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Eusebius Paget

Eusebius Paget.—Thin excellent divine wan born at Cranford in Northamptonshire, about the year 1542, and educated in Christ's Church, Oxford, lie went to the university at twelve years of age, and became an excellent logician and philosopher. During his abode at Oxford, he broke his right arm, and was lame of it ever after. Removing from the university, he became vicar of Oundlc, and rector of Langfon,* in his native county, but was exceedingly harassed on account of his nonconformity.

* Bridget's Hiit. of Northamptonshire, vol. 1. p. 3fi*.

January 29,1573, he was cited before Scambler, bishop of Peterborough, who first suspended him for the space of three weeks, then deprived him of his living, worth a hundred pounds a year. Several others were suspended and deprived at the same time, because they could not, with a good conscience, subscribe to certain promises and engagements proposed to them by the bishop.* Upon their deprivation, they presented a supplication to the queen and parliament, for their restoration to their beloved ministry; but to no purpose: They must subscribe, or be buried in silence. A circumstantial account of these intolerant proceedings will be found in another place.t

In the year 1576, Mr. Paget was exercised with new oppressions. His unfeeling persecutors, not content with depriving him of his ministry and his living, ordered him to be taken into custody, and sent up to London. He was, therefore, apprehended, with Mr. John Oxenbridgc, another leading person in the associations in Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, and they were both carried prisoners to the metropolis, by a special order from Archbishop Grindal.} It does not, however, appear how long they were kept in custody, nor what further persecutions they suffered.

Mr. Paget was afterwards preferred to the rectory of Kilkhampton in Cornwall. Upon his presentation to the benefice, he acquainted both his patron and ordinary, that he could not, with a good conscience, observe all the rites, ceremonies, and orders appointed in the Book of Common Prayer; when they generously promised, that, if he would accept the cure, he should not be urged to the precise observation of them. On these conditions, he accepted the charge, and was regularly admitted and inducted.^ He was a lame man; but, in the opinion of Mr. Strype, " a learned, peaceable, and good divine, who had formerly complied with the customs and devotions of the church, and had been indefatigable in the ministry."|| But Mr. Farmer, curate of Barnstaple, envying his popu

* Dr. Edmund Scambler, successively bishop of Peterborough and Norwich, was the first pastor of the protestant congregation in LoDdon, in the reign of Queen Mary \ but was compelled, on account of the severity of persecution, to relinquish the situation. He was a learned man, very tcalous against the papists, and probably driven into a state of exile: but, surely, he forgot his former circumstances when he became a zealous persecutor of his brethren in the days of Queen Elizabeth.

t See Art. Arthur Wake. t Strype's Grindal, p. 215,816.

S MS. Register, p. 572. || Strype's Whitgift, p. 377.

larity, complained of him to the high commission; when the following charges were exhibited against him:—" That in his prayers he never mentioned the queen's supremacy over both estates.—That he had said the sacraments were only dumb elements, and would not avail without the word preached.—That he had preached that Christ did not descend, both body and soul, into hell.—That the pope might set up the feast of jubilee, as well as the feasts of Easter and Pentecost.—That holy days and fast days were only the inventions of men, which we are not obliged to follow.—That he disallowed of the use of organs in divine worship.—That he called ministers who did not preach, dumb dogs; and those who have two benefices, knaves.— And that he preached that the late Queen Mary was a detestable woman, and a wicked Jezebel."* These were the crimes exhibited against our divine; though upon his appearance before Archbishop Whitgift and other commissioners, January 11, 1584, he was charged only in the common form, with refusing to observe the Book of Common Prayer, and the ecclesiastical rites and ceremonies; to which he made the following reply :t

" I do acknowledge, that by the statute of the 1 Eliz. I am bound to use the said Book of Common Prayer, in such manner and form as is prescribed, or else abide by such pains as by the law are imposed upon me. I have not refused to use the Common Prayer, or to minister the sacraments, in such order as the book appoints, though I have not used all the rites, ceremonies, and orders set forth in the said book. 1. Because, to my knowledge, there is no Common Prayer Book in the church. 2. Because I am informed, that you, before whom I stand, and mine ordinary, and greatest part of the other bishops and ministers, do use greater liberty in omitting and altering the said rites, ceremonies, and orders. 3. Because I am not resolved in my conscience, that I may use divers of them. 4. Because, when I took the charge of that church, I was promised by mine ordinary, that 1 should not be urged to such ceremonies; which, I am informed, he might do by law.

" In those things which I have omitted, I have done nothing obstinately; neither have I used any other rite, ceremony, order, form, or manner of administration of the sacraments or open prayers, than is mentioned in the said book; although there are some things which I doubt

whether I may use or practise. Wherefore, I humbly pray, that I may have the liberty allowed by the said book, of having in some convenient time, a favourable conference, either with mine ordinary, or with some other by you appointed. This I seek not for any desire I have to keep the said living, but only for the better resolution and satisfaction of my own conscience, as God knowcth. Subscribed by me,

" Lame, Eusebius Page*."

This answer proving unsatisfactory to Whitgift and his brethren, Mr. Paget was immediately suspended; and venturing to preach after his suspension, he was deprived of his benefice. The principle reasons of his deprivation, were, " The omission of part of the public prayers, the cross in baptism, and the surplice; and the irregularity of dealing in the ministry after his suspension."

In the opinion of the learned civilians, however, these things were not sufficient cause of deprivation, and, consequently, the proceedings of the high commission were deemed unwarrantable. The case was argued at some length; and being now before me, the reader is here favoured with the reasons on which the opinion is founded. His deprivation was accounted unwarrantable, because he had not time, nor conference, as he desired, and as the statute in doubtful cases warranted. He had not three several admonitions, nor so much as one, to observe those things in due time, as the law required. If this had been done, and, after such respite and admonition, he had not conformed, then the law would have deemed him a recusant, but not otherwise. And if the whole of this process had been regularly observed, Mr. Paget's omissions had so many favourable circumstances, as, that the parish had not provided a Prayer Book, and his ordinary had promised that he should not be urged to observe all the ceremonies, that it was hardly consistent with prudence and charity to deprive him so suddenly.

As to his irregularity in preaching after his suspension, the civilians were of opinion, that the suspension was void, because founded upon a process not within the cognizance of those who pronounced the sentence. For the ground of the sentence was his refusing to subscribe to articles devised and tendered by the ecclesiastical commissioners,who had no warrant whatever to offer any such articles. Their authority, as expressed in their commission, extended no farther than to reform and correct those things which were contrary to certain statutes, and other ecclesiastical laws; there being no clause in the commission allowing them to require subscription to articles of their own invention. They further argued, that, on supposition the suspension hud been warrantable, all irregularity was done away by the queen's pardon, long before his deprivation. Besides, Mr. Paget did not exercise himself in the ministry after his suspension, nor even attempt to do it, till after he had obtained from the archbishop himself a release from that suspension; which he apprehended, in such a case, to be sufficient, seeing his grace was chief in the commission. And in addition to this, all the canonists allowed, that mistakes of ignorance, being void of wilful contempt, as in the present case, were a lawful excuse from irregularity.* Notwithstanding these arguments in favour of the poor, lame minister of Christ, the learned prelates remained inflexible; and, right or wrong, were determined to abide by what they had decreed ; therefore, the patron disposed of the liviiur to another.

Mr. Pagel's enemies were resolved to ruin him. From the above statement, his case was, indeed, very pitiable. This, however, was not the conclusion of his troubles : his future hardships were still more lamentable. After being deprived both of his ministry and benefice, and having to provide for a numerous family, the poor man set up a small school: but there the extended arms of the high commissioners reached him. For, as he was required to take out a license, and to subscribe to the articles of religion, which he could not do with a good conscience, they shut up his school, as they had before shut him out of the church, and left him to sufler in extreme poverty and want. In this painful condition, he sent an account of his case in a letter to the lord admiral, to whom he was well known, and by whom he was much beloved. In this letter, dated June 3, 1591, he expressed himself as follows :t

" I never gathered any separate assembly from the church, nor was I ever present in them; but always abhorred them. I always resorted to my parish church, and was present at service and preaching, and received the sacrament according to the book. I thought it my duty not to forsake the church because it had some blemishes; but while I have endeavoured to live in peace, others have prepared themselves for war. 1 was turned out of my living by

• MS. Register, p.572, 573. + Slrype's Whitgift, Appen. p. 166,167. VOL. II. 5

commandment. Afterwards, I preached without living, and without stipend; and when I was forbidden, I ceased. I then taught a few children, to obtain a little bread for myself and my family; and when some disliked this, and commanded me to give it up, I obeyed and gave it up.

" I beseech your lordship to continue your great favour towards me, that I may not be turned out of house and calling, and be obliged, as an idle rogue and vagabond, to go from door to door, begging my bread, while I am able to obtain it in a lawful calling. And I beseech you to be a means of obtaining her majesty's favour, that I may be allowed to live in some place and calling, as becometh a peaceable subject. And I beseech the Lord God to bless and prosper your honour for ever. Your lordship's most obedient servant,

" Lame, Eusebius Paget." How long the good man continued under the ecclesiastical censure, we are not able to learn. It is, however, probable he continued some years. Mr. Paget subscribed the " Book of Discipline."* But we find no further account of him till September 21, 1604, when he became rector of St. Ann and Agnes, in Aldersgate-street, London. There he laboured in the Lord's vineyard, till he finished his work, dying in May, 1617, aged sevenfy-five years. His remains were interred in his own church. Wood says, " he was many years a constant and faithful preacher of God's word."* And Fuller styles him " the golden sophister, a painful preacher," and author of an excellent " History of the Bible."J

His Works.—1. Sermon on Tithes, 1583.—2. A Catechism, 1501. —3. The History of the Bible, briefly collected by way of Question and Answer, 1627.—4. Sermon on Election.—5. A Translation of Calvin's Harmony of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. He was author also of some other pieces.