and that he could have no reasonable pretence for refusing it. But Mr. Gilpin resolving not to accept it, told the bishop, that by his bounty he had already more wealth, than he was afraid, he could give a good account of. He, therefore, begged that he might not have any additional charge; but that his lordship would bestow his preferment on some one who stood in greater need of it. Mr. Gilpin now lived retired, and gave no immediate offence to the clergy. The experience he had of their temper, made him more cautious not to offend them. He was, indeed, more cautious than he afterwards approved. For in future life he often taxed his behaviour, at this period, with weakness and cowardice. But all the caution he could use availed nothing. He was soon formally accused a second time before the Bishop of Durham; who again found means to protect him. The malice of his enemies, however, succeeded in part. From this time, Tonstal's favour towards him visibly declined; and to shew his dislike of heresy, and of his kinsman's conduct, he struck him out of his will, though he had before made him) his executor. The loss gave Mr. Gilpin very little uneasiness. His heart was not set upon the things of this world. It was no less than he expected, nor more than he had provided for. He was, indeed, sorry to see the bishop disgusted; and would have given up any thing, except his conscience, to have satisfied him. But a good conscience, he was assured, was the best friend in the world; and he was resolved not to part with that, to please any man upon earth. His enemies, in the mean time, were not silenced. They were so exceedingly enraged by their second failure, that they caused thirty-two articles, expressed in the strongest terms, to be exhibited against him, before Bonner, bishop of London. Here they went the right way to work. Bonner was a man exactly suited to their purpose, nature having formed him for an inquisitor. The fierce zealot at once took fire, extolled so laudable a concern for religion, and promised that the heretic should be at the stake in a fortnight. Mr. Gilpin, who was no stranger to the burni zeal of the Bishop of London, received the account o i. composure, and immediately prepared for martyrdom. aying his hand on the shoulder of a favourite domestic, he said, “At length they have prevailed against me. I am “accused to the Bishop of London, from whom there will “be no escaping. God forgive their malice, and give me “strength to undergo the trial.” He then ordered his servant to provide a long garment, in which he might go decently to the stake, and desired it might be got ready with all expedition; “ for I know not,” said he, “how “soon I may have occasion for it.” As soon as he was apprehended, he set out for London, in expectation of the fire and faggot. But on his journey to the metropolis, we are informed, that he broke his leg, which unavoidably detained him some time on the road. The persons conducting him, took occasion from this disaster maliciously to retort upon him a frequent observation of his, viz. “That nothing happens to us but what is intended for our good.” And when they asked him whether he thought his broken leg was so intended, he meekly replied, that he had no doubt of it. And, indeed, so it soon appeared in the strictest sense. For before he was able to travel, Queen Mary died, and he was set at liberty. Thus he again escaped out of the hands of his enemies. Mr. Gilpin having obtained this providential deliverance, returned to Houghton through crowds of people, expressing the utmost joy, and blessing God for his happy release. The following year he lost his friend and relation Bishop Tonstal;+ but soon procured himself other friends. Upon the deprivation of the popish bishops, the Earl of Bedford recommended him to the patronage of Queen Elizabeth, who offered him the bishopric of Carlisle; and according to Wood, he was much pressed to accept it.: The Bishop of Worcester, his near relation, wrote to him expressly for this purpose, and warmly urged him to accept the offer, declaring that no man was more fit for such kind of preferment. After all, Mr. Gilpin modestly refused. No arguments could induce him to act contrary to the dictates of his conscience. The accounts given us by Bishop Nicolson and Dr. Heylin of Mr. Gilpin's behaviour on this occasion, are extremely disingenuous: they both ascribe it to his lucrative motives. The former intimates that the good man knew what he was about, when he refused to part with the rectory of Houghton for the bishopric of Carlisle: the latter supposes that all his scruples would have vanished, might he have had the old temporalities undiminished. Both these writers seem to have been very little acquainted with Mr. Gilpin's character. He considered his income in no other light, than that of a fund to be managed for the public good. The bishop's insinuation, therefore, is contradicted by every action in Mr. Gilpin's life: and Dr. Heylin's is most

* Biog. Britan. vol. vii. Sup. p. 72. + Bishop Tonstal was one of the politest scholars of the age, and a man of the most amiable character. He published a book, entitled De Arte Supputandi, which was the first book of arithmetic ever printed in England, and passed through many editions.—Granger, vol. i. p. 95. f Athenae Oxon. vol. i. p. 593. - - $ Fuller's Church Hist. b. ix. p. 63.

notoriously false, for the bishopric was offered him with .

the old temporalities undiminished.” It is certain that Mr. Gilpin was reckoned among the nonconformists of his time; and though he had several reasons for rejecting the offered preferment, that which prevailed most with him, was his disaffection to some points of conformity. It was his fixed opinion, that no human invention should take place in the church, instead of a divine institution. The excellent Bishop Pilkington, who succeeded Tonstal at Durham, connived at his nonconformity; and excused him from subscription, the use of the habits, and a strict observance of the ceremonies. But the bishop could screen him only for a season. For upon the controversy about the habits, about the year 1566, he was deprived for nonconformity; $ but it is extremely probable he did not continue long under the ecclesiastical censure. The year after he was offered and nominated to the bishopric of Carlisle, he was offered the provostship of

Queen's college, Oxford; but this he declined also. His

heart was set on ministerial usefulness, not ecclesiastical preferment. - - * Mr. Gilpin continued many years at Houghton without

[ocr errors]

further molestation, discharging all the duties of his function

in a most exemplary manner. . When he first undertook the care of souls, it was his settled maxim to do all the good in his power; and accordingly his whole conduct was one direct line towards, this point. His first object was to gain the affections of his people. Yet he used no servile compliances: his means, as well as his ends, were good. His behaviour was free without levity, obliging without meanness, and insinuating without art. He condescended to the weak, bore with the passionate, and complied with the scrupulous. Hereby he convinced them how much he loved them; and thus gained their high esteem. He was unwearied in the instruction of those

* Biog. Britan. vol. vii. Sup. p. 72. t MS. Remarks, p. 117. f Neal's Puritans, vol. i. p. 345. § Calamy's Account, vol. i. Pref.

under his care. He was not satisfied with the advice he gave them in public, but taught them from house to house; and disposed his people to come to him with their doubts and difficulties. And even the reproofs which he gave, evidently proceeding from friendship, and given with gentleness, very seldom gave offence. Thus, with unceasing assiduity, he was employed in admonishing the vicious, and encouraging the well-disposed. And in a few years, by the blessing of God upon his endeavours, a greater change was effected throughout his parish, than could have been

“o r. Gilpin continued to discharge the duties of his ministerial function in the most conscientious and laborious manner. Notwithstanding all his painful industry, and the large scope of labour in his own parish, he thought the sphere of his exertions were too confined. It grieved his righteous soul to behold in all the surrounding parishes so much ignorance, superstition, and vice, occasioned by the shameful neglect of the clergy. The ignorance and public vices in that part of the country, were very remarkable. This appears from the injunctions of Archbishop Grindal in 1570; among which were the following:—“That no “ pedlar shall be admitted to sell his wares in the church “ porch in divine service.—That parish clerks shall be able “to read.—That no lords of misrule, or summer lords and “ladies, or any disguised persons, morrice-dancers or “others, shall come irreverently into the church, or play “any unseemly parts with scoffs, jests, wanton gestures, “ or ribbald talk, in the time of divine service.” Such was the deplorable condition of the people. Therefore, to supply as far as he was able, what was manifestly wanting in others, he used regularly every year to visit the most neglected parishes in Northumberland, Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Yorkshire: and that his own people might not suffer, he was at the expense of keeping an assistant. Even in those wild parts of the country, he never wanted an audience; and was the means under God of rousing many to a sense of religion, and the great importance of their salvation. There is a tract of country on the borders of Northumberland, called Reads-dale and Tyne-dale; which, of all other places in the north, were the most barbarous. It was inhabited by a kind of desperate banditti, who lived chiefly by plunder. In this wretched part of the country, where, no one would even travel if he could avoid it, Mr. Gilpin never failed to spend some part of the year, labouring for the good of their souls. He had fixed places for preaching, and punctually attended. If he came where there was a church, he made use of it; but if there were none, he used to preach in barns, or any other large buildings, where great crowds of people were sure to attend. In these itinerating excursions, his labours were always very great, and he often endured the most amazing hardships. This excellent servant of Christ sometimes gave incontestible evidence of his firmness in reproving the vices of the greatest as well as the poorest. Having at one time made the requisite preparations for his journey to Readsdale and Tyne-dale, he received a message from Dr. Barns, bishop of Durham, appointing him to preach a visitation. sermon on the following sabbath. He therefore acquainted the bishop with his engagements, and the obligation he was under to fulfil them, begging his lordship at that time to excuse him. As the bishop returned no answer, he concluded that he was satisfied, and set out on his journey. But, upon his return, he was greatly surprised to find himself suspended. After some time, he received an order to meet the bishop and many of the clergy, when the bishop. ordered Mr. Gilpin to preach before them. He pleaded his suspension, and that É. was unprepared; but the bishop immediately took off his suspension, and would admit of no. excuse. Mr. Gilpin then went up into the pulpit, and preached upon the high charge of a christian bishop. In the sermon, after exposing the corruptions of the clergy, he boldly addressed bishop in these words:—“Let not “your lordship say, that these crimes have been committed “ by others, without your knowledge; for whatever either “ yourself shall do in person, or suffer through your con“ nivance to be done by others, is wholly your own. “Therefore, in the presence of God, angels, and men, I “ pronounce you to be the author of all these evils. Yea, “ and in that strict day of general account, I will be a “witness to testify against you, that all these things have “ come to your knowledge by my means; and all these “men shall bear witness thereof, who have heard me speak. “ to you this day.” This great freedom alarmed all who wished well to Mr. Gilpin. They said, the bishop had now got that advantage over him which his enemies had long sought to obtain. And WOL. I. S

* Biog. Britan. vol. vii. Sup. p. 73.

« 上一頁繼續 »