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Tear from the thirty-seventh article.
ARTICLE THE TWENTIETH.
Of the Authority of the Church.
THE CHURCH HATH POWER TO DECREE RIGHTS
OR CEREMONIES, AND AUTHORITY IN CONTROVERSIES OF FAITH:(a) AND YET IT IS NOT LAWFUL FOR THE CHURCH TO ORDAIN ANY THING THAT IS CONTRARY TO GOD's WORD WRITTEN, NEITHER MAY IT SO EXPOUND ONE PLACE OF SCRIPTURE THAT IT BE REPUGNANT TO ANOTHER, WHEREFORE, ALTHOUGH THE CHURCH BE A WITNESS, AND A KEEPER OF HOLY WRIT, YET AS IT OUGHT NOT TO DECREE ANY THING AGAIN T THE SAME, SO BESIDES THE SAME OUGHT TNOT TO EN FORCE ANY THING TO BE BELIEVED FOR NECESSITY OF SALVATION.
The meaning of the word Church having been settled in the preceding article, the next thin
(a) The first clause of this Article was not in the Articles of 1552, but it was in the Latin articles published in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's reign. It does not appear either in the Latin or English Articles, dated 1571, preserved in a manuscript volume of Miscellaneous Papers bequeathed by Archbishop Parker,
to be determined is, What authority belongs to every particular Church; and this inquiry naturally divides itself into two parts, namely, external forms and matters of faith, both of which are treated of in this article.
It begins with asserting, that THE CHURCH HATH POWER TO DECREE RITES AND CEREMO
NIES. with his Library, to Ben’et College, Cambridge ; but this manuscript being found among the private papers of the Archbishop, is not to be considered as an authorized transcript of the Articles. The original manuscript of the Articles was deposited in the Register Court of the province of Canterbury, where it was examined by order of Archbishop Laud in the following century, as he declared in his speech in the Star Chamber; and not many years afterwards, it was destroyed in the fire of London, as has been already noticed. This clause does not appear in the Latin Articles printed by John Day in 1571; but it does appear in some copies of the English Articles printed by Jugge and Cawood in the same year, and not in others. From an accurate collation of different books, it is evident that there are several distinct editions of the English Articles, bearing the date of 1571, all of which were probably published in that year, or very soon after it. In these editions, some of which contain this clause and some do not, there are several minute variations in the mode of printing; but they all have the same wooden cuts for the title, and for the device at the end ; and also the words Cum Privilegio Regiæ. Majestatis after the year 1571. In 1579 the English Articles were published by Barker, containing this clause, and it has been inserted in all subsequent editions.
NIES. The Church being a society of men united for the most important purposes, it is necessary that its affairs, like those of every other society, should be conducted by certain rules : Nulla religio, says Augustine, neque vera, neque falsa, sine cæremoniis potest consistere (b). If it be our duty to " assemble ourselves together (c),” our assemblies must be regulated by established forms, as the only means of preventing disorder and confusion. Since then rites and ceremonies are essential to the very existence of a Church, the first question which occurs is, whether it has pleased the divine Author of our religion, either by himself, or by his 'Apostles, to give any particular directions upon this subject? Upon examining the New Testament we do not find that it contains any such directions, although it appears that the primitive Christians observed fixed rules, as they necessarily must have done, in their public worship of God. We only meet with some very general precepts in the Epistles, which may be considered as applicable to this subject, such as “ Give none offence (d);"_" Let all things be done decently and in order (e);”— “Let all things be done unto edifying (f );"and,“ Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (g).” Every Church therefore is left at
liberty (b) Cont. Faust. cap. 11. (c) Heb. c. 10. V. 25. (d) i Cor. c. 10. v. 32. (e) i Cor. c. 14. V.40. (f) i Cor. c. 14. v. 26. (g) i Cor. c. 10. v. 31.
liberty to prescribe rites and ceremonies to its own members, provided they be consistent with these general precepts, which are so plain and so reasonable, that it is unnecessary to enlarge upon them.
A great variety of rites and ceremonies was prescribed by the Jewish dispensation; and yet, in the time of our Saviour, the Jews had many institutions which were not commanded by Moses, particularly the service of their synagogues, the feast of dedication (h), and that of Purim (i), and likewise several unauthorized practices in the celebration of the Passover. Not one of these things was censured by Christ; but, on the contrary, he appears to have himself obseryed all the traditional customs of the Jews which did not tend to encourage superstition, or produce a neglect of “ the weightier matters of the law.” And if such liberty were allowed under so limited a religion as that of Moses, we conclude that it is lawful for a society of Christians, whose religion is designed for all ages and all countries, to make any regulations which may tend to promote the great objects for which they have formed themselves into one body, The subject of external ceremonies will occur again in the 34th article, to which they more par. ticularly belong; and therefore, at present, I shall only observe, that many points of this sort,
very (h) John, c. 10. V. 22 & 23. (i). Esther, c. 9.