James Wayland Joyce.

England's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic online

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Online LibraryJames Wayland JoyceEngland's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic → online text (page 42 of 83)
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well be questioned whether the mine had been worth the
working." There was, certainly, a considerable amount of
dross mixed up with whatever quantity of true metal lay un-
explored. For instance, the lower house had just reason to
complain of such propositions as are given in the last note.
Those there quoted, among sundry others, were extraordinary
sallies, and though in the sixty-seven articles represented by
the lower house as deserving of censure some propositions are
contained which the English Church, in subsequent synods, so
far from condemning has adopted, yet the specimens given
hardly recommend themselves for general acceptance. For
instance, the third, thirty-fourth, thirty-sixth, and fifty-third
articles discharge all ecclesiastical proprieties, and disable
much of true devotion. The tenth can scarcely find ac-
ceptance with our Christian philosophers, or the fifty-second
with our musical divines. And as for the sixty-fourth, it
seems to strike dead all the principles which engage the
research, learning, and eloquence of Westminster Hall, and
on which, indeed, the fabric of human society is built.

Complaint After the presentment of these erroneous

books\y^7ower Opinions, as they were called, and certainly
house. many of them deserve the title, the lower house

complained that certain books, which had been examined and
censured by a committee of convocation, were still suffered *=
to remain in the hands of the unlearned, not having been
expressly condemned by the bishops. The house repre-
sented that arguments were thus furnished ready to the
hands of the vulgar, tending to disputation in the Church
and disturbance in the State ; and it was declared further,
that some persons who had renounced the received doc-
trines and lay under "^ imputations both as regarded "faith
and morals" were permitted to teach singular opinions without

A • • 1 f 1536 ^^^ ^^^® most important act of this convoca-
confirmed by the tiou was the ratification of a body of articles of
^^ ° ■ faith then thought fit for the guidance and

direction of the English Church. On the 11th of July the

A. D. 1536.
K. Henry

* Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 805,

Hist. lib. .
p. -208.
b Coll. iv.

c Coll. iv.

J Coll.


A.D. 1536.






Mag. Brit,
iii. 803.
f Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 817
ct seq.
Coll. iv.

e Coll. iv.

'' Strvpc's
Mein. (;ran
mer, p. 44.

' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 823, ex
MS. Cott.
Cleoi). E. V.
fol. 5.0.
Coll. iv. 364.

J Strype's
Mem. ('ran
mcr, p. 40.

l* Ibid. <!v p.



draft of them wa.s brought into the synod by Edward
Fox, bishop of Hereford, and, after having been read over,
they were approved and subscribed ^ by both houses. They
were in number ten ^, and are famiharly known by the title of
the Articles of 1536. The subjects to which they refer are —
1 . the creeds ; 2. baptism ; o. penance ; 4. the sacrament of
the altar ; 5. justification ; 6. images ; 7. of honouring saints ;
8. of praying to saints; 9. rites and ceremonies; 10. purga-
tory. Though some Romish errors were still retained, yet
progress towards reformation was made, for the canon of
Scripture is referred to as the groundwork upon which
preachers should instruct the people : and though images
were to be retained, yet kneeling to them and other acts of
worship were forbidden. Thus several usages ^ of the Roman
communion were discharged, and some of its most offensive
doctrines softened down. So that some sure advances in
restoring ^ the English Church to the primitive standard were
here made, and a gradual reformation of religion was thus
carried on by legitimate synodical authority. It is worthy of
remark that, in the subscriptions of the two houses of convoca-
tion appended to these articles, Cromwell took leave to sign
his name first ' ; which, indeed, has a marvellous appearance, as
preceding that of the Archbi.shop of Canterbury. Tlie Arch-
bi.shop of York and the ]3ishop of Durham's signatures also
appear ; but this may be accounted for by the fact that on
several important occasions the northern prelates have ap-
peared in the convocation of the southern province. Many
copies of these articles were sent down by the king"'s command
into the north, together with the original draft signed by the
hands of convocation, amounting to the number J of 11 G bishops,
abbots, priors, archdeacons, and proctors of the clergy. And
in order to aid in appeasing a rebellion which was there ex-
cited on religious grounds during this year, the Duke of Nor-
folk, as the king's lieutenant, received orders to disperse these
copies, that the glergy and others " might •^ understand it was
a proper act of the Church, and no innovation of the king and
a few of his counsellors." Upon which it may be remarked,
that at this time there appears to have been a reasonable dis-
tinction, at least in some points, kept up between the proper
functions of the ecclesiastical and civil power.



Holy days de-

The eighth session of this convocation ^ was
fined by the synod, (jevotecl to the Consideration of the Church holy
days. Under the Roman system holy days had been multiplied
to such an extent as to give colourable pretences for idleness ;
and in consequence of frequent cessation ™ from labour difficul-
ties in harvesting the crops had arisen, and intemperance also
had increased. Now that the English Church had recovered
her liberty with regard to such appointments, it appeared right
that some remedy should be applied to these disorders. A
new settlement was therefore in this respect made, and
agreed " to by both houses of convocation ; and such an ordi-
nance was established for the celebration of holy days through-
out the year as seemed fit. This act of convocation took place
on the I9tli of July", and was subsequently ratified by the king;
upon which a copy "" was sent to all the bishops, with an order
that they should take care that its provisions were enforced.
The first Sunday in October was appointed as the feast of dedi-
cation for all churches, in lieu of the feast of the patron saint of
each particular church, which had heretofore been called the
churcli-holiday^ and of which the church- wake — at this present
time an intolerable nuisance in some parishes — is an unworthy
remnant. Holy days falling between the 1st of July and the 29th
of September were left open to labour, with the exception of
the feastsP of the Apostles, the Virgin Mary, and S. George,
and those feasts when the judges did not sit at Westminster.
But upon such holidays as were abrogated \ though the laity
were not to be exhorted to keep the festival, it was decided
that the usual service might ^ be performed in the church by all
priests and clerks, as well regular as secular. These were matters
clearly within the jurisdiction of the English Church, and we
find them here legitimately dealt with by synodical authority.
Decision of the The last scssiou ^ of this couvocatiou of 1536
tirVpaTS ^^'^s ^^^^^ o" t^^e 20th of July, and the question
mons to Mantua, proposed to the assembly was whether K. Henry
lay under any obligation to attend a council lately summoned
by the Pope. Now as the English Church had advanced so
far towards a reformation and the recovery of her just
liberties, the Canterbury Synod was extremely watchful in
guarding against foreign interference. The papal council'
was summoned to meet at Mantua, and it was reasonably to

A. D. 1536.
K. Henry

"> Cone.
Mag:. Brit.

" Cone.
Mnfr, Brit,
iii. 803.

" Cone.
Ma2. Brit,
iii. 803.
"o Cone.
Mae;. Brit,
iii. 8-23.

P Cone.
Mae. Brit.
iii. 824.
1 Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 824.

" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 824.

* Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 803.

' Coll.




A.D. 1536.






n Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 803.

" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 80.9. &
Coll. iv.

« Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 80.9. &
Coll. iv.
X Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 803.

y Mem.
p. 44.

be expected that its censures would be directed against the
late assertion of ecclesiastical independence in England. In
order, however, to weaken the force of this assembly, and to
make its proceedings more inoffensive, it was deemed right
that the English Church should come to some resolution on
the subject, and offer their sense both as to the jurisdiction of
the proposed council and the authority by which it was to
be convened. An instrument, therefore, was introduced on
this day in reference to the subject, which was agreed to " and
subscribed by both houses. The names of the archbishop,
fourteen bishops, and more than fifty convocation men' ap-
pear on the list. The tenour of that instrument sets forth
the views of convocation on the subject of councils — witness-
ing to their advantages ; but at the same time adding that
neither the Bishop'^ of Rome nor any one prince may call
such assemblies without the consent of other princes ; and
the conclusion therefore was, that the king should not ^ make
his appearance in the proposed Mantuan council. This was
the last act of the convocation of 1536; and as soon as this
matter was decided the meeting broke up.

This, it must be admitted, was an active provincial synod.
The ratification of the sentence of divorce between the king
and Q. Anne TJoleyn — the representation of erroneous opinions
— the complaint against heretical books — the establishment
of "the Articles of 1536"" — the definition of the holy days to
be observed in the English Church— and the decision respect-
ing the authority of a papal council, were the matters which
occupied the attention of the assembly. These subjects came
properly within its jurisdiction, and the members appear to
have discharged their duty in such a way as reflects credit on
their memories. Doubtless error was still mixed up with
evangelical truth ; still there is much reason to rejoice in the
progress made towards restoring the religion of the country
to the primitive standard. To borrow the words ^ of Strype
in reference to a part of their proceedings, " Let not any be
offended herewith, but rather let him take notice what a great
deal of Gospel doctrine here came to light ; and not only so,
but was owned and propounded by authority to be believed and
practised. Tlie sun of truth was now but rising, and breaking
througli the thick mists of that idolatry, superstition, and igno-




York provincial

ranee that had so long prevailed in this nation and the rest of
the world, and was not yet advanced to its meridian brightness."
The York Convocation met this year under
Archbishop Edward Lee. Ten articles were pro-
posed to the members, but their answers, which are upon
record ^, shew a desire to resist the advances made towards
reformation in the southern synod. It is probable that ^ they
were the more inclined to shew this resistance from the ex-
pectation of support which they hoped to receive from the
rebels in the north. The rapacity of the '' commissioners ap-
pointed for the visitation of the monasteries had there excited
the utmost discontent ; and when both the regular and secular
clergy united in complaint, the people broke out into open re-
bellion. Indeed it was hard for the vulgar capacity to reconcile
the iniquitous pillage of religious institutions with Christian
maxims, purity of intention, and a true desire for reformation ;
and the consequence was open resistance. Dr. Mackrel,
Prior of Barlings, disguised as a mean mechanic and bearing
the name of Captain Cobler '^, headed a body of 20,000 men in
Lincolnshire, who, though acknowledging the king''s supremacy
in a defensible sense, yet complained of the suppression of
the monasteries, said that evil counsellors surrounded his
majesty, that mean persons were raised to offices of dignity,
and that the plate and jewels of the parochial churches were
exposed to danger of pillage. Mackrel was executed ; but
a gentleman of the name of Ashe took up the cause, when an
army ^ of 40,000 men flocked to his standard from the coun-
ties of York, Lancaster, Durham, and the northern provinces.
Hull and York fell into their hands. The rebellion was
ultimately suppressed, and many of the leaders executed ;
but it is likely that this disturbed state of affairs in the north,
united with hopes of a successful resistance to the court
party, may have emboldened the members ^ of the York
synod to take this opportunity of declaring against the royal
supremacy as now challenged, and to oppose changes in the
formerly received religion.
VII. A. D. 1537. In the year 1537 the two provinces were united

National synod.

A. D. 1536.
K. Henry

z Cone.
Majr. Brit,
iii. {J12.813.
» Coll. iv.

b Hume,
chap. xxxi.
p. 330.

in a national ^ synod. Ci'omwell appeared
the occasion and declared the object of their meeting,
speech was in these words : —


"^ Hume,
cliap. x.x.xi.
p. 330.

d Hume,
chap xxxi.
p. 300.

e Coll. iv.

A. D. 1537.
f Wake's
State, p.

g Att.
Riahts, p.





A. D. 1537.






h AVake's
State, p.

' Att.
Riglits, p.
k Att.
Riglits. pp.
307, 398.

1 Coll. iv.
3.50. &
chap. xxxi.
p. 329.


" Right reverend fathers in Ohri.st, the king"'s
majesty giveth you high thanks that ye have
so dihgently, without any excuse, assemljled hither according
to his conniiandraent ; and ye be not ignorant that ye be
called together to determine certain controversies which, at
this time, be moved concerning the Christian reUgion and
faith, not only in this realm, but also in all nations thorow the
world. For the king studieth day and night to set a quiet-
ness in the Church ; and he cannot rest until all such con-
troversies be fully debated and ended through the determination
of you and his whole parliament. And he desireth you, for
Christ's sake, that all malice, obstinacy, and carnal respect
set apart, ye will friendly and lovingly dispute among your-
selves of the controversies moved in the Church ; and that
ye will conclude all things moved by the word of God. Ye
know well enough that ye be bound to shew this service to
Christ and to his Church ; and yet, notwithstanding, his
majesty will give you high thanks if ye will set and conclude
a godly and perfect unitie. Whereunto this is the only way
and means, if ye will determine all things by the Scripture, as
God conunandeth you in Deutcronomie, which thing his
majesty exhorteth and desireth you'' to do."

Such were the objects to which this national synod was to
apply itself. As soon as Cromweirs speech was ended, "the
bishops rose up altogether, giving thanks unto the king's
majesty not only for his great zeal towards the Church of
Christ, but also for his most godly exhortation worthy so
Christian ' a prince." And then the debates in the assembly
on the subjects proposed began forthwith''. As may reasonably
be supposed, while changes so important were taking place in
the doctrines of the Church, our divines w^re divided into two
parties. Those who weri-e most forward in promoting the prin-
ciples of the reformation were Thomas Cranmer ', archbishop
of Canterbury, Thomas Goodrick, bishop of Ely, Nicholas
Shaxton, bishop of Sarum, Hugh Latimer, bi.shop of Worces-
ter, Edward Fox, bishop of Hereford, John Hillsey, bishop of
Rochester, William Barlow, bishop of S. David's. Those
who adhered more closely to the previously received doctrines,
with the exception of the Pope's supremacy, which, as we have
seen, had been discharged by an almost universal consent.




and by the formal acts of the two convocations, were Edward
Lee, archbishop of York, John Stokesly, bishop of London,
Cuthbert Tunstal, bishop of Durham, Stephen Gardiner, bishop
of Winchester. Robert Sherburne, bishop of Chichester, and
Richard Nix, bishop of Norwich, who had been also adherents
of this party, had lately departed this life ".

Into this national synod Cromwell took leave to introduce
John Alesse ", a Scotch divine ^ As the debate proceeded
Alesse, having liberty to address the assembly, proceeded ° to
declare his opinions upon the sacraments, and laboured to shew
that holy baptism and the eucharist only were of divine institu-
tion. John Stokesly, bishop of London, endeavoured to con-
trovert this proposition, and arguing from Gratian's decretum
" disputed with some p vehemence for the received number
seven." Edward Lee, archbishop of York, and the Bishops of
Lincoln, Bath and Wells, and Chichester followed on the
same side.

Archbishop Archblshop Craumcr next addressed a learned

Cranmer's speech, fjiscourse to the assembly upon the sufficiency
of the Scriptures and the efficacy of the sacraments, adding
some remarks upon tradition, monastic i vows, celibacy of the
clergy, and other subjects which were unsupported by revela-
tion. In the prosecution of his argument he made use of
these words, " To determine any thing, especially in a synod
i without warrant from the scriptures was not becoming the
character of a bishop ;" and he added " that the nicety and
jargon of the school divines was more proper for boys in the
university than divines in such a solemn assembly."

Bishop Fox's The Bishop of Hereford, Edward Fox, sup-
^P'^^'^^- ported Cranmer's views. He told the assem-

bled divines that " for "■ the prelates to mistake in religion, and
miss their way, would be more disreputable than formerly, for
now the gospel appeared in so distinguished a manner, that
even common people were enlightened. That in Germany,
where he had been ambassador, they had recourse to the
original Greek and Hebrew, and translated the Holy Scriptures
into their own language. That, by these assistances, the

7 Collier places the introduction of this man into the Canterbury synod in the
year 153fi, but it appears that the learned historian was misled by Bp. Burnet,
Hist. Ref. vol. i. p. 214. See Atterbiu-y's Rights, &c. p. 397-

A.D. 1537.
K. Henry

«> Coll. iv.

Rights, p.
397. & note
7 infra,
o Coll. iv.


q Coll.

r Coi;




A.D. 1537.






^ Strype's
Mem. Cran-
iner, pp. 51,

t Coll.

" See Coll.
iv. 400—


people had little occasion for connnentaries and glosses, but
were able to instruct themselves in a great measure. That
this precedent of theirs was very commendable, and ought to
be followed ; and that now we ought not to be wholly governed
by interpreters, but have recourse to the Holy Scriptures
^, „ , . Such are specimens of the arguments which

The " Institu- , ^ . . 1 f. - >7 m

ofa Christian were held in this national Syuod of 1 537. ihe
chief and most lasting result of their delibera-
tions was the publication of the book entitled " The * Institu-
tion of a Christian Man.'''' This book was sometimes called
the " bishops' book," because the original ^ draft of it was
compiled by a committee, appointed at the request of Cran-
mer, among whom certain bishops ' were the chief members.
It was drawn up chiefly for the direction of the bishops ' and
clergy, who were to govern themselves and the flocks com-
mitted to their care by this rule. Thus it took the place of
an authoritative standard for the regulation of public service,
and of the doctrines which should be promulgated from the
pulpit. Its teaching " is directed, first, to the interpretation
of the creed ; it then speaks of matrimony, baptism, confir-
mation, penance, confession, the eucharist, orders, and extreme
unction. In speaking of the first four commandments, the
use of images is recommended, but worship to them for-
bidden. Restraint is laid on invocation of saints. The Chri.s-
tian obligation of the Lord's day is enforced, and some other
holy days recommended ; directions for behaviour at church
are laid down, and cautions against superstitious excesses are
introduced. In treating of the second table of the law, this
book speaks of the duty of subjects to the civil power, and of
passive obedience. After the exposition of the Ten Com-
mandments and the Lord's Prayer it proceeds to the " Ave

* " The godly and pious Institution of a C'iiristian Man, containing tlic expo-
sition or interpretation of the common creed, of the seven sacraments, of the ten
commandments, and of the pater noster, ave Maria, justification, and purgatory."
Printed by Bcrthelet, 1537.

" " Archbishop Craumer, Stokesly, bishop of London, Gardiner, bishop of
Winchester, Sampson, bishop of Chichester, Repps, bishop of Noi-wich, Goodrick,
bishop of Ely, Latimer, bishop of Worcester, Shaxton, bishop of SaUsbury, Fox,
bishop of Hereford, Barlow, bishop of S. David's, with other bishops and divines."
— Strype's Mem. Cranmer, p^ b\.




Maria," that is, theangePs salutation mentioned in' S. Luke's
Gospel. This is asserted not to be a prayer, properly speak-
ing, but to have been subjoined to the Lord's prayer by the
Church, in the nature of an hymn. On the article of justifi-
cation much true and Catholic doctrine appears. This gift
is said to be granted for the merits and satisfaction of the
death of our blessed Saviour. Good works are denied as pre-
vailing to obtain it ; but the benefit is annexed to certain con-
ditions on our part, such as the observance of our Saviour's
commands, and the fulfilment of offices of charity. The con-
clusion of the book is devoted to the doctrine of purgatory,
which is explained to a somewhat more inoffensive sense than
had previously prevailed, for the Pope's pardons for the
delivery of souls are declared insignificant, and the masses
offered at " scala coeli," and before celebrated shrines or
images, are pronounced unavailing. It is worthy of observa-
tion, that this book, under the head of orders ^, declares the
commission of the clergy to be from God, and in no ways
dependent on the civil magistrate, which makes it somewhat
remarkable that K. Henry VIIL, if his opinions on that subject
were so singular as sometimes has been represented, should
have had so great a regard for this production. For he
had it published, under authority, by the royal'' printer,
and also sent it to King James V., of Scotland, "hoping
thereby ^ to induce him to make the like reformation in the
realm of Scotland as was made in England."

Tt is quite clear that this book had full sy nodical sanction ='-.
It was ^ signed by both archbishops and all the bishops of the
two provinces, by eight archdeacons, and seventeen doctors of
divinity and law. The subscriptions of the lower house are
not, indeed, very numerous, but it is questioned whether the
transcriber. Dr. Ward, made so complete a list as he might
have done ^. Heylin, who had an opportunity of consulting
the convocation registers now so unhappily lost '^, speaks every
where "^ of this book as authorized by that body. Foxe ^, who
lived near the time, called the meeting in which this book
passed, on more than one occasion, a convocation. Cranmer
himself called this assembly, in his letter to one of the ^ deans
of his peculiar jurisdiction, " a most learned council of arch-
bishops, bishops, and other learned men of this kingdom, con-

A.D. 1537.
K. Henry

vThTp. i.


»■ Coll.

•'< Str3qie's
Mem. Cran-
mer, p 5'2.
y Heylin's
Hist." Ref.
p. 19.
^ See Coll.
Eccl. Hist.
V. 105.
^ Strype's
Mem. Cran-
mer, p. 54.
& Coll. iv.

b Coll. iv.

e Hist. Ref.
pp. 9—19.
J Att.,
Rights, p.
Misc. Tracts,
pp. 11. 549.
e Att.,

Rights, p.
pp. 503-5.
' Cone.
Mag. Brit.




A. D. 1537.






e Att.,
Rights, p.
J 84, quotes
Hist. Hef.
vol. i. p.
h Att.
Rights, p.
Appeal, p.

i Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 830.
J Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 830.

^ Strj'pc's
Mem. Cran-
mer, p. 51.

' \ id. inf.
sec. .\i.
>" Strype's
Mem. Cran-
mer, p. 57.
" Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 770.

Online LibraryJames Wayland JoyceEngland's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic → online text (page 42 of 83)