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TO TRIS FIRST
From the thirty-nine Articles of Religion of the Protestant
Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
“The second Book of Homilies, the several titles whereof We have joined under this Article, doth contain a godly and wholesome Doctrine, and necessary for these Times, as doth the former Book of Homilies, which were set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth ; and therefore we judge them to be read in Churches by the Ministers diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded of the People.
Of the Names of the Homilies.
1. Of the right Use of the Church.
ministered in a knoton Tongue.
10. Of the rederent Estimation of God's Word.
Body and Blood of Christ.
“[This Article is received in this Church, so far as it declares the books of Homilies to be an explication of Chris. tian doctrine, and instructive in piety and morals. But all references to the constitution and laws of England are considered as inapplicable to the circumstances of this Church, which also suspends the order for the reading of said Homilies in Churches until a revision of them may be conveniently made, for the clearing of them, as well from obsolete words and phrases, as from the local references.]”
From the Journal of the House of Bishops, in General
Convention of the same Church, on the 20th day of May, 1814.
« The House of Bishops, taking into consideration, that the two Books of Homilies are referred to in the 35th Article of this Church, as containing a body of sound Christian doctrine; and knowing, by their respective experience, the soarcity of the volume, rendering it difficult for some can. didates in the ministry to possess opportunities of studying
its contents, propose to the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies, to make it a standing instruction to every Bishop, and to the Ecclesiastical Authority in every State destitute of a Bishop, to be furnished (as soon as may be) with a copy, or copies, of said work, and to require it to be studied by all candidates for the ministry within their respective bounds: under the expectation, that when offering for ordination, the knowledge of its contents will be indispensar bly required."
In consideration of the above documents, and for the barrying of the design of the letter of them into effect, the Editor is encouraged to present to the public this first American Edition of the Homilies of the Church of England. Although in the recognition of them by the Episcopal Church, there is an exception of whatever is peculiar to the circumstances of a foreign country; and although the obsolete words and phrases are a considerable discouragement to the reading of these compositions in churches, agreeably to their original design; yet will they be found exceedingly edifying to the members of the Episcopal Church in general, on the grounds intimated in the Rote to the preceding article, their being an explication of Christian doctrine, and instructive in piety and morals." The Clergy have a more important interest in the publication; the contents of it being referred to in the promise, which they subscribe at their ordination.
The extent in which the Homilies are to be considered as pledging the subscriber of them relatively to doctrine, is well expressed by Bishop Burnet, as follows:
« lo these Homilies the Scriptures are often applied as they were then understood; not so critically as they have been explained since that time. But by this approbation of the two Books of Homilies, it is not meant that every passage of Scripture, or argument that is made use of in them, is always convincing, or that every expression is so severely worded, that it may not need a little correction or explanation: All that we profess about them, is only that they 66 contain a godly and wholesome doctrine." This rather relates to the main importance and design of them, than to wery passage in them. Though this may be said concerning them, that considering the age they were written in, the imperfection of our language, and some lesser defects, they are two very extraordinary Books. Some of them are better writ than others, and are equal to any thing that has been writ upon those sobjeets since that time. Upon the whole matter, every one who subscribes the Articles, ought to read them, otherwise he subscribers a blank; be approves a book implicitly, and binds himself to read it, as he may be required, without knowing any thing concerning it. This spprobation is not to be stretched so far, as to carry in it a special assent to coery particular in that whole volume; but a man must be persuaded of the main of the doctrine that is taught in them."*
In addition to the above it should be recollected, that in estimating the Homilies as evidence of the opinions of the reformers, a difference should be regarded between the two books. The first of them was made a public document of the Church in the reign of Edward VI. The other was prepared in the same reign; but not published until about four years after the accession of Elizabeth. That they were then re-considered, and soniewhat altered, is reasonable to be supposed; and indeed there is internal evidence of the fact.
• Bishop Burnet on the thirty-nino Articles, Article 35:
As it was published in the Year 1562.
CONSIDERING how necessary it is, that the Word
of God, which is the only food of the soul, and that most excellent light that we must walk by, in this our most dangerous pilgrimage, should at all convenient times be preached unto the people, that thereby they may both learn their duty towards God, their Prince, and their neighbours, according to the mind of the Holy Ghost, expressed in the Scriptures, and also to avoid the manifold enormities which heretofore by false doctrine have crept into the Church of God; and how that all they which are appointed Ministers have not the gift of preaching sufficiently to instruct the people, which is committed unto them, whereof great inconveniences might rise, and ignorance still be maintained, if some honest remedy be not speedily found and provided : the Queen's most excellent Majesty, tendering the souls health of her loving subjects, and the quieting of their conscience in the chief and principal points of Christian religion, and willing also by the true setting forth and pure declaring of God's Word, which is the principal guide and leader unto all godliness and virtue, to expel and drive away as well corrupt, vicious, and un.