The Kings MAIESTIES Letter to the Lords Grace[?] of Canterbury, touching Preaching, and Preachers.

MOST Reuerend Father in God, Right trustie and right intirely beloued Councellor, We greet yee well.

Forasmuch as the abuse and extrauagancies of Preachers in the Pulpit, haue been at all times repressed in this Land, by some Act of Councell or State, with the aduise and resolution of Graue and Re­uerend Preachers, insomuch as the very licensing of `Preachers, had beginning by order in the Star-Chamber, the eighth of Iuly, in the nine­teenth yeare of King Henry the Eight, Our Noble Predecessor: And whereas at this present diuerse young Students, by reading of late Wri­ters and vngrounded Diuines, doe preach many times vnprofitable, vn­seasonable, seditious and dangerous doctrine, to the scandall of the Church, and disquieting of the State and present Gouernment: Wee, vpon humble presentation vnto Us of these ill inconueniencies by your Selfe, and sundrie other Graue and Reuerend Prelates of this Church; as of our Princely care and desire, for the extirpation of Schisme and Dissention growing from these seedes; and for the setling of a Religious and Peaceable Gouernement both of Church and State: Doe by these Our speciall Letters straightly charge and command you, to vse all possi­ble care and diligence, that these limitations and cautions herewith sent you concerning Preachers, be duely and strictly from henceforth obser­ued, and put in practise by the seuerall Bishops in their seuerall Diocesses within your Iurisdiction. And to this end Our Pleasure is, that you send them forth seuerall Copies of these Directions, to be by them spee­dily sent and communicated to euery Parson, Uicar and Curate, Le­cturer and Minister, in euery Cathedrall and Parish Church within their seuerall Diocesses; and that ye earnestly require them, to employ their vtmost endeauours for the performance of this so important a bu­sinesse: Letting them know, We haue an especiall eye to their proceedings, and expect a strict accompt thereof both from you and euery of them, and this Our Letter shall be your sufficient warrant and discharge in this behalfe.

Directions concerning Preachers.

1 THat no Preacher, vnder the degree and calling of a Bishop, or Deane of a Cathedrall or Collegiate Church, and they vp­on the Kings dayes, and set Festiuals, doe take occasion by the ex­pounding of any text of Scripture whatsoeuer, to fall into any set discourse or Common-place (otherwise then by opening the cohe­rence and diuision of his Text) which shall not be comprehended and warranted, in essence, substance and effect, or naturall inference, within some one of the Articles of Religion set forth 1562. or in some of the Homelies set forth by authoritie in the Church of Eng­land, not onely for a helpe for the Non-preaching, but withall for a patterne and a bundarie (as it were) for the preaching Ministers, and for their further instructions: for the performance hereof, that they forthwith peruse ouer, and read diligently the said Articles, or the two bookes of Homilies.

2 That no Parson, Vicar, Curate, or Lecturer, shall preach any Sermon or Collation vpon Sunday and Holy-dayes in the afternoone in any Cathedrall or Parish Church throughout the Kingdome, but vpon some part of the Catechisme, or some text taken out of the Creed, tenne Commandements, or Lords Prayer, (funerall Sermons onely excepted) and that those Preachers be most encouraged and approoued of, who spend these afternoone Exercises in examining the children in their Catechisme, and in expounding of the seuerall points and heads of the Catechisme, which is the most auncient and laudable custome of teaching in the Church of England.

3 That no Preacher of what title soeuer, vnder the degree of a Bishop or Deane at the least, do from henceforth presume to preach in any populous auditorie, the deepe points of Predestination, Ele­ction, Reprobation; of the Vniuersalitie, Efficacie, Resistabilitie, or Irresistabilitie of Gods grace, but leaue those Theames to be hand­led by the learned men, and that moderately, and modestly, by way of vse and application, rather then by way of positiue doctrine, as beeing fitter for the Schooles and Vniuersities, then for simple auditories.

4 That no Preacher of what title or denomination soeuer, shall presume from hence forth in any auditorie in this Kingdome, to declare, limit, or bound out by positiue doctrine, in any Lecture or [Page 3] Sermon, the Power, Prerogatiue, Iurisdiction, Authoritie, or Duty of Soueraigne Princes; or otherwise meddle with these matters of State, and the references betweene Princes and the People, then as they are instructed and presidented in the Homilie of obedience, and in the rest of the Homilies and Articles of Religion, set forth as is before mentioned by publike authoritie; but rather confine them­selues for those two heads, Faith and good Life, which are the sub­iect of auncient Sermons and Homilies.

5 That no Preacher of what title or denomination soeuer, shall causlesly, and without inuitation from the Text, fall into bitter in­uectiues, and vndecent rayling speeches, against the persons of ei­ther Papist or Puritan, but modestly, and grauely when they are in­uited or occasioned thereunto by their text of Scripture, free both the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of England, from the aspersion of either Aduersarie, especially where the auditorie is suspected to be tainted with the one or the other infection.

6 Lastly, the Archbishops and Bishops of this kingdome (whom his Maiestie hath good cause to blame for their former remisnes) be more warie and choice in licensing Preachers, and reuoke all grants made to any Chancellor, Officiall, or Commissary to licence in this kind. And that all the Lecturers throughout the kingdome (a new body seuered from the auncient Clergie of England, as beeing nei­ther Parson, Vicar, nor Curate) be licensed henceforth in the Court of faculties, onely vpon recommendation of the party from the Bi­shop of the Diocesse, vnder his hand and seale with a Fiat from the L. Archbish. of Canterbury, and a confirmation of the great seale of England▪ and that such as transgresse any of these directions, bee suspended by the L. Bish. of the Diocesse; in his default by the L. Archbish. of the prouince, ab Officio & Beneficio, for a yeare and a day, vntill his Maiestie by aduice of the next Conuocation shall pre­scribe some further punishment.

The Lord Archbishop of Canterburie his Letters to the Bishop of the Diocesse of Norwich.

MY very good L.

I doubt not but before this time, you baue receiued from me the Directions of His most excellent Maiesty concerning Preaching and Preachers, which are so graciously set downe, that no godly or discreet man, can otherwise then acknowledge, that they doe much tend to edification, if he doe not take them vpon report, but do pun­ctually consider the tenor of the words as they lie; and doe not giue an ill construction to that, which may receiue a fairer interpretation. Notwith­standing, because some fewe Churchmen, and many of the People haue si­nisterly conceiued (as we doe here find) that those Instructions doe tend to the restraint of the Exercise of Preaching, and doe in some sort abate the number of Sermons, and so consequently by degrees, doe make a breach to let in Ignorance and Superstition: His Maiestie in his Princely wis­dome hath thought fit, that I should aduertise your Lordship of the graue and waighty reasons which induce His Highnesse to prescribe that which is done. You are therefore to know, That His Maiestie being much trou­bled, and grieued at the heart, to heare euery day of so many defections from our Religion, both to Poperie and Anabaptisme, or other points of Separation in some parts of this Kingdome, and considering with much admiration, what might be the cause thereof, especially in the Reigne of such a King, who doth so constantly professe himselfe an open Aduersary to the superstition of the one, and madnesse of the other: His Princely wis­dome could fall vpon no one greater probabilitie, then the lightnes, affe­ctednes, and vnprofit ablenesse of that kind of Preaching, which hath been of late yeares too much taken vp in Court, Vniuersitie, Citie, and Coun­trey. The vsuall scope of very many Preachers, is noted to bee a soaring vp in points of Diuinitie, too high for the capacities of the people, or a mustering of much reading, or displaying of their wit, or an ignorant med­ling with Ciuill matters, aswell in the priuate of seuerall Parishes & Cor­porations, as in the publike of the Kingdome: or a venting of their owne distastes, or a smoothing vp of those idle fancies, which in this blessed time of so long a peace, doe boyle in the braines of vnaduised people. And last­ly, [Page 5] by an euill and vndecent rayling, not onely against the Doctrine (which when the Text shall occasion the same, is not onely approoued, but much commended by his Maiestie) but against the persons of Papists and Puri­tanes. Now the people bred vp with this kind of teaching, and neuer in­structed in the Catechisme and Fundamentall points of Religion, are for all this aiery nourishment, no better then abrasae tabulae, new Table-books, ready to be filled vp either with the Manuals or Catechismes of Popish Priests, or papers and pamphlets of Anabaptists, Brownists, and Puritanes. His Maiestie euer calling to mind that saying of Tertullian, Id verum quod primum, and remembring with what doctrine the Church of Eng­land in her first and most happy reformation, did driue out the one, and kept out the other from poisoning and infecting the people of this Kingdome, did find that the whole scope of this Doctrine is contained in the Articles of Religion, the two Bookes of Homilies, the lesse and the greater Cate­chisme, which his Maiestie doth therefore recommend againe in these Di­rections, as the proper subiect of all sound and edifying Preaching. And so farre are these Directions from abating, that his Maiestie doth expect from our hands, that it should encrease the number of Sermons, by renew­ing vpon euery Sunday in the afternoone in all Parish Churches through­out the Kingdome, the primitiue and most profitable exposition of the Ca­techisme, wherewith the people, yea very children may be timely seasoned & instructed in all the heads of Christian Religion. Which kind of teaching (to our amendment be it spoken) is more diligently obserued in all the re­formed Churches of Europe, then of late it hath bin here in England. I find his Maiesty much moued with this neglect; & resolued, that if wee which are his Bishops do not see a reformation hereof (which I trust wee shall) to recommend it to the care of the Ciuill Magistrate, so far is he from giuing the least discouragement to solid Preaching, and Religious Preachers.

To all these I am to adde, that it is his Maiesties Princely pleasure, that both the former Directions, and these reasons of the same, bee fairely written in euery Registers Office. To that ende, that euery Preacher of what denomination soeuer, may if he be pleased take out Copies of either of them with his owne hand gratis, paying nothing in the name of Fee, or Expedition. But if he doe vse the paines of the Register his Clerks, then to pay some moderate Fees, to be pronounced in open Court by the Chan­cellor and Commissaries of the place, taking the direction and approbation of any the Lords the Bishops.

Lastly, that from henceforth a course may be taken, that euery Parson, Vicar, or Curate, or Lecturer, doe make exhibite of these his Maiesties [Page 6] directions and reasons of the same, in[?] the next ensuing Visitation of the Bishops and Archdeacons, paying to the Register by way[?] of Fee two pence onely at the time of the exhibite.

And so wishing, and in his Maiesties Name requiring your Lordsh. to haue a speciall[?] and extraordinarie care of the pr [...] ▪ I leave you to the Almightie.

Your louing Brother, G. Cant.

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