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ARCHBISHOP Sandys' Final Opinion on the question
of the continuance of the CEREMONIES in the CHURCH OF ENGLAND, the chief and almost the only ground of exception in the minds of the more moderate of the Puritan Ministers.
The following passage is copied from the Preamble to the Will of the Archbishop, which was made the year before his death, 1588:
“Thirdly, because I have lived an old man in the ministry of Christ, a faithful dispenser of the mysteries of God, and, to my power, an earnest labourer in the vineyard of the Lord, I testify before God and his angels, and men of this world, I rest resolute, and yield up my spirit in that doctrine, which I have privately studied, and publicly preached, and which is this day maintained in the Church of England; both taking the same to be the whole counsel of God, the word and bread of eternal life, the fountain of living water, the power of God unto salvation to all them that do believe, and beseeching the Lord besides to turn us unto him that we might be turned, lest if we repent not, the candlestick be moved out of its place, and the gospel to a nation that shall bring forth the fruits thereof. And further protest, in an upright conscience of mine own, and in the knowledge of His Majesty, before whom I stand, that in the preaching of the truth of Christ, I have not laboured to please men, but studied to serve my Master who sent me; not to flatter either prince or people, but by the law, to tell all sorts of their sins; by the spirit, to rebuke the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; by the gospel, to testify of that faith which is in Jesus Christ and him crucified.
“Fourthly, concerning rites and ceremonies by political constitutions authorised amongst us. As I am and have been persuaded that such as are set down by public authority in this Church of England, are no way either ungodly or unlawful, but may with good conscience, for order and obedience sake, be used of a good Christian (for the private baptism to be ministered by women, I take neither to be prescribed nor permitted) [query prohibited ?], so have I ever been and presently am persuaded, that some of them be not so expedient for the Church now; but in the Church reformed and in all this time of the gospel, wherein the seed of the scripture hath so long been sown, they may better be disused by little and little, than more and more urged. Howbeit (though], I do easily acknowledge our Ecclesiastical Polity, in some points, may be bettered; so I do utterly mislike, even in my conscience, all such rude and indigested platforms, as have been more lately and boldly, than either learnedly or wisely preferred; tending not to the reformation but to the destruction of the Church of England. The particulars of both sorts reserved to the discretion of the godly, which of the latter I only say thus : that the state of a small private church, and the form of a large Christian kingdom, neither would long like, not at all brook, one and the same Ecclesiastical government."
Extract from the EUROPÆ SPECULUM of Sir Edwin
The Europæ Speculum contains the results of observations made in a tour through most of the States of Europe undertaken by Sir Edwin Sandys for the express purpose of observing the state of religion, and the various forms in which ecclesiastical affairs were regulated, in different Protestant States. It was written about 1600, and addressed to Whitgift, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
It seems not to have been printed till the year 1687, when it came out, having been, as the title-page informs us, multum diuque desideratum, with the title Europe Speculum, or, a View or Survey of the State of Religion in the Western Parts of the World; wherein the Roman Religion, and the pregnant Policies of the Church of Rome to support the same are notably displayed; with some other memorable Discoveries and Commemorations. By Sir Edwin Sandys, Knight.
The following extract forms one of the Chapters, and is, to a certain extent, a summary conclusion at which he arrived. It shows him much in advance of the times in which he lived, and we cannot but perceive a correspondency in some parts of it with the celebrated Farewell Address of Robinson.
“What Unity Christendom may hope for.” “ This then being so, and that all things considered there falls out if not such an indifferency and equality, yet at least-wise such a proportion of strength on both sides, as bereaveth the other of hope ever by war to subdue them (seeing as the proverb is, a dead woman will have four to carry her forth, much less will able men be beaten easily out of their homes) and since there is no appearance of ever forcing an unity, unless time which eats all things, should bring in great alterations ; it remaineth to be considered what other kind of unity poor Christendom may hope for, whether Unity of Verity, or Unity of Charity, or Unity of Persuasion, or Unity of Authority, or Unity of Necessity; there being so many other kinds and causes of concord. A kind of men there is whom a man shall meet withal in all countries, not many in number, but sundry of them, of singular learning and piety; whose godly longings to see Christendom re-united in the love of the author of their name above all things, and next in brotherly correspondence and amity as beseemeth those, who, under the chief service of one Lord in profession of one ground and foundation of faith, do expect the same final reward of glory, which proceeding from the Father and Prince of Peace rejecteth all spirits of contention from attaining it, have entered into a meditation whether it were not possible, that by the travail and mediation of some calmer minds, than at this day do usually write or deal on either side, these flames of controversies might be extinguished or aslaked, and some godly or tolerable peace re-established in the Church again. The earnestness of their virtuous desires to see it so, hath bred in them an opinion of possibility that it might be wrought; considering first, that besides infinite other points not controversed, there is an agreement in the general foundation of religion, in those articles which the Twelve Apostles delivered unto the Church, perhaps not as an abridgment only of the faith, but as a touch-stone also of the faithful for ever; that whilst there was an entire consent in them, no dissent in other opinions only should break peace and communion. And secondly, considering also there are in great multitude on both sides (for so are they undoubtedly) men virtuous and learned fraught with the love of God and of his truth above all things,—men of memorable integrity of heart and affections, whose lives are not dear unto them, much less their labours to be spent for the good of God's church and people ; by whose joint endeavours and single and sincere proceedings in common conference for search of truth, that honourable Unity of Verity might be established. But if the multitude of crooked and side respects which are the only clouds that eclipse the truth, from shining now brightly on the face of the world, and the only prickles that so enfroward men's affections as not to consider the best, do cause that this chief Unity find small acceptation, as is to be feared, at least-wise that the endless and ill fruits of these contentions which tend mainly to the increase of Atheism within, of Mahometanism abroad, which inobstinate the Jew, shake the faith of the Christian, taint the better minds with acerbity, and load the worse with poison, which break so out into their actions which themselves think holiest, namely, the defence of God's truth, which each side challengeth, that in thinking they offer up a pleasing sacrifice to God they give cause of wicked joy unto his and their enemy; that these woful effects with very tediousness and weariness may draw both parts in fine to some tolerable reconciliation