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without shame or remorse, gave great occasion to their adversaries to say, they were in the right to assert justification by faith without works; since they were, as to every good work, reprobate. Their gross and insatiable scrambling after the goods and wealth, that had been dedicated with good designs, though to superstitious uses, witliout applying any part of it to the promoting the gospel, the instructing the youth, and relieving the poor, made all people conclude that it was for robbery, and not for reformation, that their zeal made them so active.
I will here give an eminent instance of fraudulent proceedings in the beginning of this reign; of which the present learned and zealous dean of Norwich was pleased to send me a copious account out of their registers. The prior, when inducted into that dignity, took an oath not to alien
o alienate any of their lands; which was confirmed by injunctions exhibited to the convent in the royal visitation. But the king, upon certain reasons suggested by the prior and convent, and approved by him, did dispense with that oath; so that, notwithstanding the oath, they were left at liberty to alienate some lands set forth in the instrument dated the 1st of April 1538, countersigned by Cromwell. A month after that, on the 2d of May that year, the church was converted from a prior and convent to a dean and chapter; and the last prior was made the first dean of the church.
But on the 26th of May, 1547, in the beginning of King Edvard's reign, a letter was sent to that church, signed by the duke of Somerset, Rich the lord chancellor, and six other privy counsellors; pretending, that they designed the advancement of God's glory, and the truest intent of the late king's determination : by which Sir Richard Southwell, Sir Roger Townshend, and Sir William Paston, were authorized to receive a full surrender of the whole chapte assuring both the dean, and every one of the prebendaries, that there should be no alteration made in their yearly profits; and that there should be a just contentation given to the residue of the ministers there. A commission was granted on the 27th to these persons, to take the surrender, with articles and insiructions annexed to it: which, because probably many others were of the same soit, are put in the Collection (No. xii). But for all this appearance of fair dealing, it being pretended that this was only designed that the king should be founder, and that the church should lose nothing by the surrender ; yet, when they had made the surrender, in the hope of new letters-patents, they could not obtain them: and lands, to the value of 2001. a year, were taken from them. Upon which that corporation tried, in Queen Mary's time, to get a bill to pass, to restore them
to the state they were in before they were prevailed on to make the surrender. But the bill did not pass. Perhaps it might be suggested, that it would alarm the nation too much, if any alienation of church-lands, how fraudulently soever obtained, were meddled with. I give this as a well-attested instance; by which it may appear, how things of this kind were obtained and managed, chiefly in the beginning of this reign. For I am not so much set on justifying every thing that was done in this reign, as another voluminous writer is * on condemning almost every thing done in it, with a particular virulence against the memory of that pious prince. This, from one of another communion, is that which might have been expected ; but it is a little singular, when it comes from one who says he is of our church.
The irregular and immoral lives of many of the professors of the gospel, gave their enemies great advantages to say, they run away from confession, penance, fasting, and prayers, only that they might be under no restraint, but indulge themselves in a licentious and dissolute course of life. By these things, that were but too visible in some of the more eminent among them, the people were much alienated from them: and as much as they were formerly prejudiced against popery, they grew to have kinder thoughts of it, and to look on all the changes that had been made, as designs to enrich some vicious courtiers; and to let in an inundation of vice and wickedness upon the nation. Some of the clergy that promoted the reformation were not without very visible blemishes: some indiscretions, both in their marriages and in their behaviour, contributed not a little to raise a general aversion to them.
It is true, there were great and shining lights among them, whose exemplary deportment, continual labours, fervent charity, and constant zeal, both during their lives and at their deaths, kept up the credit of that work, as much as it was disgraced by others : but they were few in comparison of the many bad, and those of the clergy, in whom the e old leaven had still a deep root, though they complied in every thing that was imposed on them ; seeing that they had lost those perquisites of masses, and other practices, which brought them their chief gains, and saw nothing came in lieu of them for their subsistence; they, who in their hearts hated all that they were forced to profess outwardly, did secretly possess such as were influenced by them with an abhorrence of all that was done ; and they disposed the nation to be ready to throw it all off.
That which was above all was, that God was highly dishonoured by men who pretended zeal for his glory, but with
* Coll. Eccl. Hist. p. 332, col, 2.
their works dishonoured him. They talked of the purity of the gospel, while they were wallowing in all sensuality and uncleanness: pretending to put all their confidence in the merits and sufferings of Christ, while they were crucifying lim afresh, and putting him to open shame. In such lamentations as these, I find the good men of that time did often vent their sorrows, in their letters to one another, and break out into severe reflections on them. Some did it afterwards abroad in their exile, and others at home in their sufferings. Their only human hope was in the king himself; in whom there appeared such a progress, both in knowledge and zeal, that they expected to see him complete the reformation, and redress those crying abuses, in which the men in power found their account too evidently to expect a remedy from them. They were men, in whose hands things grew every day worse and worse; and whose arrogance and other disorders our chief reformers were forced in some measure to connive at, that they might not provoke them to retard a work that could in no wise be carried on without their countenance and authority; though they saw the prejudice it brought upon them, to be obliged to apply to and to make use of such tools, with which the righteous souls of our best reformers were much grieved. They were engaged with men that were ready to pull down, especially when any thing was to be got by it; but were as backward in building up, as they were forward in plucking down. So that they seemed to design to leave all in a great ruin. These were great hindrances to the progress of the Reformation, as they were boih the burthen and the shame of our reformers.
I thought it not amiss to open this as fully as I found it lying before me; and I hope the reader will not only consider this as a part of the history of a former age, but as an admonition to us in the present. If we fall under the disorders and corruptions that then reigned, why should not we expect such a calamity as overtook and overwhelmed them? We may justly look for worse, since we have the advantages of much more light, and many more blessings, as well as many alarming terrors, which have all gone over us without those dismal convulsions that we might have looked for : and they have as easily slipped out of our thoughts, as if we had never seen or felt them. To the viciousness of life, and the open immoralities and neglect of religion, that were the sins of the former age, many among us have added a studied impiety, and a laboured opposition to all revealed religion ; which some have owned in so barefaced a manner, that perhaps no age of the world can show any thing like it. If others with secular views have declaimed against this, 264 HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION. and put on some show of zeal, how much more of party than of true religion has appeared in it. The divided parties among us have showed little true regard to reli ion, and to a course of virtue and piety, which can only give both strength and honour to a church; and this does too plainly appear in many, who talk the most of it, or for it.
Have we of the clergy made the steps that became us, and that were designed in the former age, for throwing out abuses, for regulating the courts, and restoring discipline? While we have, for above one hundred and fifty years, expressed once a year a faint wish that the primitive discipline were again restored, and yet have not made one step toward it. What a venality of the advowsons to livings do we hear of: and at best the disposing of them goes generally by secular regards, by importunities, obligations, or friendship : and above all, how few of those that labour in the gospel do labour indeed, and give themselves wholly to it? How much of their time and zeal is employed in things that do not deserve it, so well as the watching over, the instructing, and the building up their flock in their most holy faith? How few do fast and prily, and study to prepare themselves and their people for the evil day, that seems much nearer us than the greatest part are willing to apprehend ; that so we may by our intercessions deliver our church and nation from that which is ready to swallow us up; or at least be so fortified and assisted, that we ourselves, and others, by what they see in us, may glorify God in that day of visitation !
I shall conclude this book with one reflection, that may make us hope that the Reformation was under a particular and watchful care of Providence : when the light seemed almost extinguished in one place, it broke out in another; by which, as it was still kept shining somewhere, so there was a sanctuary opened, to which those, who were forced to fly from one place, might in their flight find a covert in another from the storm. In the beginning of this reign, by the breaking of the Smalcaldic league, by the taking of the elector of Saxony, and the landgrave of Hesse, and by the Interim, the Reformation seemed to be near extinguished in Germany. In this church it was at that time advanced ; and we kindly then received those who were forced to fly hither for shelter. And now, in the year before the death of this good king, there was not only a revival, but a lasting settlement procured in Germany to the Reformation there : so that those who fled from lience found a safe and kind harbour in all the places of the empire, to which they were driven by the storm and tempest that arose here. Of which I go next to gather up such gleanings as have come in my way.
Of what happened during Queen Mary's Reign, from the
year 1553 to the year 1558.
As soon as the queen came to the Tower of London, she sent for the lord mayor and the aldermen of the city, and told them, “ that though her own conscience was stayed in matters of religion, yet she meaneth graciously not to compel or strain other peoples' consciences, otherwise than God shall, as she trusteth, put in their hearts a persuasion of the truth.” These soft words were not long remembered : of the progress of the severities in her reign, 1 have a very authentical account before me, in the original council book, that begins on the 17th of August 1553, and goes to the end of the year 1557 : but from that to her death I have not so sure a thread. The book begins with orders for letters to be written tu Coverdale and Hooper for their undelayed repair to the court : and a complaint being made of a sermon preached by Fisher, parson of Amersham, he was ordered to appear the next day, and to bring the notes of his sermon with him. A parliament was summoned to meet in November. On the 14th of August the writ for the convocation was directed to Cranmer. A letter was soon after written by the queen and council to the bishop of Norwich, to suffer none to preach without a special licence; the same order was intimated to the lord mayor of London ; and the same was no doubt universally both ordered and executed.
On the 20th of August there was an order for gua ards to defend the preacher at St. Paul's Cross, occasioned by what had happened to Bourn: it seems few came to hear the ser. mons, for the lord mayor was ordered “ to make the ancients of the companies resort to the sermons, lest the preacher should be discouraged by a small audience.” On the 23d of August, Gardiner was declared lord chancellor. Here I shall set down the appointments of the lord chancel they were settled at that time there was a privy seal VOL. III, PART 1.