« ForrigeFortsett »
superstitions: nevertheless there were many great and shining lights among them, who preached and prayed fervently against the corruptions of the times, and were an example to their flocks, by the strictness and severity of their lives and manners; but their numbers were small in comparison to the many that were otherwise, turning the doctrines of grace into lasciviousness.* * We have now seen the length of king Edward's reformațion. It was an adventurous undertaking for a few bishops and privy-counsellors, to change the religion of a nation only by the advantage of the supremacy of a minor, without the consent of the people in parliament or convocation, and under the eye of a presumptive heir, who was a declared enemy of all their proceedings; as was the case in the former part of this reign. We have taken notice of the mistaken principles of the reformers, in making use of the civil power to force men to conformity; and of their stretching the laws to reach at those whom they could not fairly come at an other way. But notwithstanding these and some other blemishes, they were great and good men, and valiant in the cause of truth; as appears by their sealing it with their blood. They made as quick advances perhaps in restoring religion towards its primitive simplicity, as the circumstances of the time would admit; and it is evident they designed to go farther, and not make this the last standard of the Reformation. Indeed queen Elizabeth thought her brother had gone too far, by stripping religion of too many ornaments; and therefore when she came to the crown, she was hardly persuaded to restore it to the condition in which he left it.- King James 1. king Charles I. archbishop Laud, and all their admirers, instead of removing farther from the superstitious pomps of the church of Rome, have been for returning back to them, and have appealed to the settlement of queen Elizabeth as the purest standard.
But the reformers themselves were of another mind, as appears by the sermons of Latimer, Hooper, Bradford, and others; by the letters of Peter Martyr, Martin Bucer, and John a Lasco,+ who in his book De Ordinatione Ecclesiarum Peregrinarum in Anglia, dedicated to Sigismund king of Poland, 1555, says, "that king Edward desired that the rites and ceremonies used under Popery should be purged out by degrees; that it was his pleasure that strangers should have churches to perform all things according to apostolical observation only, that by this means the English churches might be excited to embrace apostolical purity with the unanimous consent of the states of the kingdom.” He adds, “that the king was at the head of this project, and that Cranmer promoted it, but that some great persons stood in the way.” As a farther evidence of this, a passage was left in the preface of one of their service-books to this purpose ;* “that they had gone as far as they could in reforming the church, considering the times they lived in, and hoped they that came after them would, as they might, do more.” King Edward in his Diary + laments, that he could not restore the primitive discipline according to his heart's desire, because several of the bishops, some for age, some for ignorance, some for their ill name, and some out of love to Popery, .were unwilling to.it. And the church herself, in one of her public offices, laments the want of a godly discipline to this day.
* Strype's Life of Cranmer, p. 290. + Voel. Eccl. Pol. lib. 2. cap. 6. part 1. p. 421.
Martin Bucer, a German divine, and professor of divinity in Cambridge, a person in high esteem with the young king, drew up a plan, and presented it to his majesty, in which he writes largely of ecclesiastical discipline. The king having read it, set himself to write a general discourse about reformation, but did not live to finish it. Bucer proposed, that there might be a strict discipline, to exclude scandalous livers from the sacrament; that the old Popish habits might be laid aside. He did not like the half office of communion, or second service, to be said at the altar when there was no sacrament. He approved not of godfathers answeringin < * The following quotation, Mr. Neal, in answer to bishop Maddox, observes, is transcribed from Mr. Pierce's Vindication, p. 11. where it is to be found verbatim, with his authority; and in Bennett's Memorial of the Reformation, p.50. Mr. Strype intimates, that a farlher reformation was intended ; (Life of Cran. p. 299.) and bishop Burnet adds, that in many of the letters to foreign divives, it is asserted, that both Cranmer and Ridley intended to procure an act for abolishing the habits.-Ed.
+ King Edward's Remains, num. 2. #Burnet's Hist. Ref. vol. 2. p. 156. s Bucer died in 1551, and was consulted on the review of the Common Prayer, 1550. Bat Mr. Neal has introduced his sentimenls in this place, because he was here giving a summary of the changes in kivg Edward's reiga. And in reply to bishop Maddox, who, after bishop Burnet, says, that the most material things to which Bacer excepted, were corrected afterward. Mr. Neal observes, that they who will be at the pains to read over the abstract of his book, entitled, “Of the Kingdom of Christ,' in Collyer's Eccles. Hist. vol. 2. p. 296, &c. must þe of another mind. Review.--ED.
the child's name so well as in their own. He presses much the sanctification of the Lord's day; and that there might be many fastings, but was against the observation of Lent. He would have the pastoral function restored to what it ought to be ; that bishops, throwing off all secular eares, should give themselves to their spiritual employments. He advises that coadjutors might be given to some, and a council of presbyters appointed for them all. He would have rural bishops set over twenty or thirty parishes, who should gather their clergy often together, and inspect themelosely; and that a provincial synod should meet twice a year, when a secular man, in the king's name, should be appointed to observe their proceedings. Cranmer was of the same mind. He disliked the
present way of governing the church by convocations as they are now formed; in which deans, archdeacons, and cathedrals, have an interest far superior in number to those elected to represent the clergy. These, says bishop Burnet,* can in no sort pretend to be more than a part of our civil constitution. They have no foundation in Scripture, nor any warrant from the first ages of the church ; but did arise from the model set forth by Charles the Great, and formed according to the feudal law, by which a right of giving subsidies was vested in all who were possessed of such tenures as qualified them to contribute towards the support of the state. Nor was Cranmer satisfied with the liturgy, though it had been twice reformed, if we may give credit to the learned Bullinger,t who told the exiles at Frankfort, “that the archbishop had drawn up a book of prayers a hundred times more perfect than that which was then in being; but the same could not take place, for that he was matched with such a wicked clergy and convocation, and other enemies."'
The king was of the same sentiments; but his untimely death, which happened in the sixteenth year of his age and seventh of his reign, put an end to all his noble designs for perfecting the Reformation. He was indeed an incomparable
. Hist. Ref. vol. 3. p. 214.
# The troubles at Frankfort in the Pbænix, vol. 2. p. 82. and Pierce's Vindic. p. 12, 13. Mr. Pierce remarks, that this is reported, as is plain to him who looks into the book itself, not on the testimony of Bullinger, as Strype represents it; but by one of Dr. Cox's party on his own knowledge. Review.-ED.
prince, of most promising expectations; andin the judgment of the most impartial persons, the very phænix of his age. It was more than whispered that he was poisoned. But it it very surprising that a Protestant divine, Heylin, in his History of the Reformation,* should say, " that he was illprincipled; that his reign was unfortunate ; and that his death was not an infelicity to the church,” only because he was apprehensive he would have reduced the hierarchy to a more primitive standard. With good king Edward died all farther advances of the Reformation ; for the alterations that were made afterward by queen Elizabeth hardly came up to his standard.
We may observe from the history of this reign,
Ist. That in matters of faith the first reformers followed the doctrine of St. Austin, in the controverted points of original sin, predestination, justification by faith alone, effectual grace, and good works.
2dly. That they were not satisfied with the present discipline of the church, though they thought they might submit to it, till it should be amended by the authority of the legislature.
3dly. That they believed but two orders of churchmen in Holy Scripture, viz. bishops and deacons; and consequently, that bishops and priests were but different ranks or degrees of the same order.
Athly. That they gave the right hand of fellowship to foreign churches, and ministers that had not been ordained by bishops; there being no dispute about reordination in order to any church-preferment, till the latter end of queen Elizabeth's reign.
In all which points most of our modern churchmen have departed from them.
[To Mr. Neal's remarks on the reign of Edward VI. it may be added, that the Reformation was all along conducted in a manner inconsistent with the principles on which it was founded. The principles, on which the justification of it rested, were, the right of private judgment, and the sufficiency of the Scriptures as a rule of faith. Yet the Reformation was limited to the conceptions and ideas of those who were in power. No liberty was granted to the consciences of diffidents: no discussion of points, on which
* Pref. p. 4. part 7. p. 141.
they themselves had not doubts, was permitted : such as held sentiments different from their model, and pursued their inquiries farther, without consideration of their numbers or their characters, so far from being allowed to propose their opinions or to hold separate assemblies for religious worship agreeably to their own views of things, were stigmatized as heretics, and pursued unto death. Besides the instances Mr. Neal mentions, the Anabaptists were excepted out of the king's general pardon, that came out in 1550 :* they were also burnt in divers towns in the kingdom; and met death with singular intrepidity and cheerfulness. Thus inquiry was stifled: and the Reformation was really not the result of a comprehensive view and calm investigation of all the doctrines and practices which had been long established, but the triumph of power in discarding a few articles and practices which more particularly struck the minds of those who were in government. These persons gained, and have exclusively possessed, the honourable title of the Reformers; without any respect to, nay with a contemptuous diregard of, those who saw farther, and, in point of numbers, carried weight. Bishop. Latimer, in a sermon before the king, reported, on the authority of a credible persen, that there were, in one town, five hundred Anabaptists.The reformers, in thus proscribing inquiry and reformation beyond their own standard, were not consistent with themselves. For they acknowledged that corruptions had been a thousand years introducing, which could not be all discovered and thrown out at once. By this concession, they justified the principle, while they punished the conduct, of those who, acting upon it, endeayoured to discover, and wished to reject, more corruptions.] -ED.
Ir will appear in the course of this reign, that an absolute supremacy over the consciences of men, lodged with a single
* Burnet's Hist. Ref. vol. 2. p. 143.
Burnet's Hist. Ref. vol. 2. p. 190.