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ters to your lordships; and if you shall please to call us to the proof of them, it is the thing we most desire.”
This supplication produced a letter from the council to the judges of the assize, commanding them not to give ear to malicious informers against peaceful and faithful ministers, nor to match them at the bar with rogues, felons, or papists ; but to put a difference in the face of the world, between those of another faith, and they who differ only about ceremonies, and yet diligently and soundly preach true religion. The judges were struck with this letter, and the bishop of London, with his attendants, returned from his visitation full of discontent. Indeed his lordship bad made himself so many enemies, that he grew weary of his bishopric, and petitioned the Queen to exchange it for that of Ely, that he might retire and be out of the way; or rather, that he might kindle a new flame in those parts ; but her majesty refused his request.
· Notwithstanding these slight appearances in favor of the puritans, two ministers of the Brownist persuasion were condemned, and put to death this summer for non-conformity, viz. Mr. Elias Thacker, hanged at St. Edmundsbury, June 4th, and Mr. John Copping two days after, June 6th, 1583. Their indictments were for spreading certain books seditiously penned by Robert Brown against the book of common prayer established by the laws of this realm. The sedition charged upon Brown's book was, that it subverted the constitution of the church, and acknowledged her majesty's supremacy civilly, but not otherwise, as appears by the report which the judges sent to court, viz. That the prisoners instead of acknowledging her majesty's supremacy in all causes, would allow it only in civil.* This the judges took hold of to aggravate their offence to the Queen, after they had passed sentence upon them, on the late statute of the 230 Eliz. against spreading seditious libels, and for refusing the oath of supremacy. Mr. Copping had suffered a long and illegal-imprisonment from the bishop of his diocese; his wife being brought to bed while he was under confinement, he was charged with not
Strype's Annals, vol. iii. p. 186.
suffering his child to be baptised ; to which he answered, that his conscience could not admit it to be done with god. fathers and godmothers, and he could get no preacher to do it without. He was accused further with saying, the Queen was perjured, because she bad sworn to set forth God's glory directly as by the scriptures are appointed, and did not; but these were only circumstances, to support the grand charge of sedition in spreading Brown's book. However, it seemed a little hard to hang men for spread. ing a seditious book, at a time when the author of that ve. ry book [Brown] was pardoned and set at liberty. Both the prisoners died by their principles; for though Dr. Still the archbishop's chaplain, and others, travailed and conferred with them, yet at the very hour of their death they remained immoveable : They were both sound in the doc. trinal articles of the church of England, and of unblemished lives.* One Wilsford a layman should have suffered with them, but upon conference with secretary Wilson, who told him the Queen's supremacy might be understood only of her majesty's civil power over ecclesiastical persons, he took the oath and was discharged.
While the bishops were thus harrassing honest and conscientious ministers, for scrupling the ceremonies of the church, practical religion was at a very low ebb; the fashionable vices of the times were, profane swearing,drunkenness, Tevelling, gaming, and profanation of the Lord's day; yet there was no discipline for these offenders, nor do I find any such, cited into the spiritual courts, or shut up in prisons. If men came to their parish churches, and approved of the habits and ceremonies, other offences were overlooked, and
S Bishop Warburton imputes it to party and prejudice in Mr. Neal, that he doth not point out the difference in this case; which his lordship states to be the same as between “ the dispensers of poison hanged for “ going on obstinately in mischief, and of him who compounded the
poison, but was on his repentance pardoned.” But no such distinction existed, and his lordship lost sight of the real state of the case.Brown did not renounce his principles till seven years after he was committed to prison for publishing his book, and was dismissed not on his repentance, but at the intercession of the lord treasurer. So far from repenting, he went up and down inveighing against bishops, &c. and gathered a separate congregation on his own principles. See our Author, p. 329, 30.
* Strype's Annals, vol. ii. p. 532, 3.
the court was easy. At Paris Gardens, in Southwark, there were public sports on the Lord's day for the entertainment of great numbers of people who resorted thither ; but on the 13th of January being Sunday, it happened that one of the scaffolds, being crowded with people, fell down, by which accident some were killed, and a great many wounded. This was thought to be a judgment from Heaven; for the lord-mayor, in the account he gives of it to the treasurer, says, “ That it gives great occasion to acknowl6 edge the hand of God for such abuse of his sabbath day, and moveth me in conscience to give order for redress of
such contempt of God's service; adding, that for this pur6 pose he had treated with some justices of peace in Surry,
who expressed a very good zeal, but allerged want of . commission, which he referred to the consideration of « his lordship.”* But the court paid no regard to such remonstrances; and the Queen had her ends, in encouraging the sports, pastimes, and revellings of the people on Sundays and holidays. This
year died the famous northern apostle Mr. Bernard Gilpin, minister of Houghton in the bishopric of Durham. He was born at Kentmire in Westmoreland, 1517, of an ancient and honorable family, and was entered into Queen's college, Oxford, in the year 1533. He continued a papist all the reign of King Henry VIII. but was converted by the lectures of Peter Martyr, in the beginning of the reign of Edward VI. He was remarkably honest, and open to conviction, but did not separate from the Romish commun. ion till he was persuaded the pope was antichrist. Cuthbert Tonstal, bishop of Durham, was his uncle by the mother's side, by whose encouragement he travelled to Paris, Lovain, and other parts, being still for the real presence of Christ in the sacrament, though not for transubstantiation. Returning home in the days of Queen Mary, bis uncle placed him first in the rectory of Essington, and afterwards at Houghton, a large parish containing fourteen villages ; here he labored in the work of the ministry, and was often exposed to danger, but constantly preserved by his uncle bishop Tonstal, who was averse to burning men for religion. Mis
* Strype's Annals, vol.ji. p. 532, 3.
erable and heathenish was the condition of these northern counties at this time, with respect to religion ! Mr. Gilpin beheld it with tears of compassion, and resolved at his own expence to visit the desolate churches of Northumberland, and the parts adjoining, called Riddesdale and Tindale, once every year, to preach the gospel, and distribute to the necessities of the poor, which he continued till his death ; this gained him the veneration of all ranks of people in those parts ; but though he had such a powerful skreen as bishop Tonstal, yet the fame of his doctrine, which was Lutheran, reaching the ears of Bonner, he sent for him to London ; the reverend man ordered his servant to prepare him a long shirt, expecting to be burnt, but before he came to London Queen Mary died. Upon the accession of Queen Elizabeth, Mr. Gilpin, having a fair estate of his own, e. rected a grammar-school, and allowed maintenance for a master and usher ; himself choosing out of the school such as he liked best for his own private instruction. Many learned men, who afterwards adorned the church by their labors and uprightness of life, were educated by him in his domestic academy. Many gentlemen's sons resorted to him, some of whom were boarded in the town, and others in his own house ; besides, he took many poor men's sons under his care, giving them meat, drink, clothes, and education.
In the year 1560, he was offered the bishopric of Carlisle, anrl was urged to accept it by the earl of Bedford, bishop Sandys, and others, with the most powerful motives ; but he desired to be excused, and in that resolution remained unmoveable: His reasons were taken from the largeness of the dioceses, which were too great for the inspection of one person ; for he was so strongly possessed of the duty of bishops, and of the charge of souls that was committed to them, that he could never be persuaded to keep two livings, over both of which he could not have a personalinspection, and perform all the offices of a pastor; he added further, that he had so many friends and relations in those parts to gratify or connive at, that he could not continue an honest man and be their bishop. But though Mr. Gilpin would not be a bishop, he supplied the place of one, by preaching:
by hospitality, by erecting schools, by taking care of the poor, and providing for destitute churches; in all which he was countenanced and encouraged, by the learned and reverend James Pilkington, then bishop of Durham, by whom he was excused from subscriptions, habits, and a strict observance of ceremonies, it being his fixed opinion, that no human invention should take place in the church, instead of a diviné institution. After bishop Pilkington's death Dr. Barnes was chosen his successor, who was disgusted at Mr. Gilpin's popularity, and gave him trouble: Once when he was setting out upon his annual visitation to Riddesdale and Tindal, the bishop summoned him to preach before him, which he excused in the handsomest manner he could, and went his progress; but upon bis return, he found himself suspended for contempt, from all ecclesiastical employments. The bishop afterwards sent for him again on a sudden, and commanded him to preach, but then he pleaded his suspension, and his not being provided; the bishop immediately took off his suspension, and would not excuse his preaching, upon which he went into the pulpit, and discoursed upon the high charge of a christian bishop; and having exposed the corruptions of the clergy, he boldly addressed himself to his lordship in these words; “Let not 'your lordship say, these crimes have been committed without my knowledge, for whatsoever you yourself do in person, or suffer through your connivance to be done by others, is wholly your own; therefore, in the presence of God, 6 angels and men, I pronounce your fatherhood to be the
author of all these evils; and I and this whole congrega• tion will be a witness in the day of judgment, that these * things have come to your ears." All men thought the bishop would have deprived Mr. Gilpin for this freedom, as soon as he came out of the pulpit, but by the good providence of God, it had a quite different effect; the bishop thanked him for his faithful reproof, and after this suffered him to go on with his annual progress, giving him no further disturbance. At length his lean body being quite worn out with labor and travail, and feeling the approaches of death, he commanded the poor to be called together, and took a solemn leave of them; afterwards he did the VOL. I.