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Acknowledgements and Motices.
We have been duly favoured with the continuation of the Life of Wickliffe, which will of course appear in our next; as also will the Account of Miss Varley, and the valuable thoughts of λouxos on the Watchman's Warning.
The report which Arnobius has forwarded us is certainly incorrect. The principles of the Christian Guardian are still the same as they have ever been. The doctrines of the Church of England as stated and explained in her Articles and Homilies—as illustrated in Nowel's Catechism and Jewel's Apology-as maintained and defended by Milner, and Cecil, and Robinson, and Scott, and Richardson, to say nothing of living authors; these doctrines we maintain are ours. Occasionally some passage of an Arminian or of an Hyper-Calvinistic nature may be found in our pages, but we must ever protest against our sentiments being judged of from an accidental circumstance of this nature. If the general contents of a communication are sound and scriptural, if they are calculated to edify and interest our readers, we conceive we owe it to them to insert it, though it may contain some positions on minor points from which we may differ. If the paper contains positive and important error, we reject it altogether; but we feel it would be unjust to our Correspondents to indulge the liberty of seizing upon every thing which is valuable in a communication, and altering the remainder of it, as is sometimes done, so as to make it speak a diametrically opposite language to that which the author intended. This explanation will, we trust, prove satisfactory to Arnobius, and may be communicated by him to his friend. We make it the more readily, because we neither know the author of the paper on which the charge is founded, nor conceive that the contents of that paper justify such a charge, nor are we guilty of the suppression which is supposed to have been designed, but which was in fact entirely accidental and not our fault.
Our attention is called by another Correspondent to some strictures on the Guardian which appeared in one of the last month's Magazines. We had read the article, and thought it unworthy of notice. Will our readers believe, that because we made the general assertion, "that many places of worship erected by Dissenters and Methodists were "6 deeply if not principally indebted to the liberal contributions of members of the Esta"blishment," we are therefore charged with a libel- —a statement illiberal, unjust, untrue-ignorance inexcusable if not wilful! Now we really cannot help smiling as we write, especially as the very author of this cool and temperate charge allows that many members of the Established Church have contributed, though he is indignant at the phrase deeply indebted. The dispute then is not about the FACT, but about the degree of assistance, about measure and quantity. Now we certainly cannot enter into individual cases, though we could tell him some curious instances. But he appeals to the notoriety of the facts, and so do we. The set-off to this liberality which he attempts to make on account of tithes paid by Dissenters is most absurd. He might just as well have brought forward the land-tax or poor-rates. The tithes are part of a general contribution, levied for the support of our civil and religious establishment. If men choose to farm or to purchase landed property, they do it with the knowledge of certain outgoings; they calculate upon these in the contracts they make; they give a proportionably increased sum for tithe-free property, and they have invariably a better bargain when the tithes belong to the clergy than to the lay impropriator. How far the existence of tithes, or the peculiar appropriatiou of them, is expedient, is another question; but while the present laws exist, the objections which are often made have no foundation in common sense or in common justice.
A Mother-H. W. R.-C. P. N. W.-R. T. &c. are received and under consideration. We do not clearly understand the purport of Mr. Wills's communication. We apprehend the agricultural distresses are not owing to the causes mentioned in his paper, or rather in the paper forwarded by the Committee of which he is Secretary. But supposing it were so, what is to be done? Is it possible to restore things to their former state? Or, if not possible, is it expedient to be irritating incessantly the public mind with these statements of irremediable distress? For our parts, we cannot but hope that patience and diligence, and economy and sobriety, will be at length owned and blessed with returning prosperity; and we conceive this prosperity is more likely to be retarded than advanced by hasty interference.
The papers of our Constant Reader W. T. of C. are returned according to his direction; as also is the Original Letter of Mr. Newton, inserted in this Number.
Our Literary Intelligence is unavoidably postponed.
JOHN WICKLIFFE, D. D. [Continued from Page 6.] WICKLIFFE was rewarded for his services in 1361 by the master-, ship of Baliol College*. In the same year he was presented to the benefice of Fillingham in Lincolnshire †, which he subsequently exchanged for Luggershall in Wiltshire. Four years after, he was appointed Warden of Canterbury Hall in Oxford, by favour of the Primate; and the letters of institution show the esteem in which he was held by his ecclesiastical superiors:
"Simon, by divine providence, Archbishop of Canterbury, Metropolitan of all England, to the beloved Master John Wickliffe, greeting. Directing our eyes to the honesty of your life, and laudable conversation, and knowledge of the learning wherewith the Most High hath endued your person, who are Master of Arts, and having great confidence in your fidelity, circumspection, and industry, we set you over our Hall of Canterbury, lately by us founded at Oxford, as Warden thereof, and do by these presents commit unto you the care and administration belonging to the Wardenship thereof, according to our appointment in this part, reserving unto ourselves
* Gutch's Oxford, p. 82.
Nichols' Leicestershire, Lutterworth. FEB. 1822.
the receiving of your corporal oath, to be by you made unto us, and due in this part.-Dated at Magfield, 14th Dec. 1365 ."”
This document is not only curious as a specimen of an ancient form of collegiate institution, but is valuable as a testimony to his character; if reference be made to the obloquy with which his memory was attempted to be loaded by partial historiographers, who would insinuate that he obtained the appointment by sinister arts, and even accuse him of hypocrisy in affecting the company of the mendicants, and extolling the perfection of their poverty §. The history of his elevation, however, is honourable to himself. Simon Islip, the Primate, had recently founded this Hall for a warden and a certain number of scholars, regular and secular. Having made an arrangement which he hoped would please both parties, he placed in the wardenship a monk named Wodehall, who had belonged to Christ Church in Canterbury. But no sooner had this stranger obtained footing in the University, than he took part in the existing quarrel, and became so obnoxious, both in his own and other colleges, as well as in the convocation, that the Archbishop,
Anton. Wood, Antiq. Oxon. L. i. p.
§. Hist. Monast. D. Albani. Fox, Acts and Mon. P. 392.
Scarcely, however, had he entered on his dignity, ere this kind patron died, and was succeeded by Langham, Bishop of Ely, who had passed his days in a cloister. The ejected regulars instantly applied to him for a revision of their sentence, pretending that Wickliffe was not eligible, as not being a monk of Christ Church. Though the allegation could not be proved from the writings relating to the foundation, and the late Archbishop must have understood his own design, yet his bigoted and unjust successor compelled Wickliffe, and three seculars, to quit their situations, and acknowledge Wodehall; which being regarded by them as contrary to oaths already taken, he proceeded to sequester their revenues. The friends of Wickliffe strenuously advised him to appeal to the Court of Rome against so violent an ejectment. Urban V. could not but see the justice of the appeal; but unwilling to act against Langham and the mendicants, he appointed a cardinal to examine into the merits of the case, suffered the Primate to offer a counterplea, and lengthened the suit by all the legal chicanery of the age.
An event now happened, which may be supposed instrumental in
He preached here in a stone pulpit under the cross of St. Frides wid, in the middle of what is now the great quadrangle of Christchurch. A Protestant may be allowed to remark, that St. Frideswid's cross was a more appropriate ornament in that venerable pile, than the statue of the Pagan god Mercury, which, by the liberality of Dr. Radcliffe, afterwards occupied its place.
bringing his cause to an adverse issue. The flourishing condition of Edward III. stirring up the cupidity of the pontiff, he demanded of the English monarch no less a sum than 32,000 marks, which were claimed as arrears due to the Apostolic Chamber, for the kingdom of England and lordship of Ireland, which king John had engaged to hold as a feudatory of the Church. He even dared to appoint John, an abbot of Benedictines in Tournay, his Nuncio, with power to cite the King to appear before him at his court, and answer for his default, in case of a refusal. Edward was of too intrepid a spirit to submit tamely to such a requisition." He laid the message before his parliament, who had but one common feeling with their sovereign on the subject, and indignantly refused compliance t.
Though to the manifest prejudice of his own suit then pending, Wickliffe espoused the cause of his king and country, against the papal insolence. A monk having written in defence of the claim of Urban, he replied with such information and perspicuity, to arguments grounded on superstition, and advocated with plausibility, as completely opened the eyes of the public. As his previous opposition to the begging friars had gained the esteem of the University, so the talents he displayed on the present occasion, drew him into notice with the court, and in particular obtained for him the patronage of the celebrated John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. This prince had too much sagacity not to perceive that the confirmation of the sentence of ejectment pronounced by Langham, which in 1370 arrived from Rome, might be attributed to the vindictive feeling of the pontiff, and his wish to ingratiate himself with the monastic fraternities.
+ Barnes, Hist. of Edward IH. pp. 667, €79.
The University, nevertheless, turer partook of the vituperation of were not deterred from showing the indignant accuser. him that respect which his abilities merited at their hands. Two years after he was admitted to the doctorate, and elected Professor of Divinity. As the office was exactly suited to his genius, so his advancement must be regarded as a peculiar dispensation of Providence. The adorable Head of the Church had a great work for his servant to perform; and the events of his early life having been such as to recommend him both to academicians and courtiers, a way was opening for his promulgating from the seat of authority tenets and doctrines, of which the novelty and spirituality would excite general interest and abundant opposition. Purification in the theological chair had become necessary, both as to matter and manner. But that "wisdom which is profitable to direct," and which is "pure and peaceable," was discovered by the Professor at the commencement of his labours. He knew that antiquated usages, and long-cherished opinions, were not to be eradicated in a summary way. He introduced new sentiments in divinity in the least offensive mode, by mixing them with metaphysical disputation. He carried on his popular harangues against the frauds and artifices of the monks. When he found his lectures well attended, and perceived that his observations had not been without effect, he proceeded to invalidate the writings of the fathers after the tenth century. Next he inquired into the rise and progress of corruptions in religion. Finally, he criticised with freedom, and censured with boldness, the usurpations of the court of Rome, arguing from nefariousness in its practices, to error in its principles, and kindling, as he proceeded, with zeal for truth, and abhorrence of hypocrisy, till the Eloquence of the accomplished lec
The oppressions of the Romish See were daily becoming more intolerable. Amongst other measures as impolitic as indecent, the Pope disregarded the statute of provisors for regulating the grants of benefices, and securing the rights of native clergymen, and pensioned his foreign favourites with Anglican church-dignities and preferments; whose insolent proctors drained the kingdom of money with the most vexatious circumstances, to the manifest injury of religion, and growing discontent of the people. Accordingly a royal commission was issued in 1374, for taking an exact survey of all the ecclesiastical benefices in the hand of aliens ; and the amount was so great as to determine the government to make immediate remonstrance by a special embassy. Dr. Wickliffe was the second person named in the commission, and he departed with the Bishop of Bangor, and five others, for Bruges, where they were met by the bishops of Pampeluna and Senigaglia, with the provost of Valenza, on the part of Rome. But owing to the subtlety of the nuncios, and the double-dealing of some of Edward's own agents, who courted the papal favour, the discussion was protracted for two years, when a sort of half-measure was resorted to, and it was determined, "That the Pope should desist from making use of reservations of benefices, and that the King should no more confer the benefices by his writ quare impedit."
During the progress of this negotiation, Wickliffe increased in favour with his patron, was presented by the King to the rectory of Lutterworth in Leicestershire, and nominated to the prebend of Auste, in the collegiate church of West, bury in Gloucestershire. Resigning his other preferments, he retired to his rectory, but came oc
casionally to Oxford to deliver his lectures as professor.
The prevarication which he witnessed in the papal commissioners, and the ambition, luxury, carnal policy, avarice, and vice, of which he had ocular demonstration, during his abode on the continent, served to confirm him in his opinion of the corrupt state of the Romish church; and he returned with increased disgust at her principles and practices. He saw much of the same abuse prevailing at home, and he felt it an imperative duty in his important station, "to lift up his voice as a trumpet," and expose the errors and abominations of Popery, especially" the spiritual wickedness in high places." He reproved the profligacy of many of the priests; impugned the unscriptural doctrines taught by more; inveighed against their favourite claim of exemption from the cognizance of civil power; and protested against the use of sanctuaries and indulgences. He did not spare him who was styled our Lord the Pope, and Holy Father. He called him antichrist, the proud worldly priest of Rome, and the most cursed of clippers and purse-kervers. He averred that the Pope and his collectors drew out of the land poor men's livelihood, to the amount of many thousand marks a year; and added, that though the realm had a huge hill of gold in it, and no other man took thereof except the Pope's agent, yet in process of time this hill would be levelled. He also freely animadverted on the worldly-mindedness of the priesthood, observing, "that the abomination of desolation had its beginning from a perverse clergy, as comfort arose from a converted clergy." He maintained that the eucharist, after consecration, was not the real body of Christ, but only a sign of it: that the church of Rome was no more the head of the universal church than any other; and that Peter had no greater au
thority than the rest of the Apostles: that if the church abused her privileges, they ought to be diminished: that the invocation of saints, and homage paid to images and relics, were unchristian: that the Gospel was sufficient for the direction of the believer: that the Holy Scriptures pointed out the way of salvation; and that all other regulations enjoined by saints do add no more perfection to the Gospel, than washing a wall over with lime doth improve the substance of the wall itself*.
Now began the season of persecution. Complaints were duly forwarded to Rome; and Gregory XI. who had succeeded Urban in the papal chair, sent back five bulls. Three were directed to Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Courtenay, Bishop of London. In the first, he orders these prelates to apprehend the rector of Lutterworth, and imprison him if guilty of the heresies laid to his charge; for "he was informed that Wickliffe had rashly proceeded to that detestable degree of madness as not to be afraid to assert, and publicly preach, such propositions as were erroneous and false, contrary to the faith, and threatening to subvert and weaken the estate of the whole church." In the second, he enjoins them, if they cannot find him, to cite him to appear before the Pope himself within three months. In the third, he commands them to acquaint the King with the crimes of the delinquent, and demand his assistance in the extirpation of his heresies. In the fourth he requests the King to assist the spiritual power; and a Nuncio was despatched to Oxford with the fourth, accusing them with lukewarmness in the cause of Holy Church, and commanding them, under the severest penalties, to deliver up their Divinity Professor. These injunc
* Speed, L. 9. C. 13.-Walsingham, pp. 188, 205.-Knighton, 2648.