Philip Freeman.

The principles of divine service; an enquiry concerning the true manner of understanding and using the order for morning and evening prayer, and for the administration of the Holy Communion in the English Church (Volume 1) online

. (page 30 of 33)
Online LibraryPhilip FreemanThe principles of divine service; an enquiry concerning the true manner of understanding and using the order for morning and evening prayer, and for the administration of the Holy Communion in the English Church (Volume 1) → online text (page 30 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

be endless j??r«/6'f. And, though this was perhaps not
contemplated in appointing it, it is at least significant,
that in its ancient Eastern position it was part of
2i prelude^ to the Holy Communion.

The Benediction which concludes our Office stands
related in several ways to the ancient ritual, and will
be best interpreted and used by keeping those rela-
tions in view. It represents, first, the closing Prime
and Compline benedictions, of which the former was
in the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Again,
it was the "short chapter" used at the Terce, or
9 A.M. Office, on Sundays throughout the West; and
as such, and not merely as a suitable apostolic bene-
diction, found its way to its present position. But the
selection of it for that hour on the First Day of the
week, (said to be due to St. Ambrose,) doubtless arose
from hence, that it formed, throughout the greater
part of the East, the introductory benediction to the
more solemn part of tiie Coinmunion Office; lor the

' It was tlio pniycr of tlir second anliiilion to llu; liviiui, " Oiily-


celebration of which, 9 a.m., the hour of the Descent
of the Holy Spirit, was more especially set apart.

And the chief excellence, accordingly, of this con-
clusion is, that while it breathes the present peace
of old apostolic blessing, it is nevertheless not an ab-
solute conclusion at all, but points onward still to
some better thing hoped for ; and so leaves the spirit,
which has most faithfully yielded itself up to the joys
of this lower service, in the attitude of one unsatisfied
still, and expecting a higher consolation.


"Hold fast the form of sound words."

Grave questions, bearing upon the interests of the
English Church at the present hour, are suggested
by the contents of the preceding chapters.

In the first pkce, it has pleased God to put it into
the hearts of many, within the last half-century, ear-
nestly to desire and diligently to labour for the greater
efficiency of the Church of Christ in this country. Of
the apostolic zeal and love which animated the earlier
stage of that endeavour; or of the improved know-
ledge, directing and chastenino; a zeal and love no-
way inferior, which has on the whole marked its sub-
sequent progress, it is unnecessary to speak here. Nor
has this awakened vitality been without signal results.
The practical energies of the Church, in every branch
of her operations, are sensU)ly quickened ; her real
position and powers are, by the clergy csjjecially,
more truly estimated ; — her own cstinuite of them
being, in fact, through increased study of her Fornm-
laries and her Divines, more generally understood,
and more frankly and cv aniino accepted, Aiul this
return to a sounder condition in point of Christian
doctrine^ is ground for the deepest thankfulness. It
is a great matter for a Church thus to have recovered,
to have grasped, to be acting upon, the great doctrinal


pi'incii)los of apostolic days ; and for harmony to have
been thus restored between her written mind and her
actual and living operation.

But next to the principles of doctrine come those of
ritual administration; and these, in their turn, have
naturally come to engage the Church's solicitude.
Assuming her to have returned, in the main, to sound
doctrinal principles of action, does her ritual adminis-
tration, and specially do her Offices of Public Worship,
need alteration, either in point of general theory, or of
practical capability for dealing with the work she has
to do?

These questions are more or less formally raised,
both by practices which are here and there recom-
mended and adopted among us, and by various plans
proposed for a re-adjustment or retouchment of our
Offices, or for additions to them.

By the general theory of a Church's services I mean
the broad plan which they set out as that on which
the Christian life, so far as it is regulated by public
prescript, should be formed, and the Christian estate
persevered in. This is a profound, and may well be
an anxious question, for any Church, at any time.
One main aspect which it necessarily assumes has re-
ference to the measure to be observed in the frequency
of Eucharistic celebration and reception, and to the
relation to be maintained between that great Rite and
ordinary worship. What the apostolic practice was in
this matter has been pointed out in these pages ; and
in representing that it was to have Sunday, with occa-
sional festival celebration, I am borne out by the con-
current opinion of the best-informed writers, of what-
ever communion. That the complement to this, again,
was daily service, for as many as could attend it, I


have also endeavoured to prove. And indeed, inde-
pendently of all proof, it is the conclusion to which
our estimate — undoubtedly correct — of the piety and
holiness of those ages necessarily conducts us. For,
as has been already observed, it is incredible that the
apostolic Church, as a Church, was content to acknow-
ledge and worship God publicly but once a-week.
Now while we have no warrant for representing apo-
stolic practice, in matters of ritual, as binding on all
ages of the Church, it nevertheless is surely the part
of Christian wisdom to defer in a great degree, in this
as in all else, to the clearly and practically expressed
mind of Apostles and apostolic men. The grounds
upon which we depart from it should be weighty in-
deed. And we may throw into the scale the further
consideration that, as a matter of historical fact, it has
never gone so well with the Church, in the matter of
ritual efficiency, since the day that she departed, with
however good intention, on tlie right hand or on the
left, from the Apostolic standard in these matters.

For, that hi the Apostolic and immediately succeed-
ing ages they realized weekly and probably festival
Communion for all, is what none, I believe, in the
present day will care to dispute ; since the prevailing,
though utterly unfounded impression is, that they
communicated dally. That, for as many as possible,
(though there must at all times have been excej)-
tions,) daily attendance on ordinary worship was the
rule also, will, for the same reason, hardly be disputed
either. And these j)Ositions arc entirely borne out by
such glimpses, historical or ritual, as anti(piity gives
us of early practice. Now will any one for a nioinent
compare, in point of desirableness, with this stale of
things — this actual realization, for all the members


of the Church, of the degree of ritual privilege here
described, — anythiug that has existed since? The
Church in the third and fourth century began in
places to devise or recognise a different standard.
AVe now first behold the astonishing incquaUty of
daily reception in some cases, yearly reception in
others ; vast polar and equatorial extremes of ritual
condition, both alike unknown to Apostolic days.
But the Church, as it would seem, disheartened
at the neglect of privileges manifested by the many,
grasped at a higher condition, as they deemed it,
for the few. And thence dated the recognition of
])rivileged classes in Christianity ; of a redeeming few
who coiled, and a vast multitude who could not, enter
upon the high and supreme, but at the same time the
dcsiyned normal condition for Christian men. The
Apostolic system bore no trace of any such inequaUty.
Its condition of sacramental privilege and practice
was equal for all, as far as anything in this world can
be equalized. With " one Lord, one faith, one Bap-
tism," was conjoined one Lord's-day Eucharistic Fes-
tival ; the last, like all the rest, made equal for all.
Tliis provision was indeed founded, as I have shewn
elsewhere, on the solemn and festival nature of the
rite itself; but this incidental result of it, viz. the
glorious equality on which it placed, as a general
rule, all the subjects of the heavenly kingdom, may
well be dwelt on as an argument of its wisdom, and
even of its Divine appointment.

To this Apostolic standard, then, neither less nor
more, broadly accepted, and acted on in its general
spirit, I would fain urge the English Church to re-
turn. For doing so she stands, in one respect, at
a singular and immeasurable advantage. It is this :


that she has no need, in order to its full accomplish-
ment, to alter an iota of her existing theory in the
matter of ritual, but only to give practical effect to it :
she has, though much to do, yet nothing to undo ; no
mutilated Sacrament^ to restore, no abandoned or
abolished ordinary worship to recal. She need not
change her course by a single point, but only

" Still bear up, and steer
Eight onward."

The theory of weekly Eucharist, — with tempered
festival or other added celebration, — is significantly
written for her, as indeed for Western Christendom
generally, in her weekly-varying Collect, Epistle,
and Gospel. The theory of twofold daily service,
for the greatest possible number, is no less plainly
written in her rubrics on that subject. And her
practice, however defective, has all along tended,
and tends increasingly at the present hour, towards
the realization of these usages by means of her an-
ciently derived Offices. Whatever of improvement
or of growth has taken place, has been uniformly, or
with exceptions that hardly call for notice, in this
track and in this direction. All that is needed
is that she should set before her more definitely
than ever, and as her fixed and unswerving aim, the
recovery of the entire ritual condition of apostolic
days, by bringing back at least the bulk of her chil-
dren to the great primeval practices of Weekly Com-
munion and Daily Common Prayer.

This aim will, I am well aware, be deemed by

» On tlic siibjfct of the prrniission 1o use the earlier |iiirt of tlie Com-
munion Ofliec wlien llierc are no eoniinuiiieants, wliicli some have ima-
gined to come under this deseription, see I'art II. See aloo p. 49, for
an ancient precedent ; and J'ingham, a.«j tliere referred to.



some low and unworthy ; by others no less visionary
and extravao'ant. I venture to affirm that it is nei-
ther. Those who would contend for a vastly greater
frequency of Communion, as indispensable to the life
of faith, I would remind, that the measure of it here
advocated, — with only such occasional increase as our
scheme of service also contemplates and provides for,
— was that of Apostolic times ; and that there are
weighty reasons, already set forth, for believing that
such is the safer, if not the ordained condition for the
Church in all ages. And in reply to that far greater
number, who look upon the restoration of these prac-
tices, with any sort of universality, as impossible, I
would say, that I by no means underrate the diffi-
culty. Difficult it unquestionably is, and ever must
be, to win the world to Christian obedience and prac-
tice, in ritual matters no less than in practical, — diffi-
cult to gird on Apostolic weapons, and wage an Apo-
stolic warfare. But the question for a Church, as for
an individual, is not vv^hat is difficult or easy, but, as
far as it can be ascertained, what is right or wrong :
not what we think will succeed or not succeed, but
what, on a wise and well-weighed investigation, it
seems that the Church's Lord designed for her to do
or to aim at. And surely success may better be
expected in the attempt to recover a regimen known
to be Apostolic, as compared with others which, how-
ever plausible in show, are the invention of later
times, and have on trial been found \a anting. I am
persuaded too that we exaggerate the difficulty of
bringing things back to the position here contem-

First, as regards Holy Communion. We have
too much, it must be said, invested it with circum-


stances of discouragement. It lias too much been
represented as a provision for an occasional ecstatic
state of sanctity ; too little in its real character, as
the ordained instrument of appropriating afresh, at
brief intervals, — and those of scarcely less than Di-
vine appointment, — the Christian estate of salva-
tion, and of discharging its duties in their highest
and only complete form. A solemn and a festival
thing doubtless it is designed to be ; but it is a
solemnity and a festival of ordained weekly recur-
rence, at the least. It is this that we have need to
realize; viz. that in apostolic days the return of the
weekly Festival of Christ's Resurrection, and of the
Descent of the Holy Spirit, without Eucharistic cele-
bration and participation, would have been looked upon
as scarcely less than an abandonment of the whole
Christian position. Surely we should then be less
disposed to acquiesce in such ideas as that of monthly
Communion, as being a tolerably satisfactory measure
of Christian privilege ; and contend with more earnest-
ness, from a more strongly fortified position, and with
greater success, for the weekly practice. Is there any
reason to doubt that the same kind of persons whom
we now unhesitatingly and efFectually invite to monthly
reception, might with equal safety to their souls, and
with equal success, be prevailed upon to become weekly
Communicants? It is the habit, which in various ways
(as e. g. by books containing a " week's preparation"
for communicating) has been spread abroad, of view-
ing Comnuuiion as in its nature a rare event; — it is
this, and not any unmcctness or disinclination for
more frequent reception, at any rate in the case of
the more devout iiicnibers of our congregations, which
makes the general restoration of weekly Conimunion

c c 2


appear so formidable and difficult. Let the practice,
and the irresistibly strong grounds on which it rests,
be fairly set before them, and there is no reason to
doubt that the call would be responded to; more
especially since monthly Communion has no definite
standing-ground of recommendation, any more than
quarterly, or the like. Both are, though in different
degrees, a corrupt and unhealthy state of Christian
privilege ; whereas weekly reception has the claim and
the strength of Apostolic sanction and example.

The fuller consideration of this subject must be re-
served for the second part of this work. It was neces-
sary, however, to treat of it in a measure both here
and elsewhere in the present volume, because of the
intimate relation subsisting between the Holy Com-
munion and lower acts of service. Similar reservation
must be made of another deeply important question,
which is beginning to assume some prominence in the
present day ; viz. that of non-communicating attend-
ance on the Eucharist. Not until the true nature and
design of that Ordinance, as they are plainly written
for us in the liturgical records of early and Apostolic
days, are fully laid open, can it be shewn how utterly
at variance such a practice is with the mind of those
times, and of the Ordinance itself. It may suffice to
observe here, that the main ground ^ upon which the
upholders of it have hitherto relied, viz. the difficulty
of imagining what the early Christians did at the
daily celebrations if indisposed to communicate, is
completely cut away from under them by the well-

'' See Dr. Mill's -nell-known letter in "Tracts ou Catholic Unity."
The very partial countenance which that learned and lamented writer
accords to the practice, was Tisibly extorted from him by the considera-
tion refen-ed to in the text.


established fact to which I have drawn attention, that
such daily celebration did not exist. As a recent
writer*^ has brought it as a weighty charge against
the English Church, that she gives no countenance
to this practice, it may be well to have pointed out
thus briefly in this place, that such discountenance
is in reality a note of apostolicity in her Eucharistic

It is, however, on the restoration of the Ordinnry
Offices of the English Church to greater efficiency,
that the contents of this volume properly lead me
to dwell. And in turning to speak of this, I find
myself so far in a more advantageous position than
wheii urging universal return to Weekly Communion,
that in this desire and hope, at any rate, I do not
stand alone. Little as such an event might have
been expected, there has lately arisen, throughout the
length and breadth of this Church and nation, from
men of all minds, one accordant desire for improved
efficiency in the Ordinary Worship of the Church.
The zeal thus manifested is of long standing with
some, of more sudden growth in others ; welcome,
surely, to the heart of the English Church from all.
No question is made on any side of the desirableness
of such Service, alike on Sundays and week-days ; but
only of how it may be made most efficient.

It wull not be expected that I should discuss the
countless schemes for this purpose which have been
devised, whether in the way of revision and retrench-
ment of the existing offices, or })roviding suj)ple-
nientary ones : — for to these ol)jects the aims of most,
if not all, have been limited ; the actual superseding
or abolishing of the present forms none have ventured

•^ Willjcrlorcc on tlic Eucharist.


to suggest. It is well known, liowever, that the
alteration, however sliglit, of the existing status of
the EngUsh Church's Ritual, is surrounded with diffi-
culties ; and that, in the endeavour to improve it, its
very existence, or at any rate its integrity, might be
seriously imperilled. And the question, I conceive,
really before the English Church at the present mo-
ment, is not whether any improvement is theoretically
possible, but whether the advantages sought are such as
can he set against the risk involved in seeking them.
Now I confess to sharing, for ray own part, in the
desire, could it be safely and skilfully accomplished,
for certain improvements, and those on no mean scale,
in our existins; Offices. These alterations are not, it
may be, exactly those which are most popular in the
present day. The prevailing inclination is to reduce
our services in various ways. I confess to wishing
them, under certain conditions, considerably longer
than they are. In the greatest part of our Offices,
indeed, I discern nothing but subject for truest con-
tent. The penitential prelude, as of old; the ample
scheme on which Holy Scripture is sounded forth in
our worship day by day to a degree which has never
been witnessed in any Church in East or West for
more than a thousand years'^, and which was not sur-
passed even in Apostolic times®; the no less ample
and Apostolic stream of prayer and intercession fol-
lowing; combined with the exquisite and profound
structure of the whole Office, epitomizing all the
great ritual conceptions of the past, yet answering,
with the simplicity and ease of the most perfectly

^ The Spanish and French Churches had numerous and apparently
full Lessons of Scripture in their daily services. See pp. 128, 245.
• P. 343.


adjusted machinery, to the needs of the present hour :
— in all this I see nothing that, in the interests of the
Church of this land, I should greatly care to see
otliervvise. It is only when looking back to the mul-
titudinous and unstinted Praise of Apostolic times
— the vast volume of Psalms, hymns, and canticles,
that went up from the hearts and lips of the first
ages day by day ; — it is only then that, notwithstand-
ing compensations involved in our Lesson and Prayer
system, I confess to feeling our measure of psalmody
and similar features somewhat scanty and unsatisfy-
ing. This, however, I only therefore mention, that
it may be seen that the counsel, towards which these
remarks are tending, is the result of no feeble optim-
ism or bhnd admiration ; but that I too, in sounding
the note of quicta non movere, have some sacrifice to
make of personal wishes.

It will perhaps be admitted that in the preceding
pages some fresh reasons have been added to those
which have long deservedly swayed the English mind
in favour of dealing in the spirit of tender and re-
verent conservatism with our present Ollices. \\\\\\
some, their purely English and Oriental descent, their
independence of the Roman ritual, will plead in their
behalf. With some, their affinity to the world-wide
family of similar Offices, and their consequent fitness
to stand as a symbol, a witness, and an instrument of
our oneness with the Church Universal : with others,
their mighty grasp of the breadth of Scriptun;, their
profound intuition into its dej)ths, will l)e their recom-
mendation. Some will value them for their Apostolic
origin, others for their re-moulding's sake in a later
age, a third sort for their sympathy with the period
of Europe's revival. I will add to these one further


ground. It lias appeared in the preceding inquiry
that these Offices are the Last of their race. It is also
generally conceded among us, that in their present
form they have not existed in vain. Whatever of
rugged or straightforward virtues, of simple loyalty
towards God and man, is generally associated with
the modern English character under favourable cir-
cumstances, may doubtless be traced in no small de-
gree to the influence of these Ordinary Services. The
Communion Office can claim far less share in it
And it is a task of the utmost responsibility, to take
any part in destroying or impairing, by whatever
means, a ritual representing such great influences of
the past, and so probably rife with expansive and
fructifying powers for the future.

Still it is frankly to be conceded, that if the pre-
sent needs of the Church so require, — if any serious
loss is being suffered for want of alteration, or some
great gain is even probably to be achieved by it, — no
reasons of antiquity or association, no theoretical ex-
cellence of structure, ought to avail against it. With
such objects in view, even some degree of risk may
reasonably be run. But it may confidently be asked.
Has any such case been made out for the changes or
additions advocated?

The main lines in which projected alterations run
are these: I, internal rectification; 2, retrenchment of
the old, or substitution of shorter Offices ; 3, addition
of new Offices for special purposes.

1. It is represented that the services are in certain
points not perfectly appropriate. The Lessons for
certain days, and for one particular period of the
year, (viz. when the Apocrypha is read,) might be
better selected. Supposing this conceded to the ut-


most, it were a slender foundation indeed on wliicli
to base the re-organization, or jeopardy the existence,
of our entire ritual. But the truth is, that the Lessons
chiefly referred to are selected on a sound principle
enough, as has been already pointed out*^. And in
one particular instance, that of Ash=Wednesday, it
appears to have been by design, not accident, that
no Proper Lessons were appointed. In the English
Church it was always deemed that sufficient solemnity
was given to that day by a special honiLly on repent-
ance, and other methods ; exactly as now by the
Commination Service. Not, of course, that this binds
us to have no Proper Lessons now ; but it is an in-
stance, among many, where arrangements have been
found fault with, of which a fair account, to say the
least, can be given. It has also been pointed out^
in a general way, in a previous page, that while there
are obvious advantages in a fixed and appropriate
selection, so also are there in those freer cycles which
were adopted at the Revision of our Offices. Li this
particular case of Ash-Wednesday, the First Lesson
being in most years from the soleaui pages of the
later Mosaic books, can seldom fail to be appropriate ;
while it varies from year to year the Scripture com-
binations of the day.

2. The grounds alleged for retrenchment of the old
Offices, or for the substitution, on week-days, and as
an alternative, of new and shorter ones, are {(pially
slight and unconvincing. 27iere is no one object pro-
jjosed by cither plan, 2chich may not in the Limplest
way he accomplished without any alteration or sub-
stitution whatever. We have seen in these pages how

' P. 3t8. « ]'. :i 1-7


Online LibraryPhilip FreemanThe principles of divine service; an enquiry concerning the true manner of understanding and using the order for morning and evening prayer, and for the administration of the Holy Communion in the English Church (Volume 1) → online text (page 30 of 33)