Laud's apologia for the Reformation of the Church

From A relation of the conference between William Laud, late Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, and Mr. Fisher the Jesuite, in which Laud defends the Reformation of the ecclesia Anglicana.  Much of what he says here became part of the High Church account of the Reformation: the emphasis on an orderly Reformation, the need for the Church to be Reformed, the role of the Articles of Religion, and the rights of National Churches.  It has a significance for contemporary Anglicanism in which, outside of the conventional and impoverished evangelical account, there is little sense of a coherent, meaningful apologia for the Reformation.

In the Reformation which came after, our Princes had their parts, and the Clergy theirs. And to these Two principally the power and direction for Reformation belongs. That our Princes had their parts, is manifest by their Calling together of the Bishops, and others of the Clergy, to consider of that which might seem worthy Reformation. And the Clergy did their part: For being thus called together by Regal Power, they met in the National Synod of sixty two. And the Articles there agreed on, were afterwards confirmed by Acts of State, and the Royal Assent. In this Synod the Positive Truths which are delivered, are more than the Polemicks. So that a meer Calumny it is, That we profess only a Negative Religion. True it is, and we must thank Rome for it, our Confession must needs contain some Negatives. For we cannot but deny that Images are to be adored. Nor can we admit Maimed Sacraments. Nor grant Prayers in an unknown tongue. And in a corrupt time, or place, 'tis as necessary in Religion to deny falshood, as to assert, and vindicate Truth. Indeed this later can hardly be well and sufficiently done, but by the former; an Affirmative Verity being ever included in the Negative to a Falshood ... Now I make no doubt, but that as the Universal Catholike Church would have reform'd her self, had she been in all parts freed of the Roman Yoke: so while she was for the most in these Western parts under that yoke, the Church of Rome was, if not the Only, yet the Chief Hinderance of Reformation. And then in this sense, it is more than clear, That if the Roman Church will neither Reform, nor suffer Reformation, it is lawful for any other Particular Church to Reform it self, so long as it doth it peaceably and orderly, and keeps it self to the Foundation, and free from Sacriledge.


Popular Posts