Sivut kuvina

of Martin Mar-Prelate were pre-eminent in scurrility. These works were answered by the Episcopalians in somewhat the same strain, but with more humour. But the higher powers were not satisfied with the victory of the pen. A royal proclamation was speedily issued against seditious publications. A strict search was also made for the concealed printing presses, in consequence of which Martin Mar-Prelate's press was discovered in the town of Manchester; and the offending craftsmen, who were caught in the very fact of taking off an impression of a libellous pamphlet, were arrested by the Earl of Derby, and sent prisoners to London. In announcing the important intelligence to the lord treasurer, the archbishop professed to feel no resentment against the culprits on his own account, though he had smarted under their severe animadversions ; but yet, in consideration of their violation of the law, he said, that he “ could wish that they should be dealt with according to their deserts, and the quality of their offence.”

Soon after the capture of the printers, at the rising of the parliament, Whitgift commenced proceedings against the schismatic ministers, several of whom, with Cartwright at their head, he summoned before the ecclesiastical commission. By this tribunal, they were required to answer on oath to certain inculpatory interrogatories; but this they peremptorily refused to do, alleging that such a proceeding was equally an infringement of the law of the land, and of the rights of conscience. Irritated by their pertinacity, and, at the same time, fearful of the consequences of a stretch of authority on his part, the archbishop, after committing Cartwright to the Fleet, requested the council to consider, whether, in reference to the difficulty of obtaining evidence against the offenders, it were not expedient, for the terror of others, to proceed against them by præmunire, if they had incurred it by law; or by some exemplary corporal punishment, to be inflicted by the lords of the Star-Chamber, or otherwise.” This application was followed by still stronger measures. Though the lord treasurer, taking compassion on the sufferings of the Puritans, observed to his grace, that“ he saw not that diligence and care taken to win these kind of men that were precise, either by learning or courtesy,” Mr. Udal, the minister of Kingston upon Thames, was capitally indicted for defaming the queen’s government, in a book entitled “the Demonstration of Discipline," upon which indictment he was found guilty, and condemned to die. At the solicitation of the lord treasurer, however, he was reprieved; but whilst a negociation was carrying on, for permission to be granted him to banish himself to Smyrna, where the members of the British factory were anxiously desirous to receive him as their chaplain, he died in prison, in the year 1593. At the same time, a proclamation

was issued for the apprehension of one Penry, a native of Wales, a man of violent temper, and the author of many scurrilous tracts against the episcopal government of the church. Penry had, at first, the good fortune to escape into Scotland ; but, returning into England, he was apprehended in Southwark, tried for composing and uttering seditious writings, condemned to death, and executed in so hasty a manner, that he was summoned from his dinner to the gallows.

In the mean time, the refusal of Cartwright and his brethren to answer on oath the interrogatories put to them by the ecclesiastical commission, had given great offence to the queen's law advisers, who, after due deliberation, determined to proceed against them in the Star-Chamber, with a predetermined resolution to banish them, by the sentence of that court, “ to some reinote place, that there might be no danger of their return, nor of their disturbing the peace of the commonwealth, by their writings, or otherwise.” Previously, however, to their transference to this tribunal, the prisoners having been conducted to the house of the Bishop of London, Cartwright was there called before the commissioners. Wben he made his appearance, his lordship and the attorney-general severally made speeches in aggravation of his imputed offences, and once more called upon him to take the oath, which he declined to do, and vindicated his refusal by very powerful reasons. He also availed himself of the occasion which now presented itself, of rebutting the charges which had been brought against him; but, before he had finished his defence, he was interrupted by the bishop, who, still calling upon him to take the obnoxious oath, on his persisting in bis refusal, caused this act of contumacy to be recorded. The prisoners were then remanded into custody; and, in the ensuing month of June, an information was exhibited against them in the Star-Chamber, charging them with an intention of overthrowing the established church discipline, and substituting their new “ platform” in its place. The lord treasurer seems to have watched these proceedings with a jealous eye; for, finding that the main charge against the schismatic ministers was, that they designed to bring in their own discipline by force, he requested the attorney-general to inform him whether he could substantiate this allegation by proof. The answer of Mr. Attorney to this request, very clearly evinced, that the charge in question could only be maintained by remote and unsatisfactory inferences from facts in themselves innocent or indifferent. This interference of the lord treasurer, in all probability, saved the intended victims from some severe punishment; for, after their constancy had been tried by various insidious proceedings, at the end of an imprisonment of a year and half, they were liberated on their simple promise to keep the queen's peace.

In the parliament which was holden in the year 1592, these proceedings against the Puritans were severely animadverted upon by Mr. Morice, attorney of the court of wards, who presented to the house of commons two bills for restraining the oppressive power of the bishops, which were favorably received, but were stopped in their progress, by the peremptory command

of the queen.

It was not on the subject of discipline alone that the archbishop suffered vexation : he was also troubled on the score of doctrine, and that by some whose conformity to the ceremonies of the church could not be disputed. In the university of Cambridge, some of the heads of colleges maintained the Calvinistic doctrine of the divine decrees of predestination. The opinions of these theologians were violently attacked in a sermon, at St. Mary's, by William Barrett, fellow of Gonville and Caius college. For this offence, Barrett was proceeded against by the vice-chancellor, and condemned to retract his supposed errors. This he promised and professed to do; but his recantation was so equivocal, as by no means to give satisfaction. When matters were in this state, both parties appealed to the archbishop, who soon intimated his opinion, that the proceedings against the preacher had been hasty and unadvised, and impugned the right of the university authorities to decide upon points of faith. The heads, thus pushed to extremity, declined the archbishop's jurisdiction in the case under their consideration; on which his grace addressed to them an epistle of sharp reproof, plainly saying to these reverend and learned doctors, “ It is a most vain conceit to think that you have authority, in matters of controversy, to judge what is agreeable to the doctrine of the church of England, what not; the law expressly laying that upon her majesty, and upon such as she shall, by commission, appoint for that purpose; and how far my authority, under her highness, reacheth therein, I hope you will not give me occasion to try.”. This haughty demeanour of his grace was keenly resented by many of the influential members of the university, and especially by a Dr. Somes, who animadverted upon the proud metropolitan, in a sermon on Acts iv. 5.“ Their rulers, and elders, and scribes, and Annas, the high-priest, &c., were gathered together at Jerusalem, and when they had set them in the midst, they asked them, by what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” Irritated by this attack, and jealous of an appeal which the heads had made to the chancellor of the university, the archbishop determined himself to sit in judgment on the case of Barrett. He, accordingly, sent for the pertinacious polemic to Lambeth, and, upon examining him, was of opinion, that though upon some points of faith he was right, in others

be was unsound; and therefore decreed that he should retract his errors in the pulpit of St. Mary's. At the same time, with a view of settling the controversy which had been productive of so much uneasiness and disturbance in the church, he published, as authentic doctrine, nine propositions on the mysterious subject of predestination, which are known to divines by the name of the Lambeth Articles. These propositions, which the archbishop had the discretion to communicate to the members of the university, “not as laws and decrees, but as his private opinion of the true doctrine of the church of England,” were, at first, received at Cambridge with thankful submission. The satisfaction which his grace derived from this circumstance was, however, counterbalanced by the displeasure of the queen, who highly disapproved of the mooting of points, which involved, as she said, “matter tender and dangerous to weak ignorant minds,” and by the disapprobation of Cecil, who disliked the Calvinistic doctrine of the Lambeth Articles, as “charging God with cruelty, and likely to cause men to be desperate in their wickedness.” To add to his troubles, Dr. Baro, a French refugee, a man of considerable learning, and a member of the university of Cambridge, in despite of the intimation of his pleasure that these delicate topics should be no longer handled in public, controverted his articles in a clerum, in which he seems to have maintained the principles of Arminius. The vicechancellor, scandalized by this audacious promulgation of heresy, stimulated the archbishop to avenge this violation of the purity of doctrine, and took active proceedings against the offender in his own court. But Baro found a friend in the lord treasurer, and even the archbishop interfered in his favour, and not only saved him from expulsion, but also preserved to him his rank and honours in the university.

During the remainder of the reign of Elizabeth, Whitgift was principally occupied in thus restraining the controversies and quarrels which took place amongst those who were attached to the discipline of the established church. With the Puritans he seems to have tacitly agreed to a cessation of hostilities. To this he was, in all probability, induced by the jealousy which the court of king's bench entertained of the high commission, the proceedings of which were frequently checked by prohibitions, and also by the evident decay of the health of the queen, and the prospect of a Presbyterian successor to the throne. In contemplation, also, of his own approaching death, he, at this time, founded, with a handsome endowment, the hospital of Croydon. The perversion of the revenues of this institution, which has been lately brought to light by a parliamentary committee, evinces the wisdom of the maxim of St. Gregory, by

which the archbishop professed to be guided, " tutior est via, ut bonum, quod quisquis post mortem sperat agi per alios, agat, dum vivat, ipse per se.

Our limits will not allow us to particularize the zeal with which his grace punished certain Puritan divines, who professed to cast out devils; or to narrate at length, how he laid an astrologer by the heels, and how he trounced a butcher of Canterbury, who killed calves in Lent: but, passing on to more important matters, we have to record his attendance on Queen Elizabeth in her dying moments, and the promptitude with which, on her decease, he recommended the church of England to the favour of her successor.

To this recommendation James gave a most gracious answer, professing, “ that he would uphold the government of the late queen as she left it.” This declaration, on the part of his majesty, removed all the fears which the episcopal bench had entertained, that he would, on his accession, bring in the new discipline; which fears, Strype says, “had made them speak, sometimes, uneasily of the Scotch mist.” This mist, however, soon cleared away. On his arrival in England, the new monarch manifested his displeasure on receiving a petition, signed by nearly one thousand ministers, praying for a "godly reformation in the church; and, in a conference, held, by his appointment, at Hampton Court, between the Episcopalians and the Puritans, he so stoutly, and so learnedly, defended the established constitution of the English church, that the archbishop, in a transport of loyal enthusiasm, declared that “his majesty undoubtedly spake by the especial assistance of God's spirit.” His grace did not long survive this triumph. The conference took place January 14th, 1603, and he died on the 29th of February following:

Whitgift was, undoubtedly, a man of considerable talents. His scholastic acquisitions were various and extensive; and his controversial works evince much acuteness, and a discriminating judgment. As a man of business, he was industrious and skilful;-as a guardian of the interests of the church, he was vigilant and indefatigable. In his episcopal character, he, in one sense, followed the precept of the apostle, “ he magnified his office;” and pursued the tenour of his way, unawed by the interference of rank or power. The capital error into which he fell, was the error of the times in which he lived—a persuasion of the necessity of uniformity in religious doctrines and observances to the quiet of the state. Hence his harsh proceedings against the Puritans and the Catholics. His principles of church discipline, as followed up by his successors, and, finally, by Laud, produced the very mischiefs which they seemed calculated to restrain-they pulled down at once the church and the monarchy; and it was not till years of persecution and misery had

[blocks in formation]
« EdellinenJatka »