The multi-volume work, Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity was written by Richard Hooker in the late 1500’s, largely to answer a number of Radical Puritan criticisms of the English Church as it stood at the time. Hooker was also often appointed to debate with Papists, so when he set out to write this great work he ended up paving the grounds for what would become known as the Anglican tradition, neither Papist nor Puritan, more conservatively and carefully in line with the continental Protestant churches.
On this page I’m providing an outline of these books, and will include links to various articles about this book I type them up. I am particularly using the “translation”, or modernized text, published by the Davenant Institute. Many of the section headings below are from that edition.
The Preface: RADICALISM, When Reform Becomes Revolution
- The Cause and Occasion for Writing this Work and What is Hoped for from Those for Whom Such Pains are Taken
- The First Establishment of Presbyterian Discipline by John Calvin in Geneva and the Beginning of the Conflict in the Church of England
- How So Many People Come to be Trained to Approve of this Discipline
- What Has Made the More Learned Approve this Discipline
- Their Call for a Trial by Debate
- No End to Conflict Until Both Sides Submit to a Definitive Judgement
- An Outline of the Remaining Books
- Why We Have Many Good Reasons to Fear the Consequences of Your Reformation, if it Indeed Took Place
Book I: DIVINE LAW and HUMAN NATURE
- The Reason for Writing this General Discourse
- The Law by which God has from the Beginning Determined to Do all Things
- The Law by which Natural Agents Work
- The Law by which Angels Work
- The Law by which Man is Directed to the Imitation of God
- How Men First Begin to Know the Law they Should Observe
- Man’s Will, which Laws of Action are Made to Guide
- Of the Natural Way to Find Out Laws by Reason to Lead the Will to What is Good
- The Advantages of Keeping the Law Taught by Reason
- How Reason Leads Men to Make the Laws by which Political Societies are Governed and to Agree about Laws of Fellowship between Independent Societies
- Why God has made Known in Scripture Supernatural Laws to Direct Men’s Steps
- Why So Many Natural Laws and Laws of Reason are Found in Scripture
- The Advantage of Having Such Divine Laws Written
- The Sufficiency of Scripture unto the End for which it was Instituted
- Positive Laws in Scripture, how Some of them are Changeable, and the General Use of Scripture
- Conclusion: How All of This Pertains to the Present Controversy
Book II: THE WORD OF GOD
- How Far Does the Authority of Scripture Extend?
- Doing All Things to the Glory of God
- Must All Things Be Sanctified by the Word of God?
- Acting Without Clear Direction from Scripture
- Negative Arguments Derived from Scripture
- Arguments from Scripture’s Silence
- The Proper Weight of Human Authority
Book III: THE WORDS OF MAN
- Defining the Church
- Must Scripture Contain a Complete System of Church Government?
- Church Government is not a Matter of Salvation
- We Do Not Dishonor Scripture
- The Word of God and the Words of Man
- All Churches Add Laws Beyond Scripture
- The Appeal to “General Rules of Scripture”
- Reason May Also Serve as a Tool of the Spirit
- The Right Use of Reason in Devising Church Laws
- Why Scriptural Commands May Not Always Bind
- Can Biblical Laws Be Changed?
Book IV: IN DEFENSE OF REFORMED CATHOLIC WORSHIP
- The Importance of Liturgy
- Their Demand for Apostolic Simplicity
- The Charge that we Follow Rome
- Must All Roman Ceremonies Go?
- The Status of the Medieval Church
- Are Papists the Same as Canaanites?
- The Example of the Early Church
- The Danger of Swerving to the Opposite Extreme
- It Does not matter what Rome Thinks of Our Liturgy
- The Laments of “The Godly”
- The Charge that our Ceremonies are Judaizing
- Stumbling-blocks for Weaker Brethren
- Conformity to Foreign Reformed Churches
- In Defense of the Church of England’s Proceedings