Page images
PDF
EPUB

gious opinions. From some pre- the aid of Newcomb's Harmony. I vailing tenets of his fathers, he was have heard him more than once ex. inclined to dissent; on others his press the great pleasure and satisbelief was suspended; but he never faction which he derived from that settled, so far as I know, in any be. work. lief which President Dwight would We read of poets who had reach. have considered essentially errone- ed their full maturity at the age to ous. In many instances he admit- which our friend had attained, and ted the truth of a doctrine, but re- were never able to surpass the projected some of the arguments by ductions of their youthful muse. which it was usually defended. He But the intellectual powers of Prowas a firm believer in divine reve. fessor Fisher were not of this class. lation; and I cannot help thinking, Brilliancy is an attribute which may that the graces of religion had taken speedily acquire its utmost limits; deep root in the heart of one so but capacity and strength admit of constant in the performance of its indefinite enlargement. Mr. Fisher outward and sacred duties, and so possessed, in an unusual degree, the exemplary in the practice of its pure power and the habit of application, virtues. I have heard him mention which were necessary to augment the recurrence to his mind of those that capacity and strength beyond subjects on which he had been in any limits which we can assign. I tensely engaged during the week, as looked with the most sanguine exsevere temptations which he experi- pectations to a period when they enced on the Sabbath ; but I have would reach a consummation equalbeen acquainted with few scholars ed by few of his contemporaries. who devoted themselves so exclu. What peculiar reason, therefore, sively on that day to its sacred em- have we to deplore his untimely ployments. For his daily reading fate! in the Scriptures, his common rule Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus was two chapters. In perusing the Tam cari capitis? evangelists, it was his favorite meth.

Ergo Quintilium perpetuus sopor

Urget? cui Pudor et Justitia soror od to carry on together the different

Incorrupta Fides, nudaque Veritas, accounts of the same transaction by Quando ullum invenient parem?

THE LITURGY OF THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL

CHURCH IN AMERICA.

We are aware that in attempting appellation, that mar“ who are unto review the liturgy of the Protestant acquainted with it are beginning to Episcopal church, we shall awaken suppose that it is a summary of some jealousies, and perhaps bring evangelical doctrine to which no upon ourselves many denunciations. reasonable objection can be made, Inquiry concerning this work seems except the use of a perpetual form. to have been long since laid asleep; When therefore this objection is and it has been permitted to oc- by any means surmounted, nothcupy its place undisturbed as the ing remains to prevent their adoptritual of a respectable denomina- ing the liturgy as a convenient tion which uncharitableness alone vehicle of their public devotions. can call in question. It has so long It is supposed by some that if they been held forth as “our excellent get under the shadow of this liturgy liturgy” with no one to dispute the they can escape from all the agita

[ocr errors]

tions of the religious community, tain imposing effect which is misand enjoy the calm of repose. taken for devotional feeling; and They can be intrenched, as they the interest they may be induced to think, in this “form of sound words, take in the ceremonial appears to falsely so called, as we shall show them an interest in religion itself. by and by, where no heresies and Hence instead of worshiping the no angry discussions can reach invisible God, they have been unthem. The fact is, however, that consciously attracted by the parade no creeds or liturgies can hold men and show with which that service is in the truth if they only have the surrounded. Many there doubtless disposition to depart from it, or pre. are who, through the medium of vent agitation if life enough remains these forms, worship the Lord God to be conscious of error. There of our fathers in sincerity and truth, are among those who use this litur. in consequence of early associations gy as a formula of devotion, men and long continued habit. But of all theological parties, from the when they who have been accusstrict and pious Calvinist and the tomed to a simple mode of worship pious Arminian down to the So. -a mode in which nothing but God cinian and the Universalist. And is brought to the mind—become whatever the words of this formu. enamored of these forms, it should lary may be, each class find some be a matter of serious examination method of interpretation, or some whether they are not losing that love compromise with conscience, so as of God which is satisfied with apto use them without hesitation. proaching his gracious throne di

Those whose early associations rectly, without the assistance or inhave been formed in veneration of tervention of an imposing ritual. this liturgy may be wounded in their We are persuaded that the imposing feelings by seeing its merits dispu. effect of the Episcopal liturgy upon ted. But much as we should regret some minds, results not so much such a result of our labors, and far from the liturgy itself, as from the as we desire to be from speaking circumstances by which it is usually evil of any man, our regard for surrounded. Let the robes of the truth compels us to speak out the clergy be dropped ; let the various real convictions of our minds. In ceremonies of pomp and show be this age of liberty and of free dis- dispensed with ; let the splendid cussion, we hope that no instrument church and the splendid congregaof man's device is too sacred to ad. tion be absent; and let the simple mit of examination. We feel call. cave or upper chamber of the primed upon to speak freely, though we itive Christian, or the barn of the trust kindly, not so much for the western missionary be the place of benefit of our Episcopal brethren, worship; and how naked would the for we are not such novices in hu- liturgy appear! How inappropriman nature as to expect to convince ate and how absurd ! We have men who are already committed, as seen this exemplified in a country for the benefit of some in our own church hardly capacious enough to communion. We have observed hold two hundred persons, and that with pain a disposition in some not well filled, the clergyman not to leave the beautiful, simple, and deigning to change his dress, and apostolical churches of our ances- the people not instructed in the me. tors, to which all our free institutions chanical part of the services. The owe their existence, for the more entire absence of all the pomp and pompous forms of the British hier- circumstance of a large congrega. archy, not knowing, as we think, tion, the surplice, the organ, the whither they go. There is a cer- multitudinous uproar of many voi.

ces, and all the other regular wheels cupies a small space; and is so litof the machine, struck the mind tle in accordance with the overwith a sense of vacuity altogether whelming impressions of such a beyond description. We thought season, that it falls far short of the of the superiority of our own sim- subject. It is manifest that the auple worship, whose essential requi- thor drew it up in other circumstansites are present whether it is per- ces than those to which he would formed in a splendid church or in a apply it, and had no deep sense of log hut, whether it has a crowded the sympathies which would then assembly of fashionable people, or be excited and the bleeding hearts a small collection of plain men which would appear before God. dressed in the garb of the western

And this is the character, mutatis wilds. And this is precisely the mutandis, of nearly all the short effect of the primitive, apostolical prayers--concluded too in such a worship. These are precisely the uniform manner that no wave of circumstances in which it was fre. feeling is suffered to break the even quently performed.

surface of the waters. It would We have many objections to a seem as though the mere repetition stereotyped form of prayer as clog- of words, like the prescription in ging the free aspirations of the soul, the Romish manuals for so many and as ill suited to the varying exigen. paternosters and so many ave macies of human life which constantly rias, were the intention; for there arise. In prosperity or adversity; is no time for the heart to kindle amid the ravages of desolating sick before a stop is made, and a new ness; after fire or sword may have prayer begun. The total blank laid waste the land, or an earth which this liturgy presents, and quake have swallowed up multitudes which every liturgy must needs preof the people; or a tornado swept sent in regard to every great and over their habitations ; or some absorbing interest occasionally arisgreat and signal deliverance from ing, which ought to be made a subsuch evils may have been had ; in ject of prayer in the Christian asthe excitement of fear, or sorrow, sembly, creates a corresponding or joy ;—it is the same dead form. blank in the heart. It prevents the The great subject of absorbing in- full flow of feeling which the de. terest which fills the public mind vout worshiper would otherwise must have no place in the devotions possess.

While he muses on the of the sanctuary, unless the bishop subject which occupies his thoughts vouchsafe to send a prayer, as Bish- and those of the community, the op Onderdonk of New York did fire burns; but when he goes into during the prevalence of the chol. the house of God he finds nothing era in 1832. This may come too to meet the peculiar state of things. late. And when it comes it is laid It is all the same as if nothing had up in one corner of the service as happened. a mere appendix to the usual forms. We might object further, and say The chilling circumstance of its that a stereotyped form of prayer origin not in the heart of the sup- is contrary to inspired example ; all plicant, but in foreign prescription, the prayers recorded in the Scripgives an air of formality to it which tures being such as arose out of the well accords with the place to which occasion, and the Lord's prayer, the it is assigned, but destroys the whole only form given, being a mere modspirit with which a prayer should be el in opposition to the vain repetioffered. There is indeed a prayer tions of the heathen, and not a form in the book for “a time of great which there is any evidence the sickness and mortality," but it oc. Apostles ever used. A liturgy is contrary also to the usage of Chris- the clergy being had.* The reign tians in the earliest and purest ages of Edward was short, being only of the church. And moreover, this about six years.

The five years liturgy is a form established in an following were occupied by the age of comparative darkness, when reign of Mary, who restored the the church had hardly begun to put Popish forms, and repudiated the on her beautiful garments. But liturgy of Cranmer. When Elizanone of these points do we intend beth came to the throne, though to enlarge upon. Great as these from policy or education favorable objections are, other and weightier to the reformed religion, she was objections press upon our minds. very desirous of conciliating her Having been long familiar with the Popish subjects. Cranmer and Rid. liturgy of the Episcopal church, we ley, and the other devout men who deem it our duty and our privilege had begun to reform the liturgy in to give our opinion.

the days of King Edward, had been Before we proceed, however, we offered up a sacrifice to the Moloch beg leave to state a few facts in re- of Popery in the reign of Mary. gard to the origin of this liturgy. The same zeal for perfecting the All the reformers came to the know. liturgy, therefore, no longer perledge of the truth as might have vaded the councils of the church of been expected by degrees. During England. Elizabeth ordered the the reign of Henry VIII, when the liturgy of Edward to be used in the Papal authority was first cast off in churches, carefully expunging some England, the Romish liturgy con- of the passages which she appre. tinued in use. In the reign of his hended would be particularly offen. successor, Edward VI, Cranmersive to the Papists. The reformaand others made several important tion was now to be stopped just changes by which they intended to where it was; and the liturgy which reject the idolatry of Rome. At was composed in the incipient stages this time the church was confessed. of the Reformation, was now stereoly not fully reformed, but only in typed for all future time. Fixed the progress of reformation. The in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, clergy were extremely ignorant, very few of them being able to

* We constantly see in the writings of preach, and some of them hardly Episcopal divines the sayings of the able to read. On this account, Prayer-book quoted as the sayings of the homilies were composed which they she declares-she ordains-she requires-

church. The church says so and sowere commanded by the king's au

she expects-she approves, &c. &c. We thority to read in the churches, in- learn here who this lady' is. She is no stead of bringing forth their own

other than the British parliament. The crude notions in the way of preach- truly as the law of the Protestant succes;

Prayer-book is one of her acts just as ing. As they could not preach, they sion to the crown. This is "the church" could not pray to the edification of who speaks so authoritatively. the people; and therefore a form of + The following passage in the litany

of King Edward was stricken out by op prayer was as necessary as a form

der of Queen Elizabeth : “ From the ty. of preaching. The sources from

ranny of the Bishop of Rome and all his which Cranmer and his associates detestable enormities, good Lord deliver derived the liturgy, were certain Ro

us.” The rubric declaring that by kneel. mish missals, such as Sarum, York, intended to the corporeal presence of

ing at the sacrament no adoration was Hereford, Bangor, and Lincoln. Christ, was also stricken out. This howThe liturgy thus composed, was ever was restored in the reign of Charles sanctioned by act of Parliament Jan. 11, but it is not in the American Prayer15, 1548, no less than eight bishops rans, Vol. I, pp. 177 and 376, edition 1816,

book. (See Neal's History of the Puriprotesting, but no convocation of Newburyport.)

a

when every thing was unsettled, this Wednesday, Lent, Good Friday, is the work which in England has Easter, &c. &c. We find also St. continued with no material alteration Andrew's day, St. Thomas's day, unchanged to the present day, and St. Stephen's, St. John's, St. Mark's, in this country has had few altera- St. Matthew's, St. Bartholomew's, tions, except in accommodation to &c. &c. And though some of the the change of political institutions. saints' days of the Romish ritual In the time of Cranmer, the public are omitted, abundant compensation mind was unprepared to dispense is made for the omission by the with a liturgy, as such a mode of appointment of All Saints' day. worship had been long in use. It So if they should fail of paying was the progress of religious know. due honor to any one saint, this ledge and of freedom which induced comprehensive day may atone for the Puritans to pray themselves, in- it. To say nothing of the Popish stead of using other men's prayers. system of canonizing particular perWhether Cranmer and his asso- sons, as though John, or Matthew, ciates, had they lived, would have or Stephen, were any more a saint proceeded to a farther reformation than other Christians, this part of of the liturgy, or whether they the Prayer-book is plainly contrary would have dispensed with a liturgy to Protestantism, and contrary to entirely, is a subject on which there scripture. What authority can be will be different opinions. One produced for setting apart particular thing is certain, that the liturgy as days with special services, in referit now is, was established under the ence to men of like passions with supreme influence of a sovereign ourselves ? And if the birth of who was a jealous guardian of the Christ was intended to be celebraroyal prerogative, and quite willing ted rather than his whole work of to retain every relic of Popery which redemption, why is there no hint in could be reconciled with her own the Bible whereby we can detersupremacy. That a work which mine the day? And why is it a had its origin in such circumstances matter of perfect uncertainty, with should serve as a directory of wor- all the lights of history, upon what ship in this enlightened age, in the day that event fell? So also we progress of missionary enterprise, may inquire for the significancy of in the multiplication of revivals of Advent? If it celebrates the comreligion, and in the dawn of the ing of Christ, as the word would millennium ; and especially that it seem to imply, what advance does should satisfy those who have known it make upon the views which we how to worship God in a manner receive from the Bible concerning which admits a free expression the coming of the long promised of feeling in accordance with the Messiah? Why should “Epiphachange of times, the spirit of the ny, or the manifestation of Christ to age, and the maturity of the church, the Gentiles,” be made a particular is to us a matter both of regret and feast, when that idea is fundamensurprise.

tal to the very existence of the gosAs the book was compiled in the pel, and is held forth in every exhiinfancy of Protestantism, when Po- bition of Christ which is made to pery was for the most part the reli- the people? What is accomplished gion of the people, there is a great in the work of man's salvation by accommodation to the latter religion Ash Wednesday, Lent, Good Friin its general arrangement. Hence day? Is any impression created we find not only Christmas provid- by this long fast more lasting or ed for without any scriptural author- practical than by the ordinary ity, but Advent, Epiphany, Ash preaching of the gospel ? What Vol. I.

60

« PreviousContinue »