Life after Death? the Survival of the Church of England in the Seventeenth Century. (Talking Points)

By Morrill, John | History Review, March 1998 | Go to article overview

Life after Death? the Survival of the Church of England in the Seventeenth Century. (Talking Points)


Morrill, John, History Review


John Morrill re-examines a stormy period of religious history

Between 1643 and 1647 the Church of England was destroyed. Its system of government by `archbishops, bishops, deans, archdeacons etc.' (as a canon of 1640 expressed it) was scrapped; the Book of Common Prayer was proscribed and its use made a criminal offence; the celebration of the major Christian festivals -- Christmas, Easter, Whit etc. -- was also prohibited. The leaders of the church were all dead, in prison, in exile, or in hiding; the universities were ruthlessly purged; between a quarter and a third of the parish clergy were ejected from their homes and positions. Dioceses were replaced by county-wide ecclesiastical co-operatives, and cathedral churches were converted into prisons, shopping precincts, or large parish churches; and churchwardens and others were directed to remove all the `monuments of idolatry and superstition' (stained glass, statues, carvings on fonts and other furnishings) which had survived the first reformation of images in the mid sixteenth century. The lands and revenues of the Bishops and of the Cathedral chapters were handed over to the creditors of the state.

Little remained of the old system; and a new `presbyterian' system of government, a new Directory of Worship (not a prayer book but a manual for the construction of improvised worship), a new catechism and a new confession of faith were introduced. The rigidities of the new structures and the freeing of minds and of the presses led to clamours for liberty for tender consciences outside these new structures, for those convinced of the advantages of the `New England Way' or committed to the gathering of the godly into exclusive Christian communities. Mutual recriminations within a fractured and disintegrating puritan movement were only partly arrested by the conservative measures introduced by Cromwell at the end of his life.

The restoration of the Church of England in 1660 was as complete and almost as rapid as the restoration of the monarchy. Bishops and their officers, their courts and their cathedrals and their closes, their lands, their pomp, were all back in place by 1662. The Prayer Book was soon in use in every English and Welsh parish and rather more vicars and rectors were wearing surplices than in the days before proscription; and there were more men and women receiving holy communion in most parishes than ever before, and, while many attended church irregularly, the number who abstained wholly from the worship of the Church of England was little different from the numbers before 1640. But euphoria did not last long; and the unbendingness of the bishops in the 1660s and 1670s was to cost them clear in and after 1688. Yet the existence in 1700 of a Church of England with so many trappings of the Elizabethan Church was as unthinkable in 1650 as its abolition would have been in 1600.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about that fundamental continuities of the early and late Stuart Church is that the `trappings of the Elizabethan church' were so muddled. The Elizabethan Church was a sort of ecclesiastical vinaigrette, a mixture of naturally non-miscible Catholic oil and Protestant vinegar that separated out if not continuously shaken. The Elizabethan church had a system of government and discipline which owed everything to the medieval church and nothing to the Reformation: it was Catholicism without the pope. It had a theology of God, Man and Salvation which combined elements of different continental Reformed traditions, but was ambiguous between types of Protestantism, not between Protestantism and Catholicism. And it had a form of worship that was pure fudge: it looked Catholic and sounded Protestant as Conrad Russell recently put it. At the very heart of the holy communion service, for example, the 1559 prayer combined the words of the 1549 prayer book, in which Cranmer had wished to assert the real presence of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine, followed by the words of the 1552 prayer book in which he wished to deny it--asserting rather that those gathered around the table were recalling an act of salvation completed by Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and subsequent resurrection (`take, eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee . …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Life after Death? the Survival of the Church of England in the Seventeenth Century. (Talking Points)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.