Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Caroline Divines > William Laud
  A Priest to the Temple Richard Mountague  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

VI. Caroline Divines.

§ 17. William Laud.

This influence, it will already have been observed, is connected at point after point with the name of the dominating personality in the English church during the reign of Charles I, the determined and masterful archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud. Laud was the disciple of Andrewes, whom he regarded as his master in theology and the “light of the Christian world.” He preached Donne’s funeral sermon. He ordained Nicholas Ferrar. He was the considerate patron of Sanderson, Hales and Chillingworth. Thus, he linked the men of the new age to the times of the great Elizabeth. For he himself belonged undoubtedly to the system, theological and political, of the last of the Tudors. Brought up when England was stirred by the victory over the Armada, trained at Oxford by those who rejected another foreign influence, the dominant Calvinism, he gave his whole loyalty to the English church and king as national institutions yet related to a wider religious and political world.   26
  His first literary work was as an anti-Roman controversialist. In 1622, he engaged in one of the common theological duels of the day, defending the cause of the English church. The book recording it came out first in 1624, was reissued more fully in 1639 and appeared in two more editions before the end of the seventeenth century. It became the standard defence of Anglicanism against Rome, and, as such, was recommended by Charles I to his children; and it laid down the lines on which controversy of this nature has proceeded practically down to the present day. The church, whether at Rome or in London, is the same church—“one in substance but not one in condition of state and purity.” Rome has no ground of infallibility or universality: the eastern church as well as the reformation is a standing refutation of such an assertion. Laud declares England’s adherence to the creeds and the fundamental unaltered doctrines of the church. His position with regard to the Bible is the typical Anglican one, acceptance, submission, not idolatry; and “the key that lets men into the Scriptures, even to this knowledge of them that are the Word of God, is the tradition of the church.” Protestants have “not left the church of Rome in her essence but in her errors”; and, to set matters right, the appeal must be to a true general council, or, till that may be had, to the Bible. Meanwhile, the church of England stands for liberty, enforces not its articles as necessary to salvation, and is secure in the confidence that
to believe the Scripture and the Creeds, to believe these in the sense of the ancient primitive Church, to receive the four great General Councils, to believe all points of doctrine generally received as fundamental in the Church of Christ, is a faith in which to live and die cannot but give salvation.

  A Priest to the Temple Richard Mountague  

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