of the year 1560, for renouncing the jurisdiction of the court of Rome, was confirmed, and all acts passed in former reigns, for the support of Popish idolatry, were annulled.The new confession of faith was ratified, and the Protestant ministers, and those of their communion, declared to be the only true and holy kirk within that realm. The examination and admission of ministers, is declared to be only in the power and disposition of the church; with a saving clause for lay-patrons. By another act, the kings at their coronation, for the future, are to take an oath to maintain the reformed religion then professed; and by another, none but such as profess the reformed religion are capable of being judges or proctors, or of practising in any of the courts of justice; except those who held offices hereditary, or for life.

The general assembly declared their approbation of the discipline of the reformed churches of Geneva and Switzerland; and for a parity among ministers, in opposition to the claim of the bishops, as a superior order. All church-, affairs were managed by provincial, classical, and national assemblies; but these acts of the general assembly not being confirmed by parliament, episcopal government was not legally abolished, but tacitly suspended till the king came of age. However, the general assembly shewed their power of the keys at this time, by deposing the bishop of Orkney for marrying the queen tó Bothwell, who was supposed to have murdered the late king; and by making the countess of Argyle do penance for assisting at the ceremony.



THOUGH all the Puritans of these times would have remained within the churcb, might they have been indulged in the habits and a few ceremonies, yet they were far from being satisfied with the hierarchy. They had other ob. jections besides those for which they were deprived, which they laboured incessantly throughout the whole course of this reign to remove. I will set them before the reader in


one view, that he may form a complete judgment of the whole controversy.

First. They complained of the bishops affecting to be hought a superior order to presbyters, and claimed the sole right of ordination, and the use of the keys, or the sole exercise of ecclesiastical discipline. They disliked the temporal dignities and baronies annexed to their office, and their engaging in secular employments and trusts, as tending to exalt them too much above their brethren, and not so agreeable to their characters as ministers of Christ, nor consistent with the due discharge of their spiritual function.

Secondly. They excepted to the titles and offices of archdeacons, deans, chapters, and other officials, belonging to cathedrals, as having no foundation in Scripture or primi-. tive antiquity, but intrenching upon the privileges of the presbyters of the several diocesses.

Thirdly. They complained of the exorbitant power and jurisdiction of the bishops and their chancellors in their spiritual courts, as derived from the canon law of the pope,, and not from the word of God, or the statute law of the land. They complained of their fining, imprisoning, depriving, and putting men to excessive charges for small offences; and that the highest censures, such as excommunication and absolution, were in the hands of laymen, and not in the spiritual officers of the church,

Fourthly. They lamented the want of a godly discipline, and were uneasy at the promiscuous and general access of all persons to the Lord's table. The church being described in her articles as a congregation of faithful persons, they thought it necessary that a power should be lodged somewhere, to inquire into the qualifications of such as desired to be of her communion.

Fifthly. Though they did not dispute the lawfulness of set forms of prayer, provided a due liberty was allowed for prayers of their own composure, before and after sermon; yet they disliked some things in the public liturgy, established by law; as the frequent repetition of the Lord's prayer; the interruption of the prayers, by the frequent responses of the people, which in some places seem to be little better than vain repetitions, and are practised in no other Pratestant church in the world. They excepted to some pass

[ocr errors]

sages in the offices of marriage and burial, &c. which they very unwillingly complied with; as in the office of marriage, “With my body I thee worship;" and in the office of burial, 6 In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life," to be pronounced over the worst of men, unless in a very few excepted cases.

Sixthly. They disliked the reading of the apocryphal books in the church, while some parts of canonical Scripture were omitted; and though they did not disapprove the homilies, they thought that no man ought to be ordained a minister in the church, who was incapable of preaching and expounding the Scriptures. One of their great complaints, therefore, throughout the course of this reign, was, that there were so many dumb ministers, pluralists, and nonresidents; and that presentations to benefices were in the hands of the queen, bishops, or lay-patrons, when they ought to arise from the election of the people.

Seventhly. They disapproved of the observation of sundry of the church-festivals or holidays, as having no foundation in Scripture, or primitive antiquity. We have no example, say they, in the Old or New Testament, of any days appointed in commemoration of saints: to observe the fast in Lent of Friday and Saturday, &c. is unlawful and superstitious; as also buying and selling on the Lord's day. : Eighthly. They disallowed of the cathedral mode of worship; of singing their prayers, and of the antiphone, or chanting the psalms by turns, which the ecclesiastical commissioners in king Edward VI.'s time advised the laying aside. Nor did they approve of musical instruments, as trumpets, organs, &c. which were not in use in the church for above twelve hundred years after Christ.

Ninthly. They scrupled conformity to certain rites and ceremonies, which were enjoined by the rubric, or the queen's injunctions; as,

1. To the sign of the cross in baptism, which is no part of the institution as recorded in Scripture; and though it was usual for Christians, in the earlier ages, to cross themselves, or make a cross in the air upon some occasions, yet there is no express mention of its being used in baptism, till about the fifth century. Besides, it having been abused to superstition by the church of Rome, and been had in such


reverence by some Protestants, that baptism itself has been thought imperfect without it, they apprehend it ought to be laid aside. They also disallowed of baptism by midwives, or other women, in cases of sickness; and of the manner of churching women, which looked to them too much like the Jewish purification.

2. They excepted to the use of godfathers and godmothers, to the exclusion of parents from being sureties for the education of their own children. If parents were dead, or in a distant country, they were as much for sponsers to undertake for the education of the child, as their adversaries; but when the education of children is by the laws of God and nature intrusted to parents, who are bound to form them to virtue and piety, they apprehended it very unjustifiable to release them totally from that promise, and deliver up the child to a stranger; as was then the constant practice, and is since enjoined by the twenty-ninth canon, which says, " No parent shall be urged to be present, nor be admitted to answer as godfather to his own child." In giving names to children it was their opinion, that Heathenish names should be avoided, as not so fit for Christians; and also, the names of God and Christ, and angels, and the peculiar offices of the Mediator. They also disliked the godfathers answering in the name of the child, and not in their own.

3. They disapproved the custom of confirming children, as soon as they could repeat the Lord's prayer and their catechism, by which they had a right to come to the sacra. ment, without any other qualification ; this might be done by children of five or six years old. They were also dissatisfied with that part of the office, where the bishop, laying his hand upon the children, prays that God would by this sign certify them of his favour and goodness, which seems to impute a sacramental efficacy to the imposition of his hands.

4. They excepted against the injunction of kneeling at the sacrament of the Lord's supper, which they apprehended not so agreeable to the example of Christ and his apos, tles, who gave it to his disciples rather in a posture of feasting than of adoration. Besides, it has no foundation in antiquity for many hundred years after Christ; and having since been grossly abused by the Papists to idolatry, in their worshipping the host, it ought, say they, to be laid aside;

and, if it should be allowed, that the posture was indifferent, yet it ought not to be imposed and made a necessary term as communion ; nor did they approve of either of the sacraments being administered in private; no, not in cases of danger.

5. To bowing at the name of Jesus, grounded upon a false interpretation of that passage of Scripture," At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow;" as if greater external reverence was required to that name, than to the person of our blessed Saviour, under the titles of, Lord, Saviour, Christ, Immanuel, &c. and yet upon this mistake was founded the injunction of the queen, and the eighteenth canon, which says, “ When in time of divine service the name of Jesus shall be mentioned, due and lowly reverence shall be done by all persons present.” But the Puritans maintained, that all the names of God and Christ were to be had in equal reverence, and therefore it was beside all reason to bow the knee, or uncover the head, only at the name of Jesus.

6. To the ring in marriage. This they sometimes complied with, but wished it altered. It is derived from 'the Papists, who make marriage a sacrament, and the ring a sort of sacred sign or symbol. The words in the liturgy are, “ Then shall they again loose their hands, and the man shall give unto the woman a ring, laying the same upon the book; and the priest taking the ring, shall deliver it to the man, to put it on the fourth finger of the woman's left hand; and the man holding the ring there, and taught by the priest, shall say, ' With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow,' in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” They also disallowed the forbidding of marriage at certain times of the year, and then licensing it for money (say they) is more intolerable. Nor is it lawful to grant licenses that some may marry without the knowledge of the congregation, who ought to be acquainted with it, lest there should be any secret lets or hinderance.

7. To the wearing of the surplice, and other ceremonies. to be used in divine service ; concerning which the church says, in the preface to her liturgy, that though they were devised by men, yet they are reserved for decency, order, and edification. And again, they are apt to stir up the dull

« ForrigeFortsett »