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William Whittingham

William Whittingham, A. M.—This excellent divine was born in the city of Chester, in the year 1524, and educated in Brazen-nose college, Oxford. In 1545, he became fellow of All-Souls college. Afterwards, being accounted one of the best scholars in the university, he was translated to Christ-church, then founded by Henry VIII. In the year 1550, he travelled into France, Germany, and Italy, and returned towards the close of the reign of Edward VI. Upon the accession of Queen Mary, and the commencement of her bloody persecution, he fled from the storm, and retired to Frankfort, where he settled among the first of the English exiles. Here he was the first who took the charge of the congregation, but afterwards resigned to Mr. John Knox. Mr. Whittingham and his brethren having comfortably settled their church at Frankfort, invited their brethren, who had taken refuge in other places, to come to them, and participate of their comforts : but on the arrival of Dr. Cox and his friends, instead of union and comfort, they were soon deeply involved in discord and contention; and many of them, in a short were time, obliged to leave the place. Our historian observes, that when "Dr. Cox and others with him'came to Frankfort, they began to break that order which was agreed upon : first, by answering aloud after the minister, contrary to the determination of the church; and being admonished thereof by the seniors of the congregation, he, with the rest who came with him, made answer, that they would do as they had done in England, and that they would have the face of the English church. And the Sunday following, one of his company, without the consent and knowledge of the congregation, got up suddenly into the pulpit, read the litany, and Dr. Cox with his company answered aloud, whereby the determination of the church was broken."+ These imperious exiles having, by very ungenerous and unchristian methods, procured the use of the church, Mr. Whittingham said, he did not doubt that it was lawful for him and others to join themselves to some other church. But Dr. Cox sought that it might not be suffered. Then Mr. Whittingham observed, that it would be great cruelty to force men, contrary to their consciences,

• Newcourt's Re pert. Eecl. vol. I. p. 406,422, 519. + Troubles at Frankeford, p. 31.

to obey all their disorderly proceedings; and offered, if the magistrate would be pleased to give them the hearing, to dispute the matter against all Ihe contrary party, and prove, that the order which they sought to establish, ought not to take place in any reformed church. In this they were expressly prohibited, and even forbidden meddling any more in the business. They ventured, however, to offer, as their last refuge, to refer the whole malter to four arbitrators, two on each side; that it might appear who was faulty, and they might vindicate themselves from the charge of schism: but the proposal was rejected; and after this unkind and unchristian treatment, they left the place.* Mr. Whittingham being, in effect, driven from Frankfort, went to Geneva, where he was invited to become pastor to the English church. He refused, at first, to accept the charge; but, by the earnest persuasion of John Calvin, he complied withtheirinvilation, and was ordained by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. During his abode at Geneva, he was employed with several other learned divines, in publishing a new translation of the Bible. This was afterwards called the Geneva Translation, a particular account of which is given in another placet • Soon after the accession of Queen Elizabeth, Mr. Whittingham returned home; and presently after his arrival, was nominated to accompany the Earl of Bedford on his mission to the court of France. Upon his return from France, he accompanied the Farl of Warwick, in his defence of Newhaven against the French. There he was a preacher for some time; and, as Wood observes, though he was ready in his ministerial function, he dissuaded bis hearers against conformity, and the observance of the rites and ceremonies of the English church. Yet, such was the high esteem which this excellent earl had for him, that, about he was the means of procuring from the queen, his preferment to the deanery of Durham.} He was a very learned and popular preacher; and in September 1563, he preached bctbre the quecn.4 During this year, the ruling prelates proceeded to a more rigorous imposition of the clerical habits; therefore, Mr. Whittingham wrote a most pressing letter to the Earl of Leicester, intreating him to use his interest to prevent it. In this letter, he expressed him*

, -# T'oublei at Frankeford, p. 38—51. + See Art. Coverdale.

J Wood's Athens Oxop. vol. i. p. 153.—Strype'i Annals, vol. 1. p. 3S7. $ Strype'i Parker, p. 135. r

self with considerable freedom, upon the painful subject; the substance of which was as follows" :•

" I understand," says he, " they are about to compel us, contrary to our consciences, to wear the popish apparel, or deprive us of our ministry and livings. Yet when I consider the weighty charge enjoined upon us by Almighty God, and the exact account we have to give of the Tight use and faithful dispensation of his mysteries, I cannot doubt which to choose. He that would prove the use of the apparel to be a thing indifferent, and may be imposed, must prove that it tendeth to God's glory; that it agreeth with his word; that it edifieth his church; and that it maintainelh christian liberty. But if it wanteth these things, then is it not indifferent, but hurtful. And how can God's glory be advanced by those garments which antichristian superstition has invented to maintain and beautify idolatry ? What agreement can the superstitious inventions of men, have with the pure word of God ? What edification can there be, when the Spirit of God is grieved, the chddren of God discouraged, wicked papists confirmed, and a door open for such popish traditions and antichristian impiety? And can that be called true christian liberty, where a yoke is laid on the necks of the disciples; where the conscience is clogged with impositions; where faithful preachers are threatened with deprivation; where the regular dispensation of the word of God is interrupted; wberfe Congregations are robbed of their learned and godly pastors; and where the holy sacraments are made subject to superstitious and idolatrous vestments ?

" Your lordship will thus see, that to use the ornaments and manners of the wicked, is to approve of their doctrine. God forbid, that we, by wearing the popish attire, as a thing merely indifferent, should seem to consent to their superstitious errors. The ancient fathers with one consent, acknowledge that all agreement with idolatry, is so far from being indifferent, that it is exceedingly pernicious. Some wilt say, that the apparel is not designed to set forth popery, but for good policy. Will it then be deemed good policy, to deck the spouse of Christ with the ornaments of the Babylonish strumpet, or to force her faithful pastors to be decorated like superstitious papists ? God would not permit his people of old, to retain any of the Gentile manners for

the sake of policy, but expressly forbad their imitation of them, and commanded them to destroy all the appurtenances of idolatry and superstition. And, in the time of the gospel, our Lord did not think it good policy, either to wear the pharisaical robes himself, or to suffer any of his disciples to do it; but condemned it as altogether superstitious. When I consider that Jereboam maintained bis calves in Dan and Bethel, under the plausible name of policy, it makes me tremble to see the popish ornaments set forth under the same pretence. For if policy may serve as a cloak to superstition and papistry, then crowns and crosses, oil and cream, images and candles, palms and beads, with most of the other branches of antichrist, may again be introduced.

" It is well known, that when Hezekiah, Josiah, and other famous princes, promoted the reformation of religion according to the word of God, they compelled not the ministers of God to wear the apparel of Baal's priests, but utterly destroyed all their vestments. Hezekiah commanded nil the appendages of superstition and idolatry, to be carried out of the Temple, and to be cast into Kedrou. Josiah burnt all the vestments and other things belonging to Baal and his priests, not in Jerusalem, but out of the city. All this was done according to the word of the Lord, who commanded that not only the idols, but all things pertaining to them, should be abhorred and rejected. And if we compel the servants of Christ, to conform unto the papists, I greatly fear we shall return again to popery.

" Our case, my lord, will be deplorable, if such compulsion should be used against us, while so much lenity is used towards the papists. How many papists enjoy their liberty and livings, who have neither sworn obedience to the queen s majesty, nor discharged their duty to their miserable flocks! These men laugh and triumph to see us treated thus, and are not ashamed of boasting, that they hope the rest of popery will soon return. My noble lord, pity the disconsolate churches. Hear the cries and groans of many thousands of God's poor children, hungering and thirsting after spiritual food. I need not appeal to the word of God, to the history of the primitive church, to the just judgments of God poured out upon the nations for lack of true reformation. Judge ye betwixt us and our enemies. And if we seek the glory of God alone, the enjoyment of true christian liberty, the overthrow of all idolatry and superstition, and to win souls to Christ; I beseech your honour to pity our case, and use your utmost endeavours to secure unto us our liberty."*

What effect this generous letter produced, we are not able to learn. Mr. Whittingham was a man of an excellent character and admirable abilities. This was well " known at court. Therefore, some time after his settlement at Durham, Secretary Cecil being made lord treasurer, he was nominated to the secretary's place; and, says Wood, if he had sought after this office, and made interest with his noble friend, the Earl of Leicester, he might have obtained

* Bishop Pilkington of Durham wrote a letter, at the same time, to the «ame noble person; in which he addressed him as follows:—" Consider, I " beseech your honour, how that all countries, which have reformed " religion, have cast away the popish apparel with the pope; and yet we, " who would be taken for the best, contend to keep it as a holy relic. " Mark, also, how many ministers there be here in all countries, who are " so zealous, not only to forsake the wicked doctrine of popery, but ready " to leave the ministry and their livings, rather than be like the popish " teachers of such superstitions, either in apparel or behaviour. Tbif " realm has such scarcity of teachers, that if so many worthy men should " be cast out of the ministry, for such small matters, many places would be " destitute of preachers; and it would give an incurable offence to aU the " favourers of God's truth, in other countries. Shall we make that so " precious, which other reformed churches esteem as vile ? God forbid. " If we forsake popery as wicked, how shall we say their apparel " becomes saints and professors of true holiness? St. Paul bids ns refrain "from all outward shew of evil; but, surely, in keeping this popish " apparel, we forbear not an outward shew of much evil, if popery be "judged evil. How christian peace shall be kept in this church, when so " many, for such small things, shall be thrust from their ministry and " livings, it passes my simple wit to conceive. We must not so subtilly " dispute what christian liberty would suffer us to do, but what is most " meet and edifying for christian charity, and promoting true religion. " But, surely, how popish apparel should edify, or set forth the gospel " of Jesus Christ, cannot be seen of the multitude. How much it rejoices " the adversaries, when they see what we borrow of them, and contend for, " as things necessary. The bishops wearing their white rockets began first " by Sisinius, an heretic bishop of the Novatians; and these other have the " like foundation. They have so long continued and pleased popery, " which is beggarly patched up of all sorts of ceremonies, that they could " never be rooted out since, even from many professors of the truth. " Though things may be borne with for christian liberty's sake for a time, " in hope to win the weak; yet, when liberty is turned to necessity, it is " evil, and no longer liberty ; and that which was for winning the weak, is " become the confirming of the froward. Paul used circumcision for a "time as of liberty; but when it was urged of necessity, be would not " bend unto it. Bncer, when he was asked why be did not wear the " square cap, made answer, because my head is not square. God be mer" ciful to us, and grant us uprightly to seek bis honour with all simplicity/ " and earnestness." This prelate, who had been an exile in the days of Queen Mary, was a man of great learning, piety, and moderation, and a constant friend to the persecuted puritans. — Strypt't Parker, Appen. p. 40, 41.

it; but he was not in the least anxious for court preferment.* During the severities inflicted upon the nonconformists, in the former part of Queen Elizabeth's reign, when good men were obliged to conform, or be deprived of their livings and ministry, it is said that Mr. Whittingham at first refused, but afterwards subscribed.* And in the year 1571, by the instigation of Archbishop Parker, he was cited before Grindal, archbishop of York: but the particular cause of his citation, or what prosecution he underwent, at least at that time, does not appear.}

While Grindal lived, who, towards the close of life, connived at the nonconformists, Mr. Whittingham and his brethren in the province of York, were not much interrupted; but Dr. Sandys was no sooner made archbishop, than he was brought into troubles, iVom which the stroke of death alone could deliver him. In the year 1577, the new archbishop resolved to visit the whole of his province, and to begin with Durham, where Dean Whittingham had obtained a distinguished reputation, but had been ordained only nccording to the reformed church at Geneva, and not According to the English service book. The accusation! brought against him contained thirty-Jive articles, and forty~ nine interrogatories; but the principal charge was his Geneva ordination. Mr. Whittingham refused to answer the charge, but stood by the rites of the church of Durham, and denied the archbishop's power of visitation in that church, upon which his grace was pleased to excommunicate him. Mr. Whittingham then appealed to the queen, who directed a commission to the archbishop, Henry Earl of Huntingtoa, lord president of the north, and Dr. Huttori, dean of York, to hear and determine the validity of his ordination, and to inquire into the other misdemeanours contained in the articles. The president was a zealous favourer of the puritans, and Dr. Hutton was of Whittingham's principles, and boldly declared, " That Mr. Whittingham was ordained in a better sort than even the archbishop himself." The commission, therefore, came to nothing.^ •' Sandys being sorely vexed at this disappointment, as well as Whittingham's calling in question his right of visitation, obtained another commission directed to himself, the Bishop

• Wood's Athens Oxon. vol. i. p. 15J.

♦ Sirype's tJrindal, p. 98.

1 Ihid. p. HO.—Strvpe's Parker, p. 328.
S Strjpe'i Annals, vol. ii. p. 481, 519-521.

of Durham, the Lord President, the Chancellor of the Diocese, and some others in whom he could confide, to visit the church of Durham. The chief design of this was to deprive Mr. Whittingham, as a mere layman. Upon his appearance before the commissioners, he produced a certificate under the hands of eight persons, signifying the manner of his ordination, in these words:—" it pleased God, by the " suffrages of the whole congregation (at Geneva) orderly " to choose to Mr. W. Whittingham, unto the office of " preaching the word of God and ministering the sacra" ments ; and he was admitted minister, and so published, ** with such other ceremonies as are there used and accus" tomed."* It was then objected, that there was no mention made of bishops or superintendants, nor of any external solemnities, nor even ot imposition of hands. Mr. Whittingham replied, that the testimonial specified in general the ceremonies of that church, and that he was able to prove his vocation to be the same as all other ministers of Geneva. Upon this the lord president said, " I cannot in conscience agree to deprive him for that cause alone. This," he added, " would be ill taken by all the godly and learned, both at home and abroad, that we allow of popish massing priests in our ministry, and disallow of ministers made in a reformed church." The commission was, therefore, adjourned, and never renewed.+

The archbishop's proceedings against Mr. Whittingham, were evidently invidious; and they greatly sunk his reputation, both in town and country. His calling Whittingham's ordination in question was expressly contrary to the statute of 13 Eliz. by which, says Mr. Strype, " The ordination of foreign reformed churches was made valid; and those who had no other orders, were made of like capacity with others, to enjoy any place of ministry in England."t Indeed, the Oxford historian says, Mr. Whittingham did good service to his country, not only against the popish rebels in the north, but in repelling the Archbishop of York, from visiting the church of Durham. Yet he denominates him a lukewarm conformist, an enemy to the habits and ceremonies, and an active promoter of the Geneva doctrine and discipline; and he brings many severe charges against him, styling them works of impiety. He caused several stone coffins, belonging to the priors, and laid in the cathedral of Durham, to be taken up, and appointed them

to be used as troughs for horses and swine, and their covers to pave his own house. He defaced all the brazen pictnres and imagery work, and used the stones to build a washinghouse for himself. The two holy water stones of fine marble, very artificially engraven, with hollow bosses very curiously wrought, he took away, and employed them to steep beef and salt fish in. He caused the image of St. Cuthbert, and other ancient monuments, to be defaced. And the truth is, he could not endure any thing that appertained to a monastic life.* How far Mr. Whittiugham was concerned in these works of impiety, it is not in our power to ascertain ; and how far he is censurable for these things, is left with the reader to determine.

With an evident design to reproach his memory, Dr. Bancroft says, that Mr. Whittingham, with the rest of his Geneva accomplices, urged all states to take arms, and reform religion themselves by force, lather than sutler such idolatry and superstition to remain in the land.t And a late writer, with the same ill design, observes, " that when he returned from exile, he imported with him, much of the leaven of Geneva."}

, He was, however, a truly pious man, opposed to all superstition, an excellent preacher, and an ornament to religion and learning. He died while the cause of his deprivation, for not being ordained according to the rites of the English church, was depending, June 10, 1579, in the sixty-fifth year of his age. Wood informs us, though without the smallest evidence, that he unwillingly submitted to the stroke of deaths His remains were interred in the cathedral at Durham.

This learned divine wrote prefaces to the works of several learned men: as, Mr. Goodman's book, entitled " How superior powers ought to be obeyed," &c. He published the translations of several learned works, and he turned part of the Psalms of David into metre. These are still used in the church of England. Those which he did, have W. W. prefixed to them, among which is Psalm cxix.; as may be seen in the Common Prayer Book.!

• Wood's Athens Oxon. vol. i. p. 154.

+ Bancroft's Dangerous Positions, p. 62. Edit. 1640.

} Chorion's Life of Novell, p. 114. S Athene, p. 155.

I The other persons concerned in turning the Psalms into metre, were Messrs. Thomas Sternbold, John Hopkins, and Thomas Norton, all eminent in their day, and zealous in promoting the reformation of the church. The parts which Ibey performed have the initials of their names prefixed to them, as may be seen in the Common Prayer Book.—Wood't Athene, vol. i. p. 62,63, 153.