[20 March, 1653/4.]
All Publique Preachers shall be first approved.; Commissioners for Approbation.; How to be supplied in case of death, or removal.; Powers to judge of fitness.; To grant Admission.
Whereas for some time past hitherto there hath not been any
certain course established for the supplying vacant places with
able and fit persons to preach the Gospel, by reason whereof not
onely the Rights and Titles of Patrons are prejudiced, but many
weak, scandalous, popish, and ill-affected persons have intruded
themselves, or been brought in, to the great grief and trouble of
the good people of this Nation; For remedy and prevention
whereof, Be it Ordained by His Highness the Lord Protector, by
and with the consent of His Council, that every person, who shall
from and after the five and twentieth day of March instant be
presented, nominated, chosen, or appointed to any Benefice
(formerly called Benefice with Care of Souls) or to preach any
publique settled Lecture in England or Wales, shall, before he
be admitted into any such Benefice, or Lecture, be judged and
approved by the persons hereafter named, to be a person for the
Grace of God in him, his holy and unblameable Conversation, as
also for his knowledge and utterance, able and fit to preach the
Gospel; And that after the said five and twentieth day of
March, no person, but such as shall upon such approbation be
admitted by the said persons, shall take any publique Lecture,
having a constant stipend legally annexed and belonging thereunto, or take or receive any such Benefice as aforesaid, or the
profits thereof; And be it further Ordained, That Francis
Rous, Esq; Dr. Thomas Goodwin, Dr. John Owen, Mr. Thankful
Owen, Dr. Arrowsmith, Dr. Tuckney, Dr. Horton, Mr. Joseph
Caryl, Mr. Philip Ny, Mr. William Carter, Mr. Sidrach Simpson
Mr. William Greenhill, Mr. William Strong, Mr. Thomas Manton,
Mr. Samuel Slater, Mr. William Cooper, Mr. Stephen Marshal,
Mr. John Tombes, Mr. Walter Cradock, Mr. Samuel Faircloth,
Mr. Hugh Peters, Mr. Peter Sterry, Mr. Samuel Bamford, Mr.
Thomas Valentine of Chaford, Mr. Henry Jessee, Mr. Obadiah
Sedgewick, Mr. Nicholas Lockier, Mr. Daniel Dyke, Mr. James
Russel, Mr. Nathaniel Campfield, Robert Titchborn Alderman of
London, Mark Hildesley, Thomas Wood, John Sadler, William
Goff, Thomas St. Nicholas, William Packer, and Edward Cresset,
Esquires, shall be, and are hereby nominated, constituted and
appointed Commissioners for such approbation and admission as
is abovesaid; and upon death or removal of any of them, others
shall from time to time be nominated in their places by the
Lord Protector and his Successors, by advice of His Council, in
the interval of Parliaments, and sitting the Parliament, by the
Protector and Parliament; And the said Commissioners, or any
five or more of them, met together in some certain place in the
City of London or Westminster, as His Highness shall appoint,
are hereby authorized to judge and take knowledge of the ability
and fitness of any person so presented, nominated, chosen or
appointed, according to the qualifications above-mentioned, and
upon their approbation of such his ability and fitness, to grant
unto such person admission to such Benefice or Lecture by an
Instrument in writing under a Common Seal to be appointed by
His Highness, and under the hand of the Register or Registers
for the time being, to be also nominated by the Lord Protector
and His Successors; which Instrument the said Register or
Registers shall cause to be entered in a Book for that purpose,
and kept upon Record.
Such Instrument to be as Institution and Induction.
And it is hereby Declared, That the said person so admitted
into any such Benefice, shall be Possessor and Incumbent of the
same, and intituled thereby to the Profits, Perquisits, and all
Rights and Dues incident and belonging thereunto, as fully and
effectually as if he had been instituted and inducted according
to the Laws of this Realm; as also the person that shall be so
admitted to any Lecture as aforesaid, shall be thereby enabled
according to the establishment and constitution of such Lecture,
to preach therein, and to have and receive the Stipend or Profits
to such Lecture belonging.
A Negative Vote not concluding,; unless nine or more be present.
Provided always, That no person who shall tender himself, or
be tendred for approbation as aforesaid, shall be concluded by
any vote of the said Commissioners which shall pass in the
Negative as to his approbation, unless nine or more of the said
Commissioners be present at such Vote.
Patrons to present in six Moneths, or lapse.
And it is further Ordained, That all Patrons of any Benefices
that are now void, shall within six Moneths next after the five
and twentieth of this instant March, and of any Benefice that
shall hereafter be void within six Moneths next after the avoidance of the same, present unto the said Commissioners, or any
five of them, some fit person to be admitted, and for default of
such Presentation within that time, the Presentation for that
turn shall devolve by lapse unto the Lord Protector and His
Notice to be of force to prevent a lapse.
Provided always, That in case the Patron be disturbed to
Present unto such Benefice, and thereupon within six moneths
after the avoidance of such Benefice a Suit be commenced for
the Recovery of such Presentation, and notice thereof in writing
left with the said Commissioners, or any five of them, or the
Register, then such notice shall be as effectual to prevent the
lapse, as where the Suit was heretofore commenced against the
Bishop or Ordinary.
In vacancy, who shall receive the Profits.
And it is further Ordained, That during the vacancy of such
place by reason of such Suit, the said Commissioners, or any
five or more of them, have hereby authority to sequester the
fruits and profits thereof for supplying of the place with an able
Preacher, by the said Commissioners, or any five or more of
them, to be nominated and approved of as aforesaid.
Time for Approbation.
And forasmuch as many persons since the first day of April
last past have been placed in such Benefices, and Publique
Lectures, It is hereby Ordained, That in case such person shall
not before the four and twentieth day of June next, obtain
approbation and admittance in the maner before exprest, then
such person or persons as have right thereunto shall or may
Present or nominate some other fit and able person to such
And in default of such Presentation within two Moneths after
the said four and twentieth day of June, or within six Moneths
after the place became void, the Presentation for that turn shall
likewise devolve by lapse into the Lord Protector and His
Testimonial before admittance.; Penalty by the Act of 13 Eliz. void.
And for the better satisfaction of the said Commissioners
touching the godly and unblameable conversation of such
persons as are to be admitted into any place as aforesaid, It is
further Declared and Ordained, That before any admittance of
any person as aforesaid, there shall be brought to the said Commissioners, or any five of them, a Testimonial or Certificate in
writing, subscribed with the hands of three persons of known
godliness and integrity; whereof one at least to be a Preacher of
the Gospel in some constant setled place, testifying upon their
personal knowledge the holy and good conversation of the
person so to be admitted; which said Certificate shall be duly
registred and filed. And it is also Declared, that all penalty
for or in respect of the not subscribing or reading the Articles
mentioned in the Act of the 13 year of Queen Elizabeth,
Entituled, Reformation of Disorders in the Ministers of the Church:
or for not producing such Testimonial as in the said Act is
required, shall from henceforth cease and be void.
Persons claiming Augmentations to be first approved.; This shall not extend to revive Offices or Dignities Ecclesiastical, suppressed by Parliament; Nor unto Benefices not presentative, nor Lectures in the University.
And whereas for the better maintenance of Preaching
Ministers, several Augmentations by Authority of Parliament
have been heretofore granted, Be it further Ordained, That all
person or persons, who claim or shall hereafter claim the benefit
of such Augmentation, shall before he or they receive the same,
obtain the approbation of the said Commissioners, or five of
them, as a person qualified as is before mentioned. And in case
of approbation, such approbation shall be entred by the Register,
who under his hand shall also signifie the same to such person
or persons as are or shall be authorized to pay such Augmentation, who are hereby required and authorized from time to time
to pay the person or persons so approved, such Augmentation as
hath been or shall be granted unto him or the place where he
preacheth, taking his or their Acquittances for the same:
Provided, and it is hereby Declared, that this Ordinance or any
thing therein contained, shall not be construed to extend unto,
or to revive any dignities, offices or benefices Ecclesiastical,
suppressed by Authority of Parliament; Nor to any benefices
Ecclesiastical that were not Presentative before the Ordinance
for suppression of Bishops: Nor to any Lectures preached or
read in any of the Universities.
This is not intended to be a solemn or sacred setting apart to the Ministery.
And it is hereby lastly Declared and Ordained, That the
Approbation or Admittance aforesaid, in such maner as is before
prescribed, is not intended nor shall be construed to be any
Solemn or Sacred setting apart of a person to any particular
office in the Ministery: But onely by such trial and approbation
to take care that places destitute may be supplied with able and
faithful Preachers throughout this Nation; And that such fit
and approved persons faithfully laboring in the work of the
Gospel, may be in a capacity to receive such publique stipend
and maintenance, as is or shall be allotted to such places.