網頁圖片
PDF

tion. Having made application to certain persons of istinguished eminence, the business was laid before the parliament; and during this year, six bills were brought into the house of commons, to promote a further reformation of the church. They were warmly supported by many eminent statesmen, and one of them passed the house; but coming up to the lords, it met with some opposition; and by the superior power and influence of the bishops, it was

%. hrough the heavy oppressions of the prelates, many of sthe puritans, both ministers and others, withdrew from the A national church, and set up their separate assemblies. They ! laid aside the ecclesiastical ceremonies and the Book of Common Prayer, and worshipped God in a way which to them appeared more agreeable to the word of God. The reason assigned for their separation was, “that the ceremonies of antichrist were so tied to the service of God, that no one might preach, or administer the sacraments without them, being compelled to observe these things by law.” If the use of the habits and certain ceremonies had been left discretionary, both ministers and people would no doubt have been easy. This being denied, they entered into a serious consultation, when they came to this conclusion: “That, since they could not have the word of God preached, nor the sacraments administered, without idolatrous gear; and since there had been a separate congregation in London, and another at Geneva, in Queen Mary's time, which used a book and order of preaching, administration of the sacraments and discipline, which the great Mr. Calvin approved of, and which was freed from the superstitions of the English service: that therefore it was their duty in their present circumstances, to break off from the public churches, and to assemble as they had opportunity in private houses, or elsewhere, to worship God in a manner that might not offend their consciences.”4 This was about the year 1566, and was the aera of that SEPARATIon from the church of England which continues to

* this day. `` The chief leaders of the separation were Messrs. Coleman, Button, Halingham, Benson, and Hawkins, all, according to Fuller, active and zealous nonconformists, beneficed within the diocese of London. Notwithstanding the threatenings and severities of the prelates, they continued to meet in their private assemblies, as they found opportunity; and oftentimes assembled in the fields and the woods in the neighbourhood of London, to avoid the discovery of their watchful enemies." But they ventured at length to appear more openly; and June 19, 1567, having agreed to have a sermon and the Lord's supper at Plumbershall in the city, they hired the place, as some one intimated, under pretence of a wedding. Here, the sheriffs and other officers discovered them, and broke up their meeting, when about one hundred were assembled; most of whom were taken into custody, and sent to Bridewell, the Compter, and other prisons. Having remained in prison nearly two years, and their patience and constancy being sufficiently tried, twenty-four men and seven women were released by an order from the council.4 he puritans of these times had many objections against he established church. They complained of the assumed superiority of bishops above presbyters.--They excepted against the numerous, pompous titles of ecclesiastical officers.-They complained of the exorbitant power and jurisdiction of the prelates.—They lamented the want of odly discipline.—They disliked some things in the public iturgy: as, the frequent repetition of the Lord's prayer, the responses, some things in the office of marriage, the burial of the dead, &c.—They disliked the reading of the apocryphal books, to the exclusion of some parts of canonical scripture.—They disallowed of the cathedral mode of worship.—They disapproved of the church festivals or holidays, as having no foundation in scripture.—They disapproved of pluralities, nonresidence, and lay patrons.— And they scrupled conformity to certain rites and ceremonies: as, the cross in baptism; the promises and vows; the use of sponsors, to the exclusion of parents; the custom of confirming children; kneeling at the Lord's supper; bowing at the name of Jesus; the ring in marriage; and the wearing of the surplice, with other ceremonies equally without foundation in scripture.: uring the above year, the puritans felt the oppressions of the ruling ecclesiastics. Mr. Evans was convened before them and prosecuted, for keeping conventicles. Mr. Lawrence, a Suffolk divine of great eminence, was suspended for nonconformity; and Dr. Hardyman suffered deprivation. Mr. Stroud, minister of Yalding, in Kent, was cast into prison, excommunicated, deprived of his ministry, reduced to extreme poverty, and obliged to enter upon the employment of correcting the press for his support. Other puritans, denominated peaceable nonconformists, obtained for some time a connivance or toleration. These were Drs. Sampson, Humphrey, Wyburn, Penny and Coverdale, with Messrs. Fox, Lever, and Johnson." About the year 1570, other oppressions were inflicted upon certain London ministers: Mr.Crane and Mr. Bonham were both silenced and cast into prison for nonconformity. The former was afterwards for the same crime committed to Newgate; where, after languishing a long time under the hardships of the prison, he was delivered by death from all his afflictions. Mr. Axton, an excellent divine, for refusing the apparel, the cross in baptism, and kneeling at the Lord's supper, was convened before the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, and, after a long examination, was deprived and driven to seek his bread in a foreign land. The celebrated Mr. Cartwright, of Cambridge, was cited before Dr. Whitgift and others, when he was deprived of his public ministry, expelled from the university, and forced to depart out of the kingdom. Innumerable, indeed, were the hardships under which the puritans groaned. By the rigorous proceedings of the ruling prelates, the church was deprived of many of its brightest ornaments; and nearly all its faithful pastors were ejected; especially in Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Norfolk, and Suffolk.t While these ravages were made upon the church of Christ, several thousands of ministers of inferior character, such as common swearers, drunkards, gamesters, whoremongers, and massing priests, only because they were conformable, continued in their offices, enjoyed their livings, and obtained preferment. Most of the bishops having endured persecution and banishment in the days of Queen Mary, and being now exalted by promotion, honour, and wealth, forgot their former condition, and persecuted their brethren of the same faith, who could not come up to the standard of

* MS. Remarks, p. 463. - + Parte of a Register, p. 25.—Strype's Parker, p.241,242. it Fuller's Church Hist. b. ix. p. 81.

* Heylin's Hist. of Pres. p. 259. + Strype's Grindal, p. 136. : Neal's Puritans, vol. i. p. 209–213,

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic]
[graphic]

conformity.f At this period, there was considerable variety in the kind

of bread used in the Lord's supper: some ministers, in

conformity to the papists and the queen's injunctions, used

the wafer bread; but others, in conformity to scripture

* Strype's Parker, p. 243. + MS. Register, p. 147. † Parte of a Register, p. 2–9,

and the convictions of their own minds, renounced the popish relict, and used the loaf bread. This gave great offence and much trouble to Archbishop Parker, who, with the assistance of Bishop Grindal, laboured much to bring all the clergy to an exact uniformity.” The above proceedings having excited considerable alarm in the nation, some attempts were made in the parliament of 1571, to obtain a reformation of the ecclesiastical laws. The motion was warmly supported by some of the ablest statesmen; but was no sooner become the subject of public discussion, than the queen took great offence, and forbad the house to concern itself about such matters. # The commons ventured, however, to present a supplication to her majesty, in which they observe, that for want of true ecclesiastical discipline, there were great numbers of ministers of infamous lives, while those possessed of abilities for the sacred function were cast aside as useless. They complain of the great increase of popery, atheism and licentiousness, by which the protestant religion was in imminent danger. “And,” say they, “being moved with pity towards so many thousands of your majesty's subjects, daily in danger of being lost for want of the food of the word, and true discipline; we, the commons in this present parliament assembled, are humbly bold to open the griefs, and to seek the salving of the sores of our country; and to beseech your majesty, seeing the same is of so great importance, that the parliament at this time may be so long continued, as that by good and godly laws, provision may be made for a reformation of these great and grievous wants and abuses, and by such other means as to your majesty shall seem meet, a perfect redress of the same may be obtained; by which the number of your majesty's faithful subjects will be increased, popery will be destroyed, the glory of God will be promoted, and your majesty's renown will be recommended to all posterity.” But the queen broke up the parliament without taking the least notice of the supplication. These proceedings occasioned an act to pass during this parliament, requiring all ministers “to declare their assent to all the articles of religion, which only concern the confession of the true christian faith, and the doctrine of the sacraments.” This was a great alleviation to the non

Strype's Parker, p. 308—310.
D. Ewes's Journal, p. 157, 185.-Strype's Parker, p. 324.
MS, Register, p. 92, 93.

[ocr errors]

conformists, when they all readily subscribed. But the bishops and clergy in convocation had the confidence, at the same time, to make new canons of discipline, by which they greatly increased the burdens of the puritans. They required subscription to all the articles, even those relating to the rites, ceremonies, order and policy of the church, as well as others, contrary to the above statute. The bishops called in all their licenses to preach, forbidding all ministers to preach without new ones. Most of the nonconformists claiming the liberty allowed them by the laws of the land, refused the canonical subscription, as a most grievous usurpation over their consciences; for which great numbers were turned out of their livings." This led them to preach in other churches, or in private houses, without license, as they were able to procure an opportunity. But the queen hearing of this, immediately commanded the archbishop and other ecclesiastical commissioners not to suffer any minister to read, pray, preach, or administer either of the sacraments, in any church, chapel, or private place, without a license from her majesty, the archbishop, or the bishop of the diocese. # These tyrannical measures, instead of bringing the puritans nearer the standard of conformity, drove them farther from the church. They could not with a good conscience, observe the new ecclesiastical impositions; and, therefore, the chief among them were cited to appear at Lambeth;t among whom were Drs. Sampson and Wyburn, and Messrs. Goodman, Lever, Walker, Goff, Deering, Field, Brown, and Johnson. These divines were ready to subscribe to the doctrines of faith and the sacraments, according to kaw, but excused themselves from doing more. Goodman was suspended, and constrained to sign a recantation. Lever quietly resigned his prebend in the church of Durham. Deering was long molested and suspended. Johnson suffered similar treatment. Dr. Willoughby was deprived for refusing the above canonical subscription. Mr. Gilby and Mr. Whittingham endured many troubles for their nonconformity. These proceedings opened the eyes of the people; and the parliament in 1572, warmly espoused the cause of the distressed ministers. The queen and bishops having most shamefully abused their pretended spiritual power, two bills were brought into the house, in one of which the

* MS. Chronology, vol. i. p. 135. (1–2) + Strype's Parker, p. 324, 325. f Ibid, p. 326. § Ibid, p. 372.

« 上一頁繼續 »