Page images

The King's Letters or Grant for the Dispensation of John Hooper, elected Bishop of Gloucester, written to the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Bishops.

Right reverend father, and right trusty and well beloved, we greet you well. Whereas we, by the advice of our council, have called and chosen our right well beloved and well worthy Master John Houper, professor of divinity, to be our Bishop of Gloucester, as well for his great knowledge, deep judgment, and long study both in the Scriptures and profane learning, as also for his good discretion, Teady utterance, and honest life for that kind of vocation : to the intent all our loving subjects, which are in his said charge, and elsewhere, might by his sound and true doctrine learn the better their duty towards God, their obedience towards us, and love towards their neighbours: from consecrating of whom we understand


stay, because he would have you omit and let pass certain rites and ceremonies offensive to his conscience, whereby ye think ye should fall in premunity of laws; we have thought good, by the advice aforesaid, to dispense and discharge you of all manner of dangers, penalties, and forfeitures you

you should run and be in any manner of way, by omitting any of the same. And these our letters shall be your sufficient warrant and discharge thereof.

** Given under our signet at our castle of Wind

sor, the 5th of August, the fourth year of
our reign.

- Ed, Somerset.
" W. Wiltshire. « An. Wingfield.
" W. North, « N. Wooton."

W. Paget.

Besides this letter of the King, also the Earl of Warwick (which was afterwards Duke of Northum

berland) adjoined his letter to the foresaid Archbishop of Canterbury to this purpose and effect, that Master Hooper might not be burdened with the oath then used commonly in the consecration of bishops, which was against his conscience, as by the purport of the letter here is to be seen, as followeth :

“ After my most hearty commendation to your Grace, these may be to desire the same, that in such reasonable things, wherein this bearer, my Lord elect of Gloucester, craveth to be born withal at your hands, you would vouchsafe to shew him your Grace's favour, the rather at this my instant: which thing partly I have taken in hand by the King's Majesty's own motion. The matter is weighed by his Highness, none other but that your Grace may freely condescend unto. The principal cause is, that you would not charge this said bearer with an oath burdenous to his conscience. And so for lack of time I commit your Grace to tuition of Almighty God. From Westminster the 23d of July 1550. “ Your Grace's most assured loving friend,

" JOHN WARWICK." Both this grant of the King, and also the Earl's letters aforesaid notwithstanding, the Bishop still stood earnestly in the defence of the aforesaid ceremonies, saying, it was but a small matter, and that the fault was in the abuse of the things, and not in the things themselves : adding moreover, that he ought not to be stubborn in so slight a matter, and that his wilfulness therein was not to be suffered.

To be short, while both parties thus contended about this matter more than reason would approve, in the mean time occasion was given, as to the true Christians to lament, so to the adversaries to rejoice. In conclusion, this theological contention came to this end, that the bishops having the upper

hand, Master Hooper was fain to agree to this con. dition, that sometimes he should in his sermon shew himself apparelled as the other bishops were. Wherefore, appointed to preach before the King, as a new player in a strange apparel, he cometh forth on the stage. His upper garment was a long scarlet chymere down to the foot, and under that a white linen rochet that covered all his shoulders. Upon his head he had a geometrical, that is, a four squared cap, albeit that his head was round. What cause of shame the strangeness hereof was that day to that good preacher, every man may easily judge. But this private contumely and reproach in respect of the public profit of the church, which he only sought, he bare and suffered patiently. And I would to God in like manner, they which took upon them the other part of that tragedy, had yielded their private cause, whatsoever it was, to the public concord and edifying of the church: for no man in all the city was one hair the better for that hot contention,

I will name nobody, partly for that his oppugners being afterwards joined in the most sure bond of friendship with bim, in one and for one cause suffered martyrdom ; and partly that I commonly use, according to my accustomed manner, to keep my pen from presumptuous judging of any person : yet I thought to note the thing for this consideration, to admonish the reader hereby how wholesome and necessary the cross of Christ is some time in the church of Christ, as by the sequel hereof did afterward appear. For as in a civil governance and commonwealth, nothing is more occasion of war, than overmuch peace : so in the church and among churchmen, as nothing is more pernicious than too much quietness, so nothing more ceaseth private contentions oftentimes rising ainongst them, than the public cross of persecution.

Furthermore, so I persuaded myself, the same not to be unexpedient, to have extant such examples of holy and blessed men. For if it do not a little appertain to our public consolation and comfort, when we read in the Scriptures of the foul dissensions between Paul and Barnabas; of the fall of Peter, and of David's murder and adultery: why may or should it not be as well profitable for our posterity, to hear and know the falls of these godly martyrs, whereby we may the less despair in our infirmities, considering the same or greater infirmities to reign in the holy saints of God, both prophets, apostles, and martyrs ?

And thus by the way thou hast heard, good reader, hitherto the weakness of those good men, plainly and simply, as the truth was, declared unto thee, to the end their fall may minister occasion to us either of eschewing the like, or else to take heart and comfort in the like fall and frailness of ours. Now again on the other part it remaineth to record, after the foresaid discord, the godly reconciliations of these good men in time of persecution, who afterward, being in prison for the truth's sake, reconciled themselves again with most godly agreement, as appeareth by this letter sent by Bishop Ridley to the said Bishop of Gloucester. The copy whereof, as it was written with his own hand in Latin, hereafter followeth, translated into English. To my dear Brother and reverend Fellow-elder in

Christ, John Hooper, Grace and Peace,

My dearly beloved brother and fellow-elder, whom I reverence in the Lord, pardon me, I beseech you, that hitherto, since your captivity and mine, I have not saluted you by letters: whereas I do indeed confess, I have received from you (such was your gentleness) two letters at sundry times :

the grace

but yet at such times as I could not be suffered to write unto you again ; or if I might, yet was I in doubt how my letters might safely come into your hands. But now, my dear brother, forasmuch as I understand hy your works, which I have but superficially seen, that we thoroughly agree and wholly consent together in those things which are the grounds and substantial points of our religion, against the which the world doth so furiously rage in these our days, however in time past in certain by matters and circumstances of religion, your wisdom and my simplicity (I grant) hath a little jarred, each of us following the abundance of his own sense and judgment ; 'now, I say, be you assured, that even with my whole heart, God is my witness, in the bowels of Christ I love you in the truth, and for the truth sake, which abideth in us, and as I am persuaded shall, by

of God, abide in us for evermore. “And because the world, as I perceive, brother, ceaseth not to play his pageant, and busily conspireth against Christ our Saviour, with all possible force and power, exalting high' things against the knowledge of God, let us join hands together in Christ, and if we cannot overthrow, yet to our power, and as much as in us lieth, let us shake those high altitudes, not with carnal, but with spiritual weapons : and withal, brother, let us prepare ourselves to the day of our dissolution, by the which, after the short time of this bodily affliction, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall triumph together with him in eternal glory.

“ I pray you, brother, salute in my name your reveréd fellow-prisoner, and venerable father, D. C. by whom, since the first day that I heard of his most godly and fatherly constancy, in confessing the trath of the Gospel, I have conceived great consolation and joy in ihe Lord. For the integrity and apright

« PreviousContinue »