Gilbert Alcock was an excellent minister of puritan principles, but silenced, with many of his brethren, for nonconformity. April 3,1571, he presented a supplication to the convocation, in behalf of himself and his suffering brethren,
• Baker's MS. Collection, vol. i. p. 193.
+ This excellent work was reprinted in the time of Archbishop Land ; but upon the complaint of a popish priest, his grace commanded it to be suppressed, and threatened the printer with a prosecution. Such was the spirit and inclination of this, pro tat ant prelate.—Cantcrburits Ouomc, p. 516.
earnestly soliciting the house to consider their case, and redress their grievances. In this supplication, now before me, he spoke with considerable freedom and boldness, concerning the corruptions of the church. He expressed himself as follows:—" The ceremonies now retained in the church, and urged upon the consciences of christians, occasion the blind to stumble and fall, the obstinate to become more hard-hearted, Christ's messengers are persecuted, the holy sacrament is profaned, God dishonoured, the truth despised, christian duty broken, and the hearts of many are sorely vexed : they cause papists and wicked men to rejoice in superstition, error, idolatry, and wickedness: they set friends at variance, and provoke the curse of God. Woe unto him by whom the offence cometh.
" The godfathers and godmothers, who promise to do so much for the child, are the pope's kindred; and, by his canon law, like priests, are forbidden to marry. It is holden that kneeling in the public sacrament, is more reverent, more religious, and more honourable to God; and thus they make themselves wiser than Jesus Christ, who sat with his disciples at the last supper. Matt. xxvi. In vain do ye worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
" If a minister preach true doctrine and live virtuously, yet omit the least ceremony for conscience sake, he is immediately indicted, deprived, cast into prison, and his goods wasted and destroyed; he is kept from his wife and children, and at last excommunicated, even though the articles brought against him be ever so false.* How heavy these ceremonies lie upon the consciences of christians; and what difference there is between them, and those for which the people of God have been, and are still, so much persecuted, judge ye, as ye expect to be judged in the day of judgment. Those who observe your ceremonies, though they be idolaters, common swearers, adulterers, or much worse, live without punishment, and have many friends. We, therefore, beseech your fatherhoods to pity our case, to take these stumbling-blocks from us, that we may live quiet and peaceable lives, to the honour of our God."+ The convocation were, however, of another mind; and, instead of lessening their burdens, very much increased them.
* Bishop Maddnx has endeavoured to invalidate this statement of Mr. Alcock, hot completely failed in the attempt. He has produced additional evidence of the extreme severities inflicted upon the oppressed puritans—Vindication, p. 335, 336.
+ MS. Register, p. 90—92.