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“We can discover, even in the most permanent societies, and most tranquil seasons, processes carried on which tend to separate man from
“ Now, that distressing many of the Clergy, and keeping out of churches good Christians and faithful citizens; that making parties in the
If, together with these alterations, the Epistles,
It has been thought necessary to prefix a brief explanation of the Table of Sunday Lessons, on account of its frequent connexion with the proposed transpositions of several Collects, Epistles, and Gospels. The reader will observe, that the Lessons are so arranged as to associate with the Sunday Services, the whole of the most interesting portions of the Scripture History. The first Lessons, from Christmas to Quinquagesima, with those of the five Sundays after Easter, comprise the principal moral and ceremonial exhortations of the Old Testament ; and those in Lent, the promises and warnings of Deuteronomy, contrasted with the Lamentations of Jeremiah ; and the most striking denunciations of the prophets. The second Lessons, from Advent to Trinity, contain the evangelic history of our Saviour Christ, from his Incarnation to his Ascension ; and the subsequent descent of the Holy Spirit.
A distinct portion of the Sacred Annals, commences with the first Sunday after Trinity; the Lessons for that day, with the proper Psalms, Epistle, and Gospel will form an annual commemoration of the Creation.' The succeeding first Lessons contain the principal events of four periods of the Jewish History ; while the second Lessons carry on the account of the propagation of the Gospel, and the Epistolary commentaries of the Apostles. The Ecclesiastical Year concludes in the service of the Sunday before Advent,' with the most impressive references to the last judgement, and the consummation of all things.
It hath been the wisdom of the Church of England, ever since the first compiling of her public Liturgy, to keep the mean between the two extremes-of too much stiffness in refusing, and too much easiness in admitting any variation from it. For as, on the one side, common experience sheweth, that where a change hath been made of things advisedly established, (no evident necessity so requiring) sundry inconveniences have thereupon ensued; and those many times more and greater than the evils that were intended to be remedied by such change. So, on the other side, the particular Forms of Divine Worship, and the Order appointed to be used therein, being things in their own nature indifferent and alterable, and so acknowledged; it is but reasonable, that upon weighty and important considerations, according to the various exigency of times and occasions, such changes and alterations should be made therein, as to those that are in place of authority should seem either necessary or expedient.
Accordingly we find, that in the reigns of several princes of glorious memory, since the Reformation, the Church, upon just and weighty considerations her thereunto moving, hath yielded to make such alterations in some particulars, as should be thought requisite for the case of tender consciences, and in their respective times were thought convenient. Yet so, as that the main body and essentials of it (as well in the chiefest materials, as in the frame and order thereof) have still continued the same unto this day, and do yet stand firm and unshaken. Our general aim, therefore, in this undertaking, was, to do that which to our best understanding we conceived might most tend to the preservation of peace and unity in the Church: the procuring of reverence, and exciting of piety and devotion in the public worship of God; and the cutting off occasions of schism on account of the Liturgy of the Church. In the which review we have endeavoured to observe the like moderation, as we find to have been used in the like case in former times; always avoiding such alterations as were of dangerous consequence, or striking at some established doctrine, or laudable practice of the Church of Christ. For granting some Form and Order convenient to be had, surely where the old may
well be used, we ought rather to have reverence unto them for their antiquity, and be more studious of unity and concord, than of innovations and perpetual change, which (as much may be with true setting forth of Christ's religion) is always to be avoided.