صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Unction of

the sick

discretion of the minister.

Another slight

alteration was made at the same time, which seems to give the minister the power of varying from this form in the visitation of the sick. The rubric in 1549 directed him to absolve the sick person after this form:' in 1552 the word sort was substituted for form.

The concluding benediction, The Lord bless thee,' &c., is derived from that which Aaron was directed to give the Israelites in the congregation, (Numb. vi. 23-26). It has been used by almost every Christian Church.

In the first Prayer Book of Edward VI. retained in the practice of anointing the sick with oil was retained; and at the end of the present office


a direction was added, that the priest should anoint the sick person, if he desired it, upon the forehead or breast, making the sign of the cross, and saying a prayer which began as follows:

As with this visible oil thy body outwardly is anointed; so our heavenly Father, Almighty God, grant of his infinite goodness that thy soul inwardly may be anointed with the Holy Ghost, who is the Spirit of all strength, comfort, relief, and gladness; and vouchsafe for his great mercy (if it be his blessed will) to restore unto thee thy bodily health and strength to serve him; and

send thee release of all thy pains, troubles, and diseases, both in body and mind, &c.

This was omitted in 1552.

The occasional prayers which are added at the end of this office, and the order for the Communion of the Sick, require no explanation. The consecration of the elements in private houses is in accordance with the practice of the early Christians, who not only carried the Eucharist from the church to those who were unable to attend there, but sometimes also consecrated it in prisons and in sick chambers, for the martyrs and the dying.




N framing this office, our Church has followed the rule laid down by St Augustine, that not the benefit of the dead, but the edification and comfort of the living, is to be the object of our funeral solemnities. It is true that prayers for the dead were offered by the ancient Christians; prayers, that is to say, for the felicity of those who are at rest in the Lord, not for those who are in a place of torment. The Romish notion of purgatory, and the prayers offered in conformity with that notion, receive no support from the practice of the primitive Church. It is also true that, in the fifth century, the Eucharist was celebrated at the burial of the dead in the Western, though not in the Bingham, Eastern, Church. This was the case at the funeral of St Augustine in Africa, and of St Ambrose in Italy. Hence the custom arose of saying masses for the dead, which prevails in the Church of Rome. But as nothing could be found in holy Scripture to sanction prayers for the dead, and many abuses and superstitions had been derived from them in course of ages, they

Ant. XXIII. 3, 12.

were totally removed from the Service-book of our Church at the revision in 1552.

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cases this

office may

not be used.

It is directed by the rubric, that this office In what shall not be used for any that die (1) unbaptized, or (2) excommunicate, or (3) for any who by laying violent hands upon themselves, have committed a deadly sin in their last moments. These three exceptions are to be taken in that sense in which they are by law interpreted; namely, (1) those who have neither received baptism at the hands of spiritual persons, nor of laymen; (2) those who at the time of their death are excommunicate by the greater excommunication,' as it is called in the sixtyeighth canon; (3) those who are found by a coroner's jury to have wilfully deprived themselves of life. With regard to all persons not included in any of these exceptions, it is charitably presumed, that whatever to outward appearance may have been their lives, they died in communion with the Church, and in the faith and fear of God. There are cases, indeed, in which our fears very much preponderate over our hopes: but in such cases we may still hope even against hope;' for we know not the limits of God's mercy, and cannot tell how great a change may be wrought in a man's heart by the immediate approach of the


last great enemy. It must, however, be confessed, that there are one or two passages in the Burial-service, which seem scarcely appropriate when repeated over the body of a notorious ill-liver, who has died without making any sign of repentance.

Our service bears a general resemblance to those of the unreformed rituals, with the important difference alluded to above, that we have retained none of the prayers formerly offered for the welfare of the deceased. Several of those prayers, as well as 'the celebration of the holy Communion when there is a burial of the dead,' were retained in the first Prayer Book of Edward VI., but were omitted in 1552. The office, however, still speaks the language of hope and thanksgiving with regard to the deceased person.

The singing of psalms and anthems formed the chief part of the funeral office in primitive times. Of the two psalms selected for this purpose by our Church, the thirty-ninth is said to have been composed by David when reproached by Joab for shewing his grief at Absalom's death; the ninetieth is attributed to Moses, who composed it in the wilderness, when the children of Israel were smitten with the plague. The comparison of human life to

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