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6. HISTORY OF SUBSCRIPTION TO THE ARTICLES. When the Forty-Two Articles of 1553 were first issued, the intention of the authorities was that they should be offered for signature to all the clergy of the Church of England, and a royal mandate to this effect was accordingly issued in June 1553. The death of the King in the following month prevented it from being enforced, and when the Articles were revived and revised in 1563, no attempt to require general subscription was made by the Church. The Act of 1571, as has been already shown, was so drawn as to require the acceptance of the doctrinal Articles alone, as distinct from those which concern discipline. But the Convocation that met at the same time proceeded boldly to insist in its canons that every minister before entering on his duties should subscribe to all the Articles agreed upon in the Synod,1 and that all public preachers should signify their assent in the same way, and although these canons were not subscribed by the Lower House, and were left without any formal ratification by the Sovereign, the Court of High Commission proceeded to enforce subscription to all the Articles without distinction. This rigour was considerably relaxed during the later years of Grindal's
1 "Quivis minister ecclesiæ, antequam in sacram functionem ingrediatur, subscribet omnibus articulis de religione Christiana, in quos consensum est in Synodo; et publice ad populum, ubicunque episcopus jusserit, patefaciet conscientiam suam, quid de illis articulis, et universa doctrina sentiat." -Cardwell's Synodalia, vol. i. p. 120.
2 Quoniam articuli illi religionis Christianæ, in quos consensum est ab episcopis in legitima et sancta Synodo, jussu atque auctoritate serenissima principis Elizabethæ convocata et celebrata, haud dubie collecti sunt ex sacris libris Veteris et Novi Testamenti, et cum cælesti doctrina, quæ in illis continetur, per omnia congruunt; quoniam etiam liber publicarum precum, et liber de inauguratione archiepiscoporum, episcoporum, presbyterorum et diaconorum nihil continent ab illa ipsa doctrina alienum ; quicunque mittentur ad docendum populum, illorum articulorum auctoritatem et fidem, non tantum concionibus suis, sed etiam subscriptione confirmabunt.” —Synodalia, vol. i. p. 127.
primacy, in consequence of which, upon Whitgift's elevation to the see of Canterbury, one of his earliest acts was to put forth his famous "Three Articles" in 1583. Neither the Parliament nor the Convocation had ordered any precise form of subscription, an omission which Whitgift now proceeded to supply, requiring, “That none be permitted to preach, read, catechise, minister the sacraments, or execute any ecclesiastical function, by what authority soever he be admitted thereunto, unless he first consent and subscribe to these Articles following, before the ordinary of the diocese, viz. :—
"1. That Her Majesty under God hath, and ought to have, the sovereignty and rule over all manner of persons born within her realms, and dominions, and countries, of what estate, ecclesiastical or temporal, soever they be; and that none other foreign power, prelate, state, or potentate, hath, or ought to have, any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or temporal, within Her Majesty's said realms, dominions, and countries.
"2. That the Book of Common Prayer, and of ordering bishops, priests, and deacons, containeth nothing in it contrary to the word of God, and that the same may lawfully be used, and that he himself will use the form of the said book prescribed in public prayer and administration of the sacraments, and none other.
"3. That he alloweth the Book of the Articles of Religion agreed upon by the archbishops and bishops of both provinces, and the whole clergy in the Convocation holden at London in the year of our Lord 1562, and set forth by Her Majesty's authority, and that he believeth all the articles therein contained to be agreeable to the Word of God." 1
In conformity with this document, subscription was once 1 Strype's Whitgift, bk. iii. ch. iii; cf. Perry, History of the English Church, vol. ii. p. 318 seq.
more rigorously enforced, and at the beginning of the following century the "Three Articles" received synodal authority, being adopted almost verbatim as the Thirtysixth Canon in the series put forth and ratified by the Sovereign in 1604.
"Subscription to be required of such as are to be made ministers."
No person shall hereafter be received into the ministry, nor either by institution or collation admitted to any ecclesiastical living, nor suffered to preach, to catechise, or to be a lecturer or reader of divinity, in either university, or in any cathedral or collegiate church, city, or market town, parish church, chapel, or in any other place in this realm, except he be licensed either by the archbishop, or by the bishop of the diocese where he is to be placed, under their hands and seals, or by one of the two universities under their seal likewise; and except he shall first subscribe to these three articles following, in such manner and sort as we have here appointed :
"I. That the King's Majesty, under God, is the only supreme governor of this realm, and of all other his Highness's dominions and countries, as well in all spiritual or ecclesiastical things or causes, as temporal; and that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate hath, or ought to have, any jurisdiction, power, superiority, preeminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within His Majesty's said realms, dominions, and countries.
"II. That the Book of Common Prayer, and of ordering of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, containeth in it nothing contrary to the word of God, and that it may lawfully so be used; and that he himself will use the form in the said Book prescribed, in public prayer, and administration of the sacraments, and none other.
"III. That he alloweth the Book of Articles of Religion agreed upon by the archbishops and bishops of both provinces, and by the whole clergy in the Convocation holden at London in the year of our Lord God 1562; and that he acknowledgeth all and every the Articles therein contained, being in number nine and thirty, besides the ratification, to be agreeable to the word of God.
'To these three Articles, whosoever will subscribe he shall, for the avoiding of all ambiguities, subscribe in this order and form of words, setting down both his Christian and surname, viz. :
"I, N. N., do willingly and ex animo subscribe to these three articles above mentioned, and to all things that are contained in them.
And if any bishop shall ordain, admit, or license any, as is aforesaid, except he first have subscribed in manner and form as here we have appointed, he shall be suspended from giving of orders and licences to preach for the space of twelve months. But if either of the universities shall offend therein, we leave them to the danger of the law, and His Majesty's censure." "1
The Act of Uniformity of 1662 required a still more stringent declaration of assent to the Book of Common Prayer, to be read publicly in church, by every person instituted or collated to a benefice with cure, but the
1 Cardwell's Synodalia, vol. i. p. 267. The canons were passed by both Houses, and ratified by letters patent, in Latin, but an English translation was at once made, and printed by "Robert Barker, printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, anno 1604."
2 "I, A. B., do hereby declare my unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing contained and prescribed in and by the book intituled, The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, according to the use of the United Church of England and Ireland: together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, pointed as they are to be sung or said in Churches; and the Form or Manner of Making, Ordaining, and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons' (13 & 14 Chas. II., ch. 4, § 6)."
subject of subscription to the Articles did not come within its province,1 and, therefore, the form ordered by the Thirty-sixth Canon remained in force.
After the revolution of 1688 an attempt was made to get rid of the various forms of subscriptions and declarations required from the clergy, and the abortive Comprehension Bill of 1689 proposed that "No other subscriptions or declarations shall from henceforward be required of any person, but only the declaration mentioned in a statute made in the thirtieth year of the reign of the late King Charles the Second, intituled, 'An Act for the more effectual preserving the King's person and government by disabling Papists from sitting in either House of Parliament,'" and also this declaration following:
“I, A. B., do submit to the present constitution of the Church of England. I acknowledge that the doctrine of it contains in it all things necessary to salvation, and that I will conform myself to the worship and the government thereof, as established by law. And I solemnly promise, in the exercise of my ministry, to preach and practice according thereunto." 2
The Bill was introduced into the House of Lords, without any reference whatever to Convocation, and though it passed the Lords the House of Commons declined altogether to discuss it. "They were much offended with the Bill of Comprehension, as containing matters relating to the Church, in which the representative body of the clergy had not been so much as advised with."3 Accordingly, the somewhat ambitious scheme "for uniting their
1 Except so far as lecturers were concerned (13 & 14 Chas. II., c. 4, § 19). * See the report of Her Majesty's Commissioners appointed to consider the subscriptions, declarations, and oaths required to be made and taken by the clergy of the United Church of England and Ireland, 1865 (p. 53), where the form finally agreed upon by the House of Lords is given.
For the history of the bill see Perry, vol. ii. p. 543 seq., and Macaulay, History of England, ch. xi.