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HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL
THE pieces, which compose the present volume, are of the highest importance, and of the most authentick character, in our theological history.
They shew, in chronological order, from the beginning of the Reformation, till the Articles of our Religion were set forth in the reign of Elizabeth, the sentiments of our Reformers upon doctrines in these Articles, which some have supposed to express the language, and to breathe the spirit, of Calvin: not their private and individual sentiments, but what they collectively or by authority pronounced.
Of these venerable memorials some are not now of common occurrence. To many persons it may, therefore, be acceptable, thus to have brought before their view, and to have connected,
materials, to which references are often made by our theological writers, and by which our Articles, Homilies, and Liturgy, may be mutually illustrated, but which are not easily attainable.
Some remarks connected with the histories which speak of them, and with the doctrines which they exhibit, may be offered. And first for what is historical.
I. The first extracts are taken from The Arti
/ cles of Religion, "set out by the Convocation, and published by the King's authority," in 1536; the evidence of the first publick and authorized attempt at a reformation, in this reign, of religious opinion. In the next year appeared, (a) The Institution of a Christian Man; a work prepared by bishops and other divines, consisting of an Exposition of the Creed, the Sacraments, the Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ave Maria; with the Articles of Justification, Purgatory, Baptism, Penance, and the Eucharist,
(a) The Institution of a Christen Man, conteynyng the Exposytion or Interpretation of the commune Crede, of the seven Sacramentes, of the x Commandementes, and of the Paternoster, and the Ave Maria, Justyfication, and Purgatory. 4to. Lond. T. Berthelet, M.D.XXXVII. For a more full account of the Articles, (as collated also with this book,) see the first note in the following compilation.
adopted, with some verbal variations, from the Articles of 1536. Thus identified, the propriety of collating both, in those Articles which I have selected, will be obvious. An "Epistle Prefatory," accompanied the latter, signed by the two archbishops, nineteen bishops, eight archdeacons, and seventeen doctors of divinity and law. It was sometimes called the bishops' book; from the circumstance, no doubt, of so many prelates having been concerned in the composition of it. It was a fatal blow to the enemies of the Reformation, and was confirmed in its triumph by an act of parliament. This book has been sometimes confounded with the edition of it greatly enlarged, and (as an historian observes) "amended much," in 1543; of which edition I am presently to speak more largely. For thus Dr. Nichols has written. (b) "A. D. 1537. The bishops and clergy being assembled in Convocation, was published the book, called The Institution of a Christian Man, in which the rudiments of the Christian religion are laid down in
a plain and most excellent method; the chief
(b) Defence of the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of England. Introduction.
Articles of Faith being therein clearly proved out of God's Word. And it can hardly be expressed how excellently well the popish errors are here confuted, and how, though with the retention of the ancient terms, the sound and orthodox doctrine is taught. It was, indeed, a noble work; and, considering what the ears of those times could bear, composed with admirable wisdom. And I dare engage, that it is hard to find a writer in any former or in any following age, who has gone through these controverted heads of divinity, viz. Free-Will, Justification, and Faith, with that clearness and freedom, and without giving up their judgement to other great men's opinions, and determined these disputed points so distinctly, so smartly, and so much to the edification of the common people, as the authors of this book have done." Now, in the Institution, the doctrines upon Faith, upon FreeWill, and upon Good Works, are not to be found; and that upon Justification is merely the copy of the brief Article in 1536, not the abundant and perspicuous illustration which is found in the augmented Institution, with a new title, of 1543. Again, Dr. Nichols refers to the Institution