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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

582 The Archbishop's draft was revised by Convocation


comparative ease with which the "alteration of religion" was effected was no doubt largely due to the increased Protestant feeling of the country; but the tact and forbearance of those who were appointed to see the changes carried out counted for something; and perhaps the acquiescence of the Roman Catholics was due to the fact that they had no great leader, that they did not expect the Elizabethan settlement to last long, and that they waited in expectation that one or other of the two Romanist Powers, France or Spain, would interfere in their behalf. The religious revolution in Scotland in 1560 saved the Elizabethan settlement for the time; and Philip of Spain trifled away his opportunities until a united England overthrew his Armada, which came thirty years too late.

The change was given effect to by a Royal Visitation. England was divided into six districts, and lists of visitors were drawn up which included the Lords Lieutenants of the counties, the chief men of the districts, and some lawyers and clergymen known to be well affected to the Reformation. They had to assist them a set of Injunctions, modelled largely, not entirely, on those of Edward VI., drafted and issued by royal command.[579] The members of the clergy were dealt with very patiently, and explanations, public and private, were given of the Act of Supremacy which made it easier for them to accept it. The Elizabethan Bishops were also evidently warned to deal tenderly with

stubborn parish clergymen; they would have been less patient with them if left to themselves. One, Bishop Best, Bishop of Carlisle, is found writing to Cecil about his clergy, that "the priests are wicked impes of Antichrist," for the most part very ignorant and stubborn; another, Pilkington, the Bishop of Durham, in describing the disordered state of his diocese, declared that "like St. Paul, he has to fight with beasts at Ephesus"; and a third, Scory, Bishop of Winchester, wrote that he was much hindered by justices of the peace who were Roman Catholics, and that when certain priests who had refused to take the oath were driven out of Exeter and elsewhere, they were received and feasted in the streets with torch-lights.[580]

Elizabeth's second Parliament was very much more Protestant than the first, and insisted that the Oath of Supremacy must be taken by all the members of the House of Commons, by all lawyers, and by all schoolmasters. The Convocation of 1563 proved that the clergy desired to go much further in the path of Reformation than the Queen thought desirable.

They clearly wished for some doctrinal standard, and Archbishop Parker had prepared and laid before Convocation a revised edition of the _Forty-two Articles_ which had defined the theology of the Church of England in the last year of King Edward VI.[581] The way had been prepared for the issue of some authoritative exposition of the doctrinal position of the Elizabethan Church by the _Declaration of the Principal Articles of Religion_--a series of eleven articles framed by the Bishops and published in 1561 (March), which repudiates strongly the Romanist doctrines of the Papacy, private Masses, and the propitiatory sacrifice in the Holy Supper. The Spanish Ambassador, who had heard of the meetings of the Bishops for this purpose, imagined that they were preparing articles to be presented to the Council of Trent on behalf of the Church of England.[582] The Archbishop's draft was revised by Convocation, and was "diligently read and sifted" by the Queen herself before she gave her consent to the authoritative publication of the Articles.

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