A SURVAY OF THE PRETENDED HOLY DISCIPLINE. CONTAYNING THE BEGINNINGES, SUCCESSE, PARTS, PROCEEDINGS, AUTHORITY, AND DOCTRINE OF IT: WITH SOME OF THE MANIFOLD, AND MATERIALL REPUGNANCES, VARIETIES AND VNCERTAINETIES, IN THAT BEHALFE.
(London: John Wolfe, 1593). 193 x 145 mm. (7 5/8 x 5 3/4"). 4 p.l., 464 pp.,  leaf (lacking final blank). FIRST EDITION.
Contemporary limp vellum, flat spine with faded ink titling, yapp edges, pastedowns lifting to reveal remnants of green silk ties. In a modern blue linen clamshell box. Printer's device on title page, woodcut initials. Front flyleaf with early ink signature of George Whitgift (see below), with a slightly later "ex dono" added before his name in a different hand, which has also inscribed the motto "Sum columbini et amicorum" twice. STC 1352; ESTC S100667. ◆Vellum somewhat soiled, with a few creases to edges, persistent but small and pale stains to tail edge of leaves (never offensive), occasional rust spots or insignificant small stains, otherwise quite a fine copy--clean, fresh, and rather bright, with generous margins, in a sound, unsophisticated contemporary binding.
This is an important anti-Puritan work defending the Church of England's ecclesiastical hierarchy, written by the man who would oversee the production of the King James Bible. Future Archbishop of Canterbury Richard Bancroft (1544-1610) shows himself here to be a staunch defender of the Anglican Church establishment against the Puritans' attacks on the position of bishops and their arguments for scriptural supremacy. "Survay" is an extended version of his famous 1589 sermon at Paul's Cross, which Britannica considers "the first statement of the 'divine right' of episcopacy in Anglican apologetics." He defends the episcopacy as both scriptural and historical, and denounces the reformers' rejection of bishops. Bancroft became bishop of London in 1597, and in this position fulfilled many of the duties of the ailing Archbishop of Canterbury, and upon the archbishop's death, succeeded him as senior primate of the Anglican Church. In that position, he was responsible for setting the doctrinal and liturgical guidelines for translators of the King James Bible, overseeing that project. The earl of Clarendon credited Bancroft with rescuing the Church of England "out of the hands of the Calvinian party, and . . . the unruly spirit of the Non-conformists." The present copy once belonged to George Whitgift, brother of Bancroft's mentor and predecessor, Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift (1530-1604). In addition to this desirable early provenance, our volume's unsophisticated original binding and crisp internal condition make it particularly enticing. (ST14970)