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preferment done in such manner aforesaid, grant unto you a licence and faculty, with the consent and express command of the most reverend father in Christ, the lord Edmund by the Divine Providence archbishop of Canterbury; to us signified, that in such orders by you taken, you may and have power in any convenient places in and throughout the whole province of Canterbury, to celebrate divine offices, to minister the sacraments, &c. as much as in us lies; and we may de jure, and as far as the laws of the kingdom do allow.” This licence was dated April 6, 1582, and is as full a testimonial to the validity of presbyterial ordination, as can be desired. But the other notion was growing into fashion; all orders of men are for assuming some peculiar characters and powers to themselves; the bishops will be a distinct and superior order to presbyters; and no man must be a minister of Christ, but on whom they lay their hands.*
The behaviour of the bishop of London towards the Puritans, moved the compassion of some of the conforming clergy; the reverend Mr. Wilkin, rector of Danbury in Essex, in a letter to the lord-treasurer, writes thus :-“ As some might be thought over-earnest about trifles, so on the other hand, there had been too severe and sharp punishment for the same. Though I myself think reverently of the Book of Common Prayer, yet surely it is a reverence due only to the sacred writings of Holy Scripture, to say the authors of them erred in nothing, and to none other books of men, of what learning soever. I have seen the letters of the bishops to Bullinger and Gualter, when I was at Zurich in the year 1567, in which they declare, that they had no hand in passing the book, and had no other choice, but to leave their places to Papists or accept them as they were ; but they professed and promised never to urge their brethren to those things; and also, when opportunity should serve, to seek reformation.” How different was the practice of these prelates from their former professions !
* Here bishop Warburton remarks, " the Puritans were even with them; and to the jus divinum of episcopacy, opposed the jus divinum of presbytery, which was the inaking each other antichristian.” His lordship goes into this conclusiou too bastily, and applies it without, pay inst, authority, to the Puritans: they never required such as had been episcopally ordained to be reordained ; but, in the height of their power, declared, “We hold ordination by a bishop to be for substance valid, and not to be disclaimed by any that have received it." See our author, vol. 3.-.-Ed.
But not only the clergy, but the whole country also, exclaimed against the bishops for their high proceedings; the justices of peace of the county of Suffolk were so moved, that, notwithstanding his lordship's late citation of them before the council, they wrote again to their honours, praying them to interpose in behalf of the injuries that were offered to divers godly ministers. The words of their supplication are worth remembering, because they discover the cruelty of the commissioners, who made no distinction between the vilest of criminals, and conscientious ministers. “ The painful ministers of the word (say they) are marshalled with the worst malefactors, presented, indicted, arraigned, and condemned, for matters, as we presume, of very slender moment: some for leaving the holidays unbidden; some for singing the psalm Nunc Dimittis in the morning ; some for turning the questions in baptism concerning faith, from the infants to the godfathers, which is but you for thou; some for leaving out the cross in baptism ; some for leaving out the ring in marriage. A most pitiful thing it is, to see the back of the law turned to the adversary [the Papists], and the edge with all sharpness laid upon the sound and true-hearted subject.-_*
“ We grant order to be the rule of the Spirit of God, and desire uniformity in all the duties of the church, according to the proportion of faith ; but if these weak ceremonies are so indifferent, as to be left to the discretion of ministers, we think it (under correction) very hard to have them go under so hard handling, to the utter discredit of their whole ministry, and the profession of truth."
ç. We serve her majesty and the country (as magistrates and justices of the peace] according to law; we reverence the law and lawmaker; when the law speaks, we keep silence; when it commandeth, we obey. By law we proceed against all offenders; we touch none that the law spareth, and spare none that the law toucheth; we allow not of Papists ; of the Family of Love; of Anabaptists, or Brownists. No, we punish all these.t
* Strype's Annals, vol. 3. p. 183, 184.
+ Bishop Maddox observes, the expressions in Strype are stronger. « We allow not of the Papists their subtilties and hypocrisies : we allow not of the Family of Love, an egg of the same vest: we allow not of the Anabaptists, and their communion : we alluw nul of Brown, the overthrower of church and commonwealth : we abhor all these; no (we) punish all these.” This, we must own with bis lordship, was not the language of real and consistent friends to liberty of couscience. -Ed.
“And yet we are christened with the odious name of Puritans; a term compounded of the heresies above mentioned, which we disclaim. The Papists pretend to be pure and immaculate; the Family of Love cannot sin, they being deified (as they say) in God. But we groan under the burden of our sins, and confess them to God; and at the same time we labour to keep ourselves and our profession unblamable; this is our Puritanism; a name given to such magistrates and ministers and others that have a strict eye upon their juggling
“ We think ourselves bound in duty to unfold these matters to your lordships ; and if you shall please to call us to the proof of them, it is the thing we most desire.”
This supplication produced a letter from the council to the judges of the assize, commanding them not to give ear to malicious informers against peaceful and faithful ministers, nor to match them at the bar with rogues, felons, or Papists; but to put a difference in the face of the world, between those of another faith, and they who differ only about ceremonies, and yet diligently and soundly preach true religion. The judges were struck with this letter, and the bishop of London, with his attendants, returned from his visitation full of discontent. Indeed his lordship had made himself so many enemies, that he grew weary of his bishoprick, and petitioned the queen to exchange it for that of Ely, that he might retire and be out of the way; or rather, that he might kindle a new flame in those parts; but her majesty refused his request.
Notwithstanding these slight appearances in favour of the Puritans, two ministers of the Brownist persuasion were condemned, and put to death this summer for nonconformity, viz. Mr. Elias Thacker hanged at St. Edmundsbury, June 4th, and Mr. John Copping two days after, June 6th, 1583. Their indictments were for spreading certain books seditiously penned by Robert Brown against the Book of Common Prayer established by the laws of this realm. The sedition charged upon Brown's book was, that it subverted the constitution of the church, and acknowledged her majesty's supremacy civilly, but not otherwise, as appears by the report which the judges sent to court, viz. That the prisoners, instead of acknowledging her majesty's supremacy in all causes, would allow it only in civil.* This the judges took hold of to aggravate their offence to the queen, after they had passed sentence upon them, on the late statute of the 23d Eliz. against spreading seditious libels, and for refusing the oath of supremacy. Mr. Copping had suffered a long and illegal imprisonment from the bishop of his diocess; his wife being brought to bed while he was under confinement, he was charged with not suffering his child to be baptized; to which he answered, that his conscience could not admit it to be done with godfathers and godmothers, and he could get no preacher to do it without. He was accused farther with saying the queen was perjured, because she had sworn to set forth God's glory directly as by the Scriptures are appointed, and did not; but these were only circumstances, to support the grand charge of sedition in spreading Brown's book. However, it seemed a little hardt to hang men for spreading a seditious book, at a time when the author of that very book (Brown) was pardoned and set at liberty. Both the prisoners died by their principles; for though Dr. Still the archbishop's chaplain, and others, travelled and conferred with them, yet at the very hour of their death they remained immovable: they were both sound in the doctrinal articles of the church of England, and of unblemished lives. One Wilsford a layman should have suffered with them, but upon conference with secretary Wilson, who told him the queen’s supremacy might be understood only of her majesty's civil power over ecclesiastical persons, he took the oath and was discharged.
While the bishops were thus harassing honest and conscientious ministers, for scrupling the ceremonies of the church, practical religion was at a very low ebb; the fashionable vices of the times were, profane swearing, drunkenness, revelling, gaming, and profanation of the Lord's day;
Strype's Annals, vol. 3. p. 186. + Bishop Warburton imputes it to party and prejudice in Mr. Neal, that he doth not point out the difference in this case; which his lordship slates to be the same as between “ the dispensers of poison hanged for going on obstinately in mischief, and of him who compounded the poison, but was on his repentance pardoned.” But no such distinction existed, and his lordship lost sight of tbe real state of the case. Brown did not renounce his principles lill seven years after he was committed to prisou for publishing his book, and was dismissed not on his repentance, but at the intercession of the lord-treasurer. So far from repenting, he went up and down inveighing against bishops, &c. and gathered a separate congregation ou his own principles. See our author, p. 329, 330.- ED.
Strype's Ann. vol. 2. p. 532, 533.
yet there was no discipline for these offenders, nor do I find any such, cited into the spiritual courts, or shut up
in prisons. If men came to their parish-churches, and approved of the habits and ceremonies, other offences were overlooked, and the court was easy. At Paris-gardens in Southwark, there were public sports on the Lord's day for the entertainment of great numbers of people who resorted thither; but on the 13th of January, being Sunday, it happened that one of the scaffolds, being crowded with people, fell down, by which accident some were killed, and a great many wounded. This was thought to be a judgment from heaven; for the lord-mayor, in the account he gives of it to the treasurer, says, “ that it gives great occasion to acknowledge the hand of God for such abuse of his sabbath-day, and moveth me in conscience to give order for redress of such contempt of God's service; adding, that for this
purpose he had treated with some justices of peace in Surrey, who expressed a very good zeal, but alleged want of commission, which he referred to the consideration of his lordship."
"* But the court paid no regard to such remonstrances and the queen had her ends, in encouraging the sports, pastimes, and revellings, of the people on Sundays and holidays. This
year died the famous northern apostle Mr. Bernard Gilpin, minister of Houghton in the bishoprick of Durham. He was born at Kentmire in Westmoreland, 1517, of an ancient and honourable family, and was entered into Queen's college, Oxford, in the year 1533. He continued a Papist all the reign of king Henry VIII. but was converted by the lectures of Peter Martyr, in the beginning of the reign of Edward VI. He was remarkably honest, and open to conviction, but did not separate from the Romish communion till he was persuaded the pope was antichrist. Cuthbert Tonstal, bishop of Durham, was his uncle by the mother's side,by whose encouragement he travelled to Paris, Louvaine, and other parts, being still for the real presence of Christ in the sacrament, though not for transubstantiation. Returning home in the days of queen Mary, his uncle placed him first in the rectory of Essington, and afterward at Houghton, a large parish containing fourteen villages; here he laboured in the work of the ministry, and was often exposed to danger, but constantly preserved by his uncle bi
* Strype's Annals, vol. 2. p. 532, 533.