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THE HOLY COMMUNION.
I HAVE already in the last chapter noticed the various books which were anciently used in the celebration of the eucharist. The particular details relating to the liturgy of the church of England will be found in the following chapter ; but I wish first to consider some of the objections made to it, which, though in a few instances treated more at large in other parts of this work, I think it advisable to bring together here, that the reader may be able to estimate their amount and value.
I do not mean to produce the multiplied objections of the more irregular sects who have unhappily departed from the church in this empire, because they have been already answered by many writers. Yet the present work may convince them, of the injustice of representing the English ritual as derived from the modern offices of the Roman
church. It will be seen that Romanists are loud in their hostility to our liturgy, which in form and substance rather resembles the ancient Gallican, Spanish, Egyptian, and Oriental liturgies, than the Roman; while the expressions of our ritual are either taken from those liturgies just mentioned, or else from the ancient English offices which had been used in this country from the sixth century, and were then derived from the primitive Roman offices of the first four or five centuries after Christ. So that most of the expressions of the English ritual have continued in this church for above twelve hundred years, and in the Christian church for fourteen hundred years; many parts we trace back for sixteen hundred years, much to the apostolic age. If the modern Roman offices bear any resemblance to the English, it is in those points in which both resemble the offices of the primitive church.
The objections advanced by Romanists seem to merit more attention in this place, first, because they are more plausible and dangerous; secondly, a few of them have not yet perhaps been so formally refuted as their nature requires; and, thirdly, being advanced by men who preserve some external unity amongst themselves, they are uniform in their character and definite in their number. I have therefore taken considerable pains to collect all the arguments which such men have advanced against the English ritual, and will now proceed with the greatest brevity to notice and refute them. The objections resolve themselves into two classes ; first, general objections against the whole ritual; secondly, objections against particular parts of it.