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selves prominent in the movement perceived in good time that they were getting out of their depth, and hastened to regain terra firma. But a large portion still held out; some neophytes (to say nothing of their first leaders) were already Papists at their hearts—yearning after an infallible guide ; some were influenced by a kind of clerical esprit de corps; others by a variety of self-delusions more or less venial. One or two of the Bishops, in a well-intended but ill-judged attempt at conciliation, gave, as all half-measures and compromises with perverse antagonists are sure to do, consistency to what they meant to discourage, and discouraged what they would rather have supported. The innovators entrenched themselves behind what they called the written law, which they affected to regard as the whole law. It was not for the heads of the Church to impugn that authority ; and as yet there was no tangible proof, though there were growing indications, that this over zeal for the rubrics was (with a considerable class) the shibboleth of Popery.* Many and ingenious were the ways in which the artful machinists worked. The chief demonstrations were made on points which, if not absolutely small matters, would have been in themselves of no serious importance,-but they became so when they were by and by recognized as the sign and symbol of a Romanising party.
All this anxiety, however, for the general authority of the rubrics was a mere deception—the rubrics generally had never been disputed, nor systematically nor wantonly departed from. The whole question in fact turned on one single rubric, viz., that in the Communion Service, which seemed-contrary to a general and immemorial usage—to require the use of the Offertory and of the Church-militant prayer, even when there was no Communion ; and as this interpretation obliged the minister-instead of dismissing the congregation with a blessing from the pulpit—to return first to the vestry room again to resume his surplice, and again to the Communion-table for these supplemental services, it afforded an argument ab inconvenienti for the revival, or rather for the introduction of the practice that Laud had in vain endeavoured to impose on the clergy two centuries before, of preaching in their whites.'
We do not believe that there was any particular interest felt about the Church-militant prayer-which,
Archdeacon Sinclair in his very sensible Charge recalls the important fact, often noticed by ourselves, that the earlier Tracts avowed the most uncompromising hostility to Popery. From No. III., for example, be quotes these words :
* A union (with Rome) is impossible. Their communion is infected with hetero. doxy. We are bound to flee from it as from a pestilence. They have established a lie in the place of God's truth, and by their claim of immutability in doctrine cannot undo the sin they have committed. They cannot repent. Popery must be destroyed. It cannot be reformed.'
however excellent in what the clergy and congregations had so long decided to be its proper place—seems superfluous when used as an adjunct to the ordinary Morning, Litany, and Altar services; but it was now contended for because it was the most prominent, if indeed not the only rubrical deviation that afforded a flag of distinction, and because the rubric that provided for it seemed also to include the ‘Offertory' and the preaching in whites.'
But though this was the first object, logic as well as party soon drove these ultra-rubricians-as we may well call them—to look out for other flaws and blots, and, finding nothing really worth quarrelling about, to eke out their system by inferential or imaginary rubrics for credence-tables-candlesticks— worshipping to the east-standing on the west* side of the table with their backs to the congregation-genufluxions, bowings, crossings, intoning, rood-screens, acolyths, and the like, for which there was not only not a shadow of rubrical countenance, but against which there was a combination of rubrical, canonical, historical, and legislative authority, confirmed, as far back as our evidence goes, by the uninterrupted practice and usage of the Church of England ever since the Reformation.
Neither the clergy nor public at large would tolerate these superstitious practices, and at length, finding that England was not to be Romanized either by false logic in interpreting the rubrics, or by the glare of Puseyite pomp and paraphernalia, all the most eminent and distinguished among the first practitioners and partizans of these innovations (except a very few who must forgive the world for suspecting that they prefer their emoluments to their theories), have thrown off the mask under which they had for a dozen years been endeavouring, and not without some success, to delude their brethren and their congregations, and have at last given us tardy evidence of sincerity by passing over into the Roman camp. We have not a reproachful word nor a derogatory thought for those converts, as such. We respect their consciences, if not their understandings. We hope they may find comfort in the bosom of their new mother; and we are so far from regretting their secession on our own account that we congratulate the Church at being relieved from their half-faced fellowship; and we trust that any, who still profess
It was curious to observe that some Puseyites, who did not venture on this flagrant irregularity, but were still desirous of giving the table the character of an altar, used slily to place themselves just at the north-west corner of the table, thus half complying with the Rubric, which enjoined the north, and half indulging their Romanising propensity for the west-like an obstinate child that, if forbidden to put its hand on a table, will out of perverseness put on its finger. We have seen this puerility actually practised and persisted in by several, and particularly by two leading persona, who have since openly gone over to Rome. We suspect that it was a kind of free mason's sign amongst them,
our faith but think with them, may hasten to follow their example, Our only complaint is that they did not earlier relieve themselves and us from those embarrassments, and that they should have gone on-while this apostacy was smouldering in their hearts—cineri doloso, -enjoying the preferments and exercising the influence and authority of that Church whose destruction they meditated. For the individuals, it is a kind of apology, that such Jesuitical double dealing is one of the most remarkable characteristics of the accommodating faith they have embraced.
We are convinced that a number of those who take a lively interest in these questions — many even who have thought seriously, and some who have written largely upon them-are very imperfectly aware how little of our Church service is regulated by these rubrics, and how infinitely more by unwritten and traditional habits and customs. For this, among other reasons, we are induced to attempt a rather detailed examination of the general subject, which, although we and others before us have touched on particular points, has not, that we know of, been systematically treated. Whether we consider ourselves as addressing persons who conscientiously advocate a large revision and emendation of the rubrics—or those who hold the, as we trust, far more general opinion-namely, that of the sufficiency of the present rubric taken in connexion with the ancient and general usage of our Church—in either of these views, we think it an object of considerable importance and interest to show in what an unexpected number of cases the rubric neither affords, nor professes to afford, any direct instruction for our ritual guidance.-Such an attempt seems indeed to be the more called for at this moment,
since we find, to our great regret, that some demur seems to be already made to the Address of the Prelates, as giving too much authority to Usage. Vague apprehensions are expressed at any supposed • departures from the Rubrics of the Prayer Book’-and we are asked “how can custom make a thing lawful, or absolve the conscience from a promise not to do it’ (Vogan, 74).
We purpose to answer all such questions by showing that if it was not by the help of custom-supplying the omissions, explaining the obscurities, and reconciling the inconsistence of the rubrics -it would be absolutely impossible to take one single step towards the performance of divine service. The rubrics are lights placed here and there for our general guidance, but they are not, as we shall, we believe, be able to prove, the active principle that enables us to walk. We are as well aware as any one can be, to how little weight our opinion may be entitled, and how deficient we are in those higher requisites that create authority, but we think the facts which present themselves are so decisive, that even in our hands they cannot fail to establish the proposition which we have thus advanced.
We must begin by a short notice of the Horæ Liturgice, published some eight years since—a work of which we cannot approve either the object or the execution, and should, if the author were still living, have ventured to complain of ad hominem. As it is, we produce it merely as a piece of evidence in the discussion. Bishop Mant, a most respectable, learned, and amiable man, was over-persuaded (as we have heard) to adopt, contrary to the practice of his own long and respectable ministry, the Puseyite construction of the Church-militant rubric; and it was thought favourable to the cause of Rubric versus Usage to exhibit the monstrous extent and danger of diversity, in a catalogue of no less than seventy different modes of performing Divine Service-an indictment against the Clergy of seventy counts for neglect or disobedience of the Rubrics of the Church. If all or any serious number of these charges had been well founded, it is obvious that the right reverend critic himself, after an episcopate of five-and-twenty years, would have been the person really responsible for such irregularities. But it was not so. The Bishop of Down had not neglected his duties-his clergy were and are as orderly, and in every way as respectable, as any in the United Kingdom—the variations he was prompted to complain of were either accidental or trivial, or wholesome—and were, we believe, suggested by his officious advisers to the old bishop's censure only for the sake of the three great innovations about the surplice, the offertory, and the Church-militant prayer-to justify, by so large a catalogue of discrepancies, an attempt to enforce these points, by confounding them with sixty-seven others, most of them insignificant, and none of them important;-a device as ingenious, but not more successful, than that of Dean Swift's celebrated Irish footman, who thought he had performed a most dexterous exploit in passing off a clipped shilling in a handful of halfpence.
A few examples of the kind of difficulties conjured up for this occasion will justify both the levity and severity of our observation:
"1. In some Churches the service is commenced with a psalm, in others not.'-Mant, p. 11.
7 and 10. When a psalm consists of an uneven number of verses, sometimes the minister reads (out of his alternate turn] the first verse of the Gloria Patri. Sometimes he leaves it to the people.-p. 12. 13. Some ministers in giving out the lesson say
" Here beginneth such a chapter of such a book ;"—others erroneously say " The first (or second) lesson appointed for this morning's (or evening's) service is such a chapter of such a book."-p. 13.
15. At the conclusion of every lesson, while one minister says “ Here endeth,” another will say “ Thus endeth.”—p. 14.
22. After the lessons some clergymen confine themselves exclusively to the Te Deum or the Jubilate ;-others use occasionally the Benedicite or Benedictus.-p. 15.
26. Some give out the collect-saying the collect for such a Sunday ; some read the collect without announcing it.-p. 16.
32. The prayer for the High Court of Parliament is read by some from the opening of the session to its prorogation ; others disuse it during a recess or long adjournment.'-p. 17.
Some of these, and of fifty or sixty similar questions, are no questions at all, being in fact left optional by the rubric; others are quite indifferent, some merely accidental, others we believe altogether fanciful, and none of the discrepancies of any real importance, or more than a word from the bishop or one of his archdeacons would have removed. A few of the items that affect more serious points we shall have occasion to notice as we proceed with our more detailed examination of the service. But the general effect of these captious complaints on our mind is only to prove the substantial uniformity in which the service has been conducted throughout both countries; and that “there was never any thing by the wit of man so well devised’ in which ingenious or litigious men might not find or make petty differences and distinctions. The whole system of the Puseyite nicety proceeds on the assumption that the Rubric is in itself a complete and perfect code, which not only does not require, but utterly rejects the aid and the authority of traditional Usage. This, however, everybody but the wilfully blind must see is a degree of perfection and infallibility which even the most carefully worded laws and statutes do not pretend to, and which courts of justice as well as common sense, and the prefatory Rubric of the book of Common Prayer itself admit to be unattainable in any human production. The Rubric itself makes no such exclusive pretensions. It distinctly recognises the existence and maintenance of usages which it does not specify; and there is not, we believe, one page of the liturgy in which the rubrics would be sufficient to guide public worship without the help and illustration of tradition and usage. Without that help the very first essential elements of divine service would be unsettled. For instance, the rubric determines neither the time nor the place of the service, nor the person, nor the vestments of the minister, nor a number of accessory but necessary items in the performance of the offices. By the light of rubrics alone the parson could not get into his surplice, nor into his reading-desk, nor into his pulpit, nor even determine the great Feasts of the year. If we were to ask for a