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Mary (October 1553), complaints were raised in Convocation, that the Catechism "bore the name of the honourable Synod, although put forth without their consent." The explanation given by Philpot, Archdeacon of Winchester, was that, though the house had no notice. of "the articles of the Catechism, yet they might well bear the title of the Synod of London, since the house had given authority to certain persons to make ecclesiastical laws, and what was done by their authority was done by them." This must refer to the Commission which drew up the Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum (on which see below, § 2, c.), and, as Mr. Dixon says, Certainly the appointing of that Commission had been asked for several times by Convocation, and it is probable that it was the working part of that Commission that made the Articles. But it was a stretch to argue from this as Philpot did."1
Still more startling is the explanation offered by Cranmer, at his disputation at Oxford in April 1554, when the charge was brought up against him, that he had "set forth a Catechism, in the name of the Synod of London, and yet there be fifty which, witnessing that they were of the number of the Convocation, never heard of this Catechism." In his reply to this, Cranmer disclaimed all responsibility for the title. "I was ignorant of the setting to of that title, and, as soon as I had knowledge thereof, I did not like it; therefore, when I complained thereof to the Council, it was answered me that the book was so entitled, because it was set forth in the time of the Convocation." 2 A more unsatisfactory explanation it is hard to conceive. But what makes it more remarkable is that, as we have seen, the Catechism, as distinct from the Articles, had never claimed the
1 Reformation, vol. iii. p. 514.
& Cranmer's Works, vol. iv. pp. 64, 65 (Ed. Jenkyns).
authority of Convocation at all. And yet, in each case in which complaint is made in the reign of Mary, the terms of the complaint mention the Catechism, not the Articles; and the defenders of the title never deny, as we might have expected them to do, that the Catechism claimed synodal authority. The only possible explanation of this appears to be, that the whole book, containing the Articles as well as the Catechism, was known as "The Catechism," and that the objection really had reference to the Articles rather than the Catechism proper. If so, Philpot's expression, the Articles of the Catechism, was strictly accurate, and was intended to describe the Articles contained in the publication called and known as "The Catechism." If Cranmer's language may also be taken as referring to the Articles, then we are driven to the conclusion that, in spite of their title, they had never been submitted to Convocation at all, and that the title prefixed to them rested solely on the authority of the Privy Council, who must bear the blame of having set them forth with 'a deceitful title to impose upon the unwary vulgar.' 2
This appears to be the most probable solution of the difficulty. But, at the same time, it cannot be denied that there is a certain amount of counter-evidence in support of the claim raised by the title, which prevents us from acquiescing in the explanation just given as certain.
1 This view obtains some slight confirmation from the fact that the colophon at the close of the book, after the Articles and a few prayers, says "These Catechisms are to be sold, etc." It is also worth noticing that, in Elizabeth's reign, the Puritans were anxious to have a Catechism united to the Articles, “joined in one book, and by common consent to be authorised."-Strype, Annals, ii. p. 317 (Ed. 1725).
2 Burnet, History of the Reformation, vol. iii. p. 370. Mr. Dixon throws doubt on the statement that the book had been set forth in the time of the Convocation, and thinks that even this was untrue. -Reformation, vol. iii. p. 517.
1. "They are publicly recited as possessing such authority on their subsequent revival and enactment in the Convocation of 1563, and it appears almost incredible that these assumptions should have been allowed to pass unchallenged, more especially by prelates like Archbishop Parker, in a critical Synod, if the document had not really been invested with the sanction which it claims."
2. In a communication from the visitors to the Vice-Chancellor and Senate of Cambridge, dated 1st June 1553, the Articles are spoken of as having been prepared by good and learned men, and agreed upon in the Synod of London.
3. A letter from Sir John Cheke to Bullinger (June 7, 1553), mentions that the Articles of the Synod at London were published by royal mandate.
4. During the controversy on vestments, in the reign of Elizabeth, it was, says Archdeacon Hardwick, urged against the recalcitrant clergy, by an advocate of the party of order, that "many of their party had actually subscribed to the Edwardian formulary in the Convocation of 1553, and were accordingly bent on violating their own pledge, by breaking the traditions and ceremonies of the Church. The answer of the Puritan makes no attempt to throw discredit on this statement. He concedes that many of the disaffected clergy set their hands to the thirty-third of the FortyTwo Articles in common with the rest, but argued that they did so with the reservation that nothing was or ought to be commanded by the Church in contradiction to the word of God."3
1 Parker had been appointed Dean of Lincoln in 1552, and was therefore himself a member of the Convocation of 1552-3.
Hardwick, p. 109.
'Ibid. loc. cit. It does not appear quite certain that the subscription admitted is supposed to have taken place in the Synod. Subscription
The reader has now the evidence of both sides before him, and will see that the question is really a puzzling one, and cannot be decided offhand. On the whole, it appears to the present writer that the balance of evidence is against the correctness of the assertion made in the title. But he is free to confess that he cannot speak without some hesitation. It is possible that further evidence may yet be discovered, which will set the question at rest. In the meantime, we must be content with the statement that the Articles, as published in 1553, claimed the authority of Convocation, but that it is highly probable that the claim was not justified by facts.
(b) The object and contents of the Forty-Two Articles.
It is perfectly clear that these Articles-unlike some of the foreign Confessions-were never meant to form a complete system of theology, but were merely intended to treat of such points as were actually in dispute at the time. The title prefixed to the English edition speaks of them as agreed upon, "for the avoiding of controversy in opinions, and the establishment of a godly concord in certain matters of religion," and the title is so far entirely justified by their contents. Their limitations and omissions are fatal to the view that they were designed to cover the whole field of Christian doctrine. Beyond the general statement of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in Article I., there is nothing in them on the Divinity of our Lord, nor is there any Article on
was required from all the clergy by royal mandate, and it is possible that the reference is to this. If so, although the passage would still testify to a belief, common to both parties in the controversy, that the Articles had actually passed Convocation, the value of its evidence would be considerably lessened, as there would be no admission by the disaffected clergy that they had actually subscribed in the Convocation of 1553.
1 The Articles are printed in Latin and English at the close of this Introduction (see p. 70).
the Holy Spirit.' While the sufficiency of Holy Scripture is asserted in Article V., there is no account of the Canon of Holy Scripture, nor any enumeration of the canonical books.2 Not a word is said of Confirmation or of Penance; and in many other matters there is a reticence which would be inexplicable, on any view except that which regards their range and extent as conditioned by present emergencies. They may be regarded as a two-edged sword, intended to smite with equal impartiality the errors to be found in two different directions (1) those of the Medievalists, and (2) those of the Anabaptists.
1. Roman or medieval errors are expressly condemned in Article XII. (The teaching of the "school authors" on congruous merit), XIII. (Works of supererogation), XXIII. ("The doctrine of school-authors concerning purgatory, etc."), XXVI. (The doctrine of grace ex opere operato), XXIX. (Transubstantiation), XXX. (The sacrifices of masses); while Roman claims are rejected, or the position of the English Church in claiming liberty of independent action is defended, in such articles as XX. ("The Church of Rome hath erred, etc. "), XXI. (It ought not to enforce anything beside Holy Scripture to be believed as an article of faith, cf. also Art. V.), XXII. (General Councils may err and have erred), XXV. (“It is most seemly and most agreeable to the word of God that in the congregation nothing be openly read or spoken in a tongue unknown to the people"), XXXI. ("Bishops, priests, and deacons are not commanded to vow the state of single life without marriage, neither by
1 These omissions were supplied in 1563.
* Remedied in 1563. The omission in the Edwardian series of any account of the Canon, or of the position of the Apocrypha, is all the more remarkable as the Tridentine Decree on the Canon had been already drawn up