Project Canterbury




Ritual Observances.




S. Barnabas' Church, Pimlico,












Text provided by Dr. Miriam Burstein, 2006.


"Jesus said, I am the good Shepherd."--S. John x. 11.

Our Blessed Lord has represented Himself to us in several characters, and has likened Himself to things on the earth, in order that we may the better realize the fulness and variety of His work on our behalf.--Thus, under the similitude of a "Vine," He teaches us the need of unity, even while the branches of His Church are distinct one from another. All radiate from Him--all centre in Him--all draw their life out of Him. If sin, of whatsoever kind it be, check the even flow of grace which springs up in Him, and nourishes us, then the branch is dried up and withered--it bears no fruit, it is cut down, and cast into the fire and burned. So again as the "Door." He would have us learn that it is by Him only we can enter into the fold. Many attempt to climb up "some other way"--one man thinking that his good deeds, and respectable character, is to save him;--another, that a vague, unmeaning, unfruitful belief in our Lord's existence, is to stand him in good stead;--another, that his own religious system, (whatever it may be,) so long as it is what men call "conscientiously held," will protect him against God's wrath; but He would [3/4] teach us that our religion, if it is to please Him, must be His religion. It must be that which was taught by Him, and received and handed down by His Apostles,--and it will be no excuse that we were "conscientious," if we have not taken care that our conscience, is rightly informed--otherwise, what do the words "heresy" and "schism" mean? Are there no such things as conscientious heretics? or do these words only signify any person who is not conscientious?--the same as a hypocrite, or a worldling. No; a heretic may be conscientious and sincere in his heresy, and yet be a heretic:--not have entered in by the door, but made himself his own door. Korah and his company were perfectly conscientious, and highly respectable, but they were not the less surely swallowed up, as an example of God's hatred of schism. But they who do indeed enter in by the door,--who submit themselves in all things to the will of Christ, putting down their own will, and offering it up as a reasonable and willing sacrifice to Him,--these shall go in and out and find pasture;--they shall see how full, and satisfying, and self-convincing, is that faith which Jesus came on earth to bring, and His followers died to maintain--they shall learn from their own experience how sweet these pastures are, with which His sheep are fed. How all things lend their aid to build them up, as a temple meet for His indwelling! How pregnant are those words of consolation to the troubled and perplexed,--"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out M the mouth of GOD."

[5] But of all these comparisons, there is none so touching as that contained in our text,--"I am the good Shepherd"--the wanderer reclaimed--the lost sheep found--the tender, loving Shepherd "gathering the lambs with His arms, carrying them in His bosom, and gently leading" the weak and weary--"giving power to the faint, and to them that have no might, increasing strength"--finding out for them the pastures most suited to the wants of each,--ever near them with the cool shadow of His mercy, and the flowing waters of His love, and last of all laying down His life for them, that He might feed them with His Flesh and Blood.--Such is, in some sort, the picture that He would bring before us. Such is what the early Christians loved to dwell upon. The Good Shepherd was ever present with them in their hearts, as this His work of mercy was displayed on the walls of their sanctuary, in the dark caverns to which persecution drove them. And as love is the prevailing-feature in our Lord's character of the good shepherd, for "greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends:" so must love for Him, and consequently for His sheep, be the prevailing motive with those to whom He, the Chief Shepherd, commits them in charge. "Simon, Son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?" was three times asked of Peter, as if to test his fitness to feed the flock, for which His Master had shed His blood.

And what then is the test by which the good shepherd is distinguished from the bad? By giving, if needs be, his life for the sheep. And when is it that [5/6] he is called upon to stand firm, and do battle for them? When the wolf cometh, and would make an inroad and scatter them. Then does the hireling flee, because he careth not for them. Then does the true shepherd protect his sheep, and stand by them, and encourage them in His strength Who hath subdued all things under His feet. And who is the wolf but Satan, and they who do his work? When open vice and wickedness show themselves and are let alone, unchecked, then does the hireling flee, and the wolf scatter the sheep. When coldness and worldliness--indifference to religion, and opposition to all that is vital and practical, and that clashes with the world--when this is rife among us, and for fear of offending those in high places, the shepherds keep silence, or cry "Peace, peace," when there is no peace,--then do they act as hirelings, and the wolf scattereth the deserted sheep.

The Church, when she has done her Lord's work, has always been in antagonism with the world.--Christians, when they have been true servants of the crucified Jesus, have always been hated by the world. He Himself says, "If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; because you are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you." If, therefore, the world hate us not, it is because we are not opposed to it, but are "of it." "Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you, for so did their fathers unto the false prophets."

At this moment, my Brethren, an attempt is being made to stir up both hatred and opposition against [6/7] the Church in this place, as has often been the case elsewhere, on similar grounds. But we, your shepherds, purpose, by God's assistance, to stand firmly by you and by the Church, and we have full confidence that you will stand by us. This opposition to the Church is never shown, except when she is making herself heard. So long as she is silent, or joins in with the clamour of the world, all is well, and she is tolerated; but when she makes herself heard and felt, then Mammon resents it. It is therefore a most hopeful and blessed thing to be opposed by the worldly and careless. It shows that God's work is going on.

There was the same opposition to the revival which took place in the last generation, when many good and zealous men protested, both with their lips and in their lives, against the practical denial of righteousness and judgment to come, which then well-nigh overwhelmed the land; and bravely did they rescue the Word of God from its threatened oblivion. Strange it is, that they should have so far forgotten God's dealings with themselves then, as to join so readily with their former foes--the evil-liver, the blasphemer, the careless, the worldling--in opposing themselves to God's work which has been done, and is daily doing amongst ourselves now. But let us calmly look at our ground, that we may have a reason to give of the hope that is in us, as well as for those practices which draw down upon us so much hatred.

Now, first of all, the cry against us is not ostensibly on behalf of Satan.--Men do not say, "We wish to indulge unchecked and unwarned in the lusts of the [7/8] flesh--we desire to make money-getting the chief object of our lives--we do not care to act up to our responsibilities, and we will not be reminded of them--we choose to be indifferent about our souls--and we hate the Church because she forces the thought of God upon us, and we cannot escape from it;--but they say "You are Papists in disguise!"--just as in the last century they called men who were in earnest, "Methodists in disguise." You see then that the wolves do not come to us as wolves, but as sheep jealous of God's honor. Now our Lord has given us a rule to go by in this case. He tells us that the emissaries of Satan will come in "sheep's clothing," who shall inwardly be all the while "ravening wolves;" and He says "By their fruits ye shall know them." If, therefore, we find that the lives of these men will not bear investigation, which is very often the case,--those who are the most notorious evil-livers, complaining the most loudly of their wounded spiritual perceptions,--then we may at once settle that they are wolves in sheep's clothing--and trust our cause to God. Again, there are some, who, while they are avowedly members of other religious bodies, or are indifferent to all religions alike, yet profess the greatest zeal for what they call "our Protestant Church!"--the mockery of which profession is shown in this, that when they had the power,--as was lately the case in a leading mercantile city in the North,--they refused altogether to rate themselves for the support of that Church, which certainly there at least, cannot be accused of being other than what they themselves [8/9] profess so much to admire, and would fain have us to imitate. But there are others to whom this test of bad fruit in evil lives will not apply. Some good and holy persons,--many from whom we should do well to take example--echo the same cry; and it is for the sake of these last, that it is desirable we should understand our ground of faith and practice, so as to disarm conscientious objections, and satisfy honest scruples.

Now our chief ground, my Brethren, is this. We claim a right to worship ALMIGHTY GOD according, to the teaching of the English Church, and the practice of ancient times, as founded upon Holy Scripture--in other words, we claim religious liberty.

The Prayer Book tells us to use public prayer every morning and evening:--we have sworn to obey the Prayer Book, and we do use daily public prayer accordingly. We use the whole service in the manner and at the times appointed.--Are we dishonest for so doing? or are not those rather, who have promised like ourselves, but do not perform, as we endeavour to do?

But then it will be said by some, "You have sundry processions, and bowings--and you have a cross--and you separate the clergy from the people--and you have different altar-cloths for different seasons--and you have flowers on the festivals--and you have chanting;--all these things are contrary to the Protestant faith, and so you are Romanists in disguise."

Now first of all, my Brethren, let us face this bugbear of Romanism. If our adversaries charge us, your clergy, with being secretly inclined towards the [9/10] Church of Rome, I will merely say that with those who know us and our teaching, the charge refutes itself; and as for those who do not know us, I would, in all affection, entreat them to remember that God's anger is greatly kindled by the breach of his ninth commandment, and that we are taught as children "to keep our tongues from evil-speaking, lying, and slandering"--a lesson which it would be well if many of us remembered after the days of our childhood had passed away.

Believe me, Dearly Beloved, that they are most surely doing the work of the Church of Rome, who would put down all life and reality in the Church of England, and exhibit her as a state-bound sect, frozen up in chilling coldness, with hebdomadal worship--taking for her standard, not God's truth, but the respectability of this world, and the fashion of the time.

They are her truest children, who would set her forth in the full beauty of Catholic devotion, which ever has been, and is now,their birthright, and in, which alone she can stand, amid the perils that encompass her.

But as to the general charge which is thought so unanswerable, of this or that practice being identical with those which prevail in the Roman Church--What if it is? Would you discontinue the use of the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer, and the Psalms, and the Gospels, or the surplice, and hymns, and preaching, and prayers, because the Romanists use them too? Do you know that your Reformed Prayer [10/11] Book is taken almost entirely from the English Prayer Book in use in Roman times?--that which was Catholic being retained,--that which was new being left out. Do you disallow fasting, because the Roman Catholics fast? or if you do, as is too often the case, (and so act in opposition to the order of your Church,) do you think feasting on Sunday superstitious, because the Roman Catholics feast on that day? If both the Church of England and the Church of Rome have come down in regular uninterrupted succession from Apostolic times--of which there cannot be any doubt, how is it possible but that they must be alike in all things, except where the Roman Church has unhappily corrupted the Primitive teaching and practice. The Church, my Brethren, is one--and all that is Catholic is common to every true branch of that one vine. The Church of England, therefore, being not new, but Apostolic, is essentially the same as that of Rome without her errors, or she is no Church at all. What we have to satisfy ourselves about therefore is,--not whether a custom among ourselves be like a Roman custom or not, (which has nothing to do with the question of truth or falsehood,) but whether it embodies a Roman error or not.

Having therefore set this clearly before you, I will now go into the several points objected to. And first as to processions of those engaged in the service of God. S. Paul tells us all things are to be done "decently and in order." Our own sense of what is orderly, which was implanted in us by GOD, tells us that on solemn occasions, what are called "processions" [11/12] best, express, or show forth, out feelings of reverence and solemnity--and so we have "state processions," "court processions," and "funeral processions":--and do you grudge God "Church processions?"

Again, as to bowing.--Holy Scripture says, "At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow." [Phil. ii. 10.] At that Name therefore we bow, as the 18th Canon of our Church directs.

Holy Scripture says, that those who now praise God in heaven "fall down before Him" as they do so. [Rev. iv. 10, 11.] The Levites, when "they sang praises, bowed their heads,"3 Our own instinct tells us, that what we feel in our hearts we must show by our actions; and therefore, when we sing "God save the Queen" we stand up and uncover our heads, in token of respect. [2 Chron. xxix. 30.] Is it, then unreasonable, that when we ascribe praise to the most Holy and Awful Trinity, we should express, by bowing our heads, that we feel our deep unworthiness; to glorify His great Name--"in Whose sight no; man living is justified." [By the ancient Canon law, still binding, it is ordered, "As often as the 'Gloria Patri' is said, the people are humbly to bow to God (humiliter se inclinare)."--(Wilkins, iii. 20.)--This custom is very generals among the poor throughout the country, and is observed by the charity children at the annual festival, in, the Metropolitan Church of S. Paul.]

The-Cross is the symbol of our salvation;--it was signed: upon us in Holy Baptism:--Can we be too often reminded by it, whose servants we are? He is a bad soldier who is ashamed of his colors;--he is a bad Christian who is ashamed' of the cross:--let us rather say with S. Paul, "God forbid that I should [12/13] glory, save in the cross of our LORD JESUS CHRIST." [Gal. iv. 14.]

Then why do we bow as we approach God's altar? Because we believe our Lord's promise, that "He is present in His congregation." [S. Matt. xviii. 20.] We find in the account of His appearing in the tabernacle, "that when the people saw the glory of God in the Holy Place, they fell down on their faces and worshipped." [Levit. ix. 23, 24.] S. John tells us in the Revelations, that now in the Christian Church, "The Tabernacle of God is with men." [Rev. xxi. 3; quoted by Irenaeus advers. Haeres., lib. iv. c. 34.] We find that in heaven the Slain Lamb lies ever on the altar, before the throne. [Rev. v. 6.] We believe that the Slain Lamb, even our Blessed Lord, Who has promised to be with us in this place, is supernaturally present on the altar of His Church below, as we know He is naturally in His Church above. [Wilberforce on Holy Eucharist--Chrysos. Hom. 16 in 1 Cor., at de Sacerd.:--Euseb. Orat. de Die Dom.] We worship Him Who is invisible, because we believe in Him, as He is worshipped by the Church in heaven. [Rev. v 14.]

It has pleased Almighty God to dwell not only in heaven, but with-men; as David says, "Sing praises to the Lord, Who dwelleth in Zion." [Ps. ix. 11.] And the place where He is is holy; and our consciousness that it is so, is to be shown by our acts; and so Moses took off his shoes, because "the place" was "holy."

Amongst other memorials of God's presence, such [13/14] as the Tabernacle, the Ark, and the Temple, the Altar was specially holy. God said to Moses,--"An altar of earth shalt thou make Me: in all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee." [Exod. xx. 24.] And again--"It shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy." [Exod. xxix. 37.] The altar then being most holy, because it was especially the memorial of God's presence;--our altar now is "most holy," because it is the memorial of Christ's presence--being the place where we offer the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist, "in remembrance," or as a memorial of Him, "showing His Death." David speaking of being brought near to God, says, "Bring me to Thy dwelling, and that I may go to the altar of God;" [Ps. xliii. 3, 4.] and again, "I will wash mine hands in innocency, and so will I go to thine altar," [Ps. xxvi. 6.] i.e. "to meet Thee;"--and so Jeremiah complains that in His wrath God had ceased to be present among His people,--"The Lord hath cast off His altar;" [Lam. ii. 7.] and our Lord warning men not to appear before God in a state of malice, says, "If thou bring thy gift to the altar," &c.; [S. Matt. v. 23.] and the priests, when directed to intercede with God, are desired to "weep between the porch and the altar," as the place where God is. [Joel ii. 57.] You testify to the holiness of the church, by uncovering your heads. Why is it strange that we should testify to the holiness of the altar, where God's presence is, by bowing our heads as we approach? David says, [14/15] "O magnify the Lord our God, and fall down before His footstool, for He is holy." [Ps. xcix. 5.] Bishop Jeremy Taylor says--"Our altar is a mercy-seat, because Christ is on it." [On Reverence due to the Altar, p. 31.] "Christians always performed their most solemn devotions at the altar." [Greg. Nazianz. Orat. 2 in laud. Gorgon.] "The altar, or holy table, is the seat of Christ's Body and Blood," says S. Chrysostom: therefore, if the ground was holy where God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, the altar is holy, which is the seat of the Son of God. [Hom. 21 in 2 Cor.] "The angels stand by the priest, and the place is filled in honor of Him that lies on the altar." [Hom. 36 in 1 Cor.] It is frequently called "God's chair of state; the tabernacle of Christ's glory." S. Gregory speaks of persons "falling down with faith before the altar, and bowing their heads." [Greg. Naz. Orat. 2 de Sorore Gorgon.]

Let us then, my Brethren, not be ashamed to follow the practice of the Jewish and the Christian Church, as well as the injunction of our own, ["We therefore think it very meet, and heartily commend it unto, all good and well-affected people, that they be ready to tender unto the Lord, the said acknowledgment of doing reverence and obedience both at their coming in and going out of the said churches, chancels, or chapels, according to the most ancient custom of the Primitive Church in the purest times, and of this Church also."--Canon 7, 1640: (quoted in Bishop of London's Charge, 1842, pp. 44, 45.] in obedience to the command of Almighty God, "Ye shall reverence [15/16] My Sanctuary, I am the Lord." [Levit. xix. 30.] Bowing, not to the material fabric, but in honor of Him who is there present.

We separate the Clergy from the rest of the congregation, because S. Paul tells us that God has set divers orders in His Church; [Ephes. iv. 11, 12.] and where there are divers orders, they should be distinguished by their position,--as in the things of this world;--and accordingly we find that God's priests have ever stood between Him and His people; [Exod. xix. 24; Numb, xviii. 14; Joel ii. 17; Acts xiii. 2.] as their "Ministers," and "His Ambassadors," acting in "His stead;"--yea, in "His Person." [1 Cor.iv. 1. 2 Cor. v. 20. Ibid. 2 Cor. ii. 10.]--Which separation is ordered by our own Church. ["The chancels (railed places) shall remain as they have done in times past."--1st Rubric in Prayer Book.]

We offer flowers, because God has declared to the Jews, who are "one fold" with us, His pleasure in the fruits of His own earth. They were ordered to bring "a sheaf of the first fruits," [Levit. xxiii. 10, 11.] and we shrink from using God's gifts for our own enjoyment and gratification, and not offering Him of His own, and so sanctifying them to our use; and again we deck His altar differently at different times, to teach by the eye as well as by the ear, the various seasons of the Church's joy or mourning, as does the world, in her way, express by dress, her grief and her rejoicing.

We find that His priests and singers stood before [16/17] Him in His temple, "clothed in white," and sang His praises; and therefore we do as they did; following the example of the heavenly hosts and of His Church throughout the world. [2 Chron. v. 11, 12.]

We ornament the House of God, because He poured out His Spirit upon men in old times to give them skill so to do. [Exod. xxxi. 2, 3.] He has once declared His will upon this point--When did he ever revoke it?

Solomon's temple built by His command, and filled with His glory, was exceeding magnificent.

That temple was no mean place in which our Blessed Lord loved to be--for which He showed His zeal, when He drove out those who profaned it, and in which His Apostles were daily worshippers. The Christian Church, so soon as their persecution would permit, reared to Him buildings not inferior in splendour and magnificence;--and so has the Church ever done, till within three centuries, when zeal and self-denial gave way to lust, and avarice, and sacrilege. But as Hooker says, "Touching God Himself, hath He anywhere revealed that it is His pleasure to dwell beggarly?--.....when the stateliest places and things in the whole world were sought out to adorn His temple." [Eccl. Pol. 5, § 15.] God has shown us in the Revelations, what is the character of that worship which is now being carried on in heaven.

How different is the spirit of those who are bountiful towards themselves, and niggard towards Him, from his, who in reverence for God, uttered this complaint, [17/18]--"See now I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth between curtains;" [2 Sam. vii. 2.] or from her's, who, in her burning love for her dear Lord, broke the alabaster box, and anointed Him with precious ointment. She gave Him of her best, because she loved much; and her sins--which were many, were forgiven, for her much love--but Judas said, "Wherefore was this waste?" God grant us the love of David and of Mary Magdalene--and keep us from the spirit of Judas!

And now, Brethren, I have given you reasons, taken from Scripture and from common sense, for our practices. They are no histrionics, but the natural and legitimate expression of earnest feeling, sanctioned by Catholic usage. If I am told that all this is contrary to the "Protestant faith," I can only answer that I know not what the "Protestant faith" is, unless it be a comprehensive system of mere negation--for Protestants, as represented by the Jews and Socinians, disbelieve in our Lord's Divinity; ["Mr. Keyser said, 'Although a Member of the Jewish Persuasion, he had left a sick bed in order to attend that meeting and join in the protest against the aggressions upon the Protestant faith.'"--(Evening Mail, No. 12, 621.) Mr. Alderman Salomons ('also a Member of the Jewish Persuasion), in common with other citizens, expressed in an Address to the Crown, his "deep anxiety" for the welfare of "our Reformed National Church," about whose security, he was also pleased to evince considerable apprehension.--(Times, Dec. 11, 1860.)] as represented by the Lutherans, they love crucifixes and chanting, and [18/19] flowers and altar-lights, and chasubles, and the wafer, and a gorgeous ceremonial; while the Protestant Mormonites rejoice in a plurality of wives! So that it is difficult to define the amount of belief or unbelief indulged in by the consistent Protestant. ["Mr. G. Dawson said, 'He was such an out-and-out Protestant, that he belonged to no Church at all.'"--(Times, Dec. 12, 1850.)] But let us hold fast to our Church, who nowhere calls herself "Protestant," because she is "Catholic;" purged from error, and providentially preserved from any material mutilation by Puritanism--holding that "Catholic faith, which, except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved." We seek to follow the true principles of worship, as declared in Holy Scripture, by God, Who "changeth not," (as men seem to think,) but is "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."

We appeal to all candid persons for support in our battle for religious liberty. We have an open church,--free to all, rich and poor alike, daily and all day;--we ask for no church-rates.--Our own people support their church, and us--and out of their alms relieve the wants of all, without distinction of sect. We ask for liberty to worship God according to our conscience, and as is allowed by the laws of this Church and realm--we appeal to our crowded congregations--to the numbers who assembled here during the Holy Season just past, and to those who assemble here daily--to the 900 communicants who knelt at the altar on Easter-day,--to prove that our professions [19/20] are not hollow and unreal. We appeal to the justice of our countrymen, who will not in the end allow themselves to be misled by unmeaning accusations of treachery and dishonesty--we appeal to the law against any unconstitutional interference with our liberty--an issue which has hitherto been always evaded;--and oh! we appeal to you--each one of you, my Brethren--to search well your own consciences, as God will search them in that awful day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed. See why it is you mislike too earnest, too real, too obtrusive a religion. Is it because it jars with worldliness? Think, I pray you, on our Lord's words, "I know my sheep, and am known of mine." Do you know Him indeed?--Does He know you?--Is He reigning supreme in your heart?--Does His still, small voice, call you by your name,--and do you answer?--Ask yourself. Fight not for the world and Satan.--Fight not against Christ and His Church--for you will fight in vain:--"no weapon formed against Her shall prosper." The princes of the earth, and the people together, may rage, and swell, and clamour;--but be ye sure of this--both ye that love your Lord, and ye that love Him not--that against His Church the gates of hell shall never prevail.

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