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prefixed, and one or two trifling verbal changes introduced into the Article itself.1
Very similar language to that employed in the first paragraph of the Article is found in the Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum, in which, after a list of the canonical books of both Testaments, we read as follows: "Hæc igitur generatim est sancta Scriptura, qua omnia creditu ad salutem necessaria, plene et perfecte contineri credimus, usque adeo ut quicquid in ea non legitur nec reperitur, nec denique ex eadem aut consequitur, aut convincitur, a nemine sit exigendum ut tanquam articulus fidei credatur." 2
The wording of the second paragraph on the canonical books is traced entirely to the Confession of Würtemburg, while that on "the other books" follows very closely the statement of St. Jerome to which it expressly refers us:
"Sicut ergo Judith, et Machabæorum libros legit quidem ecclesia sed eos inter canonicas Scripturas non recepit: sic et hæc duo volumina [sc. Ecclesiasticus et Sapientia] legat ad ædificationem plebis, non ad auctoritatem ecclesiasticorum dogmatum confirmandam.” 3
The object of this Article is to state the exact position taken up by the Church of England with regard to the use and extent of Holy Scripture, in the face of two opposite errors which she was called upon in the sixteenth century to oppose.
1. The opinion of some among the Anabaptists or "Anti-book religionists," who were described in the
1 The only books of the Apocrypha mentioned in 1563 were 3 and 4 Esdras, Wisdom, Jesus the Son of Sirach, Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees. In 1553 and 1563 the title was, Divinæ Scripturæ doctrina sufficit ad salutem "The doctrine of Holy Scripture is sufficient to salvation."
De Summa Trinitate et Fide Catholica, ch. ix. 'Prologus in Libros Salom.
Nineteenth Article of 1553 as those who "affirm that Holy Scripture is given only to the weak, and do boast themselves continually of the Spirit, of whom (they say) they have learnt such things as they teach, although the same be most evidently repugnant to the Holy Scripture."1
2. The teaching of the Church of Rome, which places tradition on a level with Holy Scripture as a source of doctrine, and regards as canonical all those books which the Church of England relegates to an inferior position in the Apocrypha, with the exception of the Third and Fourth Books of Esdras, and the Prayer of Manasses.
The principal subjects which require consideration in connection with this article are the following:
1. The position of Holy Scripture as the sole source of necessary doctrine.
2. The canon of Scripture.
3. The position of "the other books."
I. The Position of Holy Scripture as the Sole Source of Necessary Doctrine.
On this subject the statement of the Article is, so far as it goes, clear enough. Holy Scripture
1 To much the same effect we read in the Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum: "In quo genere teterrimi illi sunt (itaque a nobis primum nomin. abuntur) qui sacras Scripturas ad infirmorum tantum hominum debilitatem ablegant et detrudunt, sibi sic ipsi interim præfidentes, ut earum authoritate se teneri non putent, sed peculiarem quendam spiritum jactant, a quo sibi omnia suppeditari aiunt, quæcunque docent et faciunt."-De Hares. ch. iii.
2 Or, as they are called in our Bibles "the First and Second Books of Esdras." The titles given to the books in the Sixth Article are mainly drawn from the Vulgate, in which Ezra and Nehemiah appear as the "First and Second Books of Esdras," and the apocryphal books are consequently enumerated as the "Third and Fourth." In our English Bibles the titles are drawn from the Hebrew, and so Ezra and Nehemiah appear under their own names, and consequently the apocryphal books of Esdras become the "First and Second."
contains all things necessary to salvation, so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite necessary to salvation. The meaning of this statement is perfectly plain. It" only implies the historical fact that the same body of saving truths which the apostles first preached orally, they afterwards, under the inspiration of God the Holy Ghost, wrote in Holy Scripture, God ordering in His providence that, in the unsystematic teaching of Holy Scripture, all should be embodied which is essential to establish the faith." 1 It equally condemns any theory which would regard Holy Scripture as given "only to the weak," and as unnecessary for the enlightened Christian," and, on the other hand, any view which would base necessary doctrine not ultimately on the written word, but on the traditions or teaching of the Church.
The statements of the Article may be illustrated from the promise required from all the clergy before their ordination to the priesthood.
The bishop.—Are you persuaded that the Holy Scriptures contain sufficiently all doctrine required of necessity for eternal salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ? and are you determined, out of the said Scriptures, to instruct the people committed to your charge, and to teach nothing, as required of necessity to eternal salvation, but that which you shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the Scripture?
Answer. I am so persuaded, and have so determined by God's grace.
The statement of the Article, like the question addressed to the clergy, refers only to necessary doctrine; and it will
1 Pusey, The Truth and Office of the English Church, p. 40.
be noticed that the Article is absolutely silent on the question who is to decide what may be proved from Holy Scripture, and fails to state with whom the power resides to enforce anything to be believed as an article of faith. For the teaching of the Church of England on these very important subjects we must turn to Article XX., where we are expressly told that the Church . . . hath authority in controversies of faith,' and where it is evidently implied that it rests with the Church to decide what may be proved from Scripture, and thus be required to be believed as an article of faith. The consideration of this subject is therefore postponed, and will be taken later on in connection with Article XX. It will be sufficient here to have thus reminded the reader that the teaching of this Sixth Article requires to be supplemented by the later one, if the position taken up by the Church of England is to be properly understood and appreciated.
The subject of the authority to be assigned to the Holy Scriptures was considered by the Church of Rome at the fourth session of the Council of Trent, which was held in April 1546, some years before the Anglican Articles were drawn up. The decree was, therefore, before the compilers of the Edwardian as well as the Elizabethan series. It runs as follows:
"The sacred and holy Ecumenical and General Synod of Trent . . . keeping this always in view that, errors being removed, the purity itself of the gospel should be preserved in the Church, which (gospel) before promised through the prophets in the Holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated with His own mouth and then commanded to be preached by His apostles to every creature, as the fountain both of every saving truth and also of the discipline of morals; and perceiving that this truth and discipline is contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions which,
received by the apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself, or from the apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even to us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; (the Synod) following the example of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates, with equal affection of piety and reverence, all the books both of the Old and also of the New Testament-seeing that one God is the author of both-as also the said traditions, both those appertaining to faith as well as those appertaining to morals, as having been dictated either by Christ's own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved by a continuous succession in the Catholic Church."1
The terms of this decree are not altogether free from ambiguity, for the assertion that the "truth and discipline are contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions" is capable of bearing two widely different interpretations. It may be taken to mean that the whole faith is contained in the Scriptures, and is also taught by tradition; and if it be taken in this way, there is nothing in it to which any Anglican need take exception. But, on the other hand, it may mean that Scripture alone is the source of some part of the faith, and tradi
1 "Sacrosancta Ecumenica et generalis Tridentina Synodus . . . hoo sibi perpetuo ante oculos proponens ut sublatis erroribus puritas ipsa Evangelii in Ecclesia conservetur; quod promissum ante per prophetas in Scripturis Sanctis Dominus noster Jesus Christus, Dei Filius, proprio ore primum promulgavit; deinde per suos Apostolos, tanquam fontem omnis et salutaris veritatis et morum disciplinæ, omni creaturæ prædicari jussit; perspiciensque hanc veritatem et disciplinam contineri in libris scriptis et sine scripto traditionibus, quæ ipsius Christi ore ab apostolis acceptæ, aut ab ipsis apostolis, Spiritu Sancto dictante, quasi per manus traditæ, ad nos usque pervenerunt, orthodoxorum Patrum exempla secuta, omnes libros tam Veteris quam Novi Testamenti, cum utriusque unus Deus sit auctor, nec non traditiones ipsas, tum ad fidem tum ad mores pertinentes, tanquam vel ore tenus a Christo, vel a Spiritu Sancto dictatas et continua successione in Ecclesia Catholica conservatas, pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia suscipit et veneratur."-Conc. Trident. Sessio Quarta. Decretum de Canonicis Scripturis.