the day, and their contradictions of themselves, witnesses of the gross shortcoming of the Church at large in her religious teaching, abandoned her communion; and the Wesleyan Methodists (it may be feared now a permanent schismatic body) stand before us--the fruit of the ordinances of the Church, in the manner I have described, withheld, perverted, or neglected.
Then passing on to times more immediately present, as you well know, schism and division in another direction (but for the very same reason) is at work. A great number of the most religious of the laity--a certain number of the very priests--some of the most learned, (however we may hold them mistaken--still sincere and conscientious we must confess them to be,) a certain number of the very Priests, with many disciples, have very lately abandoned our Communion, and have joined the Church of Rome. Why, let me ask you, have they thus done? And why (I very much fear if we do not gird on our armour in time), why will more still do it? Just for the same reason as in the schism of the last century. The very same reason,--not that the Church of England is in [19/20] theory erroneous, or in theory deficient; hut because of her practice in comparison with her theory, so utterly disproportionate; because of the gross practical anomalies, mental frauds, suicidal reservations, self-contradicting pretences, which her laity and her clergy daily present to the public view, and persevere in with a callousness and hardness of heart which to an unprejudiced mind is one of the wonders of the age. We find priests of the Church denying the power of the keys, and ridiculing the Apostolical succession. We find baptism in the teaching of many pulpits to 'be a mere outward form, not sacramental, or imparting regeneration. We find the holy bread and wine of the Lord's Supper held by many to be no more than mere commemorative emblems, without an idea of an Eucharistic presence. But when we turn to the rubrics and prayers of the Church, the contrary of every one of these tenets is emphatically maintained. And yet, withal, such teachers remain in the Church unrebuked. Again, we find priests holding intercourse with dissenters and notorious schismatics, as in the Evangelical Alliance, and admitting them to their worship, and joining with them in their communion. We find notorious criminals, fornicators, drunkards, incestuous persons, and even criminous clergy, all suffered to remain in their several positions unnoticed with ecclesiastical censure, as though the virtue of binding and loosing, and of excommunication, as practised by St. Paul, were no longer possible in the Church now. And so scandal thrives. And monsters of iniquity die, unrepenting, and are carried into the Church, and over their corpse is read just the same prayer as over the holiest. Over such we express our hope "that this Our BROTHER RESTS IN CHRIST, and say, "blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." With doctrines then thus abandoned, and with discipline thus forsaken, with no arm but the arm of flesh to rest upon, no spiritual censures but those which emanate from ecclesiastical courts; all without formal, all within cold; no man that will stand forth to the people, and [20/21] shew them what it is to be of Christ and of the Apostles, as contra-distinguished from the House of Lords and acts of Parliament; the Church is lost in the State, and the priest in the court. What follows as to real religion in the mind of the earnest and the enthusiastic? They perceive not the distinction between the accidental and essential. They see not that these things are temporary blots, not wilful errors. But gazing upon the sad picture, so little responding to that perfection of an apostolic Church, which they look for in the idea they have a priori formed of what a Church should be;--they make no allowances, they hear of no excuse, they stop not to think, but in their impatience they fly at once to a strange communion, to dissent, or Rome; wherein, as they imagine, theory and practice may be found in unison, and the apostolic customs more diligently kept. How they end in sorrow, when they find themselves most miserably deceived, they never tell us. Schism has carried them away. Party spirit sustains them. The zeal of the convert buoys them up. They are too proud to return--too fast bound ever to retrace their steps. Their name is silent throughout the churches.
Thus it is that we are split--cast upon a shoal as a stranded vessel. No one knows the opinions of his brother; we are altogether of a hundred minds. One Church in Ireland, another in Scotland, a third in England, and schisms in all. Sections of sections, and divisions of divisions. One temperament of mind flies off in this direction, and we see a Doddridge, a Hall, a Baxter, a Henry, and a Wesley; while another temperament of mind flies off in another direction, and seeks the more glaring attractions of Rome--both schismatics--both rending Christ's flock; and we see those with whom we once joined so firmly and so truly, and thought never would fail (one specially whose name I need not mention), rebaptized, reordained, denying the sacraments of the Church which once they so strenuously defended; writing and preaching against her who once sustained and fed [21/22] them with a mother's love. O terrible and just judgment! O fearful sight for those who still abide and would be faithful! Why is all this brought upon us, O Lord our God, but for our sins. What causes these strifes and divisions? Why does one Church rise up against another; and why in this once happy and united land do we find so many names for religion, which is only one; so many contests in one sect above another, preaching strife and discord, and forgetting the name of the Lord God, and His Son Jesus Christ, and His holy Apostles, and the sacred Scriptures which breathe in every page the prayer of their Lord--"I pray for them, O heavenly Father, THAT THEY MAY BE ONE AS WE ARE ONE." Why is all this? We have ourselves confessed it this day. Here is its cause,--The Church's deficiency in faithfulness to Herself--her lax discipline--her dumb pastors--her false teachers, and her forgetful people.
And what will be the result of all this? Who can tell? We have met here to-day to think about the result. That is our object. We are "a wise and understanding people."--Have we not some of our wisdom and understanding left for our religion? Then if we have, shall we not ask of God that from this day forth we may use it. Those of you, my brethren, who are in high positions of the world, and have power and authority committed to you in the legislature, or otherwise, I would most humbly intreat, and affectionately as your pastor urge, to USE that power and authority, in your several positions, to remedy the evil which you this day have confessed. It is an invidious thing at all times, to find fault with that which is before us. It is an invidious thing to set oneself up as a reformer of abuses; because it always in some sort seems to set forth a claim of personal exemption from the faults or sins denounced. I would earnestly beseech you not to think this of me, but to believe that what I have now said, is said as of force, not willingly. It arises of necessity out of the [22/23] prayers, and the services which you have brought here to day. It arises from your own additions as a special service, to the ordinary service of your Church. It is not I that have said these things, but YOU. Accept them as the outpourings of your own lips; the result of your own admissions; the consequence, by argument, of your own confessions made to God this day.
If it should turn out that this national punishment should be the cause of any revival of religious unity, or any restoration of religious discipline, or any softening of religious prejudice; then will it one day be acknowledged, as in fact all God's punishments must be, if rightly used, a BLESSING. May God of His infinite mercy grant it so to be. May God of His infinite mercy so cause this great nation to become, in its only true sense, a "wise and understanding people"--that we may escape such an end as that which overwhelmed the once great nation of whom the words were spoken. Let us, O Lord our God, so acknowledge Thy hand in this affliction, that we may submit patiently. Let us rise up from our sleep as a giant refreshed with wine. Let us once more go forth as the people of the Lord, remembering His many mercies of olden times. His Holy Spirit being with us; a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night: let us so be guided on our path, that in our repentance and amendment of our ways, and the cure of our disorders, both in Church and state, our name may still remain among the nations of the earth as "A WISE AND UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE."
[The remainder of the Sermon is applicable only to the laborers employed at the works of St. Barnabas Schools and Clergy House, in the district of St. Paul's. It is thought better that it should be printed just as delivered.]
Before I conclude I would desire to point out some circumstances of a local character. It is one of the unavoidable misfortunes attendant upon a day such as this--that all workmen and laborers, forming the great bulk of the poorer classes, are discharged from work. [23/24] No wages are paid to them this day, as no work is done. It se happens that there are about forty men at present employed by us at the works of St. Barnabas Schools and the Clergy House. I have seen these men; and I have exhorted them being discharged from work to come and join with us in our divine service. They have done so, and are now sitting among you. But I do not think that these men, poor men, with families dependent upon them, and having suffered much all through the winter, ought to be deprived of their day's wages. While we give our alms to the Irish, as no doubt claiming them at our hands in their dreadful visitation, still we ought not to forget, in some degree, our own poor. And I propose therefore with your good will to give these men, our own laborers, men employed at our own works, their day's wages out of the offerings of the day. The remainder to be dedicated to the suffering Irish and Scotch. And I do beseech you, my poor brethren, laborers, carpenters, and masons, who are working for us, in the buildings which are hereafter to be dedicated to the service of the Church and of God,--I beseech of you to give heed to my words this day; not to act like the rest of your friends and companions; not to be led astray to use the remainder of this solemn day in any employment short of that which is consistent with a solemn religious fast. If you have never been taught such a truth before, now you are taught it, that God punishes nations for sins; and that although I am bound to confess that the greater weight of those sins lies upon the higher orders, and principally upon us, the clergy, for our gross neglect of you in the preceding century, and which neglect indeed still continues; still, in your proportions, you have sins to answer for also. Let the remainder of this day then be spent soberly and quietly. Come again to public prayer (if you possibly can) and bear about you the remembrance that a great portion of your fellow subjects, workmen like yourselves, in Ireland and Scotland, are at this moment DYING OF HUNGER; and therefore common good feeling will not permit you to spend this day, but in a solemn, quiet, orderly, and religious manner.
And now may God hear our prayers this day, and accept our tears; fill us with a better mind, and cause the Church yet once again to worship Him in the integrity of her ancient faith, and the beauty of her ancient holiness.
APPENDIX, No. I.
THERE are two subjects mentioned in the Sermon, upon which it may be desirable to say a few words. One is referred to at p. 19, on the celebration of the Holy Communion on days of fasting; the other at p. 31, on the neglect of ordinances by the clergy.
A very unfortunate remark was made in the English Churchman newspaper, on the Thursday preceding the General Fast, to the effect that the administration of the Holy Communion was unsuitable and improper on that day. A letter was given, as from a correspondent, couched in these terms:
"But, assuredly, on a day of such humiliation, the people ought not to communicate; and I am very glad to see that the form just issued, by ordering the collects before the final benediction, EXPRESSLY FORBIDS the celebration."
And this letter is set forth with a remark from the editor, that "it deserves the especial attention of our clerical readers."
Still further, when the error was pointed out in the succeeding week, the editor nevertheless persisted in it; and brought the subject forward a second time, stating that he had referred the matter to his former correspondent, and "had we, on reconsideration of the subject, found out that he was in error, we should, however inconvenient, have thought it our duty to have anticipated our usual publication by two days, so as to have prevented, as far as possible, the practice of our clerical readers from being guided by a theory which had turned out to be erroneous."
Now that such a theory was erroneous, and that the hindrance thereby given to the administration of the Holy Sacrament on the Fast Day was a violation of all that was good, true, and catholic, I will endeavour to prove. I will not say that those of the clergy who abstained from it were wrong,--still, I will say that, in doing so, they deprived their people of an opportunity of grace, and a means of earnest entreaty before God, on so solemn and peculiar a day, which no other Church but our own would have done, or did.
No guide can be better or surer in such a matter, than the custom of the Universal Church. In the Universal Church,--i.e. of course, long before the times of the Reformation, say in the second or third century, it was certainly the custom to communicate [25/26] daily; afterwards it was sufficient on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday; and afterward again, it degenerated into the weekly communion. Still, however, the fact of daily communion in the Church from the beginning; and then Wednesdays and Fridays (fast days), selected as choice days of the week when daily communion began to give way, speaks prima facie against the notion of the impropriety of Fast days for communion.
'It was, indeed, the custom in certain Churches to abstain from consecration on particular days, and especially in Lent; but this is a thing distinct from communion. This was called "Missa Praesanctificatorum." The words of the Council of Trullo are these: "That on every day in the holy fast of Lent, except Saturdays and Sundays, and the Feast of the Annunciation, the liturgies of the presanctified gifts shall be performed." And Bingham remarks on this: "Not that they prohibited the Communion to be received on other days, for it was received every day: but on those days they received only that which had been consecrated on the Sabbath and Lord's Day." [Bingham, lib. xv. s. 12.] And further on he says: "It was the ancient practice in the Greek Church, as it continues to be at this day, though the Latin Church never adopted it into her service; for they (the Latin Church) used to consecrate, as well as communicate, about three in the afternoon all the days of Lent, as is evident from Tertullian, St. Ambrose, and many others."
Our own Rubric, quoted in the preceding pages, speaks of "every Sunday AT THE LEAST"; on which Bishop Beveridge remarks, that every day is contemplated in the Book of Common Prayer as possible and proper for a Communion: and this is fortified by the direction that the same Collect, Gospel, and Epistle, should serve for all the week; and this is further strengthened by Ash-Wednesday being selected to bear a special Gospel and Epistle, as well as every day of the Holy Week;--all days of special fasting.
There was one day, however, which was universally excepted--the fast of Good Friday. But abstinence from communion on that day depended, not on the idea of the fast, but because of the peculiar event which that day commemorated. It was excepted, as the day of Crucifixion--the day on which the "tremendous sacrifice" was itself actually offered; and so the Church refrained from the "commemorative sacrifice," because of its being the day of the real sacrifice. Hence, in the Roman Church, it is the custom to consecrate on Maundy Thursday; and reserving the holy elements in one kind merely to consume by the priest such reserved elements on Good Friday: but the people do not communicate: while the Greek Church neither consecrates, nor has any such consumption of what is reserved (for nothing is reserved), nor permits either the laity or the clergy to communicate on that day. Our own Church follows the Greek Church rather than the Roman; allows no reservation from the Maundy Thursday; but generally, and until quite modern times, has abstained [26/27] from the Communion on Good Friday. And though no command is given to abstain, still the fact of no special sentence being appointed commemorative of such a day, as is appointed on other special days, gives us a clear intimation of the feeling of the Church on this head.
So much for the general custom of the Church in the East and West. Let us now review what has been said and done in more modern times. First, as to the Roman Church, the idea of communicating in times of fasting is clearly maintained by the appointment of a mass for famine, and other such times of God's special visitation, the mass "pro quacunque necessitate"--and at these masses the laity communicate. For instance, on the very day from which this discussion arises, the Roman Catholic clergy were especially enjoined to celebrate mass, and the laity to communicate. The following is the injunction of one of the Roman Catholic bishops, issued for the Vigil of the Annunciation,--the day on which they, as well as ourselves, kept the National Fast:
"We hereby enjoin as follows--1. On Wednesday next the 24th day of March, being the eve of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there shall be said or sung in every Church and Chapel of our district the Mass pro quacunque necessitate with only one prayer, at such hour as shall be deemed most convenient And further we exhort you, dearly beloved children, to approach if possible the Holy Communion on that or the following day for the same objects, the season of Lent precluding the necessity of our enjoining any further observances."
I have ascertained from the very Rev. Eugene Pophoff, Arch-Priest of the Greek Orthodox Catholic Church, and Chaplain to the Russian Embassy, in London, that the custom of his Church is as follows:--
In Lent, during the first week, they celebrate and administer the Communion with full solemnity on Saturday and Sunday only, and with the Liturgy of the presanctified elements on Wednesday and Friday. During the rest of the Lent Fast, the Liturgy may be fully celebrated on any day except Wednesday and Friday, when the Liturgy of the presanctified is of obligation, and the people are on those days invited formally to receive the Communion. During the last week, the Communion may be administered on any day except Good Friday, but the principal days for its administration are Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday. On Good Friday there is no Liturgy, not even of the presanctified. The oriental service on that day consists of the reading of Scriptures, with Psalms and Prayers. Neither priest nor people communicate. The Communion is specially recommended (with fasting) on all fast days, except Good Friday.
But it may be said, What have we to do with the Roman Church, or with the Greek Church? Let not the reader be alarmed. I am not exhorting him to be a follower of either; quite the contrary; I am only citing a fact; I am only drawing a testimony that the communion of the people on a fasting-day is not contrary to the Catholic [27/28] Church as here set forth, as far as it applies. It is a testimony from two great communities of Christian people to the principle which is at issue. But let it pass. Are our own bishops silent? Have they forbidden Holy Communion? No; they could not forbid that which is out of the reach of their power; nor we hope, would they if they could. On the contrary we have this standing testimony to the fact of the Anglican communion coinciding with other branches of the Catholic Church in this matter. The following is Archbishop Grindall's injunction, A.D.1571:--"The Communion to be received three times a year besides ASH-WEDNESDAY, viz., on one of the two Sundays before Easter, and one of the two Sundays before Pentecost, and on one of the two Sundays before Christmas." [Grindall's Injunction--Cardwell. Docum. Ann. vol. i. p. 335.] Nor are we wanting in episcopal direction even in regard to the very Fast, or rather the occasion of the Fast, now before us; for in Dublin on the 20th of November last year, when the Fast was observed in Ireland, the Archbishop of Dublin thus directed his clergy:--"The hour or hours for Divine Service I leave to your discretion, but I think it most important that the celebration of the Lord's Supper, once at least, should form a part of the Service on the day appointed. That holy ordinance, being so peculiarly significant of the 'Communion of Saints,' i. e. the fellowship or brotherhood among Christians, as to be frequently even designated simply as 'The Holy Communion,' is the more especially appropriate to such an occasion, as thus reminding us of our duty towards our suffering brethren. It is moreover usual for the Eucharist to be administered on occasions of pressing danger, and the practice is not unreasonable, provided men are but guarded against the error of thinking that it is to be reserved exclusively for such occasions. And when your people are especially called on to reflect and turn away from their sins, it will be most appropriate to remind them of one so obviously remarkable as that of habitually absenting themselves from the Lord's Table, which too many even of those who do attend Divine Worship are guilty of. Those who are duly sensible of the sinfulness of such neglect, will of course be anxious to embrace the very first opportunity of commencing a new course in that respect, which opportunity, therefore, it is most desirable should be afforded them immediately."
So much then as to the principle of a Fast being inappropriate to the celebration of holy Communion. But there was another observation contained in the objection with which we are now dealing. It was this--that the construction of the particular form of service issued by the State implied the command of the State to abstain from holy Communion. And is it come to this? Are we to be told that the Church's law and custom can be put down and altered, either on the one hand by the dictum of the State, or on the other hand by the dictum (if it had been so) of any individual bishop? Not even the Pope of Rome could forbid [28/29] the celebration of mass;--Is the State worse than a Pope to the Church of England? But it is not so; the whole assertion rests upon a fallacy; for let us fairly consider it.--The very appointment of the service itself for the day, the very calling it a "Communion Service" manifests the intention to be to have a Communion, for if it were impossible to have a Communion, how could it be a Communion Service? why appoint it at all? why not simply command matins and evensong without a Communion Service? Even if it had been so, I for one should nevertheless have celebrated the holy Communion according to the office of the Prayer Book, with the collect, gospel, and epistle of the day; but as it was not so, the Communion office placed conspicuously before me reminded me most forcibly of the intention therein conveyed; and it was simply a question whether three or four persons could be found in the parish who were worthy communicants--I rejoice to say there were upwards of four hundred. But still further, the objector states that celebration of holy Communion was EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN (sic), because collects were placed "immediately before the benediction." If the writer had but as a layman a tolerable knowledge of his Prayer Book, or as a clergyman the slightest remembrance of what took place when he was ordained, and had but turned back to refresh his memory to the ordination service for deacons and priests, he could have found that in that service, wherein, as a necessary component part of it, occurs the celebration of holy Communion, certain collects are placed, to be said immediately before the benediction. The Rubric is thus:--
"The Communion ended, after the last Collect, and immediately before the Benediction, shall be said these Collects following."--So that to argue that the placing of collects before the benediction EXPRESSLY FORBIDS the Communion, is, to say the least of it, a piece of strange forgetfulness.
Here then the whole argument may be concluded. It is summed up thus:--1. Primitive Practice--2. Universal Practice--3. Injunctions of our own Church in former days, as in Archbishop Grindall--4. Injunctions of our own Church in the present days, as in the Archbishop of Dublin--5. Injunctions from the Roman Catholic bishops, and the practice of the Roman Catholic as well as the Greek Church, being testimonies, as far as they go, corroborating the universal custom:--and 6. The very construction of the form of service used on the Fast day, its whole spirit, meaning, and tendency,
What more can we desire? How it came to pass that our bishops did not, in their several dioceses, issue their injunctions to observe the holy sacrament, thus in conformity with all that is ancient and Catholic, it is now too late to lament. What a golden opportunity was thus lost of strengthening the bond of Christian fellowship in this age of separation! What a solemn and most peculiar time, to add to our prayer for unity, this great act of union, cementing the severed and broken fragments of our national Church. How great and beautiful an occasion of recurring with penitence and [29/30] renewed resolutions to this long neglected ordinance of our holy faith. Surely that day would have been more blessed than it was, if we had pledged ourselves before God, as a nation, in those most earnest prayers, and that most earnest confession of sin which in the Communion Office is so conspicuous, and then we had received absolution, that most plentiful absolution, which is conveyed not only by the words of priests and bishops as instruments of God, but more so, in the graces of that holy Sacrament; "the eating of that Body by which our bodies are made clean, and the drinking of that Blood by which our souls are washed."
APPENDIX No. II.
THE second point on which I desired to draw the attention of the congregation in the Sermon, was one very difficult to handle, as I therein endeavoured to express, owing to the appearance of presumption in my speaking of the violation of ordinances by my brethren the clergy, wherein I might seem improperly to set myself up as a censor of others. Nevertheless, it seemed to me, that on such a day, and met as we were on such an occasion, it was imperative that the truth should be spoken, and the sin of "neglected ordinances," and "the offences multiplied in the land," should be placed on the right shoulders; and not be made mere language placed in the mouths of the people, as through them only was the sin and the neglect. I would here then refer more specifically to this neglect of ordinances in matters, in which every one's observation in most of our London parish churches will confirm my assertion.
1. Baptism.--Not performed in the presence of the congregation; not performed with all the prayers appointed; sometimes without a font; sometimes without sponsors; fees demanded, whereby the great bulk of the poor are denied the Sacrament.
As to the matter of fees, observe the following:--
"Marriages and Christenings without fees.--On Sunday, in consequence of the authorities of the parish of St. John's Clerkenwell, having discovered that numbers of the poorer classes inhabiting the district, were living together without regard to either of the above ceremonies, and bringing up their children in the same way, notice was given (their excuse being that they were unable to pay the fees), that on Advent and Whit Sundays, christenings would be performed gratuitously, and marriages on the first Monday in December and May." [Times, Nov. 24, 1846.]
 2. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.--Besides the infrequency of its celebration--the violation of all the appointed order--in--
1. Not offering the holy Elements at the right time, and by the right person.
2. Omitting the word "Oblations," directed specially in the prayer for the Church Militant.
3. In administering to a great number at a time, whereas by the Canons and Rubric it is directed to be administered to each one severally.
4. In changing the form of words from the singular to the plural: "your bodies," "your souls," &c. &c.
5. In omitting to consume the remains of the "Bread and Wine," but suffering them to be cast aside or heedlessly treated; whereas the Rubric directs their immediate consumption.
3. Marriages.--This ceremony performed in the wrong place of the church, and half the service omitted. Some of the prayers and addresses altered, and the final exhortation very seldom used.
4. Burial of the Dead.--Distinctions made between the rich and the poor; for the latter with a small fee only a portion of the service performed; for the former with a large fee the whole service performed; the rich carried into the Church, the poor refused.
5. Churchings.--Performed by the fire-side in the Vestry, and sometimes the Psalm of Thanksgiving, the essence of the service, omitted.
6. Confirmation.--The service performed by laying on of hands on large numbers at a time, instead of according to the Rubric, "every one SEVERALLY."
7. Ordination.--The holy rite performed out of the canonical times--the four seasons--whereby the prayers of the Church for the Ember weeks are either lost, or made useless. Prayers being said sometimes without ordination, and sometimes ordination without prayers. The holy rite performed in strange churches; bishops consecrated out of their own cathedral; whereas Bingham tells us, that "every bishop by the laws and customs of the Church was to be ordained in his own Church, in the presence of his own people." Priests and deacons ordained out of their own diocese; whereas in ancient times "the Council of Antioch, and those called the Apostolical canons, determined that a bishop should not presume to ordain out of his own bounds, or cities, or countries, not subject to him." Add also the very lamentable deviation from right order in bishops ordaining without the Holy Communion; that is to say, ordaining first, then dismissing the ordained, and then re-assembling to communicate, or assembling in another church to communicate; whereas the direction in the Prayer Book is as follows:
"When this is done, the Nicene Creed shall be sung or said, and the bishop shall after that go on in the service of the Communion, which all they that receive orders shall take together, and [31/32] remain IN THE SAME PLACE where hands were laid upon them, until such time as they have received the Communion."
The Canon Law, also, which is binding, unless repealed (in this case it is not repealed, for the rubric confirms it), says thus:" The Communion to be celebrated and administered by the ordaining bishop, and no other person, although in his presence. The Communion is not of the essence of the ordination, and, if omitted, the person is not to be re-ordained, zbut the Communion to be supplied by the ordaining bishop himself, and, until it be so supplied, the party ordained remains suspended from his functions."--Farraris in voce "Ordo."
6. Consecration of Churches.--Many bishops administer the Holy Communion, which was the invariable practice of ancient times; but many do not. A form of consecration of churches was agreed to by both houses of convocation, in 1712, but it did not receive the royal assent, and therefore is not binding. It is, however, that form, according to Burns, which is generally in use, and though not formally complete, still by being agreed to by both houses of convocation, may fairly be said to represent the wishes of the Church. In this form we find the following directions:
"The Sermon being ended, and all who do not receive the holy Communion returned, and the doors shut, &c.
"After the Communion, and immediately before the final blessing, &c.
Although, indeed, there cannot be said to be anything wrong in the omission of the Holy Communion, because it is universally allowed that every bishop has the power of appointing his own form; still when we consider how great and solemn a work it is to consecrate a building to God's service for ever, the additional and more earnest solemnity of the Holy Communion would but add grace and blessing to the work, specially as our Church has shewn her sense in this matter from the form agreed to by both houses.
Such are some of the points which I had in my mind in the writing of the Sermon--points affecting the clergy--I do not wish to exempt myself from blame, in similar or worse neglect of many of our ordinances. God forbid that I should do so; but I cannot but honestly think as I have said, that when we speak of neglect of ordinances, before the clergy charge the sin of this neglect on the people, they should look to themselves. "Thou which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?"