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bishop's visitation the same year, for preaching against the statute of the Six Articles lately passed; an accusation which he repelled with great facility, for his opinion had been so cautiously delivered respecting the act, that nothing could be proved against him.
But soon the intrigues of Bishop Gardiner, directed against Cranmer, involved Ridley also, as prebendary of Canterbury, and one intimately connected with the Archbishop, in their iniquitous snares. The articles: against him were:-1. That he preached at St. Stephen's in the rogation week, and said that auricular confession was but a mere positive law, and ordained as a godly mean for the sinner to come to the priest for counsel; but he could not find it in Scripture. 2. That he preached in the said rogation week, and said, that there was no meeter term to be given to the ceremonies of the Church, than to call them beggarly ceremonies. 3. That Te Deum hath been sung commonly in English at Herne, where the said Master Doctor is Vicar.-Cranmer having succeeded, through the strong support of the King, in exposing the malicious schemes of his enemies, the information against Ridley, which was only a subordinate part of the conspiracy really designed for the overthrow of the Archbishop, at the same time fell to the ground.
In the year 1545, the important change took place in the sentiments of Ridley, in regard to the doctrine of the Eucharist. Spending great part of his time in retirement at his vicarage of Herne, he began to examine more freely and closely into the arguments against the Corporal Presence asserted by the Roman Church. The principal instrument in his conversion to the truth on this point, was a treatise by Bertram*; a Monk of Corbey, written at the request of the Emperor Charles the Bald, about the year 840, in which the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper was stated, free from the corruptions subsequently introduced into it by Papal Rome. Finding it thus stated in a work of such antiquity, he could no longer rest in the popular error on the ground of authority, and became a more ready convert to the just arguments of his author.
He determined accordingly to search the Scriptures more accurately, and the doctrine of the primitive Fathers, who lived before the time of the controversy between Bertram and Paschasius †. Having thus arrived at the truth on this point, he proceeded to impart his conviction to Cranmer, who as yet had obstinately resisted all attempts from others
'Bertram, a man learned, of sound and upright judgment, and ever counted a Catholic for these seven hundred years until our age. His treatise, whoever shall read and weigh, considering the time of the writer, his learning, godliness of life, the allegations of ancient fathers, and his manifest and most grounded arguments, I cannot doubtless but much marvel, if he have any fear of God at all, how he can' with good conscience speak against him in this matter of the Sacrament. This Bertram was the first that pulled me by the ear, and that first brought me from the common error of the Romish Church, and caused me to search more diligently and exactly both the Scriptures and the writings of the old ecclesiastical Fathers in this matter."-Ridley in his Defence before the Commissioners.
+ Paschasius wrote to prove that the same body which was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered, was buried, and sits at the right hand of the Father, is received in the Sacrament. Bertram and others wrote in confutation of him.
to shake his belief in transubstantiation. The result was, that both Cranmer and Latimer were thus turned from their erroneous opinion; and the cause of the Reformation was strengthened by the triumph of the truth in this capital article, more than by every other advance which it had hitherto made. At the same time, Ridley modestly declined any merit to himself as the originator of this great improvement in the system of the reformers, but always spoke of himself in reference to Cranmer, as but a young scholar in comparison of his
At the close of this year (1545) Ridley obtained, through the Archbishop, the additional preferment of a stall in the church of Westminster.
After the death of Henry VIII. we first hear of Ridley as a preacher before Edward VI. on Ash-Wednesday, when he took occasion to discourse of the image-worship practised in the Church of Rome, and other superstitious ceremonies *. This sermon called forth a reply from Gardiner, who argued in defence of the Roman worship, "that pictures and images were the laymen's books." What Ridley's answer to Gardiner was is not now known, but the substance of it may probably be collected from that of the Protector Somerset, through whom it was communicated, and who urged with great force of argument against the Papist, "that if the misinterpretation of the best book in the world, the Bible, had been judged reason sufficient for taking it away from the people, which had been done by the Popish Bishops, the gross abuse of images was as justifiable a reason for taking them away from the people."
In the general visitation of the kingdom, which took place at the commencement of Edward's reign, Ridley was appointed as an associate of the Commissioners for the Northern Circuit, accompanying them in the capacity of their Preacher.
His next preferment was to the Living of Soham, in the Diocese of Norwich, to which he was presented by the Fellows of Pembroke Hall. Some difficulty at first occurred with regard to his admission to this benefice,-the Bishop of the Diocese claiming the right of patronage, but the objection was over-ruled by a command from the Court, and Ridley received institution.
But higher honours were now prepared for him. It is supposed
The absurd impieties introduced into the Roman ritual, are pointed out by Gloucester Ridley in the following passage from the service of the Church of Aquitaine.-Sancte sudari, ora pro nobis. Sudarium Christi liberet nos a peste, et morte tristi. Sanctissima Dei mappa, ora pro nobis. And again from the Sarum service.
O Crux, signum triumphale
Fronde, flore, germine.
indeed that Henry VIII. had marked him out for a future Bishop, and even without such recommendation, the Council were sufficiently inclined to appreciate his just claims to such a distinction. Accordingly the See of Rochester being now vacant by the translation of Bishop Holbeach to Lincoln, Ridley was appointed his successor at Rochester, receiving consecration from the hands of the Bishop of Lincoln, assisted by the Suffragan Bishops of Bedford and Sidon, acting under commission from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The controversy concerning the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, being at this time carried on with violent opposition of parties-so much so, that impious placards relating to the doctrine were affixed to the very doors of St. Paul's Cathedral, the new Bishop of Rochester, publicly set forth the true doctrine on the subject, in a sermon which he preached at Paul's Cross, in the November following his consecration, asserting both the dignity of the Sacrament, and the real presence of Christ's body in it. Yet even this sermon was the occasion of his being misrepresented, as if he had asserted the presence of Christ's natural body,—a surmise, to which his employment soon after in conjunction with Gardiner, in suppressing the irreverence of the Anabaptists in the matter of the Sacrament, gave some countenance.
He was afterwards engaged in several successive commissions.
The first of these commissions was for visiting the University of Cambridge. He was not aware at first of the real purpose for which the Commissioners were sent there, which was the union of Clare Hall with Trinity Hall, by absolute authority from the King, without consulting the wishes of the Societies themselves, under the pretext of establishing one new College of Civilians, but in fact in order to bring treasure into the hands of the government. He had opened the proceedings with a sermon, and been engaged two days in the preliminaries of the visitation, when the real design was imparted to him by his fellow Commissioners. He then so far complied as to endeavour to effect the object of the commission, by persuading those Societies to surrender themselves into the hands of the King, but finding them adverse to the proposal, he resolutely declined any enforcement of the demand. In consequence of this the proceedings were interrupted, until further instructions could be had from the Protector. Letters then passed between the Protector and himself, in which, on the one hand, endeavours were made to bring him over as a party to the design of spoliation, and on the other, his steady refusal to become an accessary to the design was respectfully maintained. And thus, by the stand which he made, the iniquitous scheme was rendered abortive.
The same commissioners were also occupied in presiding at a disputation appointed to be held at Cambridge, on the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Here Ridley set forth the true doctrine of the Real Presence with powerful authorities from Scripture, and the ancient Catholic Fathers, proving that there was no oblation of Christ made in the Lord's Supper. So convinced were the audience by the force of his arguments, that many of them would have translated Archbishop Cranmer's book on that subject into Latin.
The second commission in which he was engaged, was for the pro
secution of the Anabaptist heresy *. In the case of the unhappy woman, Joan Bocher, who atoned, by a cruel death, for the obstinacy with which she adhered to her heretical opinions, we find him earnestly employed, together with Cranmer, in frequent conferences with her, in which they laboured, but wih ineffectual zeal, to reclaim her from her infatuation. He was also one of the commissioners who, some time after, signed the sentence of excommunication against Van Paris, for denying the Divinity of our Saviour. That a man whose nature was the most kind and gentle, should have suffered himself to bear a part in the prosecutions of these deluded fanatics to the extremity of death, we can only account for from the fury of the times, when great revolutions of opinion were in process, and when the minds of even the warmest advocates for a purer religion were not thoroughly purged from the ferocious, demoralizing spirit of Popery.
Another commission on which he was employed-was one for inquiring into the conduct of Bonner, now Bishop of London; who being questioned as to the doctrines, which he had preached in a sermon at Paul's Cross, instead of making any concession, only treated the Commissioners with insolence and contempt; which occasioned his being sent a prisoner to the Marshalsea-and at length deprived of his bishopric.
The deprivation of Bonner made an opening for the further promotion of Ridley. He was judged by the Council the fittest person to succeed to that important dignity, and receiving the appointment, was translated from Rochester to London †, in April of the year 1550, the bishopric of Westminster being at the same time dissolved and reunited to the See of London. He entered on the duties of his new diocese by a visitation of it, in which he enquired into disorders, and issued injunctions of uniformity. It was in the course of this visitation also, that in order to remove the superstitious notion of a sacrifice being performed by the priest, he had the altars removed in the churches, and tables substituted for them.
The case of Bishop Gardiner, now a prisoner in the Tower, occupied much of the attention of the Council at this period. Endeavours were made to induce him to make such a submission as would lead to his liberation from confinement; but he also, like Bonner, resisted every proposal of conciliation. Ridley was actively concerned in the measures adopted with regard to Gardiner. He was one of the Com
* This heresy arose from a perversion of the great principle of the reformation, that Scripture was the only rule of Faith. The Anabaptists misinterpreting this maxim, rejected all deductions from the text of Scripture, however plain and obvious. The more extravagant of them maintained such principles as these, that a man regenerate could not sin-that though the outward man sinned, the inward nan sinned not-that there was no Trinity of Persons-that Christ was only a Holy Prophet, and not God at all—that all we had by Christ was that he taught us the way of heaven-that he took no flesh of the Virgin,—and that the Baptism of infants was not profitable, because it goeth before faith.
The Bishops in general through King Edward's reign, were upon good behaviour for their offices, having the express clause inserted in their patents, quamdiu se bene gesserint-but with regard to Ridley's present appointment, he was authorized to hold it for life ;-durante vita sua naturali, being the form in which it was conveyed to him.
missioners appointed to confer with him, and was also one of those from whom, every negociation having failed, Gardiner finally received sentence of deprivation.
At the same time that he was engaged in this unwelcome business, he was also involved in that celebrated controversy respecting the use of the vestments in religious worship, which originating with the scruples of Hooper, Bishop elect of Gloucester, agitated not only England, but also the Reformed Churches on the Continent. Hooper indeed had imbibed his prejudices against the use of the vestments from a residence at Zuric, whither he had fled when the act of the Six Articles passed, and by objecting to be consecrated in the Episcopal habit, raised the question in England. A conference began at first privately between Ridley and Hooper on the subject, but the matter at length attracted the notice of the Court, and as both the Archbishop and Ridley were resolute in not dispensing with the law which enforced the use of the habits, and. Hooper as obstinately adhered to his scruples, the Bishops of Ely and Lincoln were appointed together with Ridley to confer with Hooper, and bring him, if possible, to a conformity of opinion. But it was not until measures of severity were adopted by the Council, who were anxious to obtain for the cause of the Reformation, one whom they knew to be capable of serving it well, that Hooper at length complied, so far as to be consecrated in a surplice and cope.
Nearly at the same period, Ridley interested himself with charitable zeal, in providing relief for the numerous poor, who by the late spoliation of Church lands and other endowments had been reduced to the greatest distress. By application to Sir William Cecil, the King's Secretary, he succeeded in obtaining a grant of Bridewell, the ancient mansion of many English Kings, as an asylum for correcting and reclaiming vagrants, finding them work, and training up the young to useful trades.
While he was thus actively engaged in public duties, he was no less an ornament to his high station by the exemplary tenor of his private life. Exercising a Christian watchfulness over himself, he was given to prayer and contemplation. With respect to his family he was careful and instructive. It was his practice as soon as he rose, and had dressed himself, to continue in private prayer half an hour; then to retire to his study, where he continued until ten o'clock, at which hour he came to common prayer with his family, and there daily read a lecture to them, beginning at the Acts of the Apostles, and so going regularly through St. Paul's Epistles, giving to every one that could read a New Testament, and inducing them by rewards to learn by heart some chosen chapters, especially the 13th of the Acts. And to shew the rule of his conduct, he would have the 101st Psalm often repeated to his household;-endeavouring to make his family a spectacle of virtue and honesty to others. After prayers he went to dinner, where, as the occasion required, he would converse with great wisdom and discretion-and sometimes with much liveliness. This conversation he indulged for an hour after dinner, or else played at chess. He then returned to his study and remained there until five, except when inter