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end with his resignation. For the masters and fellows, says he, were afterwards under the necessity of appealing to Chancery, to oblige him to account for several sums of money which he had received, and had not paid; to restore many writings, the private seal of the master, and some other things; and to discharge the various debts which he had contracted. These, however, were not recovered till after his death, which happened in the year 1576." These are certainly very heavy charges: But how far he was guilty, is not easy now to ascertain. He was a man well versed in the learned languages, also in the French and Italian,t The Oxford historian says, that he was deprived of his prebend for notorious nonconformity; but, upon his repentance and reconciliation, that he was admitted to another prebend, in 1576, the year in which he died. It is not easy to reconcile this with the account given above from Mr. Strype. - -
Thomas Lever, B.D.—This celebrated divine was born of respectable parents at Little Lever in Lancashire, and educated in the university of Cambridge. After taking his degrees, he was chosen fellow, then master of St. John's college; in which office he succeeded Dr. William Bill, and was the seventh master of the house. He was a famous disputant, a celebrated scholar, and remarkably, zealous in the advancement of true religion. He was ordained both priest and deacon, in the year 1550, by Bishop Ridley, afterwards martyr in the Marian persecution, and was a most eloquent and popular preacher to the close of the reign of King Edward. This learned prelate had a very high opinion of him, and esteemed him famous for his bold and plain preaching. Speaking of the preaching of Latimer, Bradford, Knox, and Lever, he said: “They ripped so deeply in the galled backs of the great men at court, to have purged them of the filthy matter festered in their hearts; as, insatiable covetousness, filthy carnality, voluptuousness, intolerable pride, and ungodly loathsomeness to hear poor mens’ cases and God's word; that they could never abide them above all others.” Afterwards, when Ridley was cast into prison, and not long before he was committed to the flames, he wrote a letter to his friend Grindal, then in exile, in which he made affectionate and honourable mention of Mr. Lever, as one of the persecuted servants of Christ." - In the above year he preached two sermons, the one at Paul's cross, the other É. the king, which, it is said, would in that day have spoiled any man's preferment. As he delivered several things on these occasions, illustrati the history of the time, and particularly shewing the state of learning, the way of living, and the course of study, as well as the manner of preaching, in those days, we shall take notice of one or two passages; which serve also to describe the author in his spirit and address. , Having spoken in commendation of King Henry's bounty, in giving se200 annually, towards the exhibition of five learned men, to read and teach divinity, law, physic, Greek and Hebrew, and of his munificence in founding Trinity college, and other bounties, he proceeds as follows: “Howbeit, all they that have knowen the universitye of “Cambryge, sense that tyme that it dyd fyrst begynne to, “receive these greate and manyefolde benefytes from the “ kynges magstye, at youre handes, have juste occasion “to suspecte that you have decyved boeth the kynge and, “universitie, to enryche yourselves. For before that you. “dyd begynne to be the disposers of the kynges lyberalitye “towards learnynge and poverty, ther was in houses be& .#. unto the universitye of Cambryge two hundred, “students of dyvynytye, many verye well learned: whyche “be nowe all clene gone, house and name; younge towarde “scholers, and old fatherlye doctors, not one of them, “lefte. One hundred also of an other sorte, that havynge “ rich frendes or beying benefyced men dyd lyve of theym“selves in ottels and innes, be eyther gon awaye, or elles. “fayne to crepe into colleges, and put poore men from “bare lyvynges. Those bothe be all gone, and a small “number of poore godly dylygent students now remaynynge. “only in colleges be not able to tary, and contynue “ their studye in the universitye, for lacke of exhibition “ and healpe. There be dyverse ther which ryse dayly, “betwixt foure and fyve of the clocke in the mornynge;
* Master's Hist. of C. C. C. p. 111, 112. + Strype's Parker, p. 289, f Wood's Athenae Oxon. vol. i. p. 725. § Baker’s MS. Collec. vol. i. p. 146.
Strype's Cranmer, p. 163.
5 Baker's MS. Collec. vol. i. p. 146. ** Strype's Parker, p. 211, * Fox’s Martyrs, vol. iii. p. 347. - + Paul’s cross was a pulpit, in the form of a cross, which stood nearly in the middle of St. Paul's church-yard, where the first reformers used frequently to preach unto the people.
“ and from fyve untill syxe of the clocke, use common “prayer, wyth an exhortation of God's worde, in a common “ chappell; and from sixe unto ten of the clocke, use ever “eyther private study or common lectures. At tenne of “ the clocke they go to dynner, where as they be contente “wyth a penye pyece of biefe amongest foure, havynge “a fewe porage made of the brothe of the same byese, “wythe salte and otemel, and nothynge els. “After thys slender dinner, they be either teachinge or “learnynge untyll fyve of the clocke in the evening, “whenas they have a supper not much better than theyr “ diner. Immedyatelye after the wyche, they go eyther to “reasonynge in problemes or unto some other studye, untyl “it be nyne or tenne of the clocke; and there beynge “wythout fyre, are fayne to walke or runne up and downe “halfe an houre, to gette a heate on their feete, when they “go to bed.” Notwithstanding the heavy pressures under which the university, and particularly St. John's college, groaned, of which Mr. Lever complains in his sermons, occasioned by the hungry courtiers invading the ecclesiastical preferments; yet his college greatly flourished, as well in religion as in sound learning. The reformation in no place gained more ground, or was maintained with greater zeal, than in this college, and under the worthy example and just government of this master. This was manifest in the day of trial; when he, with twenty-four of his fellows, quitted their places and preferments, to preserve their own consciences.t Mr. Lever was a zealous advocate for the reformation, as well as genuine piety. He held a correspondence with his numerous friends; and among his letters, the following, which contains information not unworthy of notice, is given as a specimen of his sentiments and address. It is addressed to the learned Roger Ascham; and though there is no year mentioned, it appears from the contents to have been written November 13, 1551, and about the time when he was preferred to the mastership of his college.; • -
“To Roger Ascham.
“My salutation in Christ. I have received your letters “written unto me. As concerning a privilege to be pro“cured for you, so that the reading of Greek in Cambridge “might be free from Celibatus, and such acts as the fellows “ of the house be bound unto. I have also shewed Mr. “ Cheek your request, and have as yet no answer from him. “ Your letters of news written to all the fellows of St. “John's, are as yet reserved there, and come not as yet “ unto my sight. As touching the imprisonment of the “Duke of Somerset and his wife, the Earl of Arundel, the “Earl Paget, Lord Gray and others, that be lately put “ into the Tower, other men that know more than I do “may write unto you better than I can. The bishoprics of “Lincoln, Rochester and Chichester, be as yet void, and “appointed as yet certainly to no man for as much as I know. “Mr. Horne is dean of Durham, Dr. Redman is deceased, “ and Dr. Bill by the king is appointed master of Trinity “college, Cambridge, and I to succeed him in the master“ship of St. John's. Dr. Redman being in a consumption “ did look certainly for death, and did ever talk of religion “as one who had clean forsaken the world, and look and “ desire to be with God. I will shew you part of such talk “as Mr. Young of Cambridge did hear of Dr. Redman “ himself, and did shew unto me afterwards. First, Dr. “Redman being desired to answer to questions of religion “his judgment, did say, that he would answer betwixt God “ and his conscience, without any worldly respect. Then, “being demanded what he thought of the see of Rome, he “ said, it was the sink of iniquity; but do not you also think “that we have a stinking pump in the church of England? “To the demand of jo. said, there was no such pur“gatory as the schoolmen do imagine; but when Christ shall “ come surrounded with fire from heaven, then all meeting “ him shall there be purged, as I think, said he, and as “many authors do take it. And to make the mass a “sacrifice for the dead, is to be plain against Christ. And “ to the proposition, faith only justifieth, he answered, that * was a comfortable and sweet doctrine, being rightly under“ stood of a true and lively faith, and that no works could “ deserve salvation; no, not the works of grace in a man “ that is justified. When he was asked what he thought of “ transubstantiation, he said, he had studied that matter “ these twelve years, and did find that Tertullian, Irenaeus “ and Origen, did plainly write contrary to it, and in the other “ ancient writers it was not taught nor maintained. There“ fore, in the schoolmen, he thought he should have found “ plain and sufficient matter for it; but in them there was “no good ground, but all was imaginations and gross errors. “Concerning the presence, he said, that Christ was in the “sacrament really and corporally, as Mr. Young told me; “ and yet being asked whether that was Christ's body which “we see the priest lift up, he said that Christ's body “could neither be lifted up, nor down; and carrying it “about to be honoured, he said, was an evil abuse. Also, “he said, that evil men do not receive Christ's body, but “the sacrament thereof. He advised Mr. Young to study “the scriptures, and to beware of men. He said also that “ the book which my lord of Canterbury last set forth “ of this matter, is a wonderful book, and willed Mr. “Young to read it with diligence. Mr. Young said to me, “ that whereas he was aforetime as ready and willing to “ have died for the transubstantiation of the sacrament, as “ for Christ's incarnation; he is now purposed to take “deliberation, and to study after a more indifferent sort, to “ground his judgment better than upon a common consent “ of many that have borne the name of Christ. I trust that “not only Mr. Young, but many others are drawn from “ their obstinacy unto more indifferency, by Dr. Redman's “ communication. “If I be master of St. John's college, I shall be desirous “to have you at home, and not unwilling that you should “ have and enjoy any privilege that may encourage you to “a better knowledge of the Greek tongue.” Since I wrote “last, there be dead of your acquaintance Dr. Neveyear, “Dr. Redman, and Dr. Bell the physician. All other your “friends and acquaintance are in good health. When you “talk with God in meditation and prayer remember me. * Consider; be vigilant; pray, pray, pray. Scribbled at “ London, 13 November. - “Faithfully yours,
* Baker's MS. Collec. vol. i. p. 147, 148. + Ibid. p. 149, 150. f Ibid. Vol. xxxii. p. 496, 497,
* Thom As LEVER.”
On the death of King Edward, and the return of popery and persecution, Mr. Lever withdrew from the storm, fled beyond sea, and was involved in the troubles at Frankfort. It does not, however, appear that he took any active part in
* Roger Ascham, to whom this epistle was addressed, was one of the brightest geniuses and politest scholars of his age. He was public orator of the university of Cambridge, and Latin secretary to Edward W.I., Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, the last of whom he taught to write a fine hand, and instructed in the Greek and Latin languages, of which he was a consummate master. His letters are valuable both for style and matter, and are almost the only classical work of the kind written by an Englishman; yet with all his learning and refinement, he was extravagantly fond of archery, dicing and cockfighting.—Wood's Athena Ozon. vol. i. p. 695. Granger's Biog. Hist, vol. i. p. 276.