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Christ as the Lord hath commanded, and this Church (the Church to whose worship he solemnly engages to conform] hath received the same.” He did not bind himself, nor did he receive permission to minister these vital elements of the Church as the Greek Church, or the Roman, or the Nestorian hath received them; nor as his own ideas of Catholic Theology and usage would like to make them; but as
THIS," the American branch of the Church Catholic (using her authority as every branch of the Church Catholic has always done), as this Church whose agent and voice he is, as this Church which gave him alike his right to minister and the Ritual he was always to use, as This Church hath received the same. And he is at her altar to do and say just what her Ritual, and unquestioned Common Law have bid him to do, “Neither (as the old English Canon' bas it) diminishing in any respect nor adding anything in the matter or form thereof."
The plea has been made urgently and with great force against any interference with these individual aberations from the appointed order of our Liturgy, upon the ground of the danger from hasty Legislation in the Ritual of the Church, and it has been very truly said: “The science of
“ Rites is one of the noblest of all departments of Theology. I would go still further and say, that a proper use of Rites is simply vital to the perpetuity of the teaching office of the Church, and the moment that her Rites can be made subject to the whim or opinion of the officiating Priest, she ceases to have any authoritative organ for the presentation of her mind as the ecclesia docens, and is degraded to a mere aggregation of individual ministers, each moulding her offices according to his special fancy, and each employing such Rites as would express his own interpretation of her doctrine. I feel
Canons of 1603. Canon XIV.
? Sermon in Trinity Church, New York, on Ascension Day, 1874, by Morgan Dix, S. T. D., Rector, pp. 8, 5. 7.
most profoundly with the same writer, that “to legislate concerning the worship of Almighty God would indeed be a great thing to undertake."" “Such legislation must be committed to men of calmness, intelligence and capacity.” Nor do “I see anywhere any indication of the ability or the disposition to do the thing as it ought to be done if done at all.” :
I, for one, recognize to the full the vital importance of a due preparation before any essential changes shall be legislated into our Ritual. I hail with unfeigned delight the revival through the Church of a reverence for true Catholic Theology, and a desire to reproduce some of the exquisite features of the grand old Liturgies of the earlier days of the undivided Church. I would beg our young men to live much in the study and the spirit of these precious monuments. And I would urge our “ Masters of Sentences to make the minds of the people familiar with their words and meaning. But all the more because it is so vitally important that no change should be admitted into the Church's highest office without the most careful scrutiny and sanction of the Church itself; all the more because to provide wisely for “the worship of Almighty God is a great thing to undertake.” I would not have the individual minister allowed to perform this great work in his own portion of the Church ; nor to assume and exercise the actual authority of this momentons legislation by bringing in a lot of unordained accompaniments on his own notion of the Ritual, or using uncommanded symbols in his perforinance of the Liturgy, and thus absolutely taking on himself the high office of altering the Church's Ritual, and possibly of misrepresenting some of the vital doctrines of the Church's Liturgy. If it be vastly important that the Church should not change the Ritual hastily, it is certainly quite as important, that the individual minister, often crude, ignorant, inpulsive, or mistaken, as he might be, should know he has
See preceding page.
no right to alter what the Church has given him to do, until the Church herself is wise enough to tell him how to alter it.
From the historical view of the nature of the Ritual here given, I think every Catholic minded inquirer will admit that the obligation of the officiating Priest to abstain from all tampering with the Ritual has been an uniform and universal principle in every age and in every portion of the Church Catholic from the beginning. Hence, if there be an "entire liberty" of Ritual vested in the Priests of the Church in the United States, it was not derived from any right that belonged to them as ministers of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, but it must be a new power conferred on them by some special legislation in either the Anglican or American Branch of the Church. It has never been a Catholic principle. It has never been recognized as a right in any primitive or Catholic Ritual. Has the Legislation of the Church in either England or America conferred any such unprecedented authority on the ministers at their altars? Quite the reverse; for not only has the great weight of opinion among "all sorts and conditions of men in the Church sustained the old view of a strict conformity to the Ritual Law, but it has been fully and repeatedly applied by the most emphatic and unmistakable Legislation. I am glad to have upon this point the support of the very able writer above referred to as claiming “ entire liberty of Ritual as a strikingly distinctive feature of the American Church.” He says:
“There is a general desire to put down anybody who * acts in a manner decidedly different from other people. In the Anglican branch of the Church this feeling is intensified by the acts of uniformity under which the Church of England has been doing her work in shackles from the Reformation until now; and also by the determination so STRONGLY expressed in the Preface to the English Book, that, whereas heretofore there hath been great diversity in saying and singing in Churches within this realm, from henceforth all the whole Realm shall have but one use." There is a sort of oral tradition, therefore, in the Anglican branch of the Church, that there must be uniformity in public worship."
Church and World, N. Y., 1879, Oct., p. 384. Italics, etc., are mine.
This statement is thoroughly correct in its expression of both the facts and opinions on the matter in qnestion which had existed in the Anglican Church for at least two centuries before the time of the formation of the American Book, and were then universally accepted. And it shows also the principles under which the framers of the American Ritual had been trained and always continued to tbink and legis. late. The English Church had from its foundation always recognized and applied the Catholic doctrine in reference to the authoritative obligation of the accepted Ritualin each Diocese. In the exercise of their old powers in the details of their service, there had been certain modifications of the original Augustinian Liturgy in a few of the Dioceses. Hence there were several uses' employed in different Dioceses of the Mediæval Anglican Church. Such were the uses of Hereford, of Bangor and that of Sarum, which latter was adopted in the largest number of the English Dioceses. But there was no liberty of Ritual allowed in any portion of the Church of England, during all this period, for the individual minister, at his own option to select and combine, or in any way modify, the especial “use ” which was imposed in bis Diocese, as the Ritual he was to use. In those ages no minister wonld have ever ventured to claim so momentous a prerogative. But in the embittered contentions of the Reformation era each party sought every means to advance its own cause, and to depress that of its antagonist, and in the half century of these contests all the bands of Church discipline were rudely cast aside as seemed best at the moment to serve the interests of either of the contending factions. In this universal disorganization some of the clergy, in the excess of their zeal on the one side and
Use" is a technical ecclesiastical term, meaning much more than * usage" or custom," it expresses that the offices to which it refers are the appointed services in the Diocese of which it is the “use;" and that this and this only is the form and order in which any of these services shall be performed by any minister of that Diocese.
the other, did for a time, and for the first time in the history of the Church, assume the power of making such adaptations of the Ritual as they thought best suited to their own ideas of what the Church's Liturgy ought to convey. And froin this arose that "great diversity in saying and singing in the Churches "to which the preface to the English Prayer Book alludes; and the first step that the English Church made in the exercise of her inherent right as a branch of the Catholic Church, when she reformed her service, was to revise and unify these several Liturgies and reduce them to one “use," which instead of being merely Diocesan in its obligation, should henceforth be the sole authoritative or authorized standard for the Church of the whole Realm. This was no imposition of a new “shackle” on the Catholic liberty of the minister, but was only the continued operation of a principle which had until this never been denied by any true Churchman, but which the disorders and lawlessness of that troubled age made it now necessary to embody in Statutes and enforce by a law. Hence we find in the same act which imposed the First Revision (in 1549) of the Prayer Book of the Reformed Church the command, '“All and singular ministers shall be bound to say and use the matins
and celebration of the Lord's Supper IN SUCH form and order as is mentioned in said Book, and NONE OTHER OR OTHERWISE.” This is repeated in still more exact and comprehensive terins in setting forth the alterations made in 1558: “If
any manner of Parson refuse to use the said Common Prayers as they be set forth in said Book, or shall, willfully or obstinately standing in the same, use ANY OTHER rite, ceremony, order, form, or manner of celebrating the Lord's Supper openly or
than IS MENTIONED and SET FORTH in said Book, he shall be subject ” to the penalties in such case provided. This is again repeated in the act of Charles II. (1662), which also states one of the results to be attained by this
* Italics, etc., are my own.