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discharge of their functions was not issued until the 1st of September '
During the interval, it was determined to prepare some homilies for popular instruction, in order, that neither the ignorance of some clergymen, nor the Romish prejudices of others should impede the progress of evangelical truth. The principal share in the composition of these excellent discourses has ever been attributed to Cranmerk. As the Archbishop desired to unite all parties as much as possible in the projected reformation of religion, he invited Gardiner to lend him his assistance in the composition of the Homilies, alleging as a reason for the entertainment of such a design that it had originated in the late King's reign. The Bishop of Winchester admitted in reply, that in 1542, it had been King Henry's intention to send forth a volume adapted for popular instruction, but he added, that “since that time his old master's mind changed, and God had given him the gift of pacification,” nor, he asserted, could any innovations in ecclesiastical affairs be now legally made, because some decrees of convocation still in force had “ extinguished those devices.” Of the letter containing these matters he sent a copy to the Protector, in the hope of engaging that nobleman to prevent by his authority the projected design from being carried into execution. Somerset, however, had
Strype, Eccl. Mem. 72.
Heylin attributes the Homilies wholly to him. Hist. Ref. 34.
taken a judicious and conscientious view of his duty : hence he was not to be deterred from enlightening the popular mind by any of those expedients for gaining time which had become the only refuge of the Romish party. The Archbishop urged upon Gardiner in answer to his letter, that during the convocation which sat five years before, he had himself conversed upon the propriety of instructing the nation by means of certain discourses prepared for that purpose. To this the Bishop replied, " that it was true, they had communed then of such things, but they took not effect at that time ; nor needed they to be put in execution now. And that in his judgement it could not be done without a new authority and command from the King's Majesty.” He then endeavoured to awaken the fears of the Primate, and of other leading men, by suggesting that it was not safe, “ to make new stirs in religion: that the Lord Protector did well in putting out a proclamation to stop vain rumours, and that he thought it best not to enterprise any thing whereby the people might be tempted to break this proclamation': that as in a natural body
I Many there were that now whispered, and secretly spread abroad in markets, fairs, alehouses, and other places, reports of innovations, and changes in religion and ceremonies of the Church; and that they were done by the King, the Protector, and others of the privy council. Therefore for the stopping of these false rumours, May 24, a proclamation was issued out against these reporters ; assuring the King's subjects, that such pretended innovations were never begun, nor attempted by the King and his council. And besides these rumours concerning
rest did confirm and strengthen, so it was in the commonwealth ; trouble travaileth, and bringeth things to looseness." He then proceeded to remind the Archbishop," that he was not certain even of his own life, when the old order should be broken, and a new one brought in by homilies; that these changes were not effected in a day, nor without exposing many persons to punishments, painful to those who must inflict them;" and that“ plans likely to engender contentions were peculiarly unsuited to a time when the King was a minor m. These representations
religion, they also spread bruits of other things and facts, sounding to the dishonour and slander of the King's Majesty, the Protector, and others of the council, and to the disquieting and disturbing of his subjects. Therefore, for the preventing of these reports, and discovering the talebearers, all justices and others of the King's chief officers in the realm were, by the said proclamation, commanded to search for them, and imprison them, according to former acts and statutes of the King's noble progenitors, made to reform and punish, as lewd and vagrant, persons telling and reporting false news, and tales.” Strype, Eccl. Mem. II. 56.
* Strype, Mem. Cranm. 211. and Appendix. 782. King Edward's minority having been constantly alleged by Romanists as a reason why the reformations of his reign should not have been carried into effect, it may be worth while to observe, that Josiah, so highly commended in Scripture, set the example of forsaking a system of false religion, analogous to Popery, when he was only in his sixteenth year. (II Chron. xxxiv. 3.) Josephus, indeed, says, that he began his public reformation, assisted by the advice of his counsellors, when he was but twelve years of age. (Antiqu. B. x. ch. 4.) Nor can it be reasonably denied, that if detected abuses are not to be corrected during the minority of a sovereign, it would furnish a ground for considering individuals under a ripe age as incapable of the crown.
failing to influence the Primate, he proceeded, as his important station required of him, in the preparation of a work likely to dispel the ignorance and error by which the land was overspread.
The discourses which appeared soon after this time are twelve in number, and form the first book of our authorised homilies". The subjects handled in these pieces are selected with a view as well to the general improvement of the people, as to some of the less prominent, but really vital prejudices derived from a Popish education. The first homily is entitled, A fruitful exhortation to the reading of Holy Scripture. In this excellent discourse is displayed, in very forcible language, the necessity of scriptural knowledge to all who would know God, themselves, and their duty. In the homely phraseology, tolerable in any quarter at that period, and especially suited for popular instruction, is displayed the ruinous folly of listening to the pretended traditions of men, rather than to the undoubted Word of God. “ Let us,” it is said, “ diligently search for the well of life in the books of the Old and New Testament, and not run to the stinking puddles of men's traditions, devised by men's imaginations, for our justification and salvation. For in Holy Scripture is fully contained what we ought to do, and what to eschew, what to believe, what to love, and what to look for at God's hands at length.” These words are succeeded by a series of excellent observations upon the numerous advantages offered by the reading of Scripture, and objections to this practice are met in the following forcible language.
n “ The second (book) was not finished till about the time of his (King Edward's) death ; so it was not published before Queen Elizabeth's time." (Burnet on the Thirty-Nine Articles. Lond. 1759. p. 472.) Bishop Tomline has in a note thus treated this matter. “ The first book of Homilies was published in 1547, and was supposed to be written chiefly by Cranmer; the second in 1560, and was probably written by Jewell.” Elements of Christian Theology, II. 535.
“ If you will not know the truth of God, (a thing most necessary for you,) lest you fall into error; by the same reason you may then lie still, and never go, lest, if you go, you fall into the mire; nor eat any good meat, lest you take a surfeit; nor sow your corn, nor labour in your occupation, nor use your merchandise, for fear you lose your seed, your labour, your stock, and so by that reason it should be best for you to live idly, and never to take in hand to do any manner of good thing, lest peradventure some evil thing may chance thereof. And if you be afraid to fall into error by reading of Holy Scripture, I shall shew you how you may read it without danger of error. Read it humbly with a meek and lowly heart to the intent you may glorify God, and not yourself with the knowledge of it: and read it not without daily praying to God, that he would direct your reading to good effect; and take upon you to expound it no further than you can plainly understand it. For as St. Augustine saith, the knowledge of Holy Scripture is a great, large, and a high place; but