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Wednesdays and Fridays through Lent. He was also sent to preach in Kent and Essex.
His labours in the cause of the reformed religion were so appreciated, that he was judged worthy of elevation to the episcopal office, and through the interest of the Earl of Warwick, (afterwards the Duke of Northumberland) was nominated to the see of Gloucester, May 15, 1550.
But hereupon no little difficulty arose with regard to his acceptance of the bishopric. Having been so much an exile from his country, and a resident at Zuric at a time not very favourable to moderation in religious views and conduct-he had imbibed notions upon the matters of reformation too rigid and scrupulous. He had not enjoyed that excellent training, which others had, in the school of Cranmer. At Zuric, where, we find, his chief abode was whilst he was abroad, an extravagant degree of animosity against the Church of Rome had been excited by a current suspicion, that there was a latent design of re-establishing Popery, by keeping up an exterior conformed to that of the exploded superstition. A like alarm at the same time pervaded all Germany, in consequence of the Interim*, which had been promulged to the Protestants, after the death of Luther, by the Emperor Charles V.; and by which it was set forth, that existing forms were to remain, qualified, indeed, by some milder constructions than those which the Papists assign to them, but still with the same appearance which they had before, until a General Council should have decided on the points at issue. The dread of Popery being again introduced in all its abominations, under the mask of things indifferent, induced many of the foreign Reformers to look even at such things with a trembling apprehension, and to debate them accordingly with a vehemence and obstinacy which appear to the calm eye of reason, indeed, absurdly disproportionate to the objects under discussion-but which claim our indulgent consideration, when we reflect, what it is for the mind to have been recently roused to action from the torpor of a dominant superstition, and how things, little in themselves, are magnified by their proximity to a danger from which we have hardly escaped. Hooper, who was by his temperament of mind naturally inclined to severity, readily adopted those views of reformation which were prevalent at the place of his exile, and thus returned to England with an inveterate antipathy to the use of the ministerial vestments. Hence, on being nominated to the bishopric of Gloucester, he made a representation of his scruples to the King, and humbly requested that the King would either permit him to decline the honour which it was proposed to confer on him, or dispense with his conformity in the matter of the vestments.
To this request the King acceded, and wrote consequently to the Archbishop of Canterbury, permitting him to dispense with the accustomed ceremonies in the consecration of Hooper, whom he highly commends, as 66 a Professor of Divinity, chosen as well for his great knowledge, deep judgment, and long study both in the Scriptures and
* The Interim, while it retained most of the doctrines and ceremonies of the Church of Rome, rejected the celibacy of the Clergy, and the Half-Communion.
other profane learning, as also for his good discretion, ready utterance, and honest life."
This letter of the King was accompanied by one from the Earl of Warwick to the Archbishop, in which it was requested, that the oath of supremacy might also be dispensed with at the consecration. For this was another scruple which arose in the mind of Hooper ;-the form of the oath being in these words: "by God, by the Saints, and by the Holy Gospels"-to which expressions he objected as impious and against his conscience.
The difficulty respecting the oath was soon removed. For when Hooper, appearing before the Council, argued that God only ought to be appealed to in an oath, since he only knew the thoughts of men, the King, who was present, was so convinced, that with his own pen he struck the objectionable words out of the oath, saying, that no creature was to be appealed to in an oath. But the scruple of wearing the vestments was not so easily to be satisfied. The use of the vestments was now established by law, and the Archbishop therefore could not dispense with them in the consecration of Hooper, without incurring the risk of a præmunire. Nor did he think even the King's letter in itself sufficient to secure him against established laws: besides that, he considered the objection of Hooper as frivolous and improper to be conceded.
As the consent of the Archbishop could not be obtained, the next expedient was to persuade Hooper of the unreasonableness of his opinion, and thus to obtain his compliance with the prescribed ceremonial. All were anxious, in fact, that so valuable a servant in the cause of religion should not be lost to the Church, through any groundless scruples relative to unessential points. Ridley, accordingly, now Bishop of London, was appointed as the person best qualified, by his great learning, to confer with Hooper on the subject of the vestments. The matter was argued at great length between them, until indeed the contention was carried to some warmth-but still no impression could be made on Hooper, so as to induce him to recede at all from his opinion. Upon this, the Council sent for Hooper, and feeling averse to the continuance of a controversy between men united in a common profession, required him to desist from giving further occasion to such strife. He requested their permission to put in writing the arguments which had led to his view of the matter. This was granted, and his arguments, it seems, were submitted to Ridley, who was ordered to attend before the Council, at Richmond, in the October following, with such answers as he might have prepared to the statements of Hooper.
In the mean time, the Archbishop (according to his practice of consulting with learned foreigners) wrote to Martin Bucer, at Cambridge, for his judgment on the point in dispute. Hooper also wrote to Bucer, as well as to Peter Martyr, then Professor of Divinity at Oxford, to consult them on the question. His own grounds of objection werethat to use the vestments would be to call back again the priesthood of
* Neal says that Hooper was as much for the Clergy's wearing a decent and distinct habit from the Laity, as Ridley, but prayed to be excused from the old symbolizing Popish garments,”—Hist. of the Puritans, vol. 1. p. 62.
Aaron, and that it had no authority in Scripture or primitive antiquity, but had been introduced into the Church in the most corrupt ages of Christianity, and being an invention of Antichrist, as such, was not indifferent. Bucer replied, that he considered the use of the vestments to be lawful, and that a person offended who affirmed that to be unclean, which God had sanctified, and the civil magistrate prescribed-adding, that as they had been in some instances an occasion of superstition, in others of contention, it were better at some good opportunity wholly to take them away. Peter Martyr replied nearly to the same effect; that, though he would prefer abolishing the use of the vestments as more according to the simplicity of primitive worship, yet they were not objectionable as contrary to the word of God, and therefore might be used until the times would bear the removal of them-that they did not originate with the Pope, as before the usurpations of the Papal Church there were differences of garments in the Church-or even if they had so originated, that this was no valid objection to them-that, if they were simple and plain, they would not engross the admiration of the people in themselves, as Hooper suspected-that to the clean all things were clean-and that it was not necessary to have express authority of Scripture for what we do in holy things. Peter Martyr also takes notice, in his reply to Hooper, of his "unseasonable and too bitter sermons"-from whence it is inferred, that Hooper also was in the habit of declaiming against the vestments from the pulpit.
But as the conference with Ridley had not succeeded in satisfying the scruples of Hooper, so neither did the considerations urged by Bucer and Martyr, win him to compliance. This continued obstinacy excited the displeasure of the Council, and gentle expedients having been hitherto tried ineffectually, it was endeavoured to subdue his refractoriness by rigorous measures. He was now commanded by the Council to keep his house, unless it were to repair to the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the Bishops of Ely, London, or Lincoln, for counsel and satisfaction of his conscience; and neither to preach nor read until he had further license from the Council. But instead of obeying this command, he went out as before, and published also a book entitled, A Confession of his Faith, written in such a manner as to give still greater distaste to his proceedings. Nor did he abstain from indulging in public complaints against the King's Counsellors.
On January the 13th of the following year, the Court being then at Greenwich, he again appeared before the Council, (the Archbishop being present) when, for his disobedience to the former command of the Council, as well as for his continued resistance to the established ceremonial, he was committed to the Archbishop's custody, either to be reformed, or further punished, as his case might require.
The Archbishop then did his utmost endeavours to satisfy him *. But he continued as immoveable as ever. The Archbishop accordingly reported to the Council that he could bring him to no conformity, but that Hooper declared himself for a form of ordination different from
* Burnet says, that Craumer was inclined to concede the point, but that Ridley and Goodrick (Bishop of Ely) stood firm to the law.
that established by law. Upon this representation, it was determined by the Council, that Hooper should be committed to the Fleet.
To the Fleet then he was sent, with injunctions to the Warden of the prison to keep him from conference with all persons except the Ministers of the house; and here he continued until the month of March, when matters were in some sort compromised, as Burnet expresses it-Hooper consenting to be robed in the episcopal habits on particular occasions, such as his consecration, and on preaching before the King, or in his Cathedral, but being dispensed with at other times. Thus, when about ten months had elapsed from the time of his nomination to the bishopric, he was at last consecrated Bishop of Gloucester, March 8th, 1551.
The summer after his consecration, he went down to his diocese, and made a strict visitation of it-fortified with letters from the Council, in order to add to his authority, and consequently to his means of doing good, among an ignorant, stubborn, and superstitious people. First he sent a general monitory letter to his Clergy, signifying his intention of coming among them, and gravely advising them concerning the duties required of them in their holy office. When he came amongst them, he gave them articles of religion to the number of fifty, framed with a view to unity and agreement both in doctrine and ceremonies. Besides these articles, he gave them injunctions to the number of thirty-one, and twenty-seven interrogatories concerning their parishioners and their manner of life. There were also other articles which he gave for the examination of the Clergy, concerning the Ten Commandments, the Articles of Faith, and the petitions of the Lord's Prayer
Being naturally an active man, he devoted all his energies of mind and body to the spiritual improvement of his diocese. He preached often twice, sometimes thrice, or even four times, a day, labouring both to instruct the people and reform the Clergy. Nor were his labours confined to the diocese of Gloucester alone. For the see of Worcester becoming vacant in October this year, by the deprivation of Heath, who had held it since the resignation of Latimer-and requiring a vigilant and industrious Superintendent, it was given to Hooper, to hold in commendam. In July the year following, he visited this diocese also, which he found greatly disordered. But before he had finished his visitation, he was anxious to return to Gloucester, hearing unsatisfactory accounts of the behaviour of some of the Clergy there. He had left them the last year apparently very compliant with the measures of reformation, and took their subscription to the articles of religion.
* These questions sufficiently indicate the reigning ignorance of the Clergy. Some of them were-" How many commandments are there-Where are they written-Whether they can recite them by heart-Whether they can say the petitions of the Lord's Prayer by heart-How they know it to be the Lord's Prayer-Where it is written." "Which demands, (says Strype) how easy soever they were, many Curates and Priests (such was the ignorance of those days) could say but little to. Some could say the Pater Noster in Latin, but not in English; few could say the Ten Commandments; few could prove the Articles of Faith by Scripture; that was out of their way.'-Memorials of Cranmer, vol. i. p.312. 8vo.
But in his absence they returned to their former corruptions. He still, however, conceived good hopes of the laity, if they had only good Magistrates and faithful Ministers placed among them, and wrote to that effect to Secretary Cecil, signifying also his desire that the Articles of Religion (then recently prepared by Cranmer) were set forth. These he intended to submit to the Clergy for their subscription in public before their parishioners, as he found that private subscriptions were no valid restraints to them. During this visit to Gloucester, he appointed certain of his Clergy Superintendents, who in his absence were to have a constant eye over the inferior Clergy.
After the correction of these abuses which had interrupted his progress through his new diocese, he returned to Worcester and proceeded in his visitation there. As was not unusual in those times, he found the most active opposition from the Prebendaries of the cathedral. Two of these, Johnson and Jolliff, disapproving some of the doctrines asserted in the articles which Hooper himself had proposed, held a dispute with him and Harley, who was afterwards Bishop of Hereford, on the points to which they objected. And one of them behaved most insolently and disrespectfully to him and to Harley.-Harley was afterwards charged with a report of the whole visitation and of this dispute in particular, to the Secretary; and the Council, taking cognizance of the dispute, it was referred to Cheke and Harley to report on it, that farther order might be taken respecting it. Hooper thus laments the occasion of it, in writing to the Secretary. "Ah Mr. Secretary, that there were good men in the Cathedral Churches, God then should have much more honour than he hath, the King's Majesty more obedience, and the poor people better knowledge: but the realm wanteth light in such churches, whereas of right it ought most to be."
At the same time he executed at Worcester the King's Injunctions for the removal of superstition-but not without exciting great clamour against himself, as though he had spoiled the Church.
The visitation being finished, he still did not account his work complete; but again went over both his dioceses, to take account of his Clergy, how far they had profited since his last examination of them, and to oversee his Superintendents themselves, and distribute to them their share either of praise or censure. The pains and zeal which he bestowed, were not more feelingly than truly described, when, in his letters to the Secretary, he said: "There is none that eat their bread in the sweat of their face, but such as serve in public vocation. Yours is wonderful, but mine passeth.-Now I perceive that private labours be but plays, nor private troubles but ease and quietness." So prodigal, indeed, was he of his exertions, that his wife, in concern for his safety, wrote to Bullinger, praying, that he would write to her husband, and persuade him to take a little more care of himself.
His great activity naturally awakened strong animosity on the part of those who were hostile to the Reformation; and hence we may account for the circumstance of great complaint being made of his behaviour in his diocese,-" of his insatiable covetousness, and his daily vexing his poor tenants, and Clergy without cause But in reality
* Burnet has not given a just colouring to these scandals when he adds his own