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WILLIAM STEVENS, PRINTER, 37, BELL YARD, TEMPLE BAR.
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Contributions in aid of the Society will be thankfully received by Sir Culling Eardley Eardley, Bart Treasurer, and Rev. Ebenezer Prout, at the Mission House, Blomfield-street, Finsbury, London; by Mr. W. F. Watson, 52, Princes-street, Edinburgh; Robert Goodwin, Esq., 235, George-street, and Religious Institution Rooms, 12, South Hanover-street, Glasgow; and by Rev. John Hanus, Society House, 32, Lower Abbey-street, Dublin. Post-Office Orders should be in favour of Rev. Ebenezer Prout, and payable at the General Post Office.
FOR JUNE, 1858.
Ir is to us frequently a matter of wonder that intelligent and educated Englishmen, conversant with the history of the fiery struggle through which the Reformation passed, can deliberately aid the retrograde movement, which, if not speedily checked, must end either in the destruction of the Protestant Establishment or a second Reformation far more complete than the first. One would think that, even in the absence of much sympathy with a purely spiritual religion, the story of the brave men who, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, exhibited the noblest kind of heroism of which humanity is capable, would keep them from going back to the baptized paganism of the Middle Ages. Surely, the lofty daring, the singleness of purpose, the renunciation of self, and the faith in God, which characterised the reformers could neither spring from an unreasoning fanaticism, nor be allied with an unworthy cause. That they "gave a reason of the hope that was in them," all the world knows; and that they shrunk not from the consequences of their holy rebellion "against the rulers of the darkness" of the church, let the monuments of the martyrs and the libraries of Oxford and Cambridge bear witness! Why, it is not a figure of speech, but a great historical fact, to say that those men purchased by the sacrifice of everything they possessedalways excepting faith and a good conscience that world-famed and world
envied religious liberty which is the glory of Great Britain, and the birthright of her humblest subject wherever her sceptre sways. Their memory is therefore an everlasting inheritance; and those who are trying to undermine the work of their hands, illuminated as that is by the chariots of fire which bore them to heaven, have chosen an employment upon which every patriot looks with manly indignation.
Hugh Latimer, one of the chosen band by whom Bible truth was vindicated in the presence of its enemies, entered the University of Cambridge in the year 1505. He was born in the humble village of Thurcaston, Leicestershire, in 1490, his father being a tenant farmer, to whom Latimer thus refers in his first sermon before King Edward:-"My father was a yeoman, and had no lands of his own. He had only a farm of two or three pounds a year at the uttermost, and hereupon he tilled so much as kept half-a-dozen men. He had walk for one hundred sheep, and my mother milked thirty kine. He was able, and did bring the king a harness with himself and his horse, when he came to the place where he should receive the king's wages. I can remember that I buckled on his harness when he went to Blackheath field. He kept me to school, or I had not been able to preach before the King's Majesty now. He married my sisters with five pounds apiece, and brought them up in the fear of God. He kept hospi
tality for his poor neighbours, and writes in a letter to Sir Edward Baynsome alms he gave to the poor." ton, as obstinate a papist as any in England. I have thought that the Pope, Christ's Vicar, had been lord of all the world, as Christ is ; so that if he should have deprived the king of his crown, or you of the lordship of Bromham, it had been enough, for he could do no wrong."
This worthy yeoman, indulging a father's hope for his son, was ambitious that he should become a priest, and accordingly, as we have seen, sent him to Cambridge University. The lad was all life, joyous, witty, and clever, delighting, as he tells us, in the company of the merry monks. Little thought either he or they then that that exuberant wit of his would one day make the cowled brotherhood wince and expose their pretensions to the ridicule of the cowherd and ploughboy. It was so, however, and it is worthy of note that a very irreligious remark by a monk, shortly after Latimer entered Cambridge, seems to have been one of the things which led him to serious thought. He had not hitherto given religion that attention which every truly awakened man is certain to give to it, but the levity of one of its professed teachers so shocked his ingenuous spirit that he began to inquire into matters for himself. But where should he inquire? At the writings of the schoolmen whose works were, in accordance with the fashion of the times, his only theological text-books? Alas! these could throw but little light on the subject on which he required information and guidance; far less could they satisfy the yearnings of his heart. He did therefore what others under similar circumstances have done; he became a rigid formalist, a conscientious devotee of Rome, trying to obey the directions of the Missal to the very letter. "I have thought in times past," says he, referring to his sentiments at that period, as recorded by Foxe, "that if I could have been a friar in a cowl I could not have been damned or afraid of death; and by reason of the same I have been minded many times to have been a friar-namely, when I was sore sick or diseased." With the grasp of a strong will he embraced the idea of the Pope's infallibility, and yielded his soul without question to the authority of the Church. "I was then," he
About this time an event took place which created no small stir among the clergy, exciting the hatred of the majority, and creating hope of better days in the minds of the few who were ashamed of the prevailing immorality of the priesthood. That event was the publication of a book by Erasmus, “The New Testament of Our Lord Jesus Christ." It was a novelty in the literature of the learned University! Latimer, determined to fight boldly for every jot and tittle of Rome, hated the light which began to stream from this book of Erasmus, and resolved to prevent its diffusion. Nevertheless, in the gracious purpose of God, who never left himself without witness, and who was about to visit the kingdom of England in mercy, the time was at hand for the deliverance of the young priest from the darkness of an impious superstition, and his introduction into the light and liberty of the glorious Gospel. The New Testament was read in solitary chambers and nooks and corners of the colleges. Men began to whisper that something was wrong. Latimer was excited. These mutterings of doubt seemed to him like the brewings of a tempest of rebellion against the authority of the pope, and his loyalty and religion were both called into action. "Impiety," he said, "was gaining ground apace, and what length might not men be expected to run when they began to question the infallibility of the pope ?" He declared that the day of judgment and the end of the world must be at hand! "His zeal," says our worthy Martyrologist, "could nowise abide good Master Stafford, and he most spitefully railed against him, willing the youth of Cambridge in nowise to believe him." Staf