« ForrigeFortsett »
lived quite different from other heathen ladies of Rome, until after St Paul's death.
The Gospel seems to have been preached here and there in the apostles' times over what is now called England, by various missionaries, chiefly from France and from the East. About the year 164, long after even St John was dead, Lucius, a king apparently of some small tribes in the south of England, under the Romans, sent some British Christians to the Bishop of Rome, to ask for a missionary to instruct his people better. But in York, which was then the chief city of England, and was not under Lucius, the Christians were already numerous ; and the Gospel had gone long before this into corners of Britain, where the Romans had no power.
At this time, both the Romish Church and the Church of France had continued to build their faith and practice on the Word of God; they had not yet departed from the faith once delivered to the saints by the apostles. The Church of Britain did not then use the prayers and customs of the Church of Rome, but those of the Church of France; which had been founded by missionaries and bishops from Smyrna, and the other churches in Asia where St John and St Paul preached. The Churches of Rome and of France then agreed in all that was good, sound, and necessary ; but, in all such things as may be different in different churches, the Church of Britain kept to the church with which they were most connected, that of France, and not that of Rome ; and it did so, even while the British Prince Lucius was sending to Rome for a missionary for his own subjects.
Although the great bulk of the nation was still heathen,—both of the people and of the soldiers, there seem to have been three chief bishops over the clergy and missionaries. The Bishop of York, the capital city; the Bishop of London, the chief trading city; the Bishop of Caerleon, or St David's, the chief city in Wales. There were also in time other bishops under these.
About the year 303, the Roman Emperor Diocletian, enraged at seeing Christianity increasing over the world, ordered the churches to be destroyed, and people to be killed who worshipped elsewhere than in the heathen temples. Then Alban, a young noble at Verulam in Hertfordshire, with his companions, were put to death, on the hill where the abbey and town of Șt Alban's was afterwards built, and called after him.
Others were martyred at St David's, at Lichfield, and elsewhere in England. But the Roman Governor of Britain, by name Constantius, did all he could to protect as many as possible ; because, though a heathen, he saw they were excellent and upright people ; and soon their enemy gave up his crown, and Constantius, their kind governor, himself became Emperor or King of the World, and they came out of their woods and hiding-holes, and rebuilt their churches. In the year 312, his son Constantine, who succeeded him, was converted to Christianity. Constantine was himself either born in Britain, or began his reign in Britain. He made laws establishing Christianity over Britain and all the world ; directing the Bishops everywhere to call on the magistrates for money, to build and repair whatever churches were needed anywhere.
As one and another town became Christian, and the clergy were spread in the villages round, a Bishop was appointed; so that about the year 364, when Valentinian was Emperor, there were about 28 Bishops in England, Wales, and the South of Seotland ; among whom, the three I have already mentioned were Archbishops.
The Archbishop of London had under him Bishops at Canterbury, Chichester, Winchester, Porchester, Ilchester, Exeter, Bath or Bristol, Cireneester, Leicester, St Alban's, Colchester, Grantchester, Caister by Norwich.
The Archbishop of Caerleon-on-Usk, or St David's, had under him Bishops at Chepstow, Wroxeter, Worcester, (or perhaps Mancetter in Warwickshire,) Maywood in Montgomeryshire, Caernarvon, Chester.
The Archbishop of York had under him Bishops at Lincoln, Doncaster, Aldborough, (or Boroughbridge,) Catterick, Carlisle, Whithern in Galloway, and perhaps at Risingham and Riechester in Northumberland.
All these Archbishops and Bishops were
perfectly free and independent of the Bishop of Rome. They respected the Bishop of Rome, because Rome was the chief city of the world, but he had no kind of authority or power over them ; just as Bishops in the North of England now may respect the Bishop of our chief city London, but no one dreams of his having any authority or power except in his own diocese. The British Bishops were free to take or refuse the advice of the Bishop of Rome; they had as much right to give an order to him, as he had to give one to them; and none in those days ever thought otherwise. The Church of Britain was as free from the Church of Rome, as the Church of Rome was from it. Our Christianity did not come from the Pope or Bishop of Rome; but it came from the same as Rome's own Christianity came from ; it came from the Apostles, it came from the East, and from France. The Church of Britain was, and is, as much a free, separate, and independent church of itself, as the Church of Rome is. Do not believe those who say to the contrary.
The picture is taken from one done in those early times, and shows a small ship, such as would be used by passengers coming to Britain in the Apostles' days.
had one kind of
prayer for the Temple Service; and another for the Synagogue, where there were no sacrifices, but only Psalms, Forms of Prayers, reading the Scriptures, and explaining them. The Christians probably kept to something of the latter kind, adding new forms of prayer, and the reading of the New Testament. All churches seem to have used the Creed or Belief, the chant or anthem, “ Glory be to the Father, and," &c., and those in the Communion Service, “ Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts,” and
Glory be to God on High,” all of which seem to be nearly as old as the times of the Apostles. Probably as long as there were inspired Apostles or Prophets alive, they would add prayers of their own, which the different churches would account as very precious and it is likely that some of the prayers in our Prayer-book are of this oldest kind. But let us not confound these with God's Word ; whoever made them, and however holy they may be, they are only as the word of man ; for if they had been the Word of God, the first Christians would have put them into the New Testament itself, and not into Prayer-books.
Although many of the oldest prayers were made in the beginnings of Christianity, and used in all Churches over the world, yet each Bishop appointed much of the Prayer-book used among his own Clergy; and one Bishop would add to or alter the form used by the