We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bishop Grafton

The Liturgy is the old name for our Eucharistic service. It was originally applied to it alone. Morning and Evening Prayer are known by the name of the Divine Office. The Liturgy and the Divine Office are the combination of the synagogue and the temple service. The Anglican communion has preserved the two in better proportions than any other religious body. She has marked their distinction by a careful architectural division of her chancels into choir and sanctuary. In Roman churches this distinction is not made. There, indeed, we find an altar and an altar service, but, save the unvarying meagre Sunday vespers, no public recitation of the Divine Office. In sectarian bodies we have a synagogue service, but no altar.

Thus Rome and the sects represent a mutilated form of Christian worship. Both the synagogue and the temple worship are of divine origin or sanction, and in the new dispensation they passed on, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, into their glorified Christian condition ...

The recitation of the Decalogue in this place is a peculiarity of the Anglican rite. Let us not therefore disparage it, but rather glorify it; for may we not humbly believe that in the development of the Liturgy each portion of Christendom bears its own witness to the faith and has its own special liturgical glories? Our Liturgy, beginning with the Decalogue and omitting the Gloria in Excelsis, is in striking contrast with the Roman. We can admit that the Roman order is more in accord with the primitive liturgies, and that there is something very beautiful in beginning the drama of Christ's life and death with the angels' song at Bethlehem. But yet it is a grand idea—a grander one, we venture to think—to throw the mind first of all back behind the scene of Bethlehem into the eternal counsels themselves and into the presence of the ever-blessed Trinity. The recitation of the Decalogue does this. It places us before the awful grandeur of God Himself, and enshrines us in the splendour of His glory. For the recitation of the Decalogue is not a promulgation of an arbitrarily imposed code of laws to regulate human conduct, but is a revelation of the divine nature by laws which could not have been otherwise than they are, any more than the rays of the sun could differ from its source. The Decalogue reveals the unique and perfect being of the Almighty; the sanctity of His Name; the marvellous combination of the dual principle of unceasing activity and absolute rest in His nature; the order and subordination found in the divine life itself, the basis of that order which holds family and state together. It brings us before God Himself, the eternal source of life Who makes all human life and its propagation sacred, the absolute justice and essential truth, the one and only all-satisfying end of us otherwise covetous mortals. In the presence of that absolute perfection we shrivel into nothingness, and deplore our own sinful condition, and make our ever-needful plea for mercy. Surely there is something very deep and solemnizing in thus bringing the soul before the piercing splendour of the attributes of God.

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