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and brilliancy, that their works, taken together, form a rich constellation in the firmament of sacred literature; that after now near two centuries have run out, they still shine with undiminished lustre. So that the inscription, with which the bust of one of them was accompanied, would have suited for the most part all: 'Vivit æternumque vivit, in scriptis suis; cedro dignus, in ore, et corde, doctorum: in memoria hominum, et monumentis temporum; illumque posteritas, sera venerabitur,' i.e. ' He lives, and shall for ever live in his own writings, meriting an endless remembrance in the mouth and heart of the learned; in the memory of men, and in the monuments of the times; and posterity, at a long distance, will honour him.'

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It will, I believe, be readily admitted, by every one who is at all acquainted with the history of the English nation, during the sixteenth century, that literature formed a very prominent feature in the character of her bishops.

Perhaps no period of the church was ever equally remarkable, for the extensiveness of erudition among the whole body of clergy; and eminently so among the higher orders. As it is said of Moses, at the forming of the church in the wilderness, that he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; so it might have been truly said, at the abolition of popery, and the establishment of the reformed church in this country; they who formed the more dignified department of the sanctuary, brought with them into it vast accessions of human as well as divine knowledge. And it is a fact,

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which cannot require further evidence than what the history of those times furnish, and the writings of those faithful men of God fully prove, the way to episcopacy then was never found by any but well known, and well proved abilities; neither in those days did any but such wear the mitre.

Indeed, from the complexion of the English nation, and the critical situation of the reformed church at this era; it would have been impossible, humanly speaking, consistent with public safety, that it should be otherwise. Upon the accession of Edward to the throne, what from the state of his youth, and what from the turbulency of popery, recently suppressed, but not destroyed; it required men of the first talents to move in those higher spheres of the church, from whence might issue, not only a preponderancy of power, but also a preponderancy of ability, to convince by argument, as well as command by authority. Those principles blended, could only form an adequate security, under God, for diffusing the blessings of the reformation through the realm, and for counteracting the wiles of popery, in demonstrating the purity of the gospel.

And hence the king, with his whole court, were prompted to regard it as an object of the first magnitude, that the rays of learning should be gathered into a focus, and concentrated in the persons of the bishops. Nothing less could promise to establish upon sound principles the reformed church; and to detect and expose the legendary tales of Romish superstition. And whoever reads over the names of Edward's prelates, and attends to what history hath recorded of their characters and writings, will be constrained to acknowledge, that there appeared in the church at this period, some of the best, and of the most learned of men that ever lived. For as long as the English annals shall remain, the illustrious names of those reformers will shine in every page, and form a body of the brightest

luminaries, like the pleiades in the chambers of the south.


Edward himself, notwithstanding his youth, was eminently formed for the encouragement of learning, both divine and human. Every historian hath marked the character of this prince with eulogy. Good old bishop Latimer who knew him well, speaks of him, in his sermons, with rapture. Blessed,' said he, in one of them, is the land where there is a king so noble, and brought up so godly. I will tell you this,' said he, ' and speak it even as I think, his majesty hath more godly wit and understanding, more learning and knowledge at his age, than twenty of his progenitors, that I could name, had at any time of their life.'-See Latimer's Sermons, vol. i. p. 89, 90.

And Mountague, bishop of Worcester, who lived in the days of James, and therefore cannot be supposed, upon this occasion, to be chargeable with using flattery, when writing concerning that monarch, gives the following account of him :- Edward the Sixth,' said he, though his days were so short, that he could not give full proof of those singular parts that were in him, yet he wrote divers epistles and orations, both in greek and latin. And what is never to be forgotten, so diligent a hearer of sermons was that sweet prince, that the notes of most of the sermons he heard, are yet to be seen, under his own hand, with the preacher's name, and time, and place, with all other circumstances of his preaching.'-See Mountague's Works, 1616.

And a bishop of more modern times than Mountague, in his history of the reformation, though by no means partial to Edward's creed, yet, in justice to Edward's character, speaks in those high terms of his singular worth and abilities. 'He was only in his sixteenth year,' saith bishop Burnet, (for it is him I mean) when he was accounted the wonder of the times. He was not only learned in the tongues, and

the liberal sciences, but he knew well the state of his kingdom. He kept a book, in which he writ the characters that were given him, of all the chief men of the nation; and of all the judges, lord lieutenants, and justices of the peace, over England. And in it he marked down their way of living, and their zeal for religion. He had studied the matter of the mint, with the exchange and value of money; so that he understood it well, as appears by his journal. He also understood fortification, and designed well. He knew all the harbours and ports, both of his own dominions, and of France and Scotland; with how much water they had, and what was the way of coming into them. He had acquired great knowledge in foreign affairs, so that he talked with the ambassadors about them in such a manner, that they filled all the world with his praise. He had great quickness of apprehension, and being mistrustful of his own memory, he used to take notes of almost every thing he heard. He writ these notes, first in greek characters, that those about him might not understand them; and afterwards put them in his journal. He had a copy brought to him, of every thing that passed in council, which he put in a chest, and kept the key of it himself. In a word, the natural and acquired perfections of his mind were wonderful. But his virtues and godliness, were yet far more extraordinary.' - See Burnet's History of the Reformation, vol. ii. p. 212.

Under the auspices of such a prince, it is not a subject of wonder that his bishops were eminent for profound learning, and sanctity of manners; and that they excelled in the sacred departments they filled. Indeed, while the king himself studied divinity, and made notes of all the sermons he heard, it might well be supposed that the preachers Edward heard could not be deficient. It certainly was an age of sound learning, blended with the most artless and unstudied

simplicity of language.

Whoever reads the writings

of the first English reformers, cannot fail to remark this as the distinguishing feature of the times; and which uniformly runs through the whole of their works.

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We have a beautiful example of this kind in the instance of Ridley, as handed down to us in the history of the lives of the reformers. I mean, in the simple, but affecting apostrophe he made to his college, in the prospect of leaving it. He foresaw that at the death of Edward, and the accession of Mary, a thorough change would take place in religion; and that popery would again revive. Under this impression he beheld the favourite haunts which, in the college, he so long enjoyed, with painful view, and is said to have broke out in those lamentable expressions: Farewell, Pembroke hall! of late my own college, my cure, and my charge! What case thou art now in, God knoweth ; I know not. Thou wast ever named since I knew thee, which is near thirty years, to be studious, well learned, and a great setter forth of Christ's gospel, in God's true word. So I found thee. And blessed be God, so I leave thee. Woe is for me, my own dear college, if ever thou suffer thyself, by any means, to be brought from that trade. In thy orchard, the walls, butts, and trees, if they could speak, would bear me witness, that I learned without book all St. Paul's epistles; yea, and I ween all the canonical epistles, save only the apocalypse; of which study, though in time, a great portion did escape me, yet the sweet scent thereof I trust I shall carry with me into heaven. The profit thereof, I think I have felt in all my life time ever after.'-See Rolt's Lives of the Reformers.

And what a lovely proof have we of the greatness of Ridley's mind, who, in the midst of all his excellencies, could, and did say, when comparing himself and others of his brethren, the bishops, with holy John

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