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Neuchatel, the translator and commentator of the French Bible. Published first in 1713, this liturgy has been in use ever since, among the churches of that canton of Switzerland.
We come now to speak of the action of that Church from which, more immediately, our own branch of Presbyterianism has sprung, with reference to a provision for the public ordinances of religion. It was in 1559 that John Knox, returning from an exile spent chiefly in the city of Geneva, at the feet of his friend and teacher, Calvin, brought with him to Scotland a version of the Genevan Liturgy. He had already been in the habit of using it as the order of worship among the English congregations in that city. This form of service he at once submitted to the General Assembly for adoption; and, by order of that supreme ecclesiastical authority, it was commanded to be printed, being “thought necessary and profitable for the Church.” In 1560 it was directed that "the Sacraments should be administered” after the “Book of our Common Order;" and again, that“ a uniform order should be kept in the ministration of the sacraments, &c., according to the Kirk of Geneva." The formulary thus adopted, continued in more or less extensive use until the period of the Assembly of Divines, who met at Westminster in the year 1643, for the purpose of preparing a common Confession of Faith, Order of Discipline, and Form of Worship for the Churches of Great Britain.
The enactments of the Church of Scotland, during the period of her freedom from the yoke of Prelacy, were
very explicit in relation to her adopted and prescribed forms of worship. We find them referred to, again and again, in the proceedings of the General Assemblies. It was ordered that no alterations or additions be made in the established forms; that readers be required to confine themselves to the appointed modes of prayer; that ministers provide themselves with that Order in prayer and administration of sacraments. The same formulary was, in 1567, by order of the Assembly, translated into Gaelic, for the use of the northern Churches. In 1620, a Scottish clergyman speaks of it as the only “ warrantable form directed or approven by the Kirk," and habitually used. It is stated by a contemporary writer, that as late as 1648, the Knoxian Liturgy continued to be the common ritual of the Church.
The laws of the Church of Scotland, on this subject, have never been repealed; nor has any rejection of this ancient Presbyterian Liturgy occurred in her legislation. It has never, indeed, appeared that there even existed a dis position to cast aside these forms, of which various editions were published—undoubtedly in accordance with the demands of the Church_down to the very year in which the Assembly at Westminster commenced its sittings.
It may seem to militate against this view of the high esteem in which, thus far, the Book of Common Order was held, that the Westminster Assembly should have promulgated a new form of worship, which at once superseded the use of the older one. But, taking into consideration the project with which the transactions of that body were
connected, it is easy to conceive that this change should have been made, and concurred in by the Church of Scotland, in hope of the benefits of an extensive agreement and conformity, to be realized upon the adoption of an entirely new platform. This project of a “Uniformity in Religion” was divulged in the Solemn League and Covenant, agreed upon in 1543 by commissioners of the Church of Scotland, and by the Parliament and the Assembly of Divines in England, and afterward subscribed by great numbers of the people of both countries. One of the articles of that document binds the subscribers to “ endeavour to bring the Churches of God, in the three kingdoms, to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, confession of faith, form of Church government, directory for worship, and catechising."
A little before the meeting of the Assembly, in 1641, the Scottish Book of Common Order was reprinted at London, in abridged form, and presented to the most high court of Parliament.” A second edition of this work appeared during the session of that body, in 1643, with a similar dedication. There can be little doubt that these reprints were procured with a view to the adoption of the Scottish formulary by Parliament, as the established order of worship under the new state of things. Such probably was also the design of “ The new Book of Scotland,” issued in 1644; another synopsis of Knox's Liturgy. And although, from the fact that the records of the Assembly have been destroyed, it is difficult to trace the influences that may have operated in the preparation of the new
We find pas
Directory, there are plentiful evidences in that work itself, that the old liturgy was not ignored or rejected by its framers; nay, that it was to be, to some extent at least, incorporated with the Assembly's book. sages where even the language of Knox's ritual is
proserved; while the method is almost always the same.*
Here the record of Presbyterian usage, in the matter of written forms of worship, must end. From the statements that have been made, it will be seen, that this historic testimony of the Church stands unmistakably in favor of a discretionary use of the “best helps” that can be obtained for the performance of Divine services. At the time of the Reformation, each of the various national branches of Presbyterianism adopted a liturgy. To this fact, there is not a solitary exception. And further, with but one exception, each of the national Presbyterian Churches of Europe has retained, down to the present day, with greater or less modification, its particular liturgy. The Church of Scotland, which for a hundred years had preserved these written forms, finally laid them aside, not of her own choice and preference, but in concession to a plan of uniformity with other Churches, in the use of a common Directory for Worship.
The adoption of a liturgy is peculiarly consonant with the spirit and usage of the Presbyterian Church. That a body, characterized by strict and scrupulous adherence to established formulas of doctrine and discipline, should make full provision for the proper celebration of
* See Appendix.
worship, appears most suitable and natural. And although, in the Church of Scotland, bitter enmity to forms of prayer has long existed, arising out of arbitrary attempts to enforce an obnoxious liturgy, in times of civil commotion, there has never been a single enactment of our Church to forbid or condemn the introduction or revival of this her former practice. It is a fact of no little meaning, that when the Presbyterian Church in this country was organized on a national basis, there was a proposal, on the part of influential Divines, to introduce a discretionary form of public prayer. Such a form was prepared, printed, and presented for approval to the Synod, by a committee duly appointed, and was advocated by some of the most distinguished ministers of the period, among others, by the late venerable Ashbel Green, D.D. In the present volume, some extracts from that work will be found.
We pass from this survey of the history of the Reformed Liturgies, to a brief examination of their structure. Modelled after no complicated forms produced by slow accumulation in previous ages, this order of worship is at once distinguished for the simplicity and the logical perfection of its arrangement. A sentence of Invocation, upon the utterance of which the people rise, begins the ordinary service of the Lord's Day. The Law is then rehearsed; and the worshipper, having heard its requirements, is invited to draw near, and acknowledge his sins before God. Then the Gospel declaration of forgiveness is announced, for the comfort of the contrite believer. This penitential office is preliminary and preparatory to the act of Praise