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“Ceremonies are advancements of order, decency, modesty, and gravity in the service of God; expressions of those heavenly desires and dispositions which we ought to bring along with us to God's house; adjuments of attention and devotion; furtherances of edification, visible instructors, helps of memory, exercises of faith; the shell that preserves the kernel of Religion from contempt; the leaves that defend the blossoms and the fruit."-ARCHBISHOP BRAMHALL.
The following Introduction appeared in the first Part of the Hierurgia Anglicana.
Many causes have conspired to bring about not only the disuse, but the almost total ignorance, of the ritual and liturgical ceremonies of our Church in the first years after the Reformation.
The Great Rebellion of course violently interrupted the whole Church System, and many practices were found at the Restoration difficult to be re-established, while others probably, after so long a desuetude, had become extinct and forgotten. Still much more was preserved than we have now any idea of; the neglect and loss of which are to be attributed, partly to the immediate bad influence of the Revolution in making the Church little more than an Establishment, and partly to the increased laxity and coldness which characterized the last century. The whole was facilitated by the absence of any very exact Ritual or Pontifical in the Reformed Church.
It was never the intention of the compilers of our present Services that their work should be considered as a new fabrick, but as a reformation of the existing system. · Consequently many things then in actual use, and always intended to be retained, were not expressly commanded, any more than they were distinctly forbidden, in the new rubrick. This general consideration will serve to explain why the existing rubricks do not mention many of the usages and ceremonies which the Hierurgia Anglicana will describe.
The design of the present work is to produce, in a collected form, the historical facts concerning the retention of certain rites and usages since the Reformation, which shall speak as it were for themselves, and set forth in the words of eye-witnesses the actual practice of the Church in points which are now viewed by many with suspicion and jealousy. Those who have laboured to bring back the ceremonial of the Church to what it was before the Great Rebellion have found, not only that they had much to learn concerning it which their own studies could scarcely
compass, but that their motives were likely to be misunderstood and misrepresented by many who had no opportunity themselves of consulting the actual records of former times, and who could not be satisfied by references to rare books however numerous. To meet both these wants is the object of the Editors. They hope from the most authoritative sources to collect so great a number of illustrations of Anglican Ritual as shall enable their readers to gain a much clearer idea of what the Anglican Church has allowed, and shall convince those who may have distrusted the late improved feeling on these points that such ceremonial is entirely compatible with the most dutiful allegiance to our own Communion. They will also thus be able to deprive the advocates of modern laxity of the assumed shelter of the names of the Reformers, by shewing how very much which they retained, recommended, and practised, is now rejected by their pretended followers.
The Editors are Members of the Cambridge Camden Society: which they mention to shew that they may be supposed at least to have paid some attention to ritualism, not as in any way wishing to make that body answerable for any thing herein to be put forward. Indeed it will be their object to abstain as much as possible from any expression of their own opinions, leaving each fact they may adduce to carry its own weight. But, once for all, they must acknowledge that they fully agree with the principles advocated by the Cambridge Camden Society, particularly in its publication the Ecclesiologist, believing that nothing has been there adduced which may not be fully borne out by satisfactory documentary evidence.
Between the publication of the foregoing remarks and the present time, nearly five years have passed away, and, although this fact may be insufficient by itself to convince our readers that we have not accomplished our undertaking in a superficial manner, we think it ought to do so when coupled with the statement, that during the above interval, amid all our other occupations and professional studies, we have constantly kept steadily in view the collecting of materials for the Hierurgia, and have, indeed, made it our business to consult, at great cost of time and labour, such books and pamphlets within our reach, however uncommon, obscure, or recondite, as seemed likely, in the slightest degree, to bear upon the subjects which that work is designed to illustrate. We confess that at the commencement of our investigation we had little expectation of bringing
together that amount of important and interesting matter which is contained in the following pages. As we proceeded, our research was continually rewarded by the discovery of new facts and documents, and we doubt not, had we thought good to have delayed the completion of the Hierurgia till a future period, we might have increased it to double its present size, and perhaps, even then, have not exhausted the evidence extant in proof that although Puritanical laxity, shabbiness, and irreverence may have been in the Reformed Church of England, they were never of her: nay that, in truth, she has authorised or allowed a very high degree of splendour in the decoration of her consecrated fabricks, and of rich and stately ceremonial in the celebration of publick worship.
A late writer has accused us of adducing “evidence on the mere ceremonial side alone, instead of giving a true representation of the whole case.” Had this author referred to our original Introduction, he would have seen that our professed object was to examine how much English Churchmen are encouraged, not how little they are allowed, to aim at in things ritual: to vindicate for our Church that position to which, as a part of the Church Catholick, she is well entitled, not to seek to lower her to a level with the sordid platform of Geneva. To discover what was the very least of ceremonial ever required, or connived at, by our Holy Mother, is a work for which, we confess, we have no vocation. We are quite willing to surrender to others so ungrateful and undutiful a task.
The perusal of the Hierurgia Anglicana, or even of the Table of its Contents, will shew that we have not merely achieved our main design of vindicating our Church from the charge of an undue neglect of the decent order of ceremonial worship, but have also collected a number of authorities peculiarly important, on several accounts, to all who, like ourselves, are striving to effect those ecclesiological
restorations in our Communion, for which, in a less hopeful time, a King and an Archbishop “witnessed a good confession.” Such, for instance, are the extracts which relate to altar-lights, plate, hangings, and decorations; rood-lofts, vestments, processions, incense, crucifixes, mitres, waferbread, the “mixed cup,” flowers; the consecration of fonts, altars, chalices, &c.; and the reconciliation of churches.
How far the precedents contained in these and like citations, ought to guide or rule English Churchmen now, is a question upon which we would submit a few observations. We remarked in our Introduction that "it was never the intention of the compilers of our present Services that their work should be considered as a new fabrick, but” merely
as a reformation of the existing system,” and that consequently many things then in actual use, and always intended to be retained, were not expressly commanded, any more than they were distinctly forbidden, in the new rubrick.” * On no other hypothesis can we account for the observance by the Elizabethan and Caroline Prelates and Clergy, and in particular, by Andrewes, Laud, and Cosin, of many usages practised by the Medieval Church, and about which the Reformed Office Book is wholly silentt: but this, we think, is no argument for the violation of the Church's existing written law (especially since the violent and entire interruption and suspension of the traditional unwritten law of the Church's custom at the Great Rebellion) by the introduction, in these days, of any practices I unauthorised by rubrick or canon into our publick worship. Disobedience to the Church's written
For some excellent remarks on this subject see the Christian Remembrancer, xlviii. pp. 505–508.
+ See Hierurgia Anglicana, pp. 236, 237, and note.
| To the pious gestures of "adoration towards the altar” and bowing at the Holy Name, the English Church gave her formal canonical sanction after they had been for a long time practised by her members only upon the authority of an unbroken tradition from the times antecedent to the Reformation.