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For some years past each return of Lent has been, we believe, regarded with additional interest. Many who were not trained 110 within the pale of the Church, are looking to her fold as a refuge more fixed and stable than any they can find elsewhere. They of course eagerly inquire into the History, Object, and Proper Observance of the Holy Seasons which are set forth in her Calendar. Among those, too, who have been educated to attend her services, there seems to be a growing appreciation of their beauty, and a wish to know more of their origin. They appear to be turning away from the empty, boastful professions of this age of novelties, and to be more inclined to adopt as a settled principle, that golden decision of the Council of Nice, Edn apxaia xpateitW, LET ANCIENT USAGES PREVAIL.
In this state of things, the writer has frequently sought—but without success—for something, which in a small compass might contain the necessary information with respect to the Lenten Fast. He could only find, a few pages by one author-a sermon by another-or perhaps some brief tracts, which, although excellent in themselves, did not attempt to discuss the whole subject. Having waited therefore for several years in vain, in the hope that the desired work would be furnished by some one better able to do it justice, he has at length ventured himself to under
take the task.
After the following pages were prepared for the Press, there was accidentally brought to his notice, a treatise by Dr. Gunning (afterwards Bishop of Chichester), entitled, “ the Paschal or Lenten Fast,” which fills a quarto volume of between five and six hundred pages, published about the year 1670. Its size, however, together with the style in which it is written, would render it at the present day useless to any but the theologian or the scholar. The author has also confined his attention principally to one single point, owing to the circumstances under which he wrote. The
work was prepared after the Restoration, when in consequence of the rule of the Puritans for so many years in England, the observance of Lent had been almost entirely discontinued. The object of Dr. Gunning is, therefore, to revive in the minds of men a reverence for this ancient season by proving its Apostolical authority; and the argument he presents is rendered most conclusive by extracts from every prominent writer who treats of the subject during the first seven centuries of the Church. It is evident however that
this truth, if sustained by quotations from the
first three centuries, is as well established as if the testimony of the remaining four was added. The present writer found therefore, that even if he had met with this treatise at an earlier period, from its being thus narrowed down to a single topic, it would have afforded him but little assist
He mentions it however in this place, as it is the only work with which he is acquainted devoted to this subject, and because he was happy to find in its numerous quotations, a full confirmation of the statement he had made with regard to the origin of the Lenten Fast.
It would of course have been easy, after once commencing the investigation, to have entered more deeply into the subject and expanded this volume to twice its present size by multiplying quotations from the early writers. In refraining from doing so, and in turning aside from many tempting paths of historical inquiry which opened before him, the writer (although acting contrary