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vation to the stinking puddles of men's traditions, devised by men's imaginations."
By the same unmistakeable language, setting at defiance the traditions of the proud Church of Rome, and referring to the pure fountain-head of theology, the preachers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries especially distinguished themselves. While Sir Thomas More, who was driven by his opinions to persecute the Protestants, cast in his great influence on one side, Hugh Latimer (who suffered martyrdom under Mary at Oxford) fought on the other. He was educated, of course, in the faith of Rome, but became converted by the preaching of Master “Thomas Bilney, or rather Saint Bilney, that suffered death, for God's word's sake,” as he affectionately calls him. Cardinal Wolsey caused Latimer and Bilney to be tried; and Bilney, afraid of the terrors of the law, recanted, and saved them both. But set at liberty, Bilney's conscience revolted. He again avowed his Protestantism, and was duly burnt alive. Latimer, however, by the unlooked-for kindness of Henry VIII. was made Bishop of Worcester, which see he vacated on the passing of six articles in Parliament, establishing Popery. In Edward VI.'s time he was in favour at Court, but never again served the office of bishop; and being, in Queen Mary's time, summoned before the council, would not abjure his opinions, but went cheerfully to death. “This place has long groaned for me,” he exclaimed, when he came to the stake (1555); and his noble adjuration to his fellow-martyr was, “Be of good cheer, brother Ridley, and play the man! for we shall this day light such a candle in England as by God's grace shall never be put out."
Latimer and Cranmer are noticeable in English literature as having improved the style of preaching. The monks and preachers in England and in Germany before the Reformation, had degenerated in style; they told ridiculous stories of saints, repeated incidents often trivial or immoral, which they dwelt upon with unction; and the sermon, which was really a discourse (sermo), not a reading (lectio), from a written paper,—was too often a farrago of nonsense. Cranmer discountenanced the tales of false miracles of which the pulpit addresses of his day were largely made up. He and Latimer instructed preachers to enlarge upon Bible texts; they themselves explained the Word of God, and led their hearers to understand the sacred writings. Latimer's sermons are by no means like the polished discourses of a later age. They are full of anecdote, jests, puns even; but in them lies the essence of all true religion, earnest piety, and deep humility.
It may not be out of place here to refer to a celebrated work which, having circulated throughout the length and breadth of the land, has not been without its share in forming the opinions of the people—Foxe's “Acts and Monuments of these latter and perillous dayes, touching matters of the Church,” &c. (1562-3) -commonly called the "Book of Martyrs," a work on which the author laboured for eleven years, and in which he has put, says Burnet, no “errors nor prevarications, but the utmost fidelity and exactness.” More dreadful stories than many that he relates it would be impossible to find; and these stories are told with a simplicity that carries conviction of the truth with it. Sometimes Foxe, it is said, " loses his temper, and sullies his pages with coarse language;" but the wonder is that, feel
ing as he did, and being so near to the times of the martyrdoms, he did not burst out into continual imprecations on the stupid and cruel wrong-doers, who, when tying maidens and young men to the stake, often struck and reviled them. It will be well to study this book, if it be only to realise the intense hatred that religious intolerance can produce, and the cruelties that it gives birth to. Let it be remembered, too, that Romanists are not solely blameable on this score; barbarities of a shameful kind were, in England and elsewhere, inflicted on them in return by those of the Reformed faith. Another writer with whom acquaintance should be made is Richard Hooker (1553-1600), the author of a treatise “Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity," a defence of the Church of England against Puritans and others, conducted with so much temper, sweetness, piety, sagacity, and such an amount of learning, that it has universally obtained for its author the soubriquet of “the judicious Hooker.” This work was the fruit of a lifetime almost entirely dedicated to it. “I shall never, my lord,” he wrote to his archbishop, “ be able to finish what I have begun, unless I be removed to some quiet parsonage, where I may see God's blessings spring out of mother earth, and eat my own bread in peace and quietness, meditating my approaching mortality, and that account all flesh must give at last to God.” In such a parsonage, presented by Queen Elizabeth, the good man finished his work, the last three books of which were not printed till after his death. A few days before this event, his house was robbed. “ Are my papers safe?” inquired the pious author. “Yes,” was the reply. “Then it matters not,” he said, “ for no other loss can trouble me.” It is no
wonder that, when the divines of the Church were men so constituted, their sermons were full of life and interest, nor that their writings have taken an honourable place in the literature of their country.
ERMONS are now considered dull things.
When a person relates how a scolding has been given him, or a reproof administered, he says, “Mr. preached
me a regular sermon.' This should not be. Sermons are discourses upon the most interesting and life-like topics. They concern us here and hereafter. The preacher has the finest themes in the world; if therefore he send his hearers to sleep, or fail to awaken a lively attention, he is manifestly an unfit man, and should cease from preaching. For people like sermons: they will listen to them eagerly, and read them attentively when they are good. When they are bad, like sweetness turned to vinegar, they are bitterly
And truly no other workman than the parsonsave the king—is allowed to supply his customers with such bad work. When the novelist is bad, the political writer silly, or the essayist dull, the people refuse their adhesion, and will not read; but the parson, master of the situation, can afford to inflict upon his hearers the