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to him and his posterity, of setting his seed upon the throne, till the coming of Christ.


The placing of these commemorations so immediately after Christmas day, is a distinction for which it has been endeavoured to find reasons. With this view, it may be noticed that St. Stephen was the first who suffered Martyrdom for Christianity; St. John was the Disciple which Jesus loved; the slaughter of the Innocents was the first considerable consequence of our Saviour's birth. Thus, Martyrdom, Love, and Innocence are first magnified, as things, wherein Christ is most honoured.

The Collects for St. Stephen's day, and the Holy Innocents, were made new at the Restoration, and that for St. John's day was somewhat altered. But the Epistles and Gospels for these days, are the same we meet with in the most ancient Offices, except that the Epistle of St. John's day was first inserted at the Restoration, instead of a Lesson out of the 25th of Ecclesiasticus.

The reasons for this choice are plain. The Epistle on St. Stephen's day gives us an account of his Martyrdom; the Gospel assures us, that his blood, and the blood of all those who have suffered for the name of Christ, shall be required at the hands of those who shed it. On St. John's day, both the Epistle and Gospel, are taken out of his own writings; the Epistle contains St. John's testimony of Christ, and the Gospel declares Christ's testimony of St. John: the Gospel seems applicable to the day itself, the Epistle to its being attendant upon the preceding more solemn Festival. On the Innocents, the Gospel relates the history which occasioned this celebration; the Epistle, shews the glorious state of those, and the like Innocents in Heaven.


It was a custom among the primitive Christians to observe the octave, or eighth day after their principal feasts, with great solemnity; and upon every day between the feast, and the octave, as upon the octave itself, they used to repeat some part of the service, that was performed on the feast Day.

In imitation of such religious custom, this day generally falling within the octave of Christmas, the Collect then used is repeated now; the Epistle and Gospel still set forth the mysteries of our Redemption by the birth of Christ. Before the Reformation, instead of the present Gospel, was read Luke ii. 33, to verse 41. The Genealogy in the present Gospel, from the beginning of St. Matthew, was left out at the last Review.


In celebrating this Festival, the Church meant to commemorate the active obedience of Jesus Christ, in fulfilling all righteousness, (which is one branch of the meritorious cause of our Redemption) and his abrogating by those means, the severe injunctions of the Mosaical establishment, and putting us under the easier terms of the Gospel.

The observance of this Festival is not of very great antiquity not higher than A. D. 1090. The Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for this day, were for the first time appointed in the first Prayer Book of Edward VI. The first Lesson for the Morning, gives an account of the institution of Circumcision; that for the Evening, and both the second Lesson and the Epistle all tend to the same end, namely, to shew that since the circumcision of the flesh is now abrogated, God has no respect of persons, nor requires more of us, than the circumcision of the heart.


The word Epiphany, signifying Manifestation, was anciently applied as well to Christmas day, when Christ was manifested in the flesh, as to this day, when he was manifested by a star to the Gentiles.

The principal design of the Church in celebrating this day, is, to shew our gratitude towards God, for manifesting the Gospel to the Gentile world; thus vouchsafing to them equal privileges with the Jews; the first instance of which divine favour, was in declaring the birth of Christ, to the wise men of the East.

There are three manifestations of our Saviour commemorated on this day; that by a Star conducting the wise-men; that of the glorious Trinity at his Baptism, mentioned in the

second Lesson of the Morning Prayer; thirdly, that manifestation of his divinity, by turning water into wine, which is contained in the second Lesson for the Evening Service.

The first Lesson contains Prophecies of the increase of the Church, by the abundant accession of the Gentiles, of which the Epistle contains the completion, giving an account of the mystery of the Gospel being revealed to them. The Collect and Gospel are the same, as were used in the ancient Offices, but the Epistle was inserted at the first compiling of the Liturgy, instead of part of Isaiah lx.. which is now read for the first Lesson in the Morning.


From Christmas to Epiphany the Church's design, in all her proper Services, is, to set forth the Humanity of our Saviour, and to manifest him in the flesh; but from the Epiphany to Septuagesima Sunday, and more especially in the four following Sundays, she endeavours to manifest his Divinity by recounting to us, in the Gospels, some of his first miracles and manifestations of his divine power. The design of the Epistles, on these Sundays, is, to excite us to imitate Christ, as far as we can, and to manifest ourselves his Disciples, by a constant practice of all Christian virtues.

The Collects, Epistles, and Gospels for the five first Sundays after Epiphany, are all of them the same as in the Sacramentary of Gregory the Great, except, that the Collect for the 4th Sunday, was a little altered at the Restoration, and that before the Reformation, the Epistle for that day, was the same, as the Epistle for the first Sunday in Advent.

The Collect, Epistle, and Gospel, for the 6th Sunday, were all added at the Restoration, till when, if there happened to be six Sundays after Epiphany, the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for the 5th Sunday were repeated.


The first Sunday in Lent being called Quadragesima, that is, being on the fortieth day from Easter, they denominated the three preceding Sundays, from the next round numbers, Quinquagesima, Sexagesima, and Septuagesima, numbering backwards from Easter.

The observance of these Sundays, and of the weeks following them, appears to be as ancient, as the time of Gregory the Great. Their design is, to call us back from the feasting and joy of Christmas, in order that we may prepare ourselves for the fasting and humiliation, proper for the approaching season of Lent; and to bring us from thinking on the manner of Christ's coming into the world, to reflecting on the cause of it, namely, our own sins, and miseries; that so, being convinced of the reasonableness of punishing and mortifying ourselves for our sins, we may the more strictly and religiously apply ourselves to those duties, when the proper time for them comes. Some more devout Christians used to observe the whole time, from the first of these Sundays to Easter, as a time of humiliation and fasting; but the generality did not begin their fasts till Ash Wednesday.

The Collects, Epistles, and Gospels for these days, are all the same as in the ancient Liturgies, excepting only the Collect for Quinquagesima Sunday, which was made new, in King Edward VIth's first Prayer Book. The Epistles for each of these three days, are taken out of St. Paul's Epistles to the Corinthians; the two first persuade us to acts of mortification, and penance, by proposing to us St. Paul's example; but because all bodily exercises, without charity, profit us nothing, therefore the Church, in the Epistle for Quinquagesima Sunday, recommends Charity to us, as a necessary foundation for all our other acts of Religion. The design of the Gospels is much the same with that of the Epistles.

The Tuesday after Quinquagesima Sunday is generally called Shrove-Tuesday; a name given it from an old English word, signifying to confess; it being the usage in the Romish Church to confess their Sins on that day, and receive the holy Sacrament, in order to qualify themselves for a more religious observance of the holy time of Lent. This gave occasion to invitations and indulgences, by way of taking leave of flesh, and other dainties; these by degrees degenerated into sports, and merriment, which make up the whole business of the Carnival, in Romish countries.


From the earliest ages, it was a practice, among Christians, to set apart some time for mortification, and self-denial, preparatory to the feast of Easter. The Christian Lent, pro

bably, like other Christian observances, is of Jewish origin, corresponding with their preparation to the yearly Expiation; their humiliation began forty days before the Expiation; and ours is forty days before the commemoration of the expiation of the sins of the whole world. It is said, this preparative fasting was, originally, only for forty hours, that is, from 12 o'clock on Friday, the time of our Saviour falling under the power of death, till Sunday morning, the time of his rising from the dead. This was afterwards drawn out into more days, and then weeks, till it settled in 40 days; a number very anciently appropriated to repentance and humiliation. This was the number of days, during which God covered the earth with the deluge; the number of years, in which the Children of Israel did penance in the Wilderness; the number of days Moses fasted in the Mount, and Elias in the. Wilderness; the Ninevites had this number of days allowed for their repentance; and our Lord, when he was pleased to fast in the Wilderness, observed the same length of time. The term Lent does not import any thing of fasting, or religious observance, it is a Saxon word, signifying the Spring.

The whole season of Lent used to be observed with the most rigid strictness. No marriages were allowed; no commemoration of the Apostles, or Martyrs; but their Festivals were, on that account, transferred, from the ordinary weekdays, to Sunday, or to Saturday; which latter, among the Eastern Christians, as has been already observed, was a Festival, like Sunday; except on these two days, the Eucharist was not consecrated during Lent, that being an act more suitable to Festivals than to Fasts: on these days, therefore, they consecrated enough to supply the Communion of the other days, till Saturday or Sunday returned again. Individuals observed the abstinence from food with more or less rigour; but they all agreed in this, to extend the Fasting, on every day in Lent, beyond the hour of three in the afternoon, at which time other Fasts ended, to the evening.


Sunday, being the day on which we commemorate the Resurrection of our Saviour, does not allow of Fasting; if, then, the six Sundays are deducted out of the six weeks of Lent, there remain only thirty-six days of Fasting: to make up, therefore, the number of forty, they added four days from the

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