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United States; in short, wherever the Book of Common Prayer is accepted as the form of public worship. The rituals observed in England for nearly a thousand years before the reign of Edward the sixth, and on which the rites and ceremonies of the common Prayer book are said to be founded, and from which they claim to be derived, ought always to be a subject about which the clergy, at least, of the Anglican church should not be ignorant.

If, therefore, I have succeeded in my endeavour to avoid giving offence to any one I shall be well pleased.

But let every reader or student of these pages remember that rituals, above all other classes of religious books, supply unfailing sources of controversy. Ritual is the ever-sounding voice, from age to age, of the Christian Church; as to her doctrine no less than her practice. People not uncommonly forget this. Constant attendance at public worship year after year is apt to produce a carelessness of recollection that every prayer said and everything done by bishop, priest, or deacon has a real and special meaning, as an act of faith or as a symbol and outward expression of what the Church teaches. The omission of an old or the introduction of a new ceremony, or the change even of a single word in an ancient prayer, may always be traced to the necessity of opposing some heresy or of further establishing and insisting on some article of the Faith. Rightly regarded, the public devotions

and ceremonies of the Church are intended to promote, and in fact never fail to promote, the spiritual welfare of her children, both in belief and practice. We cannot dispute one fact; namely, that where there is a bare and meagre ritual in any religious body which calls itself Christian there can be but little claim to teach with certainty what is true and what is not true.

But if I pursue this subject I must fall into the very course which it has been my desire throughout to avoid. However abruptly, therefore, this preface may seem to end, let it end here.

February, 1882.

W. M.

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A Dissertation upon the Ancient Service Books of the Church

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