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the bones, and bring on death.' Labores ecclesiastici succum exhauriunt abimis medullis senium mortemque accelerant !
THE BISHOP OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY IN THE ORDINATION OF HIS CLERGY.
If amidst the general eminency of character which marked the bishops of the sixteenth century, one part of conduct shone more resplendant than another, it was, unquestionably, in that feature which appeared in their jealousy lest they should ordain unfit persons to serve in the ministry. The precept of the apostle to Timothy, to "lay hands suddenly on no man," seemed to have been kept by them always in view. And if ever any wariness in this particular might exempt from reprehension, they of all others were kept from being herefrom made partakers of other men's sins.
It hath been observed, in the former part of this work, how high the general temper of the times soared in learning, both human and divine, among those who wore the mitre in the reigns of Edward, Elizabeth, and James. But it is a justice due to the universities also to observe, that those seats of learning were equally eminent for all literary and spiritual attainments. Here, indeed, it was, under God, in those hallowed cloisters, were cast in the seeds which, in the after seasons of life, brought forth such rich fruits to refresh the church. This was the nursery from whence the plants took root and sprung. From this garden arose those trees of the Lord's right-hand planting, which, under divine cultivation, like the cedars of Lebanon, became lofty and wide-spreading, and sent abroad their branches in every direction, to beautify and give forth both shade and fruit to make glad the city of God.
And, perhaps, no part in the English history is more interesting, than that which hath recorded the godly order and sound erudition which distinguished all the colleges and halls, both of Oxford and Cambridge, at this period of the church. Then it was, our alma mater received her sons into the warm bosom of her fostering care; considering them as so many sacred charges, the far greater part of which were to be educated for the ministry of God's holy word and ordinances. Then it was, the walls of those colleges and halls could bear witness to the prayers, holy studies, and godly exercises both of the graduates and under-graduates of the whole university. Then it was that the heads of houses watched over their youthful charge in spiritual things as well as temporal; anxious to send them forth, when called to their holy function, not only well-taught in human learning but divine. And who shall count the number whom the Lord called from those sacred inclosures, at this auspicious period, to minister in the Lord's name, and to go in and out before the Lord's people? Who shall record the number of the sons of Zion born there, except the Lord himself, when he writeth up the people? Surely, if the sixteenth century formed so illustrious an era in this land, (as all the world must confess it did) in producing so many eminently great and good bishops; what glory and praise did those holy men of God reflect back upon the university, from whence, under divine teaching, they received their first rudiments of learning?
One distinguishing feature, which deeply marked those seminaries with honour, was the attention shewn to educate the pupils in the knowledge of the holy scriptures in their original tongue. Hence the professors of Arabic and Hebrew were not only well versed in the oriental languages themselves, but conscientiously instructed the youth of the colleges, designed for holy orders, in the same. It was considered then, as it ought
to be considered now, the sine quá non for admission into the church. They thought, and rightly thought, that no higher reproach, next to positive evil in conduct, could attach itself to the sacred character, than a deficiency in the knowledge of the Hebrew tongue. And although the holy scriptures themselves had been newly translated, and faithfully translated too, by the labours of the most learned men; yet they considered that this became no cause for leaning implicitly either upon the faithfulness or correctness of any man's labours. The sacred profession they were about to enter, demanded imperatively a personal acquaintance with the holy word itself, in its own original language. And notwithstanding the translation then newly formed became by law the standard for general use, yet it was a duty every clergyman owed to himself, and the church of God, to be able at least to judge of the correctness of that translation. And no man in those happy days of religion, belonging to the sacred order, would have judged himself undeserving of reproach, had he been conscious of his ignorance of the bible in the original. It was a great encomium given of Budæus, that even without a tutor he was so well acquainted with all the dead languages, that he could speak both greek and latin with as much facility as his mother tongue.
It is a further justice due to the character of those great men, which adorned the church of England in the sixteenth century, that their learning was not limited to the dead languages, but they were generally conversant with the living. And happy was it for the reformed church that they were so. For when the English nation was emancipated from the Romish superstition, Europe sent forth her champions for the truth of God in every direction. And as this country opened her bosom to shelter the protestants who fled from the persecution of the papal power, the great and opulent of our people received into their houses those
illustrious foreigners, who sought an asylum from the
But had the prelates, and the clergy in general of that day been ignorant of every language but their own, never would they have been able to have shewn themselves in the manner they did, under the Lord's strength, defenders of "the faith once delivered to the saints." The universities in particular found great occasion, in the different colleges where the learned strangers from abroad for a time resided, to speak to them, as those of old did, "in their own tongue the wonderful works of God." By their great knowledge in divine things, and their general acquaintance with the several languages of the Continent, all circumstances tended to promote the one glorious cause, and strengthen the common weal of the reformation. So that both the universities at this happy era, became little less than a daily convocation, composed of the highest taught divines, both at home and from abroad. It might have been termed sanctorum patria; and every individual forming this bright constellation, more or less, have borne the name philologus, philosophus, et theologus eximius!
But the general acquaintance which the young men matriculated in the university had with the dead languages, and biblical knowledge of the word of God, as well as their ability in conversing in the several dialects of the Continent; their great feature of character consisted in the higher attainment of the knowledge of their own heart. They were taught of God before that they came forth to teach others; and had received, for the most part, a saving work of grace in themselves, before that they ventured to preach to the church salvation.
It was the felicity of this era, that from our almá mater, the youth who were sent forth for holy orders, came under impressions of grace, and founded their au
thority to the ministry in the being called of God. And the blessing of the Lord evidently went before and followed their labours. The history of those times furnish ample proof of such a body of clergy and people, as mutually enjoyed and benefited one another.* Imagi
* I cannot more effectually prove the validity of this statement, than in referring the reader to a number in the diurnal publication of the Spectator, which was published in the opening of the eighteenth century; and which, by taking a retrospect of that which preceded it, throws a light upon the subject. The author of this number in the Spectator, be who he might, meant to censure the doctrines of grace, observed in the universities; but in reality doth not only confirm the truth itself, of its then forming the principal feature in the character of the candidate for holy orders, bnt at once proves the reality of what I have shewn, and forms the highest testimony of the soundness of doctrine, in the grand and essential truths of our holy faith, which then pervaded that seminary in all orders of the people. The number I refer to, is 494, Friday, September 26th, vol. vii.
'About an age ago,' saith the writer, 'it was the fashion in England, for every one that would be thought religious, to throw as much sanctity as pos-sible into his face; and, in particular, to abstain from all appearance of mirth, as marks of a carnal mind. At this period, a young adventurer in the republic of letters, and just fitted out for the university, with a good cargo of latin and greek, went to college. His friends were resolved that he should try his fortune, as they termed it, at an election, which was drawing near in the college, and he presented himself for that purpose at the door of one of the heads of houses. He was received at the door, by a servant who was one of the gloomy generation that were then in fashion. The servant conducted him, with great silence and seriousness to a long gallery, which was darkened at noon-day, and had only a single candle burning in it. After a short stay in this melancholy apartment, he was led into a chamber hung with black, where he entertained himself for some time by the glimmering of a taper, till at length the head of college came out to him, from an inner room, with half a dozen night caps upon his head, and religious horror in his countenance. The young man trembled; but his fears increased when, instead of being asked what progress he had made in learning, he was examined how he abounded in grace? His latin and greek stood him in little stead; he was to give an account only of the state of his soul—whether he was of the number of the elect—what was the occasion of his conversion-upon what day of the month, and hour of the day it happened --how it was carried on, and when completed? And the whole examination was summed up in one short question, namely, whether he was prepared for death? The boy, who had been bred up by honest parents, was frighted out of his wits at the solemnity of the proceeding, and by the last dreadful interrogatory; so that upon making his escape out of the house of mourning, he could never be brought a second time to the examination, not being able to go through the terrors of it.'
Now making all due allowance for the high colouring given by the writer, of the half a dozen night caps,' and the religious horror of countenance' in the head of the college, and the like; this fanciful author hath undesignedly proved what I aimed to shew, namely, that the university at the period he states, and which I am speaking of, made the doctrines of grace an essential rule for