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which was revised by Cranmer and other English and foreign divines, and approved by Parliament in 1552, must be regarded as containing IN THEIR
GENUINE FORM the services adopted for public worship by the Reformed Church and people of England. It is an important fact that the Reformers excluded from the Prayer Book of 1552, many of the passages now used to sanction Romish doctrine and worship, and that they were subsequently interpolated into the services by Elizabeth and by James I, and Charles II.
Thus, the Prayer Book of the Reformers contained the following prohibition :
6 MINISTERS SHALL USE NEITHER ALB, VESTMENT, NOR COPE, BUT SHALL WEAR A SURPLICE ONLY AT THE COMMUNION THEIR MINISTRATION.”
In the Prayer Book of Elizabeth, still in use, this prohibition was taken away, and Priests are directed 5 TO USE SUCH ORNAMENTS CHURCH AND OF THE MINISTERS AS WERE IN USE IN THE SECOND YEAR OF EDWARD VI.,” at which period the Roman Catholic vestments were worn by the clergy,
The Prayer Book of 1552 omitted the words, previously used by the Priest in giving the bread and wine, 'HE Bo ) OF OUR LORD JESUS Christ, WHICH WAS GIVEN FOR THEE," or BLOOD OF CHRIST WHICH WAS SHED FOR THEE, PRESERVE THY BODY AND SOUL UNTO EVERLASTING LIFE.” These words, which were snpposed to signify that when the Priest gave the
bread and wine to the people he gave them the body and blood of Christ to preserve their souls to eternal life, were again introduced into the Prayer Book of Elizabeth.
The Altars which had been removed were replaced in the chancels, and several of the old ceremonies were restored. The prayer for deliverance from the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome, and the statements of the Reformers' Prayer Book against the corporeal Presence were excluded, and the “ Book was thus made passable among the Papists."*
By an injunction of James I. the declaration was added to the Catechism that “THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST ARE VERILY AND INDEED TAKEN AND RECEIVED BY THE FAITHFUL IN THE LORD's SUPPER.'
In the revision under Charles II. many alterations were made in favour of Romish doctrine, and the permanent disunion of English Protestants was effected by the exclusion of two thousand Evangelical ministers from the Established Church.
As, therefore, the Romish forms and ordinances were introduced into the Prayer Book by the authority of the State, in order to favour Romanism, their removal should not be deemed an alteration of the services, BUT A RESTORATION OF THEM TO THEIR ORIGINAL PURITY IN DOCTRINE AND WORSHIP.
* Heylin : Hist. of Ref., Vol. II., p. 286. Cardwell : Hist. of Con., p. xxxiv.
In the present Revised Prayer Book, while the passages objected to at the Savoy Conference, or by Protestants generally, have been satisfactorily altered, the changes have been so few that they would be scarcely observed in the public services of the Lord's-day, and certainly no Evangelical Christian will consider that the Occasional Services are impaired or mutilated.*
Nothing is more certain than that the whole Romish movement which threatens to overspread England originated in those passages and rubrics of the Prayer Book, on which it relies as its authority and foundation.
Thus, it is confidently affirmed that ministers receive a sacerdotal commission to forgive sins, and are required to hear Confession and grant Absolution, by the following words in the services for Ordination of Priests, and for the Visitation of the Sick:
" RECEIVE THE HOLY GHOST FOR THE OFFICE AND WORK OF A PRIEST IN THE CHURCH OF GOD NOW COMMITTED UNTO THEE BY THE IMPOSITION OF OUR HANDS. WHOSE SINS THOU DOST FORGIVE THEY ARE FORGIVEN : AND WHOSE SINS THOU DOST RETAIN THEY ARE RETAINED.
“ The sick person shall be moved to make special confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter, after which the Priest shall absolve him if he humbly and heartily desire it, after this sort :
* A large number of the periodicals representing the Nonconformist churches have declared that the revision is completely satisfactory. A list of such notices may be obtained from Mr. W. J. Johnson, 121, Fleet-street.
BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST COMMITTED TO ME, I ABSOLVE THEE FROM ALL THY SINS, IN THE NAME, &c."
It is also alleged that the power of Priests to convey Divine grace, as attached to their ministration of the sacraments is taught in the following words of the Baptismal Service :
“ SEEING NOW THAT THIS CHILD IS REGENERATE, and “WE YIELD THEE HEARTY THANKS, THAT IT HATH PLEASED THEE TO REGENERATE THIS INFANT WITH THY HOLY SPIRIT.”
To retain the elements of Romish error in the public services is to undermine the faith of the people and expose them to an influence which, sooner or later, will mislead them from the truth. No Evangelical Christian will deny the heavy responsibility of using in public worship expressions which, in the estimation of very many, inculcate doctrines contrary to the Word of God.
The Prayer Book itself, in the preface, declares that FORMS OF WORSHIP and RITES AND CEREMONIES being in THEIR OWN NATURE INDIFFERENT AND ALTERABLE, SUCH CHANGES AND ALTERATIONS
MADE THEREIN AS ACCORDING TO
VARIOUS EXIGENCIES OF AND OCCASIONS SHOULD SEEM EITHER NECESSARY OR EXPEDIENT.
The necessity for revision becomes evident when it is considered that the passages now used to sanction Romanism are completely opposed to the general teaching of the Liturgy and Articles; that they have constantly been objected to by eminent Reformers
and godly divines; that they have caused most grievous
and long-continued persecutions of faithful ministers and Christian people; and that they are at this time so great a cause of division and offence among Protestants that no real union can be hoped for while they continue to be imposed.
The desired alterations, which are few in number, and almost exclusively in the Occasional Services, would afford great relief and liberty to many burthened consciences, without affecting any of the doctrines contained in the Liturgy and Thirty-nine Articles, or introducing any additional observance or article of faith. Such a revision of the Liturgy would promote the cause of divine truth and purity of worship; and instead of being, as heretofore, the occasion of division among Protestants, the Book of Common Prayer would then serve to exhibit their devotional agreement, and promote more fully the acceptance of pure Scriptural principles.