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Arthur Wake

Arthur Wake.—This excellent person was son of John Wake, esq. and descended from a very ancient and honourable family. He was canon of Christ's Church in Oxford, and a most popular and useful preacher. In the year 1565, he was preferred to the benefice of Great-Billing, in Northamptonshire;+ and several times he preached the sermon at Paul's cross. In one of these sermons, delivered in the year 1573, he boldly defended the sentiments of Mr. Cartwright in his reply to Whitgift, and openly declared his objections against the established church. Bishop Sandys, of London, the very next day, sent a pursuivant to apprehend him ; but he had left the city, and returned to Oxford, where his lordship's authority could not reach him. The bishop, meeting with this sore disappointment, wrote to the Lord Treasurer Burleigh and the Earl of Leicester, the latter being at that time Chancellor of Oxford, urging them to take the case into consideration.} It does not appear, however, that the two honourable persons were at all disposed to comply with his lordship's solicitations. • Though Mr. Wake escaped the snare of the Bishop of London, he fell, the same year, into the hands of Scambler, Bishop of Peterborough, when he received the ecclesiastical censure. He was rector of the above place; and being cited before the bishop's chancellor, he was first suspended for three weeks, then deprived of his living. Mr. Eusebius Paget,^ and several other worthy ministers, were suspended and deprived at the same time. They were all laborious and useful preachers. Four of them were licensed by the university, as learned and religious divines; and three of them had been chosen moderators in the religious exercises,

The reason of Mr. Wake's deprivation, and that of his brethren, was not any error in doctrine, nor any depravity of life; but because they could not, with a good conscience,

• Biog. Britan. vol. It. p. 2155, 8I56. Edit. 1747.

t Bridget's Hist, of Northamptonshire, vol. i. p. 407.

t Strype's Whitgift, Appeo. p. 19. ^ See Art. Eusebius Paget.

subscribe to two forms devised by the commissioners. In one of these forms, called forma promissionis, they were required to subscribe and swear, " That they would use the Book of Common Prayer, and the form of administration of the sacraments, invariably and in all points to the utmost of their power, according to the rites, orders, forms, and ceremonies therein prescribed; and that they would not hereafter, preach or speak any thing to the degradation of the said book, or any point therein contained."—In the other form, called forma abjuralionis, they were required to subscribe and swear, " That the Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops, and of the ordering of priests and deacons, set forth in the time of King Edward VI, and confirmed by authority of parliament, doth contain in it all things necessary to such consecration and ordering, having in it, according to their judgment, nothing that is either superstitious or ungodly; and, therefore, that they who were consecrated and ordered according to the said book, were duly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordained. And that they acknowledge their duty and obedience to their ordinary and diocesan as to a lawful magistrate under the queen's majesty, as the laws and statutes do require; which obedience they do promise to perform, according as the laws shall bind them. In testimony whereof they do hereunto subscribe their names."*

Mr. Wake and his brethren, refusing to be tied by these fetters, offered to use the Book of Common Prayer and no other, and promised not to preach against it before the meeting of the next parliament; but they apprehended both the subscription and the oath to be contrary to the laws of God and the realm. In these painful circumstances, being all deprived of their livings, they appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, but he rejected their appeal. Upon this, having suffered deprivation about two years, they presented a supplication to the queen and parliament; in which, after presenting an impartial statement of the tyrannical oppressions under which they laboured, they give the following reasons for refusing the subscription and the oath:—" That they should thereby have allowed, contrary to their consciences, that it was lawful for women to baptize children:—That they would have exposed themselves to much danger:—-That any man, though ever so unable to preach the word, might be made a minister, according to

• MS. Register, p. 198.

the said book:—And that they should have given theii* consent to the unlawful form of ordination, wherein are these words, Receive the Holy Ghost, &c." They conclude by expressing their concern for their bereaved flocks, and how desirous they were of being restored to their former labour and usefulness, earnestly soliciting the favour of the queen, and the lords and commons in parliament.*

Though the case of these pious divines was deserving the utmost compassion, they could not obtain the least redress. They had wives and large families of children, now reduced to extreme poverty and want, and, as they expressed in the above supplication, if God in his providence did not interfere, they should be obliged to go a begging; yet they could procure no relief. The distress of these zealous and laborious servants of Christ, was greatly increased by the ignorance and insufficiency of their successors. They could scarcely read so as to be understood, and the people were left in a great measure untaught. Instead of two sermons every Lord's day, which each of them had regulnrly delivered, the new incumbents did not preach more than once in a quarter of a year, and frequently not so often. The numerous parishioners among whom they had laboured, signed petitions to the bishop tor the restoration of their former ministers; but all to no purpose. They must subscribe and take the oath, or be buried in silence.t

It does not appear how long Mr. Wake remained under the ecclesiastical censure, or whether he was ever restored to his benefice. He was living in the year 1593, and at that time minister at St. John's Hospital in Northampton.f He was adivine of good learning, great piety, and a zealous, laborious, and useful preacher. He was father to Sir Isaac Wake, a learned and eloquent orator at Oxford, afterwards ambassador to several foreign courts, and a member of parliament.^