Directions Concerning Preachers

Gee, Henry, and William John Hardy, ed.,
Documents Illustrative of English Church History
(New York: Macmillan, 1896), 516-8.

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.

Editors' Introduction:
THE following directions, which appear to have been drawn up by James himself in order to silence the bitterness of controversial preaching, were communicated by him in a letter to Archbishop Abbott, Aug. 4, 1622. A week later the archbishop sent a copy to each of the bishops, accompanied by a letter which recites the terms of the king's letter.
[Tr. Reg. II. Abbot fol. 199 b. Cf Wilkins, iv. 465; S. P. Jas. I. 132 No. 85.]

1. That no preacher under the degree and calling of a bishop, or dean of a cathedral or collegiate church, and they, upon the king's days and set festivals, do take occasion, by the expounding of any text of Scripture whatsoever, to fall into any set discourse, or commonplace (otherwise than by opening the coherence and division of his text), which shall not be comprehended and warranted in essence, substance, effect or natural inference within some one of the Articles of Religion set forth 1562, or in some the homilies set forth by authority in the Church of England, not only for a help of the non-preaching, but withal for a pattern and a boundary, as it were, for the preaching ministers; and for their further instruction for the performance thereof, that they forthwith read over, and peruse diligently, the said book of Articles, and the two books of homilies.

2. That no parson, vicar, curate, or lecturer shall preach any sermon or collation hereafter upon Sundays and holidays in the afternoon, in any cathedral or parish church throughout this kingdom, but upon some part of the catechism, or some text taken out of the Creed, Ten Commandments, or the Lord's Prayer (funeral sermons only excepted), and that [Page 517] those preachers be most encouraged and approved of, who spend the afternoon's exercise in the examining of children in their catechism, and in the expounding of the several points and heads of the catechism, which is the most ancient and laudable custom of teaching in the Church of England.

3. That no preacher of what title soever under the degree of a bishop, or dean at the least, do from henceforth presume to preach in any popular auditory the deep points of predestination, election, reprobation or of the universality, efficacity, resistibility or irresistibility of God's grace; but leave those themes to be handled by learned men, and that moderately and modestly by way of use and application, rather than by way of positive doctrine, as being fitter for the schools and universities, than for simple auditories.

4. That no preacher of what title or denomination soever, shall presume from henceforth in any auditory within this kingdom to declare, limit, or bound out, by way of positive doctrine, in any lecture or sermon, the power, prerogative, jurisdiction, authority, or duty of sovereign princes, or otherwise meddle with these matters of state and the references betwixt princes and the people, than as they are instructed and presidented in the homily of obedience, and in the rest of the homilies and Articles of Religion, set forth (as before is mentioned) by public authority; but rather confine themselves wholly to those two heads of faith and good life, which are all the subject of the ancient sermons and homilies.

5. That no preacher of what title or denomination soever, shall causelessly and without invitation from the text, fall into bitter invectives, and indecent railing speeches against the persons of either papists or puritans; but modestly and gravely (when they are occasioned thereunto by the text of Scripture) free both the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England from the assertions of either adversary, especially when the auditory is suspected to be tainted with one or the other infection.

[Page 518] 6. Lastly, that the archbishops and bishops of the kingdom, whom his majesty hath good cause to blame for this former remissness, be more wary and choice in licensing of preachers, and revoke all grants made to any chancellor, official, or commissary to pass licences in this kind; and that all the lecturers throughout the kingdom (a new body severed from the ancient clergy of England, as being neither parsons, vicars, or curates) be licensed henceforward in the Court of Faculties, only upon recommendation of the party from the bishop of the diocese under his hand and seal, with a 'fiat' from the lord Archbishop of Canterbury and a confirmation under the great seal of England; and that such as transgress any one of these directions, be suspended by the bishop of the diocese, or in his default, by the lord archbishop of the province, ab officio et beneficio, for a year and a day, until his majesty, by the advice of the next Convocation, shall prescribe some further punishment.

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