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CHAP. II. II. Anno 1576. The bishop of Exon sends up some that refused going to 416 church. Another of his diocese makes nothing of a book
oath. His dealing with him. He opposeth the sending
before the lord treasurer.
wherein the bishops were concerned both with the papists and with other schismatics and heterodox men, or otherwise employed. It was ordered about these times, that such of either sort, disturbing the peace of the church, and disagreeing to the religion and worship established, should be sent up to the privy council, or to the commission ecclesiastical, held at Lambeth; there to be dealt withal, in order
to their reducement. Bishop of Bradbridge, bishop of Exeter, had now to deal with both Exon's dealing with
sorts. Some Cornish gentlemen, being of his diocese, came some of his not to church, and were informed of, and brought before diocese that came not
him. But he could not prevail with them, to work them to to church. any good conformity.
66 Whether the cause was, as he conjectured, the boldness that they had conceived by rea“son of the lenity used in these days, (mild usage hitherto
being exercised towards the papists,) or rather their hope “ of alteration in time to come
ne: because he saw they craved “ ever respite of time, and in time grew rather indurate “ than reformable; as the bishop now, December 3, wrote
“ to the lord treasurer; when three of them were sent up, СНАР. “ viz. Rob. Beckote, Richard Tremain, and Francis Er
myn; and now commanded to wait there above. As he Anno 1576. “had in some letters before, so now in this, he desired his
lordship to prevail with the archbishop of Canterbury or " the bishop of London to take some pains with them;
they (there of the ecclesiastical commission] wanting no “ assistance of learned men and books: adding, that the “ whole country longed and desired to hear of their godly “ determination; namely, what success they should have “ with these gentlemen."
Such letters from the lords were not unusual in those 417 times, to call upon the bishops to look to recusants in their Bishops to dioceses, that came not to the public service. So after- quiry after
recusants. wards, in the year 1581, the archbishop received a letter, reminding of an act made for the retaining of her majesty's subjects in their due obedience, as abusing her highness' former great goodness and lenity, and refusing to conform : and that the bishops should make inquiry as well according to former certificates heretofore made of recusants, as by others. And the next year other letters came from the lords to the archbishop and bishops, against recusants, for a diligent search to be made of such persons; and certificates to be made, under their hands, of such offenders, and their residences, and to send them up.
The same bishop also this year was concerned, and took The asserpains about a dangerous opinion broached in his diocese of his dioThere happened a dispute between two, a preacher and a cese about schoolmaster. Whereof the one affirmed, that an oath taken upon a upon a book of the holy evangelists was of no more value, book. than an oath taken upon a rush or a fly. Because it was nothing, he said, but ink and paper. He that asserted this, was one that lived at Liskerd in Cornwall, and taught a grammar-school ; -a young man, lately come thither, and not entered into the ministry; licensed to catechise and expound the scripture by Dr. Tremayn, who was in commission to visit for the archbishop of Canterbury, and com
VOL. II. PART II.
BOOK missary in all the peculiars. This doctrine being strange,
offended the ears of the simple Cornish men. And the Anno 1576. bishop fearing (as he wrote to the lord treasurer on this
occasion) some danger that might arise thereby, rode himself to the town of Liskerden, which he found in great contention and heat one against another: the young man stoutly
bent to stand in that he had taught. His assertion he deThe course livered to the bishop in writing. But the adverse party took here being then absent; and for that he saw no truth could be upon. well tried in that tumult, he put off the hearing thereof
unto the assizes next that should be holden at Launceston about a fortnight after. And hereupon the bishop sent to Dr. Tremayne, and other learned of Exon, to be there with him ; that he might be better able to pacify the stir that buzzed in men's heads. He added, “ That truly the Cor“nish men were subtle, many of them, in taking an oath. “ Now, if they should conceive, that in swearing upon a “ book, no more danger were than upon a rush, the obe“ dience that we owe unto her majesty, the trials that we “ have in assizes and sessions, wherein the controversies
were no otherwise commonly tried but by force of a book “ oath, it might, as he wrote, open a great gap, and let in a
floodgate, as it were, to great disorder, and many mis“ chiefs in a commonwealth.
“ For the appeasing of the which, he thought best to have “ the aid and advice of their judges in the assize, being then “ so nigh at hand.”
The said bishop of Exon was uneasy at this very time
about an ecclesiastical commission that he heard was suing 418 out, to be granted to divers persons in Devon and Cornwall,
the meaning whereof he much marvelled at. And that divers times before, Dr. Tremain had attempted to have the
same granted to him, and certain his cousins and special An eccle- friends. Which the bishop always withstood : knowing, siastical
as he shewed the lord treasurer, that there was no need; he commission for this dio- himself having so many officers, and Tremain himself being liked by the a commissary in all the peculiars belonging to the church bishop: and why,
of Exon. That it should be but a burden and an overcharge, CHAP. to weary the people with so many officers. All which must and would lie, he said, upon the popular cost.
My most humble and hearty desire therefore is, (as he subjoined his request to that great lord and favourer of “ religion and peace,) that your lordship will be good unto “ the country, and suffer no such commission to be sent into “ these parties : and that the people, as far as I see, may
more quietly be ruled by the orders and laws already re“ceived, and the officers already known, than by new offi“cers which may be appointed, such as will be hardly “ ruled themselves, when you have put a new sword in their “ hands. He said further, that he spake somewhat of ex- Puritans “perience. That his diocese was great ; and that the sec-ries in“ taries daily did increase. And he persuaded himself he creased in “ should be able easier to rule them whom he partly knew
already, than those which by this means might get them new friends: which was the only thing he suspected
(as he spake now more plainly) in this new commiso sion."
And one thing more must be remarked of this good bi-The bishop shop; that he found the burden of his episcopal care in that large diocese so heavy, that he earnestly desired to re-bishopric, sign his bishopric, and (which is seldom heard of) to accept to his a lower office in the church, viz. to return to his deanery of deanery. Sarum, then, as it seems, vacant; using these words to the aforementioned lord, to whom he was writing : “ If it please “ your lordship to send me hence, and to restore me to the “ place from whence I came, you could never do me such a “ pleasure. The time serveth ; the place is open. I wish “your lordship's favour were no less bent to drive me “ hence to Sarum again, than in my first suit for that
deanery; your lordship’s help was readier than I was to “ crave it. Which benefit, if I should forget, I were the “ ingratest of all men. I can do no more, (as he concluded) " than profess myself to be at your devotion. And so with “his most humble prayer recommended his long preserva
desires to leave his
« tion to God's most merciful tuition. Dated from Newton “ Ferres, the 11th of March, 1576. Subscribing,
“ Your lordship's own in Christ,
6 William Exon."
The bishop From this bishop we turn to another, not less worthy, of Lincoln preaches
viz. Cooper, bishop of Lincoln: and take notice of a sermon this Lent, he preached in Lent this year, at St. Paul's Cross, upon Luke 419
xvi. Reddite rationem dispensationis tuæ, i. e. Give an account of thy stewardship. A proper text for magistrates, and all that were in public place and authority: and before such the bishop now preached. His sermon he managed with so great life, and application to his auditory, that Fleetwood, the recorder of London, who was among those that were present, was so affected with the discourse, that he resolved to forsake a speech that he had prepared to use before the queen the next week, when the lord mayor was, on some occasion, to be present before her, and to follow the matter that bishop had taken in hand, although he would not do it (as he said in his letter to the lord treasurer) in that very form, yet to that effect. And that he was moved to do for two causes: the one, for that it gave occasion to remember my lord mayor, his brethren, himself, and all other in London, that had charge and authority of government from her highness, that they should, and we, yield to her majesty justam rationem dispensationis nostræ. The other cause was, for that he, the lord treasurer, both could and would use the matter so wisely and learnedly, that it might do the more good to awaken them from their drowsy and negligent dealings, than the fifty weekly sermons, and the Easter sermons, yearly preached in every
mayor's time, either could or should do. The said bi- We find the same bishop this year also busy, as being shop required to
ordinary visitor of King's college in Cambridge. Into visit King's which college, at this time, were many evils broken in by college, in
intestine jars. Which the lord Burghley, high chancellor of that university, had taken notice of. And some of the