Resolutions on Religion
Presented by a Committee
of The House of Commons
Gee, Henry, and William John Hardy, ed.,
Documents Illustrative of English Church History
(New York: Macmillan, 1896), 521-7.
Hanover Historical Texts Project
Scanned and proofread by Heather Haralson, May 1998.
Posted by Raluca Preotu, July 1999.
Proofread and pages added by Jonathan Perry, March 2001.
PARLIAMENT met Jan. 20, 1629. Within the next few days ecclesiastical questions of the moment monopolized the attention of the Commons, and on Jan. 26 a committee on religion was formed to consider the subject of religious grievances. On Feb. 24 the result of their deliberations appeared in the resolutions which follow.
[S. R. Gardiner's Constitutional Documents, p. 11 .]
Heads of Articles to be insisted on, and agreed upon, at a Sub-Committee for Religion.
I. That we call to mind how that, in the last Session of this Parliament, we presented to his majesty an humble declaration of the great danger threatened to this Church and State by divers courses and practices tending to the change and innovation of religion.
II. That what we then feared we do now sensibly feel, and therefore have just cause to renew our former complaints therein.
III. That yet, nevertheless, we do with all thankfulness acknowledge the great blessing we have received from Almighty God in setting a king over us, of whose constancy in the profession and practice of the true religion here established we rest full assured; as likewise of his most pious zeal and careful endeavour for the maintenance and propagation thereof; being so far from having the least doubt of his majesty's remissness therein, that we, next under God, ascribe unto his own princely wisdom and goodness, that our holy religion hath yet any countenance at all amongst us.
[Page 522] IV. And for that the pious intention and endeavours, even of the best and wisest princes, are often frustrated through the unfaithfulness and carelessness of their ministers, and that we find a great unhappiness to have befallen his majesty this way; we think that, being now assembled in Parliament to advise of the weighty and important affairs concerning Church and State, we cannot do a work more acceptable than, in the first place, according to the dignity of the matter, and necessity of the present occasions, faithfully and freely to make known what we conceive may conduce to the preservation of God's religion, in great peril now to be lost; and, therewithal, the safety and tranquillity of his majesty and his kingdoms now threatened with certain dangers. For the clearer proceedings therein, we shall declare: (1) What those dangers and inconveniences are; (2) whence they arise; (3) in some sort how they may be redressed.
The dangers may appear partly from the consideration of the state of religion abroad, and partly from the condition thereof within his majesty's own dominions, and especially within this kingdom of England.
From abroad we make these observations: (1) By the mighty and prevalent party by which true religion is actually opposed, and the contrary maintained. (2) Their combined counsels, forces, attempts, and practices, together with a most diligent pursuit of their designs, aiming at the subversion of all the Protestant Churches in Christendom. (3) The weak resistance that is made against them. (4) Their victorious and successful enterprises, whereby the Churches of Germany, France, and other places are in a great part already ruined, and the rest in the most weak and miserable condition.
In his majesty's own dominions, these: (1) In Scotland, the stirs lately raised, and insolences committed by the popish party have already not a little disquieted that famous [Page 523] Church; of which, with comfort we take notice, his majesty hath expressed himself exceeding sensible, and hath accordingly given most royal and prudent directions therein. (2) Ireland is now almost wholly overspread with popery, swarming with friars, priests, and Jesuits, and other superstitious persons of all sorts, whose practice is daily to seduce his majesty's subjects from their allegiance, and to cause them to adhere to his enemies. That even in the city of Dublin, in the view of the State, where not many years since, as we have been credibly informed, there were few or none that refused to come to church, there are lately restored and erected for friars, Jesuits, and idolatrous mass priests, thirteen houses, being more in number than the parish churches within that city; besides many more, likewise erected in the best parts of the kingdom; and the people almost wholly revolted from our religion, to the open exercise of popish superstition. The danger from hence is further increased by reason of the intercourse which the subjects, of all sorts, in that kingdom have into Spain and the archduchess's country; and that, of late, divers principal persons, being papists, are trusted with the command of soldiers; and great numbers of the Irish are acquainted with the exercise of arms and martial discipline, which heretofore hath not been permitted, even in times of greatest security. Lastly, here in England we observe an extraordinary growth of popery, insomuch that in some counties, where in Queen Elizabeth's time there were few or none known recusants, now there are above 2,000, and all the rest generally apt to revolt. A bold and open allowance of their religion, by frequent and public resort to mass, in multitudes, without control, and that even to the queen's court, to the great scandal of his majesty's government. Their extraordinary insolence--for instance, the late erecting of a college of Jesuits in Clerkenwell, and the strange proceedings thereupon used in favour of them. The subtle [Page 524] and pernicious spreading of the Arminian faction, whereby they have kindled such a fire of division in the very bowels of the State as, if not speedily extinguished, it is of itself sufficient to ruin our religion, by dividing us from the Reformed Churches abroad, and separating amongst ourselves at home, by casting doubts upon the religion professed and established; which, if faulty or questionable in three or four articles, will be rendered suspicious to unstable minds in all the rest, and incline them to popery, to which those tenets in their own nature do prepare the way: so that if our religion be suppressed and destroyed abroad, disturbed in Scotland, lost in Ireland, undermined and almost outdared in England, it is manifest that our danger is very great and imminent.
The causes of which danger here, amongst divers others, we conceive to be chiefly these instanced in: (1) the suspension or negligence in execution of the laws against popery; (2) the late proceedings against the College of Jesuits; (3) divers letters sent by Sir Robert Heath, his majesty's attorney, into the country for stay of proceedings against recusants; (4) the publishing and defending points of popery in sermons and books without punishment; instance Bishop Montague's three books--viz. The Gag, Invocation of Saints, and his Appeal; also Dr. Cosin's Horary and the Bishop of Gloucester's sermons. (5) The bold and unwarranted introducing, practising, and defending of sundry new ceremonies, and laying of injunctions upon men by governors of the Church and others, without authority, in conformity to the Church of Rome; as, for example, in some places erecting of altars, in others changing the usual and prescribed manner of placing the Communion table, and setting it at the upper end of the chancel, north and south, in imitation of the high altar; by which they also call it, and adorn it with candlesticks, which, by the Injunctions, 10 Elizabeth, were to be taken away; and do also make [Page 525] obeisance by bowing thereunto, commanding men to stand up at Gloria Patri; bringing men to question and trouble for not obeying that command for which there is no authority; enjoining that no woman be churched without a veil; setting up of pictures, lights, and images in churches; praying towards the east, crossing ad omnem motum et gestum. (6) The false and counterfeit conformity of Papists, whereby they do not only evade the law, but obtain places of trust and authority: instance Mr. Browne of Oxford, and his treatise written to that purpose; the Bishop of Gloucester; and the now Bishop of Durham. (7) The suppressing and restraint of the orthodox doctrine contained in the Articles of Religion, confirmed in Parliament, 13 Elizabeth, according to the sense which hath been received publicly, and taught as the doctrine of the Church of England in those points wherein the Arminians differ from us, and other the Reformed Churches; wherein the essence of our Articles, in those controverted points, is known and proved. (8) The publishing of books and preaching of sermons, contrary to the former orthodox doctrine, and suppressing books written in defence thereof: instance Bishop Montague's Gag and Appeal, Mr. Jackson's Book of the Essence and Attributes of God, Dr. White's two sermons preached at Court, one upon the 5th of November, the other on Christmas Day last; and for orthodox books suppressed, instance in all that have been written against Bishop Montague and Cosin, yea, even Bishop Carleton's book. (9) That these persons who have published and maintained such papistical, Arminian, and superstitious opinions and practices, who are known to be unsound in religion, are countenanced, favoured, and preferred: instance Mr. Montague, made Bishop of Chichester; also the late Bishop of Carlisle, since his last Arminian sermon preached at Court, advanced to the bishopric of Norwich; a known Arminian made Bishop of Ely; the [Page 526] Bishop of Oxford, a long-suspected Papist, advanced to the bishopric of Durham; Mr. Cosin, advanced to dignity and a great living; Dr. Wren, made Dean of Windsor and one of the High Commission Court. (10) That some prelates near the king, having gotten the chief administration of ecclesiastical affairs under his majesty, discountenance and hinder the preferment of those that are orthodox, and favour such as are contrary: instance the Bishops of Winchester and London, in divers particulars.
The points wherein the Arminians differ from us and other the Reformed Churches, in the sense of the Articles confirmed in Parliament, 13 Elizabeth, may be known and proved in these controverted points, viz.: (1) By the Common Prayer, established in Parliament. (2) By the Book of Homilies, confirmed by the acts of religion. (3) By the Catechism concerning the points printed in the Bible and read in churches, and divers other impressions published by authority. (4) Bishop Jewel's works, commanded to be kept in all churches, that every parish may have one of them. (5) The public determination of divinity professors, published by authority. (6) The public determination of divines in both the Universities. (7) The Resolution of the Archbishop of Canterbury and other reverend bishops and divines assembled at Lambeth for this very purpose, to declare their opinions concerning those points, anno 1595, unto which the Archbishop of York and all his province did likewise agree. (8) The Articles of Ireland, though framed by the Convocation there, yet allowed by the clergy and State here. (9) The suffrage of the British divines, sent by King James to the Synod of Dort. (10) The uniform consent of our writers, published by authority. (11) The censures, recantations, punishments, and submissions made, enjoined, and inflicted upon those that taught contrary thereunto, as Barrow and Barrett in Cambridge, and Bridges in Oxford.
[Page 527] The remedy of which abuses we conceive may be these: (1) Due execution of laws against Papists. (2) Exemplary punishments to be inflicted upon teachers, publishers, and maintainers of popish opinions, and practising of superstitious ceremonies, and some stricter laws in that case to be provided. (3) The orthodox doctrine of our Church, in these now controverted points by the Arminian sect, may established and freely taught, according as it hath been hitherto generally received, without any alteration or innovation; and severe punishment, by the same laws to be provided against such as shall, either by word or writing, publish anything contrary thereunto. (4) That the said books of Bishop Montague and Cosin may be burned. (5) That such as have been authors or abettors of those popish and Arminian innovations in doctrine may be condignly punished. (6) That some good order may be taken for licensing books hereafter. (7) That his majesty would be graciously pleased to confer bishoprics and other ecclesiastical preferments, with advice of his Privy Council, upon learned, pious, and orthodox men. (8) That bishops and clergymen, being well chosen, may reside upon their charge, and with diligence and fidelity perform their several duties, and that accordingly they may be countenanced and preferred. (9) That some course may, in this Parliament, be considered of, for providing a competent means to maintain a godly, able minister in every parish church of this kingdom. (10) That his majesty would be graciously pleased to make a special choice of such persons, for the execution of his ecclesiastical commissions, as are approved for integrity of life and soundness of doctrine.
[A week later the House of Commons issued a protestation in which these words occur: 'Whosoever shall bring in innovation of religion, or by favour or countenance seem to extend, or introduce, popery or Arminianism, or other opinion, disagreeing from the true and orthodox Church, shall be reputed a capital enemy to this kingdom and commonwealth.' Cf Gardiner, l. c. p. 16.]
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