Brooks - BX9338 .B7 1813 v1

INTRODUCTION. 3 On June 9, 1536, assembled the first reformed convoca- tion in England ; in which Lord Cromwell, prime secre- tary, sat in state above the bishops, as the king's vicegerent in all spiritual matters.. On this occasion, Cromwell, by order of the king, declared, " That it was his majesty's pleasure, that the rites and ceremonies of the church should be reformedby the RULES OF SCRIPTURE, and that nothing should be maintained which didnot rest on that authority ; for it was absurd, since the scriptures were acknowledged to contain the laws of religion, that recourse should be had to glosses or the decrees of popes, rather than to them."+ Happy had it been, if the reformers of the church of England had invariably adhered to this sacred principle. Much, however, was done even at this early period. The pious reformers rejoiced to see the holy scriptures professedly made the only standard of faith and worship, to the exclusion of all human traditions. The immediate worship of images and saints was now renounced, and purgatory declared uncertain. But the corporeal pre- sence in the sacrament, the preservation and reverence of image, with the necessity of auricular confession, were still retained.t 'The publication of Tindal and Coverdale's Translations of the Bible, greatly promoted the work of reformation ; though it soon received a powerful check by the passing of the terrible and -bloody act of the Six Articles. By this act, all who spoke against transubstan- tiation were to be burnt as heretics, and suffer the loss of all their lands and goods ; and to defend the communion in both kinds, or the marriage ofpriests ; or, to speak against the necessity of private mass, and auricular confession, was made felony, with the forfeiture of lands and goods.§ Towards the close of this king's reign, the popish party obtained the ascendancy ; the severity of persecution was revived ; and the Romish superstitions greatly prevailed. Till now, these superstitions had never been denominated laudable ceremonies, necessary rites, and godly constitu- tions. All who refused to observe them, were condemned as traitors against the king. To make the standing of the persecuting prelates more secure, and their severities the more effectual, this was ratified by act of parliament.11 Many excellent persons were, therefore, condemned to the flames : among whom were the famous Mr. Thomas Bilney, Fuller's Church Hist. b. v. p. 207. + Burnet's Hist. of Refor. vol. i. p. 214. t Ibid. p. 218. Strype's Cramer, p. 72. l Ibid. p. 130.