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Thomas Sampson

Thomas Sampson, D. D.—This celebrated divine was born about the year 1517, and educated in the university of Oxford. Afterwards he studied at the Temple, became a zealous protestant, a distinguished preacher, and instrumental in the conversion of John Bradford, the famous martyr. He married the niece of old Bishop Latimer. He was ordained by Archbishop Cranmer and Bishop Ridley, who, at his request, dispensed with the habits. He was highly esteemed by these two reverend prelates. He was preacher in the army of Lord Russel, in his expedition against the Scots. In the year 1551, he became rector of Alhallows, Bread-st»eet, London; the year following he was preferred to the deanery of Winchester; and he continued a famous preacher to the death of King Edward.t Upon the accession of Queen Mary, he concealed himself for some time. During this period, he and Mr. Richard Chambers, another zealous protestant, collected money in London, for the support and encouragement of poor scholars in the two universities. But it was no sooner discovered, than they were both obliged to flee for their lives. For, August 16, 1554, Mr. Bradford, Mr. Becon, and Mr. Veron, were apprehended and committed ,to the Tower; and Sampson was to have been committed the same day, and was even sought after for this purpose, in the house in which Mr.

* Mr. Strype highly commends this work, both for the excellency of iti matter, and the elegancy of its style. In this work, the author, speaking of astrology, says, " This science above the rest was so snatched at, so " beloved, and even devoured by most persons of fashion, that they needed " no incitements to it, but a bridle rather: not to be set on, but rather " taken off from it. And that many had so trusted to this, that they almost " distrusted God."—Strypt's Cranmer, p. 368.—Biog. Brit an. vol. iii. p. 487. Edit. 1778.

t Strype's Cranmer, p. 192, 292.—Troubles at Frankeford, p. 168.

Bradford was taken. Because he could not be found, the Bishop of W inchester fumed exceedingly, as was usually the case with angry prelates.* Thus, having narrowly escaped the fire, he fled to Strasburgh, where he was much esteemed by the learned Tremelius.t He was intimately acquainted with most of the learned exiles, and particularly John Jewel, afterwards the celebrated Bishop of Salisbury. By the joint advice of Dr. Sampson, Dr. Edwin Sandys, and Mr. Richard Chambers, Jewel was induced soon after his arrival on the continent, to make a public confession of his sorrow, for his late subscription in favour of popery.J Sampson, during his exile, was concerned in writing and publishing the Geneva Translation of the Bible.$

Upon the accession of Queen Elizabeth, our learned divine returned home. While on his journey, being informed that a bishopric was designed for him, he wrote to Peter Martyr for his opinion and advice, whether it was lawful to swear " that the queen was supreme head of the church under Christ." He thought that Christ was the only supreme head of the church, and that no account of any inferior head was to be found in scripture. He thought, also, that the want of discipline in the church of England, rendered it impossible for a bishop to perforin his duty. The method of electing bishops, appeared to him, totally different from the primitive institution: the consent of neither clergy, nor people, being so much as asked. The superstitious dress of bishops seemed to him very unbecoming. He wrote to his learned friend, not that he expected a bishopric would be offered him ; but he prayed to God that it might not. He resolved to apply himself to preaching the gospel, and to avoid having any share in the government of the church, till he saw a thorough reformation, both in doctrine and discipline.

Upon the reception of Peter Martyr's answer, Sampson replied, January 6, 1560, saying, " We are under sad apprehensions, concerning which, we desire an interest in your prayers. We are afraid lest the truth of religion, in England, should either be overturned, or very much darkened. Things still stick with me. I can have neither ingress, nor egress. God knows how glad I should be to have an egress. Lei others be bishops, I desire only to be

* Fox's Martyrs, vol. iii. p. 76.
+ Wood's Athens Oxon. vol. i. p. 192.
Biog. Britan. vol. iv. p. 2759. Edit. 1747.
See Art. Coverdale.

a preacher, and no bishop. There is yet a general prohibition of preaching; and still a crucifix on the altar at court, with lights burning before it. And though, by the queen's order, images are removed out of the churches all over the kingdom, yet the people rejoice to see that this is still kept in the queen's chapel.* Three bishops officiate at the altar: one as priest, another as deacon, and a third as sub-deacon, all in rich copes before the idol: and there is sacramentwithout any sermon. Injunctions are sent to preachers not to use freedom in reproving vice." He then asks Martyr, Bullinger, and Bernardin, what they thought of these things; and whether, if similar injunctions were sent to all churches, the clergy ought to obey, or suffer deprivation rather than comply.

May 13th he wrote again, signifying that a bishopric had been offered him, but he had refused to accept it; for which, he desired Peter Martyr not to censure him, till he became acquainted with the whole matter. He rejoiced that Parkhurstt was made Bishop of Norwich. And Norwich, it seems, was the bishopric offered to him. J This illustrious divine, therefore, refused the offered preferment, because he was thoroughly dissatisfied with the episcopal office, the popish habits, and the superstitious ceremonies.

During the three first years of Queen Elizabeth's reign, Dr. Sampson delivered the rehearsal sermons at Paul's cross, and is said to have been appointed to do this on account of his wonderful memory and fine elocution ;S and in her royal visitation in the north, he was the visitor's preacher. In the year 1560, he became dean of Christ-church, Oxford, To procure his settlement in this public situation, the members of the house wrote to Lord Dudley, urging him to prevail upon the queen, in behalf of Sampson. In this letter, subscribed by twenty-two persons of distinguished

* Dr. Sampson having laid a Common Prayer Book, (adorned with fine cuts and pictures, representing the stories of the saints and martyrs,) in the queen's chapel, for her use, it is said, that she severely reprimanded him for so doing, and told htm, " That she had an aversion to idolatry, and " to images and pictures of this kind.—That he had forgot her proclama" tion against images, pictures, and Roman relics in churches.—And she " ordered that no more mistakes of this kind should be committed within " the churches of her realm for the future." It seems difficult to reconcile this, to her majesty's conduct in still retaining idolatrous worship in her own chapel.—Stripe's Jnnak, vol. i. p. 239.

+ Bishop Parkhnrst, who was an exile in the days of Queen Mary, waa a person of great learning, a worthy prelate, and always a decided friend to the nonconformists.—MS. Chronology, vol. i. p. 273. (2.)

t Burnet's Hist, of Refor. vol. iii. p. 291, 892.

S Strype's Annals, vol. i. p. 238.

learning, they say, " That as for Dr. Sampson, after well considering all the learned men in the land, they found none to be compared to him, for singular learning and great piety, having the praise of all men. And that it Was very doubtful, whether there was a better man, a greater linguist, a more complete scholar, or a more profound divine."* Afterwards, Dr. Sampson, Dr. Lawrence Humphrey, and Mr. Andrew Kingsmill, all celebrated puritans, were the only protestant preachers in the university of Oxford.+

Dr. Sampson sat in the convocation of 1562, and subscribed the Articles of Religion. This being finished, many learned members of the lower house, presented to the house a paper of requests, chiefly relating to matters of discipline, in which they desired an allowance in a numb* of important particulars. His name is among those who subscribed.} While the convocation was discussing the subject of discipline, the prolocutor, with Dr. Sampson and Dr. Day, presented to the upper house a book called Catechismus pucrorum; to which all the members of the lower house had unanimously given their consent. They left the book with their lordships ; but there, unfortunately, it remained without any further notice.^ Afterwards, his scruples and objections against the prescribed habits and ceremonies, being known at court, Secretary Cecil urged him to conform, adding, " That he gave offence by his disobedience, and that obedience was better than sacrifice." To this, Sampson, in a letter to this honourable person, replied, <' That in the law, God commanded all idols to be destroyed, with all the ceremonies belonging to them; prohibiting as much the ceremonies, as the idols themselves. That the godly kings of the Jews dealt with idols, idolatry, and the appurtenances accordingly. That the Lord threatened to punish those who should retain such ceremonies and fashions, in time of reformation. That Christ did not communicate in any traditions devised by the pharisees ; but reproved them, and warned the apostles to take heed of them. Therefore, all ceremonies devised and used by idolatrous papists, ought to be rejected, destroyed, and forbidden. And though men in authority command otherwise, yet he, who thus followeth the mind of God in his word, doth yield that obedience, which is better

• Strype's Annals, vol. i. p. 432,433.

+ Wood's Atbena; Oxon. Voi. i. p. 193.

1 Strype's Annals, vol. i. p. 890, 298. ii. Adden. p. IS.

$ Churton's Life of Nowell, p. 96

than sacrifice." He observed further, " That the conduct of the primitive christians, in refusing such things, was void of blame.—That to prescribe a certain uniform array for ministers, came out of the corrupt state of the church.— That all reformations ought to be framed according to the original and pure state of the church.—^That if the reformation would not admit this, but would determine the reverse, he could not see how this should bind him, who knew and desired greater purity.—That these were only some of the reasons which constrained him to do as he did.—And that as he put no restraint upon others, but left them to the Lord, so he desired to be left in like manner."*

In the year 1564, Dr. Sampson and his much esteemed friend, Dr. Humphrey, were cited before the high commission, at Lambeth, an account of which is given in another placet After being harassed for some time, Humphrey, at length, obtained a toleration; but Sampson suffered deprivation, and was removed from the university. The proceedings of the commissioners were severe enough, even in the opinion of Dr. Heylin; who adds, « that he was worthily deprived, and that, by this severity, the puritans found what they might expect."t Some of the learned lawyers, however, disputed the legality of his deprivation, and were of opinion, that the commissioners were involved in a premunire. Indeed, Sampson was deprived not only of his deanery, but of his liberty too, and was kept for some time in a state of confinement: nor was he able, without much trouble, to procure his release.^ He was succeeded in the deanery of Christ-church by Dr. Thomas Godwin, afterwards Bishop of Bath and WeUs.|

In the year 1573, our learned divine was struck with the dead palsy on one side; and having enjoyed, for some time, the lecture at Whittington college, London, for which he received ten pounds a year, he resigned it into the hands of his patrons. It was in the gift of the company of clothworkers, to whom he recommended Mr. Edward Deering, whom they chose for his successor; but this divine being silenced for nonconformity, Archbishop Parker utterly refused his allowance.n Mr. Deering was a man of great

• Str;pe's Annals, vol. i. p. 433, 434. + 8ee Art. Humphrey.
1 Heylin'i Hist, of Presby. p. 250.
S Strype's Parker, p. 186, 187.

| Biog. Briton, yol. It. p. 2230. Edit. 1747. 1 Ibid. p. 469,470.

learning, exemplary piety, and an excellent preacher; and the benefice being very small, it reflects not a little upon the severity of this prelate.

In March this year, Dr. Sampson sent a letter, written by another person, to the Lord Treasurer Burleigh, signifying, that Ghd had been pleased to take from him the use of half his limbs, though not his senses ; which was the occasion of his using the hand of another. And though this disease was to him as the messenger of death, he thanked God, that he was ready to depart in peace. He was, indeed, constrained, before his heavenly father called him home, to trouble his lordship once more. He, therefore, earnestly solicited him to use his utmost endeavours to promote the necessary reformation of the church, and herein recommended the directions in Bucer's book on the Kingdom of Christ. " My lord," says he, "though the doctrine of the gospel is preached in the church of England, the government of the church, as appointed in the gospel, is still wanting. The doctrine, and the government, as appointed by Christ, are both good; and are to be joined together, and not separated. It is a deformity to see a church, professing the gospel of Christ, governed by those canons and customs, by which antichrist ruleth his synagogue. Martin Bucer wrote a book to King Edward, upon this subject, entitled De Regno Christi. There you will see what is wanting of the kingdom of Christ, in the church of England. My lord, I beseech you to read this faithful and brief epitome of the book, which I have sent you; and I beseech you to lay it to heart. It is the cause of Jesus Christ and his church, and very much concerneth the souls of men. Use your utmost endeavours, that, as Christ teacheth us in the church of England, he may also rule and govern us, even by the laws of his kingdom. Help, my ford, in this good work of the Lord your God. By so doing, you will serve him who is King of kings, and he will acknowledge your good service, when all kings and lords shall appear before him. My good lord, use your

welfare of his church. You cannot employ your authority in a better cause."* To this advice, the treasurer returned a christian reply, saying, " that he very much approved of what was urged, but was unable to do all that he recom-* mended." Dr. Sampson, also, returned him a very appro.

Christ, and the peace and

priate answer, reminding him how much he did at the com' mencement of the reformation ; that his will and his power were not lessened, but increased; and that, seeing others sought a reformation by stopping both preaching and government, the state of the church stood now as much in need of his assistance as ever.*

The following year he wrote to Grindal, formerly his companion in exile, but now advanced to the high dignity of Archbishop of York. Several letters passed betwixt them. Dr. Sampson reminded him of his former low condition, and cautioned him against being too much exalted with his present high title. Grindal, who was certainly different from many of the other dignitaries, told him, he did not value the title of lord, but was chiefly concerned to discharge the duties of his function faithfully, until the great day of the Lord Jesus. To this, Sampson replied, " You say, you are not lordly, nor value your lordly estate, in which, I hope, you say true. Yet I must further observe, that if you whom worldly policy hath made a lord, be not lordly, but keep an humble and a loving brother, and minister ofChrist, shall I say you are a phoenix ? I will say that you are by the special grace of God, most happily preserved. Yet your state, your port, your train of waiting-men in the streets, your gentleman-usher going before you with bare head, your family full of idle servingmen, and the rest of your worldly appendages, look very lordly. Perhaps the same policy which makes you a lord, also charges you with this lordly state. But doth the Lord Jesus, whose minister you rejoice to be, charge you with it? Such a number of idle serving-men is unprofitable and unsuitable to the minister of Christ; and, surely, such persons ought not to be maintained by the patrimony of the church. If policy have, therefore, charged you with them, it is very desirable that policy should discharge you; and that the patrimony of Christ may be employed in the support or labourers in the Lord's harvest, and the poor members of his church. But if you take this lordly state upon you, without the charge of policy, your fault is the greater: This is one of the great evils which popery hath left in the church of England."

As the archbishop had pitied his poverty and lameness, he further adds, " I do not remember that I ever complained of the one or the other. If I did of the first, I was

* Strype's Parker, Appen. p. 177, 178.

to blame; for I must have complained before I suffered want. Touching my lameness, I am so far from complaining, that I humbly thank God for it. It is the Lord's hand which hath touched me. He might have smitten or destroyed me: but of his most rich favour and mercy through Jesus Christ, as a loving father, he hath dealt thus tenderly with me. 1 bless and praise his name for it. If he see that my poor labour will be of any further service in his church, he will heal me: but if he have determined by this lameness, to lead me to my grave, the Lord give me grace to say with Eli,' It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.' I shall labour, as well as 1 am able, till I drop into the grave. Though I am in bonds, those bonds are from the Lord ; and if it were put to my choice, I would rather carry them to my grave, than be freed from them, and be cumbered with a bishopric."*

Dr. Sampson having been presented to the mastership of the hospital at Leicester, upon his being seized with the palsy, be retired to this situation, where he spent the remainder of his days. Here he was of great service to the hospital, in restoring its privileges and endowments. An account of this is related at some length, to the great honour of his character. + He was intimate with all the leading puritans, with whom he held a friendly correspondence. Among these was the venerable Mr. Gilby of Ashby. His letters to this celebrated divine are now before me, one of which, dated Leicester, March 8, 1584, was as follows: " My constant salutation in the Lord.

u I do hereby thank you for your loving letter which you u sent me last. I have well advised upon your godly " counsel; but I am not so forward in the matter as you do " think. I do not take upon me to set down a platform of " reformation. I do only desire that meet men may be called *' by authority, to consult thereupon. In which assembly " I could find in mine heart to be a door-keeper, though it " were only to keep out dogs. I have a mind to proceed " in that which I proposed. The Lord direct me by his " grace to do that which is good in his sight. Thus " praying you to pray for me, 1 commit you to God. " Yours in Christ,

" Tho. Sampson.

u P S. Until ambition and proud Pope xxiii. be pulled u down, there is no hope for any good to be done in con

• Strypf's Parker, Appen. 278—280. t Strype's Annali, vol. ii. p. 881,382.

" sulfation. Bishops are no meet men. They are too partial; " and the university-men will never yield in disputation. " Pray for reformation by the power of the word preached."*

In the above year, Dr. Sampson was concerned in presenting a supplication to the queen, the council, and the parliament, for a further reformation of the church. It was entitled " A Supplication to be exhibited to our sovereign lady, Queen Elizabeth, to the honourable Lords of her most honourable Privy Council, and to the High Court of Parliament." This supplication, consisting of thirty-four articles at considerable length, enumerates many grievances still retained in the church, and, upon very powerful grounds, humbly solicits a peaceable and speedy redress; but is too long for our insertion.t To this supplication, Dr. Sampson prefixed an address, in which many com* plaints are enumerated; among which are the following: " We have not vigilant, able, and painful preaching pastors resident among us, to teach us the word of God, by preaching and catechising. We have some kind of pastors, but many of them do not reside on their benefices. Some of them are licensed to two, and some to three benefices. If our bishops provided a remedy for this evil, we would not complain. But they are so far from providing a remedy, that they increase the evil daily. They are constantly making ministers, who will only read out of a printed book, what they are compelled to read ; and, with this, the bishops are sufficiently satisfied. Though they want the gift of teaching, they boldly seek to obtain the place of teachers. And, seeing that pastors are commanded to feed the flock of God, over which the Holy Ghost makes them overseers, surely it is very preposterous and presumptuous, to ordain those men to be pastors who cannot feed the flock. The pastors whom the Lord allows and esteems, are such as feed his people with knowledge and understanding. Such did our Saviour send forth. Such did his apostles require; that, by sound doctrine, they might convince the gainsayers, apt to teach, rightly dividing the word of truth.

" We might," says ne, " greatly increase our complaint. For the good and useful teachers among us, are much discouraged. Some of them are displaced and silenced, not because they do not teach us plainly and faithfully, but because of their nonconformity to the unprofitable ceremonies which men have devised. We most humbly beseech

• Baker'i MS. Collec. vol. xxxil. p. 433.
+ Strvpe'i Annals, vol. iii. Appen. p. 68—81.

your highness and honours, to call to your remembrance, that they who do well may receive that praise and comfort which they deserve. This hard treatment of our pastors, brings us into great distress. We are sure, that when the bishops deprive our preaching and laborious pastors of their livings, and stop their mouths, so that they cannot teach us the will of our God; they undertake to do that for which they must give an account, in the great day of the Lord. We have great need of such pastors as can and will teach us the way of the Lord. We have no need at all of idle ceremonies, which do not in the least edify in true godliness. Silencing our preaching pastors, who would feed our souls with the provision of God's word; and imposing upon us mere readers, furnished with unprofitable ceremonies, is taking from us the bread of life, which God hath prepared for us, and feeding us with the unprofitable devices of men."* The supplication was sent to the treasurer, followed by two letters from Sampson, entreating his lordship to do every thing in his power to forward the business; but all proved inefiectual.t The ruling prelates, with Archbishop Whitgift at their head, remained inflexible.

Dr. Sampson was a divine highly celebrated for learning, piety, and zeal in the protestant cause, and was greatly esteemed in all parts of the kingdom. Upon his retiring to Leicester, he employed the remainder of his days chiefly in the government of his hospital, and his beloved work of preaching. And having spent his life in much labour, and many troubles, he died in great tranquillity, and comfort ul his nonconformity, April 9, 1589, aged seventy-two years4 His mortal part was interred in the chapel belonging to his hospital, where was a monumental inscription erected to his memory, of which the following is a translation :<j Msshwiai

To the Memory
and honour of Thomas Sampson,
a very keen enemy to the Romish hierarchy
and popish superstitions,
bat a most constant advocate of gospel truth.
For twenty-one years
he was the faithful Keeper of this Hospital.

Being justly entitled
to the high esteem of the Christian world,

* Strype's Annals, vol. Hi. Appen. p. 222—227.
+ Strype's Whitgift, p. 184.
Wood's Athens:, vol. i. p. 193.
Wood's Hist, et Aotiq. lib. ii. p. 254.

his sons John and Nathaniel
erected this monument to the memory of their
beloved Father.

His Works.—1. A Letter to the Professors of Christ's Gospel, in the parish of Alhallows in Bread-street, London, 1654.—2. A Warning to take heed of Fowler's Psalter, 1578.—3. Brief Collection of the Church and the Ceremonies thereof, 1581.—4. Prayers and Meditations Apostolike, gathered and framed out of the Epistles of the Apostles, 1592.—He collected and published several Sermons written by bis old friend, Mr. John Bradford.