John Edwin was a man of great learning and piety, a zealous and constant preacher, and many years vicar of Wandsworth in Surrey, but was prosecuted for nonconformity. He was cited before the Bishop of Winchester; and, upon his appearance, April 30, 1584, he underwent the following examination:
Bishop. Where do you dwell?
Edwin. At Wandsworth in Surrey.
B. Where were you brought up ?
E. For the most part at Wandsworth.
B. What in no school!
E. Never in any public school, only some time at Rochester. I have lived at Wandsworth forty-two years, and have been vicar of Wandsworth twenty-five years, during which time, I thank God, I have not been idle.
B. Where were you made minister ?
E. I was made minister when Dr. Parker was created Archbishop of Canterbury, by the Bishop of Bangor, who, by the command of the archbishop, made me minister in Bow-church, London.
B. Do you use to catechize ? and how do you perform it ?
E. I catechize every Lord's day before evening prayer, and in the midst of evening prayer.
B. Have you not subscribed ?
B. Why not?
E. My Lord, I perceive that you wish us to signify our allowance of the Book of Common Prayer. There is no cause why I should be called in question for this matter; for I use the book, and do not refuse it, and I speak not against it. These are manifest proofs that I allow of it.
B. Many of you who say so, will not confess what you have done, neither what you will do. Therefore you must subscribe.
E. I consider it a greater allowance to use a thing, than to subscribe unto it.
B. So you think and say it is unreasonable and unlawful to require you to subscribe.
E. Do you gather this, my lord, from what I have said ?
E. Then all is well.
B. But you must subscribe, or shew some cause why you will not.
E. My lord, if no excuse will serve, but I must subscribe, or shew some cause why I refuse, I will shew your lordship three reasons: As, 1. There are some things in the Book of Common Prayer against the word of God, and, therefore, repugnant to the word of God.—2. My next reason—
B. Nay, stop; let us talk of the first.
E. I like your order well. And to prove what I have said, I refer you to the words of the rubric, before the office of confirmation, where it is said, " That no man shall think any detriment will come to children by deferring their confirmation; he shall know for truth, that it is certain by God's word, that children being baptized have all things necessary to salvation, and be undoubtedly saved."
B. You must not take it as the words import.
E. No, my lord ! Is it not your pleasure that we should subscribe to the things in the book ? Or, is it your pleasure that we should subscribe to your interpretation of those things ?
B. You must subscribe to the sense of what is contained in the book.
E. If we must subscribe to the sense, then must you amend your article. For your article, to which you require us to subscribe, saith, that there is nothing in the Book of Common Prayer repugnant to the word of God.
B. If you were to subscribe to the gospel, would you subscribe to the words, or the sense ?
E. I would subscribe to the words ■
B. You lie.
E. My lord, I beseech you let us have good words. I say again, we must subscribe both to the words and to the sense.
B. But I say nay. For where Christ saith, " I am the door," will you subscribe to the words ?
E. My lord, mistake me not. I say we must subscribe to the sense and the words; and where the words are figurative, we must subscribe to the sense. But when the words and sense are the same, and without any figure, then we must subscribe to both.
B. What think you of the words of Christ, " My father is the husbandman," and, " the word was made flesh ?"
E. If you compare Gen. i. with the words going before those you have mentioned, you will see that we must subscribe to the sense of the words.
* Here, as Mr. Edwin attempted to proceed, his grace suddenly and passionately interrupted him.
B. " The word was made flesh:" I am sure you will not say, the Godhead of Christ was made flesh.
E. No, my lord, and I am as sure you will not say, that the manhood of Christ was made flesh, without his Godhead. But, my lord, allow me to prove my assertion.
B. Tell me, what is the English of verbum ?
E. I can prove out of the Greek, the Hebrew, and the Syriac, that the word verbum, as near as it can be rendered in English, siguifieth a thing. Allow me to prove my assertion.
B. I confess we must subscribe both to sense and words. E. Then in this we are agreed.
B. In the place you cited from the book, the meaning is, that those who are baptized, and therewith receive the grace of that sacrament, being of the number of the elect, are undoubtedly saved.
E. I beseech your lordship to read the words of the book, and let it be seen how you can give it that interpretation. But I wish to mention a second reason, and that is the administration of the communion to an individual person in private. How doth this agree with the word of God, and with the word communion .*
B. The doctrine contained in the sacrament, belongeth to wise and learned men to determine. You had best exercise yourself in catechizing, and let this alone.
E. My lord, you must bear with me. For I think God requireth it at our hands, that we learn and teach all things revealed in his holy word.
B. In some parts of Saxony, there are various articles of religion prohibited from being taught; and we ought to be content and thankful for the liberty we enjoy.
E. I cannot, without tears, remember the marvellous benefits we enjoy by the freedom of the gospel, which I pray God may never be interrupted. I must, also, call to mind, and I do also remember, the innumerable comforts and benefits we enjoy under the government of our most gracious Queen Elizabeth, whom, I beseech God, long to continue and bless. But are these sufficient reasons for us to yield to any thing against the word of God ?
B. The communion in private is a single communion.
E. How can the words single and communion be made to agree ?
B. I do not say they can.
E. Why then do you join them together ?
B. In the time of Justin Martyr, being two hundred years after Christ, the sacrament, in time of persecution, was carried from house to house, because the people dare not come together. And on one occasion, the sacrament was sent by a boy to a sick man, who earnestly desired to receive it. 1
E. But, my lord, your bringing forward the example of primitive christians is to no purpose. Our question is, whether the Book of Common Prayer containeth any thing
good man will deny that the two places I have mentioned are repugnant to the word of God.
B. What! do you condemn all who have subscribed ? Do you say they have all acted wickedly ?
£. You misunderstand my words. What I speak, I speak with consideration, and I know what I say. B. What o'clock is it ?
E. We have not yet done. I told you I had three reasons.
B. I have had more ado with you than all the rest.
E. You have not yet finished with me. As I said, I have three reasons; and I trust you will hear them before you proceed against me.
B. What are your other reasons ?
E. If you will promise that we shall examine them, I will mention them; but if not, it is unnecessary.
B. I had rather persuade many learned men than you.
E. I speak not of learning, but of conscience; and my conscience, without persuasion, will not yield. Hitherto in my ministry, I have enjoyed a good conscience, founded upon the word of God; and, my lord, with as good a conscience, by the help of God, will I be removed from it, or I will not be removed.*
Here the examination broke off, and the good man departed most probably under suspension or deprivation. His two other reasons for refusing to subscribe, which he designed to have mentioned, were, " That in the Book of Common Prayer, there are some things contrary to the laws of the realm.—And that theTe are some things which maintain and encourage some of the grossest errors and heresies of popery