« ZurückWeiter »
And to these undertakings the Nonconformists of this nation were much encouraged and heightened by a correspondence and confederacy with that brotherhood in Scotland! so that here they became so bold, that one told the Queen openly in a sermon, 66 she was like an untamed heifer, that would not be ruled by God's people, but obstructed his discipline." And in Scotland they were more confident; for there? they declared her an Atheist, and grew to such an height, as not to be accountable for any thing spoken against her, nor for treason against their own King, if it were but spoken in the pulpit; showing at last such a disobedience to him, that his mother being in England, and then in distress, and in prison, and in danger of death, the Church denied the King their prayers for her; and at another time, when he had appointed a day of feasting, the Church declared for a general fast, in opposition to his authority.
To this height they were grown in both nations, and by these means there was distilled into the minds of the common people such other venomous and turbulent principles, as were inconsistent with the safety of the Church and State: and these opinions vented so daringly, that, beside the loss of life and limbs, the governors of the Church and State were forced to use such other severities as will not admit of an excuse, if it had not been to prevent the gangrene of confusion, and the perilous consequences of it; which, without such prevention, would have been first confusion, and then ruin and misery to this numerous nation.
These errors and animosities were so remarkable, that they begot wonder in an ingenious Italian, who being about this time come newly into this nation, and considering them, writ scoffingly to a friend in 1 Mr. Dering. Vide Bishop Spotswood's History of the Church of Scotland.
his own country, to this purpose: “ That the common people of England were wiser than the wisest of his nation; for here the very women and shopkeepers were able to judge of predestination, and to determine what laws were fit to be made concerning Church-government; and then, what were fit to be obeyed or abolished. That they were more able (or at least thought
, so) to raise and determine perplexed cases of conscience, than the wisest of the most learned colleges in Italy. That men of the slightest learning, and the most ignorant of the common people, were mad for a new, or super, or re-reformation of religion ; and that in this they appeared like that man, who would never cease to whet and whet his knife, till there was no steel left to make it useful.” And he concluded his letter with this observation, “ That those very men that were most busy in oppositions, and disputations, and controversies, and finding out the faults of their governors, had usually the least of humility and mortification, or of the power of godliness."
And to heighten all these discontents and dangers, there was also sprung up a generation of godless men; men that had so long given way to their own lusts and delusions, and so highly opposed the blessed notions of his Spirit, and the inward light of their own consciences, that they became the very slaves of vice, and had thereby sinned themselves into a belief of that which they would, but could not believe, into a belief which is repugnant even to human nature; (for the Heathens believe that there are many gods;) but these had sinned themselves into a belief that there was no God; and so finding nothing in themselves but what was worse than nothing, began to wish what they were not able to hope for, namely, That they might be like the beasts that perish ; and in wicked company (which is the Atheist's sanctuary)
were so bold as to say so: though the worst of mankind, when he is left alone at midnight, may wish, but is not then able to think it: even into a belief that there is no God. Into this wretched, this reprobate condition, many had then sinned themselves.
And now, when the Church was pestered with them, and with all those other forenamed irregularities; when her lands were in danger of alienation, her power at least neglected, and her peace torn to pieces by several schisms, and such heresies as do usually attend that sin; (for heresies do usually outlive their first authors;) when the common people seemed ambitious of doing those very things that were forbidden, and attended with most dangers, that thereby they might be punished, and then applauded and pitied: when they called the spirit of opposition a tender conscience, and complained of persecution, because they wanted power to persecute others : when the giddy multitude raged, and became restless to find out misery for themselves and others; and the rabble would herd themselves together, and endeavour to govern and act in spite of authority; in this extremity of fear, and danger of the Church and State, when, to suppress the growing evils of both, they needed a man of prudence and piety, and of an high and fearless fortitude, they were blessed in all by John Whitgift his being made Archbishop of Canterbury; of whom Sir Henry Wotton (that knew him well in his youth, and had studied him in his age,) gives this true character: 66 That he was a man of reverend and sacred memory, and of the primitive temper; such a temper, as when the Church by lowliness of spirit did Aourish in highest examples of virtue.” And indeed this man proved so.
And though I dare not undertake to add to this excellent and true character of Sir Henry Wotton; yet I shall neither do right to this discourse, nor to
my reader, if I forbear to give him a further and short account of the life and manners of this excellent man; and it shall be short, for I long to end this digression, that I may lead my reader back to Mr. Hooker, where we left him, at the Temple.
John Whitgift was born in the county of Lincoln, of a family that was ancient, and noted to be both prudent, and affable, and gentle by nature. He was educated in Cambridge; much of his learning was acquired in Pembroke Hall; (where Mr. Bradford the martyr was his tutor ;) from thence he was removed to Peter House ; from thence to be Master of Pembroke Hall; and from thence to the Mastership of Trinity College. About which time the Queen made him her chaplain ; and not long after Prebend of Ely, and then Dean of Lincoln ; and having for many years past looked upon him with much reverence and favour, gave him a fair testimony of both, by giving him the Bishopric of Worcester, and (which was not with her usual favour) forgiving him his first fruits; then by constituting him Vice-President of the Principality of Wales. And having experimented his wisdom, his justice, and moderation in the manage of her affairs in both these places, she in the twenty-sixth of her reign made him Archbishop of Canterbury, and, not long after, of her Privy Council; and trusted him to manage all her ecclesiastical affairs and preferments. In all which removes, he was like the Ark, which left a blessing upon the place where it rested : and in all his employments was like Jehoiada, that did good unto Israel.
These were the steps of this Bishop's ascension to this place of dignity and cares : in which place (to speak Mr. Camden's very words in his Annals of Queen Elizabeth) “ he devoutly consecrated both his whole life to God, and his painful labours to the
good of his Church.” And yet in this place he met with many oppositions in the regulation of churchaffairs, which were much disordered at his entrance, by reason of the age and remissness of Bishop Grindal, his immediate predecessor, the activity of the Non-conformists and their chief assistant the Earl of Leicester; and indeed by too many others of the like sacrilegious principles. With these he was to encounter; and though he wanted neither courage, nor a good cause, yet he foresaw, that, without a great measure of the Queen's favour, it was impossible to stand in the breach that had been lately made into the lands and immunities of the Church, or indeed to maintain the remaining lands and rights of it. And therefore by justifiable sacred insinuations, such as St. Paul to Agrippa, (“Agrippa, believest thou? I know thou believe est,)” he wrought himself into so great a degree of favour with her, as, by his pious use of it, hath got both of them a great degree of fame in this world, and of glory in that into which they are now both entered.
His merits to the Queen, and her favours to him were such, that she called him her little black husband, and called his servants her servants; and she saw so visible and blessed a sincerity shine in all his cares and endeavours for the Church's and for her good, that she was supposed to trust him with the very secrets of her soul, and to make him her confessor ; of which she gave many fair testimonies; and of which one was, that “she would never eat flesh in Lent, without obtaining a licence from her little black husband:” and would often say, “she pitied him because she trusted him, and thereby eased herself by laying the burden of all her clergy cares upon his shoulders,” which he managed with prudence and piety.
I shall not keep myself within the promised rules