25 MARCH 1899, Page 13

system in which appointed persons, in virtue of the powers

conferred on them at ordination, perform certain functions which no one else can perform, and that those who wish to keep the Prayer-book as it is must accept sacerdotalism. Is it

not probable that the early reformers inclined to Wyclif's contention that every devout layman was a sacerdos, so that

ordination was simply a question which concerned Church discipline, and did not affect the efficacy of the Sacrament ?

This is what Wyclif says as to lay consecration, quoting Augustine and Chrysostom :—" Ymmo videtur juxta testi- monium Augustini, Crisostomi et aliorum sanctorum quod omnis predestinatus laycus est sacerdos, et multo. msgis devotus laycus conficiens, cum daret ecclesie sacrum minis- terium, ha beret racionem sacerdotis." Wyclif then goes on to say that the Church " racionabiliter ordinavit quod soli sacerdotes propter religiositatem et dignitatem in moribus boc sacramentum conficerent." Then, as to the nature of the Sacrament, Wyclif declares :—"Nos sacerdotes facimus et benedicimus hostiam consecratam que non est corpus domini- cum sed efficax ejus signum." We learn from the above that only an ordained priest may minister, because the Church so

orders it, but that any devout layman might do so equally well if permitted. Throughout the "De Ecclesia " the

Eucharist is always termed the Sacrament of the Altar, but never the sacrifice ; and there seems plenty of evidence in favour of the view that the Edwardian reformers, while protesting against the sacrifice of masses for the living and the dead, were retaining Wyclif's doctrine of sacerdotal consecration.

In the churchwardens' accounts of the parish of St. Petrock, Exeter, we find the following curious entries :—

1559-40.—For a book called le Byble," 8s. 4d.

1540.41.—" Aid payd to Willyam Bucknam for a sute of blewe vestyments and a cope and a awter cloth," £12. 1547-48.—" For the iron that bereth the sacrament," 4,s.

" Takyng downe of the roode and for makyng clene of the churche, xvid."

1548.49.—" For washyng away of images and for whyt lymyng of the same,” 15d.

" For a boke called the order of the Churche," 4s. 8d, 1519.50.—" De xxii' rec' p' alto altare vendit'."

" For pluckyng downe of the syde aulter."

" The Order of the Church " was clearly the first Prayer-book of Edward VI., which retains the altar ; so it is remarkable to note that the altars of St. Petrock were " plucked down" and sold in the following year. The altars were restored by Queen Mary, but in the 1-2 Elizabeth we find the entries : For a communion book, 6s. For taking down the "aulter and the prists (?)," vs. 6d. The authorities of St. Petrock seem to have taken down the altars at the earliest possible moment. It is noticeable that the same old priest, Sir William Herne, was in charge from 1527-66. It would seem that many Church. men now are confounding the consecration of the elements with the sacrifice of the Mass, two very distinct things. We note that " the iron that bereth the sacrament " was paid for in the same account which recorded the expense of re- moving the rood, and later, in 1559, the rood and the altar were once more removed in the very same year when the use

of vestments were ordered in the Communion Service. The spirit of the Reformation seemed to insist on the presence of a table and the absence of any altar. Both High Church and row have, however, unanimously agreed to shirk the rubric enjoining a table having a fair linen cloth upon it, where

Morning and Evening Prayer are appointed to be said. Such services in country churches are usually said in the " body of the church." In such cases who has ever seen the table placed as directed ? It is invariably placed in a place considered more holy, viz., the chancel, and instead of having

only a linen cloth on it, it is often covered and draped in red velvets or cloths in Low churches, and in a variety of colours in High churches. If the Ritualists who insist on the ornaments rubric would also insist on officiating at a movable table with a plain white cloth on it standing in

the body of the church, the teaching of the English Church would seem far clearer and intelligible than the conflict of many voices and the perversion of many truths permit it to appear at present. The case of the Sacrament of Baptism referred to by Mr. Kebbel entirely bears out Wyclif's view.

CTo THE EDITOR or THE "52EcTATOR,"3 If a sacerdos is necessary for that rite, every " devotus laycus in the Visitation of the Sick, it may be well to recall the state of the English Church at the time. The nation lay under an interdict, cut off, so far as the Pope could cut it, from the communion of the Catholic Church. The nation was not Protestant then by any means, and dying men might reasonably feel anxious whether they were dying in the unity of the Church. How comforting to such would be the formal absolution pronounced by the accredited agent of the national Church, followed by the prayer,—" Continue this sick member in the unity of the Church." That the Church's absolution only referred to this world is clear by the prayer which immediately follows, and which pleads for forgiveness solely on the grounds of God's mercy and the merits of Jesus Christ. If the absolution had any spiritual effect whatever it would be most inconsistent to kneel down immediately and pray that his former sins might not be imputed to the penitent. According to the Roman doctrine they would be wiped out already. According to the Catholic Church the Sacrament of Baptism is the most far-reaching and effective of absolutions. If, then, this absolution can be effected by a layman, why not the daily absolution in the Church ? and surely every " devotes laycus " could make the statement of fact embodied in the Anglican formula. At the present time the churchwardens' accounts of St. Petrock, Exeter, as pub- lished by the late Mr. Dymond in Vol. XIV. Trans. Devon Association. are of great interest, extending as they do from 1425 to 1692.—I am, Sir, &c., Southwood, Torquay, March 20th. ARTnua R. HUNT.