"No recent innovation": did we really need the Tracts?

On this Thursday after Trinity Sunday (let the reader understand), an extract from the Charge given by Richard Mant, Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore, in July 1843.  The Charge was entitled 'Rubrickal Conformity the Churchman's Duty'.  In this section of the Charge, Mant - a traditional High Churchman - critiques the Tractarian claim that the movement was restoring adherence to the rubrics (a somewhat ironic claim, of course, in view of later developments).  Refuting this dismissal of pre-1833 Anglican experience, Mant points to a vibrant tradition of what he terms "ritualists", by which he means those who expounded the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer:

There are some, indeed, who would fain establish a connexion between a faithful submission to the Church's authority, and the peculiarities of that system of religious opinion, which has, within the last ten years, been the occasion of so much commotion in the Church, and against which I of late gave you several cautions; as if a strict sense of ministerial obligation were a new thing among us; as if it had not been professed and maintained at all times by our best ritualists and most consistent and exemplary divines. The judgment of one of the most eminent of these there has been cause to lay before you in this address, as it had been cited in support of the opinions delivered in my Charge of 1822. But before the period which reached from 1731 to 1753, during which Archdeacon Sharp was counselling the clergy of Northumberland on "The Rubricks and Canons of the Church of England," in a series of Archidiaconal Charges, many such judgments had been pronounced. 

After quoting a series of such authorities, he concludes: 

These will suffice to prove that a strict observance of the rubrick is no recent innovation.

Yesterday's post suggested that the traditional High Church defence of the apostolic nature of the three-fold order meant that Tractarianism was not required in order for Anglicanism to be reminded of its apostolic descent and identity.  Mant similarly suggests that the Tracts were not necessary to renew Anglican liturgy. A vibrant pre-1883 High Church tradition embodied "ritual conformity":

the claims, which the Book of Common Prayer, with its rubricks, has perpetually upon our observance.


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