Page images
[ocr errors]

musical instruments, from churches — to forbid the practice of

lay baptism -- particularly of baptism by women — to omit the

sign of the Cross on that occasion, and to cancel the rubric which requires a kneeling posture at the Holy Communion. They were opposed, also, to Saints' Days—to the practices of praying towards the east, and of bowing at the name of Jesus; and they proposed that a committee should be appointed to examine and revise all the laws relating to the service book, and the dresses of the clergy. In a word, the entire controversy,

a which by them was extended from a question of vestments to other matters ceremonial, was raised and conducted with great vigour.

The see of Canterbury after continuing vacant since the death of Cardinal Pole, had recently been conferred upon Dr. Matthew Parker. His worst enemies could not charge him with entertaining any fondness for Popery. But his manners were rough, his zeal was overflowing, and his impatience of contradiction remarkable. He had discovered in the course of his primary visitation, that dislike to the vestments, and, indeed, to rubrical injunctions generally, was more common, especially among the laity than had been supposed. He set himself to enforce obedience to the law in a very determined manner. His main attack, of course, was made upon the clergy. Neither age, nor learning, nor the sufferings of former days protected a recusant divine from his anger. And having entire control over the High Court of Commission, he rendered it a most efficient instrument in the accomplishment of his purposes. It would be tedious to describe how men of inferior note were called away from their homes, examined, and silenced; but one striking instance of the power of mistaken zeal to smother in the human heart every generous feeling cannot be passed over. Miles Coverdale had been Bishop of Exeter in the reign of Edward VI. He went into exile after Mary's accession ; and, though differing from Parker on various points, lived with him in perfect amity at Frankfort. They returned to England together. Parker became Archbishop of Canterbury ; Coverdale received no preferment; till Grindal, now promoted to the see of London, gave him the small living of St. Magnus, London Bridge. Coverdale, when an ejected Bishop, had assisted at the consecration of the new primate. The new primate, finding that Coverdale, as rector of St. Magnus', had thrown in his lot with the Puritans, let loose upon him the violence of the Commission Court, and the venerable translator of the Bible was deposed from his benefice, and turned out to die, as he soon afterwards did, in absolute penury.

So long as the efforts of the High Church party were re

[ocr errors]

stricted to persuasion and remonstrance, the Continental Reformers gave them their support. They carried with them also the sympathies of the more moderate leaders of what we should now call the Low Church school, - such as Grindal, Horn, Sandys, Parkhurst, and Jewel --- all by this time bishops. But the violence of Parker offended his more charitable brethren at home, and drew from their friends and correspondents abroad, earnest remonstrances. We exhort you, reverend sirs, and

very dear brethren,' wrote Bullinger and Gaulter, when advertised of these proceedings, to have respect to faithful • ministers and learned men ; they have their own feelings; . whence the Apostle has instructed us to bear one another's burdens. Your authority can effect much with her most

serene highness the Queen. Prevail upon her most gracious Majesty to grant that these worthy brethren be reconciled . and restored. Somewhat different in tone, though not less earnest in spirit, were the appeals of the Scottish Church, already fast settling into a Presbyterian form of government. They spoke, indeed, of 'vain trifles,' of 'Romish rags, and the dregs of • the Romish beast.' But, insinuating no charge against either Episcopacy or the book of Common Prayer, they prayed only that their brethren might not suffer because of tender consciences in matters of ceremonial and dress.

Violence on one side leads invariably, in such cases, to violence on the other. The moderate men of both parties grieved, and were silent; indeed, we hear little more of Jewel, or of other bishops like him, than that, in an earnest desire for peace, they professed their readiness to sacrifice all, except the Gospel. It was not so with the great body of those who, at the outset, used to look up to them as leaders. Resistance became with them a principle; and from seeking toleration on their own account, they went on to demand, that the opinions and practices of their adversaries should be put down. Dissent, a thing unheard of up to this date, made its appearance; and congregations assembled, here and there, to worship and be instructed by ministers of their own choosing. They were proceeded against, as a matter of course, and submitted to fine and imprisonment with the courage of martyrs. Indeed, they only took what they would have given, probably to a larger extent, had their circumstances and those of their persecutors been reversed. A body of a hundred being on one occasion seized and brought before the Lord Mayor and Grindal, the following scene occurred. There had been a good deal of discussion, which the bishop conducted with perfect temper, when one of the prisoners exclaimed: “You go like a mass priest,' 'You

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

see me wear a cope or a surplice,' replied Grindal mildly, at • Paul's. I had rather minister without these things, but for • order's sake, and obedience to the prince. Your govern

ments are accursed,' was the answer of the famous Nickson. • Good people,' interposed the Lord Mayor, 'I cannot talk • learnedly with you; but I will persuade you the best I can. • The Queen hath not established these things for any holiness

sake, but only for civil order and comeliness; as aldermen are • known by their tippets and judges by their gowns. Even • so, my lord,' replied Nickson, “as the alderman is known by • his gown and tippet, so by this apparel that these men now wear, were the popes and mass priests known from other men.'

Persons who could argue thus and rest their hostility to the law on such grounds, would be treated in our day-as silly enthusiasts. In the times of Elizabeth they were sent to prison and the whipping post.

There resided at this time, in Cambridge, two men, who by common consent were admitted to be among the ripest scholars in the University. They had both at the opening of the vestiarian controversy, scrupled the habits; indeed, one went so far

as, with three hundred other masters, to lay aside the surplice and the hood—which he was with difficulty persuaded to resume. This was John Whitgift, Margaret Professor of Divinity, afterwards Member of Trinity College, and ultimately Archbishop of Canterbury. The other, Thomas Cartwright, Scholar of St. John's, was scarcely so violent at the outset, but his career proved to be more consistent, and it led not to honours, but to persecution. It chanced that on the occasion of the Queen's visit in 1564, Cartwright was selected to hold a public discussion for her entertainment in the schools. He had opposed to him one Dr. Preston, a man greatly his inferior in every respect. But Preston happening to be endowed with a handsome exterior and courtly address, the Queen gave judgment in his favour, and poor Cartwright—a homely and unmannered man — retired mortified and offended to his chambers.

It is said by writers not of his own faction, that Cartwright never forgave the wrong; and that he took his revenge by throwing himself heart and soul into the ranks of the Puritans. We must receive all such tales with exceeding caution. But there is no doubt of the fact, that being appointed in 1569, Margaret Professor of Divinity, he delivered a course of lectures which contained little else than a sustained attack upon the constitution and ritual of the Established Church. The proceedings attracted much notice. Crowds attended to listed, and the University was scandalised. Here then we are arrived at a second stage in this great controversy. For it was no longer the surplice and the rotchet, the ring in marriage, and the cross at baptism, which furnished the eloquent lecturer with a theme. He assailed the Episcopate itself, and endeavoured to prove out of St. Paul's Epistles, not merely that a Presbyterian polity is admissible under certain circumstances, but that it is in strict agreement with primitive usage, and therefore exclusively of divine institution.

Great were the alarm and indignation excited among the seniors in the University. They endeavoured, in the first instance, to fight the leveller with his own weapons, and Whitgift entered the lists against him. But though Whitgift's prelections met with vast applause, Cartwright held his ground, and the number of his disciples increased from day to day. More decisive measures were, in consequence, held to be necessary, and Cartwright, paying no heed to an admonition from the Chancellor, was silenced, deprived of his professorship, and ultimately removed from his fellowship.

There was no telling to what extremes the dominant faction might proceed, so Cartwright, in order to avoid further molestation, retired to the Continent. But he left many admirers and friends behind him, among whom the Earl of Leicester and Lord Burleigh must be numbered. They, to be sure, being in the Queen's counsel, could mark their sense of the exile's merits only by maintaining with him a kindly correspondence. There were others of less elevated rank but scarcely inferior talent who went much further. Instead of petitioning for leave to exercise the same freedom in ceremonial observances which they had hitherto conceded as a matter of justice to their rivals, the Puritans now protested against the Ecclesiastical system of England as a whole; and set forth their demands in • An Admo

nition to Parliament for the Reformation of the Church Disci• pline,' which was presented by two of the most distinguished of their leaders, Field and Wilcock.

Field and Wilcock were thrown into prison, and their pamphlet burned at Paul's Cross. But copies of it had been made, and its circulation was immense. Again Whitgift received instructions to defend the Church, and again Cartwright met him in the field of controversy. It is curious to observe and to compare the lines of argument which are taken up by the Puritan Divine on the one side, and the High Churchman on the other. The Puritan is convinced that all, even the most minute points, bearing upon the constitution of the Church, are settled by divine authority. He sees a perfect parity among the ministers




[ocr errors]


of the Apostolic age, and contends that till it be restored, the Church can never attain to the measure of the stature of its great Head. The High Churchman acknowledges that the titles, Archbishop, Bishop, Dean, Archdeacon, &c. cannot be found in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, and evinces no particular anxiety as to whether the offices themselves were or were not of Apostolic Institution. "In the Tabernacle, says the former, “ the Church is expressly set forth. As the

Temple was nearer the time of Christ, so it is a more lively expression of the Church of God than now is : — Is it likely that He who appointed not only the Tabernacle and the Temple but their ornaments, would not only neglect the orna'ments of the Church, but that without which it cannot stand?

Shall we conclude that He who sanctioned the bars there, hath forgotten the pillars here? Or He who there remembered the pins, hath here forgotten the master-builders ? Should He there remember the beams, and here forget Archbishops, if any had been needful? Could He there make mention of the snuffers to purge the lights, and here pass by the lights them6 selves?'

So wrote the Puritan, the assailant of things as they were, making no appeal to expediency, but demanding that his views shall be adopted because they are in accordance with primitive usage. Observe how the champion of orthodoxy deals with this demand, and compare his reasoning with that which somewhat later in the day his followers and copyists adopted :-' It is manifest that Christ hath left the government of the Church,

touching the external policy, to the ordering of men who have * to make orders and laws for the same, as time, place, and per

sons require, so that nothing be done contrary to His word. We 'make not an Archbishop necessary to salvation, but profitable to the government of the Church, and therefore consonant to the Word of God.' . We are well assured that Christ in his • Word hath fully and plainly comprehended all things necessary * to faith and good life, yet hath he committed certain orders of

ceremonies and kind of government to the disposition of his : Church, the general rules given in his Word being generally observed, and nothing being done contrary to his will and commandment.' If this be not the doctrine of expediency, we know not what is. The utility of an office justifies its introduction as well into the Church as into the State, Christ willed that his Church should be governed, because without some sufficient form of government no corporate or organised society can exist. But laying down no precise law, like that of the Old Testament, by which one uniform and unbending system



« PreviousContinue »