1572 Bill ‘Concerning Rites and Ceremonies’
Where in the first year of your Majesty’s most happy reign and government over us, your Highness’ most humble and obedient subjects, which we beseech the eternal God in continual blessed success long to preserve and continue, a certain book of order of uniformity of common prayer and ministration of the sacrament (for the renewing of the building of the house of God, the Church of Christ) through his grace and unspeakable mercy, and your Grace’s godly zeal toward the advancement of his glory was by authority of Parliament established, prescribed, and ordained, to be by all your Grace’s subjects fully and directly obeyed, observed, and performed, to all purposes, constructions, and intents, under the pains and penalties therein comprised, in which, though there be a soundness in substantial points of doctrine, yet by reason of the late backsliding of the people from true religion to superstition, divers orders of rites, ceremonies and observations were therein permitted in respect of the great weakness of the people then blinded with superstition. Sith it has now pleased the almighty God, through this long continuance of the exercise of preaching of the Gospel under your Highness’ authority,to direct the cause thereof to such a prosperous end as many congregations within this your Highness’ realm are grown to desire of attaining to some further form than in that book is prescribed, and considering that God in his manifold blessing toward us hath raised up a great number of learned pastors and zealous ministers within this your Majesty’s dominions, who, in discharge of their consciences have therefore eftsones according to that talent and measure of knowledge which God hath given them, endeavoured and enterprised with all humility and quiet manner (with favourable permission of some godly bishops and ordinaries) to further the spreading of his spiritual building by putting in some godly exercises for the better instruction and edifying of their congregations, and therefore have omitted the precise rule and strait observation of the form and order prescribed in that book, with some part of rites and ceremonies therein appointed, and have conformed themselves more nearly to the imitation of the ancient apostolical church and the best reformed churches in Europe, as well in the form of common prayer, ministration of the sacraments, examination of the communicants, catechizing of the youth and instruction of the older, with divers other profitable exercises, to the great increase of true knowledge, furtherance of God’s glory, and extinguishing of superstition and the advancing of true religion, and forasmuch as there be a number of malicious adversaries of the truth which do seek by all means to hinder and disturb these godly proceedings, and for that purpose do cover their malice under pretence of conformity and obedience to the same prescribed form in the said book expressed, and do rigourously require the precise observing of every part and parcel thereof, so that if a godly minister do vary from it, and use any order more sincere, and such as by the judgement of all godly learned is more profitable to edify than that prescribed in the book, or do but upon any just occasion either omit anything to be said, or but read one chapter for another, these men are ready to accuse, and have accused and presented before your Highness’ justices of assizes in their circuits, and some others of them before certain other your Highness’ justices, and some others indited in general sessions as wilful disobedient persons and contempners of your Highness’ laws and ordinances, by means whereof great disquietness is bred among your Highness’ subjects, the course of the gospel is greatly hindered, many godly preachers restrained from their godly exercises, to the great dishonour of God, grief of the godly and triumph of the enemy, and though divers godly minded prelates would be right willing to favour and maintain the use of the same godly exercises, saying that they tend very much to edification, yet for reverence of the said law, and for fear of the rigour of the same, they be disuaded, or rather restrained, from so well doing: for the removing of which foresaid impediments, and for the further advancing of the true religion of Christ, whereby his name in us may be the more fully glorified and we through those godly exercises the better instructed:-
KeywordsPrescribe Form Great Weakness Substantial Point True Religion Common Prayer
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