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than of the heart; yet his public acts were all in favour of the doctrinal articles of the church. A more palpable testimony cannot be desired than what the annals of his reign furnish, in that this monarch commanded the books of Vorstius the scholar, and successor of Arminius, to be publicly burnt at St. Paul's Cross, as the condemnation of that heresy. And this was done, in the year 1611.*
It will therefore be but a fair inference to give James the credit, which indeed the history of that reign shews, that the king himself was anxious to fill in the several places of the church, both among the • higher and the lower ranks of the clergy, with faithful
And I must here again conclude, what few I believe will be disposed to deny, that both the bishops and curates of the sixteenth century, were men sound in the faith, and examples of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith,
It will I think be readily admitted, that if the king was so zealous in defending the truth, that zeal was not less burning, in following of it up, with taking care to see that inen of like complexion with himself moved in the different departments of the church. And an higher proof cannot be needed, than what the death of James, at once produced, and his successor Charles immediately adopted. For under the very first year of Charles' reign, 1625, the articles of the church of England, though still remaining the same in point of law, lost all their force in point of obedience. True indeed,
Dr. Fuller, in his church history, hath pencilled the character of Vorstius in strong colouring. He hath described him as the writer of heresies, and the abettor of the doctrine of the Samosatenians. He laboured to do away the belief of those adorable perfections, which distinguish the divine essence in Jehovah. James took fire at the introduction of such writings into his kingdom, and having ordered them to be burnt, he sent a request unto the states of Holland, where Vorstius lived, that the Senate would banish him their kingdom. This is related at large in the works of king James I. page 354.
as long as the different sees retained the same bishops, and the rectories and vicarages were held by the same pastors, all moved on seemingly as before. But this state of things lasted not long. As vacancies were made by deaths, men of contrary principles succeeded, until gradually free grace had given way to free will, and an awful change followed through the kingdom. It was not an interval of more than eight years, when on the death of the metropolitan archhishop Abbot, which took place in 1633, when Laud, the instrument of this wonderful change, was translated to Canterbury; and Lambeth palace for the first time since the reformation, (excepting the short reign of Mary) had the flag of free will displayed in full triumph on its towers.
It was but a few months after Charles' succession to the throne, namely, in June 1626, there was issued a proclamation, commanding every clergyman under the degree of a bishop, or a dean, not to preach on what was called high doctrines, namely, free grace. And the prohibition extended even to bishops and deans, in relation to the doctrine of the seventeenth article. That the royal mandate had not universal operation through the realm by men of conscientious minds, need not be observed. And I mention indeed the history itself, in proof of the title of this chapter, namely, that the great mass of the clergy were Godfearing men; and the bishops of the sixteenth century in the exercise of their patronage, had filled the several places of preferment in the church, with men of like complexion with themselves. And had this not been the case, the king's proclamation of inhibiting the several preachers from holding forth such doctrines, would have been unnecessary.
I please myself with the assurance, that I shall have the approbation, rather than give offence to the reader, f as a further confirmation of the faithfulness of Godfearing men, in the age of the church I am referring to, I relate an anecdote in point. It is recorded in Fuller's church history, under the article of a letter from bishop Davenant, bishop of Salisbury, to Dr. Ward, book xi. page 140, 141. I will give it in the bishop's own words.
' Being appointed to preach before the king at Whitehall, I took for my text the close of this verse, Rom. xvi. 23. “ The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In which I took occasion to expound the threefold happiness of the godly. . First. Happy in the Lord whom they serve. Secondly. Happy in the reward of their service; namely, eternal life. And thirdly, happy in the manner of their reward, namely, 'gratuitum donum in Christo:' the free unmerited gift of God in Christ.'
And on the latter branch I enlarged in shewing the eternal purpose, of God thereto, which we call election. And this I followed in shewing our conversion, regeneration, and justification; which I termed the embryo of eternal life.
. And last of all, in our coronation, when full possession of eternal life is given us.
• Presently, (said the bishop) after my sermon was ended, it was signified unto me by the archbishop of York, and the bishop of Winchester, that his majesty was displeased that I had stirred this question which he had forbidden to be meddled withal, one way or the other. My answer was, that I had delivered nothing, but the received doctrine of our church, established in the seventeenth article: and that I was ready to justify the truth of what I had then taught. Their answer was, that 'the doctrine was not gainsayed; but his highness had given command that these questions should not be debated. And therefore, he took it the more offensively, that any should be so bold, as in his own hearing, to break his royal commands.'
And here for the time the matter rested. I heard no more of it until coming to the Tuesday sermon, one of the clerks of the council told me that I was to attend at the council table the next day at two o'clock. I said I would obey Fuller in his further relation of this event, saith, that “ the bishop on his first coming into the council chamber, presented himself before the board on his knees. But one of the temporal peers bid him arise, and stand to his own defence, being as yet only accused, and not convicted. The storm shortly after subsided, and the bishop had permission to wait on the king in person, and to kiss his hand.
The above anecdote, with what hath been already advanced on the subject, will serve to illustrate the design of this chapter, and throw a light upon the dignified character both of the bishops and clergy of those times. And here let the reader pause, and figure to his imagination the bishops of the realm, in the several provinces, all acting under one and the same influence in this department of their high office, uniformly having in view, as the first and leading object, the divine glory in themselves, and in their disposal of ecclesiastical preferments. Let it be supposed, as was certainly the case, that each of them knew his own clergy, in their several dioceses; their abilities, zeal, diligence, and regard to the welfare of souls. Let him further consider, that those fathers of the church always kept in remembrance the responsibility of their trust. And then, let him ask himself, from the statement before given, whether there could have been any. improper admission into the livings and benefices of the realm ? Surely, it must have been a blessed time to the church, when none crept into it from motives of filthy lucre; but men anxious to discharge the arduous work of the ministry, as those who watched for the souls of the people, and that were conscious of their accountable calling; and, like the
- For ye
apostle, could and did say: "Brethren, pray for us, that we may be found faithful, and give in our account with joy, and not with grief, for that is unprofitable for you.”
And now then, in concluding this chapter, I venture to hope, that I have shewn the patrons of livings, as well among the bishops and clergy of the sixteenth century in the exercise of their patronage, and in those they patronized, were actuated above all things with the desire of the divine glory. They formed their calculations of the value of livings, not by what they gained of money, but what good was done to souls. Not by what they derived from the people, but by what, under the blessing of the Lord, the people derived from them. And we have reason to hope, from the history of those times, that many a rector, vicar, and curate, could, and did say, in language similar to the apostle to the church of the Thessalonians, remember, brethren, our labour and travail. For labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe. As ye know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory." 1 Thess. ii. 9, &c.
I make no further comment upon this chapter, I simply state the fact. I have from the records of those times shewn what were the general features of character in those God-fearing men. And I venture to conclude from this trait, by which among many others of amiableness they were known in their disposal of livings, that this was, as I have observed in the preface of this little work, the golden age of the church.
And verily, I believe that few, if any of those men, would