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to communicate with him, (which shall be three, or two at least,) and having, &c.
But if any man, either by reason of extremity of sickness, or for want of warning in due time to the Curate, or for lack of company to receive with him, or by any other just impediment, do not receive the sacrament of Christ's body and blood, the Curate shall instruct him, "That if he do truly repent him of his sins, and steadfastly believe that Jesus Christ hath suffered death upon the cross for him, and shed his blood for his redemption, earnestly remembering the benefits he hath thereby, and giving him hearty thanks therefore, he doth eat and drink the body and blood of our Saviour Christ profitably, to his soul's health, although he do not receive the Sacrament with his mouth."
In the time of the plague, sweat, or such like contagious times of sickness or diseases, when none of the parish or neighbours can be gotten to communicate with the sick in their houses, for fear of the infection, upon special request of the diseased, the Minister only may communicate with him.
If we look into David Lloyd's memoirs of the lives, actions, sufferings, and death of those noble, reverend, excellent personages that suffered, &c. we shall find in his life of Dr. Richard Holdsworth, that the plague in 1625, when he first came to Broad-street, could not drive him from his dear flock, though another murrain (heresies and schisms) in 1640, among the flock itself, did.
In his life of Dr. Henry Hammond, amongst the many instances of that great man's condescension, he gives this. "One in the voisinage (neighbourhood), mortally sick of the small-pox, then fatal to most of the Doctor's complexion, desired the Doctor to come to him; he makes no more ado, when satisfied that the party was so sensible as to be capable of his instructions, assuring those that were fearful of him, that he should be as much in God's hands in the sick man's chamber as in his own."-P. 396.
In that of Dr. Thomas Morton, Bishop of Duresm, he has this paragraph, page 437:-"Anno 1602, began the great plague at York, at which time he carried himself with much perdical charity; for the poor being removed to the pest-house, he made it his frequent use to visit them with food both for their bodies and souls; his chief errand was to comfort them, pray for them and with them; and, to make his coming more acceptable, he carried with him a sack of provisions usually, for them that wanted it; and because he would not have any body to run any hazard thereby but himself, he seldom suffered any of his servants to come near him, but saddled and unsaddled his own horse, and had a private door made on purpose into his house and chamber."
When a present Right Rev. Father of our Church was chaplain to the factory at Lisbon, he had notice given him that a merchant's lady, who was ill of the small-pox, had a mighty desire to receive the Holy Communion. As he himself never had had them, he hoped he should be excused from waiting upon her; but he soon had word brought him back again, that as he had never had them, she must even apply
herself to a priest of the Church of Rome that had. However, upon calling to mind that he had declared his unfeigned assent and consent to the use of all things contained and prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer, he looked upon himself, upon special request of the diseased, to be under an obligation of going and communicating with her.
These are very illustrious instances, no doubt, of a steadfast dependence upon God, and a firm trust in him. Neither can such a religious gallantry and greatness of soul as theirs be said to be very far from the answer that Pompey gave when he was dissuaded from going upon a public but dangerous expedition: Necesse est, ut eam, non ut vivam,-It is necessary for me to sail, but it is not necessary for me to live.
The Order for the Burial of the Dead.
Here is to be noted, that the ensuing office is not to be used for any that die unbaptized, are excommunicate, or have laid violent hands upon themselves.
After an excommunication has been read, the excommunicated persons can neither enjoy spiritual or temporal advantages till the same authority restores them again.
Some have been heard to say that they are not for using this office upon such as have done violence to themselves, though a jury do bring them in non compos mentis: they presume them to be too favourable when they insist upon it, that none but a madman would do such a thing,—that no one in his senses would be guilty of such an action. A very ingenious but unfortunate gentleman, who laid violent hands upon himself not long ago, did it with such an uncommon air, that he would not have his friends in the least suspect him that he was, when he shot himself, any way out of order. If juries were less indifferent in their inquiries, and persons that make away with themselves were a little oftener brought in guilty, so that their goods and chattels were now and then forfeited, and they were oftener laid in the highway with a stake through their bodies, it might, in some measure, perhaps, be a means of our not having so many self-murders as we have. But though there are so many that destroy themselves, and so few brought in compos mentis, be the circumstances what they will: yet no minister can deny the performance of this office: since, as they were brought in as deprived of their reason, they cannot then contract any guilt, the fact itself not being then allowed to be so.
When they come to the grave, while the corpse is made ready to be laid into the earth, the Priest shall say, or the Priest and Clerks shall sing.
The persons that are employed to get the corpse ready to be laid into the earth, are not to stay, before they do it, till the sentences are ended; but they should be making it ready whilst they are in reading, that the company may be kept there as little a while as conveniently they can.
No man was allowed to be buried in a church formerly, unless it were known that he had so pleased God in his life-time as to be worthy of such a burying-place. Dr. Joseph Hall, the pious and learned bishop of Norwich, by will, was buried in Higham churchyard, as not thinking the church a fit repository for the dead bones of the greatest saints. Dr. Robert Wood was buried in St. Michael's Church, Dublin, notwithstanding that he desired to be buried in the church-yard where he should happen to die; thinking that churches were less wholesome for corpses being buried in them. The Rev. and very worthy Dr. Lancelot Addison, Dean of Lichfield, and father to the Honourable Joseph Addison, Esq., particularly ordered to be buried in the church-yard. A late very worthy Bishop of London did the same and formerly, Swithin, bishop of Winchester, would not be buried within the church, as the bishops then generally were, but in the church-yard. But families get every day more and more into the church; paying the minister for breaking up his freehold, and the parish for repairing the pavement. But the money for that being received immediately, and the ground not sinking in some time, this is frequently neglected; so that it seems to be the most effectual way, to prevent the unevenness of the church, to oblige them to arch over all the graves that are made there.
The Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth, commonly called the Churching of Women.
The woman, at the usual time after her delivery, shall come into the church, decently apparelled, and there shall kneel down in some convenient place, as has been accustomed, or as the Ordinary shall direct: and then the Priest shall say unto her.
Here could be no limitation of the time: some are able to come sooner than a month; others, for want of health, are forced to stay longer; but no matter how long, rather than the office should ever be performed in their own houses. Neither is there any time mentioned when this office shall be performed. Bishop Sparrow, published by Downes, says, page 232, That it was to be used or done betwixt the first and second service, as he had learnt by some bishops' inquiries at their visitations. The reason, says he, perhaps is, because by this means it is no interruption of either of those offices.
The Church has made this a distinct office, and, as such, it may be intended by it that it should be performed before the service; as it has added here the doxology to the Lord's Prayer; that the person may have given thanks before she partakes of any part of the public prayers.
By these words, You shall therefore give hearty thanks unto God and say, the woman is to repeat the Psalm after the minister, as it is properly applicable to her alone.
A Commination, or denouncing of God's anger and judgments against sinners, &c.
After Morning Prayer, the Litany ended, according to the accustomed manner, the Priest shall, in the reading pen or pulpit, say.
The Gratia Domini is used before the Commination begins.
When the Minister comes to Cursed is the man that maketh, &c. the congregation do no more than affirm that the wrath of God will fall upon such as are guilty of the crimes there mentioned. For he that says Amen, does not signify his desire that the thing may be so, as he does when he says amen to a prayer; but only signifies his assent to what is affirmed, as in the creeds, as has been observed before.
Then shall they all kneel upon their knees, and the Priest and Clerk, kneeling, (in the place where they are accustomed to say the Litany) shall say this Psalm.
This Psalm is not read alternately, but the people join the minister and say it with him; as, just after, they are ordered to say this that followeth, after the minister, and not to say it with him.
There had nothing been said on the Government forms of prayer, had not the following direction caused a certain Wiltshire friend to think that if the thirtieth of January should happen to fall on a Sunday, the form was to be used upon the Sunday, and the fast kept the next day following:-If this day shall happen to be Sunday, this Form of Prayer shall be used, and the fast kept the next following.
That the words form and used, fast and kept relate to the same day, may be easily seen by the Act of Parliament, which establishes the observation of this day, and upon which this order is grounded :
"And for the better vindication of ourselves to posterity, and as a lasting monument of an otherwise inexpressible detestation and abhorrence of this villanous and abominable fact, we do further beseech your most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords and Commons in this present Parliament assembled, That every thirtieth of January, unless it falls out to be upon the Lord'sday, and then the next day following, shall be ever hereafter set apart to be kept and observed in all the churches and chapels of these your Majesty's kingdoms of England and Ireland, as an Anniversary of fasting and humiliation; to implore the mercy of God, that neither the guilt of that sacred and innocent blood, nor those other sins, by which God was provoked to deliver up both us and our king into the hands of unreasonable men, may at any time hereafter be visited on us or our posterity."
BRITISH REFORMATION SOCIETY.
As many of our readers may not have the opportunity of seeing the Wolverhampton Chronicle, in which the following sensible Letters, on the "British Reformation Society," have lately been published; we think they will be gratified by their insertion in our Miscellany. They will thus be put in possession of the claims of a Society, which is so liberal in its character, as to injure that alone which it ought strenuously to cherish. They are written by the Rev. C. Girdlestone, Vicar of Sedgley.
To the Editor of the Wolverhampton Chronicle.
SIR,-Seeing, by your last week's paper, that a deputation of the Reformation Society, as it calls itself, has excited great attention in this town and neighbourhood, I beg to offer to your readers the following considerations on the subject:
1. That this society is common to Dissenters and Methodists, with members of the Church.
2. That the tracts which it circulates, and the speeches which its advocates put forth, are necessarily accommodated to this mixture of heterogeneous religionists, who, agreeing as to from what they would convert members of the Church of Rome, cannot agree as to what they would convert them to.
3. That the fundamental objection amongst members of that Church to any departure from their ancient faith, is their appre, hension of the sin of schism; and that, therefore, a society, on whose proceedings indifference to that sin is most legibly inscribed, is least of all likely to succeed in their conversion.
4. That the Church of England, having made no wider departure from the Church of Rome, than was necessary towards its purifying from deadly error, and the restoration of its doctrine and discipline to the primitive model, stands on vantage ground, compared with other Protestants in this realm, with respect to the conversion of the Romanist, which it is deeply responsible for maintaining, and which its members cannot relinquish without sinfully sacrificing, as far as their influence extends, the most promising of all methods to bring their fellow-creatures to the knowledge of the truth.
5. That public religious disputations, such as this society promotes, though likely enough to interest and amuse a large company of promiscuous hearers, and to display the volubility of itinerant advocates, practised in daily debating on a few selected topics, against the successive champions whom they may thus easily confute, are a manifest profanation of the sacred subject, and an obviously unfair advantage taken over those whose feelings are by such treatment more like to be embittered, than their understanding convinced, or their conscience touched.
6. That the Clergy, in lending their Churches, as they have done in this neighbourhood, to meetings of so equivocal a character, have been unmindful of the trust reposed in them, and have degraded in the eyes of the people, buildings which, being consecrated to the worship of God, they have no right to make the theatres of controversial declamation.
7. That by adopting, as was done in this town, the alternative of meeting in a chapel of Dissenters, they manifest an indifference to the frequenting of such buildings, sanction the false notion, that the Ministers of the Gospel have no title to the respect and attendance of their flocks, besides their own personal character, and weaken, in the minds of their own congregations, that reverence due to their holy office, which it is presumed they can, in many cases, ill afford to relinquish.