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meniorial unto God. The bread and wine thus offered into God, are to be received by the faithful, as a solemn pledge of their being restored to the favour of God. In his holy sacrament, the Church, under the symbols of bread and wine; commemorates the passion and sacrifice of Christ, in order that all who “worthily receive those holy mysteries, may obtain remission of their sins, and all other benefits of Christ's passion; may be filled with God's grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with Christ, that he may
dwell in them, and they in him.”
Q. It will be proper to explain the form of service for the holy communion, appointed by the Church. What is meant by " the offertory," which the minister is directed to begin after the sermion; when the communion is to be administered ?
A. After the sermon, when there is a communion, the minister returns to the Lord's table; and reads several sens tences from Scripture, which explain and urge the duty of charity. This part of the service, from being used while the people are offering their alms by oblations, is called the offertory.
Q. By whom, and for what purpose, are the bread and wine placed upon the table ?
A. The bread and wine are then placed upon the table by the priest, as a solemn acknowledgment of God's soves reignty over the creatures. To this offering of the bread and wine to God the term oblation refers, in the prayer for Christ's Church militant, which follows the offertory. The bread and wine are here offered simply as such ; they are afterwards offered as consecrated symbols of the body and blood of Christ.
Q. What follows next in the service?
A. The alms for the poor, the devotions or gifts which used formerly to be made for the clergy, and the oblations of the bread and wine, being now presented unto God, are placed before him on his holy table, the Church then proceeds to the duty of intercession, in a solemn and affecting prayer for Christ's Church militant.
Q. What is the design of the exhotiations that are to be used on the Sunday before the communion ?
A. The exhortations to be used when notice is given of the communion, are designed to set forth the necessary pre paration for this holy sacrament, and the great danger and guilt of refusing to partic spate of it. The primitive Church did not need these exhortations; for then the communion was administered whenever public worship was celebrated, and all the faithful partook of it.
Q. What is the design of the exhortation appointed to be used at the administration of the communion ?
A. The exhortation used at the administration of the communion, in animating and affecting language, sets forth and enforces the dispositions with which we ought to approach the Lord's table.
Q. What follows the exhortation ?
A. After the exhortation, the priest invites the people to draw near: accordingly, it would appear proper for all the communicants to come from the more remote parts of the church, as near as possible to the Lord's table; and that they may come with lively faith in the merits of Christ, he calls upon them previously to confess their sins; which is accordingly done in words the most solemn and pathetic. The priest then, in a form of absolution, authoritatively declares the forgiveness of sins—thus conveying peace and consolation to the humble and contrite : and still further to strengthen the hopes of the penitent, he recites some sentences from Scripture, which, in the most lively manner, exhibit the mercy of God through Jesus Christ, to all who truly turn to him.
Q. What do you remark concerning the lauds and anthems?
A. The communicants having exercised their charity, having humbly confessed their sins, and received the comforting declaration of God's mercy in the absolution, they are now prepared for the solemn duty of thanksgiving, the more appropriate design of the Lord's supper, which was anciently called the holy Eucharist. Elevated, as it were, above the world, they seem prepared to enter into the heaven of heavens, there to join with angels and glorified saints, in adoring and praising the everlasting Jehovah. Accordingly, after the priest and people, in short sentences, mutually excite one another to the duty of praise, the priest, in the name of the people, makes a solemn acknowledgment to God, of their obligation to thank and praise him: and then both priest and people break forth in an animating act of thanksgiving, used in the most ancient liturgies; which, from the epithet holy being thrice repeated, as addressed to the three persons of the Trinity, is called The Trisagium, or thrice holy.* On certain festivals there are proper prefaces
* Τρισαγιον. .
appointed, in which thanks are returned to God for the pare ticular mercy of redemption that day commemorated. These prefaces are to be repeated seven days; in imitation, probably, of the Jewish feasts, which continued, some for seven, and one for eight days..
Q. What follows the lauds and anthems?
A. The nearer we approach these holy mysteries, the greater reverence we ought to express: the priest accordingly allays the foregoing exultations, by an act of humiliation highly expressive and affecting, taken from the most ancient liturgies.
Q. Explain the prayer of consecration.
A. The prayer of consecration is the most ancient and essential part of the whole communion. This prayer, as it now stands in the office of communion prescribed by our Church, is agreeable to the primitive model, and to the prayer of consecration in the first liturgy of king Edward VI. which was afterwards materially altered.
The priest first returns solemn thanks to God for the sacrifice of the death of Christ, the solemn memorial of which is now to be celebrated. He then solemnly consecrates the bread and wine to be symbols of the body and blood of Christ, repeating the words of Christ at the institution of them. They are then offered to God, as a solemn memorial of the passion and death, the resurrection and ascension of Christ, whereby our redemption is effected. The blessing of God, through his word and Holy Spirit, is then invoked on the consecrated elements, that they may be to every worthy receiver, in power and efficacy, the body and blood of Christ. And in conclusion, the faithful, as a just return to God for the in. estimable blessings of redemption, devote themselves, their souls and bodies, to his service; humbly imploring his mercy and grace. This
prayer of consecration, formed on the mode) of the prayer of consecration in the primitive Church, is venerable for its antiquity; it presents the most just and impressive views of the efficacy and importance of the holy Eucharist, and it is calculated to awaken the most solemn and tender affections of the soul. *
Q. What follows after the consecration ?
z Levit. xxiii. * The prayer of consecration, in the conimunjon office of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Ainerica, more nearly resembles the primitive model, than the prayer of consecration used by the Church of England.
in a hymn, the minister proceeds to administer the consecrated elements to the communicants, who devoutly kneel at the chancel. The Church of Rome administers the bread alone to the laity ; but such a partial sacrament, unauthorized by Scripture, was unknown for a thousand years after Christ.
Q. What is the conclusion of the service ?
A. When the communicants have received these solemn pledges of the mercy of God, they are considered as restored io his favour, and then address him in the Lord's Prayer, as their reconciled Father. The prayer which follows, is a solemn and devout acknowledgment of the goodness of God in this holy sacrament, and a humble supplication of his grace, to preserve his people in their fellowship with him, through Jesus Christ. After which, the faithful proceed to praise God, in the exulting and animating strains of the Gloria in excelsis ; and they are then dismissed by the bishop or priest, with the solemn form of benediction. An office for the communion, more solemn, appropriate, sublime, and affecting, could not be devised.
Q. Whence arises the obligation of Christians to participate, at every opportunity, of the holy communion?
A. Christians are called to participate of the holy commu. nion by the command of their blessed Lord, to whom they are bound by the dearest ties of gratitude. This holy ordinance is the instituted mean by which they are to derive from the Redeemer, the consoling and strengthening succours of his grace and mercy. It is admirably calculated to excite and cherish every holy disposition in the soul. To abstain from ii, covers the highest folly, and the most criminal insensibility to the exalted displays of divine love. It should, therefore, be the business of every Christian to partake of this divine ordinance, at every opportunity, with that sincere penitence and faith, love and devotion to God, which will ensure to him the inestimable blessings it is designed to convey.
Q. WHAT fast doth the Church this day celebrate ?
A. The Church celebrates on Good-Friday, the fast which commemorates the sufferings and death of Christ.
Q. Why is this day called Good-Friday? A. This day is called Good-Friday, from the exalted good which we derive from the sufferings of Christ; who, aby the shedding of his own blood, obtained eternal redemption for us.”
Q. Has not this day been observed as a day of fasting and humiliation, from the earliest ages of the Church?
A. This day, sacred to the commemoration of our Saviour's sufferings, has been observed, from the very first age of Christianity, as a day of the strictest fasting and humiliation. The grief and affliction which Christians on this day express, arise from a sense of the evil and guilt of their sins, which drew upon their blessed Redeemer the painful and shameful death of the cross.
Q. In what manner should we now observe this day?
A. On this day, all the pursuits of business should be suspended, the service of the Church devoutly attended, and the intervals of public worship devoted to holy meditation on the sufferings of Christ, and to other pious exercises. By abstinence, self-denial, and humiliation, we should seek to testify our sympathy in the sufferings of our Lord, and our lively sorrow for our sins, which occasioned his sufferings. There can be no greater evidence of insensibility and ingratitude, than to spend the day sacred to the sufferings of Chrisi, in the usual pursuits of business or pleasure. Those who profess to observe the day, and yet refuse to suspend on it their usual business, display the greatest inconsistency of conduct, and are guilty of a flagrant contempt of the authority of the Church. Openly avowing that they will make no sacrifices or worldly interest to testify their gratitude to that divine Saviour who shed for them his blood, surely, when
a Euseb. Hist. Eccle. lib. i. c. 17.