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HE following pages have been composed
for the use of the theological student, but not without the hope that they may also be acceptable to that large and increasing class. among the laity, who desire to be intelligent as well as faithful members of the Church. When applied to the great purpose for which it is intended, our Liturgy needs little comment; it is adapted to the wants and feelings of all; it is simple in its style, and not above the comprehension of the unlearned and the ignorant. But when studied by the light of history, it assumes a widely different aspect. It is found to be rich in memorials of the past. It derives a great part of its contents from a remote antiquity. It is a witness to the faith, the devotional habits, and sometimes to the trials and afflictions of our Christian forefathers. It bears on its surface the marks of many conflicts and controversies, which have
agitated the Church in successive ages. On these accounts it may well be regarded as a great historical monument: and the revered guide and companion of our public devotions thus becomes to us the subject of varied and interesting illustration.
Mr Wheatly's treatise on the Book of Common Prayer is deservedly held in high esteem, as a work of learning, ability and piety. A century, however, has elapsed since its publication; and we cannot wonder that, after such an interval, it should appear obsolete in some particulars, and defective in others. I trust that in many respects the present work will be found more full and comprehensive than that of Wheatly and if in the method of treatment it is, I will not say less prolix, but less copious, I am led to think that it may not on that account be less suitable to the requirements of those for whose use it is designed.
If we would understand the Prayer Book in all its parts, and form a just estimate of its value, we must often turn to the Service-books which it supplanted, and from which it was in
a great measure compiled. It is instructive as well as interesting to observe how, in preparing a new manual of public devotion, the Reformers availed themselves of the Breviary, the Missal, and the Ritual; how the old offices were rather remodelled than altogether superseded, and the formularies were in some cases literally translated, in others paraphrased, or adapted to the use of the Reformed Church. We frequently also find that a collect is placed in a new light by a reference to its Latin original. In order to encourage and facilitate this reference, many of the original forms have been inserted in the present treatise: and where no other source is acknowledged, it will be understood that they have been taken from the well-known Origines Liturgica of Mr Palmer.
Among the recent liturgical works to which I have had recourse, may be mentioned Dr Cardwell's Documentary Records, and Conferences on the Book of Common Prayer, Bishop Mant's and Mr Stephens's editions of the Prayer Book (the latter now in course of pub