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earlier times ; and the arguments, employed by the primitive writers, may be readily turned against errors which still prevail. The objections of Celsus against Christianity have been revived from time to time by unbelievers of succeeding ages ; and it would be difficult, perhaps, to find more cogent and satisfactory refutations of them, than those which Origen has supplied.
It has been further urged, as a serious objection against the authority of the Fathers, that in many cases they are at variance with each other, and even with themselves; and they have even been stigmatized as dealers in pious frauds, and inventors of legendary fables. A sufficient reply to this last insinuation is supplied by the rigid integrity of their lives, their persevering adherence to their statements under persecution, and not unfrequently by their deaths. They might be, and sometimes doubtless were deceived; but deceivers they could not be. And what do their mistakes and change of opinion prove? The first were but errors in judgment to which all are liable ; and if a person sees reason, upon mature consideration, to alter his views respecting a point of doctrine, it surely cannot impeach the general credibility of his evidence. With respect to their differences among one another, they may be readily accounted for upon general principles. In one respect at least, they are valuable ;-as a proof that there was no collusion between them; and consequently that their unanimity, which, in matters of importance is seldom disturbed, is a strong presumptive evidence of truth.
Such are the advantages which evidently result from the study of PATRISTICAL Theology. By different parties, and for different purposes, the authority of the Fathers has been variously estimated ; and while some would raise it above their legitimate value, others are eager to consign them to undeserved neglect. Their real importance lies between the two extremes. They are by no means to be exalted to an equality with the Scriptures, and to be taken as an infallible guide in matters of religion, neither are they to be regarded as utterly unworthy of credit, or even as trifling and insignificant. It seems, indeed, to have arisen from fear of the consequence that would arise from their undue celebrity, which induced M. Daillé to depreciate their true value, and some others to reject their authority altogether. A just and impartial estimate of their merit was evidently taken by our venerable Reformers, and their authority has been duly appreciated by our ablest and soundest divines. Among the signs of the times, which may be regarded as favourable to the present state of religion, the growing attention to them is not the least encouraging. The learned and venerable Bishop of Salisbury (Dr. Burgess) has in various charges adverted to the subject; and the recent publications of the Bishop of Lincoln, on the writings of Justin Martyr and Tertullian, shew how worthily his Lordship filled the Divinity Chair at Cambridge. While the collection of the best entire smaller pieces of the Greek and Latin Fathers of the three first centuries, now editing by his successor, Dr. Turton, proves that this important study will continue to be cultivated in that University; the “ Testimonies of the Anti-Nicene Fathers to the Divinity of Christ,” by the Rev. Dr. Burton, who has lately been raised to the Divinity Chair at Oxford,
argues no less strongly of encouragement to the same pursuit at the sister University.
In furtherance of this profitable study, it is our intention to lay before our readers a series of Papers, on the “ EARLY FATHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN Church." Our design is to present a concise biographical sketch of the principal writers to whom the appellation belongs, beginning with those of the Apostolic age ; together with an account of their writings, and occasional extracts, in illustration of the doctrine, discipline, or worship of the Church of England. A short bibliographical notice will also be added of the best edition of their respective works, as well as of detached pieces of the greatest merit. Previously, however, to entering upon each writer particularly, it will be necessary to devote another Number at least to our introductory observations.
The RUBRICK of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND, examined and considered ;
and its use and OBSERVANCE most earnestly recommended to all its Members, according to the intent and meaning of it. By THOMAS Collis, D. D. of Magd. Coll. Oxon. London, 1737.
(Continued from Vol. XI. p. 757.) Then shall be read in like manner, the Second Lesson, taken out of the
New Testament ; and after that the Hymn following, except when that shall happen to be read, in the chapter for the day, or for the Gospel, on St. John Baptist's-day.
This Rubrick will serve to direct any officiating person, not to read the Magnificat, when it is read with this hymn, in the chapter for the day. The Rubrick, after which Magnificat, says, or else this Psalm, except it be on the nineteenth day of the month, when it is read in the ordinary course of the Psalms. As often as the Magnificat is read, the Nunc dimittis generally follows; but it cannot well do so upon the nineteenth day of February, because it is part of the Second Lesson; so the Deus Misereatur may follow the Magnificat then, according to the order, that follows the Nunc dimittis.
Or else this Psalm, except it be on the twelfth day of the month. This may suggest, at little care too, to all chanters in choirs, not to put up any Psalm for the Anthem that has been used just before. Neither should the same Psalm be sung again, any more than the last of the sentences should be read at the commencement of the service, when the first chapter of the First Epistle of St. John is the second Lesson.
It may not be very unsuitable to our main design, if we observe here the propriety of the rest of these hymns, and how carefully they were made choice of, and placed as they are, since by these intermixtures, both minister and people are so cheerfully relieved by them.
The Benedictus very appositely follows the second Lesson, as it is a
thanksgiving for those blessings of the Gospel state which are so largely set forth in the writings of the New Testament. Zacharias, being under the impulse of the Holy Ghost, upon the occasion of the birth of his Son, whom at his circumcision he had named John, after his hearing and voice were restored to him, uttered this prophetic declaration of his office, as he was to be a preacher of repentance, and the forerunner of Christ, the end of whose coming was, that “ We should be saved from our enemies, and from the hands of all that hate us, that we might serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.”
Orthis Psalm, JUBILATE Deo. - Though this Psalm has its monthly course, and the Benedictus read but thrice a year, besides the Gospel, yet is the latter so much seldomer used than the former, that when it is, most of the congregation are at a loss how to go on. However, this Jubilate follows the second Lesson, very fitly too, as it is a hymn of praise, wherein all the nations of the world are called upon to join in praising and adoring the only true God, whose promises in the Gospel have been now held forth, and his grace, mercy, and truth so freely displayed to us.
Magnificat, St. Luke i. 46. The Song of the Virgin Mary is likewise very rightly placed between the Lessons : where in the first, those mercies which she had such a deep sense of, are so frequently and fully promised and declared; and in the second, so exactly and plentifully fulfilled and enjoyed, in that “he remembered his mercy," herein making good and fulfilling his everlasting promise which he made to “ Abraham and his seed for ever.”
Or else this Psalm, CANTATE DOMINO. This hymn very naturally follows this Lesson too, as it was a prophetic exultation for the coming of the Messiah: “By saving and delivering us from our spiritual enemies, hath he gotten himself the victory; the Lord declared his salvation, he hath remembered the promise made to our forefathers : let the whole creation therefore sing, rejoice, and give thanks, for he cometh with righteousness to judge the world and the people with equity.”
Nunc DIMITTIS ; or, The Song of Simeon. The participation of the Gospel benefits being the foundation of this hymn, it very rightly follows the second Lesson too. When our Saviour was brought into the Temple, to do for him after the custom of the law, the good old Simeon came by the Spirit there, as it had been revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. He there then breaks forth into this comfortable and solemn resignation of himself, and blessed God, and expressed his joy for that salvation which is therein contained and delivered to us.
DEUS MISEREATUR. This Deus Misereatur, is a prayer to God, and very justly follows this Lesson too, as it is a hymn of praise for the manifestation of our
salvation, and wherein we express our desire for the further propagation of it. “ That thy ways may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.” “ Let all the people," to whom thou art teaching the benefits of these righteous and good laws, therefore, " praise thee, O God, let all the people praise thee."
Then shall be sung or said the Apostles' Creed, by the Minister and People standing, except only such days as the Creed of St. Athanasius is appointed to be read : which confession of our Christian faith, commonly called the Athanasian Creed, is an epitome of the doctrine established by the four first general councils, concerning the Holy Trinity.
Before we enter upon prayer, we rehearse in our own person, the Apostles' Creed, which Creed is a summary of the principal and fundamental articles of our Christian faith, that has been set forth to us in the Lessons. Most churches are so contrived, that most of the congregation face the east part. The contrivance of the Temples were so fashioned, says the great Vitruvius, that they who offered sacrifice might look toward the east. The Jews, in their dispersion throughout the world, whenever they prayed they turned their faces towards the Mercy-seat and Cherubims, where the Ark stood. “ Hear the voice of my humble petitions, when I cry unto thee, when I hold up my hands towards the mercy-seat.” Daniel was found praying towards Jerusalem, because of the Temple there. “ If they pray towards their land, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name, then hear thou their prayer." 1 Kings viii.
Notwithstanding that this has been always esteemed a very decent way of our expressing our belief of a God, to turn to the east, that quarter of the heavens where he is supposed to have his peculiar residence of glory, and towards which there has always been a regard paid, yet we shall now and then meet with those who value themselves upon being sour in their obedience to custom, and so stiff-necked and conceited as not to comply with the rest of the congregation in this, nor in bowing at the name of our Lord and Saviour; though it was religiously ordained by our first Reformers, that whenever the name of Jesus shall be pronounced, due reverence shall be made, as heretofore has been accustomed.
This was first established by the Queen's injunctions, 1559, and was afterwards incorporated into the Canons of the year 1603:“ And likewise when in time of Divine Service, the Lord Jesus shall be mentioned, due and lowly reverence shall be done by all persons present, as it has been accustomed, testifying, by these outward ceremonies and gestures, their inward humility, christian resolution, and due acknowledgment, that the Lord Jesus Christ, the true and eternal Son of God, is the only Saviour of the world, in whom alone all the mercies, graces, and promises of God to mankind, for this life and the life to come, are fully and wholly comprised.”
And after that these prayers following, all devoutly kneeling, the Mini
ster first pronouncing, with a loud voice, THE LORD BE WITH YOU.
For all this plain direction, how few are there but what are upon their knees before the solemn blessing for this holy work is given ;
whereas they should make their answer for the spirit of prayer, and stay till they have been called upon to attend this great work, and then should they kneel, and not before. The Clerks and people are not here to repeat the last of these versicles; it is designed and ought to be left for the Minister to say it by himself. The same is to be observed in the Office of Matrimony, (there it is not printed differently, but-then the Priest shall say the first, and then-Answer ; after which, Minister,) Visitation of the Sick, Burial of the Dead, Churching of Women, and in the Commination.
Then the Minister, Clerks, and People shall say the Lord's Prayer with
a loud voice. By Clerks here are meant such as are still in some Cathedral or Collegiate Churches, who begin the Psalms, read some of the Lessons, and name the Anthem. They were formerly in Deacon's orders, and their business was to assist at the altar, for which they had a competent maintenance, by offerings at those altars. The word Clerk is but once mentioned, and that is in the office of Matrimony. " Then shall they again loose their hands, and the man shall give unto the woman a ring, laying the same upon the book, with the accustomed duty to the Priest and Clerk," i.e. to him that waits upon him, the Sexton, or some other servant that attends him, such as attend any minister in cathedral, or collegiate churches * or chapels.
To the same purpose did a gentleman, not long since, express himself in his will, -" To let me be buried in the church-yard wherever I drop, giving to the parson one guinea for performing his customary duty ; ten shillings to the clerk for doing nothing ; ten shillings to the sexton, who may deserve it, for making my bed and covering me with a green turf."
The parishes of St. Andrew and Charles, in Plymouth, are so large, that there are two persons, in Deacon's orders, to assist the Vicars. Vide “A Journey through England," Vol. II. p. 52.
In town, some of the readers especially would have other-guise usuage from such, than ever they can be supposed to meet with from your common servants, who have frequently wriggled themselves into such incomes as most of the Clergy there can never come up to half the value of. There need not so much have been said here, but that most of these sort of gentry look upon themselves to be of that importance, through the whole service, though, through their peculiar sufficiency, they may perhaps have only learnt how to blunder on, and to fancy that it belongs to them to be still louder than ordinary in so doing : that it has caused the people to imagine with them that the more they take upon themselves to say, there is still the less for them to do.
* His rebus sic gestis, manus relaxabunt, et maritus annulum uxori dandum libro imponet unà cum pecuniis, Ministro, ac sibi servienti, debitis.