was given to the cause of the reformation in England, which enabled it to maintain its ground against all the difficulties which it had to encounter, not only on the side of the papacy, but from the rising divisions among the reformers themselves.

The person thought of to fill the highest station in the church, was Dr. Parker. He had formerly been a chaplain to Anne Boleyn, and had been charged by her, a little before her death, to bestow his cares upon the religious instruction of her daughter. This duty he had discharged in a manner that had entitled him to the gratitude of Elizabeth, and so as to make her consider him as the most proper person to succeed in the place of the martyred Cranmer. During the Marian persecution, Parker was one of those who, at the great peril of their lives, stayed in England, and by various concealments, and travelling from place to place, still exercised his ministry among the poor persecuted flock of Christ. Knowing, from his correspondence with Cecil and Bacon, that he was destined for preferment, he asked for the revenue of some prebend, that he might continue his labours “ among the simple strayed sheep of God's fold in poor destitute parishes and cures ;" or, “ if he might disclose his desire, of all places in England” he thought he could end his days with most profit to the community, if placed in the university. When he heard of his designation to the archbishopric of Canterbury, he still persisted in his more humble suit, stating, in a letter to his friend Bacon, that he laboured under a “ painful infirmity" that unfitted him, in his old age, for an undertaking of so great labour. “ Sir,- before God I lie not-I am so in body hurt and decayed; fleeing in a night from such as sought for me to my peril, I fell off my horse so dangerously, that I shall never recover it. I am fain sometimes to be idle when I would be occupied : and also keep my bed, when my heart is not sick."

He had also weighed well the difficulties of the situation to which he was chosen. On account of the disunion among the Protestants themselves, he apprehended an archbishop of Canterbury would be in a very delicate situation ; he would have to procure " his fellows to join with him in unity of doctrine, which must be their whole strength; for if any heart-burning be betwixt them, if private quarrels stirred up abroad be brought home, and so should shiver them asunder, it may chance to have that success which, I fear, in the conclusion will follow.” “I see a great charge set before them,” - the bishops — over “ the unruly flock of the English people ;" and they so much acloyed with worldly collections, temporal commissions, and

worldly provisions. At my last coming to London, I heard and saw books printed, which be spread abroad, whose authors be ministers of good estimation. The doctrine of one is to prove that a woman cannot be, by God's Word, a governor in a Christian realm ; and in another book going abroad, is matter set out to prove that it is lawful for every private subject to kill his sovereign, by sword, poison, or any other way, if he think him to be a tyrant in his conscience; yea, and worthy to have his reward for his attempt.” “ They say that the realm is full of Anabaptists, Arians, Libertines, Free-will men, &c., against whom I thought ministers would have needed to fight in unity of doctrine. As for the Romish adversaries, their mouths

may be stopped with their own books and confessions of late days. I never dreamed that ministers should be compelled to impugn ministers ; the adversaries have good sport betwixt themselves to prognosticate the likelihood.” “I pray God all be conscience to God that is sometimes so pretended : men be men, yea, after the school of affliction, men be men; Hypocrisie is a privy thief both in the clergy and in the laity,” &c.

These forebodings of the archbishop elect were but too nearly realised in the subsequent history of the English church, and they shew his accurate knowledge of the state of the rising parties among the reformers. He was consecrated in December 1559. Among the bishops who officiated, was the venerable Coverdale, Tindal's friend, who had so narrowly escaped the flames in queen Mary's reign. Thus, from having bome a part in its very commencement, for he assisted the martyred Tindal in his translation of the Scriptures and other publications, he lived to see the reformation fully established in England. He finished his days in a private station, and died at London, at the age of eighty-ope, in 1567,

After the consecration of the archbishop, Grindal was appointed to the see of London, Cox, king Edward's almoner, to that of Ely, Horn to Winchester, Sandys to Worcester, Merick to Bangor, Young to St. David's, Bullingham to Lincoln, Jewel to Salisbury, Davis to St. Asaph, Guest to Rochester, Berkley to Bath and Wells, Bentham to Litchfield and Coventry, Alley to Exeter, and Parr to Peterborough. Barlow and Scory, who had been bishops in king Edward's days, were placed in the sees of Chichester and Hereford. Some time afterwards, Young was translated to York, Pilkington was made bishop of Durham, Best of Carlisle, and Downham of Chester. Thus, the chief pastors of the Protestant episcopal church of England, were

very ably supplied by men who for the most part had given ample proof of their sincerity and devotion, and some of whom had jeoparded their lives for the Gospel of Christ. It was not found so easy to supply the multitude of inferior ministers which the service of the church required ; nor, amidst the sacrilegious spoiling of the church property, was sufficient provision left in many places for their decent support. “ The destruction of the ministers of the Gospel, partly by burning and execution, and partly by exile and discouragement of the study of divinity, had this inconvenience, that in the next reign, (that of Elizabeth,) there was a great want of clergy to supply the churches of the kingdom, and to perform divine service according to the reformation of religion established. For the remedy thereof, many laymen were ordained ministers ; namely, such as could read well, and were pious, and of sober conversation, to serve in some of the parish churches for the present necessity.”

The accession of Elizabeth to the throne of England, was, also, under the providence of God, decisive of the prevalence of the reformed religion in Scotland. The interests of the reforma- · tion in that kingdom, owing to the different state of the government and of the people, had proceeded in a somewhat different manner. If it made not its way so much as it had done in England, by the patient sufferings of its martyrs, this was not owing to the want of courage and faithfulness in the Scotch reformers, or of persecuting hatred on the part of the Papists; it was, that they found themselves in a different situation. The principles of the reformed religion made an early impression on the bulk of the people in Scotland. Some of the nobility, from various motives, embraced or encouraged them. The Protestants soon found themselves a powerful faction in the state, and thus supported, the reformers often returned violence for violence; and though they were frequently nearly overwhelmed in the conflict, they sometimes became the assailants. The contest was indeed carried on much in the manner of the ancient feuds of the Scottish aristocracy ; noble against noble, or a combination of that order against the crown. Religion was now the new object of strife; and principles of civil liberty, not unlike those which have been acted upon in the present age, were embraced by some of the Scotch reformers; but certainly not the principles of religious toleration. It was a war of extermination on both sides, so far as the open profession of religion was concerned ; and the reformers sometimes proceeded with great violence in the destruction of churches and


monasteries. Knox, who was the great leader among the Scottish divines, was a man whose cast of character was peculiarly suited to such scenes, and to guard the interests of truth, amidst the warlike nobles and politicians, who, as the heads of the Protestant party, were denominated “ the lords of the congregation.” The gentle virtues of the Christian character, and the patience of the saints, were certainly not exhibited in the public character of this reformer; but in courage, fortitude, and integrity, and in the maintenance of what he held to be the truth, he was truly great.

Amidst the conflicts of these contending parties, it was so ordered that, under Edward VI., England had afforded an asylum to the Scotch reformers when they were most pressed, and fled from persecution; and again, when the cruelties of Mary drove the preachers out of England, the state of politics was such at that time in Scotland, that they were received with favour, and the propagation of their doctrines was connived at. The ascension of Elizabeth occurred also at a critical moment, when preparations, 'aided by France, were ready to crush the reformation in Scotland; but the English queen was induced, both by policy and religion, to support it, which she effectually did, and put an end to the French influence and the Roman Catholic religion in that country'.

So far as the “pale ” of the Protestant church extended in Ireland, which was but to a very confined extent, the accession of Elizabeth restored it to its ascendency ; but the bulk of the native population continued most abjectly enslaved to the Romish superstition. The Protestants of Ireland are said to have been preserved from the last extremes of persecution, under Mary, by the mistress of an inn, who dexterously substituted a pack of cards for the commission, which the queen's agent was carrying into that country. Thus the persecution was delayed, and shortly afterwards the queen died.

See M‘Crie's Life of Knox, and especially Cook's History of the Reformation in Scotland.




From the revolutions which were produced at the era of the reformation, the nominally Christian world was divided into three great divisions, - the Greek or Eastern churches — the Roman Catholic church and the churches of the Protestants.

The particular object of our history, the real church of Christ, must be sought for chiefly among the last ; but the former two will demand some small share of our attention, since we have been admonished that the most corrupted churches may yet contain a faithful remnant among them. “ Even in Sardis," it is recorded, when she was “ dead," and had but “ a name that she lived,” there were some names that had not defiled their garments."



The Eastern churches were, for the most part, groaning beneath the burdens of that slavery into which the victories of the Turks had plunged them. They still subsisted, however, and, as in the times of their greater prosperity, were distinguished as the Greek Catholics, and the Sectaries.

Of the former, the four great patriarchal sees, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, still remain, at least in name, as in ancient times.

But with the exception of the first, the patriarchs retain little more than an empty title ; for the main body of those who profess the Christian name in Antioch and in Alexandria, and their subject bishoprics, are in communion with the sectaries, and appoint their own patriarchs and bishops. Jerusalem, also, is pretty equally divided among all the different professions.

The patriarch of Constantinople, as the head of the Greek religion, is still a person of some importance in the eyes of his own people and of his Mahometan masters. His jurisdiction extends, or till lately did extend, over Greece and the Greek Isles, Wallachia, Moldavia, and several of the European and

« VorigeDoorgaan »