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Church of England Magazine.
SEPTEMBER 1, 1822.
MEMOIRS OF THE REFORMERS.
[Concluded from Page 285.]
On the Monday before Michaelmas in 1413, the worthy Baron was brought forward to his second examination. Arundel had taken the precaution to remove the seat of judgment to a Dominican convent on Ludgate Hill, which was filled with regular and secular priests, to the exclusion of the lay commonalty. The Bishops of London, Winchester, and Bangor, were present, besides a number of ecclesiastics and civilians, creatures of the Archbishop, who proceeded to open the court by making all his assessors swear on a mass-book to do their duty, and give their verdict without fear or favour. Two notaries were also appointed to take minutes of the process.
After this show of justice had been gone through, Lord Cobham was led up the room by Sir Robert Morley, Lieutenant of the Tower, preserving a dignified countenance as he passed through the crowd of sneering or frowning monks. Arundel, with an affectation of gentleness, reminded him of the former proceeding, when he had been proved contumacious; and express ing his regret that he had not sued for absolution, added, that even yet there was room for mercy, if he would make the proper submis
"That," said the prisoner, "I certainly will not; for I have never trespassed against you." Then kneeling down, and lifting up his hands to heaven, he uttered this pathetic prayer: "O Almighty God, I confess against thee I have grievously sinned! How often have I offended thee in my frail youth, by pride, concupiscence, uncleanness! How often has anger been my snare, and how many have I injured in my violence! Here, indeed, I need absolution. Good Lord, I humbly implore thy mercy!" Rising up, with weeping eyes, he stretched out his arm, and exclaimed, "Take notice, good people. These guides of yours never pronounced me accursed for breaking God's holy law; but because I have ventured to lift
up my voice against their decrees and traditions, they persecute me without remorse. But let them remember our Lord's woe on the ancient Scribes and Pharisees!"
When his judges had recovered from some confusion, into which they were thrown by his striking manner and vehement address, the Primate desired his opinion on the article of transubstantiation, and inquired whether he subscribed to the paper which had been sent him on that subject. "With that document," said Cobham, "I have no concern. My faith is simply this: that Jesus, sitting at his last sup
"Do you believe," asked Arundel, "that after consecration material bread remains?" To this plain question, the reply of Oldcastle showed that, like most of the enlightened characters of his day, he held notions very similar to the consubstantiation of the Lutheran church. "I believe that Christ's body remains in the form of bread. We see the bread; but his body is apprehended by faith." As they still pressed the point of the materiality, he looked earnestly at the Primate, and said, "I believe that it is Christ's body in the form of bread. Sir, do not you believe thus?"-" Certainly," replied Arundel. "I understand it," said the prisoner, "somewhat in this way. Like as Christ dwelling here upon the earth, had in him both Godhead and Manhood, and had the invisible Godhead covered under that Manhood, which was only visible in him; so in the sacrament of the altar, is the very body and the very bread." He then quoted to this effect the writings of Gelasius.
The doctors on the bench, disconcerted at the acuteness and caution of his replies, asked again, "Is the bread material?"- "The Scripture," observed he," says nothing on that subject, therefore I have nothing to do with it." A cry of "Heresy! heresy!" was then heard; and one of the prelates in particular, declared, that it was foul heresy to call the Sacrament bread. "St. Paul," said Cobham, "was as wise a man as you, and as piously instructed, and he called
it bread. The bread that we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? Lo, he called it bread, and not Christ's body, but a mean whereby we receive the same." " Ay," said they, "St. Paul must be otherwise understood.""Why?" asked Cobham. "Because," they replied," it is against the determination of holy church." "I know none holier," rejoined he, "than Christ and his Apostles; and this determination is surely none of theirs. It is plainly against Scripture." you not, then, believe in the holy church?" said one of the lawyers. "I believe," he answered," in the Scriptures, and all that may be proved from them; but in your idle determinations I can put no faith. In short, your deeds show that you are no part of Christ's true church."-" Oh!" exclaimed Dr. Walden, Prior of the Carmelites, sanctimoniously lifting up his eyes, "what desperate wretches are these followers of Wickliffe ! "
The generous Knight could not bear this reflection on his venerable teacher. 66 Before God and man I say this, concerning that virtuous character, whose judgment you so highly disdain, that before I became acquainted with him, I never abstained from sin; but since I learned from him to fear God, I trust it hath been otherwise with me. So much grace could I never find in all your boasted instructions."-" It would be very hard," observed Walden, " if I could get no grace, surrounded as we are with pious and able divines, till I heard the devil preach.".
written in all God's law that you may thus sit in judgment upon the life of man? Hold; perhaps you will quote Annas and Caiaphas, who sat in like manner upon Christ and his Apostles."-" Yes, Sir," said a civilian, "and Christ too, for he judged Judas."-" No," returned the undaunted Knight, "Judas judged himself, and went out and hanged himself. Christ, it is true, pronounced a woe against him for his covetousness, as he does still against you, who persist to tread in his steps."
He then inveighed against the pride, peculation, and murderous tyranny of the Romish Church, which had abused the endowments of princes and nobles; and quoted some forcible denunciations of Scripture against its prevailing vices. The manner in which he was enabled to conduct himself on his trial was such as not to disgrace his profession. The meekness of the Christian was not lost in the intrepidity of the soldier. His reproof of his judges was pointed, his confession of sin humble, and his appeal to Scripture well-timed. His allusion to his conversion was made with considerable effect, as owing to the instrumentality of Wickliffe, and has drawn forth the following judicious observation from Dean Milner: "That distinct and impressive declaration of Lord Cobham, concerning the change in his life from sin to the service of the living God, when we reflect on the awful and peculiar circumstances in which it was made, is in itself an inestimable fragment of ecclesiastical biography. This is that testimony of experience which invincibly confirms every real Christian in the belief of the truth of the doctrine which he has been taught. He may be baffled in argument by men more acute and sagacious than himself; he may be erroneous in many less matters; he may want both learning and eloquence to defend that which he
believes; but the doctrines of grace he knows to be of God, by the change which they have wrought in his soul. In this proof he knows all other views of religion, whether nominally Christian or not, do totally fail *.”
He was asked, whether he thought confession to a priest of absolute necessity? He replied, that he thought it might be in many cases useful to ask the opinion of a priest, if he were a learned and pious man; but he thought it by no means necessary to salvation. He was questioned as to his opinion on the right of the Pope to sit in Peter's chair. He answered, "He that followeth Peter the nearest in good living, is next him in succession."- "But what do you think of the Pope?""That he and you together make the great Antichrist!" There only remained, with reference to the paper, which Dr. John Kemp, a canonist, held in his hand as he conducted this part of the examination, to inquire his sentiments concerning pilgrimages to shrines, to worship images and relics. "I owe them," said he, "no service by any commandment of God, and I have no inclination to visit them merely for your profit. You had better sweep the dust and wipe the cobwebs from them, and then lay them aside, or else bury them at once in the ground, as ye do other aged persons who are truly images of God. It is rather wonderful that saints, who so utterly disclaim covetousness in their lifetime, should become so very covetous after death. The fact is, that you would drain the wealth of all Christendom with your shrines, and idols, and absolutions, and pardons."
Why, Sir," said one of the clergy, gy, will ye not worship good images! ?"" -"What worship should I give them?" said Cobham. Then Thomas Palmer, Warden of the
Hist. of the Church, vol. iv. p. 130.
Minorites, quickly interrogated him, "Sir, will ye worship the very cross that Christ died upon?"
Where is it?" returned he. "Oh! I meant," said the friar, "if it were here before you?""Here is a wise man," observed Cobham, "to ask me so earnestly about a thing of whose existence he knows nothing! But however, I ask you again, what worship ought I to show it?"-"Such worship," answered another clergyman, "as Paul speaks of when he says, God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Cobham immediately extended his arms, exclaiming, "That is a true cross, and better than your wooden one, for it was made of God! yet would I not seek to have it worshipped." Why, Sir," said the Bishop of London, " you know very well that he died on a material cross." -"Yea," replied Cobham," and I know too that our salvation came not in by that material cross, but by Him alone who died thereon. And well I know, that holy St. Paul rejoiced in no other cross, than in Christ's passion and death, and in his own suffering of like persecution with him, for the selfsame truth that his Master had suffered for before."
The Archbishop then told him, that the tenour of his observations was to prejudice the sacerdotal order in the eyes of the commonalty; that he had to regret, that so much lenity had been shown him in vain; that the day was wearing away apace; and that he must make up his mind either to submit to the ordinances of the church, or take the awful consequence. "I do not understand what you mean by submission," said the Knight;
you have injured me, methinks, much more than I have injured you, in bringing me here before all this people."-" Again," replied the Archbishop, "we charge you we charge you to recollect yourself, and to have
no other opinion in these matters than the Church of Rome, hath. Return, like an obedient child, to the unity of your mother. As yet, remedy is in your power; by and by it will be too late." My faith is fixed," rejoined Cobham; "do with me what you please!"
All the bench then rose, and solemnly taking off their caps, the Primate pronounced aloud the censure of the church, and having adjudged him an incorrigible heretic, "sweetly and modestly delivered him over to the secular power to be burnt alive*" As soon as he had read the definitive sentence, Cobham thus addressed them with a cheerful countenance: " Though ye condemn my poor body, I know full well ye can no more hurt my soul than Satan could the soul of Job. He that created it will of his infinite mercy save it. Of this I have no manner of doubt. And as to the articles of my belief, I will, by the grace of my eternal God, stand to them, even unto death!" Then turning to the spectators, he cried with great energy, "Good Christian people, for God's love, be well aware of these men; else they will beguile you, and lead you blindfold into hell with themselves!" Falling next on his knees, and stretching forth his hands to heaven, he prayed, "Lord God Eternal! I beseech thee of thy great mercy pardon my persecutors, if it be thy blessed will!" He was then conducted back to the Tower, and the court broke up.
Arundel, who presided at this bloody proceeding, was a master in dissimulation. While he had a deadly hatred of spiritual religion, and abominated the persons of the Lollards, he was accustomed to exhort them with a great show of mildness to turn from their errors; declared the depth of his fatherly
Rymer's Fœdera, vol. ix. p. 61-66. The terms here quoted are those in the
Before they came to any final determination, their captive contrived to make his escape, and fled, under cover of a dark night, towards Wales, the country whence he drew his descent, and where he had powerful connexions. They were exceedingly chagrined at this intelligence; and observed, that Henry showed no disposition to call Morley to account for his negligence. Chichely, who succeeded Arundel, was, like his predecessor, crafty and tyrannical. He, with other interested churchmen, promoted two measures in the state to occupy the royal mind and secure their own power. They forwarded the French war, lest their sovereign should lend his ear to some restless spirits in Parliament, who were for seizing the possessions of the Church for the advantage of the Crown, and who so far carried their point, that the abbey lands,
Speed, p. 638.
dependant on foreign monasteries, were yielded up; and, knowing that a contested succession must be a subject of apprehension to a prince of the house of Lancaster, they instilled into his mind the necessity of keeping a strict watch over the proceedings of the reforming party in religion, as their zeal for new doctrines might be only a cloak to cover their designs against his person and government. In consequence, the followers of Wickliffe were regarded with suspicion; and even their assemblies. for worship furnished matter for charge of treason and conspiracy. Violent measures were pursued ' against them, and many worthy characters in disgust fled the kingdom.
It was on the evening of the sixth of January 1414, that as the King was sitting down to supper at Eltham, word was brought that Lord Cobham, at the head of twenty thousand men, had taken post in the thickets of St. Giles's, with intention to surprise and murder his sovereign, and all who should oppose him, and seize on the government of the country. Henry, whose mind was already in an agitated state, did not suffer himself to reflect on the improbability of the story; but collected a force on the spur of the occasion, erected a banner with the cross, like a knight on the crusade, and marched directly for the capital. He arrived about midnight, and fell upon a small company' of religionists who had assembled to hear a favourite preacher, of whom twenty were slain, and sixty taken prisoners.
Hume, like Gibbon, too ready to credit every story which may disparage a Christian profession, following such partial authorities as Walsingham, Fabian, &c. would insinuate that Cobham, a man of sense and piety, had really been guilty of high treason, and had instigated this assembly for the most