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CHURCH OF ENGLAND,
LITURGY, HOMILIES, NOWELL'S CATECHISM,
CONFIRMED BY NUMEROUS PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE.
REV. WILLIAM WILSON, B. D.
FELLOW OF QUEEN'S COLLEGE, OXFORD.
When the sense of the Church of England was the question, one would
PRINTED BY W. BAXTER,
FOR T. HAMILTON, 33, PATERNOSTER-ROW, LONDON.
THAT the Articles of our Church were never intended to be mere Articles of peace, within which, as a kind of outward fence, the straying of human opinion should be circumscribed, may easily be inferred from a very slight examination of their structure and arrangement; and still more so from their close connection, in expression as well as doctrine, with the public formularies of the Church; with the common standards she has provided for public worship, and for the instruction of her members, in private as well as from the pulpit. In short, the "true and Christian faith," so fully explained in our Homilies, is the principle upon which she claims "assent and consent to all and every thing contained" in those Articles; that so a foundation may be laid for the edification of all her members, according to the solemn injunction she lays upon those to whom the care of souls is committed: "See that you never cease your labour, your care and dilib
gence, until you have done all that lieth in you, according to your bounden duty, to bring all such as are or shall be committed to your charge unto that agreement in faith and knowledge of God, and to that ripeness and perfectness of age in Christ, that there be no place left among you either of error in religion, or for viciousness of life ".""
There are some particulars connected with the history of the Articles, which it may be of importance to adduce, with reference to these observations, and to the general object of the present publication.
It is well known, that the Articles were first "devised" in the reign of Edward VI. and further altered and amended in the reign of Elizabeth.
In the conflict of opposing parties, each anticipating on the death of Henry VIII. further exertions in the cause of the Reformation, the concerns of true religion were suffering materially from the violence of papistical advocates on the one hand, or the too forward zeal of protestants on the other; and this combined with a boldness of speculation, such as might be expected to shew itself in the enjoyment or the prospect of emancipation
from Romish tyranny. The young King had repeated occasion to stay the eagerness of the latter, and enjoin them to wait the measures of those, from whose authority all changes must proceed. It was one of the first acts of this Monarch with regard to religion, to lay an inhibition on preaching, till some standard of doctrine was provided, restricting all Bishops and Clergy to their own cathedrals and cures, and requiring them to admit no preacher that was not duly licensed. To supply the “lack of preachers," the first book of Homilies was "set forth by authority;" with a particular injunction to the Bishops, that "they should not at any time or place preach or set forth unto the people any doctrine contrary or repugnant to the effect contained or set forth in the King's Highness' Homilies; neither yet should admit or give license to preach to any within their diocese, but to such as they should know, or at least assuredly trust, would do the
Cranmer however, and the other friends of the Reformation, made it their particular care to select proper men, who, being licensed to preach, might by their sermons promote the
b Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, part II. book 1.