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wish our clouds
away ? We shall not do so always, be assured. If ever, at the approach of sunset, we have seen the pure bright disk without a vapour near it, while above it and around it, tipped with burnished gold, rolled the broken masses of a dispersing thunder-storm ; and in the opposite heavens, the rainbow-arch, drawn on the dark bosom of the receding shower: just so will be the aspect of our griefs and cares, when the ransomed soul is taking its departure to another world. An awful glory will light up the past : in deepened shadow, and in stronger light, each little circumstance of our past lives will be exhibited, things that went lightly over at the time, will gather substance and importance at the last; our escaped perils will be seen more fearful, our vanquished foes more terrible, our sins a thousand thousand times more black :—but, it is not then that we shall wish that our day of time had been lit up with Italian sunshine.
G. E. M.
THE SURPLICE AND THE OFFERTORY QUESTIONS.
CHARGE OF THE BISHOP OF WORCESTER, DELIVERED TO THE CANDIDATES FOR ORDINATION AT THEIR FINAL EXAMINATION,
DECEMBER 21, 1844.
My dear young friends,-It has been usual for the Bishop, on occasions like the present, to address such pastoral advice to the candidates for orders as he may think best calculated to prepare their minds for the solemn engagements which they are about or soon to undertake; and, in performing this important function of his Episcopal office, to dwell upon the general duties of the clergy, the doctrines which they are bound to teach, and the habits of life which they should endeavour to form. These are important matters, and in common times such as cannot be too frequently pressed upon your attention ; but, in times like the present, it appears to me that it is incumbent on the Bishop to be somewhat more particular in his instructions to those who are about to embark in troubled waters, and who will need all the assistance which an experienced pilot can afford them. I have on former occasions, not only in my primary Charge addressed to the whole diocese, but afterwards, when opportunities like the present have occurred of giving advice to my younger brethren in the ministry, deprecated that spirit of innovation which, on the plea of a more punctual observance of the Rubric and a respect for the practices of the primitive Church, was, I felt convinced, calculated to alienate the affections of the laity from the clergy, and thus to give a fatal blow to our beloved Church, which must depend very much, not only for its usefulness but its security, on retaining its hold upon the affections of the people. However necessary
it may be to recommend caution and discretion in these matters to the clergy at large, it is more especially so to those who are just entering on the
discharge of their sacred calling. It too often happens that those who have once taken a wrong direction, however much they may afterwards be sensible' of the evil consequences resulting from their indiscretion, are deterred by a false shame, and perhaps by a not unnatural indisposition to give way before the prejudices of their people, from retracing their steps, and restoring the intercourse between themselves and their parishoners to that happy state of peace and tranquillity which may be considered as the general character of our Church before a mistaken regard for obsolete forms introduced discord and dissension among us. Those of you who are on the morrow to receive the first orders in the Church cannot have thus committed yourselves ; and it may be reasonably hoped that they who have for a short time been ministering as deacons have been too sensible of their subordinate rank in the Church to have ventured to take a decided line on these controverted points, till a longer experience had enabled them to weigh certain evils against most problematical advantages. My advice to you, then, is, that in entering upon your several cures you retain the privilege which you at present possess, of not being committed to a party, and be cautious how you take a course which I am confident you will be anxious to retrace, when you have found that you have lost thereby the affections of your people ; but in which a false pride and the feelings naturally belonging to party may induce you notwithstanding to persevere. In reviewing the history of our Church since the Reformation, it is hardly possible to note a time when its prosperity and usefulness was more remarkable than the period immediately preceding the publication of the “ Oxford Tracts.” An increased degree of zeal, a more entire devotion to their sacred functions, was manifest among the clergy; and not only did the most complete concord exist between them and the laity, but the latter attested their deep veneration for the Church of their forefathers, by contributing most liberally to the erection of churches and the support of Church and Missionary Societies. The service of the Church was then performed in strict accordance with the general directions of the Rubric; and though, on some trifling points, slight variations had been introduced, it was generally understood, that although these variations could not be legally sanctioned without the authority of Convocation, they were made in deference to public opinion, and under the authority derived from the tacit acquiescence of the Bishop. Schools were multiplied, the great truths of the everlasting Gospel were more distinctly and more generally preached, and such was the impression gradually made on those who had separated from us by such increased zeal and activity on the part of our clergy, that in several dioceses not only Dissenting ministers, but whole congregations of Dissenters, joined our communion.
My brethren, I will not contrast this state of things with that which prevails at the present moment in other dioceses, and, I fear, in a small portion even of this diocese ; but, as nothing human is perfect, and as in all the transactions of life it must be our lot to decide upon a comparative balance of advantages and disadvantages, I will request you to make the comparison, and then ask yourselves whether the advantages, whatever they may be, which can be derived from a minute regard to Ritual observances and the usages of antiquity, may not be purchased at too dear a rate, if purchased at such a price. The limits within which I must necessarily confine myself on an occasion like the present will not admit of my going into the various points which have of late been made the matter of so much unpleasant discussion ; but it may be useful to you that I should dwell upon one or two with regard to which you may entertain doubts, and on which you
will be compelled to make up your minds when you take possession of your respective curacies. And, first, with regard to the habit which you ought to wear when instructing your people from the pulpit. This is a question which I consider so utterly unimportant that I have never hitherto thought it worth while to express my opinion on the subject. I have myself been present during the celebration of Divine service when the officiating clergyman has thought fit to preach in a surplice, without thinking it necessary to notice such a deviation from the
general custom ; and though I certainly should have been better pleased if no such innovation had been attempted, still I considered the whole matter as much too insignificant to require my interference. What, however, is in itself insignificant, acquires importance when it is considered as the badge of a party, and when, on this account, it becomes a stumbling-block and an offence to others. On this ground I should be disposed to advise you to continue the practice which has so long prevailed of preaching in your academical habit, even though by so doing you deviated from the precise directions of the Rubric. For the sake of those, however, whose consciences are tender on this point, I have carefully considered the question, and I have satisfied myself, and I hope that I may satisfy you, that it never has been the custom since the Reformation for the clergy to preach in their surplices. The whole argument upon this point turns upon the sermon being a portion of the Communion Service. If, therefore, we can show that the sermon is not a part of that service, there will remain no longer the slightest ground for an innovation which, though in itself indifferent, will be sure to shock the prejudices and excite the suspicion of your congregation. The 58th Canon, which relates to this matter, is thus headed, “ Ministers reading Divine service and administering the Sacraments to wear surplices ;” and it directs that every minister saying the public prayers or ministering the Sacraments or other rites of the Church " shall wear a decent and comely surplice with sleeves, to be provided at the charge of the parish.”
Now, can it be said that when we are preaching a sermon we are either saying public prayers or administering a sacrament? That we are not doing the former is self-evident, and I will proceed to show that the sermon, though introduced in the course of the Communion Service, forms no part of the proper Sacramental Service of the Lord's Supper. It is worthy of remark that in the first Prayer-book of Edward VI. so little were the Ten Commandments or the sermon considered a part of the Sacramental Service that, after this portion of the service had been concluded, the following Rubric occurred :
“ Then so many as shall be partakers of the Holy Communion shall tarry still in the quire, or in some convenient place nigh the quire, the men on the one side and the women on the other side. All other (that mind not to receive the holy Communion) shall depart out of the quire, except the ministers and clerks.” It is clear, therefore, that at that time, so far from the sermon forming part of the Sacramental Service, a complete interruption occurred after the sermon, during which those who did not mind to receive the Holy Communion are directed to retire, and
then the proper Sacramental Service commences. This Rubric is indeed not repeated in the second Prayer-book of Edward VI., or in the Prayer-book which we now use ; but it is clear that the like interruption of the service was contemplated, for immediately after the Nicene Creed the curate is directed to declare unto the people what holidays or fasting days are to be observed in the week following; and all briefs, citations, and excommunications, are directed to be read; and can these be said to form part of the Sacramental Service? “Then,' the Rubric proceeds, shall follow the sermon,' so that you perceive the preaching a sermon is classed with reading briefs, citations, and excommunications, which, certainly, in the words of the 58th Canon, can form no part either of Divine service, or of administering the Sacrament, during which ministers are directed to wear a surplice. The inference which I have attempted to draw from the Rubric is further confirmed by the practice adopted at our two Universities. It is well known that in no places is a regard for strict Ritual observance more observed than in our Universities; and yet so little is the sermon considered a part of the Sacramental Service that it is preached in a different place and at a different time from the college chapels, where the Sacraments are administered ; and here I cannot but observe, that if the surplice had ever been wom as the proper habit of a preacher, it would have been adopted in our University pulpits; but here we know that at the present time the gown is always worn, and I believe I may venture to say, that no record exists of the surplice having ever been used on such occasions, and the
gown substituted for it ; but such a change could not have been effected in a place where old customs are so strictly adhered to as in our Universities, without authority, and if effected by authority, some record of it would unquestionably exist at the present day. Again, so far was the sermon from being considered as included in the reading of public prayers or ministering the sacraments, that we know it was frequently preached by some of our most eminent reformers at St. Paul'scross, and it can hardly be supposed that the surplice was worn on such occasions. The true state of the case I take to be, that you are directed to use the surplice only when reading Divine service or administering the sacraments; you then appear in
your proper character of priest or deacon, appointed to minister in holy things, but when you preach, you assume the character of a teacher, and as such your proper habit (if, indeed, proper or improper be fit words for a matter so utterly insignificant) is your academical gown, with a hood, denoting your degree at the University. I have thus attempted to prove that it is a mistaken notion to suppose that the surplice is the proper dress for you to wear in the pulpit. If I have not convinced you, I think you must all admit that, under the circumstances which I have stated to you, it is at best a doubtful question, and in any doubtful question I feel sure that you would obey the apostle's direction, which ought to have much more authority with you than anything I can say, and “ follow after the things which make for peace.' Another change which has of late years been attempted in our Church Service is the reading of the prayer for the Church militant, which, if originally intended to form part of the Church Service, had been almost universally discontinued in our parochial churches, and even in many of our cathedrals. Upon this point the Rubrics are certainly inconsistent. In that
which immediately precedes that prayer the following words occur :“And when there is a Communion the priest shall place upon the table so much bread and wine as he shall think sufficient, after which is done the priest shall say, 'Let us pray for the whole state of Christ's Church militant here on earth.' Did this Rubric stand alone, there could be no doubt that the prayer for the Church militant was to be read only when the Sacrament was about to be administered ; but another Rubric occurs inconsistent with the above, at the conclusion of the Communion Service, where we read “ that upon Sundays and holydays, if there be no Communion, shall be said all that is appointed at the Communion until the end of the general prayer for the whole state of Christ's Church militant here on earth.” It is difficult to account for these two contrary Rubrics, which appear to have been inserted at the same time, that is, at the second revision of the Prayer-book in the reign of Edward VI.; but as they do exist it is not extraordinary that the clergy should have felt themselves at liberty to observe which they pleased, and partly on account of the length of the service, so distressing to those who are in advanced years, partly on account of the awkwardness of being obliged again to exchange the gown for the surplice, this prayer became gradually discontinued. And here I cannot but observe that the disuse of this prayer is of itself a proof that the surplice was not usually worn in the pulpit. Had it been so, there would have been no difficulty in the minister returning from the pulpit to the Communion-table, and reading the prayer as directed by the second Rubric, to which I have referred. It was because he wore a gown, and not a surplice, that this practice was found inconvenient, and therefore was discontinued.
The only other point to which I think it necessary to call your especial attention on the present occasion is the use of the Offertory, and the collecting of alms from the congregation on every Lord's day. There is no doubt, that originally, this collection was intended as a substitute for the alms which used to be given at the doors of convents; and as it is still continued in Scotland and the Isle of Man, where no poorrates exist, we may reasonably conclude that it would never have been discontinued in this country, if the poor had not been otherwise provided for by a rate levied on all the parishioners. The custom then became almost universal that it should only be used at the administration of the Lord's Supper. Attempts, however, have of late years been made by some of the clergy to renew the practice of reading the Offertory and making collections every Sunday, for the purpose of procuring contributions towards the support of our Church Societies; and where this can be done without offence to the congregation, it is impossible to object to a practice which, while it encourages the charitable feelings of the congregation, might, if extensively adopted, materially aid those most valuable institutions. The consent, however, of the congregation is a material element in the propriety of adopting such a practice, for we have no right to force upon a congregation, without their consent, what is not strictly legal, and I have always been intimately convinced, that no collection can be legally made in a church during the reading of the Offertory except for the benefit of the poor residing in the parish and where the church is situated, or under the authority of a Queen's letter. The phrase of