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ACCOUNT OF THE SUBSCRIPTION TO THE THIRTY NINE ARTICLES IN THE YEAR 1604.
THE Subscription of the Convocation of the Clergy to the thirty-nine Articles of Religion, in 1604, is a most important circumstance; which, however, has been investigated with less precision than undoubtedly is due to it.
(r) "I do not find," Mr. Bennet says, in his elaborate Essay on the thirty-nine Articles, published in 1715, "that the Convocation ever had the Articles again (since 1571) before them, till the year 1604, when they subscribed them in a most solemn manner. They took a quarto copy of them, printed at London, in the year 1593, by the deputies of Christopher Barker, (which also has the controverted clause of the twentieth Article, to note that by the way,) bound up in vellum, with a quantity of paper annexed, sufficient for their purpose. And on the back side of the last page was written as follows:
'To all and singular the precedent Articles of Religion comprised in this booke, being in number
(r) Essay on the thirty-nine Articles of Religion, p. 358.
thirty-nine, Wee the Byshops and whole Cleargy of the Prouince of Canterburye assembled in the Convocation holden at London, oppon a publique readinge and deliberate consideracion of the sayed Articles the 18th of May in the yeare of our Lord God 1604, haue willingly and with one accorde consented and subscribed.'
"Then, in the same page," as Mr. Bennet adds, "are the autographal subscriptions of Bancroft, bishop of London, president of the Convocation, and eight other bishops; on the next page, those of ten other bishops; on the two following, those of deans; and on several other pages, those of archdeacons, proctors for chapters, and proctors for the clergy;" whose names, Mr. Bennet has accurately transcribed. He proceeds to state, that "on the outside of this book is written as follows: The Originall of the Articles subscribed, &c. 1562, and 1571. Subscribed againe 1604, in the beginninge of K. Jeames. And note, that these words, Subscribed againe, &c. are manifestly written by archbishop Laud's own hand. And I conclude from the sameness of colour in the ink, that the word and, and the date 1571, were also written by him. So that the book had probably been his. However, it is reported, that it was once pawned for a pot of ale at a public house, and redeemed from thence by a person of curio
sity; after whose death it came, with other books and papers, into the library of the Rev. Mr. Robert Foulkes, rector of Llanbeder and Llanywrog in Denbighshire, in North Wales, to whom I here return my humble thanks for the use of it. I must further observe, that there are in this book some corrections made with the pen, viz. in the title-page, kinges for queenes; the same in the 37th Article; his for her, ibid; our late queene, ibid. These corrections were probably previous to the subscription; though I cannot give a good reason for them. I am sure, there was no necessity of them."
This is the plain statement of Mr. Bennet; who might, however, if he had made proper investigation, have discovered a reason for these corrections, and consequently have admitted the necessity of them.
His statement gave rise to the following remark of Collins, who suffered not the record, thus described, to escape his sneers.
($) "For what purpose, or reason," he says, "this subscription was required of the clergy, it seems not easy to know; since it is to be presumed, that all the members of the Convocation
(r) Historical and Critical Essay on the thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, 1724, p. 21.
had before, on divers occasions, given their assent to, and subscribed, the Articles. All that seems remarkable in this affair is, that the book laid before them for their subscription was a quarto copy of the Articles printed in 1593, which had the controverted clause; and not a copy printed in 1571, which as coming out immediately upon the last review, should seem most authentick, and most proper to have been subscribed. From whence it seems probable, that some leading dons among them had a view to the controverted clause; and that they would not lay a copy of the Articles, printed in 1571, before the Convocation, either because there was no copy printed, in that year, with the clause in it, or because they knew of none, no more than Heylin, and Laud, and Fuller, and Burnet, did afterwards. This noble record, after having undergone various fates, and particularly of having been pawned for a pot of ale, at a publick house, is now in a library of North Wales."
Such is the reasoning, and such the imagined triumph, of the infidel Collins. But we shall see how easily a little sober enquiry will overthrow unjust imagination; and how useful it is to clear up and explain a misrepresented point of history. For a learned and liberal Catholick of our own times, relying wholly on former accounts of
this remarkable subscription, has also said, that (t) 'for some reason, which does not now appear, the Articles were confirmed, in 1604, by the Convocation of Canterbury."
It appears, that the king sent the book of Articles to the Convocation of the clergy, for the express purpose of having their approbation and their subscriptions de novo annexed to them. The alteration, therefore, of king and his, already noticed, was, no doubt, regularly and properly made in the book, before it was thus transmitted. The book was accompanied with a letter from the king; as we learn from the Journals of the Convocation. (u) "Anno. 1604. Sess. 16. May 18. The king's letter, with the Articles of 1562, to be by the Convocation approved and allowed.-The said Articles read and subscribed by both houses. And the book, so subscribed, to be kept by the bishop of London, president."-(x) "Decimo octavo die mensis Maii dominus Rex Articulos Religionis anno MDLXII. promulgatos Synodo mittit de novo ap
(t) Butler. Historical and Literary Account of the Formularies, Confessions of Faith, or Symbolic Books of the Roman Catholic, Greek, and Principal Protestant Churches. 1816. p. 73.
(u) Strype, Annals of the Reformation, book iv. p. 397. Synodus Anglicana, p. 180.
(a) Wilkins, Concilia Magna, tom. iv. p. 379.