CHURCH OF ENGLAND
Is the church established by law in this kingdom. When and by whom Christianity was first introduced into Britain cannot perhaps be exactly ascertained. Eusebius, indeed, positively declares that it was by the apostles and their disciples. It is also said that numbers of persons professed the Christian faith here about the year 150; and according to Usher, there was in the year 182 a school of learning, to provide the British churches with proper teachers. Popery, however, was established in England by Austin the monk; and the errors of it we find every where prevalent, until Wichliffe was raised up by Divine Providence to refute them. The church of England remained in subjection to the pope until the time of Henry VIIi. Henry, indeed, in early life, and during the former part of his reign, was a bigotted papist: he burnt the famous Tyndal (who made one of the first and best translations of the New Testament;) and wrote in defence of the seven sacraments against Luther, for which the pope gave him the title of ” The Defender of the Faith.” But, falling out with the pope about his marriage, he took the government of ecclesiastical affairs into his own hand; and, having reformed many abuses, entitled himself supreme head of the church.
The doctrines of the church of England, which are contained in the thirty-nine articles, are certainly Calvinistical though this has been denied by some modern writers, especially by Dr. Kipling, in a tract entitled, “The Articles of the Church of England proved not to be Calvinistic.” These articles were founded, for the most part, upon a body of articles compiled and published in the reign of Edward VI. They were afterwards ratified anew in the year 1571, and again by Charles I. The law requires a subscription to these articles of all persons who are admitted into holy orders. In the course of the last century disputes arose among the clergy respecting the propriety of subscribing to any human formulary of religious sentiments. An application for its removal was made to parliament, in 1772, by the petitioning clergy; and received the most public discussion in the house of commons, but was rejected in the house of lords.
The government of the church of England is episcopal. The king is the supreme head. There are two archbishops, and twenty-four bishops. The benefices of the bishops were converted by William the Conqueror into temporal baronies; so that every prelate has a seat and a vote in the house of peers. Dr. Hoadley, however, in a sermon preached from this text–“My kingdom is not of this world,” insisted that the clergy had no pretensions to temporal jurisdiction; which gave rise to various publications, termed by way of eminence, the Bangorian Controversy, because Hoadley was then bishop of Bangor. Dr. Wake, archbishop of Canterbury, formed a project of peace and union between the English and Gallican churches, founded upon this condition, that each of the two communities should retain the greatest part of their respective and peculiar doctrines; but this project came to nothing. In the church of England there are deans, archdeacons, rectors, vicars, &c.; for an account of which, see the respective articles.
The church of England has a public form read, called a Liturgy. It was composed in 1547, and has undergone several alterations, the last of which was in 1661. Since that time, several attempts have been made to amend the liturgy, articles, and some other things relating to the internal government, but without effect. There are many excellencies in the liturgy; and, in the opinion of the most impartial Grotius (who was no member of this church,) “it comes so near the primitive pattern, that none of the reformed churches can compare with it.”
The greatest part of the inhabitants of England are professedly members of this church; but, perhaps, very few either of her ministers or members strictly adhere to the articles in their true sense. Those who are called methodistic or evangelical preachers in the establishment are allowed to come the nearest.
Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.