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opposition to the corruptions of Popery, and to reform it from those crying sins that had been so much connived at under Popery, while men knew the price of them, how to compensate for them, and to redeem themselves from the guilt of them by masses and sacraments, by indulgences and absolutions (b)."
These two books of Homilies, upon their first publication, were distributed throughout the kingdom, and the parochial clergy were commanded to read them in their churches. When compared with the age in which they were written, they may be considered as very extraordinary compositions, though perhaps every argument and expression in them is not to be approved ; but whoever will peruse them with candour and attention will be convinced that they contain A GODLY AND WHOLESOME DOCTRINE. The compilers of the Articles thought them NECESSARY FOR THE TIMES in which they lived, and directed them TO BE READ IN CHURCHES BY THE MINISTERS, DILIGENTLY AND DISTINCTLY, THAT THEY MAY BE UNDERSTANDED OF THE PEOPLE. The English language has changed so much since these Homilies were written, that they would scarcely now be understood by a common congregation; and
therefore (b) Burnet.
therefore the reading of them publicly, as it would no longer answer any good purpose, has fallen into general disuse, with the tacit consent of the governing part of the church. The Clergy however may still study them with advantage to themselves, and may, with advantage to others, transfer parts of them into their sermons, with such alterations as the change of circumstances may render expedient (c). It is remarkable that the titles of the Homilies as enumerated in this Article, are not precisely the same as the titles prefixed in the book of Homilies. 1. The want of learning in the clergy at the time of the Reformation has been already noticed : and indeed so incompetent were they to the duty of preaching, that it was forbidden by four successive sovereigns of very different religious principles, by Henry the eighth, Edward the sixth, queen Mary, and queen Elizabeth. Towards the end of queen Elizabeth's reign,
the (c) Since I wrote the above, I have met with a work published by the Rev. Sir Adam Gordon, bart. intitled, “Discourses on several Subjects ; being the substance of some select Homilies of the Church of England, rendered in a modern style, and fitted for the general use, and Christian instruction of the community at large;" in two volumes octavo, printed for Stockdale. The editor appears to me to have performed his part with great judgment, and I desire to recommend these books to the parochial clergy.
the clergy were considerably improved in point of literature; but even at that time Neal reckons that there were 8,000 parishes without preaching ministers. James the first made a canon, directing that a sermon should be preached every Sunday, in every parish church which had a minister licensed for that purpose; but by another canon, unlicensed ministers were permitted only to read a Homily. And our present form of ordering deacons does not empower them to preach, unless they “ be thereunto licensed by the bishop himself;" but to a priest, the bishop says, “ Take thou authority to preach the word of God.”
ARTICLE THE THIRTY-SIXTH.
Of the Consecration of Bishops and Ministers.
THE BOOK OF CONSECRATION OF ARCHBISHOPS
AND BISHOPS, AND, ORDERING OF PRIESTS
W E treated of the different orders of ministers in the antient church, and in our own, under the twenty-third article: this article is confined
to the mode of “ Consecration of Bishops and - Ministers," as directed by our church.
Though bishops, priests, and deacons are all expressly mentioned in the New Testament, yet we have no particular account of the forms by which they were appointed to their respective offices, except that it was done by imposition of hands, accompanied with prayers (a); nor are any directions given upon this subject to be observed in succeeding ages : the church therefore is left to prescribe such forms as it may judge most suitable and convenient.
THE BOOK OF CONSECRATION OF ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS, AND ORDERING OF PRIESTS AND DEACONS LATELY SET FORTH IN THE TIME OF EDWARD THE SIXTH, AND CONFIRMED AT THE SAME TIME BY AUTHORITY OF PARLIAMENT, DOTH CONTAIN ALL THINGS NECESSARY TO SUCH CONSECRATION AND ORDERING; NEITHER HATH IT ANY THING THAT OF ITSELF IS SUPERSTITIOUS OR UNGODLY. This book (6) not only contains every thing which is necessary for the appointment of persons to the several ministerial functions, without being liable
in (a) Acts, c. 6. v. 6.
(b) When the Liturgy was revised immediately after the Restoration, some alterations were made in the forms of consecrating bishops, and ordaining priests and deacons, but these alterations were but few, and of no great importance; and therefore I consider this part of the Article as referring to oar present forms.