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WHIT- ecclesiastical commissioner, would have exerted his character Abp. Cant. for this purpose ; but instead of any pastoral compassion of
this kind, lamentable complaints have been brought to the board from the county of Essex ; where a great number of preachers, distinguished for their zeal and learning, are suspended from their function, and no provision made in most of their cures, either for instruction, for prayers, or sacraments : that some of those appointed to supply the vacancies, have neither learning nor reputation to recommend them. From hence the council proceeds to charge a great many of the conforming clergy in Essex with ignorance and immorality, with being pluralists, and consequently non-resident. In the close, they earnestly desire the archbishop and the bishop of London to give a charitable consideration to these Dissenting ministers, and not deprive the people of their pastors upon the score of some scruples in ceremonies.”
This letter is subscribed, though without date, by
The archbishop, in his answer to this letter, acquaints the council, “that he hoped the information their lordships received was wide of matter of fact, as to the most of it: but that in regard the bishop of London was out of the way, he could not make a full answer at present. That some people about Malden, because they cannot have ministers to humour their disorders, had preferred a general complaint against the clergy to himself, and some others in the ecclesiastical commission. That letters had been sent to some of the principal complainants to exhibit the names of those offensive ministers, together with the proofs of their misbehaviour. And that in case the charge was made good, the commissioners promised them a redress of their grievances. That the beginning of the next term was the time assigned them to make good their complaint ; but that by applying to the council-board they had anticipated the time set them, and seemed willing to decline the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical commissioners : and by what views they must be governed by affecting these measures,
he leaves to their lordships' consideration. He adds, farther, ELIZAthat he heard the bishop of London declare that very few of his clergy had been presented at any visitations for such inisconduct as these complainants charge them with. And that very few preachers had been silenced in the diocese of London. And that those who fell under this censure were remarkably disorderly and turbulent. And lastly, he assures their lordships that nothing shall be done in his province, either by himself, or his brethren, but what tends to the peace of the Church, the support of the constitution, and the encouragement of the most pious and deserving part of the clergy."
Regist. To give a farther account of the archbishop's conduct, I Whitgift
, shall mention some of his most remarkable visitation articles. fol. 97.
To begin : “It is ordered, that all preaching, reading, catechising, and other such like exercises, in private places and families, whereunto others do resort, being not of the same family, be utterly inhibited, seeing the same was never permitted as lawful under any Christian magistrate, but is a manifest sign of schism, and a cause of contention in the Church.
“ That none be permitted to preach, read, or catechise, in the Church or elsewhere, unless he do four times in the year (at the least) say service, and minister the sacraments according to the book of Common Prayer.
“ That all preachers, and others in ecclesiastical orders, do at all times wear and use such kind of apparel as is prescribed unto them by the book of advertisements, and her majesty's injunctions anno primo.
“ That one kind of translation of the Bible be only used in public service, as well in churches as chapels, and that to be the same which is now authorised by the consent of the bishops.
“That from henceforth there be no commutation of penance but in rare respects, and upon great consideration, and when it shall appear to the bishop himself that that shall be the best way for winning and reforming the offender ; and that the penalty be employed either to the relief of the poor of that parish, or to other godly uses, and the same well witnessed and made manifest to the congregation. And yet if the fault be notorious, that the offender make some satisfaction, either in his own person, with declaration of his repentance openly in the church, or else that the minister of the church openly in
the pulpit, signify to the people his submission and declaration Abp. Cant. of his repentance done before the ordinary, and also in token
of his repentance, what portion of money he hath given to be Id. fol. 131. employed to the uses above-named."
Orders for the better increase of Learning in the inferior Minis
ters, and for the more diligent Preaching and Catechising.
Every minister having cure, and being under the degrees of master of arts, and barrister of law, and not licensed to be a public preacher, shall, before the 2nd day of February next, provide a Bible, and Bullinger’s ‘Decads, in Latin or English, and a paper book, and shall every day read over one chapter of the holy Scriptures, and note the principal contents thereof briefly in his paper book; and shall every week read over one sermon in the said · Decads,' and note likewise the chief matters therein contained in the said paper; and shall once in every quarter (viz., within a fortnight before or after the end of the quarter,) show his said note to some preacher near adjoining to be assigned for that purpose.
Item. The bishop, archdeacon, or other ordinary, being a public preacher, shall appoint certain grave and learned preachers, who shall privately examine the diligence, and view the notes of the said ministers, assigning six or seven ministers, as occasion shall require, to every such preacher that shall be next adjoining to him, so as the ministers be not driven to travel for the exhibiting their notes above six or seven miles (if it may be); and the said preachers shall, by letters or otherwise, truly certify to the archdeacons, or other ordinary of the place, themselves being public preachers, and resident within or next to their jurisdictions, and for want thereof to the bishop himself, who do perform the said exercises, and how they have profited therein, and who do refuse or neglect to perform the same. The archdeacons, and others receiving the said certificates, shall certify the same once a year to the bishop, and that about Michaelmas.
" Item. That such as shall refuse to perform the exercises, or shall be negligent therein; and shall not, after admonition by the bishop, archdeacon, or other ordinary aforesaid, reform himself, if he be beneficed, shall be compelled thereunto by
ecclesiastical censure: if he be a curate, shall be inhibited to ELIZAofficiate within the jurisdiction.
“It is concluded, that the exercise above written, and no other, shall be henceforth publicly or privately used within any part of this province.”
Secretary Walsingham, as hath been observed, was the Dis- Secretary senters friend. This gentleman thought the three articles
moves for somewhat of a grievance, and that the subscription might indulgence fairly be waved. He considered every man's conscience could tion. not come up to the same sentiment; and that some allowance might be made for prejudice of education, for weaker understandings, and lower degrees of improvement: that this was his opinion appears by his sending one Leverwood, a minister, to Lambeth, with a recommending letter. Here he desires the archbishop not to insist upon extremities, but to relax a little in favour of this minister, and admit his subscription upon the terms inclosed.
Whitgift, in his answer to the secretary's letter, acquaints him, “ that partly at his instance, he had forborne offering the test of the three articles to any persons already beneficed, and that the subscription was put to none but those who came either for orders or institution. That as to Leverwood's case, The archthe dispensing in a single instance would weaken the constitu- close to the tion, and bring others to an expectation of the same indul- constitution. gence. That his offer to subscribe the articles was short and evasive. For first he promises to subscribe as far as the law requires him : his meaning must be, the law requires no such subscription ; for into this opinion some lawyers have misled him. Farther, he promises to officiate with the Common Prayer, and with no other book. But here he covers himself with another reserve, and stipulates for a liberty of using only so much of the Liturgy as he has a mind to. And that this was his meaning, appeared by his answer to several questions the archbishop put to him. So that in fine, such a qualified imperfect subscription would be to little purpose."
The archbishop being thus inflexible, and steady to the con- The lord stitution, some of the courtiers made an essay upon the Dis- Burleigh's senters. They tried to bring this party to a temper, and draw Dissenters. some concessions from them, that this lessening the differences, and advancing towards the establishment, might set the Conformists more at ease, and make way for an accommodation.
WHIT- And here the lord Burleigh made the first proposal. This
GIFT, Abp. Cant. nobleman, upon some complaint against the Liturgy, bade the
Dissenters draw up another, and contrive the offices in such a form as might give general satisfaction to their brethren. Upon this overture, the first classics struck out their lines, and drew mostly by the portrait of Geneva.
This draught was referred to the consideration of a second classis, who made no less than six hundred exceptions to it. The third classis quarrelled the corrections of the second, and declared for a new model. The fourth refined no less upon the third. The treasurer advised all these reviews and different committees, on purpose to break their measures, and silence their clamours against the Church. However, since they could not come to any agreement in a form for divine service, he had a handsome opportunity of a release ; for now they could not decently importune him any farther. To part smoothly with them, he assured their agents, that when they came to any unanimous resolve upon the matter before them, they might expect his friendship, and that he should be ready to bring their scheme to a settlement'.
Walsingham, who was more hearty in their interest, made Walsingham's offer
the next trial. This statesman endeavoured to remove their from the distrust, and offered them a more tempting proposal. He
offered them in the queen's name, that provided they would lay down their objections, and conform in other points, the three shocking ceremonies, as they accounted them, should be discharged; that is, kneeling at the communion, wearing the surplice, and the cross in baptism, should be expunged out of the Common Prayer. To these large concessions they replied in the language of Moses, “ Ne ungulam esse relinquendam.” They would not leave so much as a hoof behind. Their meaning was, they would have the Church Liturgy wholly laid aside, and not be obliged to the use of any office in it. This stiff unexpected answer lost them Walsingham's affection in a great measure, as this statesman afterwards affirmed to Knew
stubbs, and Knewstubbs to Dr. Burgess of Coleshill, from Heylin's Hist. Pres- whom the learned Heylin had this relation. byt. lib. 7. 587.
As the Dissenters were troublesome on one hand, so on the other some bigoted Papists engaged in desperate designs. For instance, one Somerville, a Warwickshire gentleman,
Lord Burleigh's sagacity and charity are equally conspicuous in this somewhat amusing manœuvre.