"What she has repudiated you may be assured that you ought not to adopt"

From a 'Charge to Candidates for Holy Orders' in Richard Mant's An Explanation of the Rubrics in the Book of Common Prayer.  Here Mant reaffirms the traditional High Church understanding of decency and uniformity in the face of what was then emerging Ritualism. 

Specimens of these objectionable rites will occur to you in the innumerable and reiterated gesticulations of the officiating priests, and the variety and continual changes of the sacerdotal vestments: in the exorcisms and chrisms used in holy baptism : in the reserving, carrying about, lifting up, and worshipping of the consecrated bread and wine in the holy communion : in the kissings of the pax, and the creepings to the cross: in the telling of beads: in the hallowing of bells: in the  multitudinous bowings and crossings of the person : in the sprinklings of holy water : in the ringing of little hand bells, and the lighting of numerous candles, and the burning of incense during divine service : in the worshipping and adoration of images and reliques, as well as of saints : in the dressing of images and pictures : and in the superfluous and excessive decking of churches. If not altogether in exact form, yet in spirit, a disposition has appeared in recent times for reverting to some at least of these. On all such questions the Church should be our guide. Some of these ceremonial observances she has rejected as being repugnant to the word of God: some as obscuring God's glory: some as giving occasion for vanity and many superstitions. But in any case our obedience to her is due : and what she has repudiated you may be assured that you ought not to adopt.


  1. "On all such questions the Church should be our guide." This seems to identify "the Church" solely with the 16-17th century Church of England. Any guidance from the pre-Reformation church is secondary. I think it is reasonable that Anglicans- even those loyal to the spirit of the English reformation, insofar as it sought to recover the essential praxis of the ancient church- take a broader view. And at this point even the classical High Church Anglicans were bucking the authority of the "Homily Against Peril of Idolatry" by allowing images- any images at all- to be placed in churches. Lighting of incense and candles was also widely reintroduced in Laud's time.

    1. It identifies "the Church" with the Church to whose Formularies clergy given their solemn assent. In such a context, guidance from the pre-Reformation Church is, obviously, secondary to the Formularies. In terms of images, the relevant Homily - itself a retrieval of the historic Latin West's rejection of Nicaea II - continued to guide the High Church tradition as images were not placed in churches for veneration, and the Homily itself allows for stained glass. Candles were incredibly rare in a Laudian and High Church context, and the use of incense was an eccentric exception. The key issue here, is that restrained Laudian ritual was designed not to overpower the words of the BCP liturgy, a common High Church concern.

    2. The homily most certainly does not allow for stained glass images. If you read that bit about windows in context, the author is speaking historically about how he thinks images were first introduced in churches. He says wall paintings, with a narrative thrust, began appearing, which "men are not so ready to worship" compared to ornamented icons and statues. That does not mean they are impervious to enticing such worship, and indeed: "But from learning by painted stories, it came by little and little to idolatry." The homilist clearly sees these apparently innocuous images as the opening incline of a slippery slope to idolatry, and approvingly cites the "holy men" that eventually had them removed. Even if these narrative paintings were in themselves acceptable, the corrupted state of man is such that he cannot avoid pushing the envelope until he has made idols. The homilist's central point is stated with enormous clarity- images in churches are simply idols. They might be alright on coins or other secular surfaces but in churches they constitute a temptation to idolatry which inevitably proves irresistible. He does not simply include images with a history of "superstitious abuse" but any images, including those introduced with a merely educational purpose. It's worth noting here that the following aside appears in the Elizabethan edition of the homily: "I mean always thus herein, in that we be stirred and provoked by them to worship them, and not as though they were simply forbidden by the New Testament without such occasion and danger." This is an interpolation made by Elizabeth, which blatantly contradicts the central, repeated thesis of the homily: "the Word of God speaketh against not only idolatry and worshipping of images, but also against idols and images themselves." In making this interpolation, and in stubbornly maintaining a crucifix in her chapel, Queen Elizabeth essentially lit a stick of dynamite in the heart of the homily. And increasingly since her day, crosses and other images proliferate in Anglican churches against the express intent of the homilist. So if you want to promote the Elizabethan settlement, you have to also accept that this homily was effectively abrogated. In light of developments like this, it's hard to deny that Newman's Tract XC is as reasonable an interpretation of the Articles as any.


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