RESPECTING THE ELEMENTS
APPENDED TO HIS ADDRESS
September 30, 1841
(As printed in the Journal of The Proceedings)
Third Sunday after Easter, May 2, 1841 in All Saints' Church, New York, admitted Orlando Harriman, jun., to Deacons' Orders, and the Rev. Albert D. Traver, Deacon, Assistant Minister of All Saints', and principal of the Male Parochial School of the Parish to the Priesthood.
At the Communion, which, of course, accompanied the ordination, I was a most gratified witness of the method adopted by the Rector of the Parish, for complying with the rubric, which prohibits the removal of the remaining consecrated elements from the Church, and orders that the minister and other communicants "shall, immediately after the blessing, reverently eat and drink the same." The blessing having been pronounced, and the silent devotions offered, the communicants remained quietly in their pews. The wardens advanced, received the blessed symbols from the Rectory and proceeded to hand the same to the communicants in their pews. Perfect silence was preserved until the directions of the Church had been fully followed when the return of the wardens to the Rector with the patens and chalices was the signal for leaving the Church.
I had never witnessed a more appropriate and solemn observance of a rule often disregarded, and often observed with a mournful absence of the reverence with which the Church would
rightly and piously invest everything connected with the holy mysteries of the altar.
[* It is very desirable so to regulate the quantity of elements for the Communion, as to have as little remaining as may be; and this may be effected, on ordinary occasions, with little difficulty. The stated pastor of a parish can generally form a tolerably correct estimate of the probable number of communicants on any given occasion. The bread should be prepared in equal slices of moderate thickness, and each slice cut about half through in lines crossing each other at right angles, so that each may easily be broken into an equal number of pieces. The priest knowing thus how many pieces are contained in each slice, can remove from the prothesis, and place upon the altar, so many slices as he thinks will be sufficient. With regard to the wine, it will be found a safe rule to consider one quart as sufficient for one hundred communicants. Bearing this in mind, the priest can generally arrive sufficiently near to the truth in selecting the quantity to be used on any given occasion. In parishes containing a large number of communicants, and in which there may often be expected an accession of strangers, there is obvious propriety in having an additional supply of the elements on the prothesis, for removal to the altar, in the event of a second consecration being required.
The present is perhaps a fitting opportunity for me to express in this way, views frequently advanced in conversation respecting the elements and the vessels of the altar.
With regard to the former, devout principles and devout affections unite in enforcing the propriety of having the best that can be procured of those substances which Christ was pleased to select as, when duly consecrated, the symbols of His most precious body and blood. Of the bread I would say, in the simple but sufficient language of the English rubric, that it should be "the best and purest wheat bread that conveniently may be gotten." The same qualities, also, should appertain to the wine which is provided for the table of the LORD. It should be "the best and purest that conveniently may be gotten." Nor will devout Christians be governed by selfish and time-serving considerations in determining what kind may conveniently be gotten. They will measure convenience by devout regard to the holiness of the object, and the claims of the Great Being whose honor and worship are concerned. I can hardly describe the mortification I feel at the low grade thus evinced of religious sensibility, when I see that provided for consecration as the symbol of the Saviour's blood, which would hardly be allowed on the tables even of those who kneel to receive it at the holy altar. It is painful to feel obliged to refer to such topics. But nothing connected with God's honor and service can be rightly regarded as of little moment. The expense consequent on proper arrangements in this particular will be found, even in the case of the smallest parishes, so unimportant as to render truly shameful the least hesitation on that account.
With regard to vessels for the altar, I have found it impossible to reconcile myself to the permanent appropriation of any but those of silver. That on all general principles these are best, I think I shall be excused for taking it for granted, none will deny who are influenced by truly Christian principles and feelings. The excuse for substituting those of inferior metal, is its economy. Even this, however, will be seen true only for a limited time. Ultimate and permanent economy is undoubtedly best answered by the use of vessels which may be expected to retain, from generation to generation, meetness of condition for their holy use. It were much better to provide temporarily decent vessels of china or glass, at small cost, and gradually procure substitutes of silver. The price of a complete set of inferior metal had better be bestowed on a chalice and paten of silver, and other articles of the same metal be added, from time to time, as means are possessed; until thus the altar is completely furnished. Where pious individual liberality, as happily is often the case, is moved to provide vessels for the LORD's Table, it were a much more permanent benefit, and more honorable offering, to present one or more articles of the precious metal, than a whole service of that which is inferior.