One reason, I believe, that 18th-century England’s neglect of the Holy Communion service’s Ornaments Rubric ought not to be interpreted as a norm for Anglican practice today, a reason implied by Charles J. Abbey and John H. Overton in The English Church in the Eighteenth Century:
There were some special reasons for disquietude in those who feared to diverge a hand-breadth from the established rule. Although since the Restoration, the Church of England was undoubtedly popular, and had acquired, out of the very troubles through which she had passed, a venerable and well-tried aspect, there was, in the earlier part of the eighteenth century, a wide-spread feeling of instability both in ecclesiastical and political matters, to an extent no longer easy to be realised. No one felt sure what Romish and Jacobite machinations might not yet effect. For if the Stuarts remounted the throne, Rome might yet recover ascendancy. The Protestantism of the country was not yet absolutely secure. And therefore many Churchmen who, if they consulted their feelings only, would have been thoroughly in accord with the Laudean divines in their love of a more ornate ritual, were content to stand fast by such simple ceremonies as were everywhere acknowledged to be the rule. However much they might have a right to claim as their legitimate due usages which their rubrics seemed to authorise, and which were scarcely unfrequent even in the days of Heylyn and Cosin, they were not disposed to insist upon what would in their day be considered as innovations in the direction of Rome. Better to widen that breach rather than in any way to lessen it.
Abbey and Overton later note that high churchmen of the time were fully aware that the Ornaments Rubric was still legally valid, despite its disuse in practice:
John Johnson, writing in 1709, said he was by no means single in his belief that this order was still legally enjoined. Archbishop Sharp appears to have been of the same opinion, and used to say that he preferred the Communion office as it was in King Edward’s Book. Nicholls, in his edition (1710) of Bishop Cosin’s annotated Prayer-book, insisted upon the continuous legality of the vestments prescribed in the old rubric, which was ‘the existing law’, he said, ‘still in force at this day’. Bishop Gibson, the learned author of the ‘Codex Juris Ecclesiastici’ (1711), although he marked the rubric as practically obsolete, steadily maintained that legally the ornaments of ministers in performing Divine Service were the same as they had been in the earlier Liturgy.
I also note, in passing, that some Anglicans today seem to be in the same fear of a takeover by Rome as Englishmen were in the 18th century, when there existed an actual geopolitical threat of a return of popery under the auspices of the ousted Stuart dynasty. It ought to be obvious today that the chief antichrist in the Church today is not the Bishop of Rome, execrable as his doctrines and policies may be. St Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome in his own time, was right to say that anyone claiming to be universal bishop (as the office of the papacy does today) breathed the spirit of Antichrist. Nevertheless, if we constantly turn our eyes to a Romish threat abroad, which we then imagine to be in our own churches, we blind ourselves to the threat actually within our doors. The poison is in Rome, but also in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and in many of our own Anglican churches.