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In the general acceptation of the word, priests are any ministers of a church : but in the more particular one, it implies those who are admitted to the full or second degree of holy orders.

In conferring holy orders, the church of England preserves but two distinctions, while those in the Romish church were seven. The first degree is that of deacon. Deacons were originally instituted with no other functions than to assist the priest at the altar. By the regulations of the church, a deacon must

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be of the age of twenty-three at his admission. He is allowed to baptize, to catechize, to preach, to assist in the administration of the sacrament, to solemnize matrimony, and to inter the dead; but he can neither consecrate the sacred elements or read the absolution, these being the peculiar duties of the priest, or clergyman in full orders. Nor can a deacon, as such, be instituted to a living

To be admitted to the ecclesiastical functions in their full extent, as well by the canons of the church as by an act of Queen Elizabeth, a man must be twenty-four. Though, anciently, when there were degrees of holy orders in the church,


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thirty was the age.

The manner and form of ordination both for deacon and priest is annexed to the book of Common Prayer.

A prejudice was long entertained, that they who had only received deacon's orders might at any time throw off the sacred character; but of late years, when the clergy were no longer suffered to sit among the commons in parliament, its indelibility was confirmed by the legislature.

The gowns which the clergy usually wear are different : adopting those appropriate to the degrees they may have taken in the university, others wearing such as



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