Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

I

were dragged to prison, where they | lates: the woman was induced to refound other fellow-sufferers; and after cant, but the men were firm in their above a year's confinement in Bride- faith. Eight of them were banished, well, twenty-four men and seven women and the other two were committed to the were brought before Grindal, bishop of flames,-reflecting indelible dishonour London, who found them firmly ap- on the bishops and on the queen. The pealing to the Scriptures; so he "threat- Dutch residents in London, who were ened them, and let them go," as the permitted to meet for worship after chief priests did the apostles. their own forms, petitioned the queen for their countrymen; but her majesty was inexorable! John Fox became their intercessor, shocked at this repetition of the barbarities of popery; yet, though this venerable author of the Martyrology was in favour with Elizabeth, and his elegant Latin letter seemed enough to dissolve the hardest heart, the virgin queen was insensible to pity! The High Commission Court and the queen were guilty of their blood, following the atrocious policy of Antichrist!

The queen, in 1571, permitted Parliament to sanction the "Articles of Religion;" but she would not suffer toleration to be granted to the Nonconformists. The prelates urged subscription, "which made many Dissenters," as Dr. Fuller states, “ keep their private meetings in woods, fields, their friends' houses, and other places." Their chief advocate was Thomas Cartwright, Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. He held the common principles of Dissenters: but Dr. Whitgift was engaged against him by the prelates; his enemies prevailed, so that he was expelled the university, though forty of its most distinguished members testified his learning, orthodoxy, and exemplary life, in letters to the Secretary of State. Cartwright's conscientious regard to the Scriptures exposed him to a long series of persecution and imprisonment from the ruling prelates; but Whitgift was loaded with ecclesiastical preferment, and, at length, made Archbishop of Canterbury.

Notwithstanding persecution, Nonconformity continued; and as church reform seemed impossible, several of the London clergy, with many eminent laymen, formed a presbytery, November 20, 1572, at Wandsworth, near the metropolis. This was the first modern Presbyterian church in England, similar to the established church of Scotland.

Volumes would be required to detail the cruelties of this Court, which consisted principally of bishops appointed by the queen for the discovery of Nonconformists. In persecuting conscientious clergymen and others, they acted on the principles of the "Romish Inquisition," and equally with that horrid court, it deserves to be called execrable! The "STAR-CHAMBER" consisted of several bishops, noblemen, judges, and counsellors; it originated in the reign of Henry VII., to decide all cases without the intervention of a jury. This court was regarded with horror, as its inflictions were terrible under Elizabeth, James I., and Charles I.

Archbishop Parker died in May, 1575, succeeded by Grindal, bishop of London: but he, encouraging the clergy to preach, was ordered to forbid their meetings for expounding the Scriptures; for which, however, he pleaded Foreign Protestants in London were in an admirable letter to the queen. regarded with jealousy; and, in 1575, This epistle, though from the "metrosome Baptists, from Holland, assem-politan of all England," highly offended bling for worship in a house near Ald- her majesty, as conveying reproof; and gate, on Easter-day, were discovered by Grindal was suspended, because he the bishop's officers, and twenty-seven refused the form of submission required of them were dragged to prison. Four by the haughty sovereign. This amisigned a recantation; but, after the able prelate died in 1583, opening the popish manner, they were compelled way for the ambitious Whitgift. to bear fagots during sermon at Paul's Cross, as if they deserved the flames. Ten of the men and one woman were condemned to the stake by the pre

In 1579, Matthew Hament, a ploughwright, near Norwich, was condemned by Dr. Scambler, the bishop, as a heretic; when his ears were cut off, and,

the week after, he was burnt to death | for not being satisfied in the use of in the ditch of the castle. Mr. Francis certain ceremonies and orders of the Kett, a learned Master of Arts, was Church of Rome, and for not being condemned as a heretic by the same able to declare, that everything in the fierce prelate, and burnt to death, in Common Prayer is agreeable to the 1583, near the city of Norwich, Word of God."

Whitgift, the new archbishop, published in the first week new articles for the clergy to subscribe. Many were conscientious, and refused; they were, therefore, deprived. Of these there were sixty four in Norfolk, sixty in Suffolk, thirty-eight in Essex, and seventy in the counties of Sussex, Kent, and Lincoln. Petitions to the dread prelate from the ministers and their parishioners, were rejected with all the haughtiness of an arch-priest. A letter on their behalf, from Lord-Treasurer Burleigh, received but little more regard, though he declared the archbishop's proceedings "surpassed the craftiness of the Spanish Inquisition." Eight lords of the council, including Burleigh, addressed a joint letter to Whitgift and the Bishop of London, complaining of their policy; they sent a list of names,-one column of learned clergymen deprived, another of unlearned, immoral ministers retained, and a third of pluralists and non-residents. But this also was fruitless. Whitgift's intole rance and cruelty were zealously seconded by Aylmer, bishop of London; which roused the spirits of many in both Houses of Parliament to restrain these illegal oppressions: but all in vain, for the bishops possessed invincible influence in the House of Lords. The archbishop threw himself at the feet of her majesty, and on his knees implored her to support the sinking church, and not to grant any indulgence to the Puritans, nor to suffer any alterations, lest it should be pretended they had been maintaining errors!

It would be impossible to detail the various sufferings of the Nonconforming clergy under Queen Elizabeth. In 1586, they again petitioned Parliament, giving a long list of hundreds of doublebeneficed non-resident ministers, and of 1,373 who were incapable of preaching. In seeking relief from their persecutions by the bishops, they declare, "The grounds of these troubles are, not impiety, immorality, want of learning, or diligence in their ministerial work, but

Ecclesiastical claims had exceedingly advanced during the reign of Elizabeth; and though all the reformers admitted that episcopal prelacy was only a human institution, the archbishop directed his chaplain, Dr. Bancroft, to maintain, in a sermon at Paul's Cross, in 1588, the divine right of bishops above presbyters. Sir Francis Knollys, treasurer to the queen, asked the opinion of Dr. Reynolds, the Royal Professor of Divinity at Oxford, and he declared that Bancroft's "doctrine was contrary to the judgment of Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, and all the reformers for the past five hundred years, and the reformed churches of Helvetia, Savoy, France, Scotland, Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Low Countries, and England," This pernicious popish notion was restored by the Court divines, and occasioned the sacrifice of multitudes of the servants of Christ during the next century both in England and Scotland.

Among the servants of Christ who suffered under Elizabeth, three may be mentioned here. The first was John Ildall: in 1591, he was tried as the author of "A Demonstration of the Discipline which Christ hath prescribed in his Word, for the Church, in all Times and Places." He was condemned; but his high reputation induced James VI., of Scotland, to write to Elizabeth for his life. Whitgift consented to his pardon, if he should be banished; but, through delay, he died in prison at the close of 1592, to the dishonour of the prelates and the queen. The same year, fifty-six members of an Independent church were taken at a meeting for worship in Islington, and imprisoned. They petitioned for liberty, "That which we crave for us all is, the liberty to die openly, or live openly, in the land of our nativity." One of the ministers dying in prison, his fellow-sufferers put this inscription on his coffin: "This is the corpse of Roger Rippon, a servant of Christ, and her Majesty's faithful

subject; who is the last of sixteen or seventeen which that great enemy of God, the Archbishop of Canterbury, with his High Commissioners, have murdered in Newgate within these five years, manifestly for the testimony of Jesus Christ. His soul is now with the Lord, and his blood crieth for speedy vengeance against that great enemy of the saints, and against Mr. Richard Young [a London magistrate], who in this and in many like points hath abused his power for the upholding of the Romish Antichrist, prelacy, and priesthood. He died A. D. 1592."

John Greenwood, a popular preacher, and Henry Barrow, a relative, a barrister of Gray's-inn, were condemned for some writings against the persecuting hierarchy; but they would have been pardoned, if they would have promised to come to church. They were executed, April 6, 1593. At the place of execution they gave such evidence of their piety to God and loyalty to the queen, that Dr. Reynolds, who at tended them, reporting their behaviour to her majesty, she repented that she had consented to their death. Mr. John Pendy, a Welsh divine of high reputation for piety, was hanged, May 29, 1593, for publishing his principles, as Congregational; and the first to sign the warrant for his execution was Archbishop Whitgift.

Elizabeth's court was perplexed at the reported behaviour of these religious persons, who died professing faith in the gospel, and also loyalty to the queen's government. Yet the archbishop obtained an Act of Parliament, declaring, that "all persons above the age of sixteen years, refusing to come to church, or persuading others to deny her majesty's authority in causes ecclesiastical, or dissuading them from coming to church, or being found present at any conventicle or meeting under pretence of religion, shall, upon conviction, be committed to prison, without bail, till they shall conform and come to church!" If they refused to subscribe the form of recantation provided, it declared, "They shall abjure the realm and go into perpetual banishment; and if they do not depart, or if they ever return without the queen's license, they shall suffer death without benefit of

clergy!" This shocking violation of religion and humanity was opposed by a small band of patriots in the House of Commons; but the archbishop and the bishops prevailed. Aylmer, bishop of London, died in 1594; he was a violent persecutor, lax in morals, and profane in his language. Dr. Fletcher, his successor, died in a year, giving place to the intolerant Dr. Bancroft. Persecution was, however, moderated until the death of Elizabeth; as the prelates feared the power and sought the favour of James, the Presbyterian king of Scotland. March 24, 1603, Elizabeth went to render her awful account to God; and within two years, she was followed to the same tribunal by Archbishop Whitgift.

[ocr errors]

66

Elizabeth was a great queen; and her reign, in many respects, brought glory to England. Her chief ministers were men of vast abilities; and they were Nonconformists, but in church matters they were overpowered by the bishops. Religion was enjoyed by many through the nation, especially by the reading of the Scriptures; so that sixty editions of the Geneva Bible are said to have been published in the reign of Elizabeth! Among the nobles there were some of genuine piety; but many," says Mr. Strype, were mere heathens and atheists: the queen's own court was a harbour for epicures and atheists; and a kind of lawless place, because it stood in no parish." Though Elizabeth is reckoned to have established the Reformation in England, it is difficult to estimate correctly the character of the queen. Dr. Warner, in his "Ecclesiastical History of England," as a candid Churchman, is reckoned to speak of her justly, as he says, "The severity with which she treated her Protestant subjects by her High Commission Courts, was against law, against liberty, and against the rights of human nature. She understood her prerogative, which was dear to her as her own life; but she understood nothing of the rights of conscience in matters of religion; and like the absurd king, her father, she would have no opinion in religion, acknowledged at least, but her own. She differed from her sister in this, that she would not part with her su

premacy upon any terms; and as she had much greater abilities for governing, so she applied herself more to promote the strength and glory of her dominion than Mary did; but she had as much of the bigot and tyrant in her as her sister, though the object of that bigotry was prerogative, and not religion."

Every reader, on reviewing the pro

gress and character of the Reformation in England, will perceive, not only its immense advantages to our country, in restoring the Holy Scriptures to the people, but its great imperfections, in not being carried on and completed according to the infallible rules and institutions of Christ, as contained in the oracles of God. T. T. Lewisham.

Biography.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL HAND

FIELD

A SUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHER.

THIS distinguished officer in the British army was a very efficient teacher, for about fourteen years, in the Sundayschool of the Rev. Rowland Hill. He was born in the year 1777, in a camp in America. His father was himself a colonel in the army. At an early period, shortly after his marriage, he was called into active service in the Ame

rican war. Mrs. Handfield accompanied hlm; and while in America, she gave birth to her son John, the subject of this biography.

After his return from America, the Colonel held the influential and responsible office of Commissary-General for Ireland-a post which he occupied to the close of his life. He died at an advanced age, leaving behind him one son, Edward, and seven daughters, having survived his sons John and Philip.

John Handfield was educated with a view to his becoming an officer in the Royal Engineers; and he studied those branches of science which are indispensable to all who are desirous of entering that famous corps. Having,

in due course, obtained his commission, Lieutenant Handfield was speedily called into service in Holland. On the failure of that expedition, he was ordered to join the army in Egypt, under the command of General Sir Ralph Abercrombie; and he remained there until after the great victory which led to the evacuation of that country by the French army.

After the withdrawment of the army from Alexandria, Lieutenant Handfield returned to England, in an infirm state of health. The sudden change from the chilling damps of Holland to the burning sands of Egypt, in addition to the fatiguing duties which devolved upon him, and the many and great privations which he suffered, produced a painful influence on his constitution, which he felt more or less during the residue of his life. He suffered also, with multitudes of his comrades, from a slight ophthalmic affection. About this time Lieutenant Handfield was promoted to the rank of Captain.

Notwithstanding the unfavourable state of Captain Handfield's health, he maintained remarkable cheerfulness of mind. His appearance had not undergone any material change. His figure was tall and slight, but well-propor

tioned and erect: his features prominent and martial. His mind was well stored with knowledge; and his manners were not only polite, becoming his station as a British officer, but bland and fascinating also, accompanied by natural dignity, the true characteristics of a well-educated gentleman.

Such was Captain Handfield, in the spring of manhood, before he became acquainted with the truths of the gospel, and the blessings flowing from faith in, and love to, our Lord and Saviour.

It will easily be imagined that a man at the age of twenty-four, with these advantages, and in such a position, was not likely to escape the contaminating influence of worldly society by mere human effort and good resolutions. The power of Divine grace was necessary for his protection and deliverance, and that was mercifully conferred, chiefly by means of a brother-officer, an exemplary Christian.

Major M-, of the Engineers, had long been a pious and devoted servant of God, living in the daily exercises, as he enjoyed the privileges, of his Christian profession; unhesitatingly avowing himself on the Lord's side. The consistency of the Major's life, and the cheerfulness of his disposition, and his well-known scientific skill as an engineer, coupled with an unusual amount of conversational talent, wrought powerfully on the mind of his junior officer, and, by the blessing of God, became the means of directing his feet into that way of peace which he never forBook, being cordially devoted to the service of Christ.

Captain Handfield, soon after his conversion, gathered around him many wise and good men, among whom was the venerable Major-General Burn,

known by his admirable little work, "Who Fares Best-the Christian, or the Man of the World ?" and whom he loved and revered as a spiritual father. Nor had he long felt the power of the glorious gospel on his own mind before he began to unite with those who were active and zealous in spreading the knowledge of the Redeemer throughout the world. Among the various institutions formed for that divinely-benevolent object, he regarded the Naval and Military Bible Society, and became an active member of its Committee. His state of religious feeling at this period may be understood, in some good degree, from the following lines, written by him in 1803:

1

"Hark! in what seraphic strains
All the glorious choir above
Publish through the heavenly plains
The Redeemer's wondrous love!

"Catch, my soul, the glowing flame
That inspires the holy throng;
Let the blest Immanuel's name
Be the subject of thy song!
"Sound the triumphs of his grace;

His who bled and died for thee:
Rival all the songs of praise

Of the heavenly company! "Swell thy notes of love and joy,

Till all Nature catch the sound; And every latent power employ

To spread his glory all around!"

Many other productions of this Christian officer's pen, of a date subsequently to the foregoing, though less ardent in their character, breathe the same scriptural piety, but manifest great searchings of heart, profound humility, deep convictions of sin, and the most earnest importunity for the Divine mercy through Jesus Christ.

A few years after Captain Handfield returned to England, he was promoted

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »