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

. (page 45 of 83)
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 45 of 83)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

sure, and that the universities should examine" the translation."
On account of this difference the matter dropped. Part of the
work, S. Paul's Epistles to the Corinthians p, was finished by
those to whom it had been entrusted, Doctors Wotton and
Leighton ; nor is it improbable but that for K. Henry YIII.'s
meddling interference, and Cranmer's compliance, a complete
translation of the Bible, formally authorized by the English
Church in her sacred synods, would have been made and pub-
lished, — an object of desire with some persons which to this
hour has never been realized.

This convocation was continued throujih I'l' various sessions *i,
but nothing particularly worthy of notice was transacted.
One circumstance, however, occurred to shew that it was not
then usual, as has been of late years very positively asserted,
for parliament to set aside the authority of convocation, and





to legislate of their own motion on ecclesiastical questions,
without consulting the representatives of the Church. A
bill I'l was sent from the lord chancellor to be read in the upper
house of convocation before it was invested with the authority
of a statute. The provisions ■" of it were, that bishops' chan-
cellors might be married, might suspend, excommunicate, and
proclaim Church censures as though they were priests, and
that they should enjoy other privileges of a more substan-
tial character connected with the goods of this world.
But this bill was considered wholly inconvenient by the
upper house of convocation, an opinion which they repre-
sented to the lord chancellor, and it is likely that, from his
thinking their exceptions reasonable, the bill was put to
silence ".

On the ord of April, the Canterbury Convocation was pro-
rogued by royal writ to the 4th of November, 1542,

The York Convocation, which met simulta-
neously with that of Canterbury last considered,
viz. on Jan. 20, 1542 n.s,, does not appear to have been
engaged in business of importance.
-„. ,.,„ No business was transacted Nov. 4, 1542, by

-A.il. A.D. iO-±o

N.s. Canterbury the Canterbury convocation summoned on that
day. The assembly was prorogued to the 23rd of
Jan., and thence to the 1 6th of February, 1543 n. s. During
this month however some important synodical affairs connected
with the reformation of religion were discussed. In the
session which was held Feb. 16 four heads of business were^
accomphshed : — a subsidy* was voted by both houses; homi-
lies * composed by some of the prelates were introduced " ; the
prolocutor presented "^ a petition for the reform of the ecclesi-
astical law, in accordance with the provision contained in
25 Hen. VIII. c. 19; and also a petition '^ against some of
the laity for unjustly withholding tithes.

3 It would be interesting to learn more of these homilies *. Of those which we
now possess, and which we recognize in subscribing to the Thirty-nine Articles,
the first book, containing twelve, was published in K. Edward VI. 's reign ; the
second book, containing twenty-one, composed by the same persons, was ready for
publication when that king died, and was published in Q. Elizabeth's time. — Lath-
bury, 2nd edit., p. 169.

A.D. 1542.
K. Henry

qq Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 862.
"• Coll. V. 89.

" Cone.
Masr. Brit,
iii. 862.

Stryjie's Cranmer, p. 149.

A. D. 1543.

State, 591.
' Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 863.
" Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 863.
* Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 863.
^^ Cone.
Mas. Brit.
iii. 863.




A.D. 1543.






s Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 863.
y Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 863.
^ Vide note,
sup. p. 408.

a Vide
sup. p. 408.
•> Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 861.
<: Referred
to after-
wards in Ed.
VL's first
Cone. Mag.
Brit. iv. 15.
<< Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 863.
e Coll. V.

f Vid. Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iv. 15.
e Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 863.

'• Cone.
Mag. Brit.

'Feb. 21.
J Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 863.

Revision ofser
vice books.

But the session " of this convocation held
Feb. 21 was the most important as connected
with the progress of the reformation. On this occasion the
archbishop acquainted the synod, that it was his majesty"'s
wish " that all mass books y, antiphoners, portuises ^ in the
Church of England should be newly examined, corrected, re-
formed, and castigated, from all manner of mention of the
Bishop of Rome's name, from all apocryphas, feigned legends,
superstitions, orations, collects, versicles, and responses ; that
the names and memories of all saints which be not mentioned
in the scripture or authentical doctors should be abolished,
and put out of the same books and calendars, and that the
service should be made out of the scripture and other authen-
tic doctors." And here some blame seems to have been
attached to the parochial clergy for not having expunged from
their service books those exceptionable passages of which the
archbishop had taken notice in his consultation with the
members ^ of the upper house on the ^' 24th of February last
year. Hereupon an •= order was made by the upper house ^
that the service books should be committed * for revision to
Goodrich, bishop of Ely, and the Bishop of Sarum, with six
members of the lower house who should be selected for that
purpose. " But the lower house waived the privilege of furnish-
ing this committee," and left the matter ^ in the hands of the
bishops. Whether ' the upper house selected members from
the lower for this committee, whether both houses acted in
concert, or whether the whole affair was left with the bishops
is not so clear ; but it is evident that through two succeeding
sessions s, at least, the business of the reformation of the
service books was carried on. And this appears to have been
considered a work of great moment, from a message sent
down to the convocation by the king, through the archbishop,
to this effect, "that no one ^ of the members of convocation
should absent himself without leave, under the penalty of the
royal displeasure."

An order made ^n the Same scssiou ' in wliich the committee
["'ThrlT"r for examining the service books was assigned.

it was ordered "thatJ

undav an

d holy-

* This would seem to be the committee said to have been apiJointed " e.\ man-
date couvocationis."— Cone. Mag. Brit. iv. 15. Att. Rights, p. 189.




day throughout the year the curate of every parish church,
after the Te Deum and JNIagnificat, should openly read unto
the people one chapter of the New Testament in English
without exposition ; and when the New Testament was read
over, then to begin the Old."

Now here was a considerable advance made towards re-
formation in religion. A committee was appointed, as we have
seen, to alter the service books and to reduce them to a nearer
agreement with primitive standards ; and not only so, the
order that a chapter * from the scriptures should be read to
the people in the vulgar tongue every Sunday and holy day
was a very important and significant measure. The English
Bibles, which had been placed in the churches previously to
this time, were only for the people to resort to, so that they
might themselves read therein for their own edification. But now
a lesson either from the Old or New Testament was synodically
ordered as a regular part of the Church service, and thus
another step was taken towards bringing the public offices of
the English liturgy up to that standard which now prevails.

This reformation of the service books, and the practice of
reading lessons here sanctioned by convocational authority, led
the way to the subsequent establishment of the first prayer
book of K. Edwaid YL, and of those formularies which, with
no very considerable alterations, are the manuals of divine
offices in our national Church at this hour. We see here
that one lesson ohly was ordered by the convocation to be
read on Sundays and holidays, and that was to be taken from
the New and Old Testaments in an orderly succession. In
the prayer books published in K. Edward YI.'s reign '^ two
lessons were appointed for every day, one from the Old, and one
from the New Testament ; and these also were to be read,
as in the present instance, in an orderly succession, the proper
lessons for Sundays not having been appointed, so as to break
in upon the continuous instruction given until the ^ beginning
of the reign of Q. Elizabeth.

In looking back, then, to this session of the Canterbury
Convocation held Feb. 21, 1543 n. s., we must consider that

5 Compare 34 & 35 Hen. VIII. c. I : " The Bible shall not be read in English
iu any church." — Stat, at Large. It seems certain that our synods here led the
way in reforming reUgion.

A.D. 1543.
K. Henry

k Cardwell's


1 Lathbury,
2nd edit.,




very great advances were made towards a true reformation in
religion, and a recovery of primitive faith and practice in
the English Church. And these advances appear to a com-
mon capacity to fall in better with Christian maxims, and to
square more exactly with the measures of conscience, than
the managements of K. Henry VIII. and his courtiers, whose
acts are often somewhat absurdly supposed to have chiefly
conduced towards the purification of religion. By them,
certainly, the religious were disfurnished of their worldly
goods, and so a vast amount of property formerly applied to
the promotion of the then received belief was diverted into
profane channels ; but it does not appear that the deprived
persons were thus much mended in their faith. Nor indeed
would one think that they were particularly encouraged in
the cultivation and improvement of morals by the examples of
those reformers who, in the comparison between treasures
corruptible and incorruptible, certainly made such a choice as
was disallowed by our Saviour Himself'", and in practice
banished from their code the second great commandment of
the Christian law. And, still further, it does not appear from
history that, by any subsequent rejection of their ungodly
gains, an example of such repentance as even Judas ^ mani-
fested was ever commended by them to public regards.

On the 2ord of Feb. this convocation appended to their
instrument of subsidy four requests", as articles of the
clergy, to be presented to the king. 1. That the ecclesias-
tical law should be reformed. 2. That some improprieties
with reference to the solemnization of marriage in Bethlehem
hospital, Bishopsgate, should be remedied. 8. That an act
of parliament should be made for the consolidation of poor
benefices. 4. That provisions for just payment of tithes should
be enacted by parliament. On the 27th ® of the same month
this convocation was prorogued to the 4th of April ensuing by
royal writ.

XIII. A.D. 1543. On°° the 4th of April, 1543, the Canterbury
vi'ndai'Tnw/'^*' Synod again met, and lield many sessions by

"Erudition of Continuation until ISIay 12. The whole of
aChristian Man." ^j^^j^ labours ou tliis occasiou appear to have

<" S. Matt,
vi. 19, 20.

n S. Matt,
xxvii. 5.

Mag. Rrit.
iii. 863.

o" Cone.
Matr. Uiit.

iii. ma.

' In the " Concilia Mag. Brit,
iii. «0;j.

17 must here be a misprint for 27- — Cone. Mag.



been devoted to the preparation for the press of the book
known by the name of " The Necessary '' Doctrine and Erudi-
tion of a Christian Many This book was a revision of the
book called " The Institution of a Christian Man,'''' which had
been set forth by synodical authority six years before, in
1537. The '■'■ Erudition,'''' being a review and an alteration of
the " Institution p," was now to be set forth " as a rule of
religious belief,"'' and so it was necessary that all its contents
should be carefully debated and synodically authorized. This
book may be looked upon in a great measure as the confession
of faith of the English Church from the period of its publication
until it was replaced nine years afterwards by the articles
of 1552. Its contents are arranged under ten heads. 1. The
declaration of faith. 2. The artycles of oure belefe called the
crede. 3. The seven sacramentis. 4. TheX.commaundementes
of Almighty God. 5. Our Lord's praier, called the Pater noster.
6. The salutation of the aungell, called the Aue Maria. 7. An
article of free-wyll. 8. An article of iustification. 9. An article
of good workes. 10. Of prayer for soules departed.

JNluch pains and care appear to have been devoted to the
preparation of this work ; and the course pursued was, that
the several parts were previously prepared by sundry learned
divines, in order to their being submitted to the judgment of the
Canterbury Synod. It seems that in this preparation three
years 1 were occupied, viz. from 1540 to 1543. The questions
relating ^ to the sacraments were entrusted to the two arch-
bishops, with the Bishops of London, Rochester, Carlisle,
Durham, Hereford, and S. David's. The other divines were,
Thirlby, Robertson, Day, Redmayn, Cox, Leighton, Symmons,
Tresham, Coren, Edgworth, Oglethorp, Crayford, Willson, and
Robins. When answers had been returned two persons were
appointed to collate them ; one of these was to write in English,
and the other in Latin, the exact particulars of agreement or
disagreement in the papers received. The original answers of

^ The exact title of the book is, " A necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any
Christen Man. Set furthe by the Kynges ilaiestie of Englande," &c.

Ad finem : " This boke, bounde in paper bourdes or in claspes not to be solde
above xvi. d. Imprinted at London, in Flete Strete, by Thomas Berthelet, prin-
ter to the kynges hyghnes,tlie xxix day of May, the yere of our Lorde mdxliii.
Cum privUegio ad imprimendum solum." — From a copy in the hbrary of Sir W.
Curtis, Bart., now at Caynham Court, near Ludlow.

A.D. 1543.
K. Henr\'

P Coll.

<i Coll. V
97, note.
■• Coll. V.




A.D. 154






s Coll. V.

t Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 868.
" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 8G8.

» Conr.
Mag. Brit.

iii. im.

w Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 8()8.

X Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 868.

some of the divines employed^ are upon record ; and from such
evidence as remains it is clear that the greatest care was
taken in the compilation of " The Necessary Erudition.'''' As
the work had proceeded so far as now only to require synod-
ical revision and authority, the labours of the present con-
vocation seem to have been almost exclusively directed to
that object. The course pursued was, that the several parts
which had been prepared by the divines, as mentioned above,
were brought into the upper house of convocation for examina-
tion and approval, and were then delivered to the prolocutor
for the revision of the lower house.

Its complete sy- Tlius on the 20th of April the fifth and sixth
nodical authority, heads of this work, consisting of the transla-
tion and exposition of the Lord's Prayer, with the salutation of
the angel, were examined by the Bishops of ^\"inchester,
Rochester, and Westminster, and committed* to the care of
Mr. Gwent, prolocutor. The next day" the explanations of
the first five commandments were brought into the upper
house, and afterwards handed to the prolocutor.

On the 24th of April " the same course was taken, with ex-
positions of the five last commandments, and of the sacra-
ments of baptism and the eucharist.

On the 25th of April the subject of the sacrament of the
Lord's Supper again occupied attention ; and explanations of
the other five ordinances, then termed sacraments, i. e. matri-
mony, penance, orders, confirmation, and extreme unction,
having received revision at the hands of Archbishop Cranmer
and the bishops, were delivered to the prolocutor, with orders
that he should return'^ in three days the judgment of the
lower house and his own on the matters treated of.

On the 27th April the first, eighth, ninth, and tenth heads
of the work were considered by the bishops, agreed to, and
handed to the prolocutor.

On the 30th of April the seventh article, that of free will,
was read over in the upper house, and delivered by the
archbishop to the prolocutor, in order that it might be
communicated to the lower clergy. After it had been
perused, it was returned to the bishops with this message,
"thaf the lower house accepted the articles sent down to
them as Catholic verities and religious truths, and that more-



over they returned sincere thanks to the bishops for the
great labour, pain, and trouble which they had undergone in
the cause of religion and of the nation, as also for the sake of

As this book for some time was held to be the confes-
sion of faith of the English Church, it has been thought
necessary to our purpose to shew at length that it had the
most complete and unimpeachable synodical authority ; and
this is indeed the more needful, from the fact that great ^
mistakes have existed on this point. It has been said, even
by Collier, that it had only ^ royal authority, and this error
has been widely propagated. The book was certainly pub-
lished by the king's order, and the preface may have been by
his own hand. But even there matter is contained which
might, one would think, have served to guard against the
mistake above mentioned, for it is said to be '■'■ sette furtlie with
tlie aduise of our clergy^'' an expression theji commonly used to
signify synodical authority. This form of words occurs no
less than thrice in the preface ; and, moreover, the king is on
this occasion reasonable enough to say that " God (who as
S. Paul saith, distributeth and divideth to his Ohurche his
gracis distinctly) hath ordered some sorte of men to teache
other, and some to be taught, that al thinges shoulde be done
semely and in order, and hath beautified and set furthe by
distinction of ministers and offices the same Churche, . . .'*'' all
which expressions I must take leave to say would be out of
place, not to say ridiculous, upon the supposition that the
contents of this book had been authorized by any thing less
than ecclesiastical authority.

After the thanks of the lower house of convocation had been
conveyed, on the 80th of April, to the bishops, for their labours
in the preparation and revision of " The Necessary Erudition,''''
the synod was continued through * several sessions, to the 1 2th
of May, when it was prorogued by royal writ.

The 5th of November (1543) was the time

XIV. A.D. 1544 II-

N.s. Canterbury mentioned for their reassembling, but on ac-
provincia jno . ^^^^^^ ^f ^ prorogation they did not ^ meet for
business until the loth of January, 1544 n.s., the day^ after
the meeting of a new parliament. Mr. Eichard Gwent, who
had been long prolocutor, and who had held that office

A.D. 1543.
K. Henry

y See Bp.



» Cone.
Ma^. Brit.
tii. 868.

A.D. 1544.

•> Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 8G8.
<^ Hume,
c. x.vxiii.
p. 346.




A.D. 1.544.






d Jan. 217^
e Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 868.
f Feb. 1.

e 37 Hen.
VIII. cap.

h Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 8G8.

' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 749.
ii May 15.
Sup. p. 347,

J Atterb.


through difficult and important times, had lately died. In
the session held January 18th, the archbishop admonished
the clergy to elect some person to the vacancy. Their choice
fell upon Dr. John Oliver, dean of Christ Church, Oxford, who
was^ admitted three days afterwards^ to the office. The
chief business transacted at this time was an order made^
by the archbishop and the upper house to the prolocutor, that
he should associate with himself a committee, to prepare a
bill for the management of tithe payments, to be passed after-
wards into a law by parliament. The result was, I presume,
the statute ^ enacted in the following year. The upper house ^
also sat in private deliberation on the subject of applying to
the king with a request that the revision of the ecclesiastical
law might be carried on, a measure of reform which, as we
have seen, was sanctioned by the convocation' in 1532", and
ratified subsequently by the 25 Hen. VIII. c. 19. Thus we
have at this time constant opportunities of observing that the
principles of the ancient Anglo-Saxon constitution were still
regarded in this country, viz. that ecclesiastical questions were
originated and first debated in synods, and that the results of
their deliberations were subsequently recommended for the
sanction of the civil legislature. It is only by an invention of
more recent date and very questionable wisdom that the
upper and nether houses of parliament have been discovered
to be the sole depository of all synodical jurisdiction, and
the single arena of hopeful promise for tlie settlement of eccle-
siastical differences, and the disentanglement of theological

The English I^ was most probably in this convocation that

^^^^^y- the litany in English, almost identical with that

in present use, was authorized. The book* was set out shortly
after the convocation rose, and that it was authorized by that
body seems beyond a doubt from its title, in which these words
occur J, — " an exhortation to prayer, thought meet by the king's
majesty and his clekgy to be read to the people in every
church afore processions." From this expression the neces-
sary conclusion is that the work had synodical sanction ; for

* " A Litany with Suffrages, to be sayd or sung in the time of the said Proces-
sions." Printed by Rich. Grafton for Th. Berthclet, printer to the king's high-
ness, the XVI of June, 1544.




to place a falsehood on the title of a manual of prayer would
neither invest the work itself with much air of devotion, nor
commend its contents to pious minds.

This convocation having deliberated on questions of subsidy"^
for K. Henry's approaching enterprise, in conjunction^ with
the imperial forces, against France, was dissolved by royal
writes March 31, 1544.

, , , ^ The convocations" of both provinces had been

XV. A. D. 1545. i

The two provin- summoned to meet in December, 1544, but they
mee . ^^^^ prorogued ° to the 24th day of November,
1 545 : as the practice now constantly prevailed for the as-
sembling of the convocations to take place on the day after
the meeting of parliament, a usage handed down to this

Such was the case in the present instance ; for on the
23rd P of November in this year the first session of that par-
liament of K. Henry VI II. was held, which has obtained
an unenviable notoriety from its somewhat unscrupulous
proceedings and its singular opinions. Its very large, not
to say profuse, liberality in disposing to the king's use of
other men's possessions, comprising the property of all col-
leges, — the universities included, — chantries, and hospitals,
within the realm of England and Wales, by the statute 37
Hen. VIII. c. 4 ; as well as the peculiarly entangled and
undistinguishing character of its recorded judgments in 87
Hen. VIII. c. 17, concerning spiritual and temporal autho-
rity, have not failed to earn for that assembly some just
measures of contempt and ridicule. Such feelings, indeed,
it is not unlikely that the king himself entertained towards
them, at least if we may judge from a speech i which he
addressed to them on the day'' of prorogation, Dec. 24, 1545,
forbidding them, among other sneers, to be judges of their
"own phantastical ^ opinions and vain expositions." But,
whatever may have been the degree of degradation to which
this assembly fell, it is clear that in an age — when parliament
had evinced such forgetfulness of all self-respect as to enact'
that royal proclamations" should over-ride statute law — no
subsequent marks of servility can surprise, however deeply its
exhibitions of legislative injustice and ignorance may provoke
and disgust.

A.D. 1544.
K. Henry

k Cone.
Map-. Brit.

! iii. am.

' Hume,

c. xx.xiii.
1 p. 34(?.
' "' Cone.
I Mas. Brit.

iii. 8(19.

A.D. 1545.

" Cone.

Mag. Brit.

iii. 869-71.

^ Cone.

Masr. Brit.

iii. 8a9. 871-

P Hume,
e. xxxiii.
p. 348.

Q Cone.
Masr. Brit,
iii. 871.

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 45 of 83)