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ecclesiastical persons should subscribe to "all the articles of religion, which only concerned the confession of the true faith, and of the sacraments, comprised in a book, imprinted, intitled "Articles, whereupon it was agreed by the archbishops and bishops, and the whole clergy in convocation, holden at London, in the year of our Lord God, 1562, according to the computation of the Church of England, for the avoiding of the diversities of opinions, and for the establishing of consent touching true religion, put forth by the Queen's authority." All the acts of parliament, made subsequently to this time, which mention the Articles, refer to this act, as settling the Articles, and the rule of subscription to them.
For some reason, which does not now appear, they were confirmed, in 1604, by the convocation of Canterbury. In 1628, an edition of them, in the English language, was published by the royal authority. To this edition, a declaration of king Charles the first is prefixed. It is the exemplar of all the subsequent editions.
HAVING given the substance of the confession of Augsburgh, and mentioned the principal points, in which the confessions of the reformed churches generally differed from it, the nature of these pages
seems to require, that we should now present our readers with a short view of the religious creed expressed in the thirty-nine articles, but we are sensible that our readers are too well acquainted with them to make this necessary.
An elegant account of the creed, which they contain, is given in his eighth Bampton lecture, by doctor Eveleigh, the late learned and accomplished provost of Oriel college. He concludes it by observing, "that they were principally intended to ascertain and deliver down the essential doctrine of christianity;" that "the remaining parts of them were as obviously directed against the dangerous opinions of the different adversaries of the church of England:" that "all, which was admitted on the latter head, was supplied in a considerable degree, under Elizabeth, by the Canons which she enforced during her government." These, he adds, were permanently provided for by the body of canons which were enacted in the first year of her successor's reign; and which at present describe and enforce the different parts of the ecclesiastical system of the church of England; and were intended to supply the place of the canons and decretals of the church of Rome."
From the former part of this work it appears, that the doctrines on which the confessions of faith principally differ among themselves, respect predestination and the sacrament of our Lord's Supper. To these the 17th and 28th of the thirty-nine
articles relate. The language in which these are couched shows, that the framers of them wished to express them in terms, which, if they did not conciliate, would not offend the maintainers of the opposite opinions.
The Controversy on the Authentic Edition of the
IT has been mentioned, that the act of 1571, by which the thirty-nine articles were legally sanctioned, describes them, as "the Articles of Religion comprised in a book, imprinted, entitled Articles, whereupon it was agreed by the archbishops and bishops, and the whole clergy in the convocation holden at London, in the year of our Lord God, 1562, according to the computation of the Church of England, for avoiding of the diversities of opinions, and for establishing of consent, touching true religion, put forth by the Queen's authority." The point on which the controversy in question wholly turns, is, which is the imprinted book, thus described.
This would be of no consequence, if we possessed the original manuscript, from which the book, to which the act of parliament refers, was printed but the original manuscript was certainly burned in the fire of London.
The book, to which the act refers, must be some book printed before the bill, which refers to it, was
brought into parliament; and the book must have the title mentioned in the act. Now, both in the prior printed editions, whether in English, Latin; and in the prior English and Latin manuscripts of the thirty-nine articles, which have reached us, there are numberless various readings; and some of these materially affect the sense of the This evidently makes it important to ascertain the edition referred to by the act of parliament of 1571. One of the most important of these various readings is to be found in the twentieth article.
In the text of the edition of 1628, and in all the subsequent editions, this article is expressed in the following terms, "The Church hath power to decree rites and ceremonies; and authority in controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's word written; neither may it expound one place of scriptures, 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 against the same, so, besides the same, ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of salvation."
It is doubted by many, whether the first paragraph of this article, "the church has power to decree rites and ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith," was inserted in the printed copy of these articles, which was legislatively sanctioned by the act of 1671.
Archbishop Laud, was accused, at his trial, of having fabricated this paragraph. With great indignation and eloquence he denied the fact; asserted, that it made a part of the clause, as it stood originally, and charged his accusers with having wickedly caused it to be left out of the copies.
In 1710, the celebrated Anthony Collins revived. the charge in a pamphlet, intitled, " Priestcraft in Perfection, or a detection of the fraud of inserting and continuing this clause,-(The church hath power to decree rites and ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith,) in the 20th Article of the Articles of the Church of England."
An able defence of the authenticity of the paragraph was published in 1710, under the title, "A Vindication of the Church of England from the aspersions of a late libel, entitled Priestcraft in Perfection,' wherein, the controverted clause of the church's power in the 20th article is shown to be of equal authority with all the rest of the articles: and the fraud and forgery charged upon the clergy, on the account of this clause, are retorted upon their accusers; with a preface, containing some remarks upon the reflections in that pamphlet ;~by a Priest of the Church of England."
This was followed in 1715, by "an Essay on the 39 Articles of Religion, agreed on in 1562, and revived in 1571, wherein (the text being