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them (of which, however, there is no proof), is clear from the fact that the Order was not withdrawn.
Probably, however, it will be objected-that the Reasons which Cranmer assigns in this Letter for "Kneeling at the tyme of the receavinge of the Sacrament" are no proof that he held the Doctrine of the Real Presence. But surely it would be fairer to ask-Do they contain any indication that he did not hold it? In answering this question, it is of consequence to bear in mind the character of the complainants and the ground of their complaint: both are described by the Archbishop in his Letter: he saw clearly enough that they were not to be satisfied with such a concession as they required, even if he had been disposed to make it; and we may well believe him to have felt that, whatever their faith or misbelief as to the Real Presence, any argument upon it would be out of place with those who demanded license to do as they list because "it is not expressly conteigned in the scripture (saie thei) that Christ ministered the sacrament to his apostles kneelinge." It was, then, only prudent and politic in one who was evidently bent upon carrying his point, not to risk the loss of it by furnishing the Council with arguments which perhaps some of them might refuse to endorse, and which, even if all concurred in them, would be no answer to the opponents of the Rubric, whatever their opinion on the then debated question of Christ's presence in the Sacrament: for, no doubt, they would have retorted- That the Apostles did not kneel even when Christ was visibly present.
It would be most unjust therefore to Cranmer, to accuse him, on such a ground as this, of not holding the Catholic Doctrine: rather it would be due to him to think that he was unwilling to peril its acceptance by employing it to defeat an opposition which, however truly, was not then ostensibly based upon the non-recognition of it.
Moreover, it would appear that the Archbishop quite understood the weakness of those who professed to "bee offended," and well knew how to turn their own inconsistency into an argument for the rule and practice which he was defending. For it seems that they limited their objection to kneeling, to" the tyme of the receavinge of the Sacrament":
this, no doubt, was highly important in the estimation of the Zwinglian and stricter Sacramentarian party, who wished to disconnect from the reception of the Eucharistic elements every idea of their being the media of conveying to any the Body and Blood of Christ. To kneel at receiving them would be the recognition of a belief which even Calvin and the more moderate Sacramentarians held-that simultaneously with the participation of the bread and wine the Body and Blood of Christ were communicated to the elect, or those in a state of grace. It is obvious, therefore, that if the protestation thus involved in not kneeling at the time of receiving, were allowed, kneeling at other parts of the Service would not be an obstacle with them, though they might prefer some other attitude. It is easy, then, to conceive, that under these circumstances Cranmer felt it necessary to meet the objectors on their own ground, and to furnish the Council with an answer which (while perhaps it was necessary for some of the Councillors themselves) should enable it to appease the complainants without adverting to any Doctrinal dispute.
The consideration, then, that the objectors acquiesced in the rule of kneeling at other parts of the Communion Office (and thus maintained some external reverence in what they regarded as no more than a commemorative rite) coupled with their non-belief of any Objective Presence resulting from Consecration, appears to have provided the Archbishop with his answer to their cavil: he simply contents himself with calling the Council's attention to the fact "that there bee two praiers which go before the receavinge of the Sacrament and two ymmediatlie followe all which tyme the people praying and geavinge thanckes, do kneele". These four prayers were, (1) The Prayer of access, "We do not presume," &c.; (2) The Consecration Prayer, "Almighty God our heavenly Father," &c.; (3) The Lord's Prayer; (4) The Prayer of Thanksgiving, " O Lord and heavenly Father," &c., or, Almighty and everlasting God," &c., as in our present Office. On what principle, asks the Archbishop, in effect, can they kneel during these prayers, and refuse to kneel
during that act which they would acknowledge as designed to quicken their intellectual apprehension of Christ—which perhaps some of them would even regard as the obsignation of the benefits of Christ's death? They cannot merely wish, he virtually says, to exhibit less devotion at the moment when they would intensify their mental union with Christ, or realize the sealing of His grace, than when they ask Him to bestow these blessings or thank Him for having vouchsafed them! Even on their own view of the nature and use of the Lord's Supper, if " at the recept" of the Sacrament the people "shoulde rise up and staunde or sitt, and then ymmediately kneele down againe, it should rather import a contemptuouse then a reverent receavinge of the Sacrament."
This, I think, is the very lowest construction which can be put upon the Archbishop's Letter: his argument was one which the necessity of the case appears to have required, and which, were it needful, might be justified by the example of an Apostle who said, "being crafty I caught you with guile." Yet it must not be taken as the measure of Cranmer's own belief: that, to be rightly estimated, must be sought either in his own positive teaching or in controversies with the Papal party in these we should expect to find how much he deliberately held; and some tolerable notion of what he did believe on the Real Presence will have been gathered from the passages already cited.
I can readily imagine, however, some one appealing to this Letter from Cranmer to the Council as a proof of what has been sometimes asserted-that the Archbishop, when he prepared Edward's Second Book, did not believe in Consecration. It will be asked, I have no doubt, does not the fact that Cranmer here speaks of the Prayer of Consecration in precisely the same language which he applies to the Prayer of Access and to the two Post-communion Prayers, prove that he could not have attributed any peculiar value to the act of Consecrating the Eucharist?
For the reasons already given it would be enough to answer-that Cranmer's view of Consecration must not be gathered from language used on an occasion when to have
urged the importance of Consecration would probably have only had the mischievous effect of provoking a clamorous demand to expunge the Prayer itself from the Book which had just received the sanction of the Crown and of Parliament; and that Cranmer had some reason to fear the Council would not refuse to employ its extensive powers in altering the Book, if it so pleased them, is plain from his referring it to their "wisdome to considre" of "what importaunce" it was, even for the Rubric on Kneeling to “bee nowe altered againe without Parliament." Yet, perhaps, in that very silence which was only politic, we may trace a latent defence of Consecration. It can scarcely have been absent from the Archbishop's mind-that the objectors to the Rubric must have been fully conscious of the importance attached to this Prayer of Consecration by, at least, the greater proportion of a Clergy who had only four years before been constantly using the old Mass Office, and who at that very time were accustomed to so definite a form of Consecration as that in Edward's 1st. Book. His own sagacity moreover, must surely have suggested to him that (though the Prayer as altered in the 2nd Book, and especially the omission of the Rubrics requiring the manual acts, might satisfy the Clerical as well as the Lay malcontents) the complainants could not disguise from themselves the distinctive character of a Prayer which "the Priest" was still ordered to offer "standing up" and which they would certainly believe him, in the majority of cases, to use with the same intention which he had always had: not to say that they would expect to find the Priests, generally, continuing to use those same Manual Acts to which up to that time they had been accustomed and which, be it observed, they were not forbidden to employ for to suppose that the Clergy of 1552 in any numbers, and, much more, suddenly, made so great a change in their habitual practice; is a notion as wholly improbable as the supposition that if the present Prayer Book were now revised and the Rubrics in the Consecration Prayer omitted, any considerable number of the Clergy of the present day would cease to Consecrate the Eucharist with the Manual Acts now prescribed.
Now mark how the Archbishop turns to account this impression, which we cannot deny he was likely to have had, of the objectors' mental consciousness as to the prevailing belief touching this Prayer: he makes no special allusion to the Prayer itself; that would, in all likelihood, have been a signal for reclamation on their part and would have added force to their objection to kneeling at the reception, as recognizing a Real Presence due to Consecration: but, ignoring for the time their own disbelief and their conviction of others' belief in Consecration, he contents himself with noticing the fact that at that Prayer and three other Prayers intimately related to it "the people praying and geaving thanckes, do kneele;" leaving it to them to reconcile it to their own consciences how (while objecting to kneel at receiving) they could unite in an external act which implied acquiesence in a theory they themselves disavowed. It was no part of his duty then to sound in unwilling ears the Doctrine of the Church enough if he could compel uncandid minds to yield assent to a Rule which he was not prepared to abandon, though that assent was secured by an argument which condemned their own palpable inconsistency.
But we are not without distinct evidence as to Cranmer's views at this time touching Consecration: his "Defence of the True and Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament" (already quoted at pp. 19–26) will tell us what they were: the "Defence" was written in 1550 i.e. the year after the publication of Edward's 1st Book; its object and the Archbishop's status at that time on the Eucharistical question are thus described by Foxe, A.D. 1563, in his "LIFE, STATE, AND STORY OF THOMAS CRANMER :" the Italics are mine:
"During all this mean time of King Henry aforesaid, until the entering of King Edward, it seemeth that Cranmer was scarcely yet thoroughly persuaded in the right knowledge of the Sacrament, or at least, was not yet fully ripened in the same: wherein shortly after he being more groundly confirmed by conference with Bishop Ridley, in process of time did so profit in more riper knowledge, that at last he took upon him the defence of that whole doctrine, that is, to refute and throw down first, the corporal presence; secondly, the phantastical transubstantiation; thirdly, the idolatrous