by Rev T.W. Gilbert
The survey of the history of our Prayer Book, so far, shows us that the revision which had taken place in the 16th century had been in the direction of emphasising the Protestant and Reformed character of the Church of England. During the reign of Elizabeth, however, there had grown up a strong body of people who looked with suspicion upon all ceremonial in worship, and whose Calvinistic ideas, moreover, produced extreme democratic conceptions about Church government. The movement had gained a certain amount of strength by the time that James I came to the throne, and it was in answer to the Millenary Petition of the Puritans, as they were beginning to be called, that a few alterations were made to the Prayer Book by Royal Authority in 1604 after a Conference held at Hampton Court.
Two alterations in particular were made to meet the scruples of the Puritans.
1. In the Absolution in Morning and Evening Prayer the words “or Remission of Sins” were added to the Rubric to explain that the clergy in the Prayer of Absolution were stating the terms of God's forgiveness.
2. Lay Baptism was no longer sanctioned. During the reign of Elizabeth Lay Baptism even by women was authorised. The Puritans seemed to think that the need for Baptism was thus over-stressed, and the revision of 1604, therefore, restricted Baptism to the “lawful minister” as the normal procedure.
In addition there was added to the Confirmation service the part dealing with the
Sacraments to meet the Puritan objection that candidates were insufficiently prepared for Confirmation, and in the Litany the Prayers for the Royal Family were inserted, and Thanksgivings for Rain, for Fair Weather, etc., added.
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