that the rest under him might be freer to attend quietly their spiritual businesses.

“Touching the Bishop, as his place and estate was higher, so (was] likewise the proportion of his charges about himself : [they] being for that cause, in all equity and reason, greater. Yet forasmuch as his stint herein was no other than it pleased himself to set, the rest [of the clergy] (as the manner of inferiors is, to think that they which are over them have always too much,) grudged many times at the measure of the Bishop's private expense; perhaps not without cause. Howsoever (that might be,] by this occasion, there grew amongst them great heart burning, quarrel, and strife. Wheresoever the Bishops were found culpable, as eating too much beyond their tether, and drawing more to their own private maintenance than the proportion of Christ's patrimony, being not greatly abundant, could bear; sundry constitutions (of councils] hereupon were made to moderate the same, according to the Church's condition, (or revenue,] in those times.

“Of contentions about these matters there was no end, neither appeared there any possible way for quietness, otherwise than by making partition of the Church revenues, according to the several ends and uses for which they did serve; so that the Bishop's part might be certain for fixed.] Such partition being agreed upon, and made, and the whole yearly rents and revenues of the Church divided into four equal parts or quarters :

“ 1. The Bishop was allotted one part, and enjoyed his portion several (or separate) to himself; 2. the rest of the clergy another; 3. a third was severed (or set aside] to the furnishing and upholding the Church (or place of public worship;] 4. and a fourth to the erection and maintenance of (alms] houses, wherein the poor might have relief*.

This ancient division of the revenues of the Church, for sacred uses, was founded in consummate wisdom and policy. One quarter was allotted to the Bishop, in order to enable him the better to support his rank, and to exercise hospitality; for it was usual for the Bishop to keep a public table, at which a certain number of the dignitaries and most respectable of the clergy lived or commoned with him, such as the Dean and Chapter, whose prebendal houses, therefore, were usually built near the Bishop's palace and the Cathedral, in the collegiate style.

This proportion was also warranted by the revenues of the High Priest under THE LAW. To him was allotted the tenth or tythe of all the Priests' and Levites' tythes, offerings, and incomes, consisting of the choice or best part thereof. And Phineas, the High Priest, had, moreover, lands allotted to him by the state, in Mount Ephraim, for his public services in the Moabite idolatry, &c. Numb. xxv. 11 ; Josh. xxiv. 33. See

“ After this separation (was] made, lands and livings began to be dedicated every day unto each use severally, by means

the foregoing articles of the Priest's maintenance, Vol. II. p. 243, and division of lands, VOL II. p. 267, &c. We are, therefore, warranted to reckon that the High Priest's revelde was a fourth part at least of what all the Priests and Levites together enjoyed, whose rumber was large in proportion to the extent of the Holy Land, 22000 in the time of Moses, Numb. iii. 34 ; iv. 3, and 30000 in the time of David, 1 Chron. xxiii. 3. Hooker rates it too low, at a seventh or eighth part, p. 379, for he did not take into account the landed property of the High Priest. And if we consider that the clergy, in the infancy of the Church, were not near so numerous in proportion as afterwards, we must alow that the Jewish hierarchy and clergy were amply and liberally maintained, and the Christian, even at first, not deficiently.

The other half of the ecclesiastical revenue, was divided between the building and repairs of churches and alms houses; and the support of the honest and industrious poor, wben unable to work, 2 Thess. iii. 10.

Much as we are bound to praise and extol the blessed REFORMATION, which emanci. pated our forefathers from the spiritual tyranny of papal despotism, to the glorious liberty of the Gospel, we cannot too deeply lament and deplore that iniquitous and sacrilegious Agadiation of Church property that accompanied it; and the lay impropriations, so profusely and unwisely granted at the suppression of the monasteries and religious orders, and the nom turation of their revenues, both in lands and tythes. These ought to have been religrusly restored to sacred uses, as the patrimony of Christ ; and the present generation has to rue the impolicy of the misapplication. The poor rates, which are now so grievous a burden upon the industry of the community, were created thereby; for before the suppression they did not exist, they were unnecessary; and it is now, indeed, difficult for the curtailed revenues of the Church even to keep in repair those splendid churches and cathedrals formerly built out of the sacred funds, much less to build new churches for the encreased population of the land. The consequences of this inability are truly a.turtous already, and threaten still greater evils.

Not was the warning voice of the first and greatest luminaries of the Reformation, and Ermest pillars and bulwarks of the Church of England, wanting to deprecate and expose the evil tendency of these abuses.

1. The learned Bishop Jewel, whose Apology for the Church of England is so deservedly admired by the soundest divines, in one of his sermons, preached before Q. Einzabeth, (who, it is well known, gave at first but too much encouragement thereto,) had the boldness to notice these abuses, and to foretel their fatal consequences.

* la other countries, (said he,) the receiving of the Gospel hath always been the ause that LEARNING was more set by; and learning hath ever been THE FURTHERANCE OF THE GOSPEL: in England, I know not how, it cometh otherwise to pass, for since THE GOSPEL hath been received, the maintenance of LEARNING hath been decayed; and the lack of LEARNING will be the decay of the Gospel.” _“You," said he, ad. dressing himself to her rapacious courtiers and favourites, “ you enriched them which marked, and blinded, and devoured you! Spoil not them now that feed, and instruct, and myfurt you!"

1 The intelligent Ilooker reckoned that what had been taken in his time, from the (turth, in lay appropriations, was known to amount to one hundred and twenty thouased grounds yearly. We rest,” says he, "contentedly and quietly without it, till it

please God to touch the hearts of men, of their own voluntary accord, to restore it Him again." -"What hath been taken away, as dedicated unto uses superstitoe, and consequently, not given to God, or at the leastwise not so rightly given, we

whereof every one of them became in a short time much greater than they had been for worldly maintenance; the fervent devo

repine not thereat: that which hath gone, by means secret and indirect, through corrupt compositions or compacts, we cannot help: what the hardness of men's hearts doth make them loth to have exacted, though being due by law, even thereof the want we do also bear.- All that we have to sustain our miserable life with is but a remnant of God's own treasure; so far already diminished and clipt, that if there were any sense of common humanity left in this hard-hearted world, the impoverished estate of the clergy of God would, at the length, even of very commiseration, be spared !” p. 389.

“ Surely, wheresoever this wicked intendt ment of overthrowing cathedral churches, or of taking away those livings, lands, and possessions which Bishops hitherto have enjoyed, shall once prevail, the bandmaids attending thereupon will be paganism and eatreme barbarity (or barbarism,"] p. 387. And he thus remarkably predicted the ensuing Grand Rebel lion *.

“We have just cause exceedingly to fear, that those miserable times of confusion are drawing on, wherein' the people shall be oppressed one of another,' (Isa. iii. 5,) inasmuch as already, that which prepareth the way thereunto, is come to pass : 'Children presume against the ancient, and the vile against the honourable,' (Isa. iii. 5.) Prelacy, the temperature of excesses in all estates, the glew and soder of the public wealth, the ligament which tieth and connecteth the limbs of this body politic together, hath instead of deserved honour, all extremity of disgrace : the foolish every where plead, that unto the wise in heart they owe neither service, subjection, nor honour," p. 373.

Bishop Jewel died A.D. 1571, and Hooker A.D. 1600.

3. The chief stay and support of the tottering Church at that time, under God, was Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury; who devoutly consecrated both his whole life to God, and his painful labours to the good of the Church, in the language of Cambden. He was in great favour with Queen Elizabeth, and induced her to put a stop to the breach that had been already made in the lands and immunities of the Church, and to maintain, with more care than she had done before, its remaining rights. Her prime favourite, the earl of Leicester, having abused his power, as one of the trustees of an act designed for the better preservation of Church lands, by preventing their alienation, the Archbishop withstood him openly to his face, before the Queen; and they both quitted the room, not friends in appearance. But Whitgift made a sudden and seasonable return to her Majesty, whom he found alone, and addressed her with great humility and reverence indeed, but with the spirit and frankness of an Apostle, in the following


“I beseech your Majesty to hear me with patience, and to believe that yours and the Churches safety are dearer to nie than my life, but my consc'ence dearer than both; and therefore, give me leave to do my duty, and tell you, that princes are deputed nursing fathers of the Church, and owe it a protection : and therefore, God forbid, that you should be so much as passive in her ruins, when you may prevent it; or that I should behold it, without horror and detestation ; or should forbear to tell your Majesty of the sin and danger. And though you and myself are born in an age of frailties, when the primitive piety and care of the Church lands and immunities are much decayed, yet, Ma

• How highly Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity was admired by Charles I. appears from his advice to his children, a few days before he suffered, to read it diligently, even next to the Bible, as an excellent means to settle them in the truth of religion, and in the peace of the Church.

tion of men being glad that this new opportunity was given them of shewing zeal to the house of God in more certain order."

dam, let me beg that you will but first consider, and then you will believe, there are such sins as profaneness and sacrilege ; for if there were not, they could not have names in Holy Writ, and particularly in the New TestamENT.

" And I beseech you to consider, that though our Saviour said, He judged no man, and to testify it, would not judge nor divide the inheritance betwixt the two brethren, nor would judge the woman taken in adultery, yet in this point of the Churches rights, he was so zealous, that he made himself both the accuser and the judge, and the executioner to punish these sins, witnessed, in that He himself made the whip to drive the profaners out of the Temple, overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and drove them out of it. And consider, that it was St. Paul that said to these Christians of his time, that were offended at idolatry, 'yet thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege ?' supposing, I think, sacrilege to be the greater sin : this may occasion your Majesty to consider, that there is such a sin as sacrilege. And to incline you to prevent the curse that will follow it, I beseech you also to consider, that Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, and Helena, his mother, that King Edgar, and Edward the Confessor, and indeed, many others of your predecessors, and many private Christians, have also given to God and kis Church much land, and many immunities, which they might have given to those of their own families, and did not, but gave them as an absolute right and sacrifice to GOD; and with these immunities and lands, they have entailed a curse upon the alienators of them; God prevent your Majesty from being liable to that curse.

“ And to make you that are trusted with their preservation, the better to understand the danger of it, I beseech you forget not, that besides these curses, the Church land and power have been also endeavoured to be preserved, (as far as human reason, and the law of this nation have been able to preserve them,) by an immediate and most sacred obli. gation on the consciences of the princes of this realm. For they that consult Magna Charta shall find, that as all your predecessors, at their coronation, so you also, were sworn before all the Nobility and Bishops, then present, and in the presence of God, and in his stead, to him that anointed you, to maintain the Church lands, and the rights belonging to it; and this, testified openly at the Holy Altar, by laying your hand upon THE BIBLE, then lying upon it. And not only Magna Charta, but many modern statutes have denounced a curse upon those that break Magna Charta. And now what account can be given for the breach of this oath at the last great day, either by your Majesty or by me, if it be wilfully or but negligently violated, I know not.

“ And therefore, good Madam, let not the late Lord (Leicester's) exceptions against the failings of some few Clergymen, prevail with you to punish posterity for the errors of this present age : let particular men suffer for their particular errors, but let God and His Church have their rights. And though I pretend not to prophecy, yet I beg posterity to take notice of what is already become visible in many families; That Church land, added to an ancient inheritance, hath proved like a moth fretting a garment, and secretly consumed both! or like the eagle that stole a coal from the altar, and thereby set her nest on fire, which consumed both her young eagles, and herself that stole it. And though I shall forbear to speak reproachfully of your father, (Henry VIII.) yet I beg you to take notice, that a part of the Churches rights, added to the vast treasure left him by his Father, hath been conceived to bring an unavoidable consumption upon both, notwithstanding all his diligence to preserve it.

“And consider, that after the violation of those laws to which he had sworn in Magna


The foregoing complaints of the primitive Fathers, shew how soon these “tares" sprung up in the Church of CHRIST; at

Charta, God did so far deny him His restraining grace, that he fell into greater sins than I am willing to mention.

Madam, Religion is the foundation and cement of human societies, and when they that serve at God's altar shall be exposed to poverty, then Religion itself will be exposed to scorn, and become contemptible ; as you may already observe in too many poor vicarages in this nation. And therefore, as you are by a late act, or acts (of Parliament,] entrusted with a great power to preserve, or [to] waste the Churches lands, yet dispose of them, for Jesus's sake, as the donors intended. Let neither falsehood nor flattery beguile you to do otherwise, and put a stop, I beseech you, to the approaching ruin of God's Church, as you expect comfort at the last great day; for Kings must be judged.

“Pardon this affectionate plainness, my most dear Sovereign, and let me beg to be still continued in your favour, and the LORD continue you in His."

This animated speech, (impossible to be abridged,) to which the Queen listened patiently, produced its full effect; and her future care to preserve the Church's rights, which till then had been neglected, proved that it sunk deep into her heart. Notwithstanding all the flowings and ebbings of her favour towards his opposers, (and the latter especially, to the Earl of Leicester,) he still maintained a uniform ascendancy in her esteem, for his piety, and in her councils for his wisdom, during twenty years, in those dangerous and unsettled times, in which he had to cope with the most powerful and active enemies of the Church, both open and concealed, the Nonconformists and the Courtiers. And he made good his motto,

Vincit qui patitur. See Walton's Life of Hooker, p. 9, 10. Whitgift died A.D. 1604, two years after his royal mistress.

4. To these curious, valuable, and interesting testimonies of the eye-witnesses, we cannot refrain from adding the awakening testimony of the pious and sagacious, but cautious Mede, who died in A.D. 1638, ten years before bis royal master, Charles I.

Alluding to the foregoing spoliation of Church property, he says, “ Moreover there is a sin of which the whole body of the reformation is notoriously guilty, which nevertheless is accounted no sin ; and yet such an one, as I know not whether God ever passed by, without some visible and remarkable judgment. This seems to call for a scourge before Antichrist shall go down, and that may be, as far as I know, this feared clades testium, [“ slaughter of the witnesses,” foretold Rev. xi. 7,] I will not name it, because it is invidious ; and I am not willing to say so much for the probability thereof, in this case, as perhaps I could,” p. 760.

But he speaks of it elsewhere thus more unreservedly, in his Latin writings, “Who knows whether the reformed Church may not suffer for the insult offered to Christ in this respect, by the temporary suppression of the witnesses : because they held them not in due honour, as His ambassadors, while they enjoyed the benefit of their testimony? It is too notorious, how much the reformed Churches have offended in this way: for while Christ's Prophets strenuously applied themselves to purge the temple of God, others, meantime, the robbers, by plundering its treasures, and alienating its oblations, fixed an indelible stain upon that most holy work, to the great disgrace of true religion ;

« VorigeDoorgaan »