Of Worshiping God towards the Altar:
By ELEAZAR DUNCON D.D.
Dedicated to the Right Reverend Father in
To the Right Reverend Father in God John Lord Bishop of Exceter his Grace.
AS well the consideration of your Lordships most eminent dignity in the Church, as those evident and publick testimonies of your pious affection to it, which you have not ceased at those times to demonstrate, when the black clouds of Malignity have overspread it; hath emboldened me to present this Treatise to your Patronage. Nor can I doubt that your Lordship, who hath been so high a Vindicator of the Churches honour, will deny to cherish with the beams of affection, any thing which offers at the defence of Devotion and Piety. Blessed be God, the Sun of the Gospel hath again appeared, and the truth of Religion in part dispelled, those clouds which so lately hid it in obscurity: how great an Instrument your Lordship hath been in the promotion of this great and happy work, is fitter to be left to the judgment of the world, then for me to speak of your Lordship to hear. But that there are still some mists in this our Hemisphere, whose foggy influence doth blind ways of truth, is so well known and so much lamented by your Lordship that I dare be bold to assure my self, that you will look upon nothing as needless or unnecessary which endeavours to make plain the Catholick paths. The thing it self was long since delivered in Latin, by a worthy and pious Divine in order to the satisfaction of a learned Auditory; under your Patronage and Protection my Lord, it offers it self in English for the vulgar devotion and reasonable service. Let your Lordship therefore be graciously pleased, to excuse the boldness of this address, and to put it on the score of our holy Mother the Church, who hath already been so signally obliged by your endeavours; and grant that he who continually prays both for Her and Your Lordships prosperity, may confidently assume the boldness to subscribe himself
Your most humble and
most Obedient Servant,
Of Worshipping GOD Towards the ALTAR.
In the Name of God. Amen.
I suppose it is not unknown unto you Learned Auditors, that there hath been some time since a frequent report, which hath reached the ears of all, that I propounded at the Commencement, a new and unheard question, viz. Of the bowing towards the Altar, whereby we solemnly worship God. I had not indeed then resolved to Dispute concerning that Particular, though I thinke I should have done well and deservedly, if I had vindicated that ancient Custome of Bowing and Adoration, from [1/2] yesterdaies opprobrious railing and calumny, and had in that crowd of Learned Auditors asserted it to be both Godly and Religious; but as well my own inclination as the Command of Superiours did oblige me to the discussion of graver Subjects. But being, In the Name of God, to make a Theologicall determination, I can find no Question, either by reason of the time more convenient, according to my purpose more fit, or by reason of Novelty more desired, then this which some Busie-bodies without my knowledge have obtruded upon me. Concerning Adoraion or bowing. This therefore I have now purposed to handle, lest the forementioned Persons (who lie at the Catch) should proceed, and openly boast, That I refused a Question as it were propounded to me; nay, that we either cannot, dare not, or will not publickly defend, that which we consecrate for our daily practise. The Question therefore is,
Whether that bowing towards the Altar, whereby we worship God, at our ingresse into his house, and likewise our egresse, and as oft as we stand before the Altar for the performing of Divine service with our humble and suplicant veneration, be lawfull, holy, and praise-worthy, conformable to the practice of the ancient Catholick [2/3] Church; and not with reason to be calumniated by our upstart Innovators.
It is sufficiently manifest, that not onely the truth, but also my duty requires, that I should with the best arguments I can defend the affirmative; and briefly and plainly answer the adversaries objections; which will be done more effectually, if first those things which in the question ae but confused shall be exactly distinguished; those things which may seem obscure plainly unfolded; and those taken as grantedwhich are conceded by most as indubitably true. I shall begin, if you please, with the last of these.
In the first place therefore it is to be Supposed, that certain places designd by the Church, as Chappels, Cathedrals, or Churches, for the publick worship of God, the performance of Divine services, and the exercise of Ecclesiasticall duties must necessarily be appointed. Which is so true, that it seems not onely written in the Dialect of Scripture and reason, but by the beams of the Sunne it self. Which he who shall be so strangely mad as to deny, utterly overthrows Religion it self, banishes piety and holiness, and defies to his power both God and Christ.
The second supposition which ariseth from this first, may be this: All Christians, if they will keep the Commandements of the Lord, and walk in his way, are obliged to come to those places dedicated to God and holy uses, that they may make their vows, [3/4] offer up their prayers and praises, and perform his due worship and Adoration. The truth of this supposition is as cleare as the former. For therefore are the Courts of the Lord separated from the filth of prophaneness; therefore are they solemnly dedicated and consecrated: That in those all Christians flocking and assembling together with one accord, may reverence God in his own house by their commune and publick duties and worship. My House shall be called a House of prayer to all people, saith the Prophet. Worship God in the beauty of holiness, saith the Psalmist.
Let this then be the third supposition deduced from the two precedent. That publick worship to be performed to God by every one in the holy Church, ought not to be lame and imperfect; as if it required the soule, and excluded the body; or did bind the body alone, with no tie upon the soul; but it must be compleat and perfect, both as to soul and body, strictly obliging the whole man, & the whole of man to a due observance and diligence: first the soul, that the worship may be sincere, proceeding from the bottome of the heart, not feined and savouring of hypocrisie; and also the body, that the worship may be visible, exemplary, and exposed to witness; that it be as much as possible humble and lowly, candidly expressing the inward reverence of the soul, and wonderfully increasing and perfecting that reverence. This proportion of the friendly and necessary harmony of the soul and body in the performance of sacred duties, no man I conceive will think to want the help of Arguments to confirm [4/5] it, who hath first granted, that God the Creator of all things hath made both our soules and bodies, for the attendance of his Majesty and glory of his Name.
I proceed therefore to the fourth and last Supposition. That perfect worship which contains the obedience both of soul and body, consisting both of external and internal Adoration, publickly performed to God by Christians meeting in the holy place, is without doubt lawful, pious and laudable, as agreeable to the example of the Primitive Church; and therefore ought to take away all occasion of calumny from the Tongues and Pens of Innovators. Nor doe I think any will deny his Vote to this, but he who hath made shipwrack both of his Religion and Reason.
Thus briefly have I run over the four Suppositions; to wit, Of the designing the Holy Place, Of the publick Convention or Assembly there to be Celebrated, Of the perfect Worship there to be performed, Of the Piety, Religion, and Antiquity of that Worship to be Asserted.
I come now to the second Particular proposed, viz. The Explanation of some things, which, though they are enough plain in themselves, and separated from all appearance of evil, yet to those who will be pleased with nothing, are matter of scandal and offence. And in the first place, the very word Altar affords them matter of suspition, as if all who commonly use that word did likewise endeavour the Restitution of the Popish Masse, or Lateran Transubstantiation, [5/6] Oh charitable Soules! Are they ignorant that all the Ancient Fathers both in the East and West Chuerches, all, I say, from Ignatius himselfdown to St. Bernard, have often made use of that Name or Appellation? what is more frequent among the Greeks, that ιερειύς, θυσία, θυσίαστήριον, which in Latine are no lesse frequently signified by Sacerdos, Sacrificium, Altare, Priest, Sacrifice, and Altar? what imprudcence is this (to give it to worse title) of accusing the holy Fathers and Doctors, as if they laid the first Foundations of the Popish Doctrine? the Sea of Rome indeed hath no stouter Defenders nor propitious Patrons, then such weak and witless enemies. Altar, Priest, and Sacrifice are relatives, and the Argument will be good from one to the other; and from the granting of those three, is not any seeming consquence of Transubstantiation. Take away Transubstantiation, saith the Right Reverend Bishop of Winchester, of happy memory, to the Jesuits, and we shall have no long Controversie concerning the Sacrifice: we have an Altar, saith St. Paul, let us therefore, with their good leave, imitate the Apostles and Fathers of the Primitive Church; let us, I say, therefore in the same wordes and phrases as he did (since in fitter we cannot) securely and freely expresse the same Catholicke sense. After they have sufficiently published this word, they endeavour highly and injuriously to vex the Subject it self. For though they cannot but acknowledge if they would candidly interpret things, that we perform the worship before [6/7] the Altar only and always to God alone; yet such itch have they after calumny and scandall, that they accuse us of Sacriledge and Idolatry (the most execrable crimes) I verily believe against the sense of their own consciences: affirming that this Adoration is voluntarily and on set purpose offered by to the Altar it self, which is either Wood or Stone. Vexat censua Columba. Innocence shall not want a censure. Truly there needs no Apology to wipe off this their manifest and notorious calumny, of which their consciences must tell them they themselves are the Authors. The same Dart's poisoned with the same Venom did the Heathens of Old throw against the innocent heads of the Primitive Christians, to wit, that they Adored the Sun, because they worship'd God towards the East. They worship, saith one, I know what Ononochrytes, with the murder of Infants: And after; They drinke human gore, and proceed to promiscuous copulation. Away with these reproaches, breathen out blasphemy and wickednesse, which yet are easily slighted, as proceeding from a mouth which confess'd not Christ but unworthy, unworthy utterly it is that we should so hainously, so undeservedly be accused of so great a wickednesse, by our Brethren, who have been washed in the same Font with us, pouring out the same Prayers daily, and hoping for the same Heaven and Happinesse: If their Charity was but warmed with that zeale they pretend, they would not certainly accuse us thus unjustly of High Treason against the [7/8] Majesty of Heaven; nor should we rightly and deservedly pronounce them the manifest Violations of Peace and Charity. When we pray, if it may be we look upon the Heavens and Stars and lift up our eyes and hands, yet who is so sottish as to thinke that we therefore worship the Skies or the roofe of the Church? Entring into the House of God at the very Threshhold we uncover our Heads, Do we therefore Adore the sanctified Stones? Coming into our Pewes, we bend our Knees, Do we therefore fall downe to the Wood and Seats? In our private retirements, perhaps, though not in the Church, we fall down in humility on our faces and worship; do we therefore with Vesta's Priests venerate the Earth? Away with these unjust and childish reproaches, pro'd I cannot say with Reason but Reeds rather. If it were lawful to add, like for like, how easily might one stab them with their own Daggers! coming into the Church, standing upright on their feet, mumbling over, perhaps, some short prayers, they cover their faces with their hats; O good men! what do they adore their hats or the wool they are made of? by the weakness of the same consequence wich they acknowledge, it is manifest that their Argument is alike infirm. But under our Hats, say they, we worship God, least external Objects should divert our minds; a new invention never hard of by the Ancients; if we had no stronger Arguments then this for our Bowing towards the Altar, we should not certainly easily make use of that Worshsip, nor [8/9] now defend the use of it as pious and laudable.
But I come to the third Part of my Taske and the first Proposition; wherein some Distinctions for Explication are briefly to be rehearsed.
Adoration, according to the common acceptation of the Schoole-men, is compared of three Act; First, of the Act of Understanding; which is the knowledge of the Supreme and divine Excellency; then, of the Act of the Will; which is a free submission of our selves, and all things in our power, performed and made to this divine Excellency; which is the formal Reason of Worship; and lastly, of the external Act of the Body; which is the Effect of the former Action, and Expresses the understandings knowledge of the divine Excellency, and not onely manifests the submission of the will to it, but increases, perfects, and crowns it.
These three Act must necessarily concur, to make up the true and proper integrity of our Worship: he who takes away one of these, doth make his service to God imperfect in it selfe, unworthy of God, and unprofitable to himself: if you take away the First, you open a gate to ignorance, and superstition, that masse of evil; nay, with the Athenians, you erect an Altar To the unknown God. If you cast out the Second, you banish Religion, and Reverence it self introducing into the Church vizards, masks and hypocrites, as so many Stage-players on the Theater: If you forego the Third, (which vice [9/10] is now adaies too common, (your case is still in the same predicament; Reverence, Fear, and Humility are first sent packing, and Religion, Piety, and Devotion must follow after; which therefore God and Nature, and their Disciples, Christians and Heathens, have always and everywhere conjoyned; and let no Man part them asunder, unlesse he will by some means contemn the Oracles of God, and violate the dictates of Nature it self.
That thid Act which performs the obedience of the Body, being the common effect and witnesse of the former Acts, and doth (if Deceit be absent) imply or suppose them, doth by consent of most properly claim the title of Adoration: and of this the School-men mention Four kinds or manners, and with those the Writers of Cases of Conscience, viz. To Uncover the Head, Bow the Body, Bend the Knees, and prostrate the Body on the ground; which the Greeks call γυμνσαι τωω κεφαλὶν, προσκυνεῖν, γονυπετεῖν, προσπιπτειν. That the Reverence and Religion of the soul as well among Heathens as Jews and Christians, were in former times to be testified both to God and Man, is so palpable that it needs not the help of testimonies; this therefore may be taken for granted, and come into the Number of our first Supposition:
We have now to doe with the Second of these, to wit; the Bending or Bowing of the Body in divine Worship, which only seem both amongst most ancient and modern Writers to be [10/11] specially called by the Name of Adoration. If we look upon the original of the Word, perhaps it neither precisely designes or notes any inclining of the Body; since Adorare, to Adore, is nothing else, but Manum ad os admovere, to put ones Hand to ones mouth, as say the Criticks, and as we may gather out of Job, cap. 31, 27. Out of Minutius Felix and many other Writers; but together with that laying the Hand to the Mouth they were anciently wont, in testimony of honour and reverence, to bow their bodies, and as it were to cast them down, whence from the conjunction of those gestures, Adoration came to signifie, the bowing either of the Head or whole Body: Of Adoration therefore applied and restored to this outward Act, the following Discourse shall Treat.
But I will not multiply Controversies beyond necessity; nor come into the Pit as if I were to combate with an Adversary whom I have fashion'd and form'd to my owne fancy; and to whom I may seem to have given as I pleased both strength and weapons; which kind of fight (too much used now adaies) I should think my self to have undertaken; if I should without occasion indeavour the confirmation of this Proposition, to wit, That the Adoration of God perform'd by the bowing of the Body, is not onely lawful but pious and commendable, and such as all wil presently cry out as that Orator when he blew the trumpet of Hercules praise, Quis eum vituperavit, Who hath found fault with it? Let it [11/12] therefore be taken for granted as a Corolary from the third Supposition; That to Adore or worship God with the bending of the Body, is a work of Piety and Religion, not unbecoming the Divine Majesty, nor contradictory to our Fear and Reverence. The truth of which Position the Laws and Rites of all Nations have abundantly established, as well the Gestures and Customes of the Jewes in Holy Duties, as the continued Practice and Custome of the Christians through the whole world in all Age: Nor can our Adversaries be so impudent as to deny this. But that this Adoration, though in it slf lawfull and pious, as being free both from crime and scandall, should be performed towards the Altar, this is that which offends them, and which in some of them of finer wits and looser spleens gives occasion for gibing and jeering, in others whose hearts are overflowne with Gall, provokes anger and brawles, railing and reproaches. Here's the Point. We must therefore prove, That this Adoration or Worship is lawfully, pious, and most fitly made towards the Altar.
The first Argument may be thus stated.
That worship which strictly and absolutely considered in it selfe, is pious and humble, cannot any way be corrupted, much lesse slip into the guise of impiety and superstition; from this Reason onely that it is customarily wont to be performed towards [12/13] this or that part of Heaven, towards this or that part of the Church (suppose the Altar or the Font) unless either we will think that God hath bound and tyed up himelfe in that place which is injurious to his Omnipresence and Greatnesse; or will feign that God hath placed and stuck up his benefits and gifts of grace as so many Anathemas in such a place, which doth violate his mercy and bounty, or else judge that some part of our Worship is performed to that place or thing at least transitively, or relatively or some other way; either that there is danger that it should be forsaken, or believed to be by some justly and deservedly done; whereof one doth seem to trench upon the divine Honour, the other to offend brotherly Charity. I conceive thre is no other way by which dirt may be thrown on that unspotted Worship.
I now make this Assumption:
The worship of God, of which we speak, if precisely considered in it selfe, is a worship humble and pious; therefore so likewise doth it remain, if it be performed by us to God towards the Altar.
The truth of the Minor is plain enough from our Suppositions, to wit, To adore God, that is as I said, to worship with the bowing of the body, is a Worship most pious and humble, as testifying humane subjection, and asserting the Excellency of God; nor do I believe any body will deny it, but he who is rapt with the Manichaean fury; and being struck with the same sting and blasphemy, hath learned to deny our bodies to [13/14] God, the Creator of all things visible and invisible.
The Major, consisting of a numbring of those waies by which the divine worship may become less worthy of God, and excluding them all, and removing them from the present purpose, is best confirmed.
Whilst therefore we worship God towards the Altar, we are not, first, so forgetfull of God's Majesty and boundlesse Nature, as to believe he can be confin'd in little Chancels, or that he doth only or more live in the East part of Heaven or the Temple. A ridiculous fantasie to all faithful ones who have but suck'd in the rudiments of Christianity.
Secondly, As we do not confine God himself, so neither doe we his gifts and graces to this or that place, I say, we do not hang the gifts and benefits of God (everywhere showring down on our heads) upon the Altar, but our Vowes and Prayers: for on the Altar (saith Optatus in his sixth book) are laid the Members of Christ and Vows of the People.
Thirdly, We attribute no particle of our Worship to the Altar, either transitively or relatively, or any other way; we onely reverence God before or towards the Altar; and that for those reasons which shall follow anon.
Fourthly and lastly. There is no danger or [14/15] scandal in this our Practice, whereby the ruder and ignorant sort may with reason suppose or accuse us to be worshippers of the Altar.
For first, by the same reason and manner of arguing, they who enter into the Church (as they ought bare-headed may be called worshippers of Stones: Which kind of calumny I wip'd off in what went before.
Secondly, It must be confessed, that there is no rite or manner of divine Service, though in it self the best and exposed to no danger, which yet hath not some time or other been made the subject of reproach and calumny, scoffs and jeers by some, and those such as have covered themselves with the Cloak of zeale and piety: 'Tis no news, that David himselfe both a King & Prophet, for dancing with joy before the Ark of God, was received with scoffes and jeers by his wife. Are not there some amongst us, which accuse the Holy Liturgy of the Church, and the Divine Services we perform of vanity and superstition, and which is more and savours something or blasphemy, they must in their Vote be guilty of tautologies, battologies, and horrid impieties with magical Sorceries! what therefore? shall we frighted with these their Goblins immediately sacrifice our Prayer books to the fire? shall we renouncing the Holy Prayers formerly established by the Church, pour out others made perhaps with an inform mind & babling tongue?
 Certainly our Holy Mother the Church never taught her Children so strange unconstancy. What therefore hath she Commended us to do? why; that holy Duties and divine services are the more carefully and attentively to be performed by us, by how much the more unworthily and basely they are abused by others; adding this likewise to our common Prayers, which we put up for the salvation of all, that those likewise may receive benefit by them, who so unjustly accuse them of folly and impiety.
In the Third place therefore we affirm: That a manner of custome of divine Worship, which we have not invented of our own hands, but have received of our Predecessors in all Ages (as is this of which we speak as shall anon appear) is not presently to be cast off, and banished all Churches as wicked and prophane, because that worship doth seem to some, whose minds are tickled with itching Novelty to approach too near to Superstition and Idolatry, and not sufficiently accommodated to their owne unseemly Gestures and Manners in God's House. For no part of the Worship of God (not to mention the Canonicall rites and Ceremobies) none I say did ever escape so untoucht and free, as that it hath not a hundred thousand times, suffer'd the foolish scoffes of prophane Persons, and the bitter railing of Envious Detractors. If we reverently rise from our Seats to give Glory and praise to the Holy Trinity; these Delicate-conscienc'd [16/17] Men streight cry out, we obtrude upon them, they know not what things New and Unusuall. When to reverence the name of our Saviour, we doe according to the precept of the Churchs, supplicantly bend our Knees and Bodies; they presently cry out they have found the Idolaters in the very Act. From these I say and many others which I willingly passe over, I suppose it sufficiently manifest, that that scruple of the danger of scandall which is by some raised and induced upon our Bowing towards the Altar, is too weake, nay, altogether uselesse, to cause the banishment or neglect of so Antient a Worship. For it will not be lawful for us to come and pray in the House of God, and to Worship him there after any manner, either Adoration, bowing the Knee, or falling before him; it will not be lawful I say, to pour out our prayers before compos'd and written, or to Celebrate the Lords dayes and Feasts, or to observe our Lents and Fasts, or to give Almes to the Needy; and to say all in a word, we shall never do any work pious and acceptable to God (as long as we remain in this wicked world) if we think we must desist from it, because we fear to be Shot at and Wounded by the Tongues or Pens of some lunatick Railers.
Fourthly and lastly, If there be yet any, who notwithstanding what hath been said, doe not think this fear of scandall to be causelesse, and needlesse, let them freely exercise that Charity, the zeal of which they so boast of not as hitherto [17/18] they have done, in making Calumnies, and Preaching Reproaches by which they have endeavoured to wound and Violate the good name of those who thus Worship God; but let them spend their time in Admonition and Instructions, teaching the people that we Worship God himself and not (as they unjustly deemed) the Altar, nor God with the Altar, or through, or beyond, or above, or beneath, but only towards and before the Altar. And let them add if they please, that the people should take heed, last thus Worshipping God, they Attribute either purposely or unawares any part of portion of Divine Adoration to the Altar it selfe, but performe it wholy and perfectly to God alone, piously believing, that every one in that bowing, or casting themselves on the Ground do doe it with this intention and purpose, thereby humbly to Worship and Reverence God himself towards the Altar.
The second Argument may be this. That Worship which is lawful and pious if performed in the house of God, will enjoy the same priviledges, if done towards the Altar. But Adoration (the matter in hand) is lawfully and piously performed in the house of God, and therefore towards the Altar likewise.
The minor I conjecture will scarcely be denied by our nearest Innovators, whose worke and indeavour hath been to make us new Rites, new Worship, and a new England. All will grant, even taught if need be by the very Barbarians that it is a thing lawful and pious to Adore [18/19] God with the bowing of the body in the places set apart for his Worship. Something must be said for confirmation of the Major.
First then, This manner of Worship performed in the Church, since it is an Act of the Body, must necessarily be done towards some part of the Church, either towards the Head, or Foot, the Roof or Pavement, the Right or Left Walls.
Secondly, It would be a manifest breach of the Apostles Command, That all things be done Decently and in Order; if it should be free for every one to make his Adoration towards what part of the Church he pleases, for then this man would Worship God towards the Clock, that towards the Pulpit, one towards the Font, and another towards the Altar, which would be a thing unbecomming an assembly of Christians, to whom the God of Unity and Concord is President, and to whom Armies of Angels attend and Administer.
The third is, Well and wisely did the Fathers of the Primitive Church (to whom God gave the Spirit of Wisdome and Prudence) who endeavoured as much as in them lay to compose and prevent this difference for all of them, together with the people induced to their examples and precepts, did direct this their Worship to one and the same place, and (as shall be shewed anon) did alwaies Worship God towards the Altar.
 Lastly, therefore was this Adoration first appointed towards the Altar, and so alwaies after performed; because (to omit at present other reasons) the Altar is the Best, Chiefest, and Holiest part of tall the Church Houshold-stuffe. So said the Antient Fathers of Old, and therefore often gave it Titles of Honour and Sanctity; what is more frequent among the Greek Fathers, than The Sacred Altar, the Holy Table? Search the Latine ones, and you find very often these Elogies of it, the Sacrum Sanctum, S. Sanctum, Reverendum Altare, the sacred Holy, Holy Holy, Reverend Altar, and the like. Hence it is that comparisons were wont to be made between the Christian Altar, and the Holy of Holies, amongst the Jewes, and the preheminence infinitely given to Ours. And hence came the Custome, to fence the Altar with Railes, least any profane person suddenly breaking in, should come nearer to the Altar, then was meet, you know St. Chrysostome and others affirme, that Quiers of Angels and Arch-Angels abiding together with the Priests within the Railes of the Altar do Minister and offer to God, as if they likewise did performe divine services with them. What need I mention all? you rather expect the reason of such Sanctity and Excellency; ye are not ignorant, that it is fetched, either altogether, or more especially, from the offering and presence of the body and blood of our Lord on the Altar. So St. Optatus in his sixth book, gives this dignity to the Altar, because it is the Seat of the [20/21] Body and Bloud of Christ. So St. Chrysostome in his 20 Homily on 2 Cor., thou, saith he, honourest this Altar, because there is received the body of Christ. 'Tis needless to heap up more Arguments for the clearing of this point. 'Tis manifest, that neither so many nor so great Encomiums of Holinesse, were ever by the Antients attributed to the Pulpit or Font, nor can be justly attributed; though now a dayes Sermons are so highly extolled, that they have almost swallow'd up and devoured, both the Liturgy and Sacraments, good works, and all holy duties. But no man can be so mad, as to compare the Pulpit with the Altar in point of Holinesse. For neither the Sermon there Preached the word of God, nor, this being supposed (though not granted, can the holy Ghost be thought, to be so strictly conjoyned to the word of God, as the Sonne of God to the Blessed Sacrament. Nor is it equall that the Font should contend with the Altar for Excellency and Sanctity, though some (to whom all Antient things, as so, are Nauseous and Offensive) have not long since endeavoured to forme and cherish that opinion. All Children or Men, if they hinder not themselves being wash'd in the holy Font, doe from thence obtaine remission of sins, become Sons of God, and are made Heirs of Heaven, (which yet I know will hardly be granted by those who so stoutly strand for the precedence of the Font) large priviledges indeed, and such as beget Honour and Sanctity to the Holy [21/22] Font from which they flow. But as for the Altar farre greater and Divine priviledges do Ennoble it, for on it is Celebrated that Awful and most Venerable Sacrifice; which our Lord himselfe did institute of Old, for the Commemoration, Representation, Application, and Exhibition, of that most perfect Sacrifice, once made and offered on the Altar of the Crosse: on that is prepared the Sacrament (shall I say) or Heavenly Banquet, in respect of which all the Dainties of the world are but Filth and Trash; where we Eat the Bread of Life it selfe, and Drink the Cup of Eternall Salvation and Blessing; yea indeed the body of our Lord and pretious bloud, The help to immortality, and pledge of our inheritance, as say the Greek Fathers; by whom this mystery is wont to be called τελετὴ or Finall that is the greatest perfection and Consummation of the Christian Religion; hence it is, that the Altar was by them alwaies placed, in the Highest, Holiest, and most Visible part of the Church, whereas on the contrary, the Font was placed first in the Churchyard without the Dores of the Church (as is plain from the Antient Writers) afterwards neer the Entrance of the Church.
Out of these four thus proceeding propositions, to it, I: From the necessity of performing Adoration some way, 2. From the decency of determining it towards one place, 3. From the custome of doing it towards the Altar; of which hereafter; and 4. From the Sanctity and Excellency of the Altar, beyond all other things in the Church being known as I hope [22/23] and granted. I suppose the truth of the Major proposition is plain and clear, viz. that that Adoration which being performed to God in his House, is Esteemed pious and lawfull, is likewise so, if it be done towards the Altar, for that it ought to be directed towards some part; that it ought to be directed towards one part, that it hath been used to be directed towards the Altar; that it's meet it should be directed towards the best part, we have shewed; It is therefore directed towards the best part, and so lawfully and piously according to the rules of reason and piety is performed towards the Altar. I will conclude the Argument according to the sentence of St. Hierome concerning the Lords day, saith he; give us some greater then the Resurrection of Christ, and then change the Lords day, so say I of Adoration towards the Altar, shew me something in the House of God more Holy then the Alter and change the Custome.
The Third Argument is thus. The Worshipping of God towards the East is lawfull [23/24] and holy; and therefore likewise Worshipping towards the Altar is so. The Antecedent of this Enthymeme, requires no other proofe, then an inartificial Argument as they call, deduced from the common practise of the Catholick Church, and its perpetual custome, and he who shall be so bold as make opposition against it St. Augustine adjudges guilty of no other crime then most insolent madnesse. But that it hath been alwayes the custome of the Primitive Church, and so a lawfull and pious worship that men turning towards the East should bow to God, is plenarily testifyed by the Writings and Monuments of the holy Fathers, out of which if I should cite any testimonies, I should not onely be tedious to you, but also seem to suppose you ignorant in a thing so manifest. Lest therefore I should touch on either rock omitting the repetition of words, I will only briefly tell you the places, from whence the Holy Fathers did begin this practice, deducing it from the Apostles themselves.
 So in the first place affirmes Saint Justin Martyr question 118. Tertullian in Apolog. c. 16. & adversus Valent. c. 3. Orig. Homil. 51 in numeros, St. Gregory Nyssen, lib. de Orat. Dom. Orat. 5. St. Athanas. quæst ad Antiochum 37. St. Clemens Alexandrinus strom. lib. 7. St. Basil, lib. I. adversus hæreses 19. St. August. lib. 2. de sermone Domini in monte. I might easily adde the Testimonies of other Fathers; but there is no need of further proof for so indubitable a Custome, whose Original Causes, and Foundations, I will dive no further into, since it is abundantly done by Joan. Damascenus in his Book of the Orthodox Faith, cap. 13. And after him by Thomas Aquinas and the Schoolmen. And after them all by Durantus Pamelius with many others who have written of the Monuments of the Antiquities of the Liturgies and Ecclesiastical Rites. The consequence of the Enthymeme is proved first from this, that in old time the greater Altars were alwayes erected and placed in the East part of the Church, and therefore they who worshiped God towards the East did at the same time worship him towards the Altar. But that the Altars were Primitively placed in that part of the House of God which is to the East, may well be gathered from the now forementioned Fathers, also from Clemens Romanus or some others in the second Book of the Apostolical constitutions, chap. 61. who saith, that the holy Chappels ought to be made towards the East. To whom assent Tertullian in his forementioned book against Valentinus, which manner of scituation likewise have all the Temples and [25/26] Chappels through the Eastern World; from which notwithstanding some Chappels or Oratories doe sometime deviate. Either because the Palaces of Princes and Prelates, do not permit their Chappels to be built after the due form, either for streightnesse or Decorum; or because some now a dayes do seem to have built I know not what Religious places on set purpose towards the East or North as marks of Novelty, lest they should seem to follow the Foot-steps of the Primitive Church. Nicephorus and Socrates indeed make mention of the two Altars placed in the West end of the Church, but they likewise timely admonish, that they were then accounted as very strange, being directly contrary to the custome of the Church. If any now shall search for the causes of this Custome, which was thus received through the whole Christian world; I affirm, that the same reasons may confirm the site and placing the Altars in the East part of the Church, which perswade adoration to be made towards the East, for which I remember the Fathers alledge five or six reasons, which being as I conceive unknown to none but a few of you, I shall omit as needless. But we must passe in silence, that in those Chappels or Churches (which yet were very few) where we read the Altars were placed in the West parts of the Church, adorations and bowing were accustomed to be made towards the Altars, as is manifest out of the Rubricks of all the Greek Liturgies, which are ascribed to Saint Basil, Saint Chrysostome and others of the Fathers. For they command [26/27] That worship be made towards this Altar or holy Table, in what part soever it be placed, which therefore I mention the more willingly, lest those who have not their Chappels or Altars towards the East, should think themselves therefore disobliged from this worship, as if from the contrary or various site of the ancient Churches; the argument will hold good for variety of gestures and manners.
In the second place, the Consequence of the Enthymem is confirmed from the Analogy after this manner. If the first Christians of all, the eldest sons of the Catholick Church, did not onely without crime or danger of scandal, but also with praise and piety introduce into the Church that worship of adoring God towards the East; and commended it diligently as delivered by the Apostles themselves, especially at that, when all the Jews did worship God towards the West, and only the Heathens and Gentiles did adore their Deities towards the East; then without doubt the same Christians, by the same or stronger reasons, might lawfully and piously institute, that Rite of worshiping God towards the Altar, which custome as well the Jewes in the worship of the true, as the Gentiles in the service of their false gods, did alwayes and every where make use of. That all the Gentiles, both Greeks and Barbarians, instructed only with the imperfect light of Nature, in the worship of their Gods or Idols, did bow their bodies to the ground towards their Altars, all Historians do testifie, more especially the Poets, and amongst those chiefly Virgin and Ovid. That the Jewes likewise admonished by the Oracles of their Prophets and [27/28] Priests, were accustomed to worship the true and living God, with their bodies prostrate on the ground, and their head bowed down to the pavement of the Temple, before the holy Altar, is plain from Testimonies of holy Scripture; out of I Kings c. 8. v. 22. and 2 Kings 18.22. where the most pious King Hezekia saith, Before this Altar bow your selves. out of 2 Chron. 7.3. and again 2 Chron. 32. 12. Before one Altar shall ye worship.
To say more in this kind were superfluous; when you all know it was a constant custome amongst the Jewes, in the Temple, to worship God towards the Altar and without the Temple towards the Temple, as is plain from the speech which Solomon made at the dedication of the Temple; and the practise of Daniel in Babylon, who when he prayed, alwayes opened his window towards Judea: from hence therefore any one not wilfully blind, may easily perceive, that the Primitive Christians, accounting as well the manners and institutes of the Gentiles, as the rites and worship of the Jews in celebrating Divine Services, might upon stronger arguments and examples decree, that adoration ought to be made as well towards the Altar, as toward the East: and that they did institute the latter of these, or rather received it from the Apostles and used it, is manifest from the undeniable authority of all those I even now mention'd; from which also is plainly gathered, that they might very fitly institute the first; and that they did institute, will I hope sufficiently appear from the third and fourth arguments: but that is justly to be accounted first in weight [28/29] and force, though last in order and number.
What was the custome of old amongst the holy Fathers in the primitive Church, what they faithfully delivered to their posterity, what hath indured through all Scenes of ages unto our times; that without doubt is lawfully and piously performed in Divine worship. But such is Bowing towards the Altar, Ergo. The major, no man will deny but he who hath first contemned the Rites and Customes of the Church, and therefore by the judgement of Saint Augustin deserves to be accounted insolent mad-man the minor will be confirmed by the testimony of the ancients, whihc I shall now produce: give me leave I pray you for brevity and plainness, to cite the Latine translation for the Greek Writers.
Saint Gregory Nyssen in the prayses of his sister Gorgonia, Orat. 2. in some books 25th. doth especially prayse that religious Lady, because being once taken with a disease, She to the Physician of all mortals, and with Faith fell down before the Altar, worshiping him who was honoured upon it; after she moved her head to the Altar, and so beseeching God, did presently obtain health and vigor. That Alexander the Bishop of Constantinople did the same; Doth Zozimus declare in the second Book of his Ecclesiastical History, c. 28. That holy Prelate, preparing himself to pray, first falls down at the foot of the Altar, and there lying prostrate, earnestly beseeches God to destroy the rage and indeavours of the Arrians, and the very next day Arrius himself, before guilty of Blasphemy, and then also of perjury, in health and strength, whilest he eases nature, voids his entrails. So likewise affirms Socrates in his first [29/30] book, chapter 25. Alexander coming to the Altar, falls down on his face to the ground before the holy Table, beseeching God with tears, &c. The same relation do Epiphanius, Cassiodorus, Nicephorus, and many others make. I mention these Examples rather then others, because they testifie that God with miraculous benefits, render illustrious and to be imitated by all pious men, the piety and reverence of those who did worship him towards the Altar. Saint Gregory Nyssen, on his Oration of Christs Baptisme, hath the following Expressions. This holy Altar to which we assist, is naturally a common stone, but because it is consecrated and dedicated to the worship of Son, and hath received a blessing; It is an holy Table, an undefiled Altar; No more to be touched by all, but by the Priests alone, and those that worship. Saint Chrysostome in his twentieth Homilie, to the 2 Corinth. Thou honourest this Altar, because it receives the body of Christ. John Damascen in his fourth book of the Orthodox faith, and before him Saint Justin Martyr and others have given many reasons of this adoration. Although, say they, we stand upon the Lords-Dayes, and from Easter to Whitsontide (which now by neglect is abolished) that we might protect our Faith in Christ risen from the dead; that we might also shew our confidence of obtaining eternal life by the merits and resurrection of Christ, yet we fall down sometimes and prostrate ourselves on the earth, to confesse with Father Abraham, that we are bust dut and ashes, men as it were already dead, and slipt into the earth on which we stand, unworthy to stand upright in Gods House before his lawful Majesty, and for our sins [30/31] (if God were not infinitely merciful) to be cast immediately into hell fire: and therefore Saint Chrysostome, Saint Basil and other Fathers do inform us, that both Priests and Deacons, whilest they performed sacred Duties, and made these adorations and bowings toward the Altar, were accustomed very often as it were silently, to repeat, Lord have mercy, &c. and in greater adorations, when they fell prostrate on the ground, Lord be merciful (or favourable) to me a sinner.
And hence it is that the modern Greeks do in these daies call those adorations which the antients named venerations, repentings, either because such gestures were especially and most frequently used by penitents, or because for the most part in their so worshipping God they used the words of penitent persons, Lord take pity, or Lord be merciful to me a sinner; and that they multiplied those short prayers or others, according to the number of their bowings, is manifest out of Theodor who relating the history of Saint Simeon Styles, that miracle of Christian piety and patience after our Lord and Saviour, affirmes, that some Spectators from afar off beholding the bowing of the holy man, did also by their number, count the prayers which he constantly poured forth to be two hundred fourty and foure. Oh rare piety conjoyned with reverence and humility; which if the froward Criticks of our dayes had beheld, they would without delay have accused of superstition, Idolatry, and madness.
Nor do the Latine Fathers much differ from the [31/32] Greeks in this matter. Tertullian of Penitents, saith, that they were wont, to joyn themselves to the Presbyters and kneele down before the Altars of God. I know that Renanius Pamelius and others do read instead of Aris Dei the Altars of God, Charis Dei the Dear Ones of God; but then I suppose the Father, according to the Africans manner of speaking, as Saint Cyprian, Saint Austin, &c. Would have said Charis Deo Dear to God, and not Charis Dei.
But Pamelius Objects, That it was not lawful for penitents to enter into the Church, much less to approach and fall down before the Altar of God.
I answer, That Penitents at the first beginning of their Repentance, were excluded from the Church and Assembly of the Faithfull, but not so, when they had performed their Repentance to the prescribed dayes, when they came to the Priests to obtain absolution, then might they likewise Kneel before the Altars. But we have occasion to contend about a Text Dubious and Obscure, especially, when Tertullian asserts almost the same thing in many places. In his bookes of the Lords prayer. Bowing with modesty and humility, we do the better Commend our prayers to God. Second Book to his Wife. Faithfull Wives doe pray, rowle, and likewise fast together together in the Church of God. That Rowling together of Faithfull Wobes in the Church of God, was nothing else but bowing, or rather prostrating themselves before the Altar, as is [32/33] manifest from the usual custome. Saint Hierome in his 48. Epistle to Sabinianus, the Deacon who had solicited a Virgin to a Whoredome. Thou, saith he, upon the Dores of the Lords Crib, now the Altar, didst stick up Love Letters, which afterwards the poore creature coming to worship with bended knees might find and read.
I believe nothing can be said more plainly, for that manner of worshiping God at the very Railes of the Altar. Ruffinus in his second Book, Chapter 16. saith that Saint Ambrose, when he sought the Defence of God for himself and the Church against the Furies of Justina, Did fly an humble supplicant to the Altar, yea, fell down on the ground, and lying before the Altar implored the Divine help with his Prayers.
Salvian In his seventh Book of Providence, saith, concerning the Christians of his time, We run to the Lords House. We cast our bodies on the ground, and with Tears mixt with Joy, we make our Supplications.
Some perhaps will be ready to answer, that the testimonies produced, might so be understood of that adoration which is a gesture of the body, as I may so call it, constant and permanent, and so designing either kneeling or prostration: but not of this sudden and momentary worship, which either entring, ministring or going out of the house of God, we are wont to perform, by bowing our bodies a little, not prostrating them; nor, to speak properly, with bended knees. But, in the first place, this being supposed but not granted, doth [33/34] it not consequently follow, that the Antient Fathers did piously and lawfully worship God towards the Altar, that is, either falling down on their knees, or on the ground, then is likewise lawful for us to worship God towards the Altar, that is, to bow with our head or bodies. If they did piously lye down in the house of the Lord before the Holy table, shall we be thought impious because we reverence God before the same? If they did worship on their faces with their bodies laid on the ground, as so many stones, and fastned to the pavement, which is the highest degree of Adoration, shall it not be lawful for us when we come before the same Majestie, to bend our bodies a little, which is but the lowest degree of worship? Truly if we must needs be found fault withal in this matter we have more cause to be accused because we fall not down and prostrate ourselves, then because we worship with bowing of the bodie; since it must be accounted a fault and dishonour to us, that we do not fully imitate the reverence of the Antients: but something prais-worthy is it, that we indeavour in part at least to compose our selves to their piety and devotion; but there needs no consequent in a thing so apparent. For though I passe over that these Adorations of which we treat, are fully and manifestly intended, by the testimonies we have cited, the vert rubricks and rules, which we read in the bookes of Liturgies do sufficiently explain the sense and mind of the Antient Fathers: and do tell us that they at their prayers, did not only kneel before the Altar, or prostrate their bodies on the ground, but did likewise incline or bow their [34/35] heads and bodies forward, which is properly to adore or worship. In that Liturgie, which is called Saint Chrysostomes, the Priest and the Deacon do command in the performance of Divine Service, That bowings be made before the Holy Table, to the number of fourty at least. That they are likewise commanded in every antient Liturgie though not to such a number, is so known that it requires no Certificate. But let no man object that they are not at all mentioned in our Liturgie, for the conceived it superfluous to command that rite which in those dayes was so usual and known to all. The same may be affirmed concerning the Organs, the Hymns and Psalmes, the breaking of the Bread, and pouring out of the Wine in the holy Sacrament, whilest we attentively pronounce the very words of its Institution and Consecration, and many other things, which are all of them carefully and piously performed, and by the explicite command of the Church, from the onely Force and Virtue of Catholick custome, which alwayes denotes the implicite Precept.
That this custome of worshipping God towards the Altar, which had its rise from the very beginnings of the Church, doth continue to the present Time in our Liturgy, the Liturgical Rites doe Testifie, and sacred Formes to be observed in the solemne Coronation of our Kings, and hitherto alwayes Observed; in which the King himself once and again, and the Archbishop of Canterbury very often, is commanded, Humbly [35/36] and submissively to worship and bow before the Altar.
The same may be seen by the Illustrious Knights of the Order of Saint George, who worship God before the Altar, bowing their bodies twenty time or more, whilest those sacred Solemnities are magnificently performed; For so doe the Ancient Statutes command, whose Observation they sincerely promise, That Adoration may be made humbly, according to the manner of Ecclesiastical Persons.
The same is Testified by all the Cathedral and Collgiate Churches I have seen, in which some Canons greater and lessr, doe worship God, bowing themselves after that manner.
If any desire further satisfaction in this Case, I remit him;
First, to all the Liturgies both Greek and Latine.
Secondly, to other Rites, which without that of which we speak were never performed; to wit, Kissing the Altar, joyning ones hand and head to it, and flying to the Altar as to a Sanctuary, in all which at their approaching to the Altar, thus bowing themselves, they worshiped him to whom it was Consecrated.
Thirdly, to the Decrees of the ancient Prelats and Bishops.
Fourthly, to the Constitutions of many Councels, as well General as National.
Fifthly, to the Statutes of Churches and Colledges, even amongst us, in these words. Omnes [36/37] chorum ingredientes incurvent sese versus Altare. Let all entering into the Quire bow themselves towards the Altar.
Sixthly and lastly, to the perpetuall Practice and Custome of the Holy Catholick Church of Christ throughout the whole world.
If any will yet pertinaciously Contradict all these (which I cannot now more largely explain) yet I admonish him at least to imitate, the Church Blessed and Triumphant in Haven, which we all pant after; There the Soules under the Altar, Cry with a loud Voyce, there much Incence with the Prayers of the Saints is offered on a Golden Altar, There the Angel measures the Temple and the Altar, and those which worship in it: There Lastly, (and all these from Saint John the Divine,) due the four and twenty Elders fall down and worship him who liveth for ever and ever.
"Thy Will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven, O Lord, that to those Holy Elders, We the younger sort of thy Church at length being gathered, may with them for ever worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, falling down, bowing and prostrating our selves. God grant it through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour, to whom with the Father and Holy Ghost, be all Honour, Prayse, Glory, Thankesgiving now and for evermore, Amen.
The most great and good God bless us, and His Holy Catholick Church, the most potent King CHARLES, the most serene Queen MARY, the most Illustrious Prince JAMES, Duke of Yorke, and the rest of the Royall Progeny, the Clergy, Nobility, Gentry, University and People in generall, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.