Imágenes de páginas

Latimer exclaimed, “ Be of good comfort Master Ridley, and play the man ; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in Enggland, as, I trust, shall never be put out!" Having commended his soul into the hands of the Redeemer, he endured the fire with a holy serenity and fortitude of mind, and his sufferings were speedily terminated. Thus, being offered up on the altar of the gospel, as a freewill offering, his soul ascended as in a fiery chariot, while the body was

a consumed and refined. Such a character as Latimer does not appear in every age.

The natural fortitude and courage with which he was endowed, when sanctified and elevated by the spirit of the gospel, rendered him a noble champion for the truth,—the British Luther. His talents as a preacher were peculiarly adapted to the day in which he lived; pungent, clear, lively, and evangelical, he arrested the attention, commanded the respect, and awed the conscience of his hearers, and at all times appeared to aim to save himself and them that heard him. No considerations of personal vanity, or of the dignity of his auditory, prevented him from speaking with godly simplicity, or from commending himself to every man's conscience, in the sight of God. No man had more powerfully felt the truth both to convince and to relieve the conscience, and he spake from the heart, without being in. fluenced by the fear of man. No monumental pillar points to the spot where his mortal remains repose in quiet slumber till the resurrection morning, but a memorial more durable than marble records his worth and the exploits of his faith; and the decisive day will prove that the precious dust, which was consumed on his funeral pile, and carried up in clouds of sacred perfume, was the care of him who had said, “he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” “I will raise him up at the last day.” A collection of his sermons, printed in 1570, and since frequently republished, remains only of his literary works.

Bishop Ridley.

DIED A. D. 1555.

Nicholas RIDLEY was born in the early part of the 16th century, at Willymondswick in Northumberland. Having passed through the grammar-school at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, he was entered of Pembroke hall, Cambridge, about the year 1518. On finishing his ecclesiastical studies here, he went to the Sorbonne at Paris, then the most celebrated school in Europe, and afterwards spent some time at Louvain. On his return to Cambridge, he was chosen senior proctor of the university; and in 1534, he took the degree of bachelor in divinity, and was chosen public preacher. The reputation which he acquired in the latter office procured for him the patronage of Cranmer, who appointed him one of his chaplains, and soon after collated him to the vicarage of Herne in Kent. In the latter situation be bore his testimony in the pulpit against the six articles, and instructed his charge in the pure doctrines of the gospel as far as they were yet discovered to him ; but transubstantiation continued to form an article of his creed, until his faith ou this point was shaken by the various writings which the con

[ocr errors]

cinental divines had published on the sacramental controversy, and finally overturned by the perusal of a sinall treatise by Ratramnus or Bertram, a monk of Corbey, written at the request of Charles the Bald, about the year 840, and republished at Cologne in 1532. In the close of the year 1545, Cranmer presented his friend with a stall in St Peter's, Westminster; and soon after the accession of Edward VI., he was presented by his majesty to the living of Soham, in the diocese of Norwich.

On the 4th of September, 1547, he was promoted to the bishopric of Rochester. Next year he appears to have been employed in compiling the book of common prayer in conjunction with Cranmer. On the deprivation of Bonner, Ridley was appointed bishop of London. His conduct to the deprived prelate and his family, on this occasion, was exceedingly urbane, and highly honourable to his integrity and benevolence. Soon after his promotion to the see of London, we find him again associated with Cranmer in promoting the doctrinal reformation of the church, by preparing the book of articles of faith which was afterwards published by royal authority.

Upon the accession of Mary, Ridley was sent to the Tower, and after eight months' imprisonment, was taken to Oxford, where, on the Ist of October, 1555, he was condemned for heresy. He conducted himself with great firmness before his judges, and resisted all attempts to extort a recantation from him. He suffered death on the same day with his friend Latimer, and met his fate, if it were possible, with even more firmness and triumph than his companion. Anthony Wood says of Bishop Ridley, that he was

a person of small stature, but great in learning, and profound in divinity." He wrote several treatises, amongst which are, • A treatise concerning Images not to be set up nor worshipped in Churches ;' • A brief declaration of the Lord's Supper;' ' A comparison between the comfortable doctrine of the Gospel, and the Traditions of Popish Religion ;' Injunctions to his Diocese;' and · A Letter of Reconciliation to Bishop Hooper.' His life has been written by his relative, Dr Gloster Ridley.

[ocr errors]

Bishop Hooper.

BORN A. D. 1495.-DIED A, D. 1555.

John Hooper, a prelate of the church of England, and martyr in the cause of protestantism, was born in Somersetshire, in or about the year 1495. He received his education at the university of Oxford, where it is believed he was entered of Merton college, and took his first degree in the year 1518. After his college course was completed he entered into a society of White friars, called Cistercians, but continued only a few years connected with this fraternity. It is highly probable that an insight into their manners and principles disgusted him, and determined his secession from them. He now returned to the university, and about this period the works of the German reformers were beginning to be privately introduced at the English universities. These he procured and eagerly read. They induced a thirst for the sacred Scriptures, and by the perusal of both, he soon became in heart



a protestant. After he had once cordially embraced the principles of protestantism he found it necessary to confess them, and this of course drew upon him the jealousy of the popish party. When the statute of the six articles, as it was called, was ordered to be enforced upon the members of the university, he soon perceived that the attempt to maintain his standing was hopeless, and that it would be the wiser part to withdraw before the storm overtook him. He found an asylum in the house of Sir Thomas Arundel as his steward and chaplain. But here he was not long safe from the cruel vigilance of his enemies. He, however, again foresaw the deadly nature of the storm that was gathering, and betook himself to flight. But not finding the reformers of France quite to his mind, after a short time he returned to England, and lived with a gentleman of the name of Saintlow. Before he had been long in this retreat, his enemies again discovered him, and were taking steps to have him apprehended, when he narrowly escaped their hands again by assuming the character of a sailor, and as master of a small vessel bound to Ireland, made good his escape.

From Ireland he passed over to France, and thence into Switzerland. There he met with a joyful welcome from the principal reformers, among whom were Bulinger and Zuingle. During his residence in Switzerland, he applied himself closely to the study of the Hebrew language and the Scriptures. Here also he married a lady, a native of Burgundy. At this period an important question greatly agitated the protestants of Germany and Switzerland. It arose out of the enforcement of a system called the Interim, which was a sort of modified and chastened popery which Charles V. was determined to have enforced upon the members of both protestant and popish communions. This measure made extensive inroads upon the advancing protestantism of the continent, as many found it an excuse for complying, and thereby avoiding the terrors of persecution. Melancthon was at the head of the conformists, and he was followed by many of the Lutherans. At Zurich, where Hooper dwelt, this subject was taken up with much zeal. The reformers there were decidedly opposed to the Interim, and zealously protested against all conformity to the old popish rites. In these sentiments Hooper fully concurred. Upon the death of Henry VIII., Hooper returned into England, and was actively employed in preaching and explaining the Scriptures, principally in London. He became exceedingly popular, and was engaged in preaching every day in the week. The churches were crowded to hear him, and his fame soon introduced him to court. He was then commissioned to preach the doctrines of the Reformation through Kent and Essex, and endeavour to reconcile the people to the reformed church. He next appeared as the accuser of the persecuting Bonner, when measures were taken to deprive him of his bishopric, but who subsequently found an opportunity of taking cruel and ample revenge.

Such was the advancing fame and influence of Hooper, that, in 1550, he was appointed bishop of Gloucester. But he refused the office on account of the objections which he had to the form of the oath of supremacy, which he calls foul and impious, and because of the garments which he denounced as popish. The oath required him to swear by the saints, which he denominated impious. The young king was so convinced of the justness of Hooper's objection, that he struck out the words with his own pen, but the habits were not to be so easily laid aside. The king and council were willing to have them dispensed with in the ordination of Hooper, but Ridley and Cranmer were sticklers for their enforcement. Ridley was deputed to confer with him, and bring him to a compliance; but failing in the attempt, the archbishop next undertook the task. But neither could Cranmer succeed with this resolute nonconformist. The unprotestant protestant prelates next proceeded to try the argument of imprisonment, and Hooper was sent to the Fleet. Having remained in prison several months, the matter was compromised, and he was consecrated. He consented to wear the vestments at the consecration, when he preached before the king, and when he appeared in his own cathedral, but was allowed to lay them aside on all other occasions."

After the consecration, Hooper was appointed to preach before the king, when, for the first time, he made his appearance in his canonical habits: he then hastened to his diocese, where he set himself to the discharge of its duties with exemplary and primitive zeal. His preaching attracted vast crowds who were greatly instructed by his labours. In this branch of his duty he was incessant and unwearied. He usually preached twice, and often three times a day. His life was in all respects a pattern of his instructions, and a living sermon louder and more impressive than his discourses. His charity was liberal and generous in the highest degree, and greatly recommended the Gospel which he taught. On the deprivation of Heath, bishop of Worcester, which occurred in 1552, Hooper was presented with that see in commendam with Gloucester. This enlargement of his sphere of duty greatly extended his usefulness, and induced him to the most zealous and laborious exertions, often beyond his strength. The period of his happy labours was, however, soon cut short by the succession of Mary to the throne. The year after his induction to Worcester, the queen sent a messenger to bring him up to London, to answer the charges which were laid against him by Heath the deprived bishop, and by Bonner, who alleged that he had falsely accused him in the late reign. Upon his appearance before the council, he was first charged with detaining from the queen certain sums of money which were due to her. Upon these pretences he was first ordered to be committed to the Fleet. These charges were however speedily abandoned, and the more serious one of heresy substituted in their place. In the prison he was kept eighteen months, being constantly harassed by the most wanton cruelty, and exposed to the grossest impositions. During this imprisonment he was cited frequently before the council, when the charge of heresy was urged against him, enforced by the most savage threatenings and revilings. He was called upon again and again to recant. His defection from protestantism was looked upon as a most desirable and important object on account of the extensive influence it would have upon the


[ocr errors]

1 It is a curious fact, that the history of this cruel treatment of Hooper by his brother protestants, which is given by Fox in the Latin edition of the Acts and Monuments, is omitted in all the English editions; it is as follows:-“ Thus ended this theological quare rel in the victory of the bishops, Hooper being forced to recant; or 10 say the least

, being constrained to appear once in public, attired after the manner of the otiler bishops; which, unless he had done, there are those who think the bishops would have endeavoure ed to take away his life; for his servant told me, the duke of Sutfolk sent such word to Hooper, who was not himself ignorant of what they were doing.”

people, but he continued invincible. Finding that he adhered most rigidly and courageously to his principles, they condemned him to be degraded from his episcopal and ecclesiastical functions, and then delivered over to the secular power to be dealt with as a traitorous and disobedient subject of the realm. Under this sentence he was removed from the Fleet to Newgate, where he was placed more directly under the influence of Bonner and his chaplains. Every means was essayed which hope or fear could supply, or which threats and promises could enforce. Riches and honours were at his command if he would recant, but tortures and ignominy and death must be his lot if he persisted in his heresy. But still finding that every effort was powerless, and that his conscience was neither to be bribed nor scared, they resolved at least to avail themselves and their cause of the influence of his name and popularity. They pretended that he had recanted, and in order to destroy the cause of protestantism and counteract the influence of his name and example, gave the utmost publicity to this foul and infamous slander. But it was soon announced to Hooper, that such a report was industriously circulated, and he accordingly took the bold step of writing to his friends, to assure them and the public, that he was unaltered in his principles, and indeed more than ever attached to the protestant faith. The popish bishops, Gardiner and Bonner, were so stung by this spirited exposure of their falsehood and artifice, that they instantly determined upon visiting him with the ultimate degree of their cruelty and wrath. They found that Hooper was never to be won again to the abjured doctrines of Rome, and that so long as he survived, there would exist a formidable impediment to their schemes both of secular and ecclesiastical ambition. Bonner therefore, whose promptitude in all acts of cruelty and oppression bas entitled him to an execrable pre-eminence among persecutors, hearing of the denial that Hooper had sent abroad, of any such recantation as the bishops had published, went immediately to Newgate, and there went through the solemn farce of degrading and depriving him of his orders as a priest, for already he had been discarded as a bishop. The very next day he was ordered to be sent under care of a troop of horse to Gloucester. Here he was to be brought to the stake under circumstances which, as they imagined, would most deeply afflict him, and afford the bitterest anguish to his numerous and attached flock in the city and its neighbourhood. On his arrival at Gloucester, the whole city assembled to show him respect and weep over his fate. Sir Anthony Kingston implored him to save himself, and consider the possible usefulness of future life-saying, “Life is sweet and death is bitter; therefore, seeing life may be had, desire to live, for life hereafter may do good.” But the good bishop replied, “Indeed I am come here to end this life, and to suffer death, because I will not gainsay the former truth that I have taught in this diocese and elsewhere. I do not so much regard this death, nor esteem this life; but have settled myself, through the strength of God's holy Spirit, patiently to pass through the torments and extremities of the fire now prepared for me, rather than deny the truth of his word."

The next day, being the market day, he was brought to the stake, amidst a vast concourse of people. The execution of the horrid senlence was attended with the utmost barbarity, the wood being quite

« AnteriorContinuar »