Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

is a fighting against kind, and much against thy teaching. O Lord whether arsedest thou after swerdes in time of thy passion to againe stond thine enenies? Nay forsooth thou Lord. For Peter that smote for great loue of thee, had "no great thanke (of thee, for his smiting.-0 sweet Lord, how may he for shame clepen himself thy vicar and head of the church !Thus innovation lisped in its childhood, but at its majority, how gloriously did it speak out in the reformation!

What a miserable, deplorable state was learning in before the reformation! Latin was murdered, Greek was miscalled, and almost every word in the lexicon nicknamed. When Smith and Cheke, perceiving the absurdity of sounding all the greek vowels and dipthongs like the iota, endeavoured to reform that abuse, and to restore the greek tongue to its primitive pronunciation; in vain did bishop Gardiner, the chancellor, make a solemn decree against the innovation ; the Cantabrigians had caught a smattering of the right sound, and, to their honour, persisted obstinately in the novel but truc method of pronouncing Greek.

There is a time when the recti pervicax is every man's praise.*

So necessary was innovation then, that the lowest of the people saw it, and while they pitied their

* Obstinately right. It is a part of the character which Tacitus gives Helvidius Priscus: the whole is extremely beautiful. Hist. iv. 5.

ancestors, who had been imposed on, were determined to burst their own bonds and go upright. In vain did the monks exclaim against the newe learninge, (as they called the gospel,) the poor people were exasperated at their old task masters, and in open court called the priests Chuffeheads. They soon found that free examination was thehighway to truth, and they sat about investigating all they believed. How can these things be had been heresy for ages; but their innovations made it orthodoxy, and they inquired into every thing; for, as the grave father of english history well reasoned at that time, who would haue judged, but that the mayd of Kent had been an holy woman and a prophetesse inspired, had not Cromwell and Cranmer tried her at Paules crosse to be a strong whore! · If innovations in the state and in the schools. were necessary, they were more so still in the church, for the ignorance of the clergy was insufferable.--A priest, who served a cure in the city of London, and had the charge of instructing more than three thousand of God's sheep, wrote to the beloved in the Lord Jesus Mr. Persie, his archbishop's (Parker's) chaplain, to know of his mastership, whether the word function did not mean utilitie. This letter was scriptus te viginti quinque die mencis Junius. Anno 1563. Alas brother! you might have spared saying by way of apology that you was pauperes spiritus : * all the parish knew it, and wished for an innovation.

* The poor of the spirit. He meant poor in spirit, and thought that phrase signified a mean capacity.

[ocr errors]

By a survey of the established church in 1585, and 1586, it appeared, that after 28 years establishment of the church of England, there were but 2000 preachers to serve 10,000 churches ; so that there were about 8000 parishes without preaching ministers. Many of those incumbents were ignorant and scandalous men, while hundreds of good scholars and pious livers were shut out of the church for nonconformity, and starring with their families for want of employment. This surVEY is a curious piece, and an example from it will be an argument for innovation.

COUNTY OF CORNWALL. Benefice. Yearly (Number Name of the His con-Who or- Patron. value. (of souls. incumbent, versati- dained

and whether on him.

la preacher. V. Lanle

(Mr. Batten, He liv-Bp Alleys W. verie. 301. 200 no preacher.leth as a

Kendall.

pot comV. Tret-Marks

panion. wordreth. 100 300 Mr. Kendal,A simple Bp Brad-IL. Chan

no preacher.man. bridge. cellor. V. Esey. 301. 60 J. Bernard, A com

no preacher.mon di

cer,burnt Bp Brad-Canons of
in the bridge. Exon.
hand for
felony, &
full of all

Tiniquity. If it were imaginable, that you could divert these remarks from their designed channel, which is to prove the necessity of reforming abuses at all times, and in all places, where they are found, without being frightened at the din of novelty ! novelty! If it were imaginable that you could forget

F

[graphic]

this, and reproach the modern church of England with the weakness of her ancestors, you should be told that one prophet of your own printed sweet sips of soul-savingness; another published a highheeled shoe. for a dwarf in Christ; and a third, an effectual shove for a heavy arsed christian.

It is not a senseless interrogation of St. Austin's ; if the wisdom of this world be foolishness with God, what will you call its ignorance and folly ? (Sermi 240. vol, v. Jesuit's Edit.) What indeed! Every body will own the need of inovations then, if no interest be at stake. No member of the church of Rome but would blush now to preach what the infallible Innocent the third was not ashamed to publish. A male child, says that pontiff, as soon as it is born cries A: a female E. that is by transposition, Eva, thus acknowledging their descent from Eve, and their title to sin and misery. What friar would say now-a-days that children are born with a creed in their mouths, which they express in latin and hebrew? How would the present honourable house of commons stare if their preachers bade them cry to Heaven for a midwife lest their designs should miscary? Yet this has been done. Who that preaches before a modern university, would imitate the pious Latimer, whose eloquence once edified that godlye impe king Edward the vi? The good bishop, preaching once at Cambridge in christmas time, divided his discourse by a pack of cards; the gentry were diamonds, the poor people spades, hearts were triumphs, and won the game out of the hands of the pope, the

king of clubs. Has not your country done well to innovate sir? · Innovate ! England, to her praise be it spoken, has done nothing but innovate ever since the reign of Henry the seventh, till whose time, they say, the king had not a currant bush in his dominions. She has imported the inventions and productions of the whole earth, and has improved and enriched herself by so doing New arts, new manufactories, new laws, new diversions, all things are become new, and does she boggle at an innovation! The truth is, human knowledge is progresşive, and there has been a gradual improvement in every thing; this age knows many things the last was ignorant of, the next will know many unknown to this, and hence the necessity of frequent innovations.

The love of novelty is so far from being dangerous, that it is one of the noblest endowments of nature. It is the soul of science, and the life of a thousand arts; it fixes one to his books, another to his instruments, a third to his experiments; it sets one to calculate at home, another to navigate , abroad; it is seen every where; the caps of the ladies and the cabinets of the curious, are alike the productions of this disposition. If it be said, this passion defeats itself, and, having explored the whole creation is as restless as ever; true, it is so, and this proves its sublime original; it will at last terminate on God, and God is an object every way fit to satiate this desire; the incomprehensi

« ZurückWeiter »