Page images

a heavenly divine, being at this time fellow of Trinity college, Cambridge, was suspended by the commissioners, for preaching occasionally before he had taken orders, and obliged to sign the following recantation ;* “I confess that • I have rashly and indiscreetly taken upon me to preach,not • being licensed, nor admitted into holy orders, contrary to • the orders of the church of England, contrary to the example of all antiquity, and contrary to the direction of the apostle in the Acts; whereby I have given great and just offence to many ; and the more, because I have uttered in • my sermons certain impertinent, and very unfit speeches . for the auditory, as moving their minds to discontent with • the state, rather than tending to godly edification : for

which my presumption and indiscretion I am very hearti• ly sorry, and desire you to bear witness of this my con*fession, and acknowledging my said offences.” This recantation was by the archbishop's appointment to be uttered in Trinity-hall chapel, before Easter. In the mean while he was suspended from the profits of his fellowship, and stood bound to appear before the commissioners the first court-day of Easter term, if he did not before that time recant. Whether Mr. Hildersham recanted I am not certain, but Sept. 14, 1587, he left the university, and settled at Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire, where he continued a deep sufferer for non-conformity forty-three years, having been suspended and put to silence by the high commission no less than four times, and continued under that hardship almost twenty years.

This year put an end to the life of the famous martyrologist John Fox, a person of indefatigable labor and industry, and an exile for religion in Queen Mary's days; he spent all his time abroad in compiling the acts and monuments of the church of England, which were published first in latin, and afterwards, when he returned to his native country, in English, with enlargements ; vast was the pains he took in searching records, and collecting materials for this work; and such was its esteem, that it was ordered to be set up in all the parish churches in England. Mr. Fox was born at Boston in Lincolnshire, 1517, educated in Bra

* Fuller, b. ix. p. 642.

zen Nose college, Oxon, where he proceeded M.A. in the year 1543. He was afterwards tutor to the duke of Norfolk's children, who in the days of Queen Mary conveyed him privately out of the kingdom. He was a most learn. ed, pious, and judicious divine, of a catholic spirit, and against all methods of severity in religion. But he was shamefully neglected for some years, because he was a nonconformist, and refused to subscribe the canons and ceremonies ; nor did he get any higher preferment in the church than a prebend of Salisbury, though the Queen used to call him father, and professed a high veneration for him; as indeed he deserved. He died in London in the 70th year of his age, and lies buried in Cripplegate church, where bis monument is still to be seen, against the south wall of the chancel, with a flat marble stone over his remains.

It has been observed, that our first reformers admitted only two orders of church officers to be of divine appoint. ment, viz. bishops and deacons, a presbyter and bishop according to them being two names for the same office; but Dr. Bancroft the archbishop's chaplain, in a sermon at Paul's Cross, Jan. 12, 1588, maintained, that the bishops of England were a distinct order from priests, and had superiority over them JURE DIVINO, and directly from God. He affirmed this to be God's own appointment, though not by express words, yet by necessary consequence; and that the denial of it was heresy. The doctor confessed, that Aerius had maintained, there was no difference between a priest and a bishop; but that Epiphanius had pronounced his assertion full of folly ; and that it had been condemned as heresy by the general council of the church; that Martin and his companions had maintained the same opinion ; but that St. Hierom and Calvin bad confessed, that bishops have had superiority over presbyters, ever since the times of St. Mark the evangelist. This was new and strange doctrine to the churchmen of these times. It had been always said, that the superiority of the order of bishops above presbyters had been a politic human appointment, for the more orderly government of the church, begun about the third or fourth century ; but Bancroft was one of the first, who by the archbishop's directions advanced it into a DI

VINE RIGHT.* His sermon gave offence to many of the clergy and to all the friends of the puritans about the court, who would have brought the preacher into a præmunire, for saying, that any subject of this realm hath superiority over the persons of the clergy, otherwise than frem and by her majesty's authority. But the doctor retorted this argument upon the disciplinarians, and added, that it was no better than a sophism, because the prince's authority may, and very often does confirm and corroborate that which is primarily from the laws of God. Sir Francis Knollys, who had this affıir at heart, told the archbishop that Baneroft's assertion was contrary to the command of Christ, who condemned all superiority among the apostles. “I do

not deny (says he) that bishops may have lordly authority and dignity, provided they claim it not from an higher au*thority than her majesty's grant. If the bishops are not 6 under-governors to her majesty of the clergy, but superior• governors over their brethren by God's ordinance, [i. e.

Jure Divino] it will then follow that her majesty is not

supreme governor over her clergy." . The same gentleman, not relying upon his own judgment, wrote to the learned Dr. Reynolds of Oxford, for his opinion of Bancroft's doctrine, which he gave him in a letter now before me.t

* Life of Whitgift, p. 292. † The letter is to this effect :

- Though Epiphanius says, that Aerius' assertion is full of folly, - he does not disprove his reasons from scripture ; nay,


arguments are so weak, that even Bellarmine confesses they are not agreeable to the text. As for the general consent of the church, which, the doctor

says, condemned Aerius' opinion for heresy, what proof does he bring • for it? It appears (he says) in Epiphanius ; but I say it does not ;

and the contrary appears by St. Jerom, and sundry others who lived

about the same time. I grant that St. Austin, in his book of heresies • ascribes this to Aerius for one ; that he said there ought to be no dif'ference between a priest and a bishop, because this was to condemn the church's order, and to make a schism therein. But it is a quite dif• ferent thing to say, that by the word of God there is a difference be

tween them, and to say that it is by the ORDER AND CUSTOM OF THE CHURCH; which is all that St. Austin maintains. When Harding the papist alledged these very witnesses, to prove the opinion of bishops • and priests being of the same order to be heresy ; our learned bishop « Jewel cited to the contrary Chrysostom, Jerom, Ambrose, and St. Austin • himself, and concluded his answer with these words : All these and VOL. I.


We shall meet with this controversy again hereafter.— Whitgift said, the doctor's sermon had done much good, though he himself rather wished than believed it to be true: It was new doctrine at this time. Most of the clergy who approved the superiority of the episcopal order, were against the divine right; but the bishops in the next age 6 other more holy fathers, together with the apostle PAUL, for thus, by HARDING's advice, must be held for heretics, Michael al

dina, a man of great account in the council of Trent, adds to the fore( mentioned testimonies, Theodorus, Primarius, Sedulius, Theophylact,

with whom agree Oecumenius the Greek scholiast, Anselm arehbishop of Canterbury, Gregory, and Gratian ; and after them how many? I

being once enrolled in the eanon law for catholie duetrine, and there • upon taught by learned men.

* Besides, all that have labored in reforming the church for 500 years have taught, that all pastors, be they entitled bishops or priests, • have equal authority and power by God's word ; as first the Falda

ses, next Marsilius Patavinus, then Wickliffe and his scholars, after• wards Ilusse and the Hussites ; and last of all, Luther, Calvin, Brenti: cus, Bullinger, and Musculus. Among ourselves we have bishops, the Queen's professors of divinity in our universities, and other learned

men consenting herein, as Bradford, Lambert, Jewel, Pilkingtor, Huta* phreys, Fulke, &c. But what do I speak of particular persons ? It is

the common judgment of the reformed ehurehes of Helvetia, Saray, · France, Scotland, Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Low Countries, and our own. I hope Dr. Bancroft will not say, that all these have ap

proved that for sound doctrine which was condemned by the general • consent of the whole church for heresy, in a most flourishing time; I

hope be will acknowledge that he was overseen, when he arouched • the superiority which bishops have among us over the clergy to be God's OWN ORDINANCE.

“ As for the doctor's saying that St. Jerom, and Calvin from him, con• fessed that bishops have had the same superiority ever since the time

of St. Mark, the evangelist, I think him mistaken, because neither Jerom says it, nor does Calvin seem to confess it on his report ; for

bishops among us may do sundry other things, besides ordaining and laying on of hands, which inferior ministers or priests may not; where• as St. Jerom says, What does a bishop except ordination which a priest

does not? meaning, that in his time bishops had only that power above priests; which Chrysostom also witnesses in Homily xi. on 1 Timotky. Nor had they this privilege alone in all places, for in the council of

Carthage it is said, that the priests laid their hands together with the bishop's on those who were ordained. And at St. Jerom having prora .ed by scripture, that in the apostles time bishops and priests were all

one, yet granteth that afterwards bishops had that peculiar to themselves somewhere, but nothing else ; so that St. Jerom does not say concerning the superiority in question, that bishops have had it even since St. Mark's time.

revived the debate, and carried their pretensions so high, as to subvert the very foundations upon which they built.

The Queen having suffered Mary Queen of Scots to be beheaded at Fotheringay castle, Feb. 1587-8, all the Roman catholic princes were alarmed, and threatened revenge ; among others, the Spaniards hasted their invinci. ble armada, to reduce England to the catholic faith, which had been three years preparin; at a prodigious expense : The fleet was well manned, and furnished with strange instruments of torture for the English heretics ; they came through the channel like so many floating castles, being to take in a land army from the Low Countries; but partly by storms, and partly by the valor and wise conduct of the Queen's admirals and sea captains, the whole fleet was burnt and destroyed, so that not a Spaniard set foot upon English ground; nor was there a ship left entire to carry the news back to Spain. The Queen ordered the coasts to be well guarded, and raised a land army, which she animated by appearing at the head of them. A terror was spread through the whole nation by reports of the engines of cruelty that were aboard the fleet; their barbarous usage of the poor protestants in the Low Countries under the duke D Ava was remembered, as well as their bloody massacres of the poor Indians in America : But the storm blew over; and by the blessing of God upon the Queen's arms the nation was soon restored to its former tranquillity.

The following winter the Queen summoned a parliament “ Nor does Calvin confess it; he says, that in old time ministers chose one out of their company in every city, to whom they gave the title of bishops ; yet the bishop was not above them in honor and dig. "nity, but, as consuls in the senate, propose matters, ask their opin'ions, direct others by giving advice, by admonishing, by exhorting and so guide the whole action, and by their authority see that perforined which was agreed on by common consent; the same charge had the bishop in the assembly of ministers; and having shewed from St. • Jerom, that this was brought in by consent of men, he adds, that it i was an ancient order of the church'even from St. Márk ; from whence it is apparent, that the order of the church he mentions, has relation

to that above described, in which he affirms, that the bishop was not 6 so above the rest in honor as to have rule over them. It follows there. • fore, that Calvin does not so much as seem to confess of St. Jerom's report, that ever since St. Mark's time bishops have had a ruling su periority over the clergy."

« PreviousContinue »