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those disgraceful broils, but was invited thither to be one of the pastors of the church, and a judicious mediator between the contending parties. Herein his worthy service utterly failed. He also visited the learned protestants at Strasburgh, Basil, Zurich, Berne, Lausanne, and Geneva; amon whom he discovered great learning, sound doctrine, an
godly discipline, especially in Bullinger and Calvin; as he
wrote to his intimate friend Mr. John Bradford, then in confinement previous to his martyrdom.” While Mr. Lever was in a state of exile, he lived chiefly at Arrau in Switzerland, where he was chosen pastor to the English church. The members of this church, under his pastoral care, are said to have lived together in godly quietness among themselves, and in great favour with the people among whom they were planted. Upon the arrival of news of the queen's death, and a prospect of better days in his own country, he united with his brethren at Arrau, in addressing a most affectionate letter of congratulation to their brethren in exile at Geneva. H - On the accession of Queen Elizabeth, Mr. Lever returned home, but not to the mastership of his college, havin brought with him, it is said, “ that unhappy *...; disqualified him for his preferment.”f This was his nonconformity. Having acted upon the genuine protestant principles, in matters of ceremony and discipline, while in a foreign land, he wished to act upon them now he was returned to his native country, and was desirous that the reformation might be carried on towards perfection. He was a celebrated preacher at court, and was often called to preach before the queen. He had so much influence over her majesty, that he dissuaded her from assuming the title of Supreme Head; for which, though he did it
with great temper, he was severely censured by persons of
another spirit. It was this which gave the first and great offence to the ruling courtiers. Though they had heard him with great attention in the days of King Edward, they would not amend their lives under Queen Elizabeth, nor would many of them attend upon his ministry. He entered upon the married state soon after his return from exile, and sooner than he could do it with safety. His marriage, as well as his puritanical principles, appears to
* Troubles at Frankeford, p. 30.-Strype's Annals, vol. i. p. 131. + Troubles at Frankeford, p. 159, 164. f Baker’s MS. Collec. vol. i. p. 150. _ § Strype's Annals, vol. i. p. 132.
have been some hinderance to his return to the mastership of his college." In the year 1561, according to Mr. Strype, he was preferred to a prebend in the church of Durham, and to the mastership of Sherborn hospital, near Durham ; the former of which, he says, in one place, he supposes Mr. Lever was deprived of for nonconformity, and in another, that he resigned it in the year 1571: . In addition to this information, he tells us that upon Mr. Lever's return from exile, he obtained no other preferment besides that of the mastership of the above hospital, which he kept to his death: yet he mentions him as Archdeacon of Coventry, and in this, capacity, sat in the convocation of 1562, and subscribed the Articles of Religion. It is extremely difficult, not to say impossible, to reconcile these accounts of the learned and voluminous historian. By another writer, he is said to have been collated to the mastership of the above hospital, January 28, 1562; and, the year following, to his prebend: in the church of Durham; both of which, he supposes Mr. Lever held by connivance from Bishop Pilkington, who had formerly been one of the fellows in the university.; Archbishop Parker having pressed conformity to the habits and ceremonies, sequestered and deprived many learned and faithful ministers. This was a great affliction to the Lord's servants. They were exceedingly tempted and tried. The sorrow of most ministers was, indeed, very. great; and they murmured, saying, “We are killed in . our souls, by this pollution of the bishops. We cannot perform our ministry in the singleness of our hearts. We abide in extreme misery, our wives, and our children, by the proceedings of the bishops, who oppose us, and place. ignorant ministers in our places.” Mr. Lever, therefore, addressed an excellent letter to the Earl of Leicester and Sir William Cecil, dated February 24, 1565, in which he exposes the extreme hardships under which the puritans' laboured, by the imposition of the habits and ceremonies; and earnestly solicits them to use their utmost endeavours to rocure some favour for his silenced brethren, who had É. lawfully admitted into the ministry, and had always
* Baker’s MS. Collec. vol. i. p. 152. + Strype's Annals, vol. i. p. 133.−Parker, p. 325. f Strype's Annals, vol. i. p. 290. vol. ii. Appen. p. 15. § Baker’s MS. Collec. vol. i. p. 150. | Ibid. vol. xxvii. p. 388, 389.
faithfully preached the gospel. In this letter, he expressed himself as follows:* : “Wherefore in the universities and elsewhere,” says he, “no standing but sinking doth appear; when, as the office and living of a minister shall be taken from him, who, once lawfully admitted, hath ever since diligently preached, because he now refuseth prescription of men in apparel; and the name, living, and office of a minister of God's word, allowed to him who neither can nor will preach, except as a mere form.—Now there is notable papistry in England and Scotland proved and proclaimed by the preaching of the gospel, to be idolatry and treason, and how much idolatry and treason is yet nourished in the hearts of many, God knoweth; and how the old stumbling-blocks are set up in many things and many places, especially the crucifix in England, and the mass in Scotland, before the faces of the highest, is daily seen by idolaters and traitors with rejoicing and hope; and by christian and obedient subjects with sorrow of heart and fear of the state. “If, in the ministry and ministers of God’s word, the sharpness of salt by doctrine to mortify affections, be rejected, and ceremonial service, with flattery to feed affections, be retained, then doth Christ threaten such treading under foot, as no power nor policy can withstand. “Now, therefore, my prayer unto God, and writing to your honours, is, that authority in England, and especially you may for sincere religion refuse worldly pleasure and gains. You ought not to allow any such corruptions among protestants, being God's servants, as to make papists to rejoice and hope for a day, being God's enemies: but rather cause such abolishing of inward papistry, and outward monuments of the same, as should cause idolatrous traitors to grieve, and faithful subjects to be glad : such casting forth of the unsavoury ministry and ministers, as might make only such as have the savouryness of doctrine and edification to be allowed to that office, seeing such ministry only may preserve princes, and priests, and people from casting and treading under foot; and so not deceiving and leaving the godly in distress, to perish with the ungodly ; but ever travelling to deliver, defend and help the godly, till by God's providence and promise they be delivered and preserved from all danger, and in continuance and increase of godly honour; which God for his mercy in Christ grant unto the queen's majesty, unto you and all other of her honourable council, amen. . By yours at commandment, faithfully in Christ,
* Baker’s MS. Collec. vol.xxi. p. 559–561.—Strype's Parker, Appen. 77. * Strype's Parker, p. 223. + Baker's MS. Collec. vol. i. p. 151. f MS. Register, p. 18, 19. § Strype's Parker, p. 325.-Grindal, p. 170.
Mr. Lever was a person greatly beloved, especially by persons of learning and real worth ; but the above letter was most probably without its desired effect. He was a most learned and popular preacher at court; and though he was a decided nonconformist, he obtained a connivance for some time. In the year 1566, when many excellent minsters were silenced for refusing the habits and ceremonies, he is said to have been still allowed to preach; but the year following, he was deprived of his prebend in the church of Durham.4 - -
There were at this period numerous puritans confined in the various prisons about London, for refusing conformity to the established church; when Mr. Lever wrote a letter, dated December 5, 1568, to those who were confined in Bridewell. In this excellent letter, he first endeavours to comfort the prisoners under their manifold afflictions; then. declares that though the popish garments were not in themselves unclean, he was resolved, by the grace of God, never to wear the square cap and surplice; “because,” says he, “they tend neither to decency nor edification, but to offence, dissention, and division in the church of Christ.” He would, therefore, use his utmost endeavours to get them abolished; and adds, “ that he would not kneel at the communion, because it would be symbolizing with popery, and would look too much like the adoration of the host.”: Though he was a fixed nonconformist, he was a man of a peaceable spirit, and of great moderation, and constantly opposed to a total separation from the church.
These excellent qualifications could not screen him from the persecutions of the times: for he was not only deprived of his prebend, as observed above, but, in June 1571, he was convened before Archbishop Parker and others of the high commission at Lambeth. What prosecution he underwent on this occasion, we are unable fully to ascertain, only our historian by mistake observes, that he resigned, or was deprived of, his prebend.; - -
Mr. Lever was a person of great usefulness. He spent great pains in promoting the welfare of his hospital, not only by preaching and other religious exercises, but by recovering its temporal privileges. On account of the corrupt management of its estates, which were rented by several persons one of another, its pecuniary income was very much reduced, and even almost lost: but by his zealous and vigorous efforts, it was effectually recovered. His endeavours in this business reflect much honour on his character.” In this situation he spent the latter part of life in great reputation and usefulness, and died in the month of j. 1577. His remains were interred in the chapel belonging to the hospital, and over his grave was the following plain monumental inscription erected to his memory :
- - Thomas Lever, preacher to King Edward vi.
He died in July,
A few weeks previous to his death, Mr. Lever received a letter from the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, dated June 18, 1577, requiring him, in her majesty's name, to put down the prophesyings within his archdeaconry.f Had he lived a little longer, he would in all probability have felt the severities of persecution from the new Bishop of Durham, as was the case with his brother Whittingham;. but God took him away from the evil to come. Fuller says, that whatever preferment in the church he pleased, courted his acceptance; but is greatly mistaken concerning the time and place of his death. Mr. Strype denominates him a man of distinguished eminence for piety, learning, and preaching the gospel. Mr. Gilpin says, he was a man. of excellent parts, considerable learning, and very exemplary piety; that, in the days of King Edward, he was esteemed an excellent and bold preacher; and that he was the , intimate friend of the celebrated Bernard Gilpin.I . Mr. Baker has favoured us with the following account of him : “Preaching,” says this writer, “was indeed his talent, which, as it was thought fit to be made the only ingredient in his character, so he continued in it to the last, even after,
* Strype's Annals, vol. ii. p. 518, 514. - - - *
| Strype's Parker, p.211.