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(and still too often are,) between that and the Romish Church.1
In such a state of things, it pleased the Great Shepherd, whose especial care over this portion of his flock, we may with humble gratitude recognize in this and many other instances, to raise up Richard Hooker, as his instrument for preserving us in that good and middle way, into which, contrary to all human chances, and far above our deserts, his merciful favour had brought us. And as far as we can be judges of such a thing, Hooker was indeed (if one may so speak) critically adapted to this his supposed destination.
His original bias lay rather against Church principles; for he commenced his education under his uncle John Vowell or Hooker, of the city of Exeter, the friend of Peter Martyr; and completed it under the auspices of Bishop Jewel, and the tuition of Reynolds, in Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Now Jewel was the intimate friend of Bullinger, and a great admirer of the reformation at Zurich; and Reynolds was probably one of the most devoted Calvinists that ever taught theology in our Church. So much the stronger would be the subsequent witness of Hooker to those truths and practices, which Zurich and Calvin would teach him comparatively to slight: such as an apostolical succession in Bishops, which he says himself he had once judged “far less probable” than he did, when he came to write his Polity.
1 Observe how Mr. Keble contrasts the “ Catholic Church ” and the “Romish Church": he here deliberately refuses to speak of the Roman Church exclusively as the Catholic Church, as is so often done in our own day by ill-informed persons. See also later, p. 197, "One may perceive . .
But to proceed: having obtained great distinction in Oxford, he was nominated in his turn, as the custom was, to preach in London, at St. Paul's Cross; where, however, “ he was not so happy as to avoid exceptions against some point of doctrine delivered in his discourse, which seemed to cross a late opinion of Mr. Calvin's.” A trifling circumstance, as it
may seem, yet both indicating what line his opinions had taken, and probably not without effect in leading him on generally towards doctrinal views, more catholic than he would gain from modern teachers. This was in 1581 ; and when, four or five years after, he came to be Master of the Temple, the same happened again in respect of the particular class of doctrines, to which the present extracts 2 chiefly refer. His sermon
His sermon on Justification, and some other of his expressions and usages, being objected to by the Puritan party in London, as too indulgent to the Church of Rome; this gave him occasion to enter on that course of thought and composition which terminated in The Ecclesiastical Polity. His respect for the character of his chief opponenti caused him “to examine his own conscience concerning his opinions, and to consult the Scriptures, and other laws both human and divine, whether the consciences of him and others of his judgment ought to be so far complied with, as to alter our frame of Church government, our manner of God's worship, our praising and praying to him, and our established ceremonies, as often as his and others' tender consciences shall require us :” wherein Hooker's meaning was not to provoke any, but rather to satisfy all tender consciences. Thus, to the untoward and irksome circumstances of his first appointment, we may trace, directly and certainly, his great work.
1 Bk. VII. ch. xi. & 8. 2 i. e. from Book V. of The Ecclesiastical Polity.
Again, when in compliance with his earnest request to his patron, Archbishop Whitgift, he was removed from the troubles and controversies of London, to a “place where he might study and pray for God's blessing on his endeavours, and keep himself in peace and privacy, and behold God's blessing spring out of his mother earth, and eat his own bread without oppositions ;” i. e. first to Boscomb, near
1 Walter Travers.
i.e. Salisbury, in 1591, and afterwards to Bishopsborne, near Canterbury, in 1595; it seems not to have been without special Providence that he was brought into near neighbourhood, which soon became familiar intimacy, with Dr. Adrian Saravia, Prebendary of Canterbury. Saravia was, as far as appears, the first to avow the Church doctrine of the apostolical succession, after the abeyance, so to speak, in which it had been held (however distinctly implied in the Prayer Book) since the beginning of our intercourse with foreign reformers. The effects of this friendship with Saravia, as concurring with Hooker's own researches, are not obscurely to be discerned in his later compositions; nay, even in the tone of his Fifth Book, as compared with that of the four preceding. One may perceive throughout a growing tendency to judge of things by the rules of the ancient Church, and to take, not a Roman nor a Protestant, but always, if possible, a Catholic view. Nor will it be thought that Saravia's probable influence with him is here overrated, when we read what follows, communicated to Walton by a near neighbour of
1 See above, p. 194, note 1.
Hooker's, and the sister of his most intimate friend. .....1
By this report of their last conversation, we may conjecture how they must have helped each other in the contemplation of that Catholic order, of which they seem to have gone on daily discerning more and more, as they drew nearer that place, where only it can be perfectly realized.
It might not perhaps be wrong to enumerate, amongst these providential circumstances, the discomfort of Hooker's domestic life, to which the same tradition bears witness. His “restless studies” might bear the more fruit, as he had less temptation to withdraw himself from them.
And as the author was thus raised up, and guided, and spared, to the completion of that part of his treatise especially which relates to the Prayer Book (for of the three later Books, although he had finished them, only fragments and sketches now remain), so there are not wanting corresponding tokens of a Providence, tending to prepare men's minds for the reception of his views, in the course of public affairs at the same time. The death of the Queen of Scots, and the destruction of the
1 Here follows the account of Saravia's ministry to Hooker during his last sickness, which is given above; see pp. 81 ff.