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Soctrinal views hin his anded, no parte porno
With the pages of Strype, Barnet, Soames, and Blunt open before him, the Author found authentic materials made ready to his hand, when, “tarning from Hooper's times to Hooper himself,” he constructed his second chapter. Nor could he have done better, por other, than to go to the Parker Society's volume for the evidence it furnishes respecting the doctrinal views held by Bishop Hooper, a most important point to be made out in his and every Reformer's case : for while, on the grounds before stated, no part of the opinions, or teaching, or writings of an individual Reformer, however well ascertained, can be appealed to as authoritative, yet, whoever simply and sincerely desires to know what was the spirit, what the genuine and full belief of any one of the great contributors to the national confession of faith of that memorable period, will go straight to the published documents which have come down to us.
“What kind of things did Hooper say, and preach, and publish, and write? What kind of religion was a Churchman's religion three hundred years ago ?
“The answer to these inquiries is happily not difficult to find. The two volumes of Hooper's writings published by the Parker Society, make the matter plain as the sun at noon-day. There men may read in unmistakeable language the theological opinions of one of the leading Bishops of the time of the Reformation. From two documents in these two volumes, I will select fair specimens.
“ The first document I will quote from, is entitled ' Articles concerning Christian Religion, given by the reverend father in Christ, John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, unto all and singular deans, parsons, prebends, vicars, curates, and other ecclesiastical ministers within the diocese of Gloucester, to be had, held, and retained of them for unity and agreement, as well for the doctrine of God's Word, as also for the uniformity of the ceremonies agreeing with God's Word.
“A more authoritative and weighty declaration of Hooper's opinions, it is impossible to conceive.” (p. 50.)
Having cited several of these Articles, which show most conclusively Hooper's views on several points on which our Church is now being vexed, the Author says, “I drop my quotations here.” He might have added, but not my zeal, or my courage. For he does not hesitate to read our Church rulers a very sharp lecture.
.....“I deeply regret that English Bishops in modern times do not speak out more frequently in the style and manner of Bishop Hooper. I know their many difficulties, and feel for them. But I heartily wish they would understand what good they might do to the Church, and to their own order, if they would take a leaf out of Hooper's book, and give as certain a sound as he did. We are astounded at the Rome-like charge of one Prelate. We are
disgusted with the judicious silence of another. We are sick to death of the well-balanced statements of others. We are tired of being told, with masterly cleverness and fascinating rhetoric, that all parties are a little to blame, and all are a little to be praised; that every body is a little bit right, and every body a little bit wrong! In a word, we are wearied at finding that the bulk of modern English Bishops are honorary members of all schools of opinion. Oh, for a few more Bishop Hoopers on our Bench! Oh, for a little more plain speaking and downright Protestantism!
“I know well enongh that the English Bishops are Bishops of an eminently tolerant and comprehensive Church. They cannot command perfect unity, convert clergymen, or compel assent to their views, any more than parents can convert their children or clergymen their parishioners. But one thing I always will say: they might speak out more boldly than they generally do, and say out more plainly what they think is truth. If they were only more bold and outspoken, I believe they would be astonished at the good it would do. Nothing, I firmly believe, would so thoroughly rally the middle classes, gather the apathetic lower orders into the Establishment, and strengthen the whole body of the Church, as a little more plain speaking, likethat of Bishop Hooper.” (pp. 58, 59.)
The second of the two sample Reformers is Hugh Latimer. Here, too, the Author, from the Parker Society's Volume, labours to supply information on the same subjects as those which had drawn from him, when dwelling on Bishop Hooper's times, the serious lament:
“They are subjects, I am sorry to say, on which most people seem to know nothing at all. The minds of the vast majority of my countrymen appear to be a total blank about the history of three hundred years ago. With all the stir made about education, the ignorance of our own country's history is something lamentable and appalling and depressing.” (p. 5.)
One or two passages, with which we must content ourselves, place the character and the doctrine of Latimer in a striking light.
“We know very little of his early history, except the remarkable fact, which he himself has told us, that up to the age of thirty he was a most violent and bigotted Papist. Just as St. Paul was not ashamed to tell men that at one time he was 'a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious,' so the old Protestant Bishop used often to tell how he too had once been the slave of Rome. He says in one of his sermons, 'I was as obstinate a Papist as any was in England, insomuch that when I should be made bachelor of divinity, my whole oration went against Philip Melancthon and his opinions.' (Works, i. 334.) He says in another sermon, ‘All the Papists think themselves to be saved by the law, and I myself was of that dangerous, perilous, and damnable opinion till I was thirty years of age. So long had I walked in darkness and the shadow of death.' (i. 137.) He says, in a letter to Sir Edward Baynton,
Vol. 68.- No. 373.
• I have thought in times past that if I had been a friar and in a cowl, I could not have been damned nor afraid of death; and by reason of the same I have been minded many times to have been a friar, namely when I was sore sick or diseased. Now I abhor my superstitious foolishness.” (pp. 82, 83.)
In the mock trials which preceded his martyrdom, he refused to debate with his accusers the opinions of the Fathers upon the points at issue, and told his judges plainly, that the Fathers might be deceived in some points, and that he only believed them when they said true, and had Scripture with them. If Latimer's reply was sufficient, it establishes two points: the supremacy of Scripture; and the sufficiency of private judgment in the interpretation of it: for, who decides when the opinions of the Fathers are supported by Scripture ? Clearly, none other, in his day, but Latimer; in ours, every individual Chris. tian. Nothing is to be believed (says our Church “ Article”), “ but what may be proved thereby." “Proved to whom ?” a high authority has asked.
The character of Latimer as a preacher offers to the Author the opportunity for an admonition to his brethren, scarcely less pungent than that which we have quoted as given to the Bishops.
"I might dwell on the good man's preaching. Few, probably, have ever addressed an English congregation with more effect than he did. No doubt his sermons now extant would not suit modern taste. They contain many quaint, odd, and coarse things. They are very familiar, rambling, and discursive, and often full of gossiping stories. But, after all, we are poor judges in these days of what a sermon ought to be. A modern sermon is too often a dull, tame, pointless, religious essay, full of measured, round sentences, Johnsonian English, bald platitudes, timid statements, and elaborately concocted milk and water. It is a leaden sword, without either point or edge: a heavy weapon, and little likely to do much execution. But if a combination of sound Gospel doctrine, plain. Saxon language, boldness, liveliness, directness, and simplicity, can make a preacher, few, I suspect, have ever equalled old Latimer.” (pp. 102, 103.)
The sketch of the “opinions" of this noble witness to the truth of God, is most valuable. What he thought of Scripture, and of Justification, in these days when the one is so dishonoured, and the other, if not denied, misrepresented, it is of the utmost moment that all should know; and there is no part of the book before us which is more calculated to inform this misled generation than the portion of Latimer's history which records his theological opinions. Indeed we think it worth the whole of the remainder.
“In the next place, what did Bishop Latinier think about rege
neration? This, as you are all aware, is the subject of one of the great controversies of the day. Multitudes of Churchmen, in spite of the Seventeenth Article, and the Homily for Whit-Sunday, main. tain that all baptized persons are necessarily regenerate, and receive grace and the Holy Ghost at the moment they are baptized. In a word, they tell us that every man, woman, and child, who has received baptism, has also received regeneration, and that every congregation in the Church of England should be addressed as an assembly of regenerated persons. Now let us hear Bishop Latimer.
“He says, in a sermon preached in Lincolnshire, “There be two manner of men. Some there be that be not justified, not regenerate, not yet in the state of salvation, that is to say, not God's servants. They lack the renovation, or regeneration. They be not yet come to Christ.' (ii. 7.) He says, in a sermon preached before Edward VI., 'Christ saith, Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God. He must have a regeneration, And what is this regeneration? It is not to be christened in water, as those firebrands expound it, and nothing else. How is it to be expounded then ? St. Peter showeth that one place of Scripture declareth another. It is the circumstance and collection of places that maketh Scripture plain. We be born again, says Peter, and how ? Not by a mortal seed, but an immortal? What is the immortal seed ? By the Word of the living God: by the Word of God preached and opened. Thus cometh in our new birth.' (i. 202.) He says, in another Lincolnshire sermon, ‘Preaching is God's instrument, whereby He worketh faith in our hearts. Our Saviour saith to Nicodemus, Except a man be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. But how cometh this regeneration ? By hearing and believing the Word of God : for so saith St. Peter.' (i. 471.)” (pp. 110–112.)
Wearied as people are with the endless controversies that have been held on the subject of the Lord's Supper, they might be ready to turn away from the paragraph which begins with“In the next place, what did Bishop Latimer think about the Lord's Supper ?" And we will spare them the necessity of reading what is a valuable testimony borne by the venerable man to the true view of that sadly-caricatured Ordinance. Only the last words do we give : and any one who will place them side by side with the Rubric which is found at the end of the Order for “ The Communion of the Sick,” in our Prayer-Book, will be protected by the joint testimony, as by a breast-plate, against the arrows of false doctrine which now again, towards the close of the nineteenth century, and with the “Martyrs' Memorial ” at Oxford before their eyes, are being unblushingly shot against the Reformed doctrine upon the essentially spiritual character of the “ Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.”
The lives of three Puritan Divines occupy the latter portion, a little more than half of the volume before us. The design of the Author, in the two preceding histories of Bishops Hooper and Latimer, is to show of what materials Reforination theology
In the upper?" a faluable testilly-caricatureho will p read to the true vie we give : and an is found at th
was composed : in the latter three, to furnish a specimen of what he verily believes will prove an antidote to all the doctrinal delinquencies of our day, the study of Puritan Divinity.
“I cannot help expressing my earnest hope that the scheme of republication, which owes its existence to Mr. Nichol, may meet with the success which it deserves, and that the writings of men like Samuel Ward may be read and circulated throughout the land.
“I wish it for the sake of the Puritan divines. We owe them a debt, in Great Britain, which has never yet been fully paid. They are not valued as they deserve, I firmly believe, because they are so little known.
“I wish it for the sake of the Protestant Churches of my own country, of every name and denomination. It is vain to deny that we have fallen on trying times for Christianity. Heresies of the most appalling kind are broached in quarters where they might have been least expected. Principles in theology which were once regarded as thoroughly established, are now spoken of as doubtful matters. In a time like this, I believe that the study of some of the great Puritan divines is eminently calculated, under God, to do good and stay the plague. I commend the study especially to all young ministers. If they want to know how powerful minds and mighty intellects can think out deep theological subjects, arrive at decided conclusions, and yet give implicit reverence to the Bible, let them read Puritan divinity.” (pp. 146, 147.)
Samuel Ward, one of the most famous Puritans of the seventeenth century, was a Suffolk divine, to whom and his history Mr. Ryle states himself as having been attracted partly because he himself is a “Suffolk minister.” This predilection for one whose labours were exercised in the same county as that in which his own lot is cast, is vindicated by the extracts he supplies of Ward's bold and vigorous ministrations. We have a description of his style of preaching, with passages from his sermons.
An eminently holy, and even great man, (if high moral courage, in most trying times and circumstances, can confer greatness on any man's memory,) is introduced to us in the second of these Puritan biographies, that of Richard Baxter.
"To no times are Englishmen so deeply indebted for their civil and religious liberty as the times in which Baxter lived. To no body of men do they owe such an unpaid debt of gratitude as they do to that noble host of which Baxter was a standard bearer: I mean the Puritans. To no man among the Puritans are the lovers of religious freedom under such large obligations as they are to Richard Baxter.” (p. 157.)
The Author insists justly on the importance of studying the history of the seventeenth century, a rapid but complete sketch of which he gives under the heads of the Decline of Protestantism under the Stuarts; The character of Laud; Estimate of the civil war of the Commonwealth ; Estimate of Oliver Cromwell ;