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fundamental doctrines of the Gospel, and that some of its practices were founded in Scripture and reason, and conformable to the constant usages of the early Christians; and by thus keeping their minds unbiassed by any improper prejudice, they were enabled to make a just discrimination, and to avoid those absurdities and excessés into which some protestant churches unfortunately fell. The ceremonies of our public offices are grave, simple, and significant, calculated to excite devotion in the mind, while.“ all things are done decently, and in order (g).”
In the primitive times, every particular church ordained, and varied at its pleasure, its own rites and ceremonies; and there was a considerable difference in the rituals of different churches very near to the days of the Apostles. The early general councils did not attempt, or claim a right, to impose rules of this kind. The tyranny of subjecting particular churches to forms and practices, which might be inconvenient or unsuited to them, was not known among Christians, till the popes of Rome aimed at universal sovereignty in religious matters.
I shall conclude the exposition of this article with a quotation from an epistle of Augustine
to (g) i Cor. c. 14. v. 40.
to Januarius, who had consulted him concerning the obedience which was due to the different customs of different churches, in which we shall see reason to admire the candour and good sense of that eminent father : “ Alia vero quæ per loca terrarum regionesque variantur, sicuti est, quod alii jejunant sabbato, alii non ; alii quotidie communicant corpori et sanguini Domini, alii certis diebus accipiunt: Alibi nullus dies prætermittitur, quo non offeratur, alibi sabbato tantum et dominico, alibi tantum dominico. Et si quid aliud hujusmodi animadverti potest, totum hoc genus rerum liberas habet observationes : nec disciplina ulla est in his melior gravi prudentique Christiano, quam ut eo modo agat, quo agere viderit ecclesiam ad quam forte devenerit. Quod enim neque contra fidem, neque contra bonos mores esse convincitur, indifferenter est habendum ; et propter eorum inter quos vivitur societatem, servandum est (h).”
(h) Aug. ad Jan. Ep. 1. cap. 2.
ARTICLE THE THIRTY-FIFTH.
Of the Homilies.
THE SECOND BOOK OF HOMILIES, THE SEVERAL
TITLES WHEREOF WE HAVE JOINED UNDER
THIS ARTICLE, DOTH CONTAIN A GODLY AND WHOLESOME DOCTRINE, AND NECESSARY FOR THESE TIMES, AS DOTH THE FORMER BOOK OF HOMILIES, WHICH WERE SET FORTH IN THE TIME OF•EDWARD THE SIXTH; AND THEREFORE WE JUDGE THEM TO BE READIN CHURCHES BY THE MINISTERS, DILIGENTLY AND DISTINCTLY,
THAT THEY MAY BE UNDERSTANDED OF THE PEOPLE.
THE NAMES OF THE HOMILIES :
1. OF THE RIGHT USE OF THE CHURCH.
2. AGAINST PERIL OF IDOLATRY.
3. OF REPAIRING AND KEEPING CLEAN OF
4. OF GOOD WORKS. FIRST OF FASTING. 5. AGAINST GLUTTONY AND DRUNKENNESS. 6. AGAINST EXCESS OF APPAREL.
7. OF PRAYER.
9. THE COMMON PRAYERS AND SACRAMENTS
OUGHT TO BE MINISTERED IN A KNOWN
10. OF THE REVERENT ESTIMATION OF GOD'S
11. OF ALMS DOING.
12. OF THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST.
13. OF THE PASSION OF CHRIST. 14. OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. 15. OF THE WORTHY RECEIVING OF THE SA
CRAMENT OF THE BODY AND BLOOD OF
16. OF THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY GHOST.
17. FOR THE ROGATION DAYS.
21. AGAINST REBELLION.
In this Article, the doctrine contained in the Homilies is asserted to be GODLY AND WHOLESOME, in opposition to Papists, who condemn them as heretical ; and the feading of them in churches is authorized in opposition to the Puritans, who contend that nothing ought to be publicly read in churches except the holy Scriptures.
Homily is a Greek word, origitially signifying conference or conversation. It was applied to those familiar discourses or exhortations, which
were delivered by ministers to Christian congregations assembled in churches. In the first ages of Christianity, preaching was chiefly confined to bishops; but afterwards presbyters, and
process of time deacons also, were permitted to preach, even when bishops were present. The Homilies or Sermons of Chrysostom, Augustine, Gregory, and many other of the fathers, are still extant.
At the time of the Reformation in England, many of the clergy were exceedingly illiterate, and it was also suspected that some of them still favoured the tenets of the Church of Rome; “ therefore to supply the defects of some, and to oblige the rest to teach according to the form of sound doctrine, there were two books of Homilies prepared; the first was published in king Edward the sixth's time; the second was not finished till about the time of his death; so it was not published before queen Elizabeth's time (a).” The design of them was to mix speculative points with practical matters : some explain the doctrine, and others enforce the rules of life and manners. These are plain and short discourses, chiefly calculated to possess the nation with a sense of the purity of the Gospel, in
opposition (a) The first book of Homilies was published in 1547, and was supposed to be written chiefly by Cranmer; the second in 1560, and was probably written by Jewell.