Cecil Papers: April 1574

Pages 73-74

Calendar of the Cecil Papers in Hatfield House: Volume 2, 1572-1582. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1888.

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April 1574

194. Thomas Sampson to [Lord Burghley].
1574, April 4. Shows some of his cogitations for the Church of England, now being adfixus lecto in quo decumbo. One of the greatest wounds and maims which this church hath, is that there are many congregations or parishes which have certain reading priests as ministers, but are utterly destitute of pastors, preachers, and such as are both able and diligent to instruct them. Through two evil licences de non promovendo ad sacros ordines, and de non residendo, some charges are committed to such as cannot teach; others have licence not to do the office of a resident pastor. Suggests a scheme for dealing with the inequality of the congregations, and the livings appointed to the pastors of them. In many places of England now, a great sort of the most painful and profitable ministers and labourers are molested and hindered by the severe exacting of the law which establisheth the Book of Common Prayer. The substance of that book is such and so good, that it deserveth well to be maintained by law. But there are certain adjecta, all against these diligent labourers. Your Lordship knoweth that the Holy Sacrament of Baptism may be well ministered without the superfluous sign of the cross; the Holy Communion ministered without the perilous gesture of kneeling; the writer calls it so, for that kneeling is not populi gestus adorantis, and kneeling was first brought in for adoring the bread and so continued. These holy sacraments may be well ministered sine linea veste, and marriage solemnized without the ring. These things may be; but by law, yet, it is not suffered to be. And therefore, some diligent pastors which without the law have brought it so to pass, are punished and displaced. Yet has he heard that once, one who is now a great prelate in this church, said in open sermon, that the law was not made to forbid one man to do better than the law prescribed, but that no man should do worse. In these matters, thinks the ordinary is a more meet judge than are the Justices of Assize. The church hath much more need of painful and diligent pastors and labourers, than it hath of these unprofitable ceremonies; yea, it may better spare all these than one of them.—London, 4 April, 1574.
4 pp.