Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Royal Injunctions of Edward VI (Theonomy Applied)

In his "Royal Injunctions," the young
Edward VI (1537-1553) gives a strong
emphasis on the first table of
biblical law.
Edward VI (1537-1553) was king of England and Ireland from 1547-1553. In 1547, the first year of coming to power, Edward administered injunctions per the advice of his uncle and lord protector, Edward Seymour, the Duke of Somerset.

Within these injunctions, titled "The Royal Injunctions of Edward VI" [1], one sees a strong emphasis on enforcing the first table of biblical law:

The Affirmation of Christ as the Supreme Political Authority:
Injunctions given by the most Excellent Prince Edward the Sixth, by the grace of God King of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and in Earth under Christ, of the Church of England and of Ireland, the Supreme Head: To all and singular his loving Subjects, as well of the Clergy as of the Laity. (In the subtitle)

The recognition of the need to advance God's honor, to suppress idolatry and superstition, and to plant true religion:
The King's most Royal Majesty, by the advice of his most dear uncle the Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector of all his realms, dominions and subjects, and governor of his most royal person, and residue of his most honourable council, intending the advancement of the true honour of Almighty God, the supression of idolatry and superstition throughout all his realms and dominions, and to plant true religion, to the extirpation of all hypocrisy, enormities and abuses, as to his duty appertaineth, doth minister unto his loving subjects these goodly Injunctions hereafter following … (In the preamble) [Note: we do not endorse all of Edward's Anglican religious views]

The abolishing of idolatry and superstition:
[T]o the intent that all superstition and hypocrisy, crept into divers men's hearts, may vanish away, they [ecclesiastical persons] shall not set forth or extol any images, relics, or miracles, for any superstition or lucre, nor allure the people by any enticements to the pilgrimage of any saint or image: but reproving the same, they shall teach that all goodness, health and grace, ought to be both asked and looked for only of God, as of the very author and giver of the same, and of none other. (Injunction 1b)
That such images as they [ecclesiastical persons] know in any of their cures to be or have been abused with pilgrimage or offering of anything made thereunto, or shall be hereafter censed unto, they (and none other private persons) shall for the avoiding of that most detestable offence of idolatry, forthwith take down, or cause to be taken down and destroy the same; and shall suffer from henceforth no torches nor candles, tapers or images of wax to be set afore any image or picture ... (Injunction 3a) 
That they [every dean, archdeacon, master of collegiate church, master of hospital, and prebendary being priest] shall take away, utterly extinct and destroy all shrines, covering of shrines, all tables, candlesticks, trindles or rolls of wax, pictures, paintings, and all other monuments of feigned miracles, pilgrimages, idolatry, and superstitition: so that there remain no memory of the same in walls, glass-windows, 1 or elsewhere within their churches or houses. And they shall exhort all their parishioners to do the like within their several houses. And that the churchwardens, at the common charge of the parishioners in every church, shall provide a comely and honest pulpit, to be set in a convenient place within the same, for the preaching of God's word. (Injunction 28)  

Like as the people be commonly occupied the work-day with bodily labour for their bodily sustenance, so was the holy-day at the first beginning godly instituted and ordained, that the people should that day give themselves wholly to God. And whereas in our time, God is more offended than pleased, more dishonoured than honoured, upon the holy-day, because of idleness, pride, drunkenness, quarrelling and brawling, which are most used in such days, people nevertheless persuading themselves sufficiently to honour God on that day, if they hear Mass and service, though they understand nothing to their edifying : therefore all the King's faithful and loving subjects shall from henceforth celebrate and keep their holy-day according to God's holy will and pleasure, that is, in hearing the word of God read and taught, in private and public prayers, in acknowledging their offences to God, and amendment of the same, in reconciling themselves charitably to their neighbours where displeasure hath been, in often-times receiving the Communion of the very Body and Blood of Christ, in visiting of the poor and sick, in using all soberness and godly conversation.
The injunction goes on to, rightly or wrongly, apply the biblical allowances for works of necessity and mercy to farm work: 
Yet notwithstanding all parsons, vicars, and curates, shall teach and declare unto their parishioners, that they may with a safe and quiet conscience, in the time of harvest, labour upon holy and festival days, and save that thing which God hath sent. (Injunction 24a)

     [1] The Royal Injunctions of Edward VI (Transc. Grafton's Edition, 1547). Cited in W. H. Frere and W. P. M. Kennedy, eds., Visitation Articles and Injunctions: Volume II: 1536-1557 (London: Longmans Green & Company, 1910), 114-116, 124-126.

Note about the Theonomy Applied Series: In quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily endorse every aspect of that law as biblical, whether it be the prohibition, sanction, court procedure, etc. Rather, we are merely showing the more or less attempt to apply biblical law in history, whether or not that application was fully biblical. Moreover, in quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily consider those who passed and/or enforced such a law as being fully orthodox in their Christian theology. Professing Christian rulers in history have ranged in their theology from being orthodox (that is, Reformed Protestants) to heretical (for example, Roman Catholics). 

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