JOHN COSIN 1594 - 1671/2
PREBENDARY OF DURHAM CATHEDRAL 1624 - 1634
MASTER OF PETERHOUSE, CAMBRIDGE 1634 - 1642
BISHOP OF DURHAM 1660 - 1671/2
EARLY LIFE AND CAMBRIDGE
Whenever I think of this Caroline Divine I have invariably tried to picture worship in the chapel of Peterhouse, Cambridge during the 1630’s when John Cosin was Master. Those words we hear on St. Andrew’s day, “come and see”, the day on which Cosin was born in 1595 were an invitation to many young Cambridge scholars “to taste and see how glorious the Lord is” in the beauty and holiness of worship in the chapel built by Matthew Wren but beautified by Cosin. As he was born and had his early schooling in Norwich it was to Cauis and Gonville College, Cambridge that he received his university education: B. A. in 1613/4, M. A. in 1617, B. D. in 1623 and D.D. in 1623. As a promising graduate he attracted the notice of both Bishop Andrewes, bishop of Ely (1609-1619) and Bishop Overall, bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (1614 – 18) and Norwich (until his death in May, 1619). On the advice of his tutor he decided to become the secretary and librarian of the latter. A very close relationship sprang up between the two, and after Overall died, Cosin always referred to him as “dear Lord and master”. Afterwards he became a domestic chaplain to Bishop Neile of Durham.When he was ordained as a deacon and then as a priest we just don’t know, but it would seem that he preached his first sermon in 1621 at Coton where the rector was John Hayward. It was he who introduced the young Cosin to the study of liturgy. That would become one of the great passions of his life and would see its fruition in the groundwork for the 1662 Prayer Book. In 1622 he was appointed the university preacher.
As domestic chaplain to Neile it meant he became a member of the Durham House group noted for their aversion to Puritanism and their love for worship and the sacramental way of life. Frequent visitors to this house on the Savoy in London would have included William Laud, Richard Montagu and Lancelot Andrewes. In 1625 James I died and was followed by his son Charles I who was very sympathetic towards the Durham House group and of their theology and worship. At his coronation on Candlemas, 1626 organised by William Laud, Cosin was appointed Magister Cereminiarum. It was for Charles’ coronation that Cosin composed Veni Creator Spiritus that appeared in the 1662 Prayer Book in the Ordinal.
Not long before the coronation in1624, Cosin was appointed a prebendary of Durham Cathedral and began a close association with the north that would last on and off until his death in 1671/2. His time as a prebendary has not been forgotten, partly because another prebendary, Peter Smart, did not like the “innovations” that were taking place in the cathedral in the latter part of the 1620’s. He particularly singled out John Cosin as the prebendary behind all this.
Like Andrewes and Overall, Cosin recognised there was much good and richness in the old ceremonies and so he insisted that “in truth we have continued the old religion, and the ceremonies” that “are the ancient rites and customs of the Church of Christ, whereof ourselves being a part, we have the self-same interest in them which our fathers before us had.”
In 1628 the Dean, Richard Hunt and chapter began a beautification scheme for the cathedral. This involved replacing the wooden altar with one of stone and spending “large summes of money for the reparation of their Church-fabrick, and for the ornaments, utensills, and beautie of the same.” From a sermon preached by Peter Smart on 27th July, 1928 we learn that a crucifix, candlesticks, tapers and basins adorned the altar, while above were “50 glorious angells”, and cherubim-faces on the black pillar. Smart also complained of the many angels in the quire with their “long scarlet gownes, with golden wings and guilded heads.” He commented that on the previous Candlemas the church had been ablazed from “some two hundred candles and sixteen torches” in the afternoon for Evensong.
It would seem too that Smart did not like music either as he complained that “the Nicene Creed ... [was] sung with organs, sackbuts, and cornets, and all other instruments of music”, and for “most of the service [there was] piping and singing.” Even when the Sacrament was administered, there was “vocal and instrumental music.” The first service, Morning Prayer at 6.0 a.m. was also sung and accompanied by instruments. During Cosin’s time, not only as a prebendary but also later as bishop, there were many ambitious musical projects undertaken, of which manuscripts of five organ books and twenty-five part books have survived. To an appendix to the sermon Smart added that Cosin had “brought diuers old Copes” that he wanted the prebendaries to wear. The sermon led to Smart’s suspension and imprisonment until 1640. Cosin remained at the Cathedral until his appointment at Peterhouse in 1634 and was thus in charge of the arrangements when King Charles visited the Cathedral in 1633 on his way to Scotland.
Cosin held other positions in this diocese too. He was appointed archdeacon of East Riding in 1625, and his Visitation Articles revealed that he thought much was amiss. He was concerned about the laxity of ministers in regard to the recitation of the Daily Offices, of wearing the surplice, of administering the sacrament of baptism and especially using the sign of the cross, of celebrating the Eucharist reverently and frequently, of catechising, and obedience to the Canons.
He was also appointed rector of Elwick (probably he never resided in this parish), Brancepeth, St. Edmund’s, Sedgefield, and St. Andrew’s, Haughton-le-Skerne. Apart from Elwick all these churches underwent what is known as “Cosin’s woodwork” in beautifying them. The striking feature in these churches was the elaborate and intricate woodwork in both Jacobean and Gothic styles. The less elaborate Jacobean style is seen in pew and pulpit design, while the Gothic dominates the chancel with its screen, ceiling and choir stalls to depict the separation of the inner sanctum from the nave. The screen in St. Brandon and St. Edmund’s are similar, except the latter is two bays wider. The side sections of this screen “are subdivided by tall balusters, two deep with rusticated bases, the loft by extremely rich Neo-Dec pinnacles with plenty of ogee arches”. It also featured “polygonal shafts, dadoes with their blank arches and perpendicular leaves in the sprandrels.” However the tracery on the screen was more sumptuous at Brancepeth and entirely Gothic. The choir stalls in all three churches have “acanthus poppyhead carvings” and very delicate strapwork. In each, the ceiling “is flat and wooden” and like in the mediæval tradition “decorated over the altar in lieu of a canopy with mock lierne ribs, angels with outspread wings as bosses and Latin inscriptions in praise of God.”
LITURGICAL STUDY AND WORSHIP
One of the first things that come to mind when one thinks of Cosin’s contribution to the Post- Reformation is his passion for the Book of Common Prayer and his outstanding contribution towards the compilation of the 1662 Prayer Book. In the time of Edward VI and Cranmer the Prayer Book replaced both the Missal and Breviary of the Pre-Reformation Church in England, and apart from the Ordinal which was separate, contained all the services needed for administering the sacraments, the Offices and other Christian needs such as the Burial of the Dead, and the Psalms. Under Elizabeth I the Prayer Book of 1552 was reinstated with only a few but significant changes. The idea of a Book of Common Prayer was to unite Englishmen in worship.
For Cosin and the Caroline divines the Prayer Book preserved all that was good from the past, an order and discipline in prayer life and the administration of the sacraments. From the time John Hayward introduced Cosin to the study of Liturgy, it became a life- time study.
His mentor, Bishop Overall as did Andrewes made notes on the contents of the Prayer Book. After Overall’s death in 1619 Cosin returned to Cambridge and for four years laboured over his notes on the Prayer Book that undoubtedly incorporated the notes of both these bishops. He also compared the Prayer Book text with both Martin Bucer’s Censura of 1551 and the anonymous Puritan Survey of 1606. He also compared the 1604 Prayer Book (the official one at the time) with the 1549 Prayer Book, and making note of differences.” All his diligent study would bear fruition at the Savoy Conference in 1661 with its preparation for the new Book of Common Prayer. As one would expect those Notes emphasised the importance of the rubric before the Offices of Morning and evening Prayer that stated that “Such ornaments as were in use in the second year of Edward VI’s” should be maintained. That meant that candles could be used on the altar. It also meant as Cosin noted when a bishop celebrated the Holy Communion he “shall have upon him besides his Rochet, a Surplice or Alb and a Cope or Vestment and also his Pastoral staffe in his hand”, while a priest wore “an alb with a vestment or cope”. If other priests and deacons were present at the celebration they wore “albs or tunicles.”
One of the features of the Prayer Book was the observance of the Christian Year with its rhythm of feasts and fasts. Cosin stressed that the Christian year was quite distinct from the natural cycle and even the secular year as from earliest times the church has her own “peculiar computation” as “‘she neither follows the course of the sun, or moon, to number her days and nights according to their revolution; but Jesus Christ being to her as the only Sun and Light.’” The Church thus traces “‘His course alone, beginning and ending her year with Him.’” Accordingly that year begins with Advent, which heralds the Christmas and Epiphany seasons. With the latter Cosin made reference to this feast as Theophania, as it is known in the Eastern Church which celebrates the manifestations of the divinity of Christ at Bethlehem, at His Baptism in the Jordan and at the marriage feast at Cana. In regards to Candlemas that followed shortly afterwards Cosin noted that it was also known as “Festorum Luminum, the great festival of light” on which “a great number of lights and tapers” to show that before Christ’s baptism we lived in darkness.
Before Lent there were three preparatory Sundays of which the first is Septuagesima Sunday with its reflection on “servitude and affliction,” while the Israelites were living in Babylon after having been cast out of their own country through their sins just as Adam had been “cast out of paradise.” Cosin stated, it is the consequences of that ejection that on this Sunday and the following two that we reflect on our servitude to Satan and sin, but also on Christ who “brought us out of this exile, to His Easter, as it stands here in the order of our book, which is His glory and resurrection.”
Lent follows with its preparation for the Passion and Death of Christ. Good Friday is a day set apart “for a more peculiar meditation upon that mysterious and blessed Passion of our Saviour”, and accordingly “all this week long the sad story of Christ’s passion is read together.” Good Friday “was an evil day for Him and ought to be a day of great sorrow to us”. However from what Christ accomplished for us it is “a good day and ought to be a day of great joy to us.” It is a great day of joy as Good Friday paves the way for Easter that had three special days for celebration. As Cosin commented on the two days after Easter Day:
These two holy-days have been very anciently annexed to the feast of Easter, and were the set days of a public and solemn baptizing of many multitudes of people together; which the good Christians then rather chose to administer and to receive at this time, for that by the Sacrament of Baptism the holy resurrection of our Saviour is so lively set forth and commemorated in the Church. This was therefore one reason of their first institution in old time.
Another was (and it is the reason of their present continuance now) for that these two days might be a greater honour to the principal day of Easter itself, whereupon they still attend, and being attendants upon it, have not, as other days, any proper name of their own.
It was the custom both of the ancient Latin and Greek Churches to observe their Easter after this manner. For the Latins, St. Augustine is plain, In tertium diem festi” &c. ‘Upon the third day of our most holy festival.’ And for the Greeks, St. Gregory Nyssen is clear, who expressly termeth it, ‘A feast of three days.’
Of course the resurrection cannot be complete without the Ascension. Then comes Pentecost with the promise of the Holy Spirit for the Church, and finally the Trinity on which feast the three persons in the Godhead are honoured, crowns the year. This festival completes the first half of the Christian year, while the second half through the various readings fill out the life of Christ, especially in regards to his teachings, often through parables. Cosin explained this division. In the first half by celebrating the various events of Christ’s life, “we are to learn the mysteries of Christian religion” while in the second half we apply those mysteries in practising the Christian faith in our lives. Hence it not only important to know that Christ was “born, and crucified and risen for us”, but that we must “build upon this foundation ... as He requires of us”. He particularly stressed that as the first half ends with Pentecost with its giving of a “new law in our hearts”, so the second begins “with the practice of that law.” Cosin too emphasised that it is “the Church’s intention ... to teach us by the very order and method of her public service through the whole year, what her doctrine is concerning the fundamental and necessary points of our Christian religion through our whole lives.” Throughout the year there were also special days such as the Ember days, which in the mediæval Church came to be celebrated quarterly, and continued as such. Such days were special fast and praying days for the ministry of the Church, and for vocations to the ministry. Cosin related how the name was given. “Our elder fathers would on these dayes eat noe bread, but cakes made under ashes or imbers, so that by eating of them they reduced into their mindes that they were but ashes.” That “these Ember Days were duly observed and devoutly by our ancestors, we may be persuaded out of the laws of King Cnute,” Cosin also observed that important saints days had been omitted, of which the most notable was St. Mary Magdalene whom he wanted to restore with the collect, epistle and gospel from the 1549 Prayer Book. During the Christian Year worship on Sundays and holy Days by priest and parishioners was required by law. Yet there was another reason to worship as Sunday is a very special day of joy when Christ’s resurrection is celebrated. As Cosin intimated, “This ... joy is so expedient and natural for a festival solemnity that without it, it seems no feast at all.” Sunday is indeed a day of “joy and cheerfulness.” When Cosin was studying diligently the Prayer Book Sunday worship was not observed as it would seem intended by the rubrics and that was for frequent celebration of the Eucharist. Indeed Cosin indicated that the directions of the Book of Common Prayer showed that the intention of the Church was “that the Sacrament should be propounded every day, for them to come unto and receive who were godly disposed.” This intention was obvious from the rubric directing that the same “collect, epistle and gospel, appointed for Sunday shall serve all the week after”, and by appointing “the prefaces proper upon the feasts of Christmas, Easter, Ascension and Whitsun ... to be read six days after.” In his Prayer Book notes on the rubrics at the end of the Holy Communion service he wrote, “It appears that the mind of the Church of England ever was and is to have a Communion and commemorative sacrifice of Christ’s death every day, that the people will but come to it, and make up a sufficient number.” Quoting from John Chrysostom, “‘What, come ye once a year to your daily food?’” Cosin argued that if we feed our bodies as seldom as we feed our souls then we would “quickly famish”. If this can happen to our bodies, the same can happen to our souls. Referring again to Chrysostom, he declared: [If Christ] lived among us, he would have complained most bitterly against us, not only for defrauding ourselves of many graces and helps that might come to us by the frequent use of it, but also and that chiefly for despoiling Christ, as much as in us lies of His highest and most peculiar honour that He has received for Himself. It would seem that the norm was to celebrate the Eucharist monthly in the early seventeenth century. In his notes Cosin intimated why it was preferable to refer to Holy Communion as the Eucharist. “Though sacrament be no where used in scripture to signify the blessed Eucharist, yet the Christian Church ever since its primitive ages has given it that name, and always called the presence of Christ’s Body and Blood therein mystic and sacramental.” Thus the name of Sacrament is “a gift befitting His love and greatness.” On those occasions when the Eucharist was celebrated Cosin insisted it should be approached with great reverence and preparation. Indeed Cosin viewed this preparation should be similar to that practised by “the primitive and old Christians” who abstained from “all fleshly thoughts, and from sexual pleasures “for certain days before” in order to be wholly absorbed “in spiritual and heavenly meditations”. He also stressed that in antiquity “the holy Sacrament” was so venerated that those who came carelessly to receive it or behaved in an unseemly manner “were punished as great offenders”. When the Eucharist was celebrated parishioners came into the chancel where they were supposed to be very reverent as they entered into a taste of heaven, especially once the prayer of Consecration had been said as now “our thoughts [are] taken up wholly with the Body of Christ”. When it came time to communicate parishioners knelt at the altar rails. Whenever the name of Jesus was mentioned, especially in the Gospel, they were to bow. Cosin also emphasised the offertory as this is the time the congregation should be conscious of the poor and hungry. Just “as Christ communicates himselfe to us, so wee communicate our selves to our poor brethren; thus a perfect Communion. ... The Agape or Love-feasts of the Primitive Christians for releefe of the Poore, doe plainly expresse this, [and] became the Christian Offertory,”noted Cosin. When the Eucharist was celebrated Cosin suggested that it was for the whole church, both living and departed as illustrated in the words “we and all Thy whole Church”. It is plain that Christ’s sacrifice was “for the sins and for the benefit of the whole world, of the whole church; that both those which are here on earth, and those that rest in sleep of peace, being departed in the faith of Christ, may find the effect and virtue of it.”
Obviously the Eucharist was the centre of worship for Cosin as it had been for centuries amongst Christians. Its doctrine was a constant source of debate during the seventeenth century amongst English divines and Roman Catholic theologians. The latter tried to claim that its celebration in the English church was invalid, not only because of the invalidity of Anglican orders but also because of the omission of certain words and actions during the celebration of the Eucharist according to the Prayer Book. In reply Cosin stated that he agreed with the Church of Rome “that there is to be a certain form of words wherewith the Sacrament is to be made and consecrated.” Such a form, he maintained, is observed in the English Church as our “words of consecration [are] as fully and amply as any priest” in “the recitation of Christ’s command to have His death and Passion remembered”. The correct prayers were all said, indeed “the Mass-book hath no more than we have here”. He insisted that for the Roman Church to make this a point of division “betwixt us, where none is, sounds more of the evil spirit - the desire of contradiction, than of the good Spirit - the desire of peace and unity.” One of the criticisms made was that the English Church did not believe in the real presence of the Lord in the Sacrament. Cosin stated that the Holy Communion service in the English Church clearly showed a belief in the real presence, evident in the prayer of consecration when the priest said “‘this is My Body ... this is My Blood,’” in the words of administration of the Sacrament, the post-communion prayer, and the “solemn prayer before the consecration” with its petition, “‘Grant us, gracious Lord, so to eat the Flesh of Thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink His blood ... that we may evermore dwell in Him, and He in us.” Cosin quoted Andrewes as the authority on the English Church’s teaching, “‘Christ said, This is My Body:’” and we thus “hold by a firm belief that it is the Body of Christ.”
We do not hold this celebration to be so naked a commemoration of Christ's Body given to death, and of His Blood there shed for us, but that the same Body and Blood is present there in this commemoration (made by the sacrament of bread and wine,) to all that faithfully receive it: nor do we say, it is so nude a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, but that by our prayers also added, we offer and present the death of Christ to God, that for His death's sake we may find mercy, in which respect we deny not this commemorative sacrifice to be propitiatory. However what the English church does not accept is the Popish doctrine that Christ’s sacrifice is repeated at each celebration of the Eucharist. “Christ can be no more offered, as the doctors and priests of the Roman party fancy Him to be, and vainly think that every time they say mass, they offer up and sacrifice Christ anew, as properly and truly as He offered up Himself in His sacrifice upon the cross.”
Cosin also insisted that the doctrine of transubstantiation was erroneous. If this doctrine were authentic, it would mean that Christ “offered His precious Body and Blood to God the Father, under the forms of bread and wine, in a real proper Sacrifice, before He offered It upon the Cross.” This was absurd thinking. Therefore the sacrifice could only be “pro mactatione et occisine victimæ”, that is “only commemorative and sacramental”.
Commenting further on the doctrine of transubstantiation in his correspondence with Father Robinson, Cosin stated that those who taught that “new doctrine of a gross and corporal manner” cannot be “good Catholics”, and that a true Catholic would not enquire into how the bread and wine became the Body and Blood of Christ but would “leave it to the power and wisdom of our Lord, yielding a full and unfeigned assent to His words.” This was the true Catholic doctrine of the Church, understood by Augustine and other Fathers, “and so it is still”. According to these Fathers the change “is not a newness of substance, but of use and virtue”. He too suggested that Bellarmine, another apologist for the Roman church, would have been right if he had stayed with St. Bernard whom he quoted “that ‘Christ in the sacrament is not given to us carnally, but spiritually.’” However by endorsing “the council of Trent ... he thereby foolishly overthrew all that he had wisely said before, denied what he had affirmed, and opposed his own opinion.”
Cosin maintained that false preaching in the English Church was one of the reasons that she was victimised by “the Church of Rome in many things”. She acknowledged “we have a service, but no servants at it; that we have churches, but keep them not like the houses of God; that we have the Sacraments, but few to frequent them; Confession but few to practise it; ... we have all religious duties... but seldom observed; all good laws and canons of the Church, but few or none kept; the people are made to do nothing; the old discipline is neglected, and men do what they list. It should be otherwise, and our Church intends it otherwise.”
On the other side were the Puritans who also opposed the teaching that Cosin believed was in the Prayer Book. In his Prayer Book notes Cosin wrote, “And I doubt whether the Puritans’ sacrament at Geneva and elsewhere be not such an one or no, for they do boldly deny any word of mystical consecration at all.” He then proceeded to outline the differences between the reformed Churches and the English
[Firstly], they make the accidents only to be signs, while we regard the substance of bread and wine as the signs in accordance with the nature of Sacraments and the teaching of Scripture. [Secondly], we do not say that the only merits of the death of Christ are signified by the consecrated symbols, but that the real body itself which was crucified for us, and the real blood itself which was shed for us, are both represented and offered, so that our minds may enjoy Christ not less certainly and really than we see and receive and eat and drink the bodily and visible signs themselves. [Thirdly], since the thing signified is offered and presented (exhibetur) to us as really as the signs themselves, in this way we recognize the union of the signs with the body and blood of the Lord, and we say that the elements are changed into a different use from that which they had before.” [Fourthly], we do not say that in this holy Supper we are partakers only of the fruit of the death and passion of Christ, but we join the ground with the fruits which come to us from Him, declaring with the Apostle, ‘the bread which we break is a Communion of the body of Christ, and the cup a Communion of His blood,’ yea, in that substance which He took in the womb of the Virgin and which He raised on high to heaven.
The other main sacrament is Baptism. On this Cosin emphasised that this should happen very early in the life of the child. He was also insistent that the sign of the cross be used. He also insisted that the sacrament of Confirmation should be administered early too to help the baptised “on the hard and straight ways of Christianity.” Otherwise they may perish, and so in Confirmation “a more perfect power of the Holy Ghost” is received in order to resist “the temptation of Satan.” Cosin explained why Confirmation became “a lesser sacrament”. Originally it had been part of Baptism when those baptized were “of full age”. “Imposition of hands with earnest prayer for the gifts of God’s graces” was bestowed upon the newly baptized, “whereby they might be confirmed and strengthened in that holy profession which, in the Sacrament of Baptism, they had first begun.” When infant baptism became the normal practice, it meant that the newly baptized could not be responsible “to discharge the duties of a Christian man or woman, to bring forth the fruits of their religion, and to do the works of the Holy Ghost.” Consequently confirmation was “deferred till they arrived to riper years”, and hence the purpose for catechetical instruction. As the Puritans objected to the laying-on-of hands, Cosin stressed the significance of this and the prayer accompanying that act. It is “an especiall meanes ordayned by God to procure that Blessing from Him upon them whom, by this solemn rite, wee present unto Him for that purpose.” He indicated the antiquity of this rite which had its beginning when “Israel blessed the sons of Joseph, and imposed his hands upon them, and the like custome was usually observed from the time of Moses to Christ, who used it himself and his Apostles after Him.” [Since then] the ancient Fathers and Bishops of the Church every where in their learned, godly, and Christian writings impute unto it those gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost, which ... assisteth them in all vertue, and armeth them the better against all the severall temptations of the world and the divell, to resist the wiles of the flesh. It is this same “sacred and solemne action” that bishops have continued in the English Church.
As intimated the validity of ordination of priests was challenged by the Roman Catholic Church. Cosin as had Andrewes challenged this by stressing it is the words said and the laying-on-of-hands over the ordinands not what they receive that make the sacrament valid. Cosin indicated that this is also the case in the Orthodox Church which calls the “name for giving of Orders, ...laying on of hands” as it was also by the early Fathers. For instance Augustine maintained that it is by “imposition of hands Priests are ordained”, whilst Ambrose stressed, “‘when the Bishop and Priests impose their hands in Ordination, God also adds the grace and power by His own almighty Hand.’” Indeed there were no “ancient fathers” who did not teach this “in all parts of their writings.” Hence Ordination in the English Church followed the practice of the ancient Church, and it certainly was no “form” of ours.
In regards to holy unction, Cosin commented where the sick are anointed by the priest. I is “Upon the forehead or breast only making the sign of the cross” as he prays “with this visible oile thy body outwardly is anointed, … that thy soul may inwardly be anointed with the holy Ghost who is the Spirit of all strength … restore unto you bodily health and strength.” The importance of administering to the sick and dying was also evident in Cosin’s annotation on the rubric “that in time of plague” the priest could administer the Sacrament to the sick alone. He commented “God forbid any minister should decline this most Christian office by putting his own safety before the sick.” After all “God is able to protect his Ministers from all infection when they are sincerely discharging their office.” Cosin commented on the Puritan attitude towards the dead that suggested that he/she was no longer a member of “the mystical Body of Christ” and did not need a priest for his burial. To counter this attitude he drew attention to the petition “that we with this our brother, and all other departed” in the collect for the burial service, as intimating that the English Church does sanction prayers for the dead. Furthermore the naming of the last prayer as a collect suggested that the Eucharist was to be celebrated as provided in the 1549 Prayer Book, and thus was “to confirm Christians the better in hope of our certain resurrection after death” and “to offer up the sacrifice of the Church unto God, to apply the effect of Christ’s sacrifice unto the party deceased for his resurrection again at the last day.” Part of the sacramental ministry of the priesthood was to do what Christ did in reconciling sinners. Just as the Father sent His Son, so Christ in turn sends His ministers to be reconcilers of people with God and each other in sacramental confession. When Cosin preached at the consecration of Bishop White in 1629 it was on the “the power of the keys”. He spoke of the "solemn deriving of a sacred and ghostly power upon the persons of the holy Apostles, for the use and benefit of Christ's Church ever after" is called by us "the Power of the Keys". It is those keys that "are committed to the custody of a priest in his ordination, to bind a sinful and to loose a penitent soul." One of the comments made by Cosin in relation to the sacrament of marriage was that there were certain times in the Church’s year that the Church forbad the solemnising of marriages because of their penitential nature: the seasons of Advent and Lent and Ember days. However if a marriage took place during those solemn days, as Cosin indicated, it did not make the marriage unlawful or less binding on the couple.
In 1627 Cosin’s Horae was published. This was a devotional book centring on the canonical hours with their respective psalms, antiphons, lessons and appropriate prayers for seasons for “the English ladies of the Court” so they too could pray when Queen Henrietta and her ladies were praying. The cover itself inspired devotion. In the foreground was the monogram IHS, the first three letters of the Greek spelling of Jesus, while a cross encircled by the sun, supported by two angels formed the background. At the bottom knelt two women in adoration. Many of his contemporaries did not see it this way. Prynne for example described the "frontpiece, title, frame and method, style and phrases, yes, and doctrine too, is altogether Popish." In his preface, Cosin stressed the importance of a prayerful life. "For the good and welfare of our souls there is not in Christian religion anything of like continual use and force throughout every hour of our lives as is the ghostly exercise of prayer and devotion." He also outlined the purpose for compiling such a book of daily devotions. These were: Firstly, "to continue and preserve the authority of the ancient laws and old godly canons of the church, which were made and set forth for this purpose," that those who use it "might know what to say, and avoid, as near as might be, all extemporal effusions of irksome and indigested prayers." Secondly, "to let the world understand" that despite what some say "the ancient form of piety and devotion" in regards to "religious exercises and prayers of our forefathers" have not been abandoned. Neither have "all the old ceremonies" nor devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Thirdly, that those who are "often hindered from being partakers of ... public [worship], might have here a daily and devout order of Private Prayer" in order "to spend some hours of the day at least (as the old godly Christians were wont to do) in God's holy worship and service." Fourthly, "those who perhaps are but coldly" in their prayer life, "might by others' examples be stirred up to the like heavenly duty of performing their daily and Christian devotions to God."
Cosin's Horae attracted a lot of criticism from the Puritans in and out of parliament because it was seen as reviving pre-Reformation devotions. However it was based on the Elizabethan primer, known as the Preces Privatae, first published in 1564, with a third edition in 1573, whose offices included Matins and Laud, Vespers and Compline. On examining Cosin's morning and evening offices, they vary little from the Elizabethan Orarium, or for that matter from those of the Prayer Book, both of which were based on the old primer and breviary.
The various sections in the Devotions, were aimed to encourage pious living. These were: 1. To observe the Festival and Holy Days appointed. 2. To keep the fasting days with devotion and abstinence. 3. To observe the ecclesiastical customs and ceremonies established. 4. To repair unto the public service of the Church for Matins and Evensong with the other holy offices at times appointed, unless there be a just and unfeigned cause to the contrary. 5. To receive the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ with frequent devotions and three times at least, of which times Easter to be always one. "And for better preparation thereunto, ... to disburden and quieten our consciences of those sins that may give us, or scruples that may trouble us, to a learned and discreet priest, and from him to receive advice, and the benefit of absolution." The actual contents of the book as stated were similar to the old canonical offices, but some of the texts were of Cosin's own choosing. In fact the offices of Terce, Sext and None were his own compilations, using scriptural and traditional texts to give themes on the Holy Spirit and the Passion. Horae also included the seven penitential psalms, the Litany, Collects for Sundays and Holy days; devout prayers during the Holy Communion service, and before and after receiving the Sacrament; a form for confessing sins; prayers for the Ember days, for the King and Queen, and for sick, as well as prayers for various occasions such as women in child-birth and after, and for anniversaries such as birthdays, and baptisms. It also listed the seven deadly sins, the cardinal virtues, works of mercy and gifts of the spirit. In fact it covered every imaginable aspect of devotional life for Christians, and by using it as a guide and inspiration, they could grow in holiness and awareness of God.
THE LORD’S DAY
As with Andrewes, Cosin had strong beliefs about the keeping of Sunday as a day of rest from manual work in order to worship God and to perform works of mercy. He insisted that God has consecrated one day in seven to be “a day of rest” but “it be no idle rest”. It is rest from work in order “for the better keeping and sanctifying the holy days and festivals of God.” As it is a day in honour of the Resurrection it is a day of joy when the most important act is to worship God especially in the Eucharist when we receive our Lord in the Sacrament. It was also a day to meditate quietly, but a day too to do works of charity. “Fasting ... and sitting all day pensive and still upon Sundays, as the use of some is, is no good Christianity.”
PETERHOUSE – EXILE – RESTORATION
In 1634 Cosin was appointed Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge and so he journeyed south where again he made his mark. Here in its chapel he was able to celebrate worship as he believed it should be. At first the immediate project was to beautify the newly constructed chapel by Matthew Wren. It was an enormous programme of rebuilding and refurbishing that Cosin and his wife bore most of the cost, and their purpose in undertaking it is enshrined in the chancel’s inscription, Hic locus est Domus Dei, nil allud, et Porta Caeli. The exterior facing was rebuilt, and the interior extravagantly decorated and furnished. For this Cosin was assisted by the poet, Richard Crashaw. Everything drew the eye immediately to the altar, approached by unpolished marble steps that led to the polished marble. Above the altar a dove represented the Holy Spirit and above that were cherubim. Behind the altar were painted hangings depicting eagles and on them were inscribed the words quod cuperunt Angeli. The altar itself was covered with bright silk and richly furnished, on which were placed “basons, candlesticks, tapers” (very reminiscent of Andrewes), while on the altar steps was placed Andrewes’ thurifer for use on feast days. Hanging above the altar was “a great crucifix”. Within the chapel there were numerous carved faces of angels, floral decorations and arabesque lozenges, all of which gave an “air of fantastic grace”, while the end of seats had “a carved crosse.” Other notable beautifications were the gilded dome and the great East window. The latter was based on Ruben’s Le Coup de Lance, which depicted the events of Christ’s passion, “centring on the crucifixion to disseminate graphically [Catholic] theological and liturgical ideas.” One of the saddest events in history was that this beautification did not last long. The iconclasts had great glee in dismantling it all, not only in this chapel but also in others in Cambridge. After the restoration Cosin gave money to restore some of its beauty but it was only a shadow of the beautification of the 1630’s. Here now in this most beautiful chapel music could be rendered to honour the Almighty as Cosin so honestly thought was fitting. For this divine "reading has not the force to affect and stir up the spirit, which a grave manner of singing has." He commended the wisdom of "our Church" in prudently appointing "the lessons and prayers so to be sung ... for the dignity and glory of God's high and holy service, and be also a means to inflame men's affections, to stir up their attentions, and to edify their understandings." Just as he had in Durham he employed musicians to write appropriate music for liturgy. At Peterhouse he found William Childe who would compose music for the entire Eucharist, something no composer had done since the early years of Edward for the English rite. Within the worshipping life of this chapel, organ music became an important part with the establishment of a permanent organist in late 1635. As well as playing in the chapel on Feast Days and their first Evensongs, his other duties included instructing the poorer scholars in sacred music.
In 1640 when Vice-Chancellor of the University Cosin also had the university church of great St. Mary’s enhanced with a “stately and magnificent” whilst four years earlier 1636 the altar had been enclosed, and lavishly decorated.
That same year Cosin was appointed Dean of Peterborough Cathedral. Just prior to his installation the Long Parliament met, and Cosin’s world would soon tumble down around him. Peter Smart certainly had not forgotten him and after his release from prison presented a petition to Parliament against him. Consequently he was sequestered from his benefices and was impeached in 1641 but was dismissed on bail. However in 1642 by sending university plate to the King he was forced to leave Peterhouse. Cosin did not hang around to see what else would happen and lived in exile in Paris until the return of 1660. Although this was a very hard and difficult time for him in many ways he was able to triumph with the return of the monarchy when Charles II landed on English soil on 25th May, 1660. Cosin accompanied the king and by the end of the year had been appointed to the see of Durham. For the next twelve years he was able to be the Prince Bishop of the north. He converted the hall of Bishop Auckland (the bishop’s residence) into a beautiful chapel. This would be his residence and from where he would lead his flock not only in the cathedral that he continued to beautify but also throughout his diocese. The library he left is a legacy to the Church he loved. Like all the Caroline Divines he was steeped in the teachings of the Fathers and the Christian traditions that enhance the appreciation of the Faith handed down through the ages. He upheld the need of reform within the English Church to remove the superstition and unnecessary doctrines, and so for him that reformed Church was a better expression of all that was true for salvation. Above all else he loved to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.