Page images
PDF
EPUB

was brought to St. Mary's before the queen's commiffioners, and refusing to subscribe the Popith articles, he was pronounced an Heretic and sentence of condemnation was paised upon him. Upon which he told them, that he appealed from their unjust fentence, to that of the Almighty: and that he trusted to be received into His presence in heaven, for maintaining the truth of whose spiritual presence at the altar, he was there condemned. After this his servants were dismissed from their attendance, and himself closely confined in the prifon of Oxford. — But this sentence being void in law as the Pope's authority was wanting, a new commission was sent from Rome in 1555:--and in St. Mary's Church, at the high altar, the court fat and tried the already condemned Cranmer. He was here well nigh too strong, for his judges; and if reason and truth could have prevailed, there would have been no doubt, who should have been acquitted, and who condemned. - The February following a new commillion was given to Bishops Bonner and Thirlby, for the degradation of the archbishop. When they came down to Oxford he was brought before them: and after they had read their commislion from the pope-Bonner, in a scurrilous oration, insulted over him in the most unchristian manner, for which he was often rebuked by Thirlby, who wept and declared it the most sorrowful scene in his whole life. In the commiflion it was declared, that the cause had been impartially heard at Rome; the witnesses on both sides examined, and the archbishop's council allowed to make the best defence for him they could: at the reading this, the archbishop could not help crying out, “Good God, what lies are these; that I, being continually in prison, and not suffered to have council or advocate at home, thould produce witnesses and appoint my council at Rome! God must needs punish this shameless and open lying!" When Bonner had finished his invective, they proceeded to degrade him; and that they might make him, as ridiculous as they could, the episcopal habit which they put on him, was made of canvas and old clouts : Bonner, mean time, by way of triumph and mockery, calling him Mr. Canterbury and the like.' He bore all with his wonted fortitude and patience; told them, “ the degradation gave him no concern, but when, they came to take away his crofier, he held it fast, and delivered his appeal to Thirlby, saying, “I appeal to the next general council.” When they had stript him of all his habits, they put upon him, a poor yeoman-beadlc's gown, and a towníman's cap; and to delivered him to the secular power, to be carried back to prison, where he was kept intirely destitute of money, and totally fecluded from his friends. Nay such was the iniquity of the times, that a gentleman was taken into cuftody by Bonner, and nearly escaped a trial for giving the poor archbishop some money to buy him a dinner!

He had been imprisoned now almost three years; and death should have immediately followed his sentence and degradation ; but his cruel enemies reserved him for greater misery and insult. Every engine that could be thought of was employed to shake his constancy. But in vain : he held fast the profession of his faith without wavering. Nay, even when he saw the martyrdom of his dear companions Ridley and Latimer, he was so far from thrinking, that he not only prayed to God to strengthen them

; but also by their example to animate him to a patient expectation and endurance of the same fiery trial.

But at length the Papists determined to try what gentle treatment would effect: they removed him from prison to the lodgings of the dean of Chrifto

Church;

as he

Church; urged every persuasive motive: and too much melted his gentle nature by the false funthine of pretended civility. Yet this availęd not, till they again changed their conduct, and, with severity enough, contined him to a loathsome prison. This was more than the infirmities of so old a man could support: the frailty of human nature prevailed: he began to waver: he fell: fell but to rise with superior lustre; and was induced to sign fix different recantations, drawn from him by the malice of his enemies; who, notwithstanding, determined not to spare his life: for nothing less than his death could satiate the gloomy queen, who faid, that “ had been the great promoter of Heresy, which had corrupted the whole nation, the abjuration which was sufficient in other cases, thould not serve his turn;

for the was resolved he thould be burnt.” The archbishop had no lulpicion of such a fate, after what he had done: the Papists defigned that he should soon read his recantation publicly at St. Mary's; upon which they proposed to have triumphed in his death. Accordingly on the day appointed, Cole mounted the pulpit, and the archbishop was placed opposite to it on a low scaffold, a spectacle of contempt and scorn to the people! Cole magnified his conversion as the work of God's inspiration; exhorted him to bear with resolution the terrors of death; and by the example of the thief on the cross, encouraged him not to despair, since he was returned, though late, into the botom of the church; and atsured him, that dirges and masses should be faid for his soul in all the churches of Oxford. As foon as the archbishop perceived from Cole's sermon what was the bloody decree, ftruck with horror at the inhumanity of these proceedings, he gave, by all his gestures, a full proof of the deep anguish of his foul. And at length being called upon by Cole, to declare his faith and reconciliation with the Catholic Church; he role with all poffible dignity--and while the audience was wrapt in the most profound expectation --- he knecled down and repeated the following prayer", Father of Heaven, ( Son of God, Redeemer of the world, O Holy Ghost, proceeding from them both; three persons and one God, have mercy upon me, most wretched and miserable finner! I who have offended both Heaven and earth, and more grievously than any tongue can express, whither then may I go, or where thall I fly for succour? –To Heaven I may be ashamed to lift up mine eyes, and in earth I find no refuge: what Thail I then do: fhall I despair? God forbid! O good God thou art merciful, and refusefi none that come to thee for succour: to thee therefore do I run: to thee do I humble mytelf, saying, O Lord God, my sins be great, but yet have mercy upon me, for thy great mercy! O God the Son, thou wast not made man, this great mystery was not wrought, for few or imall offences: nor thou didst not give thy Son unto death, ( God the Father, for our little and small fins only, but for all the greatest fins of the world : so that the finner return unto thee with a penitent heart, as I do here at this present; wherefore have mercy upon me, O Lord, whole property is always to have mercy: for although my sins be great, yet thy mercy is greater ! I crave nothing, O Lord, for my own merits, but for thy Name's fake, that it may be glorified thereby, and for thy dear Son Jesus Christ's Take.-- And now therefore, Our Father, &c.”'

He then rose up: exhorted the people to a contempt of this world; to obedience to their sovereign, to mutual love and charity; he told them that being now on the brink of eternity, he would declare unto them bis faith without reserve or diflimulation. Then he repeated the Apostle's

Creed,

Creed, and professed his belief thereof, and of all things contained in the Old and New Testament, By speaking thus in general terms, the attention of the audience was kept up; but amazement continued that attention, when they heard him, inttead of reading his recantation, declare his unfeigned repentance for having been induced to subscribe the Popish errors: he lamented with many tears his grievous fall, and declared that the hand, which had so offended, should be burnt before the rest of his body. He then renounced the pope in most express terms, and professed his belief concerning the eucharist to be the same, with what he had afferted in his book against Gardiner.

This was a great disappointment to the Papists; they made loud clamours, and charged him with hypocrisy: to which he meekly replied, " that he was a plain man, and never had acted the hypocrite, but when he was seduced by them to a recantation.” He would have gone on further, but Cole cried, stop the Heretic's mouth, and take him away." Upon which the monks and friars rudely pulled him from the scaffold, and hurried him away to the Itake; (where Ridley and Latimer had before been offered up:) which was at the north side of the city, in the ditch opposite Baliol college. But if his enemies were dilappointed by his behaviour in the church, they were doubly so by that at the stake. He approached it with a chearful countenance; prayed and undressed himself; his thirt was made long down to his feet, which were bare, as was his head, where a hair could not be seen. His beard was so long and thick, that it covered his face with wonderful gravity: and his reverend countenance moved the hearts both of friends and enemies. The friars tormented him with their admonitions; while Cranmer gave his hand to several old men, who stood by, bidding them farewel. When he was tied to the stake and the fire kindled, he feemed superior to all sensation, but of piety. He stretched out the offending hand to the flame, which was seen burning for some time before the fire canie to any other part of his body; nor did he draw it back, but once to wipe his face, till it was entirely consumed : daying often, “ this unworthy hand, this hand hath offended:” and raising up his eyes to heaven, he expired with the dying prayer of St. Stephen, Lord Jesus receive my fpirit! He burnt to all appearance without pain or motion : and seemed to repel the torture by mere strength of mind: thewing a repentance and a fortitude, which ought to cancel all reproach of timidity in his life.

Thus died Archbishop Cranmer in the 67th year of his age, and the 23 d of his primacy; leaving an only son of his own name behind him. He was a man naturally of a mild and gentle temper; not foon provoked, and yet so easy to forgive, that it became a kind of proverb concerning him, Do my Lord of Canterbury a threwd turn, and he will be your friend as long as you live." His candour and sincerity, meekness and humility, were admired by all who conversed with him: but the queen could not forgive his zeal for the reformation, nor his divorce of her mother, though he had been the instrument of saving her own life: and therefore the brought him to the stake; which has justly numbered him amongst the noblest martyrs of Jesus Chrift: thus crowning his character; for he

may

well be esteemed the Apostle of the reformed Church of England, and as such must ever be dear to every Protestant. He may truly be ranked with the greatest primitive bishops and the fathers of the very first class, who were men as well as himself; and therefore if, in a scrutiny of theirs or of his

character, character, some infirnities and imperfections may appear, we may learn to make a wise and moral improvement by them. His learning was great, and his endeavour to encourage it, greater. To him, under God, we are indebted for the great blessing we enjoy of reformation, of which he was the pillar and the ornament : and while we repeat the Liturgy, and hear the Bible in our congregations, so long thall we venerate the name of Archbishop Cranmer.

Cranmer's labours (as a writer observes) were well seconded by Ridley, Latimer, and Hooper, who were his fellow martyrs in the cause of reformation : but the characters of this illustrious quadrumvirate differed one from the other. Cranmer was most respected; Latimer was most followed; Ridley best esteemed, and Hooper most beloved. The art and address of Cranmer proved a happy balance to the zeal of Latimer : while the relaxed notions of Hooper, were tempered by the wisdom and virtue of Ridley.

ADDITION TO THE CATALOGUE OF BISHOPS TO THE

YEAR 1608 ; Being a Character and History of the Bishops during the Reigns of Queen

ELIZABETH, and King James; and an additional Supply to Dr. Godwin's Catalogue. By Sir John HARRINGTON, Kt. Written for the private Use of Prince Henry.

NUMBER VIII.- -BATH AND WELLS.

Doctor OLIVER KING.

CONCERNING Bath I have such plenty of matter to entertaine your

highnesse with (I meane variety of discourse) as I ftudy rather how to abbreviate it, then how to amplifie it: I should have begunne at Bishop Barlow, but I respect so much the very name of King, as I could not let him pafse without some homage ;.and becaule the chiefe Bath of which the towne hath the name is called the King's Bath, I shall add somewhat allo, either omitted, or but lleightly touched in the precedent booke by mine author, but somewhat more largely handled in the Latin treatise mentioned by him page 307, in the Life of Stillington, out of which I will cite a palsage or two as occasion shall serve.

First therefore for the city of Bath, to omit all the antiquities noted by Mr. Cambden and other good authors, as also seen by my felf, I observe this, that amongst all our old traditions and legends thereof, that seemeth as it were purpotely left in fulpence and not yet fully determined, whether the crowne or the miter have more claime to the vertue that all men see and say to be in these waters. Some athirme that King Bladud a learned king, brought up at Athens long before Christ's time, either by his cunning in magick did frame it, or rather by his search did find it, or at least with his coft did first found it: others believe that King Arthur's uncle St. David a bishop of Wales, that lived longer with leekes then we doe now with larkes and quailes, by his prayer procured this vertue to these springs; but this is manifest by most credible histories, that Oda King of Mereia built a goodly. Vol. III. Churchm. Mag. July, 180o.

B

abbey

abbey there, where before had been a temple of Minerva and Hercules, whom they feined to be presidents of hot bathes. This monastery built by Ofta -775 was destroyed by the Danes being then no Christians about the yeere 900. Then it was re-edified by Elphegus a bishop of Canterbury 1010, and continued in great estimation for a place of holy and strickt life, but had not yet the title of a bishoprick, till John de Villula, a French man borne and a physician by profession, being made bishop of Wells, which was in Latin de fontibus, admiring the vertue of thelë bathes and the cures they wrought, for which it had been long before by the Saxons surnamed Almanchifter, that is fick man's towne. This John de Villula thinking this place de l'outilus, more honourable then the other called Wells, bought this city of King William Rufus, and translated bis seat thither. And finding that both that towne and abbey had beene late before defaced with fire, he new built both about the yeare 1122 and was the first bishop was buried there.

Then was that again burned in the yeere 1132 and repaired againe by Bithop Robert, and remained still the bishop's seat and inheritance, till that bankrout Bishop Savaricus, for covetoufneile of Glaftenbury, In mercedem hujus unionis (to use my author's word) for recompence of this union of Glattenbury to Wells, gave Bath againe to King Richard the First, and yet notwithstanding these two fo huge revenues, he spent so prodigally and unprovidently in his many journeys to the emperour, that it is written he had a legion of creditors, and for his wandring humours he had this written for an epitaph, though not set on his tombe at Buth.

Hofpes eras Mundo, per Dundum femper eundo,

Sic fupremu dies fit tibi prima quies. Thus Bath againe after 100 yeeres, became the king's, and ever may it be fo. But the church was not so sufficiently repaired as it ought, in so much that in Henry the sevenths time it was ready to fall, what time that Oliver King about 100 yeeres fince built it againe with 10 goodly a fabrick as the stone work stands yet to firme, notwithstanding the injuries of men, time and tempefts upon it. Here I may by no meanes omit, yet I can scarce tell how to relate the pretty tales that are told of this Bishop King, by what visions, predictions he was encouraged and discouraged in the building of this church, whether fome cunning woman had foretold him of the spoyle that followed, as Paulus Jovius writes how a witch deceived his next lucu çeffor Hadrian bishop of Bath, or whether his own minde running of it gave him occasion to dreame sleeping of that he thought waking, but this goes fo currant and confirmed with pretty probabilities. That lying at Bath and musing or meditating one night late after his devotions and prayers før the prosperity of Henry the leventh and his children (who were then all or most part living) to which king he was principall secretary and by him preferred to this bithoprick; he law or fuppofed he saw a vision of the holy Trinity with angels ascending and descending by a ladder, neere to the which there was a faire olive tree lupporting a crowne, and a voice said let an Olive establish the crowne and let a King restore the church. Of this dreame or vision he took exceeding great comfort, and told it to divers of his friends, applying it to the king his master in part, and some part to himfelf. To his Mr. because the olive, being the emblem or hieroglyphic of

peace

« PreviousContinue »