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PREFACE OF THE EDITOR.
THIS Volume contains the two Books of Common Prayer set forth by authority of Parliament in the reign of King Edward VI. They are printed concurrently in such a manner that the reader may easily observe the differences existing in them, and trace the progress which was made at that period in the reformation of religious worship. In the Appendix is added the Order of the communion, which had been published previously by Royal authority, and carried into effect the first measure of a religious character adopted by the legislature in that reign. It will be necessary, by way of preface, to give a short notice of the opinions and occurrences of those times, in order to bring the subject distinctly before the general reader.
The changes which had been made during the reign of Henry VIII. for the establishment of pure religion, were neither many in number, nor in themselves of the first importance. Depending in great measure upon the opinions of that prince, they had their origin, and took their character, from some temper of mind, or some secular design, with which they had no natural connection. They were adopted in the first instance without regard to their relative importance, and were persisted in or abandoned without consideration of their real value. The native disposition and acquired habits of Henry's mind gave him a strong inclination in favour of the ancient
learning; and though he was too headstrong to yield implicit obedience to the court of Rome, and too sensible to tolerate its most flagrant corruptions, he cherished to the last its religious and moral system, and felt neither respect nor sympathy for the genuine principles of the Reformation.
But though he seems to have been desirous of enforcing on his own anthority the same confession of faith and order of discipline which had previously been exacted by the court of Rome, he had undesignedly been encouraging among his subjects a spirit of inquiry, and a capacity and taste for religious controversy, to such an extent, that, whatever might be the evils attendant on them, they could not fail to be productive of great benefit, in the opposition they created to his despotic measures. From the time also when he found it convenient to appeal to Universities, and to learned foreigners, for their judgment on the subject of his divorce, he opened a communicationb with the reformers
a Hooper writes to Bullinger, Jan. 26. 1546, Papam trucidavit rex non Papatum. Hess, Catal. of letters at Zurich, a MS. in the possession of the Delegates of the Oxford Press.
b The earnestness with which Henry sought for the assistance of the German divines may be shewn from the following notices contained in Melancthon's letters to Camerarius. Epp. 1. 4. ep. 119. anno 1531. Melancthon consulted on Henry's marriage. Ep. 154. an. 1534. jam alteris litteris in Angliam vocor. Ep. 166. an. 1535. de Anglicis rebus coram tecum malim loqui, quam per litteras.- -Ab Anglis bis vocatus sum, sed expecto tertias litteras, et ut dicam quod sentio, pœnitet me meæ ẞpadurĥros. Ep. 170. an. 1535. these words inserted by way of privacy in a Latin letter, ἦλθε δὲ πρὸς ἡμᾶς ξένος τις πεμφθεὶς ἐκ τῆς βρετανίας, μόνον διαλεγόμενος περὶ τοῦ δευτέρου γάμου τοῦ βασιλέως· τῶν δὲ τῆς ἐκκλησίας πραγμάτων οὐ μέλει, ὥς φησι, τῷ βασιλεῖ Ep. 179. an. 1535. ego rursus Anglicis, non solum litteris, sed etiam legationibus, et vocor et exerceor. Ep. 182. an. 1536. Angli ostendunt se genus doctrinæ purioris nostrorum exemplo recepturos esse.
of the continent, and indirectly gave them a general influence on his counsels and on public opinion, so favourable for the propagation of their own sentiments, that they did not neglect to employ it. Besides the sanction which he sought to obtain from them in favour of particular measures, he was desirous that several of them should visit England as a legation from the German protestants, and should assist in drawing up a joint confession of faith, a hope being held out to them that the English reformers would accede to all the important views of their continental brethren.
The issue of these negociations throws farther light on Henry's motives in desiring that the council of protestants should be held in England, and on the extent to which he was at that time prepared to go in renouncing Romish errors. A legation from the protestant princes of Germany arrived in England in the
Ep. 183. an. 1536. He commends Nicholas Hethe, but says of other Englishmen, οἱ δὲ ἄλλοι πάνυ δοκοῦσιν ἄγευστοι τῆς ἡμετέρας φιλοσοφίας καὶ γλυκύτητος· διὸ καὶ τὴν συνομιλίαν φεύγω. Ep. 185. an. 1536. περὶ τοῦ τῆς γύναικος ἀποστασίου non sumus eis assensi- -sic me Angli exercent, vix ut respirare liceat. Ep. 187. an. 1536. released from all care about going to England, on account of the changes arising from the execution of Anne Boleyn. Ep. 227. an. 1540. scelera Anglica atrocissima nunciantur.
Melancthon was probably prevented from going to England by the impression he had formed of the real views and character of Henry; but Calvin gives another reason in a letter to Farel, an. 1539, where he says that the king of England wished for Melancthon" ut haberet cujus consilio uti posset ad ecclesiam melius constituendam ;" but that the German protestants did not send him "quod mollitiem animi ejus suspectam habeant."
c Seckendorf, Hist. Luther. 66, 8. Melchior Adam. Vit. Myconii, p. 179. Strype, Mem. vol. I. App. No. 95. Cranmer's Works, vol. I. pp. 261, 263, and pref. p. xxii.
year 1538; conferences were opened with Cranmer and other divines of the English church; several principal articles of faith were adopted in conformity with the confession of Augsburg; but when the questions of immediate interest began to be considered, such as the denial of the cup to the laity, the use of private propitiatory masses, and the celibacy of the clergy, Henry refused his consent to any deviation from the ancient practice, and with the view of making an impression in his own favour, signified his intention of taking part in the discussion in person. Under such circumstances no agreement could be obtained, and the council was dissolved.
Edward VI. then on succeeding to the throne found the cause of the Reformation advanced to the following extent. The church of England was a distinct body, acknowledging no allegiance whatever to the church of Rome: the Bible had been translated into English, and though close limits had been placed on the circulation of it, had been publicly declared to be "the only touchstone of true learning:" the Litany and other portions of the public services had also been translated, and published, together with many forms of private prayer, in order that all "such as are ignorant of any strange or foreign speech may have what to pray in their own acquainted and familiar language with fruit and understanding:" several superstitious ceremonies and flagrant abuses had been removed, having also been exposed to public contempt: and commissioners had been appointed to alter the service of the church, to draw up a new code of ecclesiastical
d Cranmer's Works, pref. p. xliii.
e Injunction prefixed to the Primer of 1545.
f Strype, Cran. vol. I. p. 195.
g Strype, Cran. vol. I. pp. 190, seqq. Cranmer's Works, vol. I. p. 242, note.
law, and to correct other superstitious practices still remaining.
As these concessions had been obtained at different periods, had some of them been partially retracted, and were all to be held in subordination to portions of the ancient system, which were essentially opposed to them, they express, when taken together and without limitation, a greater amount of change than had ever been carried into practice at any one time in the reign of Henry. Public opinion however had not only adopted them, but had silently been urging them on to their natural consequences; and when the impediments presented by the character of Henry had been removed by his death, it seemed as if a new impulse had suddenly risen up within the nation, displaying at once the maturity of its strength, and rejoicing as a giant to run its course. The service of the mass, for instance, had hitherto been strictly retained; it had been enjoined afresh by the law of the Six Articles; it had been maintained as indispensable in the conference with the German legates; and had been the occasion from which persons had suffered death for dissenting from the ancient faith. But in the first year of the reign of Edward, the convocation having unanimously approved of the measure, an act of parliament was passed converting the mass into a communion, and requiring that the sacrament of the Lord's supper should be delivered to the people, and under both kinds. Within four months afterwards, on the 8th of March 1548, appeared the Order of the communion, accompanied by a proclamation, in which a promise was given of "other such godly orders as might be most to God's glory, the
i Strype, Cran. vol. I. p. 224.
h Strype, Cran. vol. I.