The seventeenth century, the "Golden Age" of Anglican Theology--Rainoldes, President of Corpus--Field, Dean of Gloucester--Bishop Andrewes--Marcantonio De Dominis and Crakanthorp--Dean Jackson--Ussher, the "giant among giants."
No period of like extent in our Church's history is more rich in writers of high distinction than the years covered by the monarchy of the house of Stuart. The extraordinary outburst of intellectual power, which so brilliantly illuminates the general literature of England during the closing years of Elizabeth's reign and the early years of that of James I., extended to the field of theology. And in that department of thought there was no substantial diminution in the force and volume of the intellectual movement till towards the end of the century.
During this period there are to be reckoned not only writers of the first rank, each one a classic in English theology, like Field, Andrewes, Ussher, Sanderson, Taylor, Pearson, Barrow, and Bull, but a crowd of lesser men, who yet stand out distinctly above the level of mediocrity. To one introduced for the first time into this goodly company, the throng is embarrassing. He is perplexed and bewildered by the number of striking figures that surround him.
At the beginning of the period no divine of the Church had a higher repute for learning than Dr. John Rainoldes (1549-1607), President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. [The name is variously spelled Rainoldes, Rainolds, Raynolds, and Reynolds. I have followed his own orthography. He had been Dean of Lincoln, and declined a bishopric, preferring the opportunities for study afforded at the University.] Fuller, the Church historian, calls attention to the fact that Jewel, Hooker, and Rainoldes were all Devonshire men, and were all three educated at Corpus. "No one county in England," he observes in his quaint manner, "bare three such men, contemporary at large, in what college soever they were bred; no college in England bred such three men, in what county soever they were born." Yet the name of Rainoldes will probably recall to the memories even of those possessing some general acquaintance with our Church's history, nothing more than the fact that he was the chief spokesman of the Puritans at the Hampton Court conference, and perhaps the curious story of how he and his brother in early life, engaging in dispute on the claims of Popery and of Protestantism, each converted the other. John, the advocate of Rome, became a staunch Protestant; while William, the Protestant champion, appears as one of the most active and able controversialists at the Romish college at Rheims. [William Rainoldes had been a Fellow of New College, Oxford; and after his secession became a Professor of Divinity at Rheims.] But John Rainoldes deserves to be better known.
Rainoldes, who had the distinction of being Hooker's tutor, was in his own day regarded with profound respect for his colossal erudition. His powers of memory, which rendered his vast learning promptly serviceable, are spoken of as a marvel; and to him have been applied, with better reason than to some others on whom similar eulogistic language has been bestowed, the phrases "a living library" and "the third university of England." His fame extended "beyond seas." Joseph Scaliger, himself perhaps the most learned man of his generation, laments the death of Rainoldes as a grievous loss not only to England, but to all Christian Churches. In our own time Hallam counts him as probably not at all inferior to Jewel.
The sympathies of Rainoldes were with the moderate Puritans. On vestiary questions, with his usual good sense, he entirely conformed himself to the Church's rule. The surplice and square-cap, which caused so much heart-burning to others, were no stumbling-block to him. On his death-bed he earnestly desired absolution according to the form of the Church of England, and gratefully kissed the hand of the priest from whom he received it.
The personal influence of Rainoldes is said to have powerfully affected King James in promoting the design for the revision of the translation of the Holy Scriptures, which resulted in our Authorised Version; and he himself was one of "the Oxford company" to whom the Prophets of the Old Testament were assigned.
Rainoldes died in 1607; and it was not till 1611 that his greatest work saw the light. This is entitled Censura Librorum Apocryphorum Veteris Testamenti. [Oppenheim, 2 tom. 4to.] This treatise consists of Latin prelections delivered at Oxford, commencing in Michaelmas term; 1585, and running on for some seven years. The prelections had originally been two hundred and fifty in number, and are published (with the loss of about half-a-dozen) from very full notes taken by some of his hearers. They are mainly directed against Cardinal Bellarmine's attempt, to vindicate the canonicity of the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament; but questions arising incidentally are frequently followed out with much thoroughness and fulness of detail.
In the Roman communion up to the time of the Council of Trent, the question as to the books that formed the Canon of Scripture was not closed. Not only did the critical acumen of Erasmus express itself with a modest hesitancy as to the reception of the Apocryphal books, but magnates of the Church, such as Cardinal Caietan, boldly rejected the books that had been added to the Hebrew Canon. At Trent this difficult question was discussed by some thirty divines at four meetings; and at the end, by a majority, it was resolved to fix the Canon by including the Apocryphal books, and to make the acceptance of the new list an article of faith under pain of anathema. This decision was ratified by fifty-three prelates, among whom, says Bishop Westcott, there was "not one scholar distinguished for historical learning, not one who was fitted by special study for the examination of a subject in which the truth could only be determined by the voice of antiquity." [The Bible in the Church, p. 257.]
To English churchmen the question presented itself in two aspects. First--do we deserve the anathema of Rome? And secondly--if Holy Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation, what is Holy Scripture?
Rainoldes' work is of permanent value. It is indeed a great storehouse of curious learning--biblical, historical, chronological, rabbinical, patristic, scholastic. Each one of the Apocryphal books is given a separate examination, and its claims, external and internal, are carefully weighed. The occasional digressions arising in the course of the discussion are also abounding in interest, though some of them, it must be acknowledged, are to be reckoned rather among the curiosities than the vital questions of learned inquiry. The outrageous mendacity of the literary policy of Romish controversialists, in its forgeries, and in its garbling of patristic and conciliar texts, is now happily a thing of the past; but it needed exposure in the time of Rainoldes. [See Praelect. xliv.] Again, the modern reader may be impatient of such an exhaustive discussion as we find on the question whether the angel in Tobit spoke truth when he said that smoke of the fish's liver would expel an evil spirit from man or woman, so that the person would be vexed no more. [Praelect. xlviii-lxi.] But the question possessed a real interest for those who still hesitated to deny the potency of precious stones or herbs used for charms. Again, out of the question whether demons are incorporeal arises the inquiry whether the fire of hell is a material fire; and so the reader is led on to discussions on the state of the departed, the meaning of the word Sheol, the limbus patrum, the appearance of Samuel at Endor, and similar topics.
Rainoldes published other works on the Roman controversy, one of which, Sex theses de S. Scriptura et Ecclesia, went through several editions, and was translated into English. As bearing on a question which is discussed again in our own time, a little treatise of his may be mentioned, entitled Defence of the judgment of the Reformed Churches that a man may lawfully not only put away his wife for her adultery, but also marry another (1609).
When the history of sacred learning in England comes to be adequately written no inconsiderable place must be devoted to the writings of John Rainoldes.
A contemporary of a different type of churchmanship and of a repute for learning scarcely inferior to Rainoldes is Richard Field (1561-1616), Dean of Gloucester. In his own day he was held in the highest estimation; and in modern times we find S. T. Coleridge (writing in 1819 to his son, Derwent), declaring "this one volume, thoroughly understood and appropriated, will place you in the highest ranks of doctrinal Church of England divines (of such as now are), and in no mean rank as a true doctrinal Church historian." Those acquainted with the work referred to will be scarcely inclined to consider the language of Coleridge as over-strained. The title Of the Church is not fitted to convey any adequate notion of the character of its contents. It ranges over the whole field of controversy with Rome, starting from the consideration of the Notes of the Church, as laid down by Bellarmine. None of our divines, so far as I know, is better read than Field both in the mediaeval Schoolmen and in the later Romish authors; and none is more thoroughly versed in the subtleties of their theological distinctions. He is not one who has dipped into the theological literature of the Middle Ages; he is familiar with its highways and by-ways.
We can detect in Field an irenical tendency. He is singularly free from the abusive language and violent invective against Rome which was general at the time among Anglican controversialists, and which is freely indulged in even by such a writer as Bishop Andrewes. Whatever may have been thought of this moderation in his own day, in ours it will be felt that the force of his treatise is by no means diminished by his calm statement and defence of the Anglican position. He never exaggerates differences; he rejoices to cite statements from authorities in the Roman Church that seem to speak the same, or almost the same language as our own. He shows conclusively that, before the Council of Trent by its definitions hardened and contracted the bounds of doctrinal liberty, there had been not a few eminent thinkers who spoke on many points in the sense of the English Reformers. The Appendix to Book III. attempts to establish the paradox "that the Latin or West Church, in which the Pope tyrannized; was and continued a true, orthodox, and Protestant Church, and that the devisers and maintainers of Romish errors and superstitious abuses were only a faction in the same when Luther, not without the applause of all good men, published his propositions against the profane abuse of papal indulgences." But whether Field makes good this strange position or not, it was a very serviceable task to show that the philosophic theologians of the Middle Ages did not speak with one voice, and that "many of the best learned" leaned strongly to opinions afterwards proclaimed by the English Reformers. His object, however, is not, like that of some in later times, to show the identity or nearness of Anglican and Tridentine doctrine, but, on the contrary, to show the wide departure of Tridentine doctrine from the authority of many of the greatest doctors of the Roman Church at an earlier date. This was a new and interesting departure in the line of controversy, and it did something towards recalling Anglican theologians to an acquaintance with a period of theological speculation in the history of the Church which had come to be neglected, and was yet well deserving of study.
In thoroughness Field reminds one of Pearson; and like Pearson he demands the closest attention. As to style, all that can be said is that he is plain, direct, homely, and, it must be confessed, somewhat heavy; He possesses little imaginative power, and we are never dazzled by the glittering sallies of fancy that delight us even in the controversial treatises of Andrewes.
In a treatise Of the Church at that date, one might have expected much space to be devoted to the Puritan controversy; but Field dismisses it in two or three effective chapters. With much ability he exposes the baseless pretensions to scriptural and patristic authority for the lay ruling-elder. But, while asserting apostolic authority for the superiority of bishops, he maintains, with some of the great Schoolmen, that the superiority is not one of order but of jurisdiction. The power of ordination, according to Field, exists in the presbyter; but in all ordinary cases the exercise of that power is by apostolic warrant restricted to the bishop. He repudiates "making the distinction of bishops from presbyters a mere human invention, or a thing not necessary, as Aerius did" (Bk. V. c. 27)., But in cases of extreme necessity, "as when all bishops are extinguished by death, or, fallen into heresy, obstinately refuse to ordain men to preach the gospel of Christ sincerely," he thinks presbyters may lawfully exercise the power of ordination. In this view Field, so far from being singular, only represented the opinion of the leading divines of his time. [See Hooker (E. P. VII. xiv. 11): "Where the Church must needs have some ordained, and neither hath nor can have possibly a bishop to ordain; in case of such necessity the ordinary institution of God hath given oftentimes, and may give place." Similarly, though less distinctly, Andrewes in his second Epistle to Du Moulin: "Caecus sit qui non videat stantes sine ea [nostrâ politiâ] ecclesias. . . . Non est hoc damnare rem, melius illi aliquid anteponere. Non est hoc damnare vestram ecclesiam, ad formam aliam, quae toti antiquitati magis placuit, i.e. ad nostram, revocare." (Opusc. Posthuma, p. 191.)]
Though directed mainly against Romish errors, Field's treatise is not a mere polemic. It is in a high degree constructive. He felt, probably, what we know to be a fact, that the reasoned presentation of positive truth is practically a most effective barrier to the progress of error. If the Romish controversy and the Puritan controversy ceased to exist, Field's work would still remain one of the most valuable contributions to the study of theology which our literature possesses. Wide learning and (what is rarer) sound judgment have left their mark upon every page. Taking him all in all I regard Field as (with the solitary exception of Ussher,) the greatest theologian of the reign of James I.; and this I say, not forgetting the eminence of the writer of whom we have next to speak, and whose influence on the religious thought and sentiment of England has undoubtedly been much more marked,--I mean Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626).
Before the death of Elizabeth, Andrewes' merits, both as a scholar and as a priest, had received recognition. He was made Master of his college (Pembroke, Cambridge) in 1589. He was a favourite preacher at the court of Elizabeth, and before the death of the Queen he was promoted to the Deanery of Westminster. But it was not till 1609 that his first publication saw the light. This was a treatise of controversial divinity against Rome.
James I., though sometimes overruled by his Ministers of State, was personally disinclined to a forcible repression of his Roman Catholic subjects. It is really remarkable that, even after the villainous attempt of the Gunpowder Plot, he was still disposed to favour toleration. But when we pass from the field of physical force to that of reason, the King was quite ready to join issue with the controversialists of Rome. After the horror roused by the discovery of the Powder Plot, Parliament (3 & 4 Jac. I. c. iv.) took fresh measures for the imposing of an oath of allegiance which abjured as impious and heretical what was styled "the damnable doctrine and position, that princes which be excommunicated or deprived by the Pope may be deposed, or murdered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever." Cardinal Bellarmine, the most distinguished Roman controversialist of that age (or indeed, perhaps, of any age), warned English Roman Catholics that to take the oath was to be a traitor to the faith. The King, himself a man of no mean attainment and much addicted to theological discussions, replied in an Apology for the Oath of Allegiance. To this Bellarmine issued an answer under the assumed name of Matthaeus Tortus. The King re-issued his Apology with a new Preface, and also directed Andrewes (now Bishop of Chichester) to prepare a reply. This reply (Andrewes' first published work) was issued in 1609 under the title Tortura Torti. This was followed in the next year by another controversial treatise from Andrewes' pen, entitled Responsio ad Apologiam Cardinalis Bellarmini, etc. [The latter treatise was directed against a reply which Bellarmine had issued, this time under his own name, against the King's Preface to the second edition of his Apology.]
It is due partly to the employment of the Latin tongue, partly to the large space given to merely argumenta ad hominem, and still more to the fact that the main object of the discussion is at first sight so remote in our day from men's "business and bosoms," that these two treatises of controversial divinity have attracted comparatively little notice. But the student will find that questions of the deepest significance are involved in the discussion of the papal claim to deprive excommunicated princes--questions which are still alive and exigent,--questions which occupy the foremost controversialists of our own time. What is the basis of the papal claim to supremacy? How does it differ from a primacy of the West? What is "the privilege of Peter"? Did it involve temporal jurisdiction? Was it solely personal, or did it extend to his successors? Who are Peter's successors? Are they those who de facto have occupied Peter's chair? Do the several changes in the mode of the election of Bishops of Rome (first, by the clergy and people; next, by the intervention of Imperial authority; lastly, by cardinals in conclave) make no difference? Even as to the series of succession doubts arise. Who in fact was St. Peter's immediate successor? Was not Pope Liberius a heretic? and Pope Anastasius? and Pope Honorius? and in the days of the schisms which of the two Popes--which of the three--can we with the absolute confidence of faith assert to be the true successor to St. Peter's "privilege"? These questions and such as these are treated by Andrewes with a fulness and breadth of knowledge, a keenness in perception of intellectual distinctions, a power of argument, that are not often surpassed, or even equalled, in the literature of controversy. Nor is there any lack of the wit, lively raillery, sarcasm, and (more rarely) passionate invective, which readers of Andrewes Sermons might naturally look for. Andrewes had personally little inclination for this kind of work; but having taken it in hand he lent his whole powers to the task.
Those who know Andrewes only by name would do well to acquaint themselves with the fervour of his zeal and the brilliance of his attack upon Popery, as exhibited in his controversial treatises. The more sober interpreters of Scripture have learned indeed in later times to hesitate in an application of the prophetic language of Scripture to the Papacy; but to understand Andrewes we must know that he defends the opinion that the Pope is the Antichrist of St. John, and Rome the harlot that sits upon the seven hills--the Rome not of heathen days, but the Rome of the Papacy, drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus Christ, and with blasphemy written on her forehead. And in a fine vein of irony he declares that "Vicar of Christ," as applied to the Pope, is a title too narrow in its application; let it be at once Vice-God, for it is through him kings reign; it is he that puts down the mighty from their seat. [The term Vicedeus had been applied to Pope Paul V. by Thomas Maria Caraffa in the dedication of his Theses. Andrewes (Torti Tortura, p. 443) notices how from the words of the Dedication "PaVLo V. VICe Deo" the number of the beast may be computed.] To Peter was said, Feed My sheep; that means, says Andrewes, Scatter and disperse them, trample underfoot their pastures, defile the streams of water whence they drink. Receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, for with them ye can admit or exclude from the kingdoms of earth. Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, every league of iniquity shall be more strictly compacted together at your command. Whatsoever ye shall loose--every tie of natural obligation, of duty, of sworn fidelity--shall be loosed by your dispensations. Yes, the command came from heaven to Peter, and ye fulfil it--"Rise, Peter, kill!" Again, elsewhere, indulging in that witty play upon words with which his Sermons have made us familiar, he declares that there are doubtless many sacred things at Rome, but none more sacred than the auri sacra fames. This is the manner in which the author of the incomparable Devotions expresses his feelings towards the Papacy.
The admirable monograph of Dean Church spares one from the duty of estimating Andrewes' place in the history of Anglican theology. [In Masters in English Theology, p. 61, seq.] For breadth of view that comes of accurate knowledge, and for the sympathy with its subject which is essential to true criticism, Dean Church's Lecture deserves a place of the highest rank among just estimates of by-gone times and bygone men. The reaction against Puritanism which was manifesting itself in the latter years of Elizabeth, and which found forcible expression in Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, is further emphasized in the writings of Andrewes. But his doctrinal position has been often misunderstood; and some in our own day who vaunt his name and claim him as an authority for their peculiar theological views, manifest either a very imperfect acquaintance with his writings, or a wilful ignoring of his teaching when it makes against them.
There are many passages in the writings of Andrewes, some of them of a highly rhetorical kind, which taken by themselves may easily mislead. The danger of his day was to underrate the value of the sacraments. The truly reverent mind of Andrewes dreaded that evil, and so he dwells upon their mystical efficacy, their importance, their dignity, their divine appointment. Passages from Andrewes that are supposed to make for the doctrine of the objective Presence of Christ's glorified Body and Blood "in" and "under" the forms of bread and wine, for adoration, for a sacrifice (in the Romish sense) in the celebration of the Eucharist, have been in our own day collected and often exhibited. It is less common to see any notice of passages of another kind, some of them of such a character as (I think) to rule and interpret the sense of Andrewes elsewhere, unless indeed" we will make him inconsistent with himself.
The glowing and enthusiastic ardour of the Sermons and Devotions, when taken in conjunction with the definite beliefs and denials exhibited elsewhere, and chiefly in the controversial treatises, serves a useful end. It demonstrates that the highest flights of ardent devotion are compatible with convictions which recent innovators among us would hold in pitying contempt, as "low" and "un-catholic." Language, however exalted, will hardly satisfy those to whom I refer when Andrewes denies the true and real presence and oral manducation of the Body of Christ under and in the sacramental species, or when he declares, "If a host could be turned into Him (Christ) glorified as He is, it would not serve; Christ offered is it,--thither must we look, to the serpent lift up, thither we must repair, even ad cadaver (to the dead Body of Christ); we must hoc facere, do that is then done. [See Minor Works, p. 16.] So and no otherwise is this 'epulare' to be conceived. And so, I think, none will say they do or can turn Him."
What is it we partake of in the Eucharist? Andrewes' answer is, "Christ's Body that now is; true; but not Christ's Body as now it is, but as then it was when it was offered, rent, slain and sacrificed for us.... By the incomprehensible power of His eternal Spirit not He alone, but He as at the very act of His offering, is made present to us, and we incorporate into His death and invested in the benefits of it." [Sermons, II. p. 301. The teaching of this passage will be found in many of our great divines, and has in our own day been ably exhibited by Dr. T. S. L. Vogan (the Bampton Lecturer on the Doctrine of the Trinity), in The True Doctrine of the Eucharist (1871), and by Canon Trevor in The Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrifice to Participation of the Holy Eucharist, issued in its enlarged form (1876) at the request of the venerable Bishop (Williams) of Connecticut, now Presiding Bishop of the American Church.]
On the Eucharistic sacrifice Andrewes' teaching is quite unambiguous. "There is but one only sacrifice, 'veri nominis,' properly so called, that is Christ's death." The Jews prefigured it, we commemorate it. Theirs was a fore-showing, ours a showing-forth of the Lord's death till Fie come again. [See Sermons, II. p. 300.] Again, as Andrewes declares, Anglicans (nostri homines) believe that the Eucharist was instituted by the Lord not only for our spiritual nourishment, but also for the commemoration of Him, yea of His sacrifice, or, if one may so speak (si ita loqui liceat), for a commemorative sacrifice. [Ad Card. Bellarm. Apol. Responsio, p. 250.] Andrewes feels that even the phrase "commemorative sacrifice" demands an explanation. Again in the same place he identifies the phrase "commemorative sacrifice" with "commemoration of the sacrifice." The scorn that has been sometimes lavished upon Cranmer and Ridley for similar language should in all fairness be extended to Bishop Andrewes.
On some other questions that now occupy attention, the teaching of Andrewes falls far short of the modern (so-called) "catholic" view. The participation of the sacrament by the people can never be separated, he tells us, from the commemorative sacrifice, both instituted by the Lord at the same time and conjointly. They may not be disjoined the one from the other, either on account of the negligence of the people or the avarice of the priests. To participate by impetration, that indeed is a novel kind of participating, even more novel than the private mass itself. [Ad Card. Bellarm. Apol. Responsio, p. 250.] Or as we have the same teaching in the Sermons--"No celebremus without epulemur in it. If Christ be a propitiatory sacrifice, a peace-offering, I see not how we can avoid but the flesh of our peace-offering must be eaten in this feast by us, or else we evacuate the offering utterly." [Sermons, II. p. 299.] The virtue of non-communicating attendance at a celebration was evidently quite unknown to Bishop Andrewes.
Among the posthumous works of Andrewes is an answer to Cardinal Duperron's Reply to King James. Here too there is a line taken by Andrewes which must be felt as wholly alien to the teaching which is now striving to find a footing among ourselves. The King had condemned the elevation of the host adorandi causâ. Andrewes defended the refusal of "gestes et adorations externes." [Minor Works, p. 15.] He was perfectly familiar with the Roman contention that it was Christ in the sacrament who was adored, and not the sacramental species.
Andrewes in another place contends that even assuming, for argument's sake, transubstantiation followed upon a valid consecration, the uncertainty that attaches to any particular host being validly consecrated is sufficient to justify the refusal of adoration. "If it is uncertain whether it is consecrated, it is uncertain whether it should be adored; or, rather, it is manifestly certain that it should not be adored." [Resp. ad Apol. Bellarm., p. 10.] This may help us to understand what he says elsewhere. [Ibid. p. 266.] "The King has laid down that Christ truly present in the Eucharist is to be truly adored; for Christ Himself wherever He is, the res sacramenti, in and with the Sacrament, out of and without the Sacrament, is to be adored."
Andrewes goes even, perhaps, beyond the language of our formularies in declaring that "the carrying about of the sacrament is contrary to the precept of Christ, nor does Scripture anywhere support it. It is contrary to the institution, for as the sacrifice was instituted that it should be consumed, so the sacrament that it should be received and eaten, not that it should be reserved and carried about." And then follow very remarkable words. "Beyond the design (finem) of the sacrament, beyond the force of the command no use of it exists. Let that be done which Christ willed to be done when He said, 'Do this'; let nothing remain which the priest may exhibit out of the pyx, and the people adore."
When we turn from the polemical treatises to the Sermons we find Bishop Andrewes at his best. As a controversialist he was capable and skilful; but the same may be said of several of his contemporaries. Controversy gave imperfect scope to the distinctive character of his powers, that welded contexture of intellect, imagination, and emotion, to which we give the name of genius. His fancy was quick, bright, and playful, and its flashes illumine many of his pertinent and incisive comments; but it is generally restrained by his reverence for Holy Scripture. When dealing with any passage of God's word, he dwells upon the utterance, he looks upon it long and lovingly, he turns it over, he views it upon this side and upon that; he believes in its manifold richness and its pregnant depths of meaning. No English preacher has surpassed him in that power of unfolding and drawing out the sense of Scripture which comes only of lengthened study and reverent, brooding meditation. His obligations to preach at Court on Good Friday, and the great festivals of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsunday, if they limited in certain directions the freedom of his choice of subjects, had yet the advantage of fixing his gaze upon the great primary truths of Revelation. Theology, in the highest sense of the word, the knowledge of God as revealed to us in His Son and in the gift of His Divine Spirit, "the Lord, and Giver of Life," this is his central theme. And to him year after year it was inexhaustible in its depth and in its richness.
The recent discovery and publication (by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge) of an original manuscript of Andrewes' Greek Devotions has peculiar interest in making clear for the first time that Andrewes' strong and even violent anti-Roman feeling did not prejudice him against the Church's ancient practice of prayers for the faithful departed. [Admirably edited by Canon Medd (1892).]
It will be convenient to call attention here to the admirable defence of the validity of Anglican Orders which appeared in 1613, from the pen of Francis Mason (1566-1621), afterwards Archdeacon of Norfolk, under the title, A Vindication of the Church of England, and of the Lawful Ministry thereof. A Latin translation (enlarged) followed in 1625. Rome had already commenced the attack upon Anglican Orders; and the "Nag's Head fable" had gained currency. Mason's Vindication is thorough and effective; and the merit of the work is testified to by the success of its republication, edited by John Lindsay, in 1728, and again fifty years later. It is an excellent specimen of sound workmanship; and it is largely due to Mason that in recent assaults upon Anglican Orders the myths that prevailed at an earlier period have been silently abandoned.
The arrival in England, in 1616, of an archbishop of the Roman communion who renounced his obedience to the Roman see, and accepted office in the Church of England, made, naturally enough, a considerable stir. The story of Marcantonio de Dominis (1566-1624), Archbishop of Spalato, is full of interest, and one of the most curious in the ecclesiastical annals of the period. His publication, after his settling in England, of an elaborate attack upon the Papacy, his assisting in the consecration of English bishops, his appointment to the Deanery of Windsor, his restless ambition, his withdrawal after a few years to the Continent, his submission to Rome, his attack (at least the attack published in his name) upon the Church which he had just left, and his very miserable end are incidents that possess features both grotesque and pathetic. [How his conduct was regarded by the High Church writers of England may be illustrated by the language of Montagu (in the "Epistle dedicatory" of his Invocation of Saints)--"A man, if any other of his coat and calling, apt enough to be circumcised and deny Christ Jesus if the Grand Signior would but make him Chief Muftie, so much would ambition and covetousness, his bosom infirmities, sway with him." A more favourable view will be found in Barwick's Life and Death of Bishop Morton (1660), pp. 85-87.] His great work, De Republica Ecclesiastica (1617-20), published in London, extending over more than two thousand folio pages, has been described as "a kind of quarry whence almost everything that can be urged against Ultramontanism may be extracted." [Dr. John Mason Neale, who adds, "No English divine is acquainted with all that can be said for his own Church who has not studied this book."--Notes, Ecclesiological and Picturesque, on Dalmatia, etc., p. 144] But a different colour was given to the interest felt in De Dominis by our divines when after his leaving England he published, or there was published under his name, a violent attack upon her Church, in a work entitled Expositio consilii sui reditus ex Anglia. [Neale (ut supra), p. 147, more than suggests that this work is not from the pen of De Dominis, and that he was poisoned before he could disown it. His body was burned as that of a relapsed heretic.) This work, full of railing accusations, was the occasion of the Defensio Ecclesiae Anglicanae, by Richard Crakanthorp (1569-1624), published, after the author's death, in 1625. It was an easy task to convict De Dominis, as it were, out of his own mouth from the pages of his earlier work; and Crakanthorp is unsparing in driving home his attack. The Defensio abounds in wit, sarcasm, and invective, and is not lacking in solid learning. It has received high praise from various authorities; and this much I can say--its arrangement is clear, its style lively and entertaining, and (considering the subjects dealt with) it is brief. [Anthony Wood (Athena Oxon., ii. 362, ed. Bliss) says, "This book was held for the most exact book of controversy since the Reformation." T. Barlow, Bishop of Lincoln (1675-1691), in his Directions to a Young Divine for his Study of Divinity and choice of Books (in his Genuine Remains, p. 86), writes--"No book I have yet seen has so rational and short an account of almost all popish controversies." The edition in the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology is edited by C[hristopher] W[ordsworth], afterwards Bishop of Lincoln, a lineal descendant of Crakanthorp.]
The succession of great divines which, as we have seen, had been supplied by Corpus College, Oxford, was not yet to cease. The womb of that breeding mother of theologians had yet another strong son to give to the service of the Church of England in the person of Thomas Jackson (1579-1640), who was successively Scholar, Fellow (1606), and President (1630) of that distinguished house. At Corpus his life was almost exclusively spent, save for some seven years while he occupied the important post of Vicar of St. Nicholas (lately erected into the Cathedral Church) at Newcastle-on-Tyne. In 1613 Jackson began to publish what eventually proved to be an extensive series of treatises on theological questions. The connection between these various works is really little more than nominal, though the author wished them to be regarded as "Comments on the Creed." These writings as afterwards collected and presented to the world are in truth a large miscellany of divinity, abounding in good learning, ingenious argument, and curious speculation. They are marred by a fault common enough in the preceding generation--an inveterate tendency to discursiveness. The author is quite unable to restrain himself when his path is crossed by some incidental question of interest; and he immediately starts in full cry after this new object of the chase. This occurs again and again, and the effect is highly distracting. The outlines of any plan or system are with difficulty discerned, and the embarrassment is increased by the original editor of the collected Works, inserting here and there sermons by the author which he thinks are in some degree allied to the subject in hand. Indeed, as now presented to us, Jackson's twelve Books on the Creed remind one of a set of "rambling buildings, constructed by some amateur architect, one piece added here, and, after an interval, another added there; a new wing built on one side and a new outhouse appended to the other; and all devoid of any clear and well-defined plan. To find one's way in such a structure is not easy; and one often comes on unexpected things in unlikely places. Anti-Roman polemics, scattered here and there, occupy a large space; and discussions on the Calvinian doctrine of Predestination with the allied topics are dealt with in an able manner. We have beside inquiries into the relations of the Church and the State, the interpretation of prophecy, the authenticity of the Old Testament history, the sources of atheism, the nature of evil, justification by faith, the significance of the Levitical ritual, the heathen oracles, the eternity of punishment, the Christian sacraments, dreams as prognostics of truth, and a vast variety of other questions, some important, and others curious and entertaining.
It will be readily admitted that there is much that is valuable and instructive to be found in Jackson's discussions; but it is difficult to understand how one, ordinarily so sane and sober in his bestowment of praise and blame, could use the language applied to our author by Robert Southey when he wrote, "In my judgment the most valuable of all our English divines ... an author with whom, more almost than any other, one might be contented in a prison." It may be that the unregulated discursiveness that I lament was one of the main attractions for such a miscellaneous, or rather omnivorous reader as Southey. Variety certainly there is in rich abundance.
In his own day Jackson won the admiration of learned and pious men. Good George Herbert declared with warmth, "I speak it in the presence of God, I have not read so hearty, vigorous a champion against Rome, so convincing and demonstrative, as is Dr. Jackson; and I bless God for the confirmation he hath given me in the Christian religion against the Atheist, Jew, and Socinian." And it was the reputation of Jackson that at length drew from his "cell" Joseph Mead, the recluse of Christ's College, Cambridge, to undertake a journey to the sister University town. [In the last century Jones of Nayland, in his Life of Bishop Horne, is warm in his commendation of Jackson, and considers that "he deserves to be numbered with the English Fathers of the Church." It may be worth pointing out that Jackson's view of "the real presence" in the Eucharist is that of "a spiritual influence or virtual presence" (Book xi. chap. 3, Works, vol. x. p. 27). He teaches that there is not "any other kind of local presence or compresence with these elements than is in baptism. The orthodoxical ancients use the same language for expressing His [i.e. Christ's] presence in baptism and in the Eucharist; they stick not to say that Christ is present or latent, in the water, as well as in the elements of bread and wine." Works, vol. ix. p. 595.]
During the reign of James I. and Charles I.--indeed one may extend the observation to the whole of the seventeenth century--among the crowd of distinguished ecclesiastical literati, not one for learning reaches the lofty eminence of James Ussher (1580-1656). He was indeed "a giant among giants." [A. W. Haddan, in his Life of H. Thorndike.] For erudition, full and exact, in almost every department of ecclesiastical learning--erudition which he handles with the ease of complete mastery--Ussher stands pre-eminent. The two fascinating volumes of his correspondence show us something of his varied interests in the field of research, and also something of the general admiration in which he was held in the world of letters. [Works, Elrington's edit.] Indeed the learning of Europe in the seventeenth century would not be very inadequately represented by the names of those with whom Ussher carried on a scholarly intercourse. There we find Hebraists, Talmudical scholars, and Orientalists, like the younger Buxtorf, Louis de Dieu, L'Empereur, and Capel; inquirers into the early history and antiquity of the Christian Church, classical critics and patristic scholars such as Valois (Valesius), [The editor of the text of Eusebius] Gerard and Isaac Voss, Saumaise (Salmasius), Gataker, Sir Henry Saville, and the French Protestants, Daille and Blondel; antiquarians and bibliophiles, such as Camden, Bodley, Dugdale, Cotton, Spelman, and Selden; and theologians, such as Andrewes, Mead, John Forbes of Corse, Hammond, Joseph Hall, Bramhall, Cudworth, and Thorndike.
The seventeen volumes of Elrington's edition of Ussher's Works exhibit him as a student in many regions of inquiry. But briefly his writings may, for the most part, be grouped in five divisions:--
1. Anti-Roman polemics.
2. Early Christian antiquities.
3. The ecclesiastical and civil antiquities of Great Britain and Ireland.
5. Sermons and other practical and popular treatises.
The natural bent of Ussher's mind was from the first towards historical inquiry. The exigences of the time and of his country forced upon his attention the controversy with Rome. He determined to investigate the problems involved from the historical side. Was the faith of the Papacy the faith of the early Church? To answer this question he resolved at the age of twenty to read right through the whole works of the Christian Fathers. This was a great and arduous undertaking; but, despite distractions of many kinds, he persevered in his task, and accomplished it after eighteen years of labour. At an early age Ussher perceived that the slippery scholastic speculations which occupied so large a place in theological controversy were not the safest standing-ground. He would rest on the surer basis of facts, so soon as he could securely ascertain them for himself. What was absent from the faith of the early Church, he concluded, could be none of its essentials. He accepted the maxim of Tertullian, Verum quodcunque primum; adulterum quodcunque posterius. And it was on this side he approached the subject of our differences from the modern Romanism of his day.
Ussher's Answer to a challenge made by a Jesuit in Ireland (1625) aims at delivering truly "the judgment of antiquity in the points questioned," and exhibiting "the novelty of the now Romish doctrine." The student of this and other of his works is soon impressed with the sense that we have here indeed a master, one who ranges with the confidence of sure possession over the whole field of patristic and earlier mediaeval literature. His critical acumen, naturally keen, and cultivated by exercise, shows itself in his distinguishing genuine from spurious or doubtful authorities; and in this respect none of the earlier English theologians were qualified to compare with him. Again, it is not uncommon to find among those who immerse themselves in the study of patristic authorities an unsteadiness or feebleness of the individual judgment. But Ussher never totters under the weight of his erudition.
In his treatise Of the Religion anciently professed by the Irish and British (1631), Ussher dealt with a subject that was peculiarly his own. While still a young man, he began, conjointly with his patristic studies, to collect every document that could help to illustrate the early religious history of the British Isles; and the result of his indefatigable labours took shape in three principal works. There is, first, the treatise named above, written in English, with the view, as he tells us, "to induce my poor countrymen to consider a little better of the old and true way from whence they have hitherto been misled" (Works, iv. 237). Secondly, we have that invaluable storehouse of historical learning, the Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates (1634), a work which has not been superseded, and which must be constantly in the hands of every student of the Celtic Churches of Great Britain and Ireland. Thirdly, we have the less important Veterum Epistolarum Hibernicarum Sylloge (1632), being an interesting collection of some fifty documents, chiefly letters, relating to the early Irish Church. [A new edition of this work, with illustrative notes, would be welcomed by scholars.]
The most remarkable of Ussher's labours in the field of early Christian antiquity is his contribution to the recovery of the genuine text of the Ignatian Epistles. In our own day the late Bishop Lightfoot, who for learning and critical sagacity reminds us of Ussher himself, has established to the satisfaction of almost all competent scholars the genuineness of what is known as the middle or shorter Greek recension; and certainly on this subject no one is entitled to speak with a greater weight of authority. And it is interesting to find how Lightfoot's judgment, generally of a temper cold and severe, catches fire when he comes to speak of Ussher. "By Ussher's labours," writes Lightfoot, "the question between the long and middle recension was, or ought to have been, set at rest for ever. Altogether [his work] showed not only marvellous erudition, but also the highest critical genius." [St. Ignatius, vol. i., p. 233.] After this testimony it would be a sensibly felt descent to cite the eulogies pronounced by men of lesser name; but that Ussher established his main contention to the satisfaction of such critics as Grotius and Voss, Pearson and Bull, Bentley and Waterland, is no small triumph.
Before passing from this subject I may be allowed to point out how the extraordinarily wide reach of Ussher's reading served him in this particular branch of research. The inquirer into the earliest relics of Christian literature might well be excused if he did not look to the ecclesiastical documents of England in the Middle Ages as a quarter from which it was likely that any light would be thrown upon his researches. Yet it was Ussher's acquaintance with the writings of Grostête, Bishop of Lincoln in the middle of the thirteenth century, and of such obscure authors as Wycliffe's opponents, Wodeford and Tissing-ton, that set him on the track which led to the recovery of the lost epistles of Ignatius. The man of genius who is full of his subject sees mysterious hints and suggestions where to the ordinary reader all is void, featureless, and jejune. Clues to the object of his search are furnished by intimations as unapparent or unmeaning to others, as the tokens and marks in the forest hunting-grounds by which the trained senses of the savage tracks his prey. The thrill of pleasure as step by step he is led to success is not disguised by Ussher, and the natural, though restrained, expression of his feelings illumines and brightens with a glow of personal interest the close-knit argument of the great Dissertation. [Dissertatio non de Ignatii solum et Polycarpi Scriptis, sed etiam de Apostolicis Constitutionibus et Canonibus Clementi Romano tributis (1644).]
Ussher had been brought up under the influence of Calvinistic teachers of an extreme type. Archbishop Loftus, the first Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, was one the complexion of whose churchmanship may be gathered from the fact that Cartwright was his chaplain. The second Provost was Walter Travers, Hooker's opponent at the Temple Church. It is not very surprising that young Ussher imbibed the notions of his teachers; but it is more surprising that in later times he was able to free himself from the convictions of his earlier years. [Bishop Sanderson underwent a similar change of opinion. His earlier treatises are distinctly marked by Calvinism.] In the same year (1631) in which appeared his work on the Religion of the Ancient Irish and British Churches, there appeared also his history of the Gottskalk controversy of the ninth century, a solid and valuable piece of work, though plainly written with a Calvinistic bias. [Gotteschalci et predestinationæ controversiæ ab eo motæ historia. In this volume Ussher gave to the world for the first time the original text of Gottskalk's two confessions.]
The ability and vast erudition displayed in Ussher's chronological researches are acknowledged equally among continental and English scholars. But any estimate of their value as furnishing ultimate statements must be left to specialists in that difficult department of inquiry. In his Annales Veteris Testamenti we have one of the earliest attempts to reduce to system the chronology of the Old Testament history as represented by the Hebrew text; and it may be observed that it is substantially the dates as supplied by Ussher that are now to be seen in the margins of nearly all editions of the English Bible. [These chronological notes first appeared in Bishop Lloyd's edition of the Bible, 1701.]
Ussher was nominated by Parliament to be a member of the Westminster Assembly of Divines; but he refused to attend it, and declared further that that gathering was both illegal and in its tendency schismatical. In revenge his library was confiscated by Parliament; and though, through the generosity of John Selden and others, it was bought back, or in some other way saved, for the Primate, it was found that many of his valued manuscripts had been removed. When we consider the anxieties of Ussher's position, the turbulent times in which he lived, and the many hardships of his later years, one marvels the more at his unremitting literary labours continued up to the very last. [He was at work on the Chronologia Sacra till the evening twilight failed him on the day before his death. From his study he passed to another room in the house to offer spiritual consolation to a dying person. Before two o'clock the next day (March 21, 1656) he himself had ceased to breathe. His last audible words were, "O Lord, forgive me, especially my sins of omission."] Perhaps it may have been with Ussher, as in instances known to some of us, that the remote, out-of-the-world inquiries of learned research made for him a kind of asylum against the shocks of fate--a haven of refuge where he could forget the tempests and wild waves that raged without.
A short tract of Ussher's written as early as 1641 (but not published till the year after his death) is better known to the general public interested in ecclesiastical affairs than any of his more learned treatises. It is entitled The Reduction of Episcopacy unto the form of Synodical Government received in the Ancient Church. [Works, xii. pp. 527-536.] Its original purpose was to suggest a modification of the then form of episcopal government which he hoped might have averted the approaching ecclesiastical revolution. Its interest to us now lies chiefly in its exhibition of practical sagacity combined with sound learning in anticipating very largely the actual course adopted by every branch of the Anglican communion throughout the world, that has, through disestablishment or otherwise, been freed from the control of the State. And it is plain also that the Church of England is, so far as may be, moving in the same direction. Ussher, as might have been expected from one so thoroughly versed in the literature of primitive Christianity, maintained that the episcopal form of Church government was established by the apostles, and indeed, he added, "confirmed by Christ Himself." [Ussher held that "the angels of the seven churches" to whom Christ is represented in the Apocalypse as sending epistles were bishops; and it may be questioned whether Bishop Lightfoot has shown any satisfactory reason for questioning that ancient belief. See Works, vii. 43, seq.] But he was evidently convinced of the evils growing from the autocratic power of bishops, and desired a return to the more fraternal relations of bishops and presbyters, as manifested in the early Church.