Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

pheming God in lying sermons preached there; polluting the templé 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.)

[ocr errors]

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, nor put them to charge in calling them together. I beseech you, be not weary of well-doing; but with authority and counsel help to amend that is amiss. Thus, after commendation, I am bold boldly to write, wishing good to my country, and furtherance of God's glory. God be merciful to us, and grant ut libere currat evangelium ! Vale in Christo. Cras profecturus Dunelmum, volente Deo, Tuus “Ja. AvveXuey."

* i. e. John. Pope John XII. is the person who gave occasion to the proverb.

In the same year also he wrote his letter to the earl of Leicester, pleading for some indulgence on behalf of the refusers of the habits. The affinity between this letter, and the Epistola Consolatoria mentioned in Tanner's list, is explained in a note on p.658 of the present volume; and no further remark is necessary here, except to notice the apparently unwarrantable suspicion of Baker, that Pilkington was not the author of it ! “If,” says he in his MSS., “his letter to the earl of Leicester, written after he was bishop of Durham, were really his, a man would have as hard an opinion of him, as he seems there to have of the ceremonies.” But as it is, “quoted by the puritans,” he supposes it may have emanated from them: only, he adds, “so far we may suppose the charge to be true, that he was a favourer of the party; otherwise there could be no ground or pretence to fasten such letters upon him’.” Afterwards, in delineating his character, he speaks of him as “Papismi osor, in Puritanos pronior.” It is not an easy thing to form a correct and candid judgment of the conduct of exalted individuals in difficult circumstances. The remark especially applies to the state of things in the reign of Elizabeth.

Strype's Life of Parker, Book II. ch. 26.

* Pag. 163 of Baker's MS. History of St John's College, transcribed from his MSS. in the British Museum, and preserved in St John's College Library.

It is related by Fuller, that bishop Pilkington and his family narrowly escaped with their lives, in the northern rebellion of 1569; when the insurgents, having gained a temporary success, entered Durham, celebrated mass in the cathedral, and tore and trampled under foot the protestant Bible. He was peculiarly obnoxious to them, both as a protestant and a married prelate; and fled into the south, with his wife and infant daughters, who, according to the same authority, were obliged to assume the disguise of beggars' clothes. A wretched, but faithful picture of the country at the close of this insurrection, is given in a letter of the bishop's to Sir William Cecil:

“Jesus help. Right honorable. According to yor L. apointment, I have sent mie manne to know bi your gudd meanes the Q. Ma” pleasure, for mie reparing homeward. Now mie L. Sussex is comen, I trust some gudd order shall be taken for the cuntre; if mie presence might doe anie gudd, I wold attend as yor wisdom shall think mete or apoint me. The cuntre is in grete miserie; and as the Shireff writes, he can not doe justice bi ani number off juries, off suche as be untouched in this rebellion, unto thei auther quited by law or pardoned bi the Q. Ma". The number of offendors is so grete, that few innocent are left to trie the giltie: and if the forfeted landes be bestowed on such as be straungers, and will not dwell in the cuntre, the peple shall be withoute heades, the cuntre desert, and no number off freeholders to doe justice bi juries, nor service in the warres. What cumfort it is to goe now into that cuntre, for him that wold live quietlie, yor wisdom can easilie judge. Butt God is present ever with his peple, and his vocation is not rasshly to be forsaken, nor his assistance to be dowted on. His gudd will be done. And if I goe downe in displeasure, my presence shall doe more harme than gudd. The Lord grant you his spirit of wisdoul to provide peace for this afflicted realme ! 4 Januarii.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

“To the R' Honorable Sir Wo Cecyll Knt., Cheef Secretarie to our Soveraigne Ladie the Quene's Majestie.”

The immense forfeitures of the leaders in this rebellion reverted, of right, to the bishop, as prince Palatine within his diocese: but the queen seized them without much regard to his pretensions. Upon his suing her majesty for restitution, the parliament interfered, and passed an act vesting them pro hac vice in the crown.

The popish party were unceasing in their machinations to undermine the protestant establishment in England; and in the university of Louvain, to which many English had retired for the prosecution of their studies, principles were instilled into their minds directly tending to this end. Certain conclusions there maintained, which declared it to be “unlawful for the civil magistrate to have anything to do in ecclesiastical matters,” having about this time been brought to the knowledge of bishop Pilkington, he transmitted them at once to the secretary of state, Sir William Cecil, adding his own judgment of them as follows: “I have sent your honour such conclusions as be disputed at Lovain, and sent over hither. Wise men do marvel, that polity can suffer such seed of sedition. Although for trial of the doctrine it were not amiss to hear the adversary, what he can say; yet that doctrine being received, and the contrary suffered to be spread abroad, to the troubling of the state, in my opinion is dangerous. God turn all to the best! But surely evil

« PoprzedniaDalej »