Page images
PDF
EPUB

the court of star-chamber; in the latter end of November, his friend the lord treasurer wrote to him about making

his

of, is interpreted in this order : First, The occasion of the place is thewed. Secondly, The end. Thirdly, The proper sense of the place. Fourthly, The propriety of the words : And those that be learned in the tongues, showing the diversities of interpretations. Fifthly, Where the like phrases are used in the scriptures. Sixthly, Places in the scriptures seeming to res punge, are reconciled. Seventhly, The arguments of the text are opened. Eighthly, It is also declared, what virtues and what vices are there touched, and to which of the commandments they pertain. Ninthly, How the text had been wrested by the adversaries, if occasion so require. Tenthly, and last of all, What doctrine of faith or manners the text doth contain, The conclusion is, with the prayer for your majefty and all estates, as is appointed by the Book of Common Prayer, and a psalm.

“ These orders following, are also obferved in the said exercise : First, Two or three of the gravest and best learned pastors are appointed of the bishop, to moderate in every assembly. No man may speak unless be be first allowed by the bishop, with this proviso, That no lay-man be suffered to speak at any time. No controversy of this present time and state shall be moved or dealt withal; If any attempt the contrary, he is put to filence by the moderator. None is fuffered to glance openly or covertly at persons public or private ; neither yet any one to confute another. If any man utter a wrong sense of the scripture, he is privately admonished thereof, and better inftructed by the moderators, and other his fellow-ministers. If any nian use immodest speech, or irreverend gef. ture or behaviour, or otherwise be suspected in life, he is likewise admonished, as before. If any wilfully do break these orders, he is presented to the bishop, to be by him corrected.

“ The ground of this, or like exercise, is of great and ancient authority. For Samuel did practise such like exercises in his time, both at Najoth in Ramatha, and at Bethel: So did Elizæus at Jeriche. Which ftudious persons in those days were called filii propbetarum, i. e. the fons of the prophets: That is to say, the disciples of the prophets, that being exercised in the study and knowledge of the scriptures, they might be able men to serve in GOD's church, as that time required. St Paul also doth make express mention, that the like in effect was used in the primitive church ; and giveth rules for the order of the fame. As namely, that two or three should speak, and the rest should keep silence.

“ That exercise of the church in those days, St Paul calleth propbea. tiam, i. e. prophecy; and the speakers prophetas, i. e. prophets : Terms very ndious in our days to some, because they are not rightly understood. For indeed prophetia in that, and like places of St Paul, doth not, as it doth sometimes, signify prediction of things to come. Which gift is not now ordinary in the church of GOD, but fignifieth there, by the consent of the best ancient writers, the interpretation and expofition of the scriptures. And therefore doth St Paul attribute unto those that be called propbeta in that chapter ; detrinam, ad adificationem, exhortationem, & confolationem, i. e. doctrine, to edification, exhortation, and comfort,

" This gift of expounding and interpreting the scriptures, was in St Paul's time given to many by special miracle, without study: So was alfo, by like miracle, the gift to speak with strange tongues, which they had never learned. But now, miracles ceasing, men must attain to the knowledge of the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin tongues, &c. by travel and Andy, GOD giving the increase. So must men allo attain, by like means,

te

his submission, which he not thinking fit to comply with, his sequestration was continued, and in January follow

ing,

to the gift of expounding and interpreting the scriptures. And amongst other helps, nothing is so necessary as these above-named exercises and conferences amongst the ministers of the church : Which in effect are all one with the exercises of students in divinity in the universities, saving, that the first is done in a tongue understood, to the more edifying of the unlearned hearers.

« Howsuever report hath been made to your majesty concerning these exercises, yet I and others of your bishops, whose names are noted in the margin hereof, as they have testified unto me by their letters, having found by experience, that these profits and commodities following have ensued of them : First, The ministers of the church are more skilful and ready in the scriptures, and apter to teach their Aocks. Secondly, It withdraweth them from idleness, wandering, gaming, &c. Thirdly, Some, afore suspected in doctrine, are brought hereby to open confession of the truth, Fourthly, Ignorant ministers are driven to study, if not for conscience, yet for shame and fear of discipline. Fifthly, The opinion of lay-men, touching the idleness of the clergy, is hereby removed. Sixthly, Nothing by experience beateth down popery more than that ministers (as fume of my brethren do certify) grow to such a good knowledge, by means of these exercises, that where asore were not three able preachers, now are thirty, meet to preach at St Paul's Cross; and forty or fifty befides, able to instruct their own cures. So as it is found by experience i the best means to encrease knowledge in the simple, and to continue it in the learned. Only backward men in religion, and contemners of learn, ing in the countries abroad, do fret against it : Which in truth doth the more commend it. The dissolution of it would breed triumph to the adversaries, and great sorrow and grief unto the favourers of religion. Contrary to the counsel of Ezekiel, who faith, Cor justi non eft contristandum, i. e. the heart of the righteous must not be made fad. And although some few have abused this good and necessary exercise, there is no reason that the malice of a few should prejudice all,

“ Abuses may be reformed, and that which is good may remain. Neither is there any just cause of offence to be taken, if divers men make divers senses of one sentence of scripture; so that all the senses be good and agreeable to the analogy and proportion of faith : For otherwise we must needs condemn all the ancient fathers and doctors of the church, who most commonly expound one and the same text of fcripture diversely, and yet all ta the good of the church. Therefore does St Basil compare the scripture to a well ; out of which, the more a man draweth, the better and sweeter is the water

“ I trust, when your majesty hath considered, and well weighed the premises, you will rest satisfied, and judge that no such inconveniences can grow of these exercises, as you have been informed, but rather the clean contrary. And for my own part, because I am very well assured, both by reasons and arguments taken out of the holy scriptures, and by experience, (the most certain seal of sure knowledge) that the said exercises, for the interpretation and exposition of the scriptures, and for exhortation and comfort drawn out of the fame, are both profitable to encrease knowledge among the ministers, and tendeth to the edifying of the hearers; I am forced, with all humility, and yet plainly, to profess, that I cannot with safe conscience, and without the offence of the majesty of GOD, give my aflent to the suppressing of the faid exercises : Much less can I send out any injunction for the utter and universal subversion of the fame. I say

ing, there were thoughts of depriving him, but that des sign was laid aside. In June, 1579, his confinement was

either

with St Paul, I have no power to destroy, but only to edify; and with the same apofle, I can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.

“ If it be your majesty's pleasure for any other cause, to remove me out of this place, I will, with all humility, yield thereunto, and render again to your inajesty that I received of the same. I consider with myself, quòd borrendum eft incidəre in manus Dei viventis ; i. e. that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living GOD. I consider also, quod qui facit contra confeientiam (divinis juribus nixam) ædificat ad gebennam ; i. e. that he who acts against his confcience (resting vpon the laws of GOD) edifies to hell. And what should I winn, if I gayned (I will not say a bishopric, but) the wbole world, and lose mine own foul?

• Bear with me, I beseech you, madam, if I chuse rather to offend your earthly majesty, than to offend the heavenly majesty of GOD. And row being sorry, that I have been so long and tedious to your majesty, I will draw to an end, most humbly praying the same, well to consider thefe two short petitions following.

“ The first is, that you will refer all these ecclefiaftial matters which touch religion, or the doctrine and discipline of the church, unto the wishops and divines of your realm ; according to the example of all godly Christian emperors and princes of all ages. For indeed they are things to be judged (as an ancient father writeth) in ecclefiâ, feu fynodo, non in palatio, i, e in the church, or a fynod, not in a palace. When your majelty hath questions of the laws of your realm, you do not decide the fame in your court, but send them to your judges, to be determined. Likewise for doubts in matters of doctrine or discipline of the church, the ordinary way is to refer the decision of the same to the bishops, and other head ministers of the church.

" Ambrose to Theodosius useth these words, Si de caufis pecuniariis comis tes fuos consulis, quanto magis in caufa religionis facerdotes Domini, æquum eft confulas ; i. e. if in matters of money you consult with your earls,show much more is it fit, you consult with the Lord's priests in the cause of religion ? And likewise the same father to the good emperor Valentinianus, Si de fide conferendum eft, facerdotum debet effe ifta collatio ; ficut factum eft fub Conftantino auguftæ memoriæ principe : Qui nullas leges antè præmist, quàm liberum dedit judicium facerdotibus ; i. e. if we confer about faith, the conference ought to be left to the priests; as it was done under Conftantire, a prince of moft honourable memory; who set forth no laws, before he had left them to the free judgment of the priests. And in the same place, the fame father faith, that Conftantius the emperor, son to the faid Constantine the Great, began well, by reason he followed his father's steps at the first, but ended ill, because he took upon him, de fide intra palatium judicare ; i. e. to judge of faith within the palace, (for so be the words of Ambrose) and thereby fell into Arianism; a terrible example.

ܪ

“ The faid Ambrose, so much commended in all histories for a godly billiop, goeth yet farther, and writeth to the fame emperor in this form, Si docendus ef epifcopus à laico, quid fequatur? laicus, ergo disputet, & epifcopus audiat ; epifcopus discat à laico. At certè fi vel feripturarum feriem divinarum, vel vetera tempora retractemus, quis eft qui abnuat, in caufa fidei, in caufa, inquam, fidei, epifcopos folere de imperatoribus Chriftianis, non imperatores de epifcopis judicare? i. e. if a bishop be to be taught by a layman, what follows ? let the layman then dispute, and the bishop hear : Let the bishop learn of the lay

But certainly, if we have recourse either to the order of the holy {criptures, or to ancient times, who is there that can deny, that in the cause of faith, I say, in the cause of faith, bishops were wont to judge con

cerning

man,

either taken off, or else he had leave for his health to retire to his house at Croydon, for we find him their conse

crating

cerning Christian emperors, not emperors of bishops? Would to GOD your majefty would follow this ordinary course, you should procure to yourself much quietness of mind, better please GOD, avoid many offences, and the church should be more quietly and peaceably governed, much to your comfort, and the commodity of your realm.

“ The second petition I have to make to your majesty, is this, that when you deal in matters of faith and religion, or matters that touch the shurch of Christ; which is his spouse, bought with so dear a price ; you would not use to pronounce too resolutely and peremptorily, quasi thoritate, as ye may do in civil and extern matters: But always remember that in GOD's causes, the will of GOD, (and not the will of any earthly creature) is to take place. It is the antichristian voice of the pope, fic volo fic jubeo : flet pro ratione voluntas ; i. e. so I will have it; so i command: Let my will ftand for a reason. In GOD's matters, all princes ought to bow their sceptres to the Son of God, and to ask counsel at his mouth, what they ought to do. David exhorteth all kings and rulers, to serve GOD with fear and trembling.

“Remember, madam, that you are a mortal creature. Look not only (as was said to Theodofius) upon the purple and princely array, where with ye are apparelled; but consider withal, what is that that is covered therewith. It is not flesh and blood ? is it not duft and ashes? is it not a corruptible body, which must return to his earth again, GOD knows how soon? Must not you also one day appear, ante tremendum tribunal crucifixi, ut recipias ibi, prout gefferis in corpore, five bonum five malum ? i. e. before the fearful judgment feat of the crucified (Jesus,] to receive there ac. cording as you have done in the body, whether it be good or evil?

And although ye are a mighty prince, yet remember that He which dwelleth in heaven is mightier. He is, as the pfalmist saith, terribilis, & is, qui aufert spiritum principum, terribilis super omnes reges terræ ; i. e. terrible, and he who taketh away the spirit of princes, and is terrible above all the kings of the earth.

“ Wherefore I do beseech you, madam, in viseeribus Chrifti, when you deal in these religious causes, set the majesty of GOD before your eyes, laying all earthly majesty aside ; determine with your self to obey his voice, and with all humility say unto him, non mea, sed tua voluntas fiat; i. e. not mine, but thy will be done. GOD hath blessed you with great felicity in your reign, now many years; beware you do not impute the fame to your own deserts or policy, but give GOD the glory. And as to instruments and means, impute your said felicity; first, to the goodness of the cause which ye have set forth; I mean Christ's true religion ; and secondly, to the fighs and groanings of the godly in their fervent prayer to GOD for you. Which have hitherto, as it were, tyed, and bound the hands of GOD, that he could not pour out his plagues upon you and your people, mort juftly deserved.

“ Take heed, that ye never once think of declining from GOD, left that be verified of you, which is written of Ozeas, (Joalh] who continued a prince of good and godly government for many years together; and afterwards, cum roboratus effet, (saith the text) elevatum eft cor ejus in interitum fuum, & neglexit Dominum ; i. e, when he was (trengthened, his heart was lifted up to his destruction, and he regarded not the Lord. Ye have done many things well, but except ye persevere to the end, ye cannot be blesed. For if you turn from GOD, then GOD will turn away his merciful

countenance

[ocr errors]

crating the bishop of Exeter in that year, and the bishops of Winchester, and Litchfield, and Coventry, the year fóllowing. This part of his function was exercised by a particular commission from the queen, who in council appointed two civilians to manage the other affairs of his see, the two of his nomination being set aside. Of this disgrace put upon the archbishop, and of the injury religion seemed to suffer by it, Sir Robert Cotton, a wise man, had these words. • In those days there was an emulation « between the clergy and the laity; and a strife, whether « of them should shew themselves most affectionate to the • gospel. Ministers haunted the houses of the worthiest men,

where Jesuits now build their tabernacles ; and • poor country churches were frequented with the best of

the shire. The word of GOD was precious : Prayer « and preaching went hand in hand together ; until arch« bishop Grindal's disgrace, and Hatfield's (Hatton per« haps] hard conceit of prophesying, brought the flowing • of these good graces to a still water.'

Yet sometimes he had special commands from the queen and council to act in person, and issued out orders in his own name, and in general was as active as he could be, and vigilant in the care of his diocese, as occasion offered. In the year 1580, for instance, when there happened a violent earthquake, our archbishop having issued an order for prayers and humiliations, composed a prayer for families throughout his diocese, which was allowed by the council, who in a letter to him commended his great zeal, and required him to enjoin the observation of his new order of prayer in all other dioceses. The coun. cil also referred to him the decision of a dispute that happened the same year at Merton-college, Oxford, where he

[ocr errors]

countenance from you. And what remaineth then to be looked for, but only a terrible expectation of GOD's judgments, and an beaping up wratb against the day of wrath.

“ But I trust in GOD, your majesty will always humu.- yourself under his mighty hand, and go forward in the zealous setting forth of God's true religion ; always yielding due obedience and reverence to the word of GOD, the only rule of faith and religion. And if you fo do, although GOD hath just cause many ways to be angry with you and us for unfaithfulness, yet I doubt nothing, but that for his own namc's fake, and for his own glory fake, He will still hold his mierciful hand over us, field and protect us under the lhadow of his wings, as He hath done hitherto.

“I befetch GOD our heavenly Father, plentifully to pour his principal Spirit upon you, and always to direct your hcart in his holy fear. ‘Amen."

« PreviousContinue »