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A most determined enemy to the reformation, was Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, and chancellor of England, born about 1483, at Bury St. Edmund's, in Suffolk. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he distinguished himself by his knowledge of Greek, for his promptitude in writing and speaking Latin, and for his talents in general. He subsequently confined his studies almost exclusively to the civil and canon law, in which sciences he took the degree of doctor in 1521. His reputation at the university recommended him to the notice of the duke of Norfolk, and particularly to Cardinal Wolsey, who took him into his house. From this situation he gradually rose to the high station which he ultimately filled. In 1531, he was consecrated bishop of Winchester. On the disgrace of Cromwell he was elected chancellor of the university of Cambridge; and on the accession of queen Mary, in 1553, was declared chancellor of England. He died in 1555.
Gardiner, from his talents, his age, and authority, was the most formidable opposer of the reformation. He was willing to submit to the ecclesiastical model established by Henry VIII, whose wisdom and learning he was forward to extol; but was afraid to allow, and therefore strenuously opposed all further innovation. The attack on the popish superstitions was now begun by the protestants from various quarters. Ridley, bishop of London, afterwards fellow martyr with Latimer, in a sermon preached before the court at the commencement of this reign, boldly attacked the use of images and holy water; superstitions which were defended by Gardiner, in a letter written to Ridley in consequence of that ser
I shall extract certain parts of this long letter as a specimen of the bishop's manner, as likewise, of the opinions common in that age. The letter is preserved in Foxe's Acts and Monuments, and is by no means marked by that absurdity, which the nature of the subject would seem to indicate,
Master Ridley, after right hearty commendations, it chanced me upon Wednesday last past, to be present at your sermon in the court, wherein I heard you confirm the doctrine in religion, set forth by our late sovereign lord and master, whose soul God pardon, admonishing your audience, that ye would specially travail in the confutation of the bishop of Rome's pretended authority in government and usurped power, and in pardons, whereby he hath abused himself in heaven and earth. Which two matters I note to be plain, and hear without controversy. In the other two ye spake of, touching images and ceremonies; and as ye touched it, specially for holy water to drive away devils, for that you declared yourself always desirous to set forth the meer truth, with great desire of unity as ye professed, not extending any your asseveration, beyond your knowledge; but always adding such like words (as far as ye had read) and if any man could shew
you further, ye would hear him (wherein you were much to be commended) Upon these considerations, and for the desire I have to unity, I have thought myself bound to communicate to you that which I have read in the matter of images and holy water; to the entent you may by yourself consider it, and so weigh, before that ye will speak in those two points, as ye may (retaining your own principles) affirm still that ye would affirm, and may indeed be affirmed and maintained, wherein I have seen other forget theme selves,
First, I send unto you herewith (which I am sure ye have read) that Eusebius writeth of images, whereby appeareth, that images have been of great antiquity in Christ's church. And to say we may have images, or to call on them when they represent Christ or his saints, be over gross opinions to enter into your learned head, whatsoever the unlearned would tattle. For you know the text of the old law, -non facies tibi sculptile,--forbiddeth no more images now, than another text forbiddeth to us puddings. And if omnia be munda mundis, to the belly, there can be no cause why they should be to themselves, impura to the eye, wherein ye can say much more. And then when we have images, to call them idols, is a like fault in fond folly, as if a man would say, (regem) a tyrant, and then bring in old writers to prove, that tyrannus signified once a king, like as idotum signified once an image. But like as tyrannus was, by consent of men, appropriate to signify an usurper of that dignity, and an untrue king; so hath idolum been likewise appropriate to signify a false representation and a false image : insomuch as there was a solemn anathematization of all those that would call an image an idol; as he were worthy to be hanged that would call the king our master (God save him) our true just king, a tyrant; and yet in talk he might shew, that a tyrant signified sometime a king. But speech is regarded in his present
signification, which I doubt not ye can consider right well.
I verily think that for the having of images, ye will say enough, and that also, when we have them, we should not despise them in speech, to call them idols, ne despise them with deeds, to mangle them or cut them, but at the least suffer them to stand untorn. Wherein Luther (that pulled away all other regard to them) strove stoutly and obtained (as I have seen in divers of the churches in Germany of his reformation) that, they should (as they do) stand still.
All the matter to be feared is, excess in worshipping, wherein the church of Rome hath been very precise; and specially Gregory, writing Episcopo Mastilien; which is contained, de consecratio. Distincto 3. as followeth:
Perlatum ad nos fuerat ; quod inconsiderato zelo suc“, census sanctorum imagines,' sub hac quaque excusatione ne adorari debuissent, confregeris; et quidem eas adorare retuisse omnino laudamus, fregisse vero reprehendimus. Die frater, a quo factum esse sacerdote aliquando auditum est, quod fecisti? Aliud est enim picturam adorare, aliud per picturam historiam, quid sit adorandum, Qâdiscere. Nam quod legentibus scriptura, hoc et idiotis præstat pictura cernentibus, quia in ipsa ignorantes vident quid sequi debeant in ipsa legunt qui literas nescia unt. Nude et præcipue gentibus pro lectione picture est.