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his church in the Hebrew and Greek Languages; who, although they may have in some matters, of no importance unto salvation, as men, been deceived and mistaken, yet have they faithfully delivered the whole substance of the heavenly doctrine contained in the holy Scriptures, without any heretical translations or wilful corruptions. With what reverence, joy, and gladness, then ought we to receive this blessing! Let us read the Scriptures with an humble, modest, and teachable disposition ; with a willingness to embrace all truths which are plainly delivered there, how contrary soever to our own opinions and prejudices; and in matters of difficulty, readily hearken to the judgement of our teachers, and those that are set over us in the Lord ; check every presumptuous thought, or reasoning, which exalts itself against any of those mysterious truths therein revealed ; and if we thus search after the truth in the love of it, we shall not miss of that knowledge which will make us wise unto salvation (a).
(a) Johnson's Hist, Acc. If the reader wishes for more minute information upon the subject of this chapter, he may consult Johnson's Historical Account of the several English Translations of the Bible, and an Historical View of the English Biblical Translations, by Dr. Newcome, late primate of Ireland.
CHAPTER THE SECOND:
OF THE LITURGY OF THE CHURCH
BEFORE the Reformation, the public service of our church was performed only in Latin, and different Liturgies were used in different parts of the kingdom. These liturgies consisted of prayers and offices, some of which had been transmitted from very antient times, and others were of later origin, accommodated to the Romish religion, which was then the established religion of this country. It is well known, that the renunciation of the Pope's Supremacy by Henry the Eighth paved the way for introducing the reformed doctrines and discipline into the church of England; but that great and glorious event was accomplished by slow degrees. Our ancestors did not at once pass from the various errors in belief, and from all the superstitious practices
of the church of Rome, to that purity of faith and simplicity of worship by which the church of England is now distinguished ; and we shall find that it required the labours of the pious and learned of several successive periods to bring our Liturgy to its present state of excellence.
Though Henry himself was by no means a sincere and uniform friend to the cause of the Reformation, yet his resentment against the Roman pontiff induced him to authorize many publications (a), which were calculated to expose the abuses and corruptions that had so long prevailed; and the several translations of the Bible into English, mentioned in the last chapter, contributed greatly to enlighten the minds of men, and to prepare them for that important change which took place immediately after his death.
In the first years of Edward the Sixth, who was firmly attached to the principles of the reformed religion, in which he had been educated, the King and his council nominated Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, Ridley, afterwards bishop of London, and other eminent divines, to draw up a
Liturgy (a) The King's Primer ; the Godly and Pious Institution of a Christian Man; a necessary Doctrine and Erudition for Christian Men, &c. &c.
Liturgy in the English language for the general use of the church, free from those unfounded doctrines and superstitious ceremonies which had disgraced the Latin Liturgies. These commissioners entered upon the work with the greatest alacrity and zeal; and when they had finished it, Cranmer presented it to the young King, and in the end of the year 1548, it was ratified by parliament, under the title of “ The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, after the Use of the Church of England.”
It was the principle of Cranmer to proceed in the glorious work of Reform with moderation; he cautiously avoided the rejection of too much at once of what the people had been accustomed to consider as parts of religion, not merely to prevent public commotions, but in order to procure a gradual change in their opinions, rather than give a shock to their faith. It was however soon perceived that this first attempt to establish an English Liturgy upon the authority of Scripture and the practice of the primitive church, was imperfect, and in some respects liable to objection; and we find Cranmer, very soon after its publication, consulting such of the
foreign foreign divines (b) as were most celebrated for their learning and discretion, respecting further improvements. The portion of Scripture which was now daily read in the churches, and the zeal and diligence with which the genuine truths of Christianityweredisseminated among the people, opened their minds, and operated so strongly upon their understandings, that in about two years ageneral revision of the Liturgywas thought expedient, and commissioners were appointed for that
purpose. The revision was made with the utmost care and judgement: and the book, thus improved, was confirmed by parliament in the beginning of April 1552, and ordered to be used in all churches throughout the kingdom, from the feast of All Saints following. In this “ Second Book," as it is called, of King Edward, there were many additions and corrections. Among the former were the sentences,exhortation, confession, and absolution, at the beginning of the morning and evening prayer, and the ten commandments in the communion service. The principal omissions were, the use of oil and the sign of the cross in confirmation, extreme unction at the
(6) Particularly Bucer and Martyr, who, through his recommendation, were now divinity professors in Cambridge and Oxford.