The Anglican Reformed Church and Her Clergy in the Days of Their Destitution and Suffering during the Great Rebellion in the Seventeenth Century.
THE following allegory, though confessedly somewhat out of place in a work of this kind, may be excused on the ground, that the spirit generated by that discreditable production called the "Book of Sports," is by no means extinct even in these days, and that any endeavour to counteract its deleterious tendency may be permitted on any opportunity which may offer.
That any serious attempt should be made under legitimate authority, and a pretended, but not real, countenance of the Church, to devote the Lord's Day, except during the few hours employed in public worship, to purposes of revelry and frivolity, could [306/307] not be other than a most blind and ill-advised if not also an impious measure. Even allowing the principles and practice of the Puritans, in regard to their peculiar observance of that hallowed festival, to be an extreme of fanaticism and hypocrisy, yet it was unworthy of the friends of the "Reformed" Church to attempt to beat down one extreme by resorting to another, equally incompatible with piety and reason. The Lord's Day is an ordinance of immense value to the due sustentation of the religion of the Gospel, and of Church affections in all their purity among us; and in proportion to this value is the importance of recognizing that beneficent institution in such a way as seems best calculated to ensure its blessed purposes. Neither Puritanical austerity, however, nor Book-of-Sports laxity can do this; the one engendering a morose and affected kind of godliness, the other frittering away one of the most valuable means of grace which God hath ever bestowed upon fallen man. Still we cannot deny that men, and good men too, do very much differ in their ideas of the mode in which the Lord's Day should be most fitly observed. The writer of these pages has long been impressed with the high importance of the subject, and wishing to steer clear of the extremes of severity on the one hand, and carelessness on the other, has ventured to throw his thoughts together in the shape of the [307/308] following allegory or parable, suggested to his mind originally by reading the 30th paper of the "Rambler."
KYRIAKE, OR THE PARABLE OF THE LORD'S DAY.
It is now something more than eighteen hundred years ago since there appeared in the world an individual of illustrious origin, not indeed of any human form, nor partaking of flesh and blood, but altogether aerial and intangible, and yet visible enough to human eyes. Sex, therefore, in reality it had none, but nevertheless such was the loveliness, serenity, and sacredness of its nature, that one seems led, at least by good taste and feeling, if not by correctness of speech, to ascribe to it the distinction of the feminine gender. The name too by which this individual was distinguished in her primitive days was Kyriake, a name which at once points out her divine origin.
There were also several other peculiarities belonging to this individual;--one was, that by a divine decree she should show herself to the world only at stated and regular periods, viz. on the first day of every week, or once in every seven days. Another was, that the duration of each stated periodical existence should never exceed twenty-four hours. This decree she of course could never transgress. It was [308/309] decisive and perpetual, and to this day does it continue in full operation. Having in her time, from the day of her first appearing until now, seen so much of the doings of mankind, and having also experienced so great a variety of treatment at their hands, she would necessarily have a very long tale to tell, if she were to give a full and minute history of her career. But this would be an endless, and even an impracticable, task. She will therefore venture to offer to the Christian world, and especially to her most faithful and congenial friend the Anglican Reformed Church, only a short and succinct statement of her own case, in hopes that as there seems now to be a growing interest in other sacred things, she may thereby create a growing interest in her own behalf. Kyriake therefore thus desires to "take up her parable," and speak for herself.
"BEFORE I state my case, or make my appeal to the Christian world, I would wish to say a few words concerning my origin; there being many people who have formed very ignorant and unworthy notions of me in this respect.
"When on the blessed day of His resurrection from the grave, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared alive again to his Apostles, addressing them in those benign and memorable words, Peace be unto you on that [309/310] important and celestial day, and under His own personal sanction, I was first ushered into the world in my present official character. Many insults and dangers did I encounter in my early years. So numerous and bitter were my enemies, that I was for a long series of years held by them in utter derision and contempt, insomuch that nothing but peculiar divine protection could have carried me safely through them.
"From the risen Redeemer, therefore, I derive my origin--my very name declares this fact. By Him was I first introduced and delivered over to His own apostles and followers; an instance this of His own partiality and preference, which is plainly recorded by St. John, ch. xx. of his gospel. More especially too is it written of me in Acts ii., that even after His ascension into heaven my divine Parent still continued to honour me above my fellows by selecting me, when the day of Pentecost was fully come, to bear witness to that awful and memorable display of His power and grace, the shedding forth upon the Apostles the wonderful gifts of the Holy Spirit.
From that time forward did the Apostles and primitive Christians take me under their constant and anxious protection. They received me from the hands of their risen Lord, and thus transmitting me to the keeping of future Christians, I am at length [310/311] become an inseparable part and parcel of the Christian religion. Under these circumstances, therefore, it is indisputable that my origin is directly from heaven. The Apostles nursed me in my infancy, but they did not first produce me. In that event no human being had any part. Divine will and impulse first brought me into existence, and divine protection hath hitherto preserved my life; so that I can confidently assert, that I have nothing in me which is human, except being recognized by human, as well as divine, law, and passing my time once in every seven days among human beings. [Rambler, No. 30.]
"The object which my divine Parent had in view by thus sending me forth into the world, was to promote the good both temporal and spiritual of the human race. For this pm-pose He endowed me with certain peculiar qualities of love and peace, insomuch that nothing can be more offensive to me, or more incongenial with my nature than the turmoils of worldly business, or the racket of rude and idle pleasures, or the frivolities of fashionable dissipation. These are among my most perplexing and goading enemies, but unfortunately they are such enemies as I am perpetually doomed to encounter. They seem to consider me only as a thing of nought, or no better [311/312] than mere empty form, of use only to associate with the frivolous, or work with the worldly, or flaunt with the vain and dressy. No individual, in short, in either his private or public capacity was ever more calumniated or more cruelly and unworthily used than myself. By some I am upbraided with being of a morose and gloomy turn, whilst they seem utterly to forget that my very nature is made up of Christian benevolence and kindness towards the whole human race; and whilst I would gladly put a stop to every kind of profligacy and profaneness; whilst I would gladly withdraw my friends, for a time, from the toils and cares of worldly business, I would also introduce them to a condition where better and higher things should occupy their thoughts, and where they would find an everlasting treasure of joy and consolation, when all their earthly delights shall have passed away, and be no more seen.
"Under so many reproaches and insults as the world now heaps upon me, I fear therefore I never can cease from complaining, that people will not open their eyes so as to behold me in my own proper colours, and that they will do so great violence to my nature, as to force me into a participation of their follies and perplexities. I would fain be the world's best friend. I would fain be wholly employed in bringing it to a proper sense of its mortality and [312/313] corruptions. I would unceasingly administer to it that spiritual counsel and comfort, that sweet religious composure of mind which, under the manifold trials and difficulties of secular occupations, seems so essential to the solid and enduring happiness of human beings. These are the blessings I would so gladly offer, if the perverse world did not so cruelly and roughly obstruct me. So that my Christian readers will easily understand how perplexing and difficult is my present position; and how hard it is for an individual of my long standing in the world, and whose character is generally so distasteful to sinful man, to make her appearance, as I am bound to do, once in every seven days in all sorts of places and companies, without meeting with the most mortifying and painful insults.
"It is true I am not wholly destitute of friends. Like my divine Parent I may be 'despised and rejected of men,' but, as in His case also, there are some who love me much, and some 'who receive me gladly.' There are some who pity my many distresses, and are ever ready to protect me when they can, from injury and ignominy. But alas! while my enemies are numerous, my friends are few and thus it happens that where I find one protector I find twenty persecutors. When, for instance, I pay my regular hebdomadal visit to the poor man's [313/314] cottage, or to the middle man's comelier dwelling, or to the rich man's mansion, I come on the usual principle of God's dispensations; i. e. I come without any respect of persons. I come to all alike as the herald of Christ to summon His people to a holy remembrance of me-'the day which the Lord hath made--and to the blessed work of public praise and worship in His own Church.
"One might suppose that such a visitor would never be unwelcome, nor his object despised; and yet it is by thousands and thousands that my visits are received with scorn, with heedless indifference, or with heartless formality. Excuses the most frivolous and wicked are incessantly made for evading and disregarding my presence; excuses, to which such persons would never resort, or even think of, if I were sent to call them to revelry or recreation, instead of religion and reflection. Instead therefore of being allowed to impart to them any virtuous relief from worldly engagements, they wear me out and harass me to death with useless journeyings and visitings, [Rambler] or else with some incongenial business or pursuit, to the great distress of my nature and disposition, and to the great scandal of my reputation.
"This kind of treatment, you will allow, is very [314/315] hard to bear. It is very hard and discouraging that, after all my solicitude and readiness to contribute to the spiritual comfort and the salutary composure of human beings, I should receive in return, especially from those who might reasonably be expected to know better, and to set a better example, so much insult and indifference. But my destiny is fixed. So long as Christianity shall endure, so long shall I continue to make my regular appearance upon earth--nor can I ever cease to hope, that the time may even yet come, when I shall recover my strength, and be restored to that affectionate respect and honour, which was bestowed upon me in my early days, and by those single-minded primitive Christians with whom (as I have before said) I was originally brought up.
"The very mention of those times awakens a heavy sigh in my heart--a heavy sigh that such times are now no more --a heavy sigh that that catholic spirit, and catholic unity, which then led all my friends to continue stedfastly together in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, should now be so reproachfully treated, so lightly esteemed, so imperfectly under stood by Christian people. No one indeed has more cause than myself for repining at these unhappy changes; it being most true that the catholic spirit of unity, which so happily prevailed in the Apostles' [315/316] days, is the very thing of all others to teach people my real merits and character, and lead them to receive and love me with all due propriety and fitness. But alas! what is the picture now? That virtuous and pious spirit, which once hailed the Christian sabbath as the sweet harbinger of God's beneficence and love; as the holy monitor and pioneer of the Church in all her services of worship and instruction--that spirit, though certainly not extinct in Christian England, seems nevertheless, to have but a doubtful footing there. Thousands after thousands are yet strangers to it--a more worldly, licentious, and self-sufficient spirit being rather that which now walks triumphant over the land. "When I am in the company of such persons, I feel myself to be in an unnatural and uneasy position. I feel that I am losing my native purity and usefulness, when my character and purposes are so carelessly set aside. Much indeed might people doubt, when they see me in such society, whether I really can be the day which the Lord hath made--whether I really can be the herald day of sacred rest, of the churchman's worship, of religious composure and improvement--so little does this thoughtless class distinguish me from my six secular brethren, except by their gay and flaunting garments, or their unseemly recreations.
"There is, however, one class of persons whose [316/317] reception of me seldom fails to create a pang of deep regret in my heart--I mean the working classes. I am aware how much they have to do with my six working brethren in the labours of the week, and how oppressively they are often borne down with the heat and burden of the day. I can, therefore, well understand how welcome to them must be an authorized and legitimate season of rest and relief. This refuge I would by no means deny them. It is their privilege by human, as well as by divine, laws. In circumstances like theirs, I should be able to afford them these peculiar blessings in great abundance, and with peculiar advantages to themselves, if they would but be induced to treat and receive me with becoming consideration and respect--if, instead of compelling me to bear witness (as they too often do) to their intemperance and riot, they would engage with me--many good working people indeed already do this--as a more chaste and godly companion.
"I know much of the disposition of this order of persons, and I am willing to look on their peculiar case with Christian charity and indulgence. But I am also convinced that they would soon be induced to receive me in a more becoming spirit, and to employ me with more lasting benefit to themselves, if they had not to encounter so many loose and profligate examples, so many licentious and mischievous [317/318] opinions, in those of higher positions in life, and from whom much better things ought to come.
"Among all my attendants indeed, the working classes of all grades become losers of invaluable comforts and treasures, when they are encouraged by those, who in secular language are called their betters, to despise and disregard my own peculiar presence. I may therefore say, that those toiling and less favoured people can never meet with enemies more cruel and injurious than such as would, by either evil example or precept, lead them on into so careless a course. How much greater blessings both to individuals and to society would the rich and the educated spread around them, would they but exert themselves to exhibit to their families and their neighbours a more respectful reverence for my sacred position and character; thus conveying to all observers the happy effects of a pious, thankful, benevolent participation in the peculiar privileges of my hallowed presence.
"Often am I induced to compare with the heartless conduct of these enemies, the more benign and consistent conduct of my faithful and affectionate friend, the Anglican branch of the church catholic--her good Christian spirit, her reasonable and judicious suggestions. Ever remembering my divine origin and character, and ever desirous to dispense to [318/319] others those blessings of piety and rest for which I was specially appointed, she would gladly retain my services in all due keeping and propriety. Earnestly would she call her children to Remember, and keep me holy, and thus by her wise counsels protect me, while others more regardless of holy things, and forgetting the distinction between a holy day and a holiday, would scandalize my character by the same kind of heathenish pastimes, and idle frivolities, by which my presence is invariably insulted in France, and Italy, and other continental portions of Christendom. Can it be believed, that I should have enemies in Protestant England so ignorant and so unfeeling as to wish to compel me, so much against my will and my nature, to dance, and sing, and riot, merely because it is the fashion to do so in other countries, less reflecting and less advanced in Christian morals and truth.
"But my grievances do not end here. Besides these open enemies who would overwhelm me with all manner of profanation and ill-usage, I have to encounter the more crafty devices of false friends. Under pretence of being offended with such excess of riot as some would draw me into, these specious friends run into an opposite extreme. They would rob me of all my innocent cheerfulness, of my peaceful composure of temper, of my benevolent [319/320] intercourse among friends and neighbours, of my virtuous relaxations. They would make me almost a stranger to myself, by the sour looks they would make me assume; and the dismal dress they would clothe me in. [Rambler, No. 30.] Thus would these pretended friends convert me into an unwelcome and wearisome intruder, where I ought always to be recognized as an instructive, cheerful, placid, chaste, and godly friend.
"But it is now time I should openly explain in what way I most love to be treated. All I ask of the world is, that they would recognize me with all due regard to the sanctity of my nature--that they would set me reverently apart from my six working brethren by a chaste, religious, and peaceful, though not a gloomy or austere deportment--but most especially by paying a practical and constant deference to that highest and holiest of my privileges, the public worship of the Church. This is the kind of treatment I most rejoice in, and when my wishes are so reasonable and so consistent, he must indeed be in a lamentable condition of ignorance and misconception, who can look upon me as a burden, or receive me as an unwelcome visitor--he must be among the most unworthy and cruel of my many unworthy and cruel enemies, who can deliberately, or without [320/321] some honourable reason, allow himself to abstain from those sacred solemnities of the Church, to which it would be my peculiar business and happiness to lead him.
"But here let me take an opportunity of saying a word in behalf of my six lay, or working brethren (generally called 'week days'). My faithful and affectionate friend the Church of England looks upon me, as I said before, with the highest esteem and respect. She seems to regard me as an essential part of herself. She would be lost without me. Still, however this may be, and however she may delight to employ me as an important and almost indispensable agent in the blessed work of her public worship and ordinances, she does not forget to call my lay brethren also to take their share, though in a more subordinate degree, in the same interesting occupation. She would open the doors of her sanctuaries for them as well as for me. She provides for them also a regular course of service a daily service a liturgical service a public service of prayer, of praise, and thanksgiving. ["The order for the Morning and Evening Prayer daily to be said, and used throughout the Year." Rubric in the Book of Common Prayer.] And when I would remind my Christian friends of this fact, I would also remind [321/322] them that this is no new arrangement or ordinance which the Church has made; but it is one which, like myself, is as old as the days of the Apostles themselves, who 'continued daily with one accord in the temple, .... praising God, and having favour with all the people. [Acts ii.]
The Church, therefore, has herself never ceased to walk, in this respect as well as in every other, after the example of the Apostles, engaging my working brethren as subordinate, but most valuable, coadjutors with myself, in the great public services of her sanctuaries. Decay of piety indeed had, for many years, delivered over this apostolical custom to desuetude, till now at length there seems a renewed outpouring of the spirit coming upon the church and her children, to strengthen the minds of the simple, 'to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.' [Isaiah lvii. 15.] Would that those children may now learn to understand, and value more than ever, the important privileges which she offers to them! Would that they may yet again, as in former and better days, delight to accompany myself, and my six lay brethren, to those consecrated fanes of Christian worship, which now, in yearly increasing abundance, adorn this Christian land!
 "Venerable and interesting indeed are those parochial fabrics in which the Anglican branch of the Church Catholic is now wont to celebrate and chaunt forth her Apostolical worship. I love them too dearly not to be induced to indulge myself, now that I have alluded to her worship and services, in some reflections on their peculiar position and character. There is between us a confraternity of sentiment--our very names declare the relationship--the only difference being, that while they are places, I am time, equally set apart and consecrated to the service of my divine Parent. [Rev. i. 10. The Lord's day. Ps. cxvi. 19. The Lord's house.] So that I sympathize equally in the reverence which is paid to, and in the ignominy which may be inflicted on, them. Greatly does it distress me to find, on the return of my hebdomadal visits, those sacred fanes destitute of their proper and rightful inhabitants. So painful is this sight, that although some persons may think to do me honour by arraying themselves in their Sunday finery, or by some sequestration from secular business, yet I esteem such distinctions as utterly worth less, if at the same time such persons are too idle or indifferent to give their constant and serious attendance on the worship and services of the [323/324] Lord's house. Like the prophet Nehemiah I also would contend with the Rulers, and say why is the house of God forsaken? I also would gather them together and set them in their places. [Chap. xiii. 11.]
"But, bear with me, Christian reader, while I say a few words more concerning the fabrics themselves. Ever since their first erection I have maintained an intimate connection with them, We have uniformly, and in unbroken friendship, met together on the first day of every week. The many changes and vicissitudes they have undergone; the various usages to which for many centuries they have been subject, have all passed under my periodical observation. Sometimes I have seen all the idolatrous abominations of Popery celebrated within them at other times the fanatical rhapsodies of church revilers and persecutors at another, as now in the present day, the high catholic and apostolic worship of the blessed Reformation. I could tell also how the ornaments, the carvings, devices, legends, and other symbolical appurtenances of our consecrated churches were all perverted to certain idolatrous and superstitious uses; the purposes and nature of Popery being never satisfied but by such prostitutions. I look back therefore upon those dismal days with no other [324/325] pleasure than what arises from knowing, that better and purer things have now taken their place. Many have been the difficulties and sufferings which the Church of England now so happily restored to her true catholicity, has had to undergo in reaching her present position of integrity. I have witnessed all these things in their course, and unutterable has been my solicitude for the Church's welfare. I recollect, for instance, when I was in the sixteenth century of my age, how the light of primitive Christianity and catholic truth broke forth again over the Anglican Church, driving away those thick clouds those complicated and long-standing abominations of Popery, under which it had for so many hundred years been lying concealed. I saw the virgin metal (so to describe the pure primitive church) gradually regain her pure comeliness and truth. Some people indeed would have it, and even pretend to have it still, that an entirely new metal was introduced, altogether an invention of certain zealous agitators of those times calling themselves Reformers and in fact, that the true original virgin metal was by them wholly destroyed. But these were the mere reproaches and calumnies of jealous, misguided, and disappointed men, and I, who on the first day of every week was an eye witness of all that was done, [325/326] know full well that such allegations were wholly devoid of truth. I knew the noble Reformers, the Cranmers, Ridleys, and Latimers, intimately; and most worthy were they of that distinguished designation. I regularly, week by week, scrutinized their proceedings; and I distinctly saw that their only object was, not to introduce any new metal, but merely to remove what was dross and defilement from the old. The metal was only cleansed, purified, and renovated; and it now shines forth with all its truthful brightness and integrity in the Reformed Church of England.
"It is true that, notwithstanding the purification of the church's worship, discipline, and doctrines, by the pious and magnanimous Reformers, yet the internal economy, and venerable embellishments of the parochial sanctuaries themselves still retained their places; their uses and applications only being changed. That which was formerly under Popish usage, employed to idolatrous and superstitious purposes, was now under the Reformation, regarded in its more fit and becoming light, as didactic only of some divine truth, under some figurative or symbolical representation. But with many, this was still a matter of sore dispute. The new Genevan or Puritan school was furious against even the most [326/327] primitive, simple, or appropriate ceremony or ornament of the church; and would hear of nothing short of utter demolition. Great and hot was the struggle. Old Popery tried hard for the preservation of her old idolatries, whilst the friends of the still older church, the primitive and apostolical church in the earliest ages, and long before Popery was known, avoided the two extremes utter demolition on one hand, and popish superstitions on the other and thus effected the restoration of apostolical purity and truth. To enter more minutely into all these contentions would be beyond my present purpose. Deep, angry, and rancorous was the spirit which I too often saw displayed among the enemies of the Reformed Church but in the midst of it all, I have to acknowledge that Kyriake was always, and by all parties, more or less recognized. The Papist indeed would insult me by his pastimes, retaining me only in his service during the hours of his church solemnities. The Puritan again would sadly disfigure me by his gloomy and unqualified austerities, or by dragging me with him from conventicle to conventicle, and from preacher to preacher, till I had no time left for peaceful composure of mind or body, or for profitable meditations, or social intercourse among my more reasonable and better disposed friends. [327/328] But still my presence was more or less recognized by both parties, whilst it at length fell to the task of the Anglican Reformed Church to place me in my rightful position, by issuing her valuable instructions to her children in what light they should most fittingly regard me.
"Thus far then, Christian reader, I state my claims as a public character to your affection and respect; nor in my private capacity do I feel myself to be less entitled to it. It is true I visit every one individually at home, by his own fire-side, or in his closet. He may, if he pleases, despise my presence, or use me despitefully, but he cannot get rid of me before my full time. Independently, therefore, of the more serious occupations in which it is my delight to engage with my private friends, it is also my peculiar delight to take a conspicious part in dispensing to those who may be but scantily supplied, a portion of the bounties of God's providence which may be more profusely supplied to others. I love, in short, to see the rich dispensing their Sunday dinners to the poor. I love to promote a social, affectionate, and well-ordered intercourse in every family, and in every vicinity. I love to go hand in hand with the richer classes in administering some share of their abundance to cheer and satisfy the wants of their poorer [328/329] neighbours. But whilst I love these things, let me here once again record, how utterly I detest those crowded, pompous, fashionable, wasteful banquets of the great, which, whilst they administer to no feeling or desire worthy of a Christian, and are altogether so foreign to the sacred serenity of my nature and character, do of necessity tend greatly to alienate from me, many of my humbler friends, the sons and daughters of honest servitude, who must unavoidably, on such occasions, be deprived of that virtuous rest and relief, to which my presence would otherwise entitle them. I do therefore repudiate, as one of the most formidable counteractions of my usefulness, all such unseasonable and injurious festivities. To me, in short, Sunday parties, and Sunday dinners, are an utter abomination; and I always feel myself lost, degraded, and disabled, when in such society.
"And now I think no one can be longer at any loss to understand, by what means my sacred name may be best honoured, and my benevolent purposes best answered. Above all things, too, let me conjure my friends to make it a matter of conscience never to permit any light or frivolous excuse to detain them from the venerable and consecrated sanctuaries of God's worship, which the Anglican Church has now provided, and is still yearly providing, for her [329/330] people. No attention more joyful and acceptable to me can be paid than this, nor any better calculated to cement an everlasting affection between us. The Church, by her now reformed and apostolical worship, ordinances, and doctrines, would safely teach you, and is sufficient to teach you, my Christian reader, the way to heaven; and in heaven you will assuredly find my Antitype.
"Having then thus fairly told you from whence I arose, why I was sent, and how, for these eighteen hundred years, I have struggled through manifold difficulties, contradictions, and distresses having stated to you the claims I have on your affection and reverence, and what peculiar comforts and blessings I am competent to dispense among you, if you would but rightly understand and treat me having told you all this, with candour and honesty, I now take my leave, with many and earnest hopes that you will, at all times, be induced to feel an affectionate regard and veneration for my company and with many prayers, more sincere that ever princes bestowed upon their people, that God may have you in his holy keeping.'" KYRIAKE.
Here Kyriake closes her parable; here she concludes her case; nor can we think that she has [330/331] laboured too earnestly, or at the expence of either modesty or truth, to preserve her proper bearing and position in Christian society, or to make good her claims to the reverence and affection of all Christian people.