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of Canterbury, in a council held at Lambeth, made a constitution, instructing the priest of each parish how to teach the people, once every quarter of the year, the meaning of the creed, the commandments of the law and gospel, the good works to be done, the sins to be avoided, the principal Christian virtues, and the doctrine of the sacraments !. In 1408 archbishop Arundell renewed this constitution, enjoining also the “ customary prayers” to be said at the same time m These customary prayers, according to Lyndwood, who commented on Arundell's Constitution in a few years after it was published, were made to the people on Sundays, after the offertory"; and we find from the processional, or litany book, of the church of Salisbury, that the prayers made after the offertory on Sundays were exactly the same as those enjoined by the council of Orleans, and which we still use o.
1 Constitutiones Peckham. above, sc. in diebus DomiWilkins, Concilia Mag. Brit. nicis post offertorium solitis tom. ii. p. 54.
fieri ad populum.” Lyndwood, m Sacerdotes vero parochia- Provinciale, p. 291. les seu vicarii temporales et o In the processional of Sa. non perpetui-in ecclesiis illis rum, at the beginning, the bidin quibus hujusmodi officia ge- ding prayers and collects are runt, illa sola simpliciter præ- printed at full length, for the dicent, una cum precibus con- purpose of being said in casuetis, quæ in constitutione thedrals immediately before provinciali a bonæ memoriæ the liturgy began, and
• hæ Joanne prædecessore nostro, preces prædictæ dicuntur subene et sancte in suppletio. pradicto modo, omnibus Donem ignorantiæ sacerdotum minicis
1-Ita tamen (quæ incipit, “ignorantia sa- quod in ecclesiis parochialibus, cerdotum &c.”) continentur non ad processionem, sed post expresse. Const. Arundel. tom.
evangelium et offertorium suiii. p. 315. Wilkins, Concilia pradicto modo dicuntur ante Magn. Brit.
aliquod altare in ecclesia, vel n Lyndwood remarks on the in pulpito ad hoc constituto.” words“ precibus consuetis” Processionale Sar. fol. 6. These
From the circumstance of these prayers being found in the processional of Sarum, of their being mentioned as customary in the church of England in 1408, and appearing to have existed long before; it is not improbable that these prayers, as now repeated before the sermons, may have been used in our churches before, or shortly after, the Norman conquest. If we regard their form, we are carried back to a more distant antiquity. In the primitive liturgies we often find long prayers like these P, where the deacon enjoined or required the prayers of the faithful; and they either prayed in silence, or answered to each petition “ Lord have mercy,” while at the close some collect or prayer summed up their devotions. It is from the same original that our litany is derived ; the chief difference being, that in the litany the people respond aloud, while in the prayers before the sermon they pray in secret. In the primitive church it does not appear that it was customary to use any particular prayer before the sermon, though many of the Fathers, either at or near the beginning of their homilies occasionally addressed short and devout prayers to God for his holy Spirit 9. But it is evident that this was not general. The sermons which our Saviour and his apostles delivered in the synagogues appear to have been preceded by no prayers, but after the scriptures were read, the preacher immediately delivered his exhortation.
prayers also occur in the ma- P As in the Apostolical Connual of the church of York, stitutions, the liturgies of James, near the end, under the title Basil, Chrysostom, &c. of "preces pro diebus Domi- 9 Bingham, Antiquities, book nicis."
xiv. c. 4. §. 13.
I proceed, fourthly, to the principal and most important part of the preacher's office, which consists in teaching the doctrines and the duties of Christianity, and in delivering the word of exhortation and admonition. In the primitive ages, as I have observed, the bishop chiefly taught in the cathedral church, and the presbyters in lesser or parish churches. Here they instructed the people in all the branches of religion, and adapted all those methods of reasoning, persuasion, encouragement, or rebuke, which they esteemed best calculated to benefit the souls of the faithful. When the barbarians of the north had overrun the civilized portion of the world, and for a lengthened period, the arts and sciences were almost extinct, it became difficult, from the extreme ignorance of the times, to find clergy sufficiently qualified to preach. Hence, in several churches, homilies were selected from the writings of orthodox divines, and appointed by public authority to be read to the people". In England, about the year 957, Elfric, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, required the priest in each parish to explain the gospel of the day, the creed, and the Lord's Prayer, on Sundays and holydayss. The same person afterwards compiled homilies in the AngloSaxon language, which for some time continued to be read in the English church'. At length these
r Thus in Gaul Alcuin composed homilies by the command of Charlemagne ; see Cave, Histor. Literaria, tom. i.
Sacerdos diebus Solis et diebus festis populo sensum Evangelii Anglice dicere debet, , et per orationem Dominicam
ac symbolum apostolicum quam sæpissime potest, homines illos incitet, ut credant, et Christianismum colant,” &c. Canon xxiii. Ælfrici. Wilkins, Concil. tom. i. p. 253.
t See Cave, Historia Literaria, tom, ii.
homilies probably became either unpopular or obsolete; so that in the year 1281 preaching seems to have been generally omitted. In that year John Peckham, archbishop of Canterbury, made the Constitution which I have already described, and which provided for the delivery of four sermons, in the year, during the time of the communion-service, or liturgy. It does not appear that any great alteration took place for some time after the Constitution of archbishop Arundell; however, in a book entitled, the Liber Festivalis, published in the reign of Henry the Eighth 4, we find a series of homilies for all the holydays of the year, followed by the “ quatuor sermones,” as directed by archbishop Peckham, and all in the English language. This book, however, does not appear to have been published by authority, and was probably not much in use.
By the injunctions of king Edward the Sixth, in 1547, it was ordered that every Sunday when there was no sermon, the Lord's Prayer, Apostles' Creed, and Ten Commandments should be recited from the pulpit for the instruction of the people'. This was in fact little more than a renewal of the Constitutions of the archbishops of Canterbury. The subsequent composition and publication of homilies by authority is so well known that I need not dwell on it. Nor is it necessary to speak of the gradual increase of knowledge and education, which have in later times completely restored the ancient custom of preaching, which had so long been desired by the Christian church.
u Liber Festivalis. London, 1511. Printed before in 1497.
v Sparrow's Collection, &c. p. 4.
In the primitive ages, the bishop generally delivered his sermon or exhortation from the steps of the altar; presbyters preached from the pulpit, or ambon. But these rules were not strictly adhered to, and the preacher generally took his seat w in the place where he could be best heard by the people. The catechumens, those that were undergoing the penitential discipline, and even infidels, were allowed to hear the lessons and the sermon. It was only when the more solemn part of the office was about to commence that these persons were dismissed. In the churches of Antiochy and Asia", and in other oriental churches, there were distinct prayers for one or more of these classes, by the deacon and people, and each class was dismissed after the prayers that had been made for it were concluded. In most liturgies these prayers, owing to the extinction of the ancient discipline, have been omitted. Indeed it does not appear that in the churches of Italy, Africa, and Spain, any such prayers were ever used at this place; and it is very doubtful if they were customary in the Gallican church. But in the liturgies of the church of Constantinople the prayer for the catechumens remains even to this daya.
w The preacher very generally sat during the sermon, while the hearers stood. See Bingham, Antiquities, b. xiv.
* See page 25. note X.
y See above, p. 30. vol. i.
z Concil. Laodicen. canon xix.
a Goar, Rituale Græc. p. 70.