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Reformation. « The sum of our controversy is this: We hold that the ministers of the Church of England may adopt, without impiety, the distinction of habits now prescribed by public authority, both in the administration of divine worship and for common use; especially when it is proposed to them as a matter of indifference, and when the use of the habits is enjoined only for the sake of order and due obedience to the laws. And all feeling of superstitious worship, and of the necessity (of these habits) as far as making it a matter of conscience, may be removed, rejected, and utterly condemned, both by the terms of the laws themselves, and the diligent preaching of purer doctrine. They (the Puritans) contend on the other hand, that these habits are not on any account now to be reckoned among things indifferent; but that they are impious, papistical, and idolatrous : and therefore that all pious persons ought rather with one consent to retire from the ministry, than to serve the Church with these rags of Popery, as they call them : even though we have the most entire liberty of preaching the most pure doctrine, and likewise of exposing, laying open, and condemning, by means of sound instruction, errors and abuses of every kind, whether as to ceremonies, or doctrine, or the sacraments, or moral duties. We cannot accept this crude advice of theirs, as neither ought we to be passive under the violent appeals by which they are unceasingly in the pulpit disturbing the peace of the Church, and bringing the whole of our religion into danger.” How temperate was the spirit, how sound the judgement, how clear the discrimination, between essential and non-essential points in religion, in the men who penned the above lines! It is clear, from this and other valuable documents in this volume, that the prelates of that age, and amongst them Jewel, who has been most injuriously and reproachfully stigmatised by a modern divine as an irreverent Dissenter, were on no friendly terms with the Puritans, the unhappy founders of dissent in this kingdom. They attempted-but the attempt, alas ! was ineffectual—to smother sectarianism in its infancy. Against Cartwright, the ringleader of the faction, they would have proceeded with rigour, had he not fled the country, One grand objection raised by the early separatist was to the use of the official robes as savouring of Popery and superstition. Let us hear the judicious remarks of Bishop Cox, one of the compilers of our admirable Liturgy, on the animus of dissent, and the matter of the early cavils. He opens his epistle to Gualter, (Let. 109,) by lamenting the loss of a previous letter he had sent. “You would have learnt," says he, “from that letter of mine, what confusion has been occasioned in our not illconstituted Church, by some factious and heady men, who, in their writings, and sermons, and private conversation, condemn and pull in pieces the whole economy of our Church, and bring all the bishops and other ministers of the word into incredible disfavour with the people, and also with the magistrates and nobility. Nay, they even reject this order, as being of no use to the Church of Christ, and are striving, by every means in their power, that it may be altogether abolished. But the Lord God has imbued our most religious Queen and some of her
principal ministers with that discretion and piety, that these men, as I hope, will strive to no purpose. Their object is to revive the ancient Presbytery of the Primitive Church, and to establish such an equality among all ministers, that they may be despised and rejected by the Church itself: so that it is to be feared lest Christ himself should be banished little by little.” Another short sentence, in this same epistle, evinces his readiness to exercise forbearance and candour towards reasonable dissentients. “ Your remarks,” he continues to Gualter, “about observing moderation in external matters, provided that the truth of Christ and faith is maintained inviolate, proceed from sincere piety and solid judgement."
The allusions to the Papists are not always in the most courteous and appropriate terms. For instance, Bishop Parkhurst writes in this strain to his friend Bullinger, whilst matters were in a transition-state at the beginning of Elizabeth's reign : “ The Book of Common Prayer, set forth in the time of King Edward, is now again in general use throughout England, and will be everywhere, in spite of the struggle and opposition of the pseudo-bishops. The Pope is again driven from England, to the great regret of the bishops and the whole tribe of shavelings. The mass is abolished. The bishops (Romish) are in future to have no palaces, estates, or country seats. The present owners are to enjoy for life those they are now in possession of. They are worthy of being suspended, not only from their office, but from a halter : for they are so many Davuses, throwing everything into confusion. The monasteries will be dissolved in a short time.” Bishop Jewel, in a letter to Peter Martyr, dated Nov. 2d, 1559, thus describes his impressions on the effects of the revival of Popery in the preceding reign, made from personal inspection on an episcopal visitation : “ But what, you will say, has been done after all by this commission of yours? Receive, then, in one word, what it took me a long time to investigate. We found everywhere the people sufficiently well-disposed towards religion, and even in those quarters where we expected most difficulty. It is, however, hardly credible what a harvest, or rather what a wilderness of superstition had sprung up in the darkness of the Marian times. We found in all places votive relics of saints, nails with which the infatuated people dreamed that Christ had been pierced, and I know not what small fragments of the sacred cross. The number of witches and sorceresses had everywhere become enormous. The Cathedral Churches were nothing else but dens of thieves, or worse, if anything worse or more foul can be imagined. If inveterate obstinacy was found anywhere, it was altogether among the priests; those, especially, who had once been on our side. They are now throwing all things into confusion, in order, I suppose, that they may not seem to have changed their opinions without due consideration. But let them make what disturbance they please, we liave in the mean time disturbed them from their rank and office,”
Grindal, who succeeded Parker in the primacy, has not bequeathed to the Church a rich legacy of writings; but he rendered her invaluable VOL. I.
and permanent services, by his unwearied labours to purge out the remaining leaven of superstition and idolatry. The chief remains of his pen are a Funeral Sermon for the Emperor Ferdinand, of no particular moment, and a “ Fruitful Dialogue between Custom and Verity," the Custom of the Church of Rome, and the Verity of the Primitive Church, on the ever-fruitful topic of the mass, a treatise that will amply repay perusal, as it is full of patristical and ancient authorities, for a figurative interpretation of the controverted passage, “This is My body."
In his endeavours to raise the tone and promote the efficiency of the Christian ministry, he most unfortunately and unjustly incurred the displeasure of his Sovereign in his latter days; and from this unhappy circumstance, his sun, that had shone with such vivid lustre and such invigorating influence, seemed to set behind a cloud. The true sons of the Church will ever revere his memory, as the great light of his age, and a great benefactor to our national Zion, in its transition-state from Popery to Protestantism.
His letters, that have been preserved to these times, evince a strong desire to carry out the principles of the Reformation, to supply parishes with a learned and faithful ministry, and to suppress irregularities of zeal in the disaffected Puritans. His epistolary injunctions, both to the Clergy and Laity, will be read with interest by the lovers of Church Antiquity, as bearing testimony to his anxiety to establish sound doctrine and a healthy discipline throughout the dioceses over which he successively presided—London, York, and Canterbury. The epistles, now collected from the State Records and other sources, and published in chronological order by the editor, are addressed to the chief authorities in Church and State, and are replete with historical information. We will give an extract from one, written to Archbishop Parker, whilst himself presided over the province of York, dated Dec. 9th, 1573: “ In very deed, in my diocese, the uniform order allowed by the Book (of Common Prayer) is universally observed. I think some of my province have some novelties. I have written to them, to reform them without delay, or else I will. If my successor at London (Sandys) have ministered any occasion of his own disquiet, I am sorry. But surely, he, the Bishop of London, is always to be pitied : for if burning were the penalty of these curiosities, yet should he never lack a number of that generation. I hear say, that Cartwright is lodged in Cheapside, at Mr. Martyn's house, the goldsmith. His wife was the stationer for all the first impressions of the book. (The Admonition to the Parliament,' of which Cartwright was the principal author.) I marvel that Dr. Penny, who is a chief doer in these matters, and who is become, of a preacher, a layman and a physician, should be suffered to enjoy a good prebend in Paul's. And the like is said of Wiburn, Johnson, &c. (Leading men amongst the Puritans.) They are content to take the livings of the English Church, and yet affirm it to be no Church. Beneficium datur propter officium. If they will do no office, let them receive no benefit. I think long to hear what shall follow after the great inquisition at
London. (An inspection set on foot by order of the council into the conformity of the ministers.) God send us all humble and quiet spirits, and thankfully to acknowledge God's great mercy towards us.”
Amongst the episcopal directions addressed to the laity and province of York, in the year 1571, we find one that shows, from the early days of the Reformation, the several services in the Prayer-Book were ordered to be read in continuation and without break, as is the custom of these days : “ Item, That the Church wardens shall not suffer any ringing or tolling of bells to be on Sundays or holy days used between the Morning Prayer, Litany, and Communion, nor in any other time of Common Prayer, reading of the Homilies, or of preaching, except it be one bell, in convenient time to be rung or knolled before a sermon : nor shall suffer any other ringing to be used upon saints' eves, or festival days, saving to Common Prayer, and that moderately and without excess; nor the minister shall pause or stay between the Morning Prayer, Litany, and Communion, but shall continue and say the Morning Prayer, Litany, and Communion, or the service appointed to be said when there is no communion, together, without any intermission, to the intent the people may continue together in prayer and hearing the Word of God, and not depart out of the Church during all the time of divine service.” In the injunctions to the clergy of the Diocese of York, there is laid down a strict regulation, which shows of what importance the Homilies and Articles of our Church were esteemed by Grindal, as the standard of doctrine to be proclaimed from every pulpit : “ Item, Ye shall every Sunday and holy day, when there is no sermon in your church or chapel, distinctly and plainly read in the pulpit some one of the Homilies set forth by the Queen's Majesty's authority; and, being not admitted by the ordinary or other lawful authority, ye shall not expound any Scripture or matter of doctrine by the way of exhortation or otherwise, and thereby omit and leave off the reading of the Homilies.” “Item, Ye shall read openly in your Church, in the time of divine service, twice every year, upon some of the Sundays within one month next after the feasts of Easter and St. Michael the Archangel, plainly, without addition or change, a declaration of certain principal Articles of religion, set forth by-both the archbishops and the rest of the bishops of this realm, for the unity of doctrine.” The following injunction issued to the same body of clergy is a painful evidence of the laxity of morals that had obtained, and still required a strict episcopal vigilance to check : “ Item, Ye shall not keep, or suffer to be kept, in your parsonage or vicarage houses, any ale-houses, tippling-houses, or taverns; nor shall sell ale, beer, or wine. Nor any of you shall keep any suspected woman in your house, or be an incontinent liver, given to drunkenness or idleness. Nor any of you, being unmarried, shall keep in your house any woman under the age of three-score years, except she be your daughter by former marriage, or be your mother, aunt, sister, or niece; and such an one as ye shall keep, shall be of good name and fame. Nor any of you shall be a hannter of taverns, ale-houses, or suspected places, or a hunter, hawker, dicer, carder, tabler, swearer, or otherwise give any evil example of life.” The following articles to be enquired of within the province of Canterbury, at the Metropolitical Visitation, might be revived with advantage, as there is evidently a growing desire in some Anglican Clergyman to observe peculiar ceremonies, that savour of Popery: “ Whether Common Prayer be sung or said by your parson, vicar, or curate, in your several churches or chapels, distinctly and reverently, and in such order as it is set forth by the laws of this realm, without any kind of alteration, and at due and convenient hours ; and whether your minister so turn himself, and stand in such place of your church or chancel, as the people may best hear the same?” “Whether in your churches and chapels all altars be utterly taken down and clean removed, even unto the foundation, and the place where they stood paved, and the wall whereunto they joined whited over, and made uniform with the rest, so as no breach or rupture appear?” “Whether all vestments, albs, tunicles, stoles, phanons, pixes, paxes, hand-bells, sacring-bells, censers, chrismatories, CROSSES, CANDLESTICKS, holywater-stocks, images, and such other relics and monuments of superstition and idolatry, be utterly defaced, broken, and destroyed ?" " Whether your minister do wear any cope in your parish church or chapel, or minister the holy communion in any chalice heretofore used at mass, or use at the ministration thereof any gestures, rites, or ceremonies, not appointed by the Book of Common Prayer, as crossing or breathing over the sacramental bread and wine?” “Whether any of your parsons, vicars, curates, or ministers, be favourers of the Romisk or foreign power, letters (hinderers) of true religion, preachers of corrupt and Popish doctrine, or maintainers of sectaries?” “ Whether any do preach, declare, or speak anything in derogation of the Book of Common Prayer, which is set forth by the laws of this realm, dispraising the same, or anything therein contained ?” “Whether your parson, vicar, or curate, hath or doth maintain any doctrine contrary or repugnant to any of the Thirty-nine Articles?” How would Grindal, this maintainer of sound discipline, and stanch champion of Protestantism, have proceeded with the Jesuitical writer of No. 90?
A halo of glory shines around Ridley's crown of martyrdom. Amidst the glorious army of the Marian Martyrs, he stands preeminent for rank of station, extent of learning, and depth of piety. We deem the movement made by a section of the University of Oxford and the Protestants of this realm, to raise a suitable memorial to those three worthies who sacrificed their lives on the altar of truth, as reflecting honour on every individual who took a share therein. May the name of Ridley, whom Cambridge nurtured, and Oxford burnt, never cease to be regarded with veneration in the Oxford Schools of Divinity.
Ridley's writings are familiar to the religious public, to those who have read Foxe's faithful Martyrology, or the historic records of the Reformation. There are few who have not perused, and fewer still who have perused without emotion, his deeply pathetic, simple, and spiritual