« 上一頁繼續 »
he would make up all deficiencies. This, however, did not
some of the most celebrated divines on both sides of the question resided; and the most important topics in divinity were discussed with great freedom. Mr. Gilpin's first business was to get himself introduced to men eminent for learning ; to whom his own address and attainments were no mean recommendation, and supplied the place of long acquaintance. He attended upon all public readings and disputations. He committed every thing material to writing; re-examined all his own opinions; proposed his doubts to friends in private ; and, in every respect, made the best use of his time, Hereby, he began to obtain more correct views of the doctrines of the reformation; he saw things in a clearer and stronger light, and felt great satisfaction in the change he had made. While he was thus prosecuting his studies, and makingconsiderable improvement in useful knowledge, he was suddenly alarmed, together with numerous other protestants in those parts, by the melancholy news of the death of King Edward, and the accession of Queen Mary. This news, however, was attended with one favourable circumstance, which was, the release of Bishop Tonstal from the Tower, and his restoration to his bishopric. Soon after, Tonstal finding a rich living vacant in his diocese, made the offer of it to Mr. Gilpin; supposing that by this time he might have got over his former scruples. But Mr. Gilpin still continued inflexible in his resolution not to accept any benefice without discharging the duties of it. He, therefore, gave the bishop his reasons for not accepting his kind offer, in the following letter, dated from Louvain, November 22, 1554: “Right honourable and singular good lord, my duty “remembered in most humble manner. Pleaseth it your “lordship to be informed, that of late my brother wrote to “me, that in any wise I must meet him at Mechlin; for he “must debate with me urgent affairs, such as could not be “dispatched by writing. When we met, I perceived it “ was nothing else but to see if he could persuade me to “take a benefice, and continue in study at the university; “which if I had known to be the cause of his sending for “me, I should not have needed to interrupt my study to “meet him. For I have so long debated that matter with “learned men, especially with the holy prophets, and most “ancient and godly writers since Christ's time, that I trust “so long as I have to live, never to burden my conscience “with having a benefice, and lying from it. My brother “ said, that your lordship had written to him, that you “would gladly bestow one on me; and that your lordship “ thought, and so did other of my friends, of which he “ was one, that I was much too scrupulous in that point. “Whereunto I always say, if I be too scrupulous, as I * cannot think that I am, the matter is such, that I had “ rather my conscience were a great deal too strait, than a “a little too large. For I am seriously persuaded, that I “shall never offend God by refusing to have a benefice, “ and lie from it, so long as "I judge not evil of others; “ which, I trust, I shall not; but rather pray God daily, “ that all who have cures may discharge their office in his “sight, as may tend most to his glory and the profit of his “ church. He replied against me, that your lordship would “give me no benefice, but what you would see dischar “ in my absence, as well or better than I could discharge it “myself. Whereunto I answered, that I would be sorry, “if I thought not that there were many thousands in “England, more able to discharge a cure than I find myself. “And therefore I desire they may take both the cure and “ the profits also; that they may be able to feed both the “body and the soul, as I think all pastors are bounden. “As for me, I can never persuade myself to take the profit, “ and another take the pains : for if he should teach and “ preach as faithfully as ever St. Austin did, yet I should “not think myself discharged. And if I should strain my “conscience herein, I strive with it to remain here, or in any “other university, the unquietness of it would not suffer “me to profit in my study at all. “I am here, at this present, I thank God, very well “ placed for study among a company of learned men, joining “ to the friers minors; having free access at all times to a “ notable library among the friers, men both well learned “ and studious. I have entered acquaintance with divers “ the best learned in the town; and for my part was never “more desirous to learn in all my life than at present. “Wherefore, I am bold, knowing your lordship's singular “good will towards me, to open my mind thus rudely and “ plainly unto your goodness, most humbly beseeching you “to suffer me to live without charge, that I may study “quietly. “And whereas I know well your lordship is careful how “I should live, if God should call your lordship, being “ now aged, I desire you will not let that care trouble you. “For if I had no other shift, I could get a lectureship, I “know, shortly, either in this university, or at least in some “abbey hereby; where I should not lose any time; and this “kind of life, if God be pleased, I desire before any “benefice. And thus I pray Christ always to have your “lordship in blessed keeping. By your lordship's humble “scholar and chaplain,
- “ BERNARD Gilpin.”
The bishop was not offended with this letter. The unaffected piety which it discovered disarmed all resentment, and led him rather to admire a behaviour, in which the motives of conscience, shewed themselves so much superior to those of interest. “Which of our modern “gaping rooks,” exclaims Bishop Carleton, “could endea“vour with greater industry to obtain a benefice, than this “man did to avoid one!” Mr. Gilpin having got over this affair, continued some time longer at Louvain, daily improving in religious knowledge. And having remained about two years, he went to Paris; where his first care was the printing of Tonstal's book, which he performed entirely to the bishop's satisfaction, and received his thanks for it.
- Mr. Gilpin having spent three years on the continent,
was fully satisfied in all his former scruples. He was firmly convinced of the errors and evil tendency of popery; and of the truth and importance of the doctrines of the reformation. Therefore, in the year 1556, he returned to England, though the persecutions of Queen Mary were carrying on with unabating fury. Tonstal received his kinsman with great kindness; and soon after his arrival, gave him the archdeaconry of Durham, to which the rectory of Easington was annexed. He immediately repaired to his parish, where he preached with great boldness against the vices, errors, and corruptions of the times; also, by virtue of his office as archdeacon, he took great pains to reform the manners of the clergy. His free and open reproofs soon roused the malice of proud ecclesiastics, who used every. method in their power to remove so inconvenient a person. It soon became their popular clamour, that he was an enemy to the church; a scandalizer of the clergy; a preacher of damnable doctrines; and that if he was spared much longer, religion must suffer from the heresies he was daily propagating.” Indeed, a charge of heresy, consisting of thirteen articles, was soon drawn up against him; and he was accused in form before the Bishop of Durham. But the bishop, who was much acquainted with the world, easily found a method of dismissing the cause, so as to protect his nephew, without endangering himself. The malice of his enemies, however, could not rest; and they created him so much trouble, and on account of the extreme fatigue of keeping both his places, he begged leave of the bishop to resign either the archdeaconry or his parish. But the bishop observing that the income of the former was not a sufficient support without the latter, and that he was unwilling they should be separated, Mr. Gilpin therefore resigned them both. The bishop soon after presented him to the rectory of . Houghton-le-Spring, in the county of Durham. The living was valuable; but the duties of it were proportionably laborious. The parish contained no less than fourteen villages; and the instruction of the people having been so exceedingly neglected, popery was arrived to its full growth of superstition. Scarcely any traces of true christianity were indeed left. Nay, what little remained, was even popery itself corrupted. Here all its idle ceremonies were carried to a greater extent than in most other places, and were looked upon as the very essentials of religion, And how these barbarous people were excluded from all means of better information, appears from hence, that through the neglect of the bishops and the justices of peace, King Edward's proclamations for a change of worship, had not been even heard of, in that part of the kingdom, at the time of his death. Such was the condition of the parish of Houghton, when first committed to the care of Mr. Gilpin. He was grieved to see ignorance and vice so lamentably prevail; but he did not despair. He implored the assistance and blessing of God, and was much encouraged. The people crowded about him, and heard him with great attention. They perceived him to be a very different teacher from those to whom they had been accustomed. After the acceptance of Houghton, Tonstal urged him to accept of a stall in the cathedral of Durham; telling him, that there did not exist the same objection against this as against the archdeaconry, it being altogether a sinecure;
* Mr. Gilpin, in a letter to his brother, makes the following observation :-" After I entered upon the parsonage of Easington, and began to “preach,” says he, “I soon procured many mighty and grievous adversa“ries; for that I preached against pluralities and nonresidence. Some said,