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few words concerning the general structure of the form we now use in the celebration of the Holy Communion. It consists of three general divisions: the Preparation, the Office itself, and the Service of Thanksgiving. The first part of the Preparation incites the whole congregation to the exercise of repentance, by the Lord's Prayer, the Collect for purity, and the Ten Commandments; of holy desires, by the Collects for the King, and of the day; of obedience, by hearing the Epistle and Gospel; of faith, by repeating the Creed; and of charity, by the Offertory, and the Prayer for the whole Church. If we consider the Commandments as a permanent lection from the Law, this portion of the Office may be compared with the early Christian Service, containing lessons from the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the writings of the Apostles, followed by an instruction or exhortation in the sermon. The ante-Communion then proceeds with a preparation of the communicants," in the Exhortation,
1 * Melius dividitur Missa in tres partes : scilicet in praeparationem tam populi, quam materiae consecrandae; in eucharistiae consecrationem et oblationem ; in consecratae communionem et mysterii conclusionem. Prima pars potest dici missa catechumenorum, pro eo quod major pars admittit catechumenos, secunda canon, tertia communio.” Gabriel Biel, in Canone, lect. 15. Here our custom may be traced of allowing non-communicants to be present at the beginning of the Office, but not throughout the Preparation. The time when those who do not intend to communicate should withdraw, is not marked in our rubrics. The general practice has been that such should leave the church after the sermon, and therefore before the offertory. Mr. Maskell, discussing this subject (Anc. Liturg., Pref. ch. v., approves
of this, rather than another practice which some have attempted to introduce, namely, “not to dismiss the congregation, or any part of it, until the Offertory has been said.’ The common practice also agrees with the determination of Romanist Liturgical writers. Romsee (Opp. Iv. p. 140), de Offertorio, says, “Hic olim Missa incipiebat, caetera enim quae ante ponebantur, scilicet orationes et instructiones, habebant rationem praeparationis ad sacrificium : unde illis interesse poterant catechumeni, et peccatores poenitentes. Ast ad offertorium missa catechumenorum terminabatur, et incipiebat missa fidelium ; quare tum ejectis catechumenis et poenitentibus, soli fideles illi adesse poterant.’ Maskell, Anc, Lit. pp. xci. sq. Cf. Blunt, Annotated A rayer Book, p. 197.
and Invitation, showing the care taken to provide fit recipients of those holy mysteries. Hence, that all may come with clean hands and pure heart, this more immediate preparation contains an humble Confession, and an Absolution, in which the promises of God to the penitent are applied with the authority which He has given to His visible Church ; and then some of the most precious declarations of Holy Scripture are read, to confirm the hope and gratitude of the pardoned worshippers, who now proceed to the more sublime Parts of the Office, commencing with the ancient Preface, and the Seraphic Hymn of Praise. But even in this part we observe that the jubilant character of the Service is deferred : the attitude of prayer and supplication befits those who shall partake of these mysteries, at each step of their approach to the table of the Lord. Here is, therefore, placed the Prayer of Humble Access, in which we again solemnly acknowledge our unworthiness of the mercies which we hope to receive through the unmerited kindness of our God and Saviour, in the cleansing of our sinful bodies and souls by the Body and Blood of Christ. The elements of Bread and Wine are then consecrated by the Word of God and prayer; the prayer of the faithful being offered by the Priest, and the words in which this Sacrament was instituted being pronounced, according to the practice of the primitive Church, and following as closely as possible the actions of our blessed Lord. The material elements, being thus set apart for a sacred use, are delivered into the hands of the kneeling people, since this posture most befits us when we are to receive a pardon which is needed to deliver us from death eternal. The post-Communion, like the ante-Communion, commences with the Lord's Prayer; the doxology being here added, because it begins an Office of thanksgiving.
* For this Service of praise two forms are provided : the
first is principally designed to give expression to a feeling like St. Paul's," who ‘beseeches us by the mercies of God, to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, as our reasonable service;’ for since Christ has given Himself for us, and now has given Himself to us, it is just and reasonable that we should offer up ourselves, our body and our soul, as dedicated to His will,—a sacrifice which is indeed the end of all our devotions. This Thanksgiving was originally the conclusion of the Canon; where, coming after the Consecration, and before Communion, it was taken to imply an oblation of the consecrated elements, or a material, though commemorative, sacrifice. In King Edward's Second Prayer Book, therefore, it was removed into a position where it can have no such meaning, but implies a strictly spiritual sacrifice of praise, and an oblation of the worshippers to the service of God.” The second form of Thanksgiving consists more entirely of praise for the mercies which are assured to us in this Sacrament; yet it also includes a very earnest prayer for perseverance and fruitfulness in good works. The Office then concludes with the great doxology, or song of praise for the mercies of redemption, as our
Lord sung an hymn with His disciples after the Pass- thout over; and finally with the Blessing, in which the + ancient giving of the Peace is preserved in the words of Scripture, and the example of our Lord is followed, who parted from His disciples in the act of blessing
SECT. I.-The Ministration of Public Baptism of Infants, to be used in the Church.
to the Manual and Pontifical of the mediaeval period:—