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could to prevent such as were disaffected to the constitution of the church, that is, all puritans, from coming into the house ; but some thought it a little out of character for an archbishop to appear so publicly in the choice of the people's representatives. The house being thus modelled, did not meddle with the foundations of discipline, or form of public worship ; but several bills were brought in to regulate abuses in spiritual courts, as against licences to marry without bands, against excessive fees, frivolous citations ex officio, and excommunications for little matters, as two pence or three pence. These and all other bills of this nature were, according to custom, quashed by a message from the Queen, forbidding them to touch her prerogative; and assuring them, that she would take the aforesaid grievances into her princely consideration. Accordingly her majesty referred these matters to the convocation; it being her steady maxim, not to proceed in matters of the church by statutes, which the parliament alone could repeal, but rather by canons, which she could confirm or dispense with at pleasure. The convocation drew up some regulations upon these and other heads, relating to ecclesiastical courts, which the Queen confirmed by her letters patent January 18th, in the 40th year of her reign. They were printed the same year by her authority, and may be seen in bishop Sparrow's collection of articles, injunctions, &c.
But still the ecclesiastical courts were an insufferable grievance : the oppressions which people underwent from the bottomless deep of the canon law, put them upon removing their causes into Westminster-hall, by getting prohibitions to stay proceedings in the bishops courts, or in the high commission. This awakened the archbishop, who, in order to support the civilians, drew up certain queries to be considered by the lords and judges of the land touching prohibitions ; of which this was the principal, “ That seeing ecclesiastical authority is as truly vested in • the crown as temporal, whether the Queen's temporal au6thority should any more restrain her ecclesiastical, than her 6 ecclesiastical should her temporal? And seeing so ma
many,and Life of Whitgift, p. 508.
6 so great personages with some others, are trusted to do her
majesty service in her ecclesiastical commission, whether it • be convenient, that an offender, ready to be censured,should • obtain, and publicly throw into court a prohibition, to the de"lay of justice, and to the disgrace and disparagement of those who serve freely, without all fee therein." The archbishop caused a list to be made of divers cases, wherein the christian court, as he called it, had been interrupted by the temporal jurisdiction ; and of many causes that had been taken out of the hands of the bishops courts, the high commission, and the court of delegates;
the former authorized by immediate commission from the Queen, and the latter by a special commission upon an appeal to her court of Chancery.* But notwithstanding all these efforts of Whitgift and his successor Bancroft, the number of prohibitions increased every year; the nobility, gentry, and judges, being too wise to subject their estates and liberties to a number of artful civilians, versed in a codex or body of laws, of most uncertain authority, and strangers to the common and sta. tute laws, without the check of a prohibition ; when it was notorious, that the canon law had been always since the reformation controled by the laws and statutes of the realm. Thus the civilians sunk in their business under the two next archbishops, till LAUD governed the church, who terrifying the judges from granting prohibitions, the Spiritual courts, Star-chamber, Council table, and high commissioners rode triumphant, fining, imprisoning, and banishing men at their pleasure, till they became as terrible as the Spanish inquisition, and brought upon the nation all the confusions and desolations of a civil war.
From this time to the Queen's death, there was a kind of cessation of arms between the church and puritans; the combatants were out of breath, or willing to wait for better times. Some apprehended that the puritans were vanquished, and their numbers lessened by the severe execution of the penal laws; whereas it will appear, by a survey in the beginning of the next reign, that the non-conforming clergy were about fifteen hundred. But the true reason was this, thie Queen was advanced in years, and could not live long in
* Life of Whitgift, p. 537.
a course of nature, and the next heir to the crown being a presbyterian, the bishops were cautious of acting against a party for whom his majesty had declared, not knowing what revenge he might take, when he was fixed on the throne; and the puritans were quiet, in hopes of great matters to be done for them upon the expected change. Notwithstanding all former repulses from court, the Queen's last parliament, which sat in the year 1601, renewed their attacks upon the ecclesiastical courts; a bill being brought in to examine into bishops leases, and to disable them from taking fines; another against pluralities and nonresidents ; and another againt commissaries and archdeacons courts. Multitudes of complaints came to the house against the proceedings of the ordinaries ea mero officio, without due presentments preceding, and against the frequent keeping their courts, so that the church-wardens were sometimes cited to two or three spiritual courts at once;” complaint was made of their charging the country with quar. terly bills; of the great number of apparitors, and petty summoners, who seized upon people for trifling offences; of the admission of curates by officials and commissaries, without the bishop's knowledge, and without testimonials of their conversation; of scandalous commutations of penance, and divers abuses of the like kind; but the Queen would not suffer the house to debate them, referring them to the archbishop, who wrote to his brethren the bishops, to endeavor as much as possible to reform the above-mentioned grievances, which, says he,t have produced multitudes of complaints in parliament; and had they not been prevented by great circumspection, and promise of careful reformation, there might, perhaps, have ensued the taking away of the whole, or most of those courts. “Soprudently diligent was * the archbishop (says Mr. Strype) to keep up the juris* diction of the bishops courts, and the wealthy estate of the * clergy, by preserving non-residencies to them.” There was another bill brought into the house, to punish voluntary absence from church; the forfeiture was to be twelve pence each Sunday, to be levied by distress, by a war.
* Life of Whitgift, p. 546, 547. f Life of Whitgift, p. 547, 542,
rant from a justice of peace; but the bill was opposed, because there was a severe law already against recusants, of twenty pounds per month ; and because, if this bill should pass, a justice of peace's house would, like a quarter-sessigns, be crowded with a multitude of informers : It was likewise against magna charta, which entitles every man to be tried by his peers, whereas by this act, two witnesses before a justice of peace were sufficient.* The bill however was engrossed, and being put to the question, the Noes carried it by a single voice; upon which the Yeas said the speaker was with them, which made the number even. The question was then put whether the speaker had a voice, which being carried in the negative, the bill miscarried.
The convocation did nothing but give the Queen four subsidies to be collected in four years, and receive an exhortation from the archbishop to observe the canons passed in the last convocation. They met October the 18th, and were dissolved with the parliament December 19th following
This year (1602) died the rev’d and learned Mr. Wm. Perkins, born at Marston in Warwickshire in the first year of Queen Elizabeth, and educated in Christ's college, Cambridge, of which he was fellow: He was one of the most famous practical writers and preachers of his age; and being a strict Calvinist, he published several treatises in favor of those doctrines, which involved him in a controversy with Arminius then professor of divinity at Leyden, that continued to his death. He was a puritan non-conformist, and a favorer of the discipline, for which he was once or twice before the high commission ; but his peaceable behavior, and great fame in the learned world, procured him a dispensation from the persecutions of his bretbren. Mr. Perkins was a little man, and wrote with his left hand, being lame of his right. His works, which were printed in three vols. fol. shew him to have been a most pious, holy, and industrious divine, considering he lived only 44 years.t * Collier's Eccl. Hist.
p. + Many of his works were translated into Dutch, Spanish, French, and Italian, and are still in estimation in Germany. Mr. Orton, who by his mother's side descended in a direct line from Mr. Perkins' elder brother, speaks of him as an excellent writer, clear and judicious; and re
To sum up the state of religion throughout this long reign. It is evident that the parliament, the people, and great num. bers of the inferior clergy, were for carrying the reformation further than the present establishment. The first bishops came into it with this view; they declared against the popish habits and ceremonies, and promised to use all their interest with the Queen for their removal; but how soon they forgot themselves, when they were warm in their chairs, the foregoing history has discovered. * Most of the first reformers were of Erastian principles, looking upon the church as a mere creature of the state : They gave up every thing to the crown, and yielded to the supreme magistrate the absolute direction of the consciences, or at least of the religious profession of all his subjects. They acknowl. edged only two orders of clergy of divine institution, viz. bishops or priests, and deacons. They admitted the ordinations of foreign churches by mere presbyters, till towards the middle of this reign, when their validity began to be disputed and denied. Whitgift was the first who defended the hierarchy, from the practice of the third, fourth and fifth centuries, when the Roman empire became christian; but Bancroft divided off the bishops from the priesthood, and advanced them into a superior order by divine right, with the sole power of ordination, and the keys of discipline; so that from his time there were reckoned three orders of clergy in the English hierarchy, viz. bishops, priests, and deacons. Thus the church advanced in her claims, and removed by degrees to a greater distance from the foreign protestants.
The controversy with the puritans had only a small be. ginning, viz. the imposing of the popish habits and a few indifferent ceremonies; but it opened by degrees into a refor. mation of discipline, which all confessed was wanting; and commends his works to all ministers,especially young ones, as affording large materials for composition.
Orton's Letters to a Young Clergyman, p. 39, 40. Ev. * Bishop Warburton informs us, from Selden de Synedriis, that Erastus' famous book de E.xcommunicatione was purchased by Whitgift ef Erastus' widow in Germany, and put by him to the press in London, under fictitious names of the place and printer.
Supplemental Volume to Warburton's Works, p. 473. ED.