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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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A rite or ceremony of dedicating things or persons to the service of God. It is used for the benediction of the elements at the Eucharist: the ordination of bishops is also called consecration. The Mosaical law ordained that all the first-born, both of man and beast, should be sanctified or consecrated to God. We find also, that Joshua consecrated the Gibeonites, as David and Solomon did the Nethinims, to the service of the temple; and that the Hebrews sometimes consecrated their fields and cattle to the Lord, after which they were no longer in their power. Among the ancient Christians, the consecration of churches was performed with a great deal of pious solemnity. In what manner it was done for the first three ages is uncertain, the authentic accounts reaching no higher than the fourth century, when, in the peaceable reign of Constantine, churches were every where built and dedicated with great solemnity.

The Romanists have a great deal of foppery in the ceremonies of consecration, which they bestow on almost every thing; as bells, candles, books, water, oil, ashes, palms, swords, banners, pictures, crosses, agnus deis, roses, &c. In England, churches have been always consecrated with particular ceremonies, the form of which was left to the discretion of the bishop. That observed by Abp. Laud, in consecrating Saint Catherine Cree church in London, gave great offence, and well it might. It was enough, as one observes, to have made even a popish cardinal blush, and which no Protestant can read but with indignant concern. "The bishop, came attended with several of the high commission, and some civilians. At his approach to the west door of the church, which was shut, and guarded by halberdeers, some that were appointed for that purpose cried with a loud voice

Open, open, ye everlasting doors, that the King of Glory may come in! Presently the doors were opened, and the bishop, with some doctors and principal men entered. As soon as they were within the place, his lordship fell down upon his knees; and, with his eyes lifted up, and his arms spread abroad, said, This place is holy; the ground is holy: in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I pronounce it holy. Then, walking up the middle aisle towards the chancel, he took up some of the dust, and threw it into the air several times. When he approached near the rail of the communion table, he bowed towards it five or six times; and, returning, went round the church, with his attendants in procession; saying first the hundredth and then the nineteenth Psalm, as prescribed in the Roman Pontifical. He then read several collects, in one of which he prays God to accept of that beautiful building, and concludes thus: We consecrate this church, and separate it unto thee as Holy Ground, not to be profaned any more to common use. In another he prays

That ALL who should hereafter be buried within the circuit of this holy and sacred place, may rest in their sepulchres in peace, till Christ's coming to judgment, and may then rise to eternal life and happiness. Then the bishop, sitting under a cloth of state in the aisle of the chancel, near the communion table, took a written book in his hand, and pronounced curses upon those who should hereafter profane that holy place by musters of soldiers, or keeping profane law courts, or carrying burdens through it; and at the end of every curse he bowed to the east, and said, Let all the people say, Amen. When the curses were ended, which were about twenty, he pronounced a like number of blessings upon ALL that had any hand in framing and building that sacred and beautiful church; and on those that had given, or should hereafter give, any chalices, plate, ornaments, or other utensils; and, at the end of every blessing, he bowed to the east, and said, Let all the people say, Amen. After this came the sermon, then the sacrament, which the bishop consecrated and administered in the following manner:

As he approached the altar, he made five or six low bows; and coming up to the side of it, where the bread and wine were covered, he bowed seven times. Then, after reading many prayers, he came near the bread, and, gently lifting up the corner of the napkin, beheld it; and immediately letting fall the napkin, he retreated hastily a step or two, and made three low obeisances: his lordship then advanced, and, having uncovered the bread, bowed three times as before. Then he laid his hand on the cup, which was full of wine, with a cover upon it; which having let go, he stepped back, and bowed three times towards it; then he came near again, and lifting up the cover of the cup, looked in it; and seeing the wine, let fall the cover again, retired back, and bowed as before. Then the elements were consecrated; and the bishop, having first received, gave it to some principal men in their surplices, hoods, and tippets; after which, many prayers being said, the solemnity of the consecration ended."

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Consecration'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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