Christopher Wordsworth.

Ecclesiastical biography : or, Lives of eminent men, connected with the history of religion in England : from the commencement of the Reformation to the Revolution (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryChristopher WordsworthEcclesiastical biography : or, Lives of eminent men, connected with the history of religion in England : from the commencement of the Reformation to the Revolution (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 70)
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BR 1700 .W67

1839 v.l




Ecclesiastical biography




















ST. John's square.


This Third Edition differs from the two preceding, in the way both
of addition^ and of omission.

The omissions of any considerable moment, are hmited to one
only. The Life of Philip Henry ^ which constituted a large por-
tion of the sixth volume of the former editions, has been with-

The length of this Life had been occasionally complained of, as
hardly compensated by a proportionate degree of value and in-
terest ; and sometimes it was alleged, that some degree of incon-
gruity and unsuitableness to the leading, general design of the
Collection, was introduced by the circumstance of the longest
piece in the whole work being an encomiastic account of a non-
conformist minister. After all, however, the consideration which
weighed most on the Editor's own mind, was, that since his
former publication, a new edition of the life in question has ap-
peared, revised, &c. from the original Diary, under the following
title, viz. The Life of the Rev. Philip Henry ^ A.M., ^c. corrected
and enlarged, hyJ.B. Williams, F.S. A. London, 1825. 8vo.

After the appearance of the narrative in this revised and aug-
mented form, it seemed that it would be neither respectful to the
public, nor justice to any of the other parties concerned, to repub-
lish merely the old edition, which wanted the accessions and im-
provements introduced by the new Editor : it was thought best.

A 2


therefore, to abandon this portion of the series entirely ; it being
left to any of my readers, who may think the deficiency serious,
to make it good, by the separate purchase of Mr. Williams\s new
and extended edition.

The additions, introduced in this Third Edition, consist partly
of additions to the text, and partly to the notes.

The new Lives adopted are only two. The first a short account
of Dean Oolet, founder of St. PauFs School, consisting of extracts,
brought together from sundry Letters of Oolefs friend, Erasmus :
and the other is an interesting narrative by himself, of the troubles
of Thomas Mountain, a London clergyman, published by Strype
from Fox's Papers. It is introduced as forming a suitable con-
necting link between the persecutions of the reign of Mary, and
the re-establishment of the Reformed Catholic Church of England
under Elizabeth.

But much the most important addition to the body of the text,
is a two-fold Introduction of considerable extent, at the opening of
the first volume. It is divided into two main portions ; the fonner
of which may be characterized generally as an historical narrative
of the origin and progress of the Papal usurpations and corrup-
tions in England both in Church and State, and is derived from
Dr. John Inetfs Church History. The latter, borrowed from Dr.
Richard Bentley's famous Fifth of November sermon, I have enti-
tled, " Doctrinal Corruptions of Popery.""

The two former editions wanting any such Introduction as is
now referred to, and opening abruptly with the Life of Wickliffe ;
I have long felt that my Reader, without any fault of his own, was
thus placed in a somewhat fallacious and injurious position, in
finding his sympathies enlisted in behalf of a party, strenuously


opposed to the governors of the estabhshed Church of that age
(and oftentimes in opposition also to those of the State), without
being put in possession of any sufficient account how this condition
of things had arisen, and without receiving any adequate exposition
of the motives and principles by which either those governors of
the Chm'ch, or the mal-content party ( Wickliffe and his followers)
themselves, were actuated. By leading my Reader back to the
ancient and primitive condition of the Church of England, and
thence guiding him along in rapid progress down to the age of
Wickliffe, through a short, but sufficiently copious, and at the
same time a not uninteresting recital of the lamentable degene-
racy, gradually introduced by the usurpation and tyranny of the
Church of Rome, it seemed that my Reader would be led natu-
rally and easily to comprehend the true nature of the principles
(in many important respects grossly delusive and erroneous) upon
which the rulers of the Church sought to maintain themselves
against the arguments and effi)rts of the mal-contents : and that he
would be better qualified to discern and distinguish between what
was right and what was wrong in the principles and conduct of
the Reformers ; and so learn also occasionally to look with a
degree of pardonable indulgence upon the incidental aberrations of
those eminent persons, the early champions of respiring freedom
and truth, who though baffied and discomfited for several succes-
sive generations, were in truth, in many main respects, no other
than the fore-runners and fore-fathers in Christ, of Cranmer,
Ridley, Latimer, and the rest, the great successful champions, under
Providence, of the English Reformation ; were, in truth, no other
than that which the Reformed Catholic Church of England herself,
through much conflict, at length gradually became under Henry
VIII., Edward VI., and finally under Q. Elizabeth: then, I say,


became, through God''s mercy, and still subsists by the same mercy;
and still, we trust, will continue to subsist, the noblest branch of
the true Catholic Church of Christ ; the guardian, keeper, and
nurse of all genuine intellectual, moral, civil, and spiritual truth and
freedom, in equal opposition to the modern corruptions, whether of
the tyranny and despotism of the Church of Rome, or of the insub-
ordination and anarchy of Puritans, Rationalists, and Sectarians.

The additions to the notes^ throughout the whole work, are
numerous ; and the Editor hopes that the length of many of those
which are new, will be compensated by the value, which they will
be thought to give to his Collection. The Index, also, has been
largely augmented.

With respect to the size and dimensions of the Work, it is not
necessary to say more, than that the six volumes of the preceding
editions are compressed into four in the present ; and that the
Work, in its external appearance and qualities, is conformed
closely to the Editor's Christian Institutes ; in the hope, also, that
in many higher respects they may be found suitable companions
and associates ; and may mutually conspire and co-operate in
carrying into effect the Editor's main design in the compilation of
them both, the advancement of the religious portion of a liberal
education of the middle and upper classes of society, according to
the principles of the Church of England.

For numerous and valuable suggestions, in the way both of cor-
rection and addition to the Notes, while the edition was passing
through the press, I am bound to acknowledge myself very greatly
indebted to John Holmes, Esq., of the British Museum.

Trinity College, Cambridge,
June 1, 1839.






My Lord,

If I were disposed to consider the value of that portion of
these vohimes, which is the result of my own labour, I could
not but feel that the laying them at your Grace's feet would
constitute a most inadequate acknowledgment of the gratitude
which I owe to your Grace for many very great favours and
benefits conferred upon me. In this view, there could be
only one consolatory circumstance to sustain me ; the know-
ledge that to you the homage of all my efforts is due, be they
great or little : and he therefore who is already engaged for all^
may seem to be released from the necessity of satisfying himself
of the worthiness of any particular offering.

But, my Lord, there are considerations of a different nature,
from which I may be permitted to tender these volumes to your
Grace's favourable regard, without the hazard of being thought


so ill to understand the nature and extent of my own obligations,
and the dignity of your Grace's name.

Many of the Lives, of which this Collection is composed, have
already often obtained the praise of the wise and good, as calcu-
lated to promote, in a more than ordinary degree, the cause of
pure taste, good morals, and true religion; objects of infinite
importance, for the prosperity of which, they who well know your
GrRACE"'s unceasing cares and labours, may be excused if they
bear testimony, that every endeavour to extend those great
blessings, has a pecuhar title to come forth under your Grace's

The tendency which has been thus attributed to many of these
Lives individually, it was my hope would not be impau-ed, but
augmented, by combining them into one series, and by the addi-
tion of the few illustrations with which they are here accompa-
nied. If therefore I have not been deceived in this expectation,
I cannot deny to myself the pleasing assurance, that the present
Pubhcation will be received by your Grace as an effort not
uncongenial to your wishes, and, in however low a degree,
subordinate to your own cares ; and, as having afforded there-
fore a not unsuitable engagement of a portion of such intervals
of leisure, as I may have been able to obtain consistently with
the demands of your Grace's more immediate service, and of
pastoral labours.

Again : This Ukewise is to be acknowledged, that it is owing
to your Grace not only that these Volumes exist at all, but
also that they exist such as they are. All that is new in them
comes by your Grace's liberality and public spirit. Whatever
pleasure then or profit any of my readers may receive, especially


from this part of my materials, it is fit that they should know
that from the Archbishop of Canterbury the benefit is derived.
And, at the same time, let it be further declared, that this is but
a very humble instance of that love of good letters, and that
public spirit, which have prompted your Gtrace to the exertion
of many acts of munificence, for the increase of the literary
treasures of your country, which exalt your Grace's name to the
same level with those of the most illustrious of your predecessors,
Cranmer, and Parker, and Laud.

That your Grace's labours for the welfare of the Church of
God may long be blessed with abundant fruits of righteousness
and peace, is the earnest prayer of

My Lord,

your Grace's most devoted,

faithful and humble Servant,


Nov. 22, 1809.


The first wishes for the existence of a collection, similar in
design to that which now appears, were excited in my mind not
less than ten years ago, and often recurred to it, during a resi-
dence in the University of Cambridge ; though I do not remember
to have entertained, then, any very confident expectations, that the
work would ever be undertaken by myself.

But when, after the expiration of something more than half the
above-named period of years, I had been called to Lambeth, to
the service of his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, and, in
process of time, the probable advantages of such a collection
appeared continually to my mind, rather to increase, than to be
diminished ; and when some efforts which I had made to bring
about the execution of this design, from another quarter, on a
contracted scale, had yet produced no effect, I determined to
turn my own hands to the work : — and it now becomes my duty
to state the views and motives upon which it was begun, and the
way and manner in which it has been performed. The mention,
in the outset, of the places where the wish for the existence of
this work was first conceived, and where it has been prepared for
publication, I judge not to be impertinent, because these circum-
stances may probably have had a considerable influence on its
contents and character; and therefore the knowledge of them
may lead the reader, by a natural and easy progress, to a
further explanation of the principles on which it has been

A protracted residence in either of our Universities, and


afterwards in that service which I have mentioned, it will easily
be understood, was likely to engage any man in ardent wishes
and desires for the general prosperity and welfare of sincere piety
and true religion : and to inspire him more particularly with an
honest concern that those most important interests should ever
advance and flourish among our theological students and the
clergy ; and through their means and labours, with the divine
blessing, in every rank of society.

It appeared then, to the present writer, that there were extant,
among the literary productions of our country, many scattered
narratives of the lives of men eminent for piety, sufferings,
learning, and such other virtues, or such vices, as render their
possessors interesting and profitable subjects for history, many of
which were very difficult to be procured, and some of them little
known ; and that, therefore, the benefit which might have been
expected to result from their influence, was in a great degree
lost. These I thought it might be a labour well-bestowed to
restore to a capacity of more extensive usefulness, and to repub-
lish them in one collection ; not merely with a view of affording
to many readers an opportunity of possessing what they could not
otherwise enjoy ; but also from the hopes, that the serviceable
effect of each might be increased by their union and juxta-posi-
tion ; and, that through the help of a chronological arrangement,
a species of ecclesiastical history might result, which though un-
doubtedly very imperfect, might yet answer, even in that view,
several valuable purposes ; while it would possess some peculiar
charms and recommendations.

A scheme of this nature, it is easy to conceive, could not well
be undertaken without many limitations. Besides those obvious
ones of restricting the history to that of our own country, and to
the lives of our fellow countrymen, there appeared to me many
reasons, why the work should begin with the preparations towards
a Refoniiation by the labours of Wickliffe and his followers, and
not a few why it might well stop at the Revolution, Within
those limits are comprehended, if we except the first establish-
ment of Christianity, and the growth of the papal power amongst


us, the rise, progress, and issue of the principal agitations and revo-
lutions of the public mind of this country in regard to matters
of Religion : — namely, the Reformation from Popery, and the
glories and horrors attending that hard-fought struggle ; the
subsequent exorbitancies and outrages of the Antipopish spirit,
as exemplified by the Puritans ; the victory of that spirit, in ill-
suited alliance with the principles of civil liberty, over loyalty and
the established church, in the times of Charles the first ; the
\vretched systems and practices of the sectaries, during the Com-
monwealth, and the contests for establishment between the Pres-
byterians and Independents at the same period ; the hasty
retm-n of the nation, weary and sick of the long reign of con-
fusion, to the antient constitution of things, at the Restoration ;
the operation of those confusions, and of the ill-disciplined
triumph of a portion of the adverse party upon the state of
morals and religion, during the early part of the reign of the
second Charles ; the endeavours of Charles and his brother to
restore Popery, and introduce despotism ; the noble exertions of
the clergy of the Church of England, at that interval, in behalf
of natural and revealed religion, and protestantism, and civil
liberty ; the Revolution of 1688, together with the ascertainment
of the distinct nature and rights of an established church, and a
religious toleration ; and the principles of the Non-jurors.

A narrative of these grand particulars, together with many
others of inferior moment, obtained in connexion with a descrip-
tion of the virtues, private life, and character of the agents
principally concerned in them would, I thought, be considerably
interesting and useful, and esjjecially in regard to those objects
which I have above refeiTed to ; without descending to later
times, less productive in some respects than the preceding, and
more so indeed in others, but on both accounts the less fitted to
constitute any part of this design. At the Revolution, a degree
of stability was given both to our ecclesiastical and civil esta-
blishments, which they never before possessed ; and hence a
great part of the age which followed was less fertile, at least in
historical interest : and from that sera, the growino- abundance


and extent of biographical memoirs, were felt, of themselves, as a
discouragement against attempting the admission of any portion
of them into a collection like the present.

It was no part of my original plan to go in quest of any thing
new, but merely to revive the old. Yet, when his grace the
Archbishop of Canterbury generously gave me permission to
avail myself of the stores contained in the manuscripts in the
Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth, I could not forbear, in
justice to that liberality, to exert such a further portion of
industry, as might seem best calculated to increase the value
and usefulness of my publication. For this reason, and from
this source, the reader will find here a copious Life of Sir
Thomas More, never before published ; a new edition of Caven-
dish's Life of Cardinal Wolsey, so much surpassing in value those
which have preceded it, as almost to deserve the name of a new
work ; and some large and interesting additions to the Memoirs
of the Nicholas Ferrars ; besides many occasional extracts inserted
in the notes : for all which I desire in this place to return humble
thanks to my most honoured Patron.

That which occasioned me the greatest labour and difficulty,
with regard to the remainder of my materials, was the laying in
the first stores, and afterwards making a selection out of them.
The contents of these volumes are but a very small part of what
I have gathered together, not without a considerable expence of
time and pains. From the same heap, another man perhaps
would have made now and then a different choice. But the prin-
ciples upon which I proceeded will, I trust, be made sufficiently
apparent to my readers in the course of this preface : further I
have nothing to say, but that, proceeding upon those which I
judge the best principles, I made the selection the best I

It will be found, (for which I imagine, no apology is necessary),
that I have preferred the ancient and original authorities, where
they could be procured, before modern compilations and abridg-
ments ; the narratives, for instance, of Fox and Carleton, before
the more artificial compositions of Gilpin.


Neither do I think that it will require any excuse with the
judicious reader, that in the early parts of the series, I have been
at some pains to retain the ancient orthography. It was one
advantage which I contemplated in projecting this compilation,
that it would afford, by the way, some view of the progress of the
English language, and of English composition. This benefit would
have been greatly impaired by taking away the old spelling. But
I have always thought that the far more solemn interests of historic
reality, and of truth, are also in a degree, violated by that practice.

The reader is desired further to observe, that in many cases
the Lives are republished from the originals, entire, and without
alteration ; but in others, the method pursued has been different.
Wherever the work before me seemed to possess a distinct
character as such, either for the beauty of its composition, the
conveniency of its size, its scarcity, or any other sufficient cause,
I was desirous that my reader should have the satisfaction of
possessing it complete : but where these reasons did not exist, I
have not scrupled occasionally to proceed otherwise : only, in
regard to alterations, it is to be understood, that all which I
have taken the liberty of making are confined solely to omissions.
Thus, the Lives written by Isaac Walton, are given entire ; but
the accounts of Ferrar and Tillotson have been shortened.

Many of the Lives which are given from Fox's Acts and
Monuments \ and which the Editor looks upon as among the
most valuable parts of his volumes, are brought together and
compiled from distant and disjointed parts of that very extensive
work; a circumstance of which it is necessary that any one
should be informed, who may wish to compare these narratives
with the originals. It will be found also, that in many places
much has been omitted ; and that a liberty has not unfrequently
been taken of leaving out clauses of particular sentences, and
single coarse and gross terms and expressions, especially such as
occurred against Papists. But, here also, though he has not all
Fox laid before him, yet the reader may be assured that all
which he has is Fox.

1 The edition followed is that of the year 1610.


In the Notes which 1 have added, my aim has been occa-
sionally to correct my Author ; but much more frequently to
enforce his positions, and illustrate him, and that especially in
matters relating to doctrines, opinions, manners, language, and
characters. Their number might easily have been increased,
but I was unwilling to distract the reader's eye from the object
before him, except where I thought some salutary purpose might
be answered. Where the notes are designated by letters, ^, '', *=,
&c. or are inserted between brackets ( []), it is to be understood,
that they are not the Editor's, but are derived from the same
source as the text.

Upon the whole then, my desire has been to bring forward in the
way, and by the means which I have stated, a work which might
deserve some humble station in the same rank with those produc-
tions which have been found to benefit the high and holy cause
of pure taste, and virtue, and piety. It is presumed, that this
object may in some degree have been obtained, by the examples
which will be found here recorded, and the manner in which the
several narratives are told, of patient enduring of affliction for
conscience' sake ; of suffering even to bonds and imprisonment,
and death itself, in the cause of the everlasting Gospel , of stedfast
labour and perseverance in the various duties and good works of
many several callings and stations in society : of the successive
stages, and the vicissitudes of the progress of the Christian life,
from its first beginnings in the grace and mercy of God, to its
earthly consummation in a peaceful happy death : — and, on the
other hand, by the contrast, which will be found occasionally
manifested and displayed, in the goings on and the fate of error
and vice, and earthly-mindedness. From the multitude of seculai-
concerns which press upon us on every side, we have all continual
need to be called to the contemplation of the things of the future
world, and to be reminded that this life is chiefly important
because of its connexion with the other. My hope is, that the
histories of life and death, here delivered into the hand of my
reader, may bring some aid to the side of those salutary impres-


If it be likewise thought that the Editor has been influenced
by a further aim and desire to promote the interests of rehgion
and piety, especially as they are professed within the pale of the
church of England, the surmise, he confesses, is well-grounded ;
and it will greatly add to whatever satisfaction he looks for from
his labom*, if he shall find that it has indeed operated to that
effect : for he is persuaded that whatever is gained in that cause,
is gained in the way which is most likely to secure and serve " the

Online LibraryChristopher WordsworthEcclesiastical biography : or, Lives of eminent men, connected with the history of religion in England : from the commencement of the Reformation to the Revolution (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 70)