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Ecclesiastical Polity: Selections

Richard Hooker

Edited by Arthur Pollard

Cover Picture of Ecclesiastical Polity: Selections
Categories: 16th Century, 17th Century, Christianity
Imprint: FyfieldBooks
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (128 pages)
(Pub. Nov 1991)
£7.95 £7.16
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    ...We are contrariwise of opinion, that he which will perfectly recover a sick and restore a diseased body unto health, must not endeavour so much to brig it to a state of simple contrariety, as of fit proportion in contrariety unto those evils which are to be cured. He that will take away extreme heat by setting the body in extremity of cold, shall undoubtedly remove the disease, but together with it the diseased too...
    from BOOKIV

    Richard Hooker (1553/4-1600) was one of the great theologians of the Church of England. He wrote his major work Ecclesiastical Polity, at the height of the controversy between Puritan and Catholic interests. It is a book which, with masterly elegance and restraint, deines the middle way of Anglicanism and has remained at the heart of the Anglican Communion. Hooker was sane, noble, sincere and supremely civilised. A classic of English prose, Ecclesiastical Polity establishes an Anglican perspective, suspended, as it were by Grace, between Geneva and Rome. One critic describes Hooker as an 'English Aristotle set to music'.

    This selection puts the massive work into manageable form. It follows the order of the orginal and links together the several books witha head-note to each. It reminds us not only of the immense, historical importance of Hooker's writings but also of its continuing relevance in embodying the principal ethos and practice of the Church of England at a time when its values are being called into question, ot least within the church itself.
    Table of Contents


    Select Bibliography

    THE PREFACE (to Ecclesiastical Polity)

    The occasion of the work (i)

    Spurious popularity of Puritanism (iii.3-iv.2)

    Public order and private conscience (vi.5-6)

    Consequences of private "inspiration" (vii.5-6,7,12)

    Final plea to Puritans (ix)

    What things are handled in the books following

    BOOK I

    Problems of apology (i)

    God as law (ii. 1-2,3-6)

    Law is nature (iii.1-2)

    Human yearning for perfection (v.1-2)

    Gradual improvement of human reason (vi.1-3,5)

    Will, appetite and reason (vii)

    Identifying virtue (viii)

    Value in observing law (ix)

    Law, society and government (x.1-7)

    The law of nations (x.12)

    The law of the Church (x.14-15)

    Man's chief good: The way of salvation (xi)

    The sufficiency of scripture (xiv)

    Divine laws and their interpretation(xv)

    Summary and the relation of law to ecclesiastical polity (xvi.1-2,8)


    Scripture not man's only law (ii.2)

    Scripture not the only ground of faith (iv.1-2)

    Exclusive reliance on scripture demeans human reason (vii,viii)


    The nature of the Church and its need of a polity (i.1-6)

    The word of God and reason (viii.4,10)

    Scripture, reason and the holy spirit (viii.13-15)

    Doctrine unchangeable, action not (x.7)

    Concluding refutation of the Puritans (xi.21)


    The purpose of ceremonies (i.3)

    Practice changes with time (ii.3)

    Need for moderation in process of change (viii.1)

    Anglican rites common with Rome really ancient Christian rites (ix.1)

    Gradual reform favoured by Church of England (xiv.1-3)

    BOOK V

    True religion and social order (i.1-2)

    Tests of church order (vi;vii;viii.1,2,5; ix.1,5)

    The purpose of the word of God (xxi.3;xxii.2)

    Prayer (xxiii)

    Public prayer (xxiv,xxv)

    Anglican, Roman and ancient practice (xxviii.1)

    Ministerial attire (xxix.1)

    Gesture and position in worship (xxx.1)

    The Psalms (xxxviii.2,3)

    Petitionary prayers (x1viii.2-4)

    The sacraments (1)

    The importance of the Incarnation (1i)

    The communion of Saints (ivi.7-8)

    The necessity of the sacraments (1vii)

    The three essentials of a sacrament (1viii.2)

    Baptism (1x.1-3;1xii.15)

    Inadmissibility of female ministry (1xii.2)

    Acceptance for baptism not dependent on Christian parentage (1xiv.5)

    The sign of the Cross in baptism and the value of signs and ceremonies (1xv.1-2,4)

    The Eucharist (1xvii.1-7,12)

    Dangers of excessive reform (1xv.20)

    Glory of the priestly vocation (1xxvii.1)


    Spiritual jurisdiction (ii.2)

    Penitence (iii.1-3,5)

    Confession in the Church of England (iv.15)


    The office of a bishop (ii.3)

    Value of episcopal authority (xiii.3;xviii.4-6)

    Episcopal succession (xiv.11)

    Church property - God's property (xxii.1)


    Church of England's universal cure of souls (i.2)

    Defence of divine rights (ii.5-6)

    Spiritual and temporal government of the Church (iv.10)

    King, parliament and church (vi.11)

    Glossary of Names


    Text and references are taken from the edition by John Keble, as revised by R.W. Church and Francis Paget (Oxford, 1888).

    Richard Hooker
    ' Richard Hooker was born in Exeter in 1553 or 1554, educated there and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he became and remained a fellow until called to the task out of which issued his great treatise. That calling was to become Master of the Temple, in 1584, effectively chaplain ... read more
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