« PreviousContinue »
might set down some things touching such matters, which at all times, whensoever we should be demanded, might be our true and just defence, both to clear us from partaking with the schism, and to witness for us that we agreed in the reformation we desire.
“But as touching the thing surmised of our meetings, that we exercise in them all ecclesiastical jurisdiction, in making ministers, in censuring and excommunicating, in ordaining constitutions and orders upon such censures to bind any ; we protest before God and the holy angels, that we never exercised any part of such jurisdiction, nor had any purpose agreed among us to exercise the same, before we should by public law be authorized thereunto.
“Farther also, touching such our meetings, we affirm that they were only of ministers (saving in some parts where a schoolmaster, two or three, desirous to train themselves to the ministry joined with us), and the same, but of six or seven, or like small number in a conference, without all deed of appearance that might be offensive to any.
Singularity. “Which though it be not subject to any punishment of law, yet is suggested against us by such as favour not our most humble desire of a farther reformation, to disgrace us, and make us odious with others, and chiefly with your ex. cellent majesty; whereunto our answer is, that the discipline of the primitive church is ancient and so acknowledged by the book of Common Prayer-in these words, “that there was a godly discipline in the primitive church; instead whereof, until the said discipline may be restored again (which thing is much to be wished), it is thought convenient to use such a form of commination as is prescribed.
“Farther also, if it please your majesty with favour to understand it from us, we are ready to shew, that in such points of ecclesiastical discipline of our church, which we desire most humbly may be reformed, we hold no singular or private opinion, but the truth of the word of God, acknowledged to be such by all the best churches and writers of ancient time, and of this present age.
“ Thus have we declared, right gracious sovereign, truly and sincerely, as we will answer it before God, and to your majesty upon our allegiance, what judgment we are of con
cerning the matters informed against us ; and farther testify, that no minister within this land desiring a farther reformation, with whom we have had any private acquaintance or conference of these matters (whosoever may be otherwise informed), is of any other mind or opinion in these cases that have been named; by which declaration, if (according to our earnest prayers to Almighty God) your majesty shall clearly discern us to stand free from all such matters as we are charged with, our most humble suit is, that your majesty's gracious favour (which is more dear and precious to 'us than our lives) may be extended to us, and that by means thereof we may enjoy the comfortable liberty of our persons and ministry, as we did before our troubles; which if by your highness's special mercy and goodness we may obtain, we promise and vow to Almighty God, and your excellent majesty, to behave ourselves in so peaceable and dutiful sort in every respect, as may give no just cause of your highness's offence, but according to our callings, both in doctrine and example as heretofore, so always hereafter, to teach due obedience to your majesty among other parts of holy doctrine; and to pray for your majesty's long and blessed reign over us," &c.*
Articles of religion agreed upon by the archbishops and bi
shops, and the rest of the clergy of Ireland, in the convocation holden at Dublin, in the year of our Lord 1615, for the avoiding of diversities of opinions, and the establishing
of consent touching true religion. N. B. In these articles are comprehended, almost word for
word the nine articles, agreed on at Lambeth the 20th of November, 1595. This mark * points at each of them, and their number.
Of the Holy Scriptures and the Three Creeds. 1. The ground of our religion, and the rule of faith, and all saving truth, is the word of God, contained in the Holy Scripture.
* Strype's Ann. vol. alt. p. 85, &c.
2. By the name of Holy Scripture we understand all the canonical books of the Old and New Testament, viz.
of the Old Testament.
The five books of Moses, The first and second of Ecclesiastes,
The Song of Solomon,
Jeremiah, bis prophecy and The first and second of Sa. Esther,
Lamentation, muel, Job,
The twelve less prophets.
The Epistle of St. James,
The two Epistles of St. PeLuke, Colossians,
The First and Second Epis. The three Epistles of St. The Acts of the Apostles, tle to the Thessalonians, John, The Epistle of St. Paul 10 The First and Second Epis- St. Jude, the Romans,
tle to Timothy,
The Revelation of St. Jobo. The First and Second Epis- Titus,
tle to the Corinthians, Philemon,
All which we acknowledge to be given by the inspiration of God, and in that regard to be of most certain credit and highest authority.
3. The other books, commonly called Apocryphal, did not proceed from such inspiration, and therefore are not of sufficient authority to establish any point of doctrine; but the church doth read them as books containing many worthy things for example of life and instruction of manners.
Such are these following;
The third book of Esdras,
The book of Jesas tbe Son Susannah,
of Sirach, called Eccle- Bell and the Dragon,
The Prayer of Manasses, Baruch, with the epistle The first book of Maccaof Jeremiah,
bees, The Song of the Three Chil. The Second book of Maodren,
4. The Scriptures ought to be translated out of the original tongues into all languages, for the common use of all men. Neither is any person to be discouraged from reading the Bible in such a language as he doth understand, but seriously exhorted to read the same with great humility and reverence, as a special means to bring him to the true knowledge of God, and of his own duty.
5. Although there be some hard things in the Scripture (especially such as have proper relation to the times in which they were first uttered, and prophecies of things which were afterward to be fulfilled), yet all things necessary to be known unto everlasting salvation, are clearly delivered therein; and nothing of that kind is spoken under dark mysteries in one place, which is not in other places spoken more familiarly and plainly to the capacity both of learned and unlearned.
6. The Holy Scriptures contain all things necessary to salvation, and are able to instruct sufficiently in all points of faith that we are bound to believe, and all good duties that we are bound to practise.
7. All and every the articles contained in the Nicene creed, the creed of Athanasius, and that which is commonly called the Apostles' creed, ought firmly to be received and believed, for they may be proved by most certain warrant of Holy Scripture.
Of Faith in the Holy Trinity. 8. There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three persons ofone and the same substance, power, and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
9. The essence of the Father doth not beget the essence of the Son; but the person of the Father begetteth the person of the Son, by communicating his whole essence to the person begotten from eternity.
10. The Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.
Of God's eternal Decree and Predestination. 11. God from all eternity did, by his unchangeable counsel, ordain whatsoever in time should come to pass; yet so, as thereby no violence is offered to the wills of the reasonable creatures, and neither the liberty nor the contingency of the second cause is taken away, but established rather. * 12. “By the same eternal counsel God hath predesti
nated some unto life, and reprobated some unto death ;
of both which there is a certain number, known only to
God, which can neither be increased nor diminished.” 13. Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath constantly decreed in his secret counsel, to deliver from curse and damnation, those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ unto everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. * II. 14. “The cause moving God to predestinate unto
life, is not the foreseeing of faith, or of perseverance, or of good works, or of anything which is in the person pre
destinated, but only the good pleasure of God himself.” For all things being ordained for the manifestation of his glory, and his glory being to appear, both in the works of his mercy and of his justice, it seemed good to his heavenly wisdom to choose out a certain number, towards whom he would extend his undeserved mercy, leaving the rest to be spectacles of his justice.
15. Such as are predestinated unto life be called according unto God's purpose (his Spirit working in due season), and through grace they obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ ; they walk religiously in good works, and at length by God's mercy they attain to everlasting felicity. * IV. “But such as are not predestinated to salvation,
shall finally be condemned for their sins." 16. The godly consideration of predestination, and our election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their minds to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly confirm and establish their faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God; and on the contrary side, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's predestination, is very dangerous.
17. We must receive God's promises in such wise as they be generally set forth unto us in Holy Scripture; and in our