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“ This reason likewise the common people give for their being buryed with their feet toward the east, so that they may be in a fitter posture to meet the sun of righteousness when he shall
appear with healing in his wings, viz. at the resurrection.” The subsequent remark is found at p. 30 : “Whether it be not a pretty foundation for the Oxford doctors to stand booted and spurred in the act? because there is mention made in the Scripture of being shod with the preparation of the Gospel?"
“'Tis in the main allowed,” says Selden, “ that the heathens did, in general, look towards the cast when they prayed, even from the earliest ages of the world.” On this important subject the curious reader is referred to Alkibla ; a Disquisition upon worshipping towards the East, by a Master of Arts of the University of Oxford, 1728. A Second Part, continuing the work from the primitive to the present times, appeared in 1731; and a second edition of the whole in 1740. The author, who signs his name to the second part, was Mr. William Asplin.
In this enlightened age it is almost superfluous to observe that bowing towards the altar is a vestige of the ancient ceremonial law.
Hickeringill, who has left a severe satire on the retainers of those forms and ceremonies that lean towards Popish superstition, tells us, in his Ceremony Monger, p. 15: “If I were a Papist, or Anthropo-morphite, who believes that God is enthroned in the east like a grave old king, I profess I would bow and cringe as well as any limber-ham of them all, and pay my adoration to that point of the compass (the east) ; but if men believe that the Holy One who inhabits eternity is also omnipresent, why do not they make correspondent ceremonies of adoration to every point of the compass?"
Concession must be made by every advocate for manly and rational worship, that there is nothing more in the east than in the belfry at the west end, or in the body of the church. We wonder, therefore, how ever this custom was retained by Protestants. The cringes and bowings of the Roman Catholics to the altar are in adoration of the corporal presence, their wafer God, whom their fancies have seated and enthroned in this quarter of the east.
1 “Aulam regiam, id est, ecclesiam ingredientes ad altare inclinamus, quod quasi regem milites adoramus : æterni enim regis milites sumus." Durandi Rationale, p. 226.
Mr. Mede tells us, that what reverential guise, ceremony, or worship they used at their ingress into churches, in the ages next to the Apostles (and some we believe they did), is wholly buried in silence and oblivion. The Jews used to bor themselves towards the Mercy-seat. The Christians, after them, in the Greek and Oriental churches, have, time out of mind, and without any known beginning, used to bow in like manner. They do it at this day. See Bingham's Antiquities.
At the end of Smart's curious Sermon, preached in the Cathedral church of Durham, July 27, 1628, among the charges brought against Bishop Cosens are the following: “Fifthly, he hath brought in a new custome of bowing the body downe to the ground before the altar (on which he bath set candlesticks, basons, and crosses, crucifixes and tapers, which stand there for a dumbe shew): hee hath taught and enjoyned all such as come neere the altar to cringe and bow unto it: he hath commanded the choresters to make low leggs unto it, when they goe to light the tapers that are on it in the winter nights; and in their returne from it, hee hath enjoined them to make low leggs unto it againe, going backewards with their faces towards the east, till they are out of the inclosure where they (usually) stand. Sixthly, he enjoynes all them that come to the Cathedrall church to pray with their faces towards the east, scoulding and brawling with them, even in time of divine service, which refuse to doe it, and bidding them either to pray towards the east, or to be packing out of the church, so devoted is hee to this easterne superstition."
In Articles to be inquired of within the Diocese of Lincoln, 1641, the following occurs : “Do you know of any parson, vicar, or curate that hath introduced any offensive rites or ceremonies into the church, not established by the lawes of the land; as namely, that make three courtesies towards the communion table, that call the said table an altar, that enjoyne the people at their comming into the church to bow towards the east, or towards the communion table ?”
In Altar-Worship, or Bowing to the Communion Table con. sidered, by 2. Crofton, Presbyter, but proved Enemy to all Fanaticks, 1661, p. 60, we are informed that “the late Archbishop Laud was the first that ever framed a canon for bowing to, towards, or before the communion table.” This shrewd writer adds: “For wbich, reason will require some symbol of divine nature and presence; its being an holy instrument of divine service, being of no more force for the altar than for the tongs or snuffers of the tabernacle, or Aaron's breeches under the law, or for surplices, organs, chalices, patens, and canonical coates and girdles, which are made instruments of holy service by our altar-adorers; and if on that reason they must be bowed unto, we shall abound in cringing, not only in every church, but in every street :” p. 116. “On Maundy Thursday, 1636, Mrs. Charnock, &c., went to see the King's Chapel, where they saw an altar, with tapers and other furniture on it, and a crucifix over it; and presently came Dr. Brown, one of his Majestie's chaplaines, and his curate, into the chappel, and turning themselves towards the altar, bowed three times ; and then performing some private devotion, departed ; and immediately came two seminarie priests and did as the doctor and his curate had done before them."
A regard for impartiality, says Brand, obliges me to own that I have observed this practice in college chapels at Oxford. I hope it is altogether worn out in every other place in the kingdom ; and, for the credit of that truly respectable seminary of learning and religious truth, that it will not be retained there by the rising generation.
The practice of bowing to the altar, the editor believes, is now entirely left off at Oxford. That of turning to it at the repetition of the Creed is generally retained, and certainly has its use, in contributing very often to recall the wandering thoughts of those who attend the chapel service.
In Browne's Map of the Microcosme, 1642, speaking of a proud woman, he says : “Shee likes standing at the Creed, not because the church commands it, but because her gay clothes are more spectable.” And in the Times Anatomized, in severall Characters, by T. F., 1647, is the following: “Like that notorious pickpocket, that whilst (according to the custome) every one held up their hands at rehearsing the Creed, he by a device had a false hand, which he held up like the rest, whilst his true one was false in other men's pockets.”
I find the following passage in the New Help to Discourse, 1684, p. 36: “It is a custom in Poland, that when in the
churches the gospel is reading, the nobility and gentry of that country draw out their swords, to signify that they are ready to defend the
The same reason, questionless, gave beginning to our custom of standing up at the Creed, whereby we express how prepared and resolute we are to maintain it, although, in the late times of rebellion, some tender consciences, holding it to be a relique of Popery, being more nice than wise, did undiscreetly refuse the same."
I find in a curious Collection of Godly Ballads in the Scottish Language, Edinburgh, 1621, the following passage, which contains, in other words, a very old argument against transubstantiation
“ Gif God be transubstantiall
In bread with hoc est corpus meum,
To take him in your teeth and sla him?" The Rev. Joseph Wharton, in his Dying Indian, puts into his hero's charge a similar thought:
“ Tell her I ne'er have worshipp'd
With those that eat their God." In Heath's Two Centuries of Epigrammes, 1610, I find the following: Cent. ii. Epigr. 78:
“ In Transubstantiatores.
And transubstantiators do no lesse :
Those eat man's flesh, these ravine upon God's.” Thus hath superstition made the most awful mysteries of our faith the subjects of ridicule.
The learned Moresin tells us, that altars in Papal Rome were placed towards the east, in imitation of ancient and heathen Rome. Thus we read in Virgil's eleventh Æneid :
“ Illi ad surgentem conversi lumina solem
Moresini Papatus, p. 117. He goes on : "Orientem in solem convertitur, ut jam dixi, qui deos salutat aut orat apud nos, et Apul. ait, 2 Metam. Tunc in orientem obversus vel incrementa solis Augusti tacitus imprecatus, &c. Polyd. lib. 5, cap. 9, Invent. Orientem respicit precaturus, et ima. gines oriens spectant, ut ingredientes preces eo versum ferant ad ritum
In a curious work, now before me, entitled England's Faithful Reprover and Monitour, 1653, the unknown author, in his address “to the Church of England,” reprobates a custom then prevalent for the audience to sit in churches with their hats on, p. 48: “Thine own children even glory in their shame, when, not as masters, but as scholars, not as teachers, but as disciples, they sit covered at their most solemn holy meetings, without difference of place, degree, age, season, or of any personal relation whatsoever. Although we have known some, and those not a few, who have presumed to sit covered, in the presence of God at such a time as this ; but when a great person hath come into the assembly, have honoured him with the uncovering of the head, as though civill respect towards a mortall prince were to be expressed by more evident signs of submission from the outward man than religious worship towards the immortal God." He tells us, however, that “they were uncovered when they sang the Psalms,"
“When the minister prayeth or praiseth God in the words of the Psalmist, as he frequently doth ; at which time every one almost is vailed, who, notwithstanding, presently condemn themselves in this very thing which they allow, forasmuch as they all uncover the head when the same Psalmes are sung by them, only changed into meeter, and that perchance for the worse. Our author concludes this head with observing,
Persarum, qui solem orientem venerati sunt. Plut. in Numa. Deus interdicit Judæis oriente, prohibet imagines. Exod. 20; Levit. 26; Deut. 5 ; Esa. 40. Cæl. autem lib. vii. cap. 2, ant. lect. dicit, jam illud veteris fuit superstitionis, quod in Asclepio Mercurius scribit, deum adorantes, si medius atfulserit dies in austrum converti; si vero dies sit occidnus, in occasum : si se tunc primum promat sol, exortiva est spectanda. Vigilius Papa, anno Christi 554, jussit sacrificulum sacrificantem missam ad ortum solis oculos dirigete. Insuper qui precabantur ad orientem conversi, erecto vultu, manibus passis, expansis et in cælum sublatis ac protensis orabant. Virg. 8 Eneid. Ovid. lib. 4, Fast. Vitruvius, lib. 4, cap. 5. Tertul. in Apol. Apul. lib 2, Metam. Clemens, lib. 7. Stromaton. eodemque conversa templa fuisse Plutarch. in Numa docet. Juvenal, Satyr. 10. Apul. lib. de Mundo. Virgil, lib. 2 et 3 Æneid. Hæc omnia retinet Papatus; vide Justinum, lib. 18, et lege dist. 11, can. ecclesiasticum, hæc instituta Sixto 11, adscribunt. Szeg. in Spec."
| So, in a Character of England as it was lately presented in a letter to a Nobleman of France, 1659, p. 13: “ I have beheld a whole congregation sitting on their **** with their hats on at the reading of the Psalms, and yet bareheaded when they sing them.”