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CHARLES, By the Grace of God, King of England,
Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting.
HEREAS our Bishops, Deans of our Cathedral Churches,
called by vertue of our several Writs to the most Reverend Father in Gnd, Our right trusty and right well-beloved Councellor, William, by Divine Providence, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, and Metropolitan, and to the most Reverend Father in God, Our right trusty and well-beloved Councellor, Richard, by Divine Providence, Lord Archbishop of York, Primate and Metropolitan of England, respectively directed, bearing date the twentieth day of February, in the fifteenth year of Our Reign, to appear before the said Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, in Our Cathedral Church of St. Paul in London, and before the said Lord Archbishop of York, in the Metropolitan Church of St. Peter in York, the fourteenth day of April then next ensuing, or elsewhere, as they respectively should think it most convenient, to treat, consent and conclude upon certain difficult and urgent affairs contained in the said Writs ; Did thereupon at the time appointed, and within the Cathedral Church of S. Paul, and the Metropolitan Church of S. Peter aforesaid, assemble themselves respectively together, and appear in several Convocations for that purpose, according to the said several Writs, before the said Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, and the said Lord Archbishop of York respectively. And forasmuch as we are given to undersiand, that many of Our Subjects being misled against the Rites and Ceremonies now used in the Church of England, have lately taken offence at the same, upon an unjust supposal, that they are not only contrary to Our Laws, but also introductive unto Popish Superstitions, whereas
it well appeareth unto Us, upon mature consideration, that the said Rites and Ceremonies which are now so much quarrelled at, were not onely, approved of, and used by those learned and godly Divines, to whom, at the time of Reformation under King Edward the sixth, the compiling of the Book of Common-Prayer was committed (divers of which suffered Martyrdom in Queen Maries days) but also again taken up by this whole Church under Queen Elizabeth, and so duly and ordinarily practised for a great part of her Reign, (within the memory of divers yet living) as that it could not then be imagined that there would need any Rule or Law for the observation of the same, or that they could be thought to savour of Popery.
And albeit since those times, for want of an express Rule therein, and by subtile practises, the said Rites and Ceremonies began to fall into disuse, and in place thereof, other foreign and unfitting usages by little and little to creep in ; Yet forasmuch as in our own Royal Chappels, and in many other Churches, most of them have been ever constantly used and observed. We cannot now but be very sensible of this natier, and have cause to conceive that the Authors and Fomensors of these jealousies, though they colour the same with a pretence of Zeal, and would seem to strike only at some supposed iniquity in the said Ceremonies; Yet, as we have cause to fear, aim at Our own Royal Person, and would tain have Our good Subjects imagine that we Our Self are perverted, and doe worship God in a Superstitious way, and that we intend to bring in some alteration of the Religion here established. Now low far we are from that, and how utterly We detest every thought thereof, We have by many publick Declaracions, and otherwise upon sundry occasions, given such assurance to the World, as that from thence We also assure Our Self, that no man of wisdom and discretion could ever be so beguiled as to give any serious entertainment to such brain-sick jealousies; and for the weaker sort, who are prone to be misled by crafiy seducers, We rest no less confident, that even of them, as mariy as are of loyal, or indeed but of charitable hearts, will from benceforth utterly banish all such causeless fears and surmises, upon these our sacred professions, so often made by Us, a Christian Defender of the Faith, their King and Soveraign. And therefore if yet any person, under whatsoever mask of zeal, or counterfeit holiness, shali henceforth by speech or writing, or any other way notwithstanding these Our right, hearty, faithful, and solemn Protestations inade before him, whose Deputy We are, against all and every intention of any Popish Innovation, be so ungracious and presumptuous as to rent any poisoned conceits, tending to such a purpose, and to cast these develish aspersions and jealousies upon Our Royal and Godly proceedings, We require all Our loyal Subjects, that they forth with make the same known to some Magistrate, Ecclesiastical or Civil : And We straightly charge all Ordinaries, and every other person in any Authority under Us, as they will answer the contrary at their utmost peril, that they use no palliation, connivance or delay therein; but ihat taking particular information of all the passages, they do forthwith certifie the same unto Our Court of Commission for causes Ecclesiastical, lo be there examined, and proceeded in with all fidelity and tenderness of Our Royal Majesty, as is due to Us their Soveraign Lord and Governour : But forasmuch as we well perceive that the misleaders of Our well-minded people do make the more advantage for the nourishing of this distemper among them from hence, that the foresaid Rites and Ceremonies or some of them, are now insisted upon but only in some Diocesses, and are not generally revived in all places, nor constantly and uniformly practised thorowout all the Churches of our Realm, and thereupon have been liable to be quarrelled and opposed by them who use them not; We therefore out of Our Princely inclination to Uniformity and Peace, in matters especially that concern the holy worship of God, proposing to Our Self herein the pious examples of King Edward the sixth, and of Queen Elizabeth, who sent forth Injunctions, and Orders about the Divine Service, and other Ecclesiastical matters, and of Our dear Father of blessed memory, King James, who published a Book of Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical; and (according to the Act of Parliament in this behalf) having fully advised herein with Our Metropolitan, and with Our Commissioners authorised under Our great Seal for causes Ecclesiastical, have thought good to give them free leave to treat in Convocation ; and agree upon certain other Canons necessary for the advancement of Gods glory, the edifying of his holy Church, and the due reverence of his blessed Mysteries and Sacraments : that as We ever have been, and by Gods assistance (by whom alone We Reign) shall ever so continue careful and ready to cut off Superstition with one hand, so We may no less expel Irreverence and Profaneness with the other, whereby it may please Almighty God so to bless Us, and this Church committed to our Government, that it inay at once return unto the true former splendour of Uniformity, Devotion, and holy Order, the lustre whereof for some years by-past hath been overnuch obscured, through the devices of some ill-affected to that sacred Order, wherein it had long stood from the very beginning of the Reformation, and through inadvertency of some in Authority in the Church under Us: We therefore by vertue of Our Prerogative Royal, and supreme Authority in causes Écclesiastical, by Our several and respective Letters Patents under Our Great Seal of England, dated the fifteenth day of April now last past, and the twelfth day of May then next following, for the Province of Canterbury: And by Our like Letters Patents dated the seven and twentieth day of the same month of April, and the twentieth day of the month of May aforesaid, for the Province of York, did give and grant full, free, and lawful liberty, license, power and authority unto the said Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, President of the said Convocation for the Province of Canterbury, and unto the said Lord Archbishop of York, President of the said Convocation for the Province of York, and to the rest of the Bishops of the said Provinces, and unto all Deans of Cathedral Churches, Archdeacons, Chapters and Colledges, and the whole Clergy of every several Diocess within the said several Provinces, and either of them, that they should and might from time to time, during the Present Parliament, and further during our will and pleasure, confer, treat, debate, consider, consult, and agree of and upon Canons, Orders, Ordinances and Constitutions, as they should think necessary, fit and convenient for the honor and service of Almighty God, the good and quiet of the Church, and the better Government thereof, to be from time to time observed, performed, fulfilled and kept, as well by the said Archbishop of Canterbury, and the said Archbishop of York, the Bishops, and their Successors, and the rest of the whole Clergy of the said several Provinces of Canterbury and York, in their several Callings, Offices, Functions, Ministeries, Degrees and Administrations; As by all and every Dean of the Arches, and other Judges of the said several Archbishops, of Courts Guardians of Spiritualities, Chancellours, Deans and Chapters, Archdeacons, Commissaries, Officials, Registers, and all and every other Ecclesiastical Officers, and their inferiour Ministers whiatsoever, of the same respective Provinces of Canterbury and York, in their, and every of their distinct Courts, and in the order and manner of their, and every of their proceedings, and by all other persons within this Realm, as far as lawfully being members of the Church it may concern them, as in our said Letters Patents amongst other clauses more at large doth appear.
Now forasmuch as the said Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, President of the said Convocation for the Province of Canterbury, and the said Archbishop of York, President of the said Convocation for the Province of York, and others the said Bishops, Deans, Archdeacons, Chapters and Colledges, with the rest of the Clergy, having met together respectively, at the time and places before mentioned respectively, and then and there, by vertue of Our said Authority granted unto them, treated of, concluded and agreed upon certain Canons, Orders, Ordinances and Constitutions, to the end and purpose by Us limited and prescribed unto them, and have thereupon offered and presented the same unto Us, most humbly desiring Us to give Our Royal assent unto the same, according to the form of a certain Statute or Act of Parliament made in that behalf, in the five and twentieth year of the Reign of King Henry the Eighth, and by our said Prerogative Royal and Supreme Authority in causes Ecclesiastical, to ratifie by Our Letters Patents under Our great Seal of England, and to confirm the same, the Title and Tenour of them being word for word as ensueth.