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Upon the death of queen Mary, in 1558, the exiles made preparation for returning home. Pilkington was then at Frankfort; and when the letter from the English church at Geneva was received there, exhorting to “unanimity in teaching and practising the knowledge of God's word” upon arriving in their own country, he was the first to sign on behalf of the church at Frankfort, and therefore probably was himself the writer of, the “peaceable letter” sent in reply, which is certainly marked by great wisdom and moderation ; the general purport of which was, that the appointment of ceremonies would rest not with themselves, but with persons duly authorised ; that they would “submit to such orders as should be established by authority, being not of themselves wicked;" that the reformed churches might differ in ceremonies, so that they agreed in the chief points of religion; and lastly, that in case of the intrusion of any that were offensive, they would“ brotherly join to be suitors” for their reformation or abolition?
On his return to England, he was associated with Bill, Parker, Grindal, Cox, Guest, Whitehead, and May, as commissioners to revise the Book of Common Prayer; being appointed to that office by a proclamation issued in December, 1558, and the work was completed in April of the following year. In this year, 1559, he was appointed also one of the commissioners for visiting Cambridge, to receive from the heads of houses and others their oath of allegiance to the queen and of her supremacy. By this visitation all ordinary jurisdiction in the university was suspended; and on the 20th of July he was admitted Master of St John's College and Regius Professor of Divinity: whether by the act,” or only “with
printed ; nor are they mentioned in the Catalogue of English printed books, 1595, by Maunsell, where the expositions of Aggeus, Abdias, and Nehemiah, printed in this collection, are noticed. . See Strype, Annals, 1. i. p. 263. 8vo.
the consent” of the visitors, and whether their extraordinary powers superseded the regular modes of election, does not appear. Fuller says, and perhaps correctly, that “Bullock, the (popish) Master of St John's, was put out, and Pilkington put in” by the commissioners. It is certain however, that he was greatly esteemed in those high offices, as a man of deep learning and great piety, and one of the revivers of Greek literature in the university, being associated with Sir John Cheke and others in settling the pronunciation of that language. In 1560, at the solemn commemoration of Martin Bucer and Paulus Fagius, held at Cambridge, to obliterate the indignities offered to their remains by the commissioners of Cardinal Pole in the reign of Mary, he pronounced the funeral oration on those esteemed reformers, an outline of which is preserved in the appendix to the Scripta Anglicana Martini Buceri, and in Foxe's Acts and Monuments, and which forms the seventh article in the present volume.
In the same year he published his Exposition of the Prophecy of Haggai, of which Strype says, “ It came forth seasonably, and on purpose to stir up well-minded people, to go forward with the reformation of religion vigorously; for it was perceived there was too much coldness in the matter among those that were chiefly employed about it'.” A second edition of it was published in 1562, which was accompanied with an exposition of Obadiah, written on the same plan and with the same object.
About this time he married Alicia, daughter of Sir John Kingsmill ; and at first, it is thought, from the prejudices of the time against married clergy, concealed the connexion : a supposition which is strengthened by, if not altogether founded on, an expression in his will, in which he mentions his wife as “ Alice Kingsmill, my now known wife.”
Strype, Annals, 1. i. p. 343. 8vo.
At the close of the same year (1560), he was nominated, at the age of forty, to the See of Durham, of which he was the first protestant bishop. He had the royal assent on the 20th of February; was consecrated on the 2nd of March ; received part of the temporalities on the 25th ; and was enthroned in the cathedral on the 10th of April. Afterwards, in the year 1565, he succeeded in obtaining the restitution of all the lands belonging to the bishoprick, except Norhamshire; not however without the hard condition of paying to the crown an annual pension of £1020.
He did not resign the mastership of St John's College till the following October (1561), and was then succeeded in it, as well as in his professorship, by his brother, Leonard Pilkington, B.D. who however did not long retain it, being presented by the bishop in 1563 to the valuable rectory of Whitburn. About the same time another brother, John, was made Archdeacon, being already a Prebendary; and in 1565 the bishop collated his youngest clerical brother, Laurence, to the vicarage of Norham.
On the 8th of June, 1561, he preached a memorable sermon at St Paul's cross, on the destruction of St Paul's Cathedral by lightning ; in which he exhorted the people to “ take the dreadful devastation of the church to be a warning of a greater plague to follow, if amendment of life were not had in all estates.” In this sermon he denounced certain abuses of the church, and the conversion of the building to purposes unbecoming a place set apart for God's worship. His observations called forth an angry reply, in the form of “ An Addition to the causes” which the bishop had assigned for the calamity; the purport of which was to attribute the burning of the cathedral to very different causes, namely, “ that the old fathers and the old ways were left, together with blas
• Strype says, “ aged 45,” but this is a mistake. Annals, 1. i. p. 230, 308.
pheming God in lying sermons preached there; polluting the temple with schismatical service, and destroying and pulling down altars set up by blessed men, and where the sacrifice of the mass was ministered?.” In answer to this bishop Pilkington wrote the “Confutation of an Addition with an Apology, &c.” which was published in 1563. In his former writings he had laboured earnestly to promote the work of the Reformation, and had only meddled incidentally with the weapons of controversy: but now, being fairly challenged into the field, he did not shrink from manfully and vigorously grappling with the whole subject at issue between the two churches. In this encounter he shews himself thoroughly acquainted with all the sophistries and “strong delusions” and “lying wonders” of popery: he pursues the enemy into his strong holds, and lays open to the light of day the system which with such high pretensions had so long tyrannized over the conscience, and insulted the understanding, of mankind. A morbid delicacy, or a false liberality which refuses to believe that there is any great evil in popery, will doubtless complain of the author's unsparing exposure of its system, and the occasional coarseness of his invective against it; but considerable allowance must surely be made for one writing at that time and under those circumstances, when the champions of the truth were standing on the field of battle, and yet panting from the conflict of life and death. The occasion required energy and determination to overthrow the adversary, rather than the “ soft answer to turn away his wrath.” The bishop's own apology for some broad statements in his “Confutation” bears indirectly upon this point, and is entitled to every consideration : “ I would not have blotted so much paper with so much wickedness, nor filled your ears and eyes with so much filthiness, but that he provoked me to it, and calls that good which is evil, and light darkness.” (p. 591.)
1 Strype, Annals, 1. i. p. 390, &c.
A letter written by him in 1564 to Parker, archbishop of Canterbury, is preserved; which, as it shews his care and anxiety for the improvement of his diocese, and is illustrative of his character, may be not improperly introduced here. The immediate object of the letter was to recommend an individual, named Gargrave or Hargrave, for the vicarage of Rochdale ; and having spoken highly of his qualifications and urged the importance of the appointment, he proceeds to complain of the general negligence and relaxed morals of the clergy in the north :
"It is to be lamented,” he says, “to see how negligently they say any service, and how seldom. I have heard of a commission for ecclesaistical matters, directed to my lord of York; but because I know not the truth of it, I meddle not. Your cures, all except Rochdale, be as far out of order, as the worst in all the country. The old vicar of Blackburne resigned for a pension, and now liveth with Sir John Biron. Whalley hath as ill a vicar as the worst; and there is one come thither, that hath been deprived or changed his name, and now teacheth school there, of evil to make them worse. If your grace's officers lust, they might amend many things. I speak this for the amendment of the country ; and that your grace's parishes might be better spoken of and ordered. If your grace would, either yourself, or by my lord of York, amend those things, it were very easy. One little examination or commandment to the contrary would take away all these and more. The bishop of Man liveth here at ease, and as merry as Pope Joan”. The bishop of Chester hath compounded with my lord of York for his visitation, and gathereth up the money by his servants; but never a word spoken of any visitation or reformation: and that he saith he doth of friendship, because he will not trouble the country,
? i. e. John. Pope John XII. is the person who gave occasion to the proverb.