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İfir be asked, by what Rule we shall know, what those Doctrins are, which we profess our Approbation and Belief of, by subscribing the Thirty fifth
Article concerning the Homilies; I answer, that our Subscription does undoubtedly extend to all the Doctrins contain'd in every one of those Homilies, which our Subscription includes: and that we must judge which are the Doctrins in each Homily, after
the same manner, as we judge with respect to other Writings. Now by the Doctrins Writing we constantly mean those Points which the Author laies down, and fets about the Proof of, giving his Judgment and Determination concerning them. Thus we are understood, when we fay, that such a Book contains found Do&rin. We are not supposed to declare, that every Argument therein urged is in our Opinion valid, that every Proposition in the declamatory Part is strictly true, that every Illustration is exa&ly just and home; these, I say, and the like Particulars are by no means implied in our saying, that the Book contains found Do&rin : but our saying so signifies thus much (and no more) viz. that those Propofitions, which the Author attempts to establish and convince his Reader of, by such Arguments as he produces and offers for that Purpose; that those Propositions, I say, which he delivers dogmatically (to use Dr. Burges's Expression in the Interpretation above recited) are really true: tho' perhaps at the same time diverse Mediums for the Confirmation of them, diverse occasional Assertions, and the like, may justly be excepred against. The Application of this Rúle to our Homilies is so very easy, that no Man of common Sense can mistake it ; and therefore I shall not wast Words upon it.
Besides, it must be observ'd, that our Church, at the same time that she obliges her Clergy to subscribe this Article, wherein 'tis declared, that the Homilies do contain good and wholsom Do. crin, and neceffary for the Times they were writ in ; permits such of her Clergy as are duly qualified, to preach their own Sermons, and consequentIy she leaves them intirely at liberty, whether they will ever read any of the Homilies. From whence it follows, that by the Doctrin of the Homilies she does not understand those very Forms of Words, those very Arguments for the Establishment of para ticular Tenets, those very illustrations of Matter's asserted and maintained, &c. which the Books, of Homilies exhibit to us; but only those Points, which she allows her Clergy to deliver in their own Words, to establish by such Arguments as they like best, to illustrate as their own Judgments lead them, &c. Otherwise the very Forms of the Homilies would be declared necessary to be used, even by those that never were esteem'd to lie under any Obligation to use them. Whereas, if by the Doctrin of the Homilies we understand, as the Church manifestly did and does, those grand Propositions which she would have the People convinced of; there is no doubt, but those who agree in the Truths themselves, do preach the same Doctrin that was necessary for those Times, whether they read the Homilies, or pronounce Discourses of their own composing, infinitely diverse from each other, as the Sermons of numberless Preachers must, with respect to Form, of necessity be.
I might confirm what I have been saying, by an Historical Account of the bad Use that has been made of the Authority of the Homilies. But I am unwilling to relate such melancholy Particulars.
The Truth is; 'ris a common Practice for Men to catch at every Expression in the Homilies, which they think favorable to their own private Notions; and thereby to drag the Church into the Controversy, merely to cast an Odium upon their Adverfaries, as Apoftates from what they have subscribed. And yet the very same Persons, when they are pressed upon other Heads, with Arguments drawn in the very same Manner, from the very fame Homilies, have the Face to interpret their Subscription to the Thirty fifth Article exactly as I have done, tho' that Interpretation deftroys the Force of their own Reasonings in behalf of their beloved Tenets. It certainly becomes good Christians always to argue fairly, and not to triumph in an Authority, which, as they manage it, is as often against them, as for them. We are ready enough on all sides to receive the true Interpretation of our Subscription with respect to the Homilies, when the false one leads us into insuperable Difficulties : and therefore we ought not to press a false Interpretation upon any sort of Adversaries, when the true one does not affect them. Let us take due Care to state, what we mean by the Church's Doctrins, in such a Manner, as shall be equally reasonable, and readily acknowledged, in all Instances whatsoever; and then, as we shall not be guilty of using diverse Weights and Measures ; so, I dare say, we shall agree in what our Church teaches, much better than our contending Parties seem to imagin.
To evince the Truth of which Assertion, I shall take the Liberty of quoting and comparing the Words of Two eminent Prelates, whose Judgment has been in many Cases, almost implicitly) followed by vast numbers of Admirers.
he replies, wer was, Firit; ly worded,
Arch-Bishop Laud was Bishop Burnet, in his charged at his Tryal (a. Exposition of the Thirty mongst other Particulars) fifch Article, which is with thwarting the Do- intituled Of Homilies, &rin of the Homilies, faies, .. which are confirmed in, By this Approbation of the the Thirty fifth Article; Two Books of Homilies it is upon the account of his not meant that every Pasage countenancing Images in of Scripture, or Argument Churches, &c. To this that is made use of in them,
is always convincing, or that i My Answer was, First, every Expresion is to severeThat though we Subscribed ly worded, that it may not generally to the Doctrine of need a little Correction or the Homilies, as good; yet Explanation. All that we we did not express, or mean profefs about them, is only thereby to justifie and main- that they contain a godly tain every particular Phrase and wholesom Doctrine. or Sentence contained in This rather relates to the them. And Secondly, That main Importance and Design the very Words of the Artic of them, than to every Pala cle to which we subscribe, sage in them.----------This Are, Thac the Homilies Approbation is not to be do contain a godly and stretched so far, as to carry a wholesom Doctrine, in it a special Allent to every and necessary for those Particular in that whole Vos Times. Godly, and whole- lume; but a man must be fom for all Times; but ne- persuaded of the main of the ceffary for those, when Peo- Doctrine that is taught in ple were newly weaned from them.---------By necessary the Worship of Images : Af- for these Times, is not to terwards, neither the Dan be meant, that this was a ger, nor ihe Scandal alike. Book fit to serve a Turn; Mr. Brown in his Reply. but only that this Book was fiid, Thar since the Do- necell.iry at that Time, to ctrine contained in the instruct the Nation uright,
Homiles was wholesom and so was of great use then. and good, it must needs ' But though the Doctrine in be necessary also for all it, if once true, must be alTimes. But this worthy ways true, yet it will not be Gentleman is herein much. always of the same Necesity mistaken. Strong Meat, as to the People
. p. 375, 376, well Spiritual as Bodily, is good and wholesom; but tho' it be to, yet if it had been necessary at all Times, and for all Men, the Apostle would never bave fed the Corinthians with Milk, and not with Meat : The
is tili ,
I will add, that the Author of The Hereditary Right of the Crown of England asserted, having confuted di. verse Mistakes in the Homily against Rebellion, excuses himself by saying, p. 63. If any should be offended with the Liberty bere taken with the Humily, I must again assure my Reader, it proceeds not from the least Disa affe&tion to the Composers, much less to the Doctrine of it, which is the only thing we are oblig'd to maintain ; not the Arguments made use of to prove it.
I need not observe, that Arch-Bishop Laud, Bishop Burnet, the aforesaid Author, and my self, do exactly agree in our Sense of what this Article faies touching the Homilies.
I know of no Difficulty that remains, except it should be imagin'd, that those who subscribe the Thirty fifth Article in this Sense, can't honestly