ROBERT JOHNSTON, D.D.,
THE PUBLISHERS' SYNDICATE, LIMITED.
The worship of the sanctuary is a living subject of discussion and practice in the Presbyterian Churches of the world at large, and, within late years, in that of the Canadian Dominion. Many earnest minds are approaching the study of the subject from various standpoints, each worthy of attentive consideration. One regards it from the dogmatic position of scriptural precedent, or from the larger one of Christian principle; the aesthetic mind comes to it with visions of order and beauty; the practical, with his view of the Church's needs in mission fields and in mixed congregations. There is room in the discussion for the largest statement of lawful opinion, founded on conviction of absolute right, and on Christian expediency, and for the exercise of abundant charity.
Dr. Johnston gives no uncertain sound on the subject. To his mind the duty of the Church, first and last, is to preserve spirituality of worship, and to discountenance everything that may tend to interfere with the same. But, while this spirit pervades his work, his method is historical, and thus preeminently fair and impartial in statement. The presentation of the argument in concrete or historical form invests it with an interest which could hardly be commanded by either dogmatic or practical methods, while it excludes neither.
Dr. Johnston brings to his task ripe scholarship, including extensive knowledge of Church history and ecclesiology, his proficiency in which he has recently vindicated in such a manner as to leave no room for doubt. To this he adds the teaching of pastoral experience in mission fields, prior to his ordination, and, since then, in large and influential congregations; and, to crown the whole, heartfelt devotion to the Church of his fathers, and unswerving personal loyalty to its King and Head.
With adoring thanks to the great Teacher of us all, who rewards professors in their declining years with the affectionate regard of their whilom best students, now become wise and strong men in the Church's service, I cordially commend to all who may read these words, this outcome of Dr. Johnston's Christian erudition and conscientious literary labor.
(signature of John Campbell)
MONTREAL, March, 1901.
TO ONE WHO LOVED
THE HOUSE OF GOD ON EARTH,
AND WORSHIPS NOW
IN THE CITY WHEREIN IS NO TEMPLE—
THE LAW AND THE LIBERTY OF PRESBYTERIAN WORSHIP
THE AGE OF KNOX: THE FORMATIVE PERIOD OF PRESBYTERIAN WORSHIP
KNOX'S BOOK OF COMMON ORDER.
A DIET OF PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE TIME OF KNOX
THE PERIOD OF CONTROVERSY
THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY AND THE DIRECTORY OF WORSHIP
LEGISLATION CONCERNING PUBLIC WORSHIP IN THE PERIOD SUBSEQUENT TO THE REVOLUTION
PRESBYTERIAN WORSHIP OUTSIDE OF THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH OF SCOTLAND
MODERN MOVEMENTS IN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCHES RESPECTING PUBLIC WORSHIP
"Inward truth of heart alone, is what the Lord requires. Exercises superadded are to be approved, so far as they are subservient to Truth, useful incitements, or marks of profession to attest our faith to men. Nor do we reject things tending to the preservation of Order and Discipline. But when consciences are put under fetters, and bound by religious obligations, in matters in which God willed them to be free, then must we boldly protest in order that the worship of God be not vitiated by human fictions."—CALVIN.
The purpose in the following pages is a simple one. It is to discover the trend of thought in connection with Public Worship within the Presbyterian Church, particularly in Scotland, during the course of her history since the Reformation. The spirit of the Church in her stirring and formative periods, especially if that spirit is a constant one, is pregnant with instruction. Such a constant spirit is readily discovered by a study of the attitude of the Presbyterian Church towards the subject of Public Worship during the course of her history, and to the writer it seems very evident that that spirit indicates an increasing suspicion of liturgical forms in Worship, and a growing confidence in, and desire for, the liberty of untrammeled approach to God.
Whether this spirit be the best or not, it is not the purpose of these pages to discuss. The great principle of the liberty of the Church in matters of detail, is fully recognized, a principle ever to be sedulously guarded, but an appeal is made to the record of history for its evidence as to the historic attitude of the Presbyterian Church, on a question which to-day is claiming the earnest attention of those who desire for that Church fidelity to her Lord and efficiency in His work.
My indebtedness in the study of this subject to Dr. McCrie's Cunningham Lectures on "Scottish Presbyterian Worship," Brown's "Life of John Knox," Sprott's "Scottish Liturgies" and Baird's "Eutaxia," as well as to various Histories of the Reformation in Scotland, and for American Church History to Moore's and Alexander's valuable digests, I gladly and with gratitude acknowledge. An abundant and increasing literature upon the subject of Public Worship is an encouraging sign of the attention which the Church is giving to a matter so vital to its best life.
ST. ANDREW'S MANSE, LONDON, January, 1901.
The Law and the Liberty of Presbyterian Worship.
"While it is admitted that there is a form of government prescribed or instituted in the New Testament, so far as its general principles or features are concerned, there is a wide discretion allowed us by God in matters of detail, which no man or set of men, which neither civil magistrates nor ecclesiastical rulers can take from us."—HODGE.
The Law and the Liberty of Presbyterian Worship.
"The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him."—WESTMINSTER CATECHISM.
The Church of Christ, as a divine communion, exists in the world for a definite and appointed purpose. This purpose may be declared to be twofold, and may be described by the terms "Witness" and "Worship."
It is the evident design of God that the visible Church should bear witness to His existence and character, to His revelation and providence, and to His grace towards mankind, manifested in His Son, Jesus Christ. To Israel God said, "Ye are my witnesses," and to His disciples forming the nucleus of the New Testament Church, the risen Saviour said, "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me."
Side by side with this evident end of the Church's existence is the other one of Worship. Not only from the individual heart does God require ascriptions of praise and expressions of confidence, but from the organized congregation of His people, He desires to hear the voice of adoration, contrition, and supplication. The cultivation of such worship, and the offering of it in a manner acceptable to God, is a work worthy of the Church's most earnest care.
It is to be expected, therefore, that in the Word of God there shall be found the principles of a cultus which, possessing Divine authority, shall carry with it the assurance of its sufficiency for the ends aimed at, and of its suitability to the requirements of the Church in every age. That the word of God contains such principles clearly indicated, the Presbyterian Church has always maintained, teaching uniformly and emphatically that Holy Scripture contains all that is necessary for the guidance of the Church, as well in matters of Polity and Worship, as in those of Doctrine. Divine worship, therefore, neither in its constant elements nor in its methods, is a matter of mere human device, nor is the Church at liberty to devise or to adopt aught that is not explicitly stated or implicitly contained in the Word of God for her guidance.
The essential parts of worship we are at no loss to discover, clearly indicated as they are in the history of the Apostolic Church. Praise and Prayer, with the reading and exposition of Scripture, together with the celebration of the Sacraments, are repeatedly referred to as those exercises in which the early Christians engaged. With such worship, though in more elaborate form, the Church had always been familiar, for as Christianity itself was in so many respects the fruit and outcome of Judaism, the expansion, into principles of world-wide and perpetual application, of truths that had hitherto been national and local, so its worship and organization were, in large measure, the adaptation of familiar forms to those simpler and more comprehensive ones of the New Testament Church. Throughout the successive periods of Israel's history, marked by patriarch, psalmist, and prophet, Divine worship had grown from simple sacrifice at a family altar to an elaborate temple-ritual, in which praise and prayer and the reading of the Law occupied a prominent place; to this were added in later times the exposition of the Law and the reading of the Prophets. This service, elaborate with magnificent and imposing forms, continued in connection with the Temple worship down to the time of our Saviour, while in the Synagogue a simpler service, combining all the essential parts of the former with the exception of sacrifice, was developed during the period subsequent to the Babylonian captivity, when, as is generally conceded, the Synagogue with its service had its origin. Apart then from the ritual connected with sacrifice, which was wholly typical, the temple service and the simpler worship of the Synagogue were identical in their different parts, although differing widely in form.
Now, just as Christianity was itself not a substitute for the Jewish religion but a development and enlargement of it, so Christian worship was an outgrowth, with larger meaning and broader application, of the worship of God which for centuries had been conducted among the Jews. It continued to comprise the essential elements of prayer and praise, together with the reading and exposition of the Divine message, a message which was enlarged in Apostolic times by the record concerning the Christ who had come, and by the inspired writings of the Apostles of our Lord to the Church which they had been commissioned to plant and foster, while associated with these was the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. It has always been maintained by the Presbyterian Church, that of these different elements of worship, none should be neglected, inasmuch as all of them have Divine sanction, and that to these nothing should be added, inasmuch as any addition made, could possess human sanction only, and would be a transgression of the principle that Scripture and Scripture alone contains authority for the government and practice of the Church of Jesus Christ.
It follows that in the arrangement and adjustment of each of these various parts of worship, in their due relation to each other, and in the determination of the methods that shall prevail in their performance, the Church must be governed by an appreciation of the purpose for which they have been established, and of the ends which they are expected to serve. The object of public worship must ever be kept in view, and no forms, however attractive, are to be admitted by which that object may be hidden or obscured: on the other hand, order and seemliness demand a due attention, and it is an error, only less mischievous than the former, to have regard to the spirit of worship alone, and thus to neglect whatever suitable forms and methods may best secure the orderly and appropriate performance of its every part.
The most commonly recognized purpose of public worship is the cultivation of the spiritual life of the worshipper, and this is attained by the employment of means intended to bring the soul into an attitude of response to its Lord. It follows then that matters of form, attitude, and order in worship, should be so arranged and regulated that they may serve as aids to the securing of this end, and that nothing should be permitted which may in any way interfere with the development of this spirit of response on the part of those so engaged. And when it is remembered how small a matter may interfere with the worship of a congregation, and how easily disturbed and distracted the hearts of men are by untoward circumstances or conditions, it will be seen that not only the forms of worship demand attention, but that the order of its different parts, the attitude of the worshippers, and all matters of detail are worthy of careful thought and of earnest consideration. But Christian worship has an altruistic aim also, and is intended to serve as a witness before the world to those fundamental truths professed by the Christian Church. With this end in view, it is evident that its forms should be such as shall most clearly and effectively set forth before the eyes of beholders, those truths and principles which the Church holds as essential to Christian faith and practice. To obscure such a public declaration of Christian belief, by hiding these truths beneath an elaborate adornment that disguises or completely conceals them, is to be faithless to the commission of Jesus Christ to be a witness unto Him before the world; to neglect such witness-bearing, or by carelessness or inattention to detail, to render it in a manner so ineffective as to disparage the truth in the eyes of beholders, is to be none the less unfaithful to that great commission.
With the twofold purpose of worship clearly kept in view as the foundation for any discussion of this subject, it is also to be remembered that the Church of Christ is left free by her Divine King and Head, so to order matters of detail, under the guidance of the Spirit of Truth, and in harmony with the principles laid down in Scripture, as may in accordance with varying ages and circumstances seem best for the attainment of the ends desired. While Christian worship in its essential parts is prescribed by Scripture, the Church is free to amplify or develop these general outlines, provided only that all be in harmony with the spirit of Revelation. It is very evident that new conditions of a progressive civilization, the spirit of the times, or the particular circumstances of a community, may make desirable a modification of a particular method of worship long practised; it is for the Church, relying ever on the guidance of the Spirit of Truth, to determine how such modification may, without violation to the spirit of Scripture, be made. For this reason it can never be binding upon the Church to accept as final, the particular methods of worship used and found suitable by men of another age or another land; while such may be accepted as valuable for suggestions contained, and as indicating the spirit that controlled good and great men of another time, yet the Church can only accept them (in loyalty to the Spirit Who abides in her, and Who is hers in every age) in so far as they prove themselves suitable to present times and conditions. The present possession by the Church, of the Holy Spirit as a guide into all truth, according to the promise of Christ to His disciples, is a doctrine that no branch of the Church would readily surrender, and her right, under that guidance, to seek the good of the body of Christ on lines which, while consistent with the principles of Scripture, commend themselves to her as more suitable to present conditions than former methods, this right is one which she can part with only at the risk of endangering her usefulness to her own age.
To Presbyterians, therefore, thankful as they are for an historic past that has in it so much to arouse gratitude to God and loyalty to the Church they love, the citing of the practice of their forefathers in Reformation times, or even that of the early fathers of the Church, can never be a final argument for the acceptance of any particular method in worship. Believing in a Church in which the Spirit of God as truly governs and guides to-day as He did in Reformation or post-Apostolic times, and in a Christian liberty of which neither the practice nor legislation of holy men of the past can deprive them, they rightly refuse to surrender their liberty or to retire from their responsibility.
In the best and truest sense the Presbyterian Church is Apostolic, and her spiritual succession from the Apostles she cherishes with an unfaltering confidence. While rejecting the ritual theory of the Church, she has never been careless of the true succession of faith and doctrine and practice from the time of the Apostles to the present day, a succession to which she lays a not unworthy claim; and, claiming loyalty to Apostolic doctrine, polity and practice, she has ever been jealous in asserting her Divine right, as an Apostolic Church, to the controlling presence and guiding wisdom of the Holy Spirit of God. Under the guidance of that Spirit she has ever claimed, and still claims, the right of administering the government and directing the worship which, in their essential principles, are set forth in Scripture, neither superciliously regarding herself in any age as independent of those who have gone before, and so disregarding the legislation and practice of the fathers, nor, on the other hand, slavishly accepting such legislation and practice as binding upon the Church for all time, and as excluding for ever any progress or change. That spirit, at once of independence as regards man, and of dependence as regards God, has characterized Presbyterianism in its most vigorous and progressive periods; by that spirit must it still be characterized if, in succeeding ages, the work allotted to it is to be faithfully and well performed.
If then the Church of one age is so independent of those who in other times have served her, it may be asked of what interest is her past history to us of to-day, and of what benefit to us is a knowledge of the legislation and practice of the Church in other periods of her progress? Of much value in every way is such knowledge. Those periods in particular, in which the Church has made notable progress, and in which her life has evidently been characterized by much of the Holy Spirit's presence and power, may well be studied, as times when those in authority were, indeed, led to wise measures, and guided to those methods of administration and practice, which by their success approved themselves as enjoying the Divine favor; the lamp of experience is one which wise men will never treat with indifference. In studying the Reformation period, therefore, a period marked by special activity and progress within the Presbyterian Church, we do so, not so much to discover forms which we may adopt and imitate, as to discover the spirit which moved the leaders in the Church of that day, and the principles which governed them in formulating those regulations, and in adopting those practices, which proved suitable and successful in their own age. To emulate the spirit of brave and wise men of the past is the part of wisdom, to imitate their methods may be the extreme of folly.
Another result, and one equally desirable, will be attained by a study of Presbyterian practice from Reformation times onward. It will transpire, as we follow the history of public worship, by what paths we have arrived at our present position, and we shall discover whether that position is the result of diligent and careful search after those methods most in accord with Scripture principles, and so best suited to the different periods through which in her progress the Church has passed, or whether it is due to a temporary neglect of such principles, and a disregard of the changing necessities of different ages. We shall discover, in a word, whether we have advanced, in dependence upon the Spirit of God and in recognition of our responsibilities, or whether we have retrograded through self-trust and indifference.
The Age of Knox: the Formative Period of Presbyterian Worship.
"Among the great personages of the past it would be difficult to name one who in the same degree has vitalized and dominated the collective energies of his countrymen."—BROWN'S LIFE OF KNOX.
The Age of Knox: the Formative Period of Presbyterian Worship.
It was in the year 1560 that the Reformed religion was officially recognized by the Estates of the Realm of Scotland, as the faith of the nation. This recognition consisted in the adoption by Parliament of the first Scottish Confession, a formula drawn up by Knox and his brethren at Parliament's request, and formally approved by that body as "wholesome and sound doctrine grounded upon the infallible truth of God's Word." This year may, therefore, be regarded as the year of the birth of the Church of Scotland, although previous to it the Reformed faith had been preached, and its worship practised, in many parts of the land where nobles and barons, who had themselves adopted it, held individual or united sway.
A glance at the condition of affairs in Scotland in the years immediately prior to this event will be instructive. In 1557, as a result of Knox's rebuke of the Scottish nobles for their hesitancy in forwarding the Reformed faith, the "Confederation of the Lords of the Congregation" was formed, and its members subscribed to the first of the five Covenants that played so important a part in the religious history of Scotland. In this Covenant, those subscribing bound themselves to "maintain and further the blessed Word of God and His congregation and to renounce the congregation of Satan with all the superstitions, abominations and idolatry thereof." To the general declaration were appended two particular resolutions, in which was expressed a determination to further the preaching of the Word, in the meantime, in private houses, and to insist on the use of King Edward's Prayer Book in parishes under the control of subscribers to the Covenant. By these same Protestant lords and commoners the first official order, authorizing for their own parishes a form of Reformed worship in Scotland, was issued in these terms:—
"It is ordained that the Common Prayers be read weekly on Sunday, and other festival days, publicly in the parish Kirks with the lessons of the Old and New Testaments conform to the order of the Book of Common Prayer."
It is generally conceded, and the judgment is supported by the references to it in Scottish history, that this Book of Common Prayer thus authorized was the second Book of King Edward the Sixth.
From the year 1557 until the arrival of Knox in Scotland in 1559 this was the Book commonly used in parishes where the Reformed religion prevailed. It disappeared, however, as so much else of a foreign character disappeared, in the course of the national Reformation, giving place to the Book prepared by Knox and then commonly known as "The Book of Our Common Order" but now frequently referred to as "Knox's Liturgy." This was originally the work of Knox and four associate reformers living in exile in Frankfort-on-the-Main, and the history of its origin is interesting. It had been required of the English refugees living at Frankfort, as a condition of their being allowed to use for worship the French church of that town, that they should adopt the Order of Worship of the French Reformed Church. To this requirement the majority agreed, but, some objecting, it was finally determined that five of their number, of whom Knox was one, should draw up a new order of service. This work, undertaken in 1554, was duly accomplished, but when completed it failed to find acceptance at the hands of those who had proposed it. The draft of the new book was therefore laid aside until 1556, and was then published for the use of the church at Geneva, of which Knox in the meantime had become the minister.
There is in connection with this Book, and the debates and disturbances attending its preparation, one instructive fact that should not be forgotten. The English Prayer Book provided for responses by the people and included the Litany, to both of which the French Reformed Church objected, in accordance with the well-known opinions of their great leader Calvin, who held, as did also his disciple Knox, that in praise alone should the congregation audibly join in public worship. Among the English refugees were some who desired the privilege of responding in public worship according to the English fashion, and it was the persistence in this matter of Cox, afterwards Bishop of Ely, and of some of his co-patriots, that led to Knox's removal to Geneva, and to the publication there of the Book of Geneva as an order for public worship in the English congregation to which he ministered. It is important that this should be remembered, for in speaking of the Book of Common Order as "Knox's Liturgy," and thus giving to it a name by which it was never known in Knox's day, an impression has prevailed, and is still prevalent, that the book provided a form of worship liturgical in character, with a responsive service, while the fact is that Knox made no provision for even so much as the saying of "Amen" by the people, their part in prayer being the silent following in their hearts of the petitions uttered by the reader or the preacher for the day.
The first official recognition of this book in Scotland was in 1562, when an order of the General Assembly required that it should be uniformly used in the administration of the Sacraments, solemnization of marriage and burial of the dead. At this time it was still in its Genevan form, and was called "The Form of Prayers and Ministration of the Sacraments, etc., used in the English congregation at Geneva; and approved by the famous and Godly-learned man, M. John Calvin." Two years later, in 1564, a Scottish edition appeared, in which were additional prayers with the complete copy of the Psalter, and in this year the General Assembly ordained that:
"Every Minister, Exhorter and Reader shall have one of the Psalm Books lately printed in Edinborough, and use the order contained therein in Prayers, Marriage and Ministration of the Sacraments."
This book was called "The Form of Prayers and Ministration of the Sacraments, etc., used in the English Church at Geneva approved and received by the Church of Scotland, whereunto besides that was in the former books are also added sundry other Prayers with the whole Psalms of David in English Metre." As the Psalms occupied by far the greater part of the book it came to be commonly known as "The Psalm Book," and as such, with frequent additions, among which were several hymns and doxologies, it continued to be the recognized Book of Common Order of the Scottish Church down to the time of the Westminster Assembly. It cannot be claimed, however, that this book ever secured a firm or lasting hold upon the affections of the Scottish people in general. Its authority was ecclesiastical only, inasmuch as the Estates of the Realm never gave to it the official sanction which they had repeatedly granted to King Edward's Prayer Book. One reason for this evident want of popularity may have been that, except in its Psalter department and in some of its minor parts, it was a book for the clergy only and not for the people. Even the Psalms in those days passed through new editions so rapidly, and were subjected to such serious changes, that they never obtained the place in the affections of the people that later versions have secured, and by 1645 The Book of Common Order appears to have fallen into such comparative neglect that no strong resistance was made to its abolition in favor of the Directory of Worship.
That it was held in esteem by the clergy, although not so revered as to be looked upon as incapable of improvement, appears from the fact that in 1601 a proposal was made to revise it, together with the confession of faith, which had been prepared by Knox. This work was committed to Alexander Henderson, the renowned minister of Leuchars and the valiant leader of the Church of Scotland in her resistance against the tyranny of Charles the First and his minister, Laud. The revision, however, was never accomplished, Henderson confessing, according to the historian, Baillie, that he could not take upon him "either to determine some points controverted, or to set down other forms of prayer than we have in our Psalm Book, penned by our great and divine reformer."
A book which held for so long a time its place of authority in the Scottish Church, and which embodied during so important a period the law of the Church concerning worship, deserves particular study at the hands of those who are interested in the history of this important subject, but inasmuch as the form of worship alone is under discussion, it will be necessary to refer only to those parts of it which bear on this phase of the Church's practice. Before doing so, however, it will be instructive to notice what is too frequently overlooked, that the adoption of Knox's Book of Common Order by the Scottish Church indicates even in that age a desire for forms of worship less liturgical than those which were employed by other parts of the Reformed Church. It is to be remembered that those parishes in which the Reformed religion prevailed had been accustomed to the use of the English Book of Common Prayer with responsive services for the people, and with prayers from which the minister was not supposed to deviate. This Book was set aside, and in its place was adopted an Order of worship in no part of which provision was made for responses, and in all of whose prayers the minister was not only allowed freedom, but was encouraged to exercise the same. Such action on the part of men accustomed to make changes only after careful deliberation, clearly indicates an intelligent choice of a non-liturgical service as opposed to one of the opposite character.
More than this, the Scottish Book of Common Order is marked by an even greater freedom from prescribed forms than is Calvin's original Book of Geneva from which Knox copied so largely. For while both of them agreed in avoiding a responsive service, Knox seems to have been even less than Calvin in sympathy with prescribed forms of prayer from which no deviation was to be allowed. There is nothing to indicate that Knox would have agreed with the sentiment expressed in Calvin's letter to the Protector Somerset, in which he says: "As to what concerns a form of prayer and ecclesiastical rites, I highly approve of it, that there be a certain form from which the ministers be not allowed to vary.... Therefore there ought to be a stated form of prayer and administration of the Sacraments." The form of Church prayers, as originally prepared by Calvin in keeping with his sentiments above expressed, do not provide for any variation in certain parts of the service. The Scottish Book of Common Order, however, allows, in its every part, for the operation of the free Spirit of God, and for other prayers to be offered by the minister than those there suggested.
At this period of its history, therefore, we find the Church of Scotland more pronounced than any other section of the Reformed Church in its desire for freedom from prescribed forms in the worship of God. Indeed, we are probably not in error in judging that in different circumstances, with an educated ministry in the Church and those appointed as leaders of worship who had received training for that important work, Knox would have felt even such a book as that which he prepared, to be both unnecessary and undesirable.
Knox's Book of Common Order.
"The Book of Common Order is best described as a discretionary liturgy."—SPROTT.
Knox's Book of Common Order.
The Book of Common Order makes no reference to the reading of Scripture as a part of public worship, nor does it, after the fashion of many similar books, contain a table of Scriptures to be read during the year. This omission however, is amended by an ordinance found in the First Book of Discipline prepared by Knox in 1561, and adopted by the General Assembly of that year, by which it is declared to be:
"A thing most expedient and necessary that every Kirk have a Bible in English, and that the people be commanded to convene and hear the plain reading and interpretation of the Scripture as the Kirk shall appoint."
It was further enjoined by the same authority and at the same time that:
"Each Book of the Bible should be begun and read through in order to the end, and that there should be no skipping and divigation from place to place of Scripture, be it in reading or be it in preaching."
It is evident, therefore, that it was the purpose of Knox that the whole of Holy Scripture should be publicly read for edification, and that it should be read as God's message to men and not as an exercise subordinate to the preaching, or intended merely to throw light upon the subject of the discourse.
In connection with the reading of Scripture and of the Prayers, mention is made, in this same Book of Discipline, of an Order of Church officers who filled an important place in the Church of that time. It was ordained that where "no ministers could be had presently" the Common Prayers and Scriptures should be read by the most suitable persons that could be selected. These suitable persons came to be known as "Readers," and they form a distinct class of ecclesiastical officers in the Reformation Church of Scotland. The need of such an Order was evident, for the Church found great difficulty in securing men of the requisite gifts and graces for the office of the ministry. The Readers therefore, formed an important and numerous order in the Church for many years, numbering at one time no less than seven hundred, while at the same time there was less than half that number of ordained ministers. These men were not allowed to preach or to administer the sacraments, and they formed only a temporary order required by the exigencies of the times, as is evident from the fact that the General Assembly of 1581, in the hope that all parishes would soon be supplied with ordained ministers, forbade any further appointment of Readers.
In the mind of Knox, these men were the successors to the lectors of the early Church, and corresponded in Scotland to the docteurs of the Swiss Reformed Church, a Church whose organization he regarded as but little less than perfect. Although they conducted a part of the service in parishes where ministers regularly preached, yet in the original idea of the office the intention was that they should conduct public worship, in its departments of prayer and praise and reading of the Scriptures, only in parishes where a minister could not be secured. It is necessary to understand their office and their position in the Church, inasmuch as the existence of such an order has a bearing upon our appreciation of the form of public worship at this time adopted in Scotland.
In the exercise of public prayer the greatest freedom was granted the minister by the Book of Common Order. Calvin had prescribed a form of confession, the uniform use of which he required, but the general confession with which the service of the Book of Common Order opened, was governed by this rubric:
"When the congregation is assembled at the hour appointed, the Minister useth this confession, or like in effect, exhorting the people diligently to examine themselves, following in their hearts the tenor of his words."
Similar liberty was also allowed the minister in the prayer which followed the singing of the Psalms and preceded the sermon; the rubric governing this directed that:
"This done, the people sing a Psalm all together in a plain tune; which ended, the Minister prayeth for the assistance of God's Holy Spirit as the same shall move his heart, and so proceedeth to the sermon, using after the sermon this prayer following, or such like."
And finally, as governing the whole order of worship, it is added:
"It shall not be necessary for the Minister daily to repeat all these things before mentioned, but, beginning with some manner of confession, to proceed to the sermon, which ended he either useth the prayer for all estates before mentioned or else prayeth as the Spirit of God shall move his heart, framing the same according to the time and matter which he hath entreated of. And if there shall be at any time any present plague, famine, pestilence, war, or such like, which be evident tokens of God's wrath, as it is our part to acknowledge our sins to be the occasion thereof, so are we appointed by the Scriptures to give ourselves to mourning, fasting and prayer as the means to turn away God's heavy displeasure. Therefore it shall be convenient that the Minister at such time do not only admonish the people thereof, but also use some Form of Prayer, according as the present necessity requireth, to the which he may appoint, by a common consent, some several day after the sermon, weekly to be observed."
The liberty allowed to the minister in this so important part of public worship is evident, and although many prayers are added as suitable for particular times and occasions, and some, which are described as of common use under certain circumstances and by particular churches, yet none of them are prescribed as the only prayers proper for any particular season or occasion.
Even in the administration of the Lord's Supper, the directions which accompany the prayer which precedes the distribution of the bread and wine allows a similar latitude to the Minister.
"Then he taketh bread and giveth thanks, either in these words following or like in effect."
The student of the life of the great Scottish Reformer does not need to be told that the framer of the Book of Common Order was not himself bound by any particular form of prayer in public worship. On the occasion of his memorable sermon after the death of the Regent Moray, his prayer at its close was the passionate outburst of a burdened soul, impossible to one restricted by prescribed forms, while his prayer, which is still preserved, on the occasion of a national thanksgiving, is an illustration of the perhaps not excellent way in which, in this exercise, he was accustomed to combine devotion and practical politics; a part of it ran thus:
"And seeing that nothing is more odious in Thy presence, O Lord, than is ingratitude and violation of an oath and covenant made in Thy Name: and seeing that Thou hast made our confederates of England the instruments by whom we are now set at liberty, to whom we in Thy Name have promised mutual faith again; let us never fall to that unkindness, O Lord, that either we declare ourselves unthankful unto them, or profaners of Thy Holy Name."
It is not surprising that one who allowed himself such liberty in public prayer should lay no binding forms upon his brethren in the ministry.
It remains only to be said, with regard to the restrictions of the Book of Common Order, that so far from providing any fixed form of prayer for uniform, use, even the Lord's Prayer was not imposed in any part of public worship. It is added, together with the Creed, to the form of prayer called "A Prayer for the Whole Estate of Christ's Church," but this prayer is governed by the general rubric already quoted, which permits such variation as the minister, moved by the Spirit of God, shall deem desirable. There is nothing to show that it was expected that the Lord's Prayer should be used as an invariable part of public worship.
With these facts before us, whatever our judgment may be of the wisdom of Knox and of the Church of his day in the matter of a regulated service, we cannot close our eyes to the evident conclusion that the Reformer was wholly opposed to the bondage of form in prayer. In this part of public worship he claimed for himself, and exercised under the guidance of the Spirit of God, the greatest freedom; and consistent with this position he never sought to impose as a part of regular public worship, the repetition by the minister of even that form of prayer which of all others has for its use Divine authority. To whatever in worship the Book of Common Order may lend its countenance, it assuredly gives no support to the imposition upon worshippers of prescribed forms of prayer.
Side by side with that part of public worship already considered there has always been associated the exercise of Praise.
Although the Scottish Church conformed most closely to the Churches of France and Switzerland, yet it was impossible that it should not, to some degree, be influenced by the spirit of the German Reformation. This influence was especially marked in that which was a special characteristic of the German Church, a love for sacred song and a delight in the same on the part of the people.
The Book of Common Order contained, as has been mentioned, in its early editions, the complete Psalter, and to this were added, subsequently, a few Scripture Hymns, together with the Doxology Gloria Patri in different metres, so that it could be sung at the end of every Psalm. This Doxology appears in Hart's edition of the Book of Common Order of 1611, in six different metres, under the general head of "Conclusions," and was evidently used regularly at the close of the Psalms sung in public worship. It was not until the beginning of the seventeenth century that there began to arise criticisms of the custom of singing the Doxology, and it would, therefore, appear that during the formative period of the Scottish Church, which we are considering, it was regularly used, and occasioned no objection and aroused no opposition. The Hymns which were printed with the Psalter were few in number, and were chiefly free paraphrases of sections of Scripture. They are "The Ten Commandments," "The Lord's Prayer," "Veni Creator," "The Song of Simeon called Nunc Dimittis," "The Twelve Articles of the Christian Faith," and "The Song of Blessed Marie called Magnificat." The purpose of the Hymns appears to have been the memorizing of Scripture and important doctrinal truths, and there is no evidence that they were employed in public worship, although a place was not denied them in the Book of Common Order; in the Order for Public Worship mention is made of Psalms only, and in all the accounts, which have come down to us in correspondence or history, of the public services of that time, the people are invariably spoken of as joining in a Psalm, while even in the public processions, which were common on occasions of national rejoicing or thanksgiving, Psalms only are mentioned as being sung by the people.
The singing was usually led by the Reader, but there is occasional mention in the records of the time of the "Uptaker" of the Psalms, who evidently performed the duties of a Precentor.
The Sacraments.—In the Confession of Faith, which forms the first part of the Book of Common Order, it is clearly stated that there are two Sacraments only in the Christian Church, and that these are Baptism and The Lord's Supper. No subject in connection with the practice of the Church created more discussion in Reformation times than the methods which were to be followed in the administration of the Sacraments. The spirit of the Scottish reformers is indicated in the following sentence, which governed this matter:
"Neither must we in the administration of these Sacraments follow man's fancy, but as Christ himself hath ordained so must they be ministered, and by such as by ordinary vocation are thereunto called."
In accordance with this general regulation the Book of Common Order prescribes in detail "The Manner of the Administration of the Lord's Supper."
The words of the opening rubric are as follows:
"The day when the Lord's Supper is ministered, which is commonly used once a month, or so oft as the Congregation shall think expedient, the Minister useth to say as follows:"
Here follow the words of institution of the Supper from St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians, after which is added an exhortation in which flagrant sinners are warned not to draw near to the holy table, and timid saints are encouraged in wise and helpful words to approach with repentance and faith. This is the address which in later times came to be known as "Fencing the Table." There are no words to indicate that any variation from the prescribed address was encouraged.
The address being finished
"The Minister comes down from the Pulpit and sitteth at the Table, every man and woman in likewise taking their place as occasion best serveth: Then he taketh Bread and giveth thanks either in these words following or like in effect."
This prayer is wholly one of praise and thanksgiving, there being an evident purpose in the omission of any invocation of the Holy Spirit and of words that might be regarded as a consecration of the bread and wine, and in the strict adherence to the example of our Lord, Who, "when He had given thanks, took bread."
The manner of communing is then described:
"This done, the Minister breaketh the bread and delivereth it to the people, to distribute and divide the same among themselves, according to our Saviour Christ's commandment, and likewise giveth the cup: During the which time some place of the Scriptures is read which doth lively set forth the death of Christ, to the intent that our eyes and senses may not only be occupied in these outward signs of bread and wine, which are called the visible word, but that our hearts and minds also may be fully fixed in the contemplation of the Lord's death, which is by this Holy Sacrament represented. And after this action is done he giveth thanks, saying:"
The prayer of thanksgiving which follows is the only one in connection with this service for which no alternative was allowed the minister. An appropriate Psalm of thanksgiving followed the prayer, the Blessing was invoked and the congregation dispersed.
The Communion, as is evident from the rubric quoted above, was received while the congregation was seated, and this practice the Presbyterians adhered to and defended as against the Episcopal practice of kneeling at this service, regarding the latter attitude as liable to be interpreted as a rendering to the Sacrament of homage and adoration which should be reserved for God alone.
The service, it is evident, was marked by simplicity and by in almost total absence of prescribed form. In a note "to the reader," the author of the Book of Common Order explains that the object throughout is to set forth simply and effectively those signs which Christ hath ordained "to our spiritual use and comfort."
How often this Sacrament was to be observed was left to the judgment of individual congregations, but frequent celebration was recommended. Calvin thought it proper that the Lord's Supper should be celebrated monthly, but finding the people opposed to such frequent celebration he considered it unwise to insist upon his own views. With his opinions on this matter, those of Knox were quite in harmony.
The Sacrament of Baptism was likewise characterized in its administration by similar simplicity, and yet it is evident that, in this more than in any other part of public worship, the minister was restricted to the forms provided both in prayer and in address.
The rubrics which govern the two prayers of the service and the address to the parents, make no mention of alternate or similar forms being permitted. In this the Book of Common Order differs from the Book of Geneva, which allowed the minister liberty in these parts of the service. There would seem, therefore, to be an evident intention on the part of the Scottish reformers in thus departing from their custom in other parts of worship. It may be that inasmuch as Baptism is the Sacrament of admission into the Church, it was deemed advisable that for the instruction of those seeking membership therein, either for themselves or for their children, the form of sound doctrine set forth at such a time should not be varied even in the manner of statement.
The Sacrament was administered in the Church "on the day appointed to Common Prayer and preaching," instruction being given that the child should there be accompanied by the father and godfather; Knox himself had, as godfather to one of his sons, Whittingham, who had been his chief assistant in compiling the Book of Common Order, and who had also been his helper and fellow-worker at Geneva. The opinion of the Swiss reformers, as well as that of their Scotch followers, was in favor of the presence of sponsors in addition to the parents at the baptism of children. The parent having professed his desire to have his child baptized in the Christian faith, was addressed by the minister, and called upon to profess his own faith and his purpose to instruct his child in the same. Having repeated the Creed, the minister proceeded to expound the same as setting forth the sum of Christian doctrine, a prescribed prayer followed, the child was baptized, and the prayer of thanksgiving, also prescribed, closed the service.
The Book of Common Order required that marriages should be celebrated in the Church and on the Lord's Day:
"The parties assemble at the beginning of the sermon and the Minister at time convenient saith as followeth:"
In the forms of exhortation and admonition to the contracting parties no liberty to vary the address is allowed the minister, but in the one prayer which formed a part of the service, viz., the blessing at the close of the ceremony it is ordered:
"The Minister commendeth them to God in this or such like sort."
The service ended with the singing of an appropriate Psalm.
In the service for burial of the dead it was ordered by the First Book of Discipline that neither singing, prayer, nor preaching should be engaged in, and this "on account of prevailing superstition." In this matter, however, permission was granted to congregations to use their discretion; Knox, we know, preached a sermon after the burial of the Regent Moray, and the directions in the Book of Common Order clearly leave much to be determined by the circumstances of the case:
"The corpse is reverently brought to the grave accompanied with the Congregation without any further ceremonies: which being buried, the Minister, if he be present and required, goeth to the Church, if it be not far off, and maketh some comfortable exhortation to the people touching death and resurrection; then blesseth the people and so dismisseth them."
This is but one of many instances that show that the early reformers accorded to the Church, in matters not absolutely essential to the preservation of sound doctrine and Scriptural practice, the greatest liberty. With regard to the administration of the Sacraments and the public worship of God, they laid down well-defined regulations and outlines to which conformity was required; in matters that might be looked upon as simply edifying and profitable, liberty was allowed to ministers and congregations to determine according to their discretion, as Knox himself declared with respect to exercises of worship at burials:
"We are not so precise but that we are content that particular Kirks use them in that behalf, with the consent of the ministry of the same as they will answer to God and Assembly of the Universal Kirk gathered within the realm."
We have thus presented in brief outline the contents of the Book of Common Order, commonly used in Scotland from 1562 to 1645, in so far as its regulations refer to public worship and the administration of the Sacraments. The book is itself so simple and clear in its statements that it is not difficult to discover the spirit of its compilers, and their understanding of what was required for the seemly and Scriptural observance of the different parts of Divine worship. The results of our survey may be summed up in a few words.
The Scottish Church gave a prominent place to prayer, to the reading of Holy Scripture, and to praise, in the public worship of God on the Lord's Day. Not in any sense do these exercises seem to have been regarded as subordinate in importance to the preaching of the Word; the congregations assembled for Divine worship, of which preaching was one important part. But even where there was no preaching, the people nevertheless came together for Divine worship, in which they were led, in the absence of any minister, by persons duly appointed for that purpose.
The service in public worship was not in any of its departments a responsive one. The only audible part shared by the people was in the praise; they did not respond in prayer even to the extent of uttering an audible "Amen," nor did they join audibly in any general confession, in a declaration of faith as contained in the Apostles' Creed or in any other formulary, nor did they even repeat with the minister the Lord's Prayer when that model of prayer given by Christ to His disciples was used in public worship.
Liberty under the guidance of the Holy Spirit marked the minister's use of the forms provided, and the privilege of extempore prayer was sacredly guarded, the example of Knox, as well as his precept, encouraging his brethren in the ministry to cultivate free and unrestricted prayer to God. In this matter the Church declared her belief in the Holy Ghost and in His presence with her, believing that those who were divinely called to the work of the ministry were by the Spirit of God duly equipped for the performance of the important duties of that office. Although forms of prayer were provided, these appear to have been intended mainly for the use of the Readers, who were not duly ordained to the ministerial office, and for the guidance of ministers, but IN NO PART OF PUBLIC WORSHIP APART FROM THE SACRAMENTS WAS THE MINISTER CONFINED TO THE USE OF PRESCRIBED FORMS. Even the Readers enjoyed a degree of liberty in this matter, a liberty which they exercised, as is evident from an Order of Assembly passed in the reign of James forbidding Readers to offer extemporary prayers, but requiring them to use the forms prescribed.
Lastly, in the administration of the Sacraments honor was put upon them by the care that was observed in their public, reverent and frequent observance. Simplicity marked all the service connected with these holy ordinances, while, at the same time, whatever might appear to unduly exalt them to an unscriptural position in the thoughts of men, was carefully avoided, as well in the prayers and exhortations used as in the manner of administration. The Sacraments were regarded as helps to the spiritual life of God's elect, as "medicine for the spiritually sick," and were never represented as holy mysteries into which only certain of God's children should penetrate.
If these conclusions are just, it is very evident that those who to-day advocate the introduction into Presbyterian worship of responses and prescribed forms can find no support for such a practice, however they might limit it, in Knox's Book of Common Order, or in the practice of our Scottish ancestors in this so virile and vigorous period of the Church's history. Just as little support, too, can those find who would impose upon the ministry of the Church the use of set forms from which no deviation is to be allowed either in the conduct of public worship or in the administration of the Sacraments. The most that can be argued from this ancient regulation of worship, which is much more accurately described as a Directory rather than as a Liturgy, is the desirability of a uniform order of service for the whole Church, of a due proportion of attention to each part of worship, and of the conformity by all ministers to a uniform method in the administration of the Sacraments. The Book of Common Order clearly indicates the conviction of the Scottish reformers that all things in connection with the worship of God should be done "in seemly form and according to order," and it quite as clearly indicates their purpose to acknowledge and rely upon the operation of the free Spirit of God, in the exercise of that worship and in the performance of the public ordinances in the sanctuary.
A Diet of Public Worship in the Time of Knox.
"What I have been to my country, albeit this unthankful age will not know, yet the ages to come will be compelled to bear witness to the truth."—JOHN KNOX.
A Diet of Public Worship in the Time of Knox.
A diet of worship on a Sabbath day in Scotland in the days of Knox, or in the period immediately succeeding his death, had for the people of that time a profound interest. It was a period of storm and upheaval, and the Church, with its worship and teaching, was the centre around which, in large measure, the struggles of the age gathered; and although for us these struggles are simple history, and the subjects of debate are, many of them, forever laid aside, still it is of interest to learn how a service in connection with the public worship of the day proceeded in this formative period of Presbyterian practice, when order and method were less matters of indifference than they are now.
Happily we are not left without abundant material for forming an accurate picture of a Sabbath-day service at that time, for in addition to the explicit directions contained in the Book of Common Order, there have come down to us descriptions of public worship by participants therein.
As early as seven o'clock a bell was rung to warn the people of the approach of the hour of worship, and this was followed an hour later by another bell, which summoned the congregation to the place of prayer. It was a congregation of all classes, for in Scotland the Reformed doctrine made its way among the great and the lowly alike. Writing in 1641, a refutation of the charge made in England against the Scotch that they "had no certain rule or direction for their public worship, but that every man, following his extemporary fancy, did preach or pray what seemed good in his own eyes," Alexander Henderson thus describes in his reply the congregation in a Scotch Church: "When so many of all sorts, men and women, masters and servants, young and old, as shall meet together, are assembled, the public worship beginneth." In the early days of Presbyterianism the rich and the poor met together, realizing that the Lord was the Maker of them both.
The congregation assembled in a Church building that was plain in its interior, the plainness being emphasized, and at times rendered unsightly, by reason of the removal of the statues and pictures which in pre-Reformation times had decorated the walls and pillars. The building was, however, as required by the Book of Discipline, rendered comfortable and suitable for purposes of worship. It was ordered, "lest that the Word of God and ministration of the Sacraments by unseemliness of the place come into contempt," there should be made "such preparation within as appertaineth as well to the majesty of the Word of God as unto the ease and commodity of the people." Such wise words indicate on the part of our Scottish ancestors an appreciation in their day of what is all too often even in these happier and more enlightened times, forgotten—the importance of having a Church building in keeping with the greatness of the cause to which it has been dedicated, and at the same time suitable and convenient for the purposes of public worship. The narrowness which would forbid beauty and artistic decoration and the pride which would sacrifice comfort and convenience for the sake of appearance, were both avoided. At one end of the building stood a pulpit, beside it, or within it, a basin or font for use in the administration of the Sacrament of Baptism, and in the part where formerly the altar had stood, tables were placed for use in the observance of the Lord's Supper; at the end of the Church opposite to the pulpit was placed a stool of repentance, an article frequently in use in an age when Church discipline was vigorously administered. Pews were as yet unknown; some churches had permanent desks or benches, to be occupied by men holding public positions, or by prominent members of influential guilds, the rest of the people stood throughout the service, or sat upon stools which they brought with them to the Church.
The members of the congregation on entering the Church were expected to engage reverently in silent prayer, and at the hour appointed, the Reader from his desk called upon all present to join in the Public Worship of God; he then proceeded to read the Prayer prescribed in the Book of Common Order, or, if he so desired, to offer one similar thereto in intent; in either case the prayer was a general confession, and was followed by a Psalm or Psalms announced by the Reader and sung by the whole congregation and ending with the Gloria Patri. Next came the reading of the Scriptures from the Old and New Testaments, the reading being continuous through whatever books had been selected. This ended that part of public worship which was conducted by the Reader, and occupied in all about one hour.
On the second ringing of the bell, the minister entered the pulpit, knelt in silent devotion, and then led the people in prayer "as the Spirit moved his heart;" this finished, he proceeded to the sermon, to which the people listened either standing or sitting, as opportunity afforded, with their heads covered, and occasionally, if moved thereto, giving vent to their feelings by expressions of applause or disapproval. After the sermon the minister led the congregation in prayer for blessing upon the Word preached and for the general estate of Christ's Church: if the Lord's Prayer and the Apostles' Creed were employed in the service (but this was optional with the minister) they were repeated by the minister alone at the close of this prayer, and embodied in it; a Psalm was sung by the congregation and the Benediction was pronounced, or rather, the Blessing was invoked, for the petitions were framed as supplications: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with us all: So be it."
Such was the course of an ordinary diet of worship. If a marriage was to be celebrated the parties presented themselves in Church before the sermon; the ceremony having been performed, the parties remained, according to regulation, until the close of the public worship. If the Sacrament of Baptism was to be administered the infant was presented for the ordinance at the close of the sermon by the father, who was attended by one or more sponsors. When the Lord's Supper was observed (which in some congregations was monthly) the tables were spread in that part of the Church which had formerly been the chancel, and as many communicants as could conveniently do so sat down together with the minister. These, when the tables had been served, gave place to others.
The services throughout were marked by simplicity, reverence and freedom from strict and unbending forms; liberty characterized their every part, and room was left for the exercise of the guiding Spirit of God, in a measure not enjoyed by Churches tied to the use of a prescribed worship; at the same time there was a recognized order and a reverent devotion in all parts of the worship which many non-liturgical Churches of this day may well covet. It was a service simple yet impressive, voluntary yet orderly, regulated and yet untrammeled.
The Period of Controversy, 1614-1645.
"They were splintered and torn, but no power could bend or melt them. They dwelt, as pious men are apt to dwell, in suffering and sorrow on the all-disposing power of Providence. Their burden grew lighter as they considered that God had so determined that they should bear it."—FROUDE.
The Period of Controversy, 1614-1645.
The years from 1603, the date of James the Sixth's ascent to the united thrones of England and Scotland, until 1645 the year of the Westminster Assembly, cover one of the most exciting and interesting periods in Scottish history. Especially is this period of interest to the student of Scottish Church history, because of the influences both direct and indirect which the struggles of that time had upon the development of the character and practice of the Presbyterian Church.
The Book of Common Order had received the authority of the General Assembly sitting in Edinburgh in 1564, and for nearly fifty years from that date it was the unchallenged directory for worship and usage in the Scottish Church. Its use, though not universal, was general, and it was uniformly referred to, as well in civil as in ecclesiastical courts, as comprising for the Church the law respecting public worship.
The first mention of any desire to modify or amend this book occurs in 1601, in the records of the General Assembly, when a motion was made respecting an improved version of the Bible, a revision of the Psalter and an amendment of "sundry prayers in the Psalm-Book which should be altered in respect they are not convenient for the time." The Assembly, however, declined to amend the prayers already in the Book, or to delete any of them, but ordained that:
"If any brother would have any prayers added, which are meet for the time.... the same first to be tried and allowed by the Assembly."
The motion thus proposed, and the action of the General Assembly regarding it, is of interest in that it seems plainly to indicate that whatever desire there was for change, this desire was not the result of a movement in favor of a fuller liturgical service, nor on the other hand, of one which had for its object the entire removal of the form of worship at that time in use. To this form, commonly employed, no objection was offered, but owing to changing times and circumstances, it was regarded as desirable that the matter contained in the suggested forms of prayer should be so modified as to make them more applicable to the conditions of the age.
James the Sixth of Scotland ascended the throne of the united kingdoms in 1603, and many of his Presbyterian subjects cherished the hope that his influence would be exerted to conform the practice and worship of the Church of England to that of other Reformed Churches. In this hope they were destined to severe disappointment, as it very soon became evident that the aim of the royal theologian was to reduce to the forms and methods of Episcopacy, those of all the Churches within his realm. In considering the subject of Presbyterian worship it will not be necessary to enter fully into the history of the civil struggle between the Church of Scotland and the Stuart Kings except in those phases of it which affected the worship of the Church; as these, however, are so closely interwoven with questions of government it will be impossible always to avoid reference to the latter or to keep the two absolutely distinct.
In 1606 it was decided by the Scottish Parliament that the King was "absolute, Prince, Judge and Governor over all persons, estates, and causes, both spiritual and temporal, within the realm." Four years later the General Assembly, composed of commissioners named by the King, met at Glasgow and issued a decree to the effect that the right of calling General Assemblies of the Church belonged to the Crown. This, among other acts of this Assembly, was ratified by the Parliament of 1612, and James, having thus secured the position in the Church which he coveted, proceeded in his endeavors to mould it, as well in its worship as in its government and doctrine, to his own views.
The Church of Scotland was not allowed to remain long in ignorance of the King's purpose. Early in 1614 a royal order was sent to the northern kingdom requiring all ministers to celebrate Holy Communion on Easter Day, the 24th of April, and this was followed in 1616 by a proposal from the King to the General Assembly that "a liturgy and form of divine service should be prepared" for the use of the Scottish Church. The Assembly (formed as indicated above) with ready acquiescence heartily thanked His Majesty for his royal care of the Church and ordained:
"That a uniform order of Liturgy or divine service be set down to be read in all Kirks on the ordinary days of prayer and every Sabbath day before the sermon, to the end the common people may be acquainted therewith, and by custom may learn to serve God rightly. And to this intent the Assembly has appointed ... to revise the Book of Common Prayer contained in the Psalm Book, and to set down a common form of ordinary service to be used in all times hereafter."
The work thus authorized of revising the Book of Common Order was at once undertaken by those appointed thereto, but although a draft was made and much labor was expended upon it during a term of several years, the book in its revised form was never introduced into the Scottish Church. By the time it had received its final revision at the hands of the King and his Scotch advisors in London, such events had transpired, and such a spirit of opposition had been aroused in Scotland by other measures, that it was deemed wise to withhold it, and the death of James occurring in 1625, while it was still unpublished, the book in its revised form was retained by Spottiswoode, Bishop of St. Andrew's, and appears to have been forgotten for years, even by its most active promoters. From correspondence in the time of Charles First, however, it appears that James had not relinquished his aim of imposing the new book upon the Scottish Church, and it is probable that his death alone prevented the attempt being made to carry out his cherished purpose.
Much of the voluminous correspondence, which at this time passed between James and the leaders of the Scottish Church, is still extant and it serves to indicate some of the anticipated changes in the forms of worship.
In the regular worship appointed for the Lord's Day there was to be introduced a liturgy which was to be used before the sermon; the Ten Commandments were to be read, and after each of them the people were to be instructed to respond, or, as the rubric directed:
"After every Commandment they ask mercy of God for their transgression of the same in this manner,—Lord have mercy upon us and incline our hearts to keep this law."
There was also an evident purpose to leave less to the discretion of the minister, and to restrict him more closely to the use of provided forms in prayer, as well as to regulate more particularly the reading of the Scriptures. A table of Scripture lessons was to be prepared showing the passages proper to be read on each day; prayers were also provided for worship upon saints' days and festivals, in the use of which there was to be no option, and the privilege of extempore prayer in any part of public worship was to be taken from the minister, in large measure if not entirely. That this intention was cherished seems evident from a discussion in which Spottiswoode engaged with one Hog, minister at Dysart. Hog had defended an action complained of, by saying that his prayer on the occasion referred to had been in conformity with Knox's Book of Common Order; in reply Spottiswoode declared that "In a short time that Book of Discipline would be discharged and ministers tied to set forms."
The Book was regarded by all as a compromise between the Book of Common Order and the English Prayer Book, and appears to have excited no enthusiasm, even among its promoters; it was too subversive of Scottish custom to please those who were loyal to the old usage, and it was not sufficiently liturgical to suit James and his like-minded counsellors.
It has been stated that the transpiring of certain events had delayed the publication of this Liturgy; these events were connected with the historic "Articles of Perth." These "Articles" were orders, first of the General Assembly of 1618, sitting at Perth and acting under royal instruction, and afterwards of the Parliament which confirmed them in 1621, enjoining
Kneeling at the Communion;
Private Communion in cases of sickness;
Private Baptism "upon a great and reasonable cause;"
The observance of the festivals of Christmas, Good Friday, Easter Day, Ascension Day and Whitsunday.
The Five Articles were passed in Assembly in spite of vigorous opposition on the part of a minority that, nevertheless, represented the most intense feeling of a very large section of the Scottish people. The first of these Five Articles, that were subversive of so much for which the reformers had struggled and had at last secured, reestablished a practice that could only be regarded by the Church as Romish in its tendency, and wholly unscriptural. It excited the most violent opposition, and secured for itself, even after its approval by Parliament, determined resistance on the part of the people.
Previous to this, in 1617, James had by his childish flaunting of the service of the Church of England in the face of the Scottish subjects, on the occasion of his visit to Edinburgh, estranged the sympathies of many who had previously been not unkindly disposed toward his projects, and aroused among the people in general, a deeper and more widespread opposition to his scheme of reform than had hitherto made itself manifest. Some months before his visit he had given orders for the re-fitting of the Royal Chapel at Holyrood, and for the introduction of an organ, the preparation of stalls for choristers, and the setting up within the Chapel of statues of the Apostles and Evangelists. The organ and choristers the Scotch could abide, but the proposal of "images" aroused such an outburst of opposition on the part of the people that James, being advised of it, made a happy excuse of the statues not being yet ready, and withdrew his order for the forwarding of them to Scotland. The services in Holyrood Chapel, however, during the visit of His Majesty to Edinburgh, were all after the Episcopal form, "with singing of choristers, surplices, and playing on organs," and when a clergyman of the Church of England officiated at the celebration of the Lord's Supper, the majority of those present received it kneeling. All this, as may be imagined, had its effect upon James's Scottish subjects, but that effect was the opposite of what he had hoped for. Instead of inspiring a love for an elaborate liturgy, or developing a sympathy between the two kingdoms in matters of worship, the result was to antagonize the spirit of the Scots, as well against the proposed changes as against the King, who, with childish pleasure in what he deemed proper, sought to enforce his will upon the conscience of the people from whom he had sprung, and among whom he had been educated. The loyalty of the Scots to the Stuarts is proverbial, but though ready to die for their king, to acknowledge him as lord of the conscience they could not be persuaded. A spirit of opposition stronger than that which had before existed was developed against any liturgy in Church worship, and the seeds were sown which were afterwards to bear fruit in the harvest of the Revolution of 1688. This opposition, it may be argued, was not the outcome of a calm consideration of the questions involved, but was an indirect result of the national anger at the attempt of the King to coerce the consciences of his subjects. In any event, so strong was the opposition to any change in the religious worship of the land, that James ceased his active endeavors to carry out his will, and in a message to his Scottish subjects in 1624 assured them of his desire "by gentle and fair means rather to reclaim them from their unsettled and evil-grounded opinions, nor by severity and rigor of justice to inflict that punishment which their misbehavior and contempt merits."
We now come to a period marked by a still more vigorous assault upon the liberties of the Church of Scotland, and by a correspondingly vigorous opposition thereto on the part of the Scottish people. William Laud, who afterwards became Archbishop of Canterbury, began to exert his influence upon the religious life of both England and Scotland during the closing years of James's reign, but it was in the reign of Charles the First, who succeeded his father in 1625, that he came before the world in his sudden and so unfortunate greatness. History has left but little doubt in the mind of the careful student that Laud's deliberate purpose and persistent influence, both in England and in Scotland, were towards a revival of Romanism within the Church of which he was a prelate, or at least towards the creation of a high Anglicanism which would differ but little from the Romish system. Adroitly, and frequently concealing his real purpose, he labored to this end, and it is not too much to say that the vigorous and, at last, successful opposition to his plans in Scotland, saved the English Church from radical changes which it is clear he was prepared to introduce in the southern Kingdom when his desires for Scotland had been effected. England owes to Scotland the preservation of her Protestantism on two occasions: first, in the days of Knox, when the work of the sturdy Reformer prevented what must have taken place had a Catholic Scotland been prepared to join with Spain in the overthrow of Protestant England, and again when Scottish opposition effectively nipped in the bud Laud's plans for a Romish movement in both Kingdoms.
The history of the movement under Laud it is only possible briefly to summarize. In 1629 Charles revived the subject, to which his father had devoted so much attention, of an improved service in the Church of Scotland, and wrote to the Scottish Bishops ordering them to press forward the matter of an improved liturgy with all earnestness. As a result, the draft of the Book of Common Prayer prepared in the reign of James was again brought to light and forwarded to Charles, and this would probably have been accepted and authorized for use but for Laud's influence. It however was too bald and simple to suit the ritualistic Archbishop, who persuaded the King that it would be entirely preferable to introduce into Scotland the English Prayer Book without change. Correspondence upon the matter was continued until 1633, when Charles, accompanied by Laud, visited Scotland for the purpose of being crowned, and also "to finish the important business of the Liturgy."
During his stay in Scotland Charles followed the example of his father in parading before the people upon every possible occasion the ritual of the Church of England, conduct on his part which served only to stir up further and more deeply-seated opposition. Soon after his return to England he dispatched instructions to the Scottish Bishops requiring them to decide upon a form of liturgy and to proceed with its preparation. His message was in these terms:
"Considering that there is nothing more defective in that Church than the want of a Book of Common Prayer and uniform service to be kept in all the Churches thereof ... we are hereby pleased to authorize you ... to condescend upon a form of Church service to be used therein."
Such a form was accordingly prepared, forwarded to London for the King's approval, and, after revision by Laud, who was commanded by His Majesty to give to the Bishops of Scotland his best assistance in this work, it was duly published in 1637, and ordered to be read in all Churches of Scotland on the 23rd of July of that year. The book appeared, stamped with the royal approval, elaborately illuminated and illustrated, and bearing this title, "The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments, and other parts of Divine Service, for the use of the Church of Scotland." A royal order accompanied it, in which civil authorities were enjoined to
"Command and charge all our subjects, both ecclesiastical and civil, to conform themselves to the public form of worship, which is the only form of worship which we (having taken counsel of our clergy) think fit to be used in God's public worship in this our kingdom."
The introduction of this Service Book, as it was called, into public worship in St. Giles, Edinburgh, on the day appointed, was the signal for an outburst of popular indignation that was as fire to the heather in the land. On that occasion the Archbishop of St. Andrew's was present with the Bishop of Edinburgh, but when the Dean rose to read the new service, even the presence of such dignitaries was not sufficient to restrain the pent-up feelings of the congregation. Such a clamor arose as made it impossible for the Dean to proceed, books and other missiles were freely thrown, and a stool, hurled by the traditional Jenny Geddes, narrowly missed the Dean's head, whereupon that dignitary fled precipitately, followed by the more forcible than elegant ejaculation of the wrathful woman, "Out thou false thief; dost thou say mass at my lug?" The riot in Edinburgh was the signal for similar manifestations of popular feeling throughout the land, the national spirit was aroused, and the stately fabric which Charles and Laud, supported by a prelatic party in Scotland, had been laboriously rearing for years, was overthrown in a day.
This feeling of opposition on the part of the people to the introduction of a liturgy into the Church of Scotland, found due and official expression in the following year. The General Assembly meeting at Glasgow repudiated Laud's Liturgy and appealed repeatedly to the Book of Common Order as containing the Law of the Church respecting worship. In his eloquent closing address the Moderator, Alexander Henderson, said: "and now we are quit of the Service Book, which was a book of service and slavery indeed, the Book of Canons which tied us in spiritual bondage, the Book of Ordination which was a yoke put upon the necks of faithful ministers, and the High Commission which was a guard to keep us all under that slavery." The people also in formal manner expressed their mind on the matter and in the Solemn League and Covenant, signed in Gray friars Churchyard, asserted their purpose to defend, even unto death, the true religion, and to "labor by all means lawful to recover the purity and liberty of the Gospel as it was established and professed before the late innovations." Charles at first determined upon extreme measures, and preparations were made to force "the stubborn Kirk of Scotland to bow," but wiser measures prevailed, and the desires of the Church of Scotland were for the time granted.
The Book of Common Order, thus reaffirmed as the law of the Church respecting worship, continued in use during the years following the Glasgow Assembly of 1638, years which for Scotland were comparatively peaceful, by reason of the troubles fast thickening around the English throne.
This interesting chapter of Scottish history which we have thus briefly reviewed, is of value to us in the present discussion only in so far as, from the facts presented, we are able to understand the spirit that characterized the Church of Scotland at this period, and the principles that guided them in their attitude toward the subject of public worship. What this spirit and those principles were it is not difficult to discover. The facts themselves are plain; not only did the Church in its regularly constituted courts oppose the introduction of new forms and the elaboration of the Church service, but the people resisted by every means in their power, and at last went the length of resisting by force of arms, the attempt to impose upon them the new Service Book.
It is asserted that the chief, if not the only cause of this resistance was, first, an element of patriotism which in Scotland opposed uniformly any measure which seemed to subordinate the national customs to those of England, and secondly, the righteous and conscientious objection of Presbyterians to having imposed upon them by any external authority, a form of worship and Church government which their own ecclesiastical authorities had not approved, and which they themselves had not voluntarily accepted. The objection, in a word, is said to have been not to a liturgy as such, but to a foreign liturgy and to one imposed.
It cannot be denied that these were important elements in the opposition of the Scottish people to the projects of Charles. Many of them, for one or other of these reasons, opposed the King's command, who had no conscientious scruples with regard either to the form or substance of Laud's liturgy. Too much is claimed, however, when the assertion is made that there was no real objection among the people to the introduction of an elaborated service such as that which was proposed. The liberty of free prayer so dear to the Scottish reformers was, if not entirely denied, largely encroached upon; a responsive service, to which, in common with the great leaders of Geneva, Knox and Melville had been so uniformly opposed, was introduced; and particularly in the service for the administration of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, forms of words were employed which seemed to teach doctrines rejected by the reformers. Here then was abundant ground for opposition to Laud's liturgy when judged on its merits, and this ground the stern theologians of that day were not likely to overlook.
Nor is it to be forgotten that in the many supplications which from time to time were presented to the King both from Church and State against the introduction of the Service Book, the anti-English plea never found a place, but uniformly, reference was made in strong terms to the unscriptural form of worship suggested for adoption by the Scottish people, together with a protest against the arrogant imposition upon them of a form of service not desired. Persistently in these supplications the subscribers expressed their desire that there should be no change in the form of worship to which they had been accustomed, and prayed for a continuance of the liberty hitherto enjoyed. In a complaint laid before the Privy Council the Service Book and Canons are described as "containing the seeds of divers superstitions, idolatry and false doctrine," and as being "subversive of the discipline established in the Church." The Earl of Rothes in an address spoke thus: "Who pressed that form of service contrary to the laws of God and this kingdom? Who dared in their conventicles contrive a form of God's public worship contrary to that established by the general consent of this Church and State?" And that the form of worship ever held a prominent place in the discussions of the time, appears from a letter supposed to have been written by Alexander Henderson, in which he defends the Presbyterian Church against a charge of disorder and neglect of seemly procedure in worship; he says, "The form of prayers, administration of the Sacraments, etc., which are set down before their Psalm Book, and to which the ministers are to conform themselves, is a sufficient witness; for although they be not tied to set forms and words, yet are they not left at random, but for testifying their consent and keeping unity they have their Directory and prescribed Order."
While it is true, therefore, that the high-handed conduct of the King in forcing upon an unwilling people a form of service already distasteful because of its foreign associations, was doubtless an important element in arousing the vigorous opposition with which it was met, nevertheless, there is abundant evidence to show that apart from any such consideration, the spirit of the Church of Scotland was entirely hostile to the introduction of further forms, to the elaboration of their simple service, and to the imposition upon their ministers of prescribed prayers from which in public worship they would not be allowed to depart.
The Westminster Assembly and the Directory of Worship.
If the Assembly's Directory increased liberty, it also augmented responsibility. If it took away the support of set and prescribed forms on which the indolent might lean and even sleep, this was done to the avowed intent that those who conducted public services might the more industriously prepare for them; and thereunto the more diligently stir up the gifts of God within them.—REV. EUGENE DANIEL.
The Westminster Assembly and the Directory of Worship.
Prior to the year 1638 the Church of Scotland, in its struggle to preserve its form of worship, had to contend with the advocates of prelacy and ritualism, but now opposition to the established practice arose from another quarter.
In connection with every great reform there are apt to arise extravagant movements, the promoters of which see only one side of confessedly important truths, and so carry to undue excess some phase of reform which, in properly balanced measure, would have been righteous and desirable. So it was in the period of the Reformation. Among the several sectaries which had their origin in the Reformed Church was a company called Brownists, an extreme section of the Independents, who took their name from their founder, one Robert Browne, an Englishman and a preacher, although a rejecter of ordination and a protester against the necessity of any official license for the work of the ministry. It was a part of their creed to object to any regulation of public worship, and even to many of the simplest ceremonies which had hitherto been retained by the Reformed Churches. In Scotland they opposed, as they had done elsewhere, all reading of prayers, and, in particular, the kneeling of the minister for private devotions on entering the pulpit, the repeating of the Lord's Prayer in any part of the public service, and the singing of the Gloria Patri at the end of the Psalm. The movement, let it be said, although it took an extreme form, had its spring in the deep disgust and shame felt by many pious souls at the laxity and formality which characterized religious life in England during the earlier part of the Stuart period.
The unwise policy of Charles in seeking to force upon the Scottish Church a liturgical service, had produced in the minds of many its natural result, creating extreme views in opposition to all prescribed forms of worship. The Brownists, therefore, found in Scotland a large following, and a rapidly increasing section of the Church began gradually to depart even from the forms and suggestions of the Book of Common Order, and to adopt a still less restricted form of service. Against these irregularities the General Assemblies of 1639 and 1640 legislated, and yet in such terms as seem to indicate that already the mind of the Church at large was being prepared for change. It was ordained by the first of the Assemblies referred to that
"No novation in worship should be suddenly enacted, but that Synods, Presbyteries and Kirks should be advised with before the Assembly should authorize any change."
The desire for greater freedom in worship continued to increase, until in 1643 the General Assembly appointed a committee with instructions to prepare, and have in readiness for the next Assembly, a Directory for Divine Worship in the Church of Scotland. This was a distinct concession to that section of the Church which was opposed to even the simplest forms of an optional liturgy. The work, however, was superseded by a similar undertaking on a larger scale, in virtue of an invitation from the members of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster to the Church of Scotland to join with them in the preparation, among other standards, of a Directory of Worship for the use of the Churches of both England and Scotland. The invitation was accepted with readiness, and "certain ministers of good word, and representative elders highly approved of by their brethren," were elected to represent the Scottish Church in this great work. These men were Baillie, Henderson, Rutherford, Gillespie and Douglas, ministers, with Johnston, of Warriston, and Lords Cassilis and Maitland as lay representatives; Argyle, Balmerinoch and Loudon were afterwards added. The work was duly prosecuted at Westminster, and, although the Scotch Commissioners with reluctance relinquished their Book of Common Order, yet for the sake of the uniformity in worship which they hoped to see established throughout England, Scotland and Ireland, they joined heartily in the work, and carried it when completed to the Assembly of the Church of Scotland, by which it was duly examined, slightly amended in the directions concerning baptism and marriage, and finally, unanimously approved in all its parts, and adopted. The terms in which the Assembly expressed its approval of this work are unreserved:
"The General Assembly, having most seriously considered, revised and examined the Directory aforementioned, after several public readings of it, after much deliberation, both publicly and in private committees, after full liberty given to all to object against it, and earnest invitations of all who have any scruples about it, to make known the same, that they might be satisfied, doth unanimously, and without a contrary voice, agree to and approve the following Directory in all the heads thereof, together with the preface set before it; and doth require, decern and ordain that, according to the plain tenor and meaning thereof and the intent of the preface, it be carefully and uniformly observed and practised by all the ministers and others within this Kingdom whom it doth concern."
The Scottish Parliament likewise gave its approval of the Directory, which was accordingly in due time prepared for publication, and issued under the title, "A Directory for the Public Worship of God throughout the three kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland; with an Act of the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland for establishing and observing this present Directory;" and thus the Westminster Directory became the primary authority on matters of worship and administration of the Sacraments within the Church of Scotland.
Its use, however, during the years immediately following its adoption appears to have been by no means general, many still adhering to the method of the Book of Common Order, others inclining towards an even greater freedom than seemed to them to be permitted by the Directory. These latter belonged to that section of the Church afterwards known as Protesters, and whose opposition to the use of the Lord's Prayer and the Creed, as well ay to prescribed forms of prayer, was most pronounced. Events soon occurred which exerted a strong influence in favor of absolute liberty in worship, and which effectively strengthened the Protesters in the position which they had assumed.
In 1651 there took place at Scone the unhappy crowning of Charles the Second by the Scots. This act placed Scotland in open opposition to Cromwell, and as a result the land was brought under his iron-handed rule during the remaining years of the Protectorate. The effect of this on the worship of the Church was to introduce into Scotland the methods of worship approved by the Independents, to whom those parties in Scotland which were opposed to all prescribed forms or regulation of worship, now attached themselves. Worship after the Presbyterian form was not disallowed, but the preachers of Cromwell's army, with the approval of an increasing party in the Scottish Church, forced themselves into the pulpits of the land and conducted worship in a manner approved of by themselves. In these services preaching occupied the most prominent place, and to worship, as such, but scant attention was given, so that in 1653 the ministers of the city of Edinburgh, finding complaints among the people that in the services of the Sabbath day there was no reading of Scripture nor singing of Psalms, took steps to have these parts of worship resumed. While the public worship of the Church of Scotland during the period of the Commonwealth cannot be said to have had any general uniformity, it is evident that the influence of Independency upon it was toward the curtailment of form and the granting of absolute liberty to every preacher to conduct worship in whatever way seemed good to himself. It was the swing of the pendulum to the opposite extreme from the enforced order of Laud's Liturgy. It is doubtful if this erratic period would have left any permanent effect upon the religious life and worship of Scotland, had it not been for the formation of a party in sympathy with the political principles of the Protector. This party, being forced into political opposition to the supporters of royalty, naturally found themselves, through their associations, prejudiced in favor of the religious principles and practices of those with whom they stood allied in the state; and thus it was that a strong party favoring absolute liberty in matters of worship arose in the Scottish Church.
The restoration of Charles the Second in 1660 brought with it the disavowal on his part of the Covenant to which he had subscribed, and the open rejection of the Presbyterian principles to which he had been so readily loyal in the day of his distress. Episcopacy was restored as the form of Church government for Scotland, and bishops were consecrated; but it was left to time and the gradual power of imitation to secure the introduction of a ritual into the worship of the Church. Charles the Second and his minion, Sharp, did not deem it wise to undertake a work in which Charles the First and Laud had so signally failed, the work of imposing a ritual of worship upon the Scottish Church; Episcopal government had been imposed, Episcopal worship it was hoped would follow. In both of his aims, however, though sought by such different methods, Charles was doomed to disappointment. As impotent as was the royal command, though backed by every form of deprivation of right and of cruel persecution, to secure the acceptance by Scotland of an Episcopal Church, so impotent was the service, conducted by royal hirelings and conforming curates, to inspire the people with any love for formal worship. It was, further, in comparatively few of the Churches of Scotland that any attempt was made to introduce the service of the English Prayer Book. In the now Episcopal Churches of the land, a form of worship which gave a place to the Lord's Prayer, the Gloria Patri, the Apostles' Creed, and the Decalogue, was regarded as satisfactory. Public worship, therefore, at this time may be said to have been simply a return to the method suggested, but not required, in the time of Knox; but even these historic Scottish forms, by reason of their association with an enforced Episcopacy, became increasingly distasteful to that large body of the Scots who refused to conform to the Church by law established, and who, as a result, were driven to the moors and the hill-sides, there to worship God as conscience prompted.