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For the authorizing of the Book of Common Prayer to be used
throughout the Realm of Scotland.
CHARLES, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, To our Lovits
Messengers, our Sheriffs in that part, conjunctly and severally, specially constitute, greeting. Forasmuch as We, ever since our entry to the imperial Crown of this our ancient kingdom of Scotland, especially since our late being here in the same, have divers times recommended to the Archbishops and Bishops here the publishing of a Public Form of Service, in the Worship of God, which we would have uniformly observed therein : And the same being now condescended upon, although We doubt not but all our subjects, both Clergy and others, will receive the said Public Form of Service with such reverence as appertaineth : Yet, thinking it necessary to make our pleasure known, touching the authorizing of the Book thereof,
OUR WILL IS, and We charge you straitly, and command, that incontinent these our Letters seen, you pass, and in our Name and Authority command and charge all our subjects, both ecclesiastical and civil, by open Proclamation at the Market Crosses of the Head Boroughs of this our Kingdom, and other places needful, to conform themselves to the said Public Form of Worship, which is the only Form which We (having taken the counsel of our Clergy) think fit to be used in God's Public Worship in this our Kingdom : Commanding also all Archbishops, and Bishops, and other Presbyters and Churchmen, to take a special care that the same be duly obeyed and observed, and the contraveners condignly censured and punished; and to have special care that every Parish, betwixt and Pasch * next, procure unto themselves two at least of the said Books of Common Prayer, for the use of the Parish. The which to do, we commit to you conjunctly and severally our full power by these our Letters, delivering the same by you duly executed and indorsed again to the bearer.
Given under our Signet, at Edinburgh, the Twentieth
day of December, and of our Reign the Twelfth Year, 1636.
Per actum Secreti Consilii.
• So in the original; there seems to be a word omitted; but the sense, vo doubt, is, “between this and Easter next.”-P. H.
The Church of Christ hath in all ages had a prescript Form of Common Prayer, or Divine Service; as appeareth by the ancient Liturgies of the Greek and Latin Churches. This was done, as for other great causes, so likewise for retaining an uniformity in God's worship ; a thing most beseeming them that are of one and the same profession. For by the Form that is kept in the outward worship of God, men commonly judge of Religion. If in that there be a diversity, straight they are apt to conceive the religion to be diverse. Wherefore it were to be wished, that the whole Church of Christ were one as well in form of Public Worship, as in doctrine : and that as it hath but one Lord, and one faith, so it had but one heart, and one mouth. This would prevent many schisms and divisions, and serve much to the preserving of unity. But since that cannot be hoped for in the whole Catholic Christian Church ; yet, at least, in the Churches that are under the protection of one sovereign Prince the same ought to be endeavoured.
It was not the least part of our late Sovereign King James, of blessed memory, his care, to work this uniformity in all his dominions : but, while he was about to do it, it pleased God to translate him to a better kingdom. His Majesty that now reigneth, (and long may he reign over us in all happiness !) not suffering his father's good purpose to fall to the ground, but treading the same path, with the like zeal and pious affection, gave order, soon after his coming to the crown, for the framing of a Book of Common Prayer, like unto that which is received in the Churches of England and Ireland, for the use of this Church. After many lets and hindrances, the same cometh now to be published, to the good (we trust) of all God's people, and the increase of true piety and sincere devotion amongst them.
But as there is nothing, how good and warrantable soever in itself, against which some will not except ; so it may be, that exceptions will be taken against this good and most pious work, and, perhaps, none more pressed than that we have followed the Service-Book of England. But we should desire them that shall take this exception, to consider, that, being (as we are, by God's mercy) of one true profession, and otherwise united by many bonds, it had not been fitting to vary much from theirs, our especially coming forth after theirs ; seeing the disturbers of the Church, both here and there, should by our differences, if they had been great, taken occasion to work more trouble. Therefore did we think meet to adhere