Directions to Preachers, 1622

[The king to the archbishop of Canterbury, 4 August 1622.]

Most Reverend Father in God, right trusty and entirely beloved counsellor, we greet you well.

Forasmuch as the abuses and extravagances of preachers in the pulpit have been in all times suppressed in this realm by some act of council or state with the advice and resolution of grave and learned prelates,. . . and whereas at this present divers young students, by reading of late writers and ungrounded divines, do broach many times unprofitable, unsound, seditious and dangerous doctrines, to the scandal of the Church and disquiet of the State and present govemment, we upon humble representation unto us of these inconveniences by yourself and sundry other grave and learned prelates of this Church, as also of our princely care and zeal for the extirpation of schism and dissension growing from these seeds, and for the settling of a religious and peace able government both in Church and Commonwealth, do by these our special letters straitly charge and command you to use all possible care and diligence that these limitations and cautions herewith sent unto you concerning preachers be duly and strictly from henceforth put in practice and observed by the several bishops within your jurisdiction.

And to this end our pleasure is, that you send them forthwith copies of these directions, to be speedily sent and communicated unto every parson, vicar, curate, lecturer and minister, in every cathedral or parish church within their several dioceses; and that you do earnestly require them to employ their utmost endeavours in the performance of this so important a business, letting them know that we have a special eye unto their proceedings and expect a strict account thereof, both from you and every of them. And these our letters shall be your sufficient warrant and discharge in that behalf..

[Directions enclosed.]

I. That no preacher under the degree and calling of a bishop or dean of a cathedral or collegiate church (and they upon the King's days and set festivals) do take occasion, by the expounding of any text of scrip ture whatsoever, to fall into any set discourse or common place [se. theme], otherwise than by opening the coherence and division of the text, which shall not be comprehended and warranted, in essence, substance, effect or natural inference, within some one of the Articles of Religion. . ., or in some of the homilies set forth by authority of Church of England not only for a help for the nonpreaching but wi for a pattern and boundary (as it were) for the preaching ministers

IL That no parson, vicar, curate or lecturer shall preach any sermon or collation hereafter upon Sundays and holy days in the afternoon in any cathedral or parish church throughout the kingdom but upon some part of the Catechism or some text taken out of the Creed, Ten Commandments, or the Lord's Prayer (funeral sermons only excepted)..

III. That no preacher of what title soever under the degree of bishop or dean at the least, do from henceforth presume to preach in popular auditory the deep points of predestination, election, reprc tion, or of the universality, efficacy, resistibility or irrestibility, of G grace; but leave those themes rather to be handled by the learned Drs and that moderately and modestly by way of use and application rather than by way of positive doctrines, being fitter for the schools [and] universities than for simple auditories.

IV. That no preacher, of what title or denomination soever, from henceforth shall presume in any auditory within this kingdom declare, limit, or bound out, by way of positive doctrine, in any lecture or sermon the power, prerogative, and jurisdiction, authority, or d[omain] of sovereign princes, or otherwise meddle with these matters of ... and the differences betwixt princes and the people....

V. That no preacher, of what title or denomination soever, shall presume causelessly (and without invitation from the text) to fall into bitter invectives and indecent railing speeches against the person either Papists or Puritans, but modestly and gravely (when they occasioned thereunto by the text of Scripture), free both the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England from the aspersions of ... adversary, especially where the auditory is suspected to be tainted the one or the other infection.

VI. Lastly, that the archbishops and bishops of the kingdom (which his Majesty hath good cause to blame for their former remissness) more wary and choice in licensing of preachers,...and that all Lecturers throughout the kingdom of England (a new body severed from the ancient clergy, as being neither parsons, vicars, nor curates) licensed henceforward in the Court of Faculties only by recommendation of the party from the bishop of the diocese under his hand and seal; with a [licence] from the lord archbishop of Canterbury, and a confirmation under the Great Seal of England....