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§ 78. The Doctrinal Formulas of Henry VIII.


The first doctrinal deliverance of the Church of England after the rupture with Rome is contained in the Ten Articles of 1536, devised by Henry VIII. (who styles himself in the preface 'by the grace of God king of England and of France, defender of the faith, lord of Ireland, and in earth supreme head of the Church of England'), and approved by convocation.11621162   First printed by Thomas Berthelet, under the title 'Articles | devised by the Kinges Highnes Majestie, | to stablyshe Christen quietnes and unitie | amonge us, | and | to avoyde contentious opinions, | which articles be also approved | by the consent and determination of the hole | clergie of this realme. | Anno M.D.XXXVI.' They are given by Fuller, Burnet, (Addenda), Collier, and Hardwick (Appendix I). In the Cotton MS. the title is, 'Articles about Religion, set out by the Convocation, and published by the King's authority.' It is impossible to determine how far the Articles are the product of the king (who in his own conceit was fully equal to any task in theology as well as Church government), and how far the product of his bishops and other clergy. See Hardwick, pp. 40 sqq. They are essentially Romish, with the Pope left out in the cold. They can not even be called a compromise between the advocates of the 'old learning,' headed by Gardiner (Bishop of Winchester from 1531), and of the 'new learning,' headed by Cranmer (Archbishop of Canterbury from March, 1533). Their chief object, according to the preface, was to secure by royal authority unity and concord in religious opinions, and to 'repress' and 'utterly extinguish' all dissent and discord touching the same. They were, in the language of Foxe, intended for 'weaklings newly weaned from their mother's milk of Rome.' They assert (1) the binding authority of the Bible, the three œcumenical creeds, and the first four œcumenical councils; (2) the necessity of baptism for salvation, even in the case of infants;11631163   Art. II. says that 'infants ought to be baptized;' that, dying in infancy, they 'shall undoubtedly be saved thereby, and else not;' that the opinions of Anabaptists and Pelagians are 'detestable heresies, and utterly to be condemned.' (3) the sacrament of penance, with confession and absolution, which are declared 'expedient and necessary;' (4) the substantial, 612real, corporal presence of Christ's body and blood under the form of bread and wine in the eucharist; (5) justification by faith, joined with charity and obedience; (6) the use of images in churches; (7) the honoring of saints and the Virgin Mary; (8) the invocation of saints; (9) the observance of various rites and ceremonies as good and laudable, such as clerical vestments, sprinkling of holy water, bearing of candles on Candlemas-day, giving of ashes on Ash-Wednesday; (10) the doctrine of purgatory, and prayers for the dead in purgatory.

THE BISHOPS' BOOK AND THE KING'S BOOK.11641164   Printed in Formularies of Faith put forth by Authority during the Reign of Henry VIII. Oxford, 1825.

These Articles were virtually, though not legally, superseded by the 'Bishops' Book,' or the 'Institution of a Christian Man,' drawn up by a Committee of Prelates, 1537, but never sanctioned by the king. It contains an Exposition of the Creed, the Seven Sacraments, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Ave Maria, and a discussion of the disputed doctrines of justification and purgatory, and the human origin of the papacy. It marks a little progress, which must be traced to the influence of Cranmer and Ridley, but it was superseded by a reactionary revision called the 'King's Book,' or the 'Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christian Man,' sanctioned by Convocation, and set forth by royal mandate in 1543, when Gardiner and the Romish party were in the ascendant.


During the negotiations with the Lutheran divines (1535–1538), held partly at Wittenberg, partly at Lambeth, an agreement consisting of Thirteen Articles was drawn up in Latin, at London, in the summer of 1538, which did not receive the sanction of the king, but was made use of in the following reign as a basis of several of the Forty-two Articles. They have been recently discovered in their collected form, by Dr. Jenkyns, among the manuscripts of Archbishop Cranmer in the State Paper Office.11651165   They are printed in Jenkyns's Remains of Cranmer (1833), Vol. IV. pp. 273 sqq.; in Cox's (Parker Soc.) edition of Cranmer's Works (1846), Vol. II. pp. 472–480; and in Hardwick's History of the Articles, Append. II. pp. 261–273. Six of these thirteen Articles were previously published by Strype and Burnet, but with a false date (1540) and considerable variations. They treat of the Divine Unity 613and Trinity, Original Sin, the Two Natures of Christ, Justification, the Church, Baptism, the Eucharist, Penitence, the Use of the Sacraments, the Ministers of the Church, Ecclesiastical Rites, Civil Affairs, the Resurrection and Final Judgment. They are based upon the Augsburg Confession, some passages being almost literally copied from the same.11661166   See the comparison in Hardwick, pp. 62 sqq.


The Thirteen Articles remained a dead letter in the reign of Henry. He broke off all connection with the Lutherans, and issued in 1539, under the influence of Gardiner and the Romish party, and in spite of the protest of Cranmer, the monstrous statute of the Six Articles, ' for the abolishing of Diversity of Opinions.' They are justly called the 'bloody' Articles, and a 'whip with six strings.' They bore severely not only upon the views of the Anabaptists and all radical Protestants, who in derision were called 'Gospellers,' but also upon the previous negotiations with the Lutherans. After the burning of some Dissenters the Articles were somewhat checked in their operation, but remained legally in force till the death of the king, who grew more and more despotic, and prohibited (in 1542) Tyndale's 'false translation' of the Bible, and even the reading of the New Testament in English to all women, artificers, laborers, and husbandmen.

The Six Articles imposed upon all Englishmen a belief (1) in transubstantiation, (2) the needlessness of communion in both kinds, (3) in clerical celibacy, (4) the obligation of vows of chastity or widowhood, (5) the necessity of private masses, (6) auricular confession. Here we have some of the most obnoxious features of Romanism. Whoever denied transubstantiation was to be burned at the stake; dissent from any of the other Articles was to be punished by imprisonment, confiscation of goods, or death, according to the degree of guilt.

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