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OF ABSTINENCE, TO BE OBSERVED IN
The Evens or Vigils before
The Nativity of our Lord.
a Monday, then the Vigil or Fast-day shall
II. The Ember-Days at the the 1st Sun, in Lent, , four Seasons, being the the Feast of Pentecost. Wednesday, Friday, and September 14. Saturday after
III. The Three Rogation-Days, being the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, before Holy Thursday, or the Ascension of our Lord.
IV. All the Fridays in the Year except Christmas Day.
HAT do you mean by Festivals ?
Ans. Days set apart by the Church,
either for the Remembrance of some special Mercies of God, such as the Birth and Resurrection of Christ, the Descent of the Holy Ghost, &c. or in Memory of the great Heroes of the Christian Religion, the Blessed Apostles, and other Saints: who were the happy Instruments of conveying to us the Knowledge of Christ Jesus, by preaching bis Gospel through the World; and most of them attesting the Truth of it with their Blood.
Q. Of what Authority is the Observation of these Festivals ?
A. They are of Ecclesiastical Institution; agreeable to Scripture in the general Design of them, for the promoting of Piety; consonant to the Practice of the Primitive Church, as appears by the joint Consent of Antiquity.
Q. Are not Holy-days enforced by the Laws of the Land ?
A. When upon the Reformation the Liturgy was settled and established, such Days were enjoined to be observed; as plainly appears by the Statutes of Edward VI. and though these Laws were abrogated 2 & 3 Ed. by Q. Mary, yet they were revived in the first
Year VI. cap. 1, of Q. Elizabeth, and continued in the first of K. 5 & 6 Ed. James. And when upon the Restoration, K. Charles VI. cap. 1 II. issued out a Commission for the reviewing of the Liturgy, and making such Alterations as should appear to be fit and necessary; the Alterations made by the Commissioners were brought to
Lev, xix. 96.
Gal. iv. 10. 11.
the Convocation then sitting, where they were Synodically agreed upon, and the King and Parliament confirmed all these Proceedings, as the Act of Uniformily testifies: In which the Rubric and the Rules relating to the Liturgy are established by Royal Authority as well as the Liturgy itself.
Q. But is not the Observation of Days superstitious ?
A. There is an Observation of Days certainly xviii. 10. superstitious, if not idolatrous, since in Deutero
nomy an Observer of Times is declared an Abomination to the Lord: And it is one of the Provocations for which the Gentiles were driven out of the Land. And the Galatians are reproached by St. Paul, for observing Days and Months, and Times and Years; which appeared to him so criminal, that upon this Account he feared the Labour he had bestowed upon them had been in vain.
Q. What Kind of Days are they whose Observation is here condemned?
A. Such as were dedicated by the Heathens to their false Gods, or such as were observed by them as lucky or unlucky Days; these being the Abominations of the Heathens condemned in Deuteronomy: Or those of the Jews, which, though abrogated, the Judaizing Christians attempted to impose upon the Galatians, as necessary to Salvation; contrary to the Apostle's Endeavours of setting them at Liberty in the Freedom of the Gospel; and to the Doctrine of Salvation by Christ alone, which might justly make him afraid of them.
Q. Is the Observation of such Days as are in Use among Christians forbidden in Scripture?
A. No: Because God, who had in Abomination the Observer of Times, doth himself ordain several Feasts to be observed in Memory of past Benefits; as the Feast of the Passover, of Weeks, and of Tabernacles. Besides, our Saviour kept a Feast of the Church's Institution, viz. the Feast of Dedication: And the common Practice of all Christian Churches and States, in appointing and keeping Days of public Thanksgiving and Humiliation, is Argument sufficient to prove, that in the common Sense of Christians it is not forbidden in Scripture.
Q. What may be pleaded for such Days, from the Design of their Institution?
A. It being not only good, but a great Duty to be grateful and to give Thanks to God for the Blessings we receive from him, it must be not only lawful, but coinmendable upon the Account of Gratitude, to appoint and observe Days for the particular Remembrance of such Blessings, and to give Thanks for them: The sanctifying such Days being a Token of that Thankfulness, and Part of that public Honour which we owe to God for his inestimable Benefits.
Q. But do not these Festivals resirain the Praises of God to certain Times, which ought to be extended to all Times ?
A. No Duty can be performed without the Circumstance of Time: And that there is a certain Time allotted for this Duty, tends only to the se.. curing of some Time for the Exercise of the Duty, against the Frailties of Men, and the Disturbances of the World, which otherwise might supplant and rob it of all. And though the Days of Solemnity, which are but few, must quickly finish that outward Exercise of Devotion which appertains to such Times : yet they increase Men's inward Dispositions to Virtue for the present, and by their frequent Returns, bring the same at length to great Perfection. What the Gospel enjoins, is a constant Disposition of Mind to practise all Christian Virtues, as often as Time and Opportunity require; and not a Perpetuity of Exercise and Action, it being impossible at one and the same Time to discharge Variety of Duties.
Q. Is not the hallowing unto God more Days than one against the Meaning of the Fourth Commandment, Six Days shalt thou labour; whence some argue,
that it is no more lawful for human authority to forbid working any of the six Days, than to forbid the holy Observation of the Seventh?
A. By the Solemn Feasts which were established by God himself, each of them at least of a Week's Continuance, it is manifest that [Six Days shalt thou labour] is no Commandment, but expresses only an ordinary Permission of Working: For it could not be but that some Days of these holy Feasts must be of the sir. And it is not to be thought God would contradict his own Commandment, by a con
trary Institution. And therefore, when he comLev. xxvii. manded that Men should give the Tenth of their In
crease, he forbad not Free-will Offerings; so when he commanded one Day in seven to be kept Holy, this hinders not the Church from hallowing to God other Days of the sir: As the Church of the Jews, to whom the Commandment was given, did in the Dedication of the Temple, the Feast of Purim, &c.
Q. Is not the Church of England symbolizing with the Church of Rome, in hallowing of Days, an Objection against the Observation of them?
A. I apprehend it is not; because Conformity to any Church, in such Institutions as tend to promote Piety, and are agreeable to Scripture and primitive Antiquity, no Way deserves Censure : Neither is the Church of Rome blameable for hallowing of Days, but for grafting upon them such erroneous and superstitious Practices as are unknown to Scripture, and to the purest Ages of the Church: For which Reason, and many more very substantial, we were forced to separate from her Communion.
Q. But doth not the Abuse of Festivals to Intemperance and Luxury, make it necessary to have them abolished
A. I think this a very terrible Objection, somewhat of the Nature of that of the scandalous Lives of Christians against the Efficacy of the Christian Religion : But as that is an Objection not so strong against Christianity, as it is shameful to Christians;