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UGH LATIMER, the great Reformer, was born of
humble though worthy parentage, in 1490 or 1491, at Thurcaston, in Leicestershire. At fourteen
years age Latimer was sent to the University of Cambridge, where he was remarkable for 'sanctimony of life,' and his studious habits. He was at first a zealous Papist, but, through the influence of Bilney, “began to smell the Word of God, and forsook the school doctors and such fooleries.' In his zeal for the new doctrines he alarmed the doctors and friars, who endeavoured to prohibit his preaching. Cardinal Wolsey favoured him, however, and gave him licence to preach throughout England. He was one of the delegates appointed to determine the validity of Henry VII.'s marriage with Catherine of Arragon, and preached before the King on the day on which the decree of the senate was presented. He was afterwards appointed chaplain to Anne Boleyn, and presented to the living of West Kington, in Wiltshire. The Bishopric of Worcester was conferred upon him in August 1535, but he was obliged to resign the same in 1539.
He had been twice imprisoned, when, on the accession of Edward vi., he was set free in 1547. On the accession of Queen Mary hc was again committed to prison, and, after remaining six months in the Tower, was taken to Oxford, along with Cranmer and Ridley, for the purpose of holding examinations and disputations concerning heresy. The result was that all the three prelates were excommunicated, condemned, and committed to separate confinement. After sixteen months' imprisonment, Latimer and Ridley were tried for heresy, and sentenced to death. Latimer and Ridley were publicly burnt in front of Balliol College, on the 16th of October 1555.
Latimer's brave, prophetical words, spoken on this occasion, are well known : “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out. In speaking of his oratorical powers, Edward Arber writes :
'What a merry wit he has ! What a kind and loving heart ! How his daily fighting with craft has made him a subtle spirit! What skill he has in fence and parry! How he relishes the telling of a good
THE BUSIEST BISHOP IN ENGLAND.
If the nobility be well trained in godly learning, the people would follow the same train. For truly such as the noblemen be, such will the people be. And now the only cause why noblemen be not made lord presidents is because they have not been brought up in learning; therefore for the love of God appoint teachers and schoolmasters, you that have charge of youth, and give the teachers stipends worthy their pains, that they may bring them up in grammar, in logic, in rhetoric, in philosophy, in the civil law, and in that which I cannot leave unspoken of, the Word of God. Thanks be unto God, the nobility otherwise is very well brought up in learning and godliness, to the great joy and comfort of England, so that there is now good hope in the youth, that we shall another day have a flourishing commonwealth, considering their godly education. Yea, and there be already noblemen enough (though not so as I would wish) able to be lord presidents, and wise men enough for the mint. And as unmeet a thing it is for bishops to be lord presidents, or priests to be minters, as it was for the Corinthians to plead matters of variance before heathen judges. It is also a slander to the noblemen, as though they lacked wisdom and learning to be able for such offices, or else were no men of conscience, or else were not meet to be trusted, and able for such offices; and a prelate had a charge and cure otherwise, and therefore he cannot discharge his duty and be a lord president too. For a presidentship requireth a whole man, and a bishop cannot be two men. A bishop hath his office, a flock to teach, to look unto, and therefore he cannot meddle with another office, which alone requireth a whole man. He should, therefore, give it over to whom it is meet, and labour in his own business, as Paul writeth to the Thessalonians : 'Let every man do his own business, and follow his calling. Let the priest preach, and the nobleman handle the temporal matters.
Moses was a marvellous man, a good man. Moses was a wonderful fellow, and did his duty, being a married man. We lack such as Moses was. Well, I would all men would look to their duty, as God hath called them, and then we should have a flourishing Christian commonwealth. And now I would ask a strange question: Who is the most diligent bishop and prelate in all England, that passeth all the rest in doing his office? I can tell, for I know him : who it is, I know him well. But now I think I see you listening and hearkening that I should name him. There is one that passeth all the others, and is the most diligent prelate and preacher in all England. And will you know who it is? I will tell you. It is the devil. He is the most diligent preacher of all others; he is never out of his diocese; he is never from his cure; ye shall never find him unoccupied; he is ever in his parish; he keepeth residence ai all times; ye shall never find him out of the way; call for him when you will, he is ever at home; the diligentest preacher in all the realm, he is ever at his plough ; no lording nor loitering can hinder him; he is ever applying his business; ye shall never find him idle, I warrant you. And his office is to hinder religion, to maintain superstition, to set up idolatry, to teach all kinds of papistry; he is ready as can be wished for to set forth his plough, to devise as many ways as can be to deface and obscure God's glory. Where the devil is resident and hath his plough going, there away with books and up with candles, away with Bibles and up with beads, away with the light of the gospel and up with the light of candles, yea, at noonday. Where the devil is resident, that he may prevail, up with all superstition and idolatry, censing, painting of images, candles, palms, ashes, holy water, and new service of men's inventing, as though man could invent a better way to honour God with than God Himself hath appointed. Down with Christ's cross; up with purgatory-pick-purse, up with him —the popish purgatory, I mean. Away with clothing the naked, the poor, and impotent; up with decking of images and gay garnishing of stocks and stones; up with man's traditions and his laws, down with God's traditions and His most holy Word ; down with the old honour due to God, and up with the new God's honour. Let all things be done in Latin. There must be nothing but Latin ; not as much as Memento homo quod cinis es et in cinerem reverteris ('Remember, man, that thou art ashes, and into ashes thou shalt return '), which be the words that the minister speaketh to the ignorant people when he giveth them ashes unto Ash-Wednesday, but it must be spoken in Latin. God's Word may in no wise be translated into English. Oh that our prelates would be as diligent to sow the corn of good doctrine as Satan is to sow cockle and darnel! And this is the devilish ploughing the which worketh to have things in Latin, and letteth the fruitful edification. But here some man will say to me, “What, sir, are ye so privy of the devil's counsel, that ye know all this to be true?' Truly I know him too well, and have obeyed him a little too much in condescending to some follies. And I know him as other men do, yea, that he is ever occupied and ever busy in following his plough. I know St. Peter, who saith of him, Sicut leo rugiens circuit querens quem devoret (" As a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may de rour,' 1 Peter v. 8). He goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I would have this text well viewed and examined every word of it. Circuit, he goeth about in every corner of his diocese. He goeth on visitation daily. He leaveth no place of his cure unvisited. He walketh round about from place to place, and ceaseth not.
Sicut leo, as a lion, that is, strongly, boldly and proudly, straightly and fiercely, with high looks, with his proud countenances, with his stately braggings. Rugiens, roaring; for he letteth not slip any occasion to speak or to roar out when he seeth his time. Querens, he goeth about seeking, and not sleeping, as our bishops do, but he seeketh diligently, he searcheth diligently all corners; whereas he may have his prey, he roveth abroad in every place of his diocese, he standeth not still, he is never at rest, but ever in hand with his plough, that it may go forward. But there was never such a preacher in England as he is. Who is able to tell his diligent preaching, who every day and
every hour laboureth to sow cockle and darnel, that he may bring out of form and out of estimation and room 1 the institution of the Lord's Supper and Christ's cross?
CONTEMPLATION AND ACTION.
We read a pretty story of St. Anthony, who, being in the wilderness, led there a very hard and strict life, insomuch as none of that time did the like; to whom came a voice from heaven, saying, ' Anthony, thou art not so perfect as is a cobbler that dwelleth at Alexandria.' Anthony hearing this, rose up forthwith, and took his staff and travelled till he came to Alexandria, where he found the cobbler. The cobbler was astonished to see so reverend a father come to his house. Then Anthony said unto him, “Come and tell me thy whole
1 Place or office.