Imatges de pÓgina

learned and pious men who had escaped the stake by flying for refuge to foreign countries, once more revisited their native land, and, under the direction of the queen, renewed the glorious work of the Protestant reformation. Great caution, however, was still requisite. The desire of the reformers was to embrace as large a portion of the nation as possible under the established reformed religion; and with this view they did not at first so steadfastly adhere to the strict doctrines of the reformed churches of the continent, as might have been expected, but gave way a little to suit those prejudices and opinions which time alone could entirely eradicate. It was under this spirit that many things inserted in Edward's liturgy were now placed on a different footing.

"It was proposed to have the communion book so contrived that it should not exclude the belief of the corporeal presence; for the chief design of the queen's council was, to unite the nation in one faith, and the greatest part of the nation continued to believe in such a presence. Hereupon the rubric that explained the reason for kneeling at the sacrament: 'That thereby no adoration is intended to any corporeal presence of Christ's natural flesh and blood,' was now omitted. The expression used at the delivery of the elements as in King Edward's liturgy, was as follows: The body or blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve thy body or

[ocr errors]

soul unto everlasting life." These words had been left out in his second liturgy, as favouring the corporeal presence too much, and the following was substituted for the bread: "Take, and eat this, in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving:"-and for the wine: "Drink this in remembrance that Christ's blood was shed for thee, and be thankful." But now both these expressions were joined into one, so that the former part-" The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ," might give countenance to those who believed in the corporeal presence, and the latter part might satisfy those who could not reconcile that faith with their consciences. Also, instead of the forty-two Articles of Edward, Elizabeth gave her royal assent to thirty-nine. The points of difference in regard to the Eucharist were very conspicuous. In the articles of 1552, it was asserted, that a faithful man ought not either to believe, or openly confess, the real and bodily presence, as they term it, of

Christ's flesh and blood in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper." This passage was now omitted, in order that they who cherished. the doctrine of the real presence might not be offended. But as, for charity's sake, these expressions in the articles of Queen Elizabeth were not so decided in their renunciation of the real presence; so, on the other hand, there


were two new articles inserted, which very much strengthened the doctrines of the reformers. These were the twenty-ninth and thirtieth, as follows:

The 29th. "The wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as St. Augustine saith) the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ, but rather to their condemnation do eat and drink the sign or sacrament of so great a thing."

The 30th. "The cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the lay people, for both the parts of the Lord's sacrament, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike."

The first of these new articles is very decided in its expression, for it calls the bread and the wine the sign of so great a thing, that is, the sign of the body and blood of Christ, and it at once repudiates the notion of the opus operatum, the notion that by the mere eating or drinking, the benefits of the sacrament might be obtained: and this is still further confirmed in another article of the same date: "The mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten is faith."

Meanwhile, during this happy and continued progress of the truth, the Roman church had

not been idle. That the division between the two parties might be distinctly marked, that all the terrors of anathema might be hurled at the Protestant, to terrify the ignorant, and to confirm the prejudices of the vulgar, the Council of Trent, the last great council of the Roman church, had been continuing its sessions from time to time. From the year A.D. 1545, to the year 1563, had this council been laying down the laws and canons of the Roman church. On every doctrine relating to the Eucharist, confession, transubstantiation, communion in one kind, elevation of the host, sacrifice of the mass, solitary masses, does she confirm the errors of her creed, and at once condemn herself, by her own shewing, of a total declension from the primitive and apostolical customs and opinions of the church. There stand, to this very day, the decrees of this council, as the test and authority of the church of Rome, even as our own articles are of the church of England; and until some fresh council of their bishops shall be convened to remodel and alter this system of faith, the church of Rome must be considered as abiding in the opinions there expressed in which case every Protestant is under ten thousand anathemas, and every father of the church antecedent to the seventh century, is pronounced heretical.

But while they have declined, we, thanks be to the Almighty, have returned, undeceived by

their fallacies, and undeterred by their frowns, to the bosom of that pure and apostolical church which Jesus founded. May God, in his own good time, grant that they also may see the light, and become with us children of the gospel, in the bond of peace, and in union of faith.

But little now remains to be told. The reign of Elizabeth continued to the commencement of the seventeenth century. Here, therefore, we may justly pause. Hence we may, in conclusion, review the wonderful advance in religious knowledge which this era had witnessed. We were delivered from all the fantastic mummery connected with the celebration of the mass, the signs of the cross, the whispering at the prayer of consecration, the anointing and washing of the hands, the consecrated wafer treasured up from day to day, the bowing and kneeling before the crucifix, the burning of tapers before the altar, and in short, the whole of that absurd system of the popish priesthood, by which they amused the fancy, and deceived the imagination of the multitude. In the place of this tissue of folly and idolatrous worship, we established a plain and devotional service, a manly and simple doctrine, intelligible to the senses, and open to the understandings of the people; and this service has remained, with very few alterations, as it was constructed in the time of

« AnteriorContinua »