Изображения страниц

his hands, repeated a long Psalm from this favourite collection. This was called family prayer, for alas ! it is to be feared those poetic effusions have painfully superseded the use of the whole Bible, as well as that of the Psalms of David. There are of course exceptions; one can speak only of what seems the general practice.

The fact is, that the Church and people of Sweden appear to me exceedingly tenacious of not ante-dating in religion the time of the Reformation. Martin Luther is the real head and foundation of their Church; and to him, and his decrees or his opinions, the appeal is almost always made. I never yet asked a question regarding the doctrines of the Swedish Church without finding this to be the case. In one instance, a clergyman replied to me, that Luther had left the point, I demanded information upon, undecided.

I have often asked if they believed there was no Church before the time of Luther; and the answer has been, “Yes, but not theirs; there was the old Church, but they had nothing to do with that now."

“ Then Luther, in fact, is the founder of your Church ?"

The answer to this has been, perhaps, doubtfully

given, but sufficiently assenting; and the assertion has followed it, that the same was the case with us, we had not our Church before the Reformation.

“God forbid that such were the case !" I have replied, "for then I could no longer be a child of the English Church. Were there no Church to which I could appeal before fifteen or sixteen hundred years after Christ and his Apostles taught the faith, where would be my belief ? should I not make shipwreck of faith ?”

“But the English Church was formed at the Reformation also.”

“Add one syllable and I agree: it was reformed; in many respects well and wisely. The corruptions and errors that overlaid the truth were removed, but the truth itself was not then, and then only, made known to it. It still rests, as it at first did, on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone: it still appeals to the same Fathers; it still clings to the same doctrines, uses the same prayers, maintains the same creeds. No; thank God, the English Church was reformed in the sixteenth century; but, thank God still more, the English Church was not formed in the sixteenth century.

Yet though this is the case, and though this

extreme tenacity of ante-dating the time of Luther so strongly exists, the doctrines and practices of the Church of Sweden

are, in some respects, more Catholic than many good people among ourselves will allow ours to be. It is of course by the sacraments and creeds only that doctrines can be judged; and the Church of Sweden maintains in these the Catholic creed maintained by the Church Universal. The doctrine of Baptism is also that of the true faith, and is the same as that held by the Church of England and the Bible, touching the “washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Ghost.” Its connection with the second sacrament of the Lord's Supper is set forth in a prayer used at the altar service for holy communion, which also conveys an idea of the doctrine retained by Luther and by the Swedish Church on the latter. This

I will

from the words of my good friend, the Adjunct; for literal English translation is more interesting than the emendations of a native would make it.

“ Lord Jesu Christ, who in thy holy supper dost give unto us, in bread and wine, Thy precious body and blood, grant to those who now intend to partake of it, Thy holy spirit, that they may worthily receive it in support of their faith

and assurance of the remission of their sins. Give grace, that with a righteous heart they may remember Thy bitter sufferings and death, renew the alliance into which with Thee in baptism they have entered, and seriously determine with Thy help to persevere in a true faith, in godliness, in love, in a firm hope, and Christian patience; and consequently not to break the promises made before Thy holy countenance at the absolution ;* that they together with all faithful may at last be partakers of the great supper in heaven. Amen."

The elements are administered in both kinds to all the communicants; but in other respects the form of administration nearly resembles that of the Roman Church. After the priest utters the words, “The peace of our Lord be with you," the communicants kneel, and the congregation unite in singing a slightly altered form of our

* The Swedes, both priests and people, deny the doctrine of Absolution. I leave the word above as I find it; but they say this is only a prayer, not the conveyance of an absolution. The old word " Shriftis still retained; and the people go to Shrift before communion, at least such as will go. It is now a form of service, and not confession, which the Church of Sweden does not practise, and the people seem to contemn.

beautiful prayer--"Lamb of God,” &c. Then says the Handbook, “During the singing of a hymn the priest shall deliver into the mouth of each of the communicants, who shall kneel then at the altar railing, first the bread, saying to each of them, Jesus Christ, whose body thou receivest, preserve thee unto everlasting life. Amen." Then the wine is administered, the priest saying, Jesus Christ whose blood thou receivest, &c.

The prayer that follows is very beautiful

“We thank thee, Almighty Father, who, through Thy son, Jesus Christ, has instituted this holy supper for our comfort and salvation, and we pray Thee grant us grace so to celebrate the memory of Jesus in the world, that we also may become partakers of the great supper in Heaven. Amen."

Indeed, all that is called the Altar Service--that is, all that is retained in any degree from the old service, for all this is performed at the altar, there being nothing analogous to our reading-desks or choirs in Sweden-is very beautiful; especially the general confession; and I have wondered much to see the people so indifferent until the psalm-singing or the preaching seemed to kindle their devotion.

A great many prayers follow the sermons from

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »