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part out of the church, when there is any communion celebrated, proceedeth either of vaine and superstitious. feare, growing of grose ignorance of themselves, and of the holy Sacramentes: or else of an intollerable negligence, or rather contempt, &c.” Possibly my own opinion expressed above, of the celebrated Puritan, as to his dealing with facts, may be thrown back upon me; and it may be said, he misrepresents matters, or did not know what was the custom observed in churches which he was very careful not to enter. But he had an acute adversary, who would not overlook, neither has he, any such mistakes. And what does Whitgift say in his Defense of the Answere to the Admonition ? “The booke of common prayer doth greatly commend, and like the receyving of the whole church togither, but if that cannot be obteyned (as it cannot, and they will not have men compelled unto it) it secludeth not those that be well disposed: so they be a competent number. And the booke doth exhort those to depart which do not communicate, with a warning from whence they departe, so that you may well understande, that the meaning of the booke is, that all that be present should communicate.”” Without longer delaying upon the subject, I would upon these grounds conclude, that non-communicants ought not to be allowed to remain during the entire service. It is acknowledged upon all sides that for the first five centuries such was the rule of the Catholic Church, and the best ritualists agree moreover in extending this time to the end of the seventh : and I have cited a passage from Amalarius in the ninth, (with some remarkable
* P. 147. 150. b. Cartwright Church of England still suffered it, is attempting to prove, upon a text and private Mass. as it were from the Admonition, “private Communion,” that the 43 P. 530.
observations of Durand and Biel long after,) asserting its continuance : it has been shewn that the rubrics and phrases of the Prayer-Books of Edw. and Elizabeth do not suppose the continued presence of all persons, without distinction, in the church ; but, on the other hand, urge the departure, at some time, of those who are not about to communicate: and such has been proved to have been the actual practice of the Church of England in the early part of Queen Elizabeth's reign; since which time no one, I believe, pretends that there has been any general change, or even an attempt at it, until our own day. But, it is not to be concealed, a difficulty is instantly suggested, and a very practical one, viz: when are the non-communicants to depart? This is a question which I cannot now discuss so fully as it deserves, and which I am certainly not entitled accurately to decide. On those occasions when an Office is performed, for which we have no name,” consisting of some collects, a lesson, the Epistle and the Gospel of the day, the Nicene creed, and perhaps a sermon with other additions; an Office which, whatever it may be called, is not an imitation of a communion service, is not, as I have said in another part of this volume, a Missa sicca ; at that Office there is no reason why all, who may be present at
* Within some twenty years after the review of the Common Prayer Book, people knew not what name to give this Office, now so very commonly said in our Church. Thus the authors of the famous Admonition to the Parliament call it a “halfe-communion, whiche is yet appoynted like to the commemoration of the Masse:" (sign. B. ij. v.) but Archbishop Whitgift will not, and rightly, allow this to be the name of it, in his Answere to the
Admonition, though he does not tell us what we are to call it. “I knowe not” he says, “what you meane by the halfe-communion, I find no such word in the Communion booke —if you meane the scriptures and prayers appointed to be read when there is no Communion, then do you uniustly liken them to the commemoration of the Masse, being most fruitful scriptures and godly prayers.” P. 183. and Defense of the answere, p. 737.
the beginning, should not remain throughout. But when we intend to celebrate the Divine Service of the Holy Eucharist, non-communicants should depart before the Offertory. I do not mean to say that it is absolutely necessary that always when the Offertory is said, offerings and alms of the people should be collected; but these must be collected, if at all, at that time: an ancient custom which the Church of England has most laudably revived, and (we may say) constantly observes. Upon such a point it would be waste of time to accumulate authorities: I may adopt, however the words of a very learned writer, who speaking de offertorio, says: “Hic olim missa incipiebat, caetera enim quae ante ponebantur, scilicet orationes et instructiones, habebant rationem praeparationis ad sacrificium : unde illis interesse poterant catechumeni, et peccatores poenitentes. Ast ad offertorium missa catechumenorum terminabatur, et incipiebat missa fidelium ; quare tunc ejectis catechumenis et poenitentibus, solifideles illiadesse poterant.” Hence, whilst in the case of that Office which pretends not to proceed to a communion the continued presence of the entire congregation may be not only unobjectionable, but quite in accordance with the rubrics, I cannot but regret that the same judgment as to what ought to be observed has been extended to the service of the Holy
We readily agree with the excellent
the Church now are, there do not exist the same grounds for pressing this, as in the case of the Offertory. To depart at some time or other they ought, but the principle which rules the one, has not the same force in the other: in the primitive church they heard and repeated not the creed, for totally different reasons from those which prevented their taking a part in the oblations: these reasons have ceased as regards the first, but not the second.
Communion : nor do I hesitate to say, that a general return to the old practice of non-communicants leaving after the sermon on communion days, even though at other times we ended, also as of old, with the sermon, would be far better, than a general introduction of what has been attempted by some, and insisted on against the will or wishes of the people by others, namely, not dismissing the congregation or any part of it until the offertory has been said. If it should hereafter seem good to the rulers of the Church to revise the Common Prayer Book, an undertaking more perhaps to be dreaded on account of the numberless alterations that the clamour of a thousand tongues would suggest, than to be desired because of some doubtful rubrics which might be cleared up, it can scarcely be supposed but that they would consider this question of non-communicants: and, to say the least, there would be no light grounds to fix for the time of their departure, the conclusion of the sermon.
With one remark more, I shall return to my proper subject. Those who wish the non-communicants to remain throughout, scarcely explain their reasons; they declare their departing to be an innovation, which is a misconception ; and tell us that it would encrease the number of communicants, which is not only extremely doubtful, but unless such encrease be based upon good grounds, not desirable. I cannot think that any member of the church of England would say, that if a person is not fit or willing to communicate, he can obtain any more benefit by looking on during the whole service than if he leaves the church at a proper time. It is true that the church of Rome urges the people to be present, though they do not intend to receive the Eucharist: it insists in fact upon their doing so, believing that a beneficial effect is wrought ea opere operato in those, who hear mass with devotion : but not to say that there is not a trace of such a doctrine in the records of the first ages of the Christian Church, what do they mean by devotion ? we are told, “If one have capacity and commodity, he should attend to all such passages, as the priest speaketh out plain; for the rest, he should have his private devotions, which be so much the better, if they be accommodated to the course of the mass: but if not, no great matter, as long as one's devotion doth recall itself by a particular attention, at the chief mysteries of mass, which are the consecration, and the consummation, which is done when the priest receiveth.” Is this the kind of devotion which is to be desired also among the members of our own Church 2 and does it lead to a due reverence of the Sacrament itself? Let us hear another author, of the Roman church. “Many who go under the notion of Catholics, do in a luke-warm manner hear mass, rather for fashion or custom sake, or in exterior shew, contenting themselves with a corporal presence, and little or no application of the mind; nay some do it with contempt, derision, and at least culpable negligence.” And such I venture to assert, would be some among the evils which would follow the introduction of such a custom, as the non-communicants remaining, once more among ourselves. Far from returning to a practice, recommended by the primitive Christians, we should have, in direct opposition to them, only the example of the middle ages: we should not find a better knowledge among our people, than may now be gained, of the doctrines which are involved in the celebration of the holy Eucharist, of the blessings which it conveys, of their duties and responsibilities as baptised members of the Church of Christ : we should not see reverence towards it encreased, nor do I believe that more communicants would press forward to the Altar.