Project Canterbury

The Anglo-Catholic Use of Two Lights upon the Altar
For the Signification that Christ is the very true Light of the World
State and Defended.

by George Ayliffe Poole, M.A.
Incumbent of St. James's Church, Leeds.

London: Burns, 1840



THERE are two questions which may be put concerning the propriety of introducing this part of the furniture of the Holy Table in an English Church. 1st. Is it right in itself that lights should be there placed? 2nd. Is it in accordance with the laws and character of the Church of England to place them there?

And these two questions are not to be asked by the same persons. One of them is for the Churchman, the other is for the Dissenter. Supposing it to be a thing not absolutely sinful in itself, the Dissenter has no right to ask whether it is in accordance with the laws and character of the Church of England to place candles on the altar. He has nothing to do with the interior arrangements of our Churches; and if there be a controversy within the Church upon the subject, he has no right to meddle in it; for the question is not one which can be brought to bear upon his own conduct or conscience. If anything actually and per se immoral were to be acted in a Church, of course every member of the community would be interested in its exposure: but whether anything not wicked in itself be or be not according to the Laws of the Church, none but a Churchman has a right to discuss in the way of controversy.

I will state a parallel case. Some years past there was a controversy in one of the sects which divide this country, whether or no organs might be admitted into their places of worship. Would it have been right for a person of any other sect to interfere in this question of internal arrangement, and to endeavour to widen the breach by accusing one or other party of acting inconsistently with their own laws or character? I think such a man might fairly be put off with the answer, “The question, whichever way it may be settled, is not yours, but ours.”

Another instructive illustration occurs to mo. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, certain Popish emissaries were busied in some such methods of disturbing the Church. But they had at least the consistency to pretend to be of our number before they embroiled us in controversy by mooting questions in which an alien could have no assignable interest.

On the other hand, the remaining question is altogether for the Dissenter, or nearly so. When it has been proved to be the custom of the Church, the Dissenter is fully entitled to ask: Is it right to burn candles on the altar,—right in itself? and we are quite ready to give the answer. But the Churchman, except in very peculiar cases, has only to ask, Has the Church appointed or approved it? The answer to this question involves to him the answer to the former sufficiently for any ordinary purpose. That is to say, A. B. places candles on the altar in his Church. The question of the Dissenter may be: Is it simply wicked so to do? The question of the Churchman is: Is A. B. acting in conformity with the Church’s laws?

The latter is the question which I am about to discuss in this first chapter: in other words, I am at present reasoning with a Churchman, not with a Dissenter. By and bye I shall reverse my plan, and, taking the former question, reason with the Dissenter and not with the Churchman.

Now to the question,—Is it in accordance with the laws of the Church of England to place candles on the altar?—We have this ready answer. It is not only accordant with, but enjoined by the laws of the Church.

The Rubric immediately preceding “the Order for Morning and Evening Prayer daily throughout the year” stands thus—

And here it is to be noted that such ornaments of the Church and of the Ministers thereof at all times of their ministration shall le retained and be in use, as were in this Church of England, by authority of Parliament, in the second year of the reign of Edward VI.”

But the Rubrics are a part of the laws of the Church, framed by convocation, and ratified by Parliament; so that if it appear that in the second year of King Edward VI. lights were so used, as in this Rubric is mentioned, no authority short of a convocation for the Church, and for the State an Act of Parliament, can reverse the authority on which lights are still used upon the altar.

Now in the injunction of King Edward VI., set forth in 1547, it is expressly ordered, “that all Deans, Archdeacons, Parsons, Vicars, and other ecclesiastical persons, shall”——“suffer from henceforthno Torches nor Candles, Tapers, or Images of wax to be set before any image or picture, BUT ONLY TWO LIGHTS UPON THE HIGH ALTAR, BEFORE THE SACRAMENT, WHICH, FOR THE SIGNIFICATION THAT CHRIST IS THE VERY TRUE LIGHT OF THE WORLD, THEY SHALL SUFFER TO REMAIN STILL.”

In this injunction three things are to be observed, besides the direct ordinance for the use of lights. (1.) That the ordering of such matters is plainly referred to the Clergy themselves, each in his appointed cure or incumbency, and upon him is placed the responsibility of seeing the injunction carried out. (2.) That a broad line of distinction is drawn between the two candles on the high altar then appointed, and for which we plead, and the candles in Romish Churches, burning before shrines of Saints, and such other superstitious observances. (3.) That the symbolical use of the two lights still continued, is given, doubtless with the same good sense and Christian wisdom which is expressed in the article “of ceremonies, why some be abolished and some retained” in the first book of Edward VI.; where, by way of apology for the disuse of some, it is said that the gospel is “content only with those ceremonies which do serve to a decent order of godly discipline, and such as be apt to stir up the dull minds of man to the remembrance of his duty to God, by some notable and special signification, whereby he might be edified.” And again, giving the reason for retaining others: “They be neither dark nor dumb ceremonies, but are so set forth that every man may understand what they do mean.

Yet in the same article there is that same assertion of liberty, within the laws of God, to other churches in such matters, which we as individuals ought to grant one to the other, within the prescribed rules of the Church. “In these all our doings we condemn no other nations, nor prescribe any thing but to our own people only.

But here it is objected that the injunction of Edward VI. above cited does not fulfil the conditions required; that it had not the authority of Parliament, and that therefore the lights which it enjoined are not retained but excluded by the Rubric.

This is a most unfortunate objection for those who make it; and that for two reasons.

First, that if the objection were good, it would refer us back to ornaments of the Church still less to their taste than those which we wish to support on the authority of the Rubric and the Injunction.

Secondly, that the objection is not good; and that, in repelling it, we find occasion to show that the spirit of the Church, as well as the letter of its laws, is wholly on our side in this instance. We have, therefore, much reason to be thankful to those who start that objection.

For, first, let us suppose, for argument sake, (which, however, I do not for a moment grant,) that the Injunctions of Edward VI. do not satisfy the meaning of the Rubric, which appoints that such ornaments only shall be retained as were in use in the 2nd of Edward VI.: then for the ornaments of the Church we must go back to the reign of Henry VIII., since ornaments are expressly mentioned in this present Rubric, and according to the supposition none have authority of Parliament which were appointed on or before the second year of Edward’s reign: for it is remarkable that in the first book of King Edward, or that of the second year of his reign, no ornaments of the Church are mentioned. Obviously, therefore, the ornaments used by the authority of Parliament are to be sought in the reign of Henry VIII. Then we shall have not two lights only upon the altar, but many other things also to which an Ultra-protestant, and even a sound Catholic, will object.

And yet, though I should regret being reduced to such an alternative, the evil consequence would not be quite so bad as might at first sight appear. For though it is true that the letter of the law might then enjoin some superstitious ornaments, and especially in respect of lights; “The light by the Roodloft, the light before the Sacrament of the Altar, and the light about the Sepulchre;” [1] yet as the Roodloft and the Sepulchre are now taken away, never again to be restored, we are saved from the possibility of returning to these additional lights.

But now, having shewn how unexpected might be the consequences of disturbing the Injunctions of Edward, I proceed to show that those Injunctions do really satisfy the meaning of the Rubric, having the authority of Parliament.

It does not seem to be questioned that the Act of 31 Hen. VIII. cap. 8, gave to the proclamations of the King the authority of Parliament: and nothing can be more nugatory than the questions concerning the propriety or tendency of such an Act. I cheerfully admit that this act was most unconstitutional;—essentially opposed to the character both of the Church and of the State;—I feel that it was a most happy circumstance that it was repealed: but unless it was repealed before the Injunctions of Edward VI. were issued, it is just the same as if it was repealed only yesterday. But the Injunctions of Edward were issued before Parliament met, and, therefore, of course before any Act was passed, or any previous Act repealed.

And every Act of Parliament, and every law or Rubric of the Church, and every Royal Injunction, Proclamation, or Advertisement, between 2 Edwd. VI. and 1 Eliz., in which year the Rubric which we are discussing was sanctioned by Parliament, not only in general as a part of the Book of Common Prayer, but also by a clause in the Act running in the same words:—every such document, though thousands were produced, would be utterly beside the mark. For the Rubric and Act of set purpose leap over them all in order to get back to the practice, so obnoxious now in the eyes of some men, which obtained in the 2d Edwd. VI.

And nothing can be more obvious than that this was done advisedly: for the natural course would have been to have gone back only to the death of Edward; or at most to the 5th Edwd. in which year the second book received the sanction of Parliament; but the more natural course was avoided, and the less natural chosen.

Query: For what purpose?

Compare the book of Elizabeth and the second book of Edward, and take the history of the times as a commentary on their variations, and you will have the answer to this question. It was the purpose of the reviewers of the Liturgy in Elizabeth’s reign to return, in some degree at least, to the more Catholic tone which was conspicuous in Edward’s 2nd year and first book. Hence the Restoration of the clerical vestments, discarded by the reviewers in 5th Edward VI.; and hence (which is still more important) the Restoration of the form of administering the Body and Blood of Christ to each communicant at the Holy Eucharist. The fact, then, is, that we are studiously referred to the ornaments used in the 2nd of Edward; and the animus of this Rubric is that which runs through the work of the reviewers in Elizabeth’s reign:—a desire to return to a more primitive ritual.

And it is not very wide of the mark to note that the upward tendency thus manifested was still active in Charles II.’s reign; for it was then that the very important Rubric was added before the prayer for the Church Militant (a Rubric which I wish were better obeyed): it was then that the word oblation was added at the beginning of the same prayer; it was then that the mention of the saints departed was restored at the end of the same prayer; and that some other alterations were made, all looking the same way.

And if at the present day another review of the Liturgy were to be taken in hand, (which I, for one, am very far from wishing), I need not say which way the alteration would tend.

But this is leading us, in some degree, from the argument, which I am sure will stand more favourably in proportion as it is Unencumbered and uninvolved. I have only to add upon the question of this Injunction, that Archbishop Cranmer’s Articles of Visitation were framed upon them in the very matter of lights; and that after the repeal of the Act 31 Hen. VIII. c. 8, but during the 2nd year of Edward VI., so that the law then was just what the Act of Elizabeth and the Rubric declare it to be now. But articles of Visitation are always framed upon the existing Ecclesiastical law: so that if Cranmer understood how the matter then stood, we are justified in all our former conclusions. [2]

And here, I think, I may leave the statement of the law of the Anglican Church on this head; having sufficiently supported my assertion, that no authority short of an order of convocation for the Church, and for the State an act of parliament, can reverse the authority on which lights are still used on the altar.

We will next inquire what has been the custom of the Church.

To the present day the candles are to be seen on the altar of almost all the Cathedrals, though not quite without exception: as for instance, in this county, there are none, I believe, in York Minster, [3] but there are at Ripon. In Collegiate Churches also, they are usually found, under which class Ripon must have been included until a few years back; and so also in the Chapels Royal, and in the Chapels of the several Colleges in Oxford and Cambridge. Their remaining in Cathedrals and College Chapels is a matter of special importance, for it serves to give a singular character to the objections which some, even of the Clergy, make to the candles on the ground of novelty. Almost every Clergyman must again and again have seen these appropriate and symbolical ornaments on the altar of his college chapel; and once at least on the altar before which he was ordained; and yet some clergymen, when they wish to condemn them elsewhere, so far forget what they have seen as to call them a novelty! I fear that if the object were to prove the character of the Universities, or of the cathedral institutions, Popish, (I mean, of course, in that sense of the word in which it is used in controversy with those who are stigmatized as High Churchmen or orthodox clergy,) these obnoxious candles would not be forgotten as a proof of that position.

In how many parochial churches, or chapels of ancient chapelries, or private chapels, in this kingdom, or whether in any, candles on the altar have been retained, since the times of the Puritans, I know not; but I cannot help suspecting that a tolerably diligent search into the furniture of the altar in the private chapels attached to some of the princely mansions of our ancient nobility, would considerably increase the number of precedents for their use. At any rate, I have shown that they are retained in those churches to which we naturally look for a pattern of order and propriety; and which are regulated, it will be remembered, by no authority which does not equally bind the most private chapel or the most remote parish church: and surely the rule of the Church being express, the custom of those Churches whose ritual and furniture is most carefully maintained under the eye of persons best qualified to judge in such matters, and the guardians of our ecclesiastical constitution, is sufficient, at the very least, to serve as a witness to the rule, and to make it clear that it is still the rule, the acknowledged rule of the Church of England. The custom only of those churches, without reference to its authority, would be sufficient to justify the use of candles on the altar, if any clergyman chose to arrange his own church after the pattern of those more carefully provided sanctuaries; but when considered in connection with the constitution on which it is founded, the custom of cathedral and collegiate churches, and of royal and college chapels, is abundantly sufficient (I repeat it,) to witness what is the actual law, and what is the avowed practice of the Anglican Church.

The before-mentioned instances go to prove an unbroken custom; but the cause would gain as much in interest as in strength, if I had time or opportunity to search into the occasional notices upon the subject which may occur in our ecclesiastical history, or in the records of particular Churches. [4] One or two cases only I may mention, as a specimen of the sort of information which might be collected with proper diligence.

The Lord Treasurer Burleigh, in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, is known to have had lights on the altar in his private Chapel. In the reign of James I., among the orders made for the household of Charles, when he went into Spain, were the following:—”(1) That there be one convenient room appointed for prayer, the said room to be employed, during their abode, to no other use. (2.) That it be decently adorned Chapel-wise, with an altar, fonts, palls, linen coverings, demy-carpets, four surplices, candlesticks, tapers, chalices, pattens,” &c. [5] And in the reign of Charles II., Bishop Cosin, being accused to parliament by one Smart, a Prebendary of Durham, of divers superstitious and illegal proceedings, and among others of lighting 200 wax candles around the altar on Candlemas day, the Bishop gave in upon oath, and made good before the Lords, the following answer among the rest; which, of course, being made to parliament on such a charge, touches the legality, as well as the freedom from superstition, of his admitted practice: “That there was never above two fair candles set upon the communion table; that there is no more candles used upon a Candlemas night than in the Christmas holydays; and that the number of them was lessened or increased in proportion to the congregation.” [6]

So much for the actual use of lights, in obedience to the Rubric first quoted: but, in fact, their disuse, in those Churches where they are not found, when it is traced to its real cause, tells almost as much in their favour as the continued use of them where they are retained. It was not our. Reformers who removed them from the altar;—I have already proved that they deliberately commanded their use;—it was the Puritans who took their origin, in the days of Queen Elizabeth, from the refugees in Holland and Geneva during the persecutions under the bloody Queen Mary. There they learned a severer ritual, which, working on the saturnine disposition of some, led eventually to the greatest extremes of fanaticism, impiety, and crime. I am glad, while advocating the use of candles on the altar, to be able to refer their disuse to the same set of men who, for folly, were scandalized by a surplice,—for impiety, could speak evil of the Lord’s Prayer,—and, for crime, could join heart and hand in treason, rebellion, robbery, and king-murder.

But it is free to ask, why, when the reign of the Puritans was over, the candles, and other such like decorations, were not universally restored? The outcry, most unexpected and most outrageous at the present day, against a few who know the real merits of the case, and could not in their charity and information imagine others so ignorant and so malicious, may serve as an ex abundanti answer to the question. If we, after so many generations have passed, which have been successively unlearning more and more of the Puritan heresy, are still attacked for this innocent, nay, commendable observance; what would have been the case with the first incumbents of parochial churches in the days of Charles II.? [7] Besides, the expense of such things is to be taken into account. Parishes are often unwilling, Clergymen are still oftener unable, to bear such a charge: and though I do not doubt that if all Clergymen would really attempt it, no church would be long without; yet, still, the expense, together with the odium which was at first inevitable, and now, however unexpected, yet certain;—the divided attention of the Parish Priest;—and still more perhaps that vis inertiæ, which is just as powerful in ethics and in customs as in mechanics, will sufficiently account for the present state of things.

And to every part of this reasoning the restoration of candles to the altar of Cathedrals, Minsters, and Royal and College Chapels, affords the desired counterpart. Where funds were not only ample in amount, but appropriated to the maintenance of the Churches’ furniture;—where a society of Clergy could support one another, and formed a refuge from the storm of popular indignation;—where it was the specific duty of one man (i. e. the Dean) to care for the due celebration of divine service, and the decent provision of all its accessories;—and where a professional esprit de corps was sufficient to overcome a listless indifference to things which, however seemly, and, for the principle which they involve, however important, are not indeed of the essence of divine worship;—in such places the candles were industriously restored, in disregard of expense and in spite of fanaticism.

On a renew of this chapter, I fancy it will appear that I have shown most clearly that the law of the Church of England is express for placing lights upon the altar; and that the law is obviously intended to embody a principle of Catholic feeling which is characteristic of the Anglican Church. I have also shewn that the practice of the Church, and even the origin of the disuse of those lights where they are disused, add all the weight that can be wished, from such sources, to the express rule of the Church. And surely the conclusion is, stated at the very lowest, that A. B., who places candles on the altar of the Church of which he is the Incumbent, is JUSTIFIED in so doing.

The only difficulty seems to me to be, to determine whether he would be justified in not doing so. I do not mean that I have myself any doubt about the matter: but that the plain and direct course of obedience is to do so; whereas for not doing so reasons must be sought. However, I have no hesitation in saying, that circumstances must have in some cases the force of law: I declare, without reserve, that each man for himself, who is placed in the responsible position of an Incumbent, must judge of those circumstances which are to be a law in his own case: and I do not doubt that others have judged as honestly and as wisely, under their circumstances, as A. B. may have done under his, and yet have embraced a different custom. In plain terms, I as freely admit that others are justified in not restoring candles to the altar, as I strenuously maintain that A. B. is justified in doing so. But that they arc justified in condemning his conduct—that I cannot admit.

A part of the outcry against him is, that he is making such things of importance. That he is contending for ritual, when he ought to be preaching faith, and so forth. Now what is the fact? He simply does what he thinks his duty and says nothing. They see it done, and immediately raise an outcry. Which is making it a matter of importance? He preaches faith not the less because he has restored the furniture of the altar; [8] nay, perhaps his strenuous assertion of some point of faith is amongst the objections which are made against him; but they forget charity, which thinketh no evil. A. B. condemns no one. They all join in condemning A. B. He acts on his own judgment, but never proposes his actions as a rule for others; they will have it that he does wrong, doing what they have omitted to do. In a word, they are so bigoted, and so noisy and pertinacious in their bigotry against such observances; so superstitiously set against their use, and so determined to propagate their superstition, that they may at length call forth a reply from some one who would much rather avoid controversy, especially on such subjects: surely, then, we may protest against the bigotry and superstition being all charged on us, while the noisy impugners of our practice take credit, forsooth, for wisdom, meekness, and temperance!



IN the preceding chapter I showed that the custom of placing Caudles on the Altar was commanded by the authority, and sanctioned by the usage of the Church in this kingdom; thus obviating the objections of Churchmen against that custom. In this second chapter I proceed to show, in answer to the objections which Dissenters, or those who argue like Dissenters, advance against our Church, because she has appointed their use, that it is not in itself wrong or sinful; especially that it is not Popish.

The only difficulty in proving the practice not wrong in. itself, is the absurdity of the proposition against which we have to contend. We want something specific to lay hold on, and something definite to oppose. Judging from the reiterated attacks upon this apparently innocent usage, it must be extremely wicked; yet on inquiry wherein its wickedness consists, we get no answer, or none worthy of consideration. Lest, however, the custom should seem open to some serious objection, though none has ever been brought against it, I will propose a proof that it cannot be sinful or wicked in itself: a proof which is not only more than enough to oppose to the vague unfounded objection which are actually insinuated against lights on the altar, but which shall be in itself a sufficient answer to whatever charge may be, or may be imagined, against the usage of the Church in this matter, on the ground of its being sinful.

And this one simple proof is this: That ALMIGHTY GOD himself, when he appointed the ritual of the Jews, absolutely commanded that lights should be burned as a part of the service of his temple;—Himself condescending even to order the minutiæ of the furniture which this part of the divine ritual required. [9] Now surely it is not too bold an inference that what GOD HIMSELF commanded as a part of his service is not in itself displeasing to him as a part of his service: that what Moses made according to the pattern shewed him on the Mount, may be imitated by us, not only without sin, but religiously; especially since there is no one indication, possible or probable, that it is among the things to be done away with, as that which, was peculiar to the Jewish ritual.

But observe what use we make of this part of the divinely appointed ritual of the Jews. We do not say that we must, but that we may, therefore, use candles in our churches. We do not thus speak as persuading other churches to do so, still less as condemning them for not doing so; but only as fully justifying the usage of our own church. Just so the use of musical instruments in the Christian Church is fully justified by the like use in the Holy Temple: yet while we use the organ, we do not desire to force it upon any other community. And the like liberty of inference we concede to others. If the Roman Catholics justify the dancing of boys before the Altar at Seville, at the celebration of High Mass, on Corpus Christi day, by the analogy of Miriam and of David, far be it from us to disallow the custom thus sanctioned, though we want not the sanction for ourselves, since we receive no such usage.

But before I leave the subject of the Jewish ritual, I may be allowed to observe, that if it is sufficiently strong in justification of the Church’s practice against all objections, it is especially strong against the charge, which seems to be insinuated against it of idolatry or an idolatrous tendency. I do not mean that such a charge is definitely made; but that it seems to be floating on the surface of the current of obloquy, and sometimes its monstrous head appears, undefined but vast and horrible, like the great serpent of the northern ocean, of which so many have told vague tales of horror, but which no one has seen clearly enough to afford a description to the curious, or to answer the questions of the inquisitive. Now let it be borne in mind how great a portion of the design of GOD it was to preserve the Israelites from idolatry; how many of the injunctions of their theocracy, and of their religious ritual, seem to have been especially directed to that object; and surely it will not be supposed that the candlestick is alone dangerous, and dangerous on the very ground that it leads to, or in any degree savours of, idolatry.

I will not deny, however, that this, which is in itself good, may by possibility be converted to a bad use and that as organs might be attuned to the praises of Saints, so might lights also, whether many or few, be made instruments of idolatry, or symbols of heresy and wrong. This I suppose is intended when it is said of candles on the altar that they are Popish; for it is scarcely meant, we should think, that we are to forego their use simply because they have been used by Rome. It is obviously meant that they are Popish in a bad sense; not as the doctrine of the Trinity, or the rite of Baptism is Popish; but as the sale of indulgences or the adoration of the Host is Popish.

Now in disproof of this, I suppose that more cannot be required, than that I show the use of candles to be Popish neither historically nor theologically;—that it neither originated with the errors of Rome, nor is the symbol of any doctrine specifically Popish.

So far is the use of candles at the altar from being Popish historically, that it seems to have originated in the Eastern Church, in the days of the Apostles, and to have travelled westward with the very preaching of the Gospel itself. At any rate, it is quite certain that it was almost universal long before the supremacy of Rome was so much as dreamed of by her own Bishops; and before that Church had fallen upon any peculiarities of doctrine: and not only is it thus anterior to the heresy and usurpation of Rome, but it both was and is maintained in Churches which either never did, or do not now, own any submission to the authority of Rome.

The Apostolical canons, whose date cannot be placed lower than the latter end of the second, or the beginning of the third century, in appointing what shall and what shall not be received as oblations at the altar, expressly mention oil for the lamps, as a part of the allowed offering: and it is clear that none was accounted lawful which was not employed in the religious service of the Church; for fruits, and the like, which were offered for the support of the Clergy, were to be carried to the House of the Bishop or of the Priest, and not to the Altar. The same Canons decree that if any person take oil to the temples of the Heathen, or to the synagogue of the Jews, or light candles at their feasts, they should be suspended; thus recognizing the oblation and the lighting of candles as religious, and guarding them from the possible contagion of idolatry or apostacy. To those primitive Christians it did not occur that it was possible that idolatry should be acted in the very Churches themselves.

Moreover, by the same Canons, the wax and oil offered for lights were expressly placed under the protection of religious sanctions: “If any Clergyman or Layman take wax or oil out of the Holy Church; let him be suspended from communion.”

In the Diocletian persecution,—that is, at the very beginning of the fourth century, we find the following inventory of things given up to the persecutors, by one Paul, Bishop of Cirta: two gold cups, six silver cups, six silver water vessels, a silver flagon, seven silver lamps, &c.

The next proof I shall adduce brings us upon the limits of those corruptions of the Church of Rome, behind which we were loth to shelter ourselves. We find Vigilantius, towards the end of the fourth century, declaiming against a custom which seems to have then lately originated, of burning lights at mid-day before the relics of martyrs. St. Jerome, the opponent of Vigilantius, gives the following answer to this part of his several charges, which will forcibly remind the reader of the arts of controversy employed at the present day against the innocent and useful custom which I am defending.

We do not light tapers in broad day, as you falsely insinuate; [10] but that we may shed their cheerful light upon the darkness, and that we may wake in the light, lest with you we should blindly sleep in darkness. [11] But if any layman, or at the most religious women, of whom we may say with truth that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, if any such, in their ignorance and simplicity, do this in honour of the Martyrs, what so great harm is it.” St. Jerome continues to apologize for this custom in milder terms than might be expected, but still not as approving it, but as excusing it, on the score of the simplicity and ignorance of those who indulged in it; who seem indeed to be indebted rather to the intemperate abuse of Vigilantius, than to the goodness of their cause in St. Jerome’s eyes, for his apologetic treatment of them. St. Jerome then proceeds:—”Without reference to the relics of Martyrs, lamps are lighted at the reading of the Gospel, even at mid-day, throughout all the Oriental Churches; not, of course, to chase away the darkness, but as a symbol of religious joy. [12] So the virgins in the Gospel have always their lamps burning: and to the Apostles it is said, Let your loins be girt, and your lamp burning in your hands: and of St. John the Baptist, He was a burning and a shining light: and under the figure of material flame is that light represented of which we read in the Psalms, Thy word O Lord is a lantern unto my feet, and the light of my path.” [13]

It is obvious that this passage of St. Jerome, giving as it does the origin of a practice now contended for by the Papists as Catholic, in the unauthorized and foolish devotions of some seculars or religions women, precludes us from tracing the custom any farther in the West, as if it still remained free from suspicion. But St. Jerome’s reference to the Eastern churches, reminds us that we have to cite the customs of other churches, besides those which now form the Roman obedience. The very passage last quoted, together with the Apostolical canons, also before referred to, are sufficient to mark the customs of the Churches of the East generally, and of what would now be called the Greek Church. In those Churches candles are still used, as also in Syria, and, I believe, in every Church of primitive foundation in the Eastern Hemisphere. The Lutheran or Protestant Churches also retain this appropriate part of the furniture of the sanctuary. Thus all these Churches agree with the Anglo-Catholic Church in this matter. Can we then be therein specifically Popish?

But whence this agreement in an usage apparently arbitrary and accidental? The answer to this question brings us back to times yet more venerable, and yet to higher authority.

We have already referred to the use of lights in the divinely appointed Jewish ritual, as sanctioning their adoption into the church. We must now revert to it again as the probable origin of it in the Christian Church. The early Christians, desirous of adorning their churches to the best of their little means, would naturally look into the Jewish temple for ornaments—not which they must use, this would be to Judaize, but for ornaments which they might use, with a moral assurance that it would be well-pleasing to GOD. They would also most anxiously look for something which should be symbolical of a religious truth: and the tapers would at once occur to them as having all the requisite properties, being elegant in themselves; being apt symbols of Christ the very light of the world; and being used by the express command of GOD in the Jewish temple. This, I say, is the most probable origin of this part of the Church’s furniture; and that it actually was used in the Apostles’ times would appear from the figure under which the Seven Churches were distinguished in the vision related by St. John in the first chapter of Revelations—“THE SEVEN CANDLESTICKS WHICH THOU SAWEST ARE THE SEVEN CHURCHES”; and also by the terms from which the warning against one of these Churches is denounced: “I will come unto thee quickly,” saith the Lord to the angel of the Church of Ephesus, “and will REMOVE THY CANDLESTICK OUT OF HIS PLACE, except thou repent.” [14] Now I am of course aware that these terms are figurative; but a figure is not the putting of one thing for another without any appropriateness or selection; as if we should speak of a Church under the name of a bramble bush, or of a Bishop under the name of a fig: there must be some aptness in the trope; something whereby it shall suggest the thing intended; and what so likely a source of the aptness required in the present instance as that the candlestick, after the figure of the Jewish temple, was part of the furniture of the Christian altar? And this remark will gather strength from Ephesus being not a Jewish but a Heathen city. Had THE LORD been addressing the Church in a Jewish city, He might well have borrowed a figure from the Jewish ritual; but in addressing the Church in a Heathen city, He would surely so far adapt the language of revelation to the circumstances of the case, as to take the figure from the furniture of the Christian Church. I suppose it is beyond all imagination that allusion is here made to a heathen and idolatrous custom.

Such, then, is the answer that history affords to the objection of the dissenter against the Anglican custom of burning candles on the altar, that it is popish. In truth, it is so far from being popish, that it obtained in the Apostolic ages, as far as we can judge from the incidental expressions of Holy Writ; having been adopted into the service of the Christian Church from that of the Jews: that it was retained both in the Eastern and in the Western Churches, without being tainted with idolatry or any error, till the middle of the fourth century at least: that it is still used in sundry Churches which never acknowledged the authority of the Pope of Rome,—in some, perhaps, who never heard of him: and that in the Lutheran or Protestant Churches, as well as our own the Anglo-Catholic Church, it teas still, and still is continued, though we have laboured to cast off all the errors of Rome, and have avowedly gone back to a primitive doctrine and ritual.

The proof that the usage of burning candles on the altar is not theologically Romish, lies in a smaller compass.

The primitive custom of burning lights at the reading of the gospel especially, [15] and the Anglican custom of burning two lights on the altar, to signify that Christ is the very true light of the world, evidently have the same meaning and object:—preach as it were the same sermon; and that sermon is not Popish. Far be it from me to insinuate that the Roman Catholics deny that Christ is the very true light of the world: what I mean is, that they preach this together with ourselves, and so it is no more a Popish doctrine than that of the Trinity or of the Incarnation.

But I am prepared to go further, and to shew that, while the general custom of placing lights on the altar is not Popish, the particular Anglican custom of burning two lights only, and they upon the high altar only, is a very important safeguard against some Romish errors, especially the adoration of saints, and kindred idolatrous rites.

The various numbers of lights used in different churches or in different ages have their various meanings; and so the meaning he innocent, the number is a thing wholly indifferent in itself; it may be 2,200, or 2,000; it may be 7, 70, or 70,000, which perhaps is not more than the number sometimes lighted at St. Peter’s, in Rome. The Western Church seems generally to have used seven lights, seven being a number whereby is signified completeness, and whereby the very Spirit of God himself is designated in Holy Writ. [16] This is also the number which St. John saw in his first vision. [17] This number, then, is surely without exception in itself. In the Greek Church the number five, divided into three and two, seems to be employed, at least on some occasions, signifying THE TRIUNE GOD, and THE TWO NATURES IN ONE PERSON OF OUR BLESSED LORD. This again is without all exception of heterodoxy. The number two, which is Anglican, refers doubtless to the two natures of Christ, in which he is especially the very true light of the world.

And by being strictly limited to two; (whereas, so far as I know there is no absolute limitation to that, or to any other number, in any other Church;) and by being forbidden before all shrines, relics, and the like, and allowed only on the high altar; it is obvious to remark that the candles in our Church are freed almost from the possibility of being lighted in honour of any except GOD. It seems to me that every argument which could be adduced against this guarded use of lights, might apply with equal force against prayer itself. Prayer ought to be addressed to God alone; but by the Church of Rome prayer has been addressed to saints and angels: arc we then to forego the use of prayer, and call it Popish, because that which is the appointed service of GOD has been transferred by a corrupt Church to creatures? No, surely! I need not apply the illustration.

And now I imagine that I have fairly rescued the Anglican custom of burning lights upon the altar from the charge of sinfulness or popery: that I have shewn it can scarce be sinful in any sense, since the use of lights is sanctioned by the divinely appointed ritual of the Jewish people: that I have shewn it is not Popish, inasmuch as it has the sanction of all ages of the Church, and of Churches over whose ritual Rome never had any influence, and of those who have cast off most industriously Romish interference and Romish errors; and since, moreover, the sermon which our two lights preach to the people, touching Christ in his two-fold nature and one person, as the light of the world, is not Popish, but strictly Christian and Catholic.

It was but an accident to mention that the restriction of the number of lights to two, seems an obvious safeguard against that which is not now wrong degenerating into idolatry.

If I have at all succeeded in proving my point, I know not what more need be advanced in defence of the use of lights on the altar against the objection of Dissenters, and those who join the Dissenters in their attacks upon the Institutions of the Church.



IN the former chapters I have endeavoured to establish two points concerning the use of lights upon the Altar: 1st, that it is in accordance with the injunctions and practice of the Church of England: and, 2nd, that it is in itself innocent, being free from all fair suspicion of superstition or idolatry; and being especially not Popish, since it originated long before the errors of Rome commenced, and is continued in Churches over which Rome never had, or has not now, any authority; and since its real intention is not connected with Rome more than with every Christian Church, which acknowledges Christ as the very true light of the world.

From the establishment of these two points it follows that the Church of England is fully justified in commanding or sanctioning the use of these symbolical ornaments; and that the individual Clergyman of this Church is not only justified in placing them on the altar of his own Church, but that in so doing he is simply obedient to a law which is binding on him, at least under ordinary circumstances.

But in the first chapter I freely stated, that though there would be little difficulty in determining that one who did so was borne out by the injunction of the Church, yet that no blame need, of necessity, attach to those who do it not; since circumstances, of which each person is the proper judge in his own case, may have the force of law, and equally justify in different cases a different practice. Now it seems to me that the circumstances of the Church at the present day are precisely such as to make it most desirable that the candles should be restored, or if not in all cases, yet in some places at least; and that of course with a view to their general use: and this again not merely for its own sake, but because it is a part of that pious and Catholic ritual which the Church of England enjoins in the devotions of her Sons.

This is by far the most important question which we have touched; it is, indeed, that without which all the rest would be quite unworthy of serious notice. I shall be excused, therefore, if I take a more extended view of the subject, stating the connection of this particular question with ritual in general, and the importance of ritual;—pointing out some the effects of its too general disuse;—and giving certain reasons, gathered from the complexion of the present times, for a greater attention to it, and a stricter adhesion to the Laws of the Church in its maintenance.

Now the use of ritual and ceremony in general, (quite irrespective, for the present, of any particular instance of it), is to embody truth or religious principles to the eyes of men. They are, in a word, sermons preached to men’s hearts through the eyes instead of through the ears. The use of these means of instructing, exciting, and elevating the minds of men is sanctioned not only by the usage of the whole Christian Church Catholic, to which I will hope that many of my readers are disposed to pay great deference; but also by the Jewish Church, as it was ordered, even in minute matters, by GOD HIMSELF. Ritual and ceremony, then, cannot be unchristian, unless all Christendom has mistaken the question: and cannot be in itself wrong; for it hath the Divine sanction.

Nay, more; no religion (by a religion understanding the combined devotions of many individuals), can exist without it. Before, therefore, we can give up the necessity, not to say the lawfulness and advantage of ritual and ceremony, we must give up the necessity of a religion.

Nor let it be said that all ritual, that everything in the way of ceremonial, figure, symbol, or ornament, which ought to be employed in the Christian Church, is specifically described or enjoined in the New Testament. I know that there is a sect which pretends to hold this as a fundamental principle of its society. I dare say that to careless disputers they would not hesitate to maintain it in argument; but I also know that they have found it impossible to reduce it to practice. And why? Not because the New Testament is an imperfect or insufficient rule for that to which it was intended to be applied. God forbid! But because it was not intended to be applied in that way. On the contrary, St. Paul, in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, already acknowledges another rule, viz., the custom of the Church; for there he rebukes those who would be contentious. “WE HAVE NO SUCH CUSTOM, NEITHER THE CHURCHES OF GOD.” [18] Hence follows, by no long train of reasoning, the authority of every particular Church, which the Church of England at once claims to herself, and grants to other Churches, of appointing ceremonies and the like. But she grants not (indeed to do so would be to nullify the whole use of ritual, and to make void the authority of a Church to appoint it: she grants not) to any individual the right to break those ceremonies already enjoined by his Church. I shall be excused for transcribing the 34th Article at length, for it contains almost all that can be said on this subject. It is as follows:—

“It is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one, and utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries, times, and man’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of die weak brethren. Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish, ceremonies or rites of the Church ordained only by man’s authority, so that all things be done to edifying.”

Of course it is not intended to assert that all ceremonies are equally useful, or equally prudent: that all symbols represent doctrines of equal importance; or represent that which they are intended to represent with equal clearness; or are equally free from probable perversion: some preach a more important sermon than others, and preach it more plainly, and with less possibility of being misunderstood; but it is for the Church to determine between the importance and use of such things, and not for individuals to cavil.

Some symbols or ceremonies, again, have absolute divine authority; such as that of bowing at the name of JESUS: [19] others seem only to be hinted at, and adopted without an absolute command by the inspired writers of the New Testament; such as, for instance, the very use of candlesticks which has suggested these remarks: others yet again stand on lower ground of Catholic usage; (lower in comparison of the infinite authority of the Word of God, and its slightest indications, though very high in comparison of any secular appointment;) such is the turning to the East at the reciting of the creed. But if any person seemeth to be contentious, let him at least learn that not this generation only, or any particular party in the church, but all antiquity, and all the wisdom and piety of ages, hare agreed to hold it a mark of a restless, disobedient, unfilial, and in some cases heretical temper, to make light of usages, and to pretend a scruple against obedience to them. For instance: in Bingham’s Antiquities [20] may be found ample proofs of the importance which was given to the rule about standing at prayer on the Lords day. The 42nd of the Apostolic canons orders that a Bishop or Priest shall be deposed who baptizes with one ablution only. [21] In the Greek church, the Bishop at a particular part of the service stretches forth his hand with three fingers only extended, to represent the mystery of the Trinity in. Unity; would it not be obviously a sign of heresy if some one refused this symbolical posture? [22] And so we might proceed through a whole host of rites, all in themselves accidental and indifferent, yet when appointed most important; even so as to cast a suspicion of heresy on those who refuse them, and to expose them justly, not only to censure, but even to ecclesiastical penalties.

And let not those who are most loud against certain matters of ritual judge themselves alone free from the bondage of a superstitious regard to them. When Puritans and Presbyterians make it as imperative not to kneel at the blessed Eucharist, as our Church does to receive this Holy Sacrament with that mark of devotion, why, on their own principle, is not their zeal for standing or sitting to be counted a superstition? I do not ask here which is the more pious and appropriate posture; but why is a pertinacious adherence to one, on pretence of conscience, to be applauded, while a firm maintenance of the other, because of its obvious fitness and piety, and because of its universal acceptance and authority, is called superstition? So, again, why is not Bishop Hoopers most extravagant pertinacity in refusing the vestments of a Bishop, at least as superstitions as their use for ages past? In these and the like cases it is obvious that as much stress is laid by the Puritan party on the ruling of things indifferent (I put it at the lowest) one way, as by the Church has ever laid on the ruling them another way; nay, much more, since the Church has ever allowed particular Churches to vary their ritual; the very thing which the Puritans, and others like-minded, superstitiously forbid.

Such, then, is the ground on which ritual in general stands, and such the importance in some cases of adhering very rigidly even to particular customs, and in all cases of adhering to the general principle which leaves us free from the tyranny of that superstition which would bind us all in the hard fetters and cold narrow cell of her own no-ritual.

But it remains to give the reason why a revival of authorised ritual, and a protest against the Puritan superstition is at this time, especially opportune.

The character of the conflict which the Church had to wage in the last century against enemies both within and without, tended to lower the tone of Her theology, and to subvert Her whole system of ceremonial. While Infidelity was the enemy without, it was necessary to fall back upon the most important matters, and not to contend with open enemies for ceremonial and symbolical rites. And while the leaven of Puritanism still worked within, that which ought to have been the more rigidly and carefully, because silently adhered to, could not hold its place Because of domestic foes; it was well if it was not openly opposed by those who had sworn to maintain it, and if the camp was not therefore exposed to the more successful opposition of the common foe by the faction of men who were pledged to guard it. It would be easy to point out how mercifully Almighty God adapted to the exigencies of those times, the talents and character of the great champions of the faith; but at present it is my object to point out the difference of our position, for which an equally wise and merciful provision is made, in the growing feeling of this Church and Kingdom for a decent and appropriate ritual, and for a more Catholic tone of theology; a feeling which has been at once stimulated and strengthened by the returning echo of that voice which had been hushed but not asleep, and by a revival of that beauty of the sanctuary which had well nigh been forgotten.

I have alluded to the causes of the great neglect of ritual and ceremonial, and whatever tends to symbolize the doctrines of the Christian faith to the eyes of men. The effects of this neglect has been to lower the tone of feeling of men of a certain class of character, and to make them think as little of sacred things as those would seem to wish who have thus denuded them of all their external ornaments, and visible exponents. But again on another class of persons the effect has been different; causing them to look out for something which should fill the void in their minds, the proper occupants of which have been taken away. The tendency of the first class is to infidelity, or positive irreligion; that of the latter is to Romanism: but between the two there are infinite gradations, all affected more or less, and all affected for the worse, by that neglect of ritual which we deplore.

Again, there is, concurrent with the rationalism that decries ceremonial in religion, and decent and symbolical ornament, a calculating spirit of utilitarianism, as decidedly repulsive to the higher tone of mind as coldness is to the religious man. From this again Romanism offers a retreat: one which will not indeed be sought where the reasoning faculties are as strong as the imagination; but one towards which every high mind is liable to be attracted, in proportion as imagination predominates. Here again the safe and proper refuge is in that decent and apt degree of attention to ceremonial and symbolical ornament, which the Church of England allows and appoints.

And there is at the present day a very large number of men, and they of the highest order of intellect and imagination and moral feeling, who are., and have been, looking for the proper exercise of these powers and endowments in the solemn rites of the Church. To meet this want the Church seems to have been as especially stimulated in the present day, as it was in the last age against avowed infidelity. It were altogether unjust to represent the present movement of the Church as respecting ritual only; as it were also altogether unjust to speak of the void which required to be filled, as occasioned by the want of ritual only: by far the most important thing that is wanted, and that is now energetically sought for, is that spirit of Catholic Christianity, that high theological tone which Dr. Chalmers has discovered in our Church, and to which he awarded the highest praise (albeit he thought not so) when in his notable Lectures on Establishments he called upon the Church of England to “come down from all that is transcendental or mysterious in her pretensions”: to quit “the plea of her exclusive apostolical derivation,” that she may rest upon—what? “the purity of her doctrines.”—So far is well, but upon “her deeds of high prowess and championship in the battles of the faith—the noble contributions which have been rendered by her scholars and sons, to that Christian literature, which is at once the glory and the defence of Protestantism—the ready-made apparatus of her churches and parishes—the unbroken hold which, as an establishment, she still retains on the mass of society—and her unforfeited possessory right to be reckoned and deferred to as an establishment still.” [23] Noble props, indeed, these, for a Church which shall have fallen from her true estate; but how great the fall before she will reckon them “the greatness of her strength, the true element of her legitimacy and her power,” in the place of her transcendental theology, and her apostolical derivation!

For a more uncompromising assertion of this Apostolic derivation, which is her real strength, and for this transcendental theology, which is the soul of ritual, and which is every where so far as I know attended with ritual, there is in the highest minds, a craving which will be satisfied; and to meet it the Church which possesses both the body and the soul, though the soul has been too long inactive, and the body too long asleep, has aroused her energies, and she is now prepared and preparing more and more to supply the craving of her noblest sons.

This may seem at first sight wide of the mark from which we started: but it is not so. On the contrary, it is of the very essence of the principles which regulate our conduct in such matters as that which affords the title to these pages. It is because the lights, which are so much objected to, are a part of the authorized ceremonial of our Church; and because the authorized ceremonial embodies that catholic theology which is the Church’'s boast; that we think them worth contending for at all: and it is because just now there is the greatest want of this theology, to stay high minds upon, and to elevate and sanctify the low and ungodly tone of society in the present day, that now especially we think it the time thus to contend.

In fact the conflict is not now to be begun, nor would the silence or indolence of one or twenty, or twenty thousand, in this nation, prevent its approach, or affect its issue. Throughout England (I might add America if it were necessary) there has long been a spring of true Church feeling, which bursts forth the moment the surface is touched; and it has been touched in so many places that the springs are now become mighty rivers, and are swelling irresistibly. [24] Both the Universities, from which it must be remembered the Clergy of the coming years are passing into all parts of the kingdom in rapid succession:—both the Universities are instinct with the same feeling. The press is filled with works all tending the same way; and if we estimate the comparative power of the writings of the two opposing parties, need I ask which affords the best omen of success? Speaking of this mighty impulse, we may almost adopt the language of Tertullian, and say to the people of this empire, “It has filled your towns, cities, islands, boroughs, councils, camps, courts, palace, senate, and forum.” If our present position and prospects did not encourage us, truly I know not what could.

The current is indeed irresistible, but it is all the more necessary that it should be kept within proper limits; and the very way in which it has been called from its hidden sources makes this obviously the more important. It is confessed that the feeling both for a high theology and for a significant ritual, has been excited, in part at least, by a recurrence to the writings qf the early Church, to the martyrs and saints of old: in short that the same armoury out of which the weapons were taken which destroyed Popery in this kingdom, is now furnishing us with weapons against Puritanism and rationalistic divinity. This recurrence to a source independent of the Anglican Church will naturally lead the fancies of individuals both to theologize and to ritualize (if I may invent a word) without sufficient reference to the immediate authority to which he is bound to submit. We may be in danger of having Nicene canons or Clementine Liturgies quoted as authorities for customs which the Anglican Church has not sanctioned; and, forgetting that in  things in themselves indifferent, a single canon or rubric of our own Church is more to us than all the general councils that ever met, some persons may be disposed to seek without the Church of England, what can only be sanctioned for his own use by that Church. This would be a melancholy state of things. Here, then, occurs the immense importance of adhering rigidly to the rubrics, canons, customs, injunctions, and other authorities of the Church in this realm. There is much still to be done before those good observances shall be general which are I sanctioned by sufficient custom from the beginning,—before the full beauty of the Church of England, according to her own appointed ritual, shall be seen in all her sanctuaries. Some of the most important rubrics are continually broken; [25] one of the most excellent prayers of the Church is seldom used; [26] the symbolical ornaments of the Church and the minister are almost everywhere forgotten. Some have endeavoured to revive one thing some another; some with less and some with greater prudence, zeal, and success. Only may we all be kept by a sense of duty within the limits which are set for us; and may the Church accept each little offering of her sons as a token of reverence and filial obedience and love.

Whatever may occur, of this at least we are confident, that the Divine Head of the Church will overrule all for good.

[1] Collier Ecc. Hist. ii. 150.

[2] The authority of Cranmer’s Articles of Visitation is peculiarly valuable for the reason above given. Other authorities are numerous; to avoid long citations I will merely refer to Bishops Cosin, Andrews, and Mant; to Nicholls, Wheatley, and Pruen; to Dr. Hook, at note B. of his Visitation Sermon; and to the canonist Godolphin, as cited in “Dr. Cardwell, and certain Church Ornaments.” The ingenious author of the last named pamphlet, has extorted from Dr. Cardwell himself, by a severe cross examination, an unwilling testimony in favour of the candles. The Dr.’s repugnance to them is perhaps the result of circumstances; for if report say true, one room serves for Chapel, Hall, and Lecture Room, at St. Alban’s Hall, of which he is principal.

[3] I leave this passage as it stood, although I have discovered, since it was published in the Leeds Intelligencer, that there were candles on the altar in York Minster until the late fire, but that having; been then damaged or destroyed they have not been replaced.

[4] This is rather an antiquarian question, or at least savours of the curiosity of the antiquary. The only library to which I could obtain access would not encourage such a search as would be requisite for carrying out this branch of the question.

[5] Collier’s Ecc. Hist. ii. 726.

[6] Collier ii. 798.

[7] The persecution which Bishop Cosin suffered because of his adherence in this and other like matters to the authority of the Rubrics of the Church, and to the spirit of her requirements, is an exact parallel to the treatment which some meet with at the present day, on the same account.

[8] Some of the articles even of the Apostle’s Creed one must forego, at the present day, if one would avoid the charge of Popery: for instance, the article of the HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH.

[9] Exod. xxv. 31; Heb. ix, 2, and many other places.

[10] There are other incidental proofs that the custom of lighting candles by day, however ancient it may have been in the East, originated in the Western Churches about this time, and had not yet become nearly universal. Paulinus of Nola, in Campania, and Prudentius, a Spaniard, were contemporaries of St. Jerome. The former of these writers has the following lines, in which the mid-day tapers are mentioned:—

Clara coronantur densis altaria lychnis:
Lumina ceratis adolentur odora papyris:
Node dicque micant
. Sic nox splendore diei
Fulget et ipsa dies coelesti illustris honore,
Plus micat innumeris lucem geminata lucernis.

But Prudentius, though writing on the very subject which would give occasion to the like expressions, if they were adapted to the custom of his own Church, speaks only of nocturnal lights, and his boldest figure is—

Splendent ergo tuis muneribus, Pater,
Flammis mobilibus scilicet, atria;
Absentemque diem
lux agit semula
Quam nox cum lacero victa fugit peplo.

Hymn v. Ad Incensum Lucernæ.

[11] This seems an ironical allusion to the name of Vigilantius, of whom he had said in the beginning of the epistle “Vigilantius, sed verius Dormitantius” and in the epistle to Riparius “Ais Vigilantium, qui kat antifrasin hoc vocatur nomine, nam Dormitantius rectius diceretur.

[12] It will be observed that although Jerome resents the false assertion that they then burnt candles in the day, yet that it is not because of the thing being really wrong, though they had done it: for he does not think it necessary to apologise for the Eastern Church on account of that practice; bat he resents the false assertion, because it was malicious in intention; and though an innocent mistake, in fact, yet in spirit a slanderous imputation. Just so it is when some individuals now are said, falsely, with the same malice of intent, but also with the same actual harmlessness, to burn candles at mid-day in the Church of England. This has been again and again asserted of myself, and that by many who might have seen with their own eyes that it was not so: but had it been so, I defy them to prove it either wrong in itself, or superstitious or popish. I suspect, too, that it may be found to be the real intention of the Church in the. Rubric so often referred to. If so, it will be another instance, among very many, in which the English Church, in the arrangement of her ritual and offices, has fallen back upon customs, if not specifically Eastern, yet more ancient in the East than in the West; for we have seen that this is the case with candles in the Anglican Church from the above cited passage. This becomes an additional guarantee and sign of our Catholicity, and is therefore very worthy of being noted.

[13] Adversus Vigilantium, Ep. lx. vol. ii. page 85. Ed. Francofurti, 1684.

[14] Rev. ii. 5.

[15] At Baptism also lights were burned, with an obvious allusion to the spiritual illumination of which the newly baptized were made partakers in Christ. For the same reason Baptism itself was often called Fotismos and the baptized Fotismenoi.

[16] Rev. iv. 5. &c.

[17] Rev. i.

[18] 1 Cor. xi. 16.

[19] See Phil. ii. 10.

[20] xiii. viii. 3.

[21] The reason for this law admirably exemplifies the real use and importance of ceremonial. As given in the law itself the reason is simply this; “For our Lord said not baptize into my death, but into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” Now this command of our Lord was always looked on as an irrefragable proof of the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity; and the trine immersion as the most appropriate symbol of that doctrine: but Praxeas, a heretic of the second century, denying the Trinity, used, in consequence, one immersion only, baptizing into Christ and his death. Hence to impugn the trine immersion, and to use the single immersion in Baptism, became, a sign of heresy; and hence the importance and even the justice of this canon. Trine immersion was expressly commanded in the first book of Edwd. VI., and, I suppose, that trine affusion is generally practised, as it ought to be, to this day.

[22] I have already noted, in the use of lights in the day-time, a probable token of the conformity of the Church of England with the Eastern Church in the first ages, rather than with the Western Church at the same period: that is, of course, in things indifferent, for in all others the Ancient Church, of both languages, and our Church now fully agree. If I mistake not, the above-mentioned posture of the Greek Bishop suggests an exposition of a net unfrequent architectural device in our most ancient ecclesiastical buildings, which casts additional light on the same subject. The device I mean is that in which the Holy Trinity is symbolically represented with some varieties in the other figures, but not in the central figure, which represents the first person in the attitude of a Bishop giving a blessing after the Greek manner, i. e. with the right hand elevated, and the first, second, and fourth finger extended, the third finger being pressed inward with the thumb. A drawing of a Saxon door-way at Essendine, in Rutland, suggested this remark, and it is confirmed by the porch at Addle, near Leeds, in which the figure is, indeed, too much mutilated to shew the fingers distinctly, but in which the general attitude is clearly the same. Now the occupation of the See of Canterbury, by Theodore, an Eastern Prelate, who produced very great effects on the English Church, would amply account for this coincidence. Another indication, still more minute, occurs to me, in the shape which is still retained for the seals of Episcopal Sees, and which was once much more common in ecclesiastical devices in general. The oval with acute points, is only the rude reliquium of the figure of a fish, the old symbol for Jesus Christ: now this symbol is of Greek origin, being suggested by the word ICQUS (a fish) which is formed of the first letters of the titles of our Blessed Lord, Iesous Christos, Theou Huios, Soter.

[23] Lectures on the Establishment and Extension of National Churches, delivered in London from April 25 to May 12, 1838, by Thos Chalmers, D.D., Sec., p.p. 178, 179.

[24] The powerful hold which such principles have taken in many places, can only be attributed to the fact, that there was unconsciously in some, and in many unexcited and unformed, a deep-seated attachment to the Church, and a spirit entirely in harmony with her ritual, Some generations past, Archdeacon Hewitson thus expressed this feeling in his advice to Bishop Wilson, when that prelate was ordained deacon, (1686,) “Michael Hewitson advises his dear Thomas Wilson, in Church, always to behave himself reverently, nor ever to turn his back upon the altar in service time, nor on the minister when it can be avoided,—, to bow reverently at the name of Jesus whenever it is mentioned in any of the Church’s offices; to turn toward the East when the Gloria Patri and the Creeds are rehearsing; and to make obeisance at coming in and going out of the Church, and at going up to and coming down from the altar; which are all ancient, commendable, and devout usages, and which thousands of good people of our Church practice at this day, and amongst them, if he deserves to be reckoned amongst them, is Thomas Wilson’s dear friend.”

This exquisitely beautiful passage, which I have quoted from “The way which they call Heresy,” a sermon just published at Newcastle, by the Rev. G. A. Walker, expresses, I am sure, the feeling of “thousands of good people of our Church at this day.”

[25] That for instance before “the ministration of public baptism of infants, to be used in the church”: and that before the prayer for the Church Militant.

[26] The prayer “for the whole state of Christ’s Church Militant here on earth,” is seldom used except when there is a Communion, though the first rubric at the end of the Communion Service expressly appoints that it shall be used upon Sundays and other Holy-days. Why do not churchwardens present clerks for this and such like informalities?