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And one word more. Some men, I trust but few, would have thought it almost necessary, in such a discussion, to make frequent observations upon the contents of the volumes under examination: to point out the absurdity of a rubric, or the interruption of a response; to exclaim against the want of vital Christianity in an age which could be content with such or such forms of devotion; and against the excess of superstition which could alone account for the gorgeousness of this Procession, or the abasement of that Humiliation, which required, if we may so speak, such a multitude of Service Books: closing up the whole with loud congratulations upon the blessings which we now enjoy in the possession of the Common Prayer Book. From all such, I have carefully abstained; and this, not because I do not fully value and appreciate our present Prayer Book, but because I am sure such remarks would have been utterly out of place.
We have not been examining volumes of the same character and kind as those with which, to the injury of true and lively devotion, countries are at this time inundated, which are immediately subjected to the authority of the Church of Rome. Such as are the psalters of Bonaventure, the litanies of the blessed Virgin, and many others. It is not to be denied that some of the old "Hora" of the Salisbury Use, especially contained prayers and recommendations of prayers, which were the unhealthy produce of a period in the history of the Church of England, when her people and rulers, if they were anxious to pray more frequently than in modern times, were not so careful as they ought to have been, about the language in which their petitions were couched, the matter which was in them, and to whom they were addressed. But,
objectionable as such portions of the ancient Service Books were, they are not to be compared with the almost innumerable manuals of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, for the use of which in the communion of the Church of Rome, and their recommendation to the laity, universal as we know it is, I am at a loss to conceive even an excuse. An attempt has lately been made to introduce some such, again among ourselves: adaptations, and so called corrected editions, which cannot be looked upon without grave suspicion, and which we may hope have failed of success. Not by a stubborn resistance against what is really Catholic and good, nor by an easy reception of what is at best but doubtful, and has certainly been mischievous: not by an ignorant and indiscriminating hatred of the rites and worship of other branches of the Church of Christ, nor by a varnishing over of abuses which cannot be denied, and by a stealthy introduction of observances which we know have done injury, in fact, both to faith and practice, can we hope to restore once more the interrupted Unity of the Church, and ourselves to the inestimable blessings which must be the result. Upon such a plan we could not expect the approbation of our Divine Head, or the cooperation of His Holy Spirit.
But whilst I think, and undoubtingly think thus of such manuals and books of private devotion, I could not see any necessity for wearying the reader with continued rememberings of much, which we might have wished away, in the Offices and Liturgies, by which for a thousand years the Church of which I am myself a priest, guided the public worship of her people, and offered up her Services to God: I feel moreover that we ourselves have lost much that was most profitable,
and holy, and just, and true: that whilst errors have been taken away from our modern Book, and, if men will have it so, too great tediousness and repetition removed, yet that all is not solid gain. I hope that in another work I have shewn, that in the most important of all our Offices, we still have every thing which is requisite for the due celebration of the Holy Eucharist: but it is one thing to be certain of this and to be content; it is another to pride ourselves upon our Common Prayer Book, as if it was perfection: as if the rest of the Catholic Church were to be pitied, because its members have not altered, to the extent of our example, the Daily Worship, and the Ritual, and the Liturgy of their Fathers.
Extracts from Inventories of Parish
Churches taken in the 13th Century,
in the Diocese of Salisbury.
HESE Inventories are contained in the very valuable volume, so often referred to in the foregoing dissertation, and to which I shall be again indebted. It is preserved among the muniments of the Bishops of Salisbury. Commonly it is called the "Registrum Sancti Osmundi:" but it has no further claim to that title, than as having at the beginning a copy, the oldest I presume extant, of the famous consuetudinary drawn up by that Bishop. The remainder of the volume, amounting to four-fifths of the whole, is composed of various charters relating to the see of Salisbury, to the property of the Dean and Chapter, and to various privileges bestowed upon them: following these, are the contemporary records of a Visitation held by the then Dean of Sarum, A. D. 1220; William de Wenda, who (says Le Neve) was elected in that year: after, a number of other documents succeed, chiefly legal, and having reference to transactions during the episcopate of Bishop Poore: an account of the election of Bishop Bingham, successor to Poore: of the removal of the church from Old to New Sarum: an inventory, (imperfect) of the ornaments of the Cathedral: and other matters. do not pretend to give more than the faintest sketch