231. FURTHER RELIGIOUS REFORMS UNDER KING EDWARD
Thus then, leaving Dr. Bonner awhile in the Marshalsea with his keeper, we will proceed (the Lord permitting) further in the course of our story, as the order of years and time requireth. And although the trouble of the lord protector falleth here jointly with the deprivation of Dr. Bonner, yet, because he was shortly again delivered out of the same through the Lord's mighty working, I will therefore delay the tractation thereof, till the time of his second trouble, which was two years after; and so, in the mean time returning again into our discourse, intend, by the Lord's leave, to collect and continue the matters begun, touching the king's godly proceedings for reformation of religion in the aforesaid year of our Lord concurring -- the year 1549.
And here first a note would be made of Peter Martyr and of his learned travails and disputation in the university of Oxford the said present year with Dr. Chedsey and others, about the matter of the sacrament; which was, that the substance of bread and wine was not changed in the sacrament, and that the body and blood of Christ were not carnally and bodily in the bread and wine, but united to the same sacramentally.
In like manner, some touch or mention here also would be made of the ecclesiastical laws, for the gathering and compiling whereof thirty-two persons were assigned by act of parliament the said present year, 1549. But because these be rather matters of tractation, than historical, I mean (God willing) to defer the further consideration thereof unto the end of the history of this king's days, and so to pass forward to other matters in the mean while.
Books in the Latin service abolished.T followeth now in the story, that certain of the vulgar multitude hearing of the apprehension of the lord protector, and supposing the alteration of the public service into English, and administration of the sacrament and other rites lately appointed in the church, had been the act, chiefly or only, of the said lord protector, began upon the same to noise and bruit abroad, that they should now have their old Latin service, with holy bread and holy water, and their other like superstitious ceremonies again: whereupon the king, with the body and state of the privy council then being, directed out his letters of request and strait commandment to the bishops, in their dioceses, touching the same, in form and manner as followeth.
A certain precept or decree of King Edmard, directed to the bishops in their dioceses, for the abolishing of books of the Latin service, and of certain other ceremonies.
"Right reverend father in God, right truly and well-beloved, we greet you well. And whereas the book, entitled The Book of Common Prayers and Administration of the Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, after the use of the Church of England, was agreed upon and set forth by act of parliament, and by the same act commanded to be used of all persons within this our realm, yet, nevertheless, we are informed that divers unquiet and evil-disposed persons, since the apprehension of the duke of Somerset, have noised and bruited abroad, that they should have again their old Latin service, their conjured bread and water, with such-like vain and superstitious ceremonies, as though the setting-forth of the said book had been the only act of the aforenamed duke: We, therefore, by the advice of the body and state of our privy council, not only considering the said book to be our own act, and the act of the whole state of our realm assembled together in the parliament, but also the same to be grounded upon Holy Scripture, agreeable to the order of the primitive church, and mush to the edifying of our subjects,-- to put away all such vain expectation of having the public service, the administration of the sacraments and other rites and ceremonies, again in the Latin tongue (which were but a preferring of ignorance to knowledge, and darkness to light, and a preparation to bring in papistry and superstition again)-- have thought good, by the advice aforesaid, to require and nevertheless straitly command and charge you, that ye, immediately upon the receipt hereof, do command the dean and prebendaries of your cathedral church, the parson, vicar, or curate, and churchwardens of every parish within your diocese, to bring and deliver to you, or your deputy, every of them, for their church and parish, at such convenient place as ye shall appoint, all antiphoners, missals, grails, processionals, manuals, legends, pixes, portueses, journals, and ordinals, after the use of Sarum, Lincoln, York, Bangor, Hereford, or any other private use; and all other books of service, the keeping whereof should be let to the using of the said Book of Common Prayers; and that ye take the same books into your hands, or into the hands of your deputy, and them so deface and abolish, that they never after may serve, either to any such use as they were first provided for, or be at any time a let to that godly and uniform order, which, by a consent, is now set forth. And if ye shall find any person stubborn or disobedient in not bringing in the said books, according to the tenor of these our letters, that then you commit the same person to ward, to such time as ye have certified us of his misbehaviour: and we will and command you, that ye also search, or cause such search to be made, from time to time, whether any books be withdrawn or hid, contrary to the tenor of these our letters; and the same books to receive into your hands, and to use, as in these our letters we have appointed.
"And furthermore, whereas it is come to our knowledge, that divers froward and obstinate persons do refuse to pay toward the finding of bread and wine for the holy communion, according to order prescribed in the said book, by reason whereof the holy communion is many times omitted upon the Sunday: these are to will and command you, to convent such obstinate persons before you, and them to admonish and command to keep the order prescribed in the same book. And if any shall refuse so to do, punish them by suspension, excommunication, or other censures of the church. Fail ye not thus to do, as ye will avoid our displeasure.
"Given under our signet, at our palace of Westminster, the 25th of December, the third year of our reign.
R. Rich, Cancel.,
W. Saint John,
Whereby it may appear to us now, that no wafer-cakes, but common bread, was then, by the king's appointment, ordinarily received and used in churches. This was about the latter end of December, A.D. 1549.
Taking down of altars, and setting up the table instead thereof.
Furthermore, in the year next following, (1550,) other letters, likewise, were sent for the taking down of altars in churches, and setting up the table instead of the same, unto Nicholas Ridley, who, being bishop of Rochester before, was then made bishop of London, in Bonner's place. The copy and contents of the king's letters are these, as follow.
The king's letter to Nicholas Ridley, bishop of London, &c.
"Right reverend father in God, right trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well. And where it is come to our knowledge, that the altars within the most part of the churches of this realm being already upon good and godly considerations taken down, there do yet remain altars standing in divers other churches, by occasion whereof much variance and contention ariseth among sundry of our subjects, which, if good foresight were not had, might perchance engender great hurt and inconvenience; we let you wit, that, minding to have all occasion of contention taken away, which many times groweth by those and such-like diversities, and considering that amongst other things belonging to our royal office and cure, we do account the greatest to be, to maintain the common quiet of our realm; we have thought good, by the advice of our council, to require you, and nevertheless especially to charge and command you, for the avoiding of all matters of further contention and strife about the standing or taking away of the said altars, to give substantial order throughout all your diocese, that, with all diligence, all the altars in every church or chapel, as well in places exempted as not exempted, within your said diocese, be taken down; and instead thereof, a table be set up in some convenient part of the chancel, within every such church or chapel, to serve for the ministration of the blessed communion. And, to the intent the same may be done without the offence of such our loving subjects as be not yet so well persuaded in that behalf as we would wish, we send unto you herewith certain considerations gathered and collected, that make for the purpose; the which, and such other as you shall think meet to be set forth to persuade the weak to embrace our proceedings in this part, we pray you cause to be declared to the people by some discreet preachers, in such places as you shall think meet, before the taking-down of the said altars; so as both the weak consciences of others may be instructed and satisfied as much as may be, and this our pleasure the more quietly executed. For the better doing whereof, we require you to open the aforesaid considerations in that our cathedral church in your own person, if you conveniently may, or otherwise, by your chancellor, or some other grave preacher, both there and in such other market towns, and most notable places of your diocese, as you may think most requisite.
"Given under our signet, at our palace of Westminster, the twenty-fourth day of November, the fourth year of our reign.
Reasons why the Lord's board should rather be after the form of a table, than of an altar.
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth, Rom. i. 16.
"Certain reasons why the reverend father, Nicholas, bishop of London, amongst other his injunctions given in his late visitation, did exhort those churches in his diocese, where the altars, as then, did remain, to conform themselves to those other churches which had taken them down, and had set up, instead of the multitude of their altars, one decent table in every church. And that herein he did not only not any thing contrary unto the Book of Common Prayer, or to the king's Majesty's proceedings, but that he was induced to do the same, partly moved by his office and duty, wherewith he is charged in the same book, and partly, for the advancement and sincere setting-forward of God's holy word, and the king's Majesty's most godly proceedings.
"First Reason.-- The form of a table shall more move the simple from the superstitious opinions of the popish mass, unto the right use of the Lord's supper. For the use of an altar is to make sacrify upon it; the use of a table is to serve for men to eat upon. Now, when we come unto the Lord's board, what do we come for? to sacrifice Christ again, and to crucify him again, or to feed upon him, that was once only crucified and offered up for us? If we come to feed upon him, spiritually to eat his body, and spiritually drink his blood, (which is the true use of the Lord's supper,) then no man can deny but the form of a table is more meet for the Lord's board, than the form of an altar.
"Second Reason.-- Whereas it is said, 'The Book of Common Prayer maketh mention of an altar; wherefore, it is not lawful to abolish that which the book alloweth:' to this it is thus answered: The Book of Common Prayer calleth the thing whereupon the Lord's supper is ministered, indifferently a table, an altar, or the Lord's board; without prescription of any form thereof, either of a table or of an altar: so that whether the Lord's board have the form of an altar, or of a table, the Book of Common Prayer calleth it both an altar and a table. For, as it calleth it an altar, whereupon the Lord's supper is ministered, a table, and the Lord's board, so it calleth the table, where the holy communion is distributed with lauds and thanksgiving unto the Lord, an altar, for that there is offered the same sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. And thus it appeareth, that here is nothing neither said nor meant contrary to the Book of Common Prayer.
"Third Reason.-- The popish opinion of mass was, that it might not be celebrated but upon an altar, or at the least upon a super-altar, to supply the fault of the altar, which must have had its prints and characters; or else it was thought that the thing was not lawfully done. But this superstitious opinion is more holden in the minds of the simple and ignorant by the form of an altar, than of a table; wherefore it is more meet, for the abolishment of this superstitious opinion, to have the Lord's board after the form of a table, than of an altar.
"Fourth Reason.-- The form of an altar was ordained for the sacrifices of the law, and therefore the altar in Greek is called ζυσιαστηριον [Zysiasterion]. But now both the law and the sacrifices thereof do cease: wherefore the form of the altar used in the altar ought to cease withal.
"Fifth Reason.-- Christ did institute the sacrament of his body and blood at his last supper, at a table, and not at an altar; as it appeareth manifestly by the three evangelists. And St. Paul calleth the coming to the holy communion, the coming unto the Lord's supper. And also it is not read that any of the apostles or the primitive church did ever use any altar in ministration of the holy communion.
"Wherefore, seeing the form of a table is more agreeable to Christ's institution, and with the usage of the apostles, and of the primitive church, than the form of an altar, therefore the form of a table is rather to be used, than the form of an altar, in the administration of the holy communion.
"Sixth and last Reason.-- It is said in the Preface of the Book of Common Prayer, that if any doubt do arise in the use and practising of the same book, to appease all such diversity, the matter shall be referred unto the bishop of the diocese, who, by his discretion, shall take order for the quieting and appeasing of the same, so that the same order be not contrary unto any thing contained in that book."
After these letters and reasons received, the forenamed Nicholas Ridley, bishop of London, consequently upon the same did hold his visitation, wherein, amongst other his injunctions, the said bishop exhorted those churches in his diocese, where the altars did then remain, to conform themselves unto those other churches which had taken them down, and had set up, instead of the multitude of their altars, one decent table in every church. Upon the occasion whereof there arose a great diversity about the form of the Lord's board, some using it after the form of a table, and some of an altar. Wherein when the said bishop was required to say and determine what was most meet, he declared he could do no less of his bounden duty, for the appeasing of such diversity, and to procure one godly uniformity, but to exhort all his diocese unto that which he thought did best agree with Scripture, with the usage of the apostles, and with the primitive church, and to that which is not only not contrary unto any thing contained in the Book of Common Prayer, (as is before proved,) but also might highly further the king's most godly proceedings in abolishing of divers vain and superstitious opinions of the popish mass out of the hearts of the simple, and to bring them to the right use, taught by Holy Scripture, of the Lord's supper. And so appointed he the form of a right table to be used in his diocese, and, in the church of Paul, brake down the wall standing then by the high altar's side.