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It is by the events connected with the step we have now reached—the attempt to enforce the Service-book—that the whole quarrel is best known, just as some great battle is more familiar to the public memory than the war of which it was the crisis.
This crisis arose, as all people moderately acquainted with British history are aware, from an attempt to enforce, through the royal prerogative, a prayer-book on the Scots people, or rather on the congregations of the churches in Scotland. This resistance deserves, and must receive, a minute narration. In the mean time it may be of use to offer some explanation in reference to a current opinion, that the wrath of the people against the prayer-book in question was caused by a settled antipathy or conscientious abhorrence of a liturgy, or any established form of prayer. The arrangements for Presbyterian worship in Scotland, now more than two hundred years old, have made this a natural supposition ; but it is a mistake. A prayer-book was at that time used in Scotland; and the quarrel arose, not on the question of commanding the people to worship according to an adjusted form, but on the question of compelling them to abandon their own form and adopt another prepared for them in a suspected quarter. The book of forms of worship, which speedily after the Reformation had been issued on the model of
conversant in tacks and teinds, and, like all his class, inquisitive and knowing about the incomes of the landed gentry and the sources from which they came, expressed this cause of distrust very distinctly in his own technical way : “ This point touching the bishops they could not forget, fearing they were counselling the king to draw in the Kirk lands to the Crown, and to make up abbots and priors again, to the strengthening of the king and overthrow of the nobility, who had the most part of their living of Kirk lands. 2d, They had great fear who were the lords of erections at his majesty's general revocation in his first Parliament-ordinar for kings to do from time to time albeit they received no prejudice thereby. 3d, For granting in the same Parliament ane commission of surrenders of superiorities and teinds, grounded for helping of the ministry and relief of the laity, living yearly under the bondage of the lords of erection and laik patrons. Of this Act of Parliament they were under great fear, albeit his majesty's intention was singularly good and much to be praised.” --Spalding's Memorials of the Troubles, i. 77..
the Huguenot prayer-book of Geneva, was still in use, and came to be named the Book of Common Order and the Psalm-book, though it is now better known by its popular title as Knox's Liturgy. In the fragments we have of the business transacted by General Assemblies there are traces of attempts to alter it, which were not effectual; so that down to this period it had not been touched by any Church judicatory. In the Assembly of 1601, where the Geneva translation of the Bible was censured as containing errors, it was suggested, “ As also that there was sundry prayers in the Psalm-book whilk wald be altered, in respect they are not convenient for the mean time.” The resolution on this was: " It is not thought good that the prayers already contained in the Psalm-book be altered; but if any brother would have any other prayers eked whilk are mete for the time, ordains the same first to be tried and allowed by the Assembly.”2 This followed up the spirit of the original book, in which there were "prayers used in the time of persecution by the Frenchmen," and afterwards “a thanksgiving for our deliverance, and prayers for the continuance of peace.”
Had any additions been made in conformity with this hint, they would no doubt have been levelled against the prelatical projects of King James. The latest that we hear of the Book of Common Order, before it was superseded by the Directory of Worship, was in a proposal, in 1641, to revise it, along with the Confession of Faith, and at the same time prepare a catechism. This task was referred to Alexander Henderson, who, after looking at it, said he found it a work far surpassing his strength. “Nor could I,” he continues, “take upon me 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.” 3
The Assembly which sat in Aberdeen—the stronghold of the prelatical party-in 1616, ordained “that ane
1 See chap. xlix. 2 Book of the Universal Kirk, 970.
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 might be acquainted therewith, and by custom may learn to serve God rightly.” That this did not point to the establishment of a liturgy, but to the improvement of one in use, is shown by what follows in the appointment of a committee “to revise the Book of Common Prayers contained in the Psalm-book, and to set down ane common form of ordinary service to be used in all time hereafter, whilk shall be used on all time of common prayers [in all the kirks where there is exercise of common prayers), as likewise by the minister before the sermon where there is no reader.” 1
The term “Liturgy” had not previously been in use to express a form of prayer in Scotland. It must be remembered, however, that although the Assembly of 1616 probably did not nourish any innovation approaching that of the Service-book of 1637, their Acts as an Assembly were afterwards repudiated, and they were treated as prelatical usurpers, who had interrupted the government of the Church according to the legitimate Presbyterian order. There are traces in the celebrated Assemblies of Perth in 1618 that this committee was actually at work.2 According to Fuller, the book was completed and transmitted to King James, who revised it; and “it was remitted, with the king's observations, additions, expunctions, mutations, accommodations, to Scotland again.” 3 Here any traces of the project that can be called contemporary drop. We only know that the affair was not zealously pressed, and may believe that King James was withheld by a sense of timidity or caution.
There is in the British Museum a manuscript prayer
1 Book of the Universal Kirk, 1128.
? Book of the Universal Kirk, 1157. A true Narrative of all the Passages of the Proceedings in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, holden at Perth, &c., by Dr Lindsay, Bishop of Brechin, 69.
3 Book xi. SS 94-97.
book, which I believe to be the Liturgy thus framed, and finally transcribed for the press. It is so written out in a fine Italian hand, as to show the printer the proper place for each line. There is a note on it in the writing of the time, that it was the Service-book intended for Scotland before Laud took the affair into his own hands. 1
The date of this final transcript can be closely approached by internal evidence. A prayer for the royal family, naming Charles as king, desires that the queen may become “a happy mother of successful children.”
The king was married in 1625, and his eldest son was born in 1630.
This book has no litany, and it is rather an enlargement of the old Book of Common Order, than an adaptation of the English Book of Common Prayer. One of its chief novelties is the appointment of Lessons for the day, in a calendar appointing the portion of Scripture to be read on each. It is so adjusted that the Old Testament shall be read once in each year, except a few chapters, which, being “less for edification, are left to the private reading of families.” The New Testament, with the exception of the Apocalypse, was to be read thrice every year.
In this enlargement of the Book of Common Order, it seems to have been the object of the compilers to give effect to the precepts regarding worship or service to be found in the expressed standards of the Scots Church. Thus the service for the burial of the dead is nearly a repetition of the words in the First Book of Discipline : “ Burial hath in all ages been held in regard, to declare that the body which hath been committed to the earth doth not utterly perish, but shall rise again in the last day. Therefore must the corpse be reverently brought to the grave," &c.
1 The title is : “ The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments, with other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of Scotland.” “ As it was sett downe at first, before the change thereof made by the Archb. of Canterburie, and sent back to Scotland." The title is carefully penned to resemble what it will be in print. The explanatory note is in the ordinary writing of the day.
In the communion there was a departure from the Huguenot form of sitting at a board, and an approach to the English form, which in itself was a compromise between the board, and the altar consecrated apart in the East: “ The Order for Administration of the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion.—The table whereat the communion is to be received being covered with a white linen cloth, shall stand in that part of the church which the minister findeth most convenient; and als soon as the minister enters into the pulpit, such as attend upon the ministration shall present the elements covered, and set them upon the table. For besides that by the Word and prayer they are sanctified to the holy use whereunto God hath appointed them, the doctrine of Christ's death will affect and move the people the more easily when they see those holy signs which represent Christ crucified unto us."
Effect was given to the Huguenot doctrine, that baptism and marriage were to be celebrated as part of the day's service, in token of admission into the congregation. The marriage was “before God, and in the presence of this His congregation." On baptism there is a precept, that “it is most convenient that baptism should not be ministered but upon Sundays, and other days when most numbers of people may come together, as well for that the congregation then present may testify to the receiving of them that be newly baptised into the number of Christ's Church, and also because that in the baptism of infants every man present may be put in remembrance of his own profession made to God in his baptism. Nevertheless, if necessity so require, the minister is not to refuse baptism at any time or in any place.”
Although this prayer-book never came in use, and passed not only into obscurity, but absolute oblivion, if it be, as the author believes, the form of worship deliberately adopted by the leaders of the Church of Scotland, and submitted to the sovereign for his acceptance, it is not unworthy of the attention it has here received. It is of moment, if for nothing else, in its points of difference from that Service-book which wrought the first act in the