Free eBook: Getting Through the Storms in Life

Lawrence Humphrey

Lawrence Humphrey, D.D.—This celebrated puritan was born at Newport-Pagnel in Buckinghamshire, about the year 1527, and educated first in the university of Cambridge, then in Magdalen college, Oxford, where, in 1549, he became perpetual fellow, and was chosen reader of Greek in 1552. Having applied himself closely to theological studies, he entered, about the same time, into the sacred function. He remained at Oxford, some time after the accession of Queen Mary and the commencement of her severities; but, at length, by the permission of the president, vice-president, and others of his college, was allowed to go abroad. " In the opinion of all," says the Oxford historian, " he was much commended for his life and con


• Parte of a Register, p. 119—124. + See Art. Cartwright. J An abstract of this most moving petition is given in another place.— S*e Art. John Greenwood.

I) Account prefixed to " Parte of a Register."

jj Great numbers perished in the various prisons where .they were long confined and most cruelly used. Among the rest, was one Mr. Roger Rippon ; who, dying in Newgate, his fellow prisoners put the following inscription upon his coffin :

" This is the corpse of Roger Rippon, a servant of Christ, and her " majesty's faithful subject; who is the last of sixteen or seventeen which *' that great enemy of God, the Archbishop of Canterbury, with his high " commissioners, have murdered in Newgate within these five years, "manifestly for the testimony of Jesus Christ. His soul is now with the " Lord ; and his blood crieth for speedy vengeance against that great " enemy of the saints, and against Mr. Richard Young, (a justice of the " peace in London) who in this and many the like points, hath abused hit '* power, for the upholding of the Romish antichrist, prelacy, and priest" hood. He died A. D. 1592."—Strype's AnnaU, vol. iv. p. 133.

versation, and for his wit and learning; and was permitted, for the benefit of his studies, to travel one year into foreign parts, on condition that he kept himself from such places as were suspected to be heretical, or favourers of heresy, and that he refrained himself from the company of those who are, or have been, authors of heresy or heretical opinions." Having thus obtained liberty to leave the country, he went to Zurich, where he joined the English protestant exiles, and, not returning at the end of the year, was deprived of his fellowship.* During his exile, we find his name subscribed to a letter from the exiles at Zurich, to their brethren at Frankfort. This letter is dated October 23, 1554.+

Upon the accession of Queen Elizabeth, Humphrey returned home. But having held a correspondence with the learned divines at Geneva, during his absence, he is said to • have returned to England, so much the Calvinian, both in doctrine and worship, that the best that could be said of him was, that he was a moderate and conscientious nonconformist. Upon his return he was immediately restored to his fellowship, and, by her majesty, nominated queen's professor of divinity in the university of Oxford, being accounted the fittest person in the kingdom for that office. He soon after took his degrees in divinity, and was elected president of Magdalen college, though not without much opposition from the popish party.} In this situation, many persons, afterwards famed for their celebrity, were brought up under him; among whom was the famous Sir Thomas BodIey.^

In the following account of this celebrated divine, we shall have frequent occasion to mention his worthy and intimate friend, the famous Dr. Thomas Sampson. They were persons of great reputation, especially in Oxford, and were highly distinguished for their learning, piety, and zeal in promoting true religion. But their learning, piety, and zeal, were no sufficient screen from the prosecution of the high commission,

• Wood's Athene Oxnn. vol. i. p. 195.
+ Troubles at Frankeford, p. 10—12.
J Wood's Athene, vol. i. p. 195.

S Sir Thomas Bodley was celebrated as a statesman, and as a man of letters; but incomparably more, in the ample provision he has made for literature, in which he stands unrivalled. In 1599, be opened his library, called the Bodleian Library, at Oxford, which will perpetuate his memory as long as books shall endure. He drew up the statutes of the library; wrote the memoirs of his own life $ and died Jan. 28,1613.—Ibii. p. 386, 327.—Granger's Biig. Hist. vol. i. p. 233, 271.

for refusing to wear the popish habits. Accordingly, March 3, 1564, both Humphrey and Sampson, with four other divines, were cited before Archbishop Parker and his colleagues, at Lambeth. Upon their appearance, the archbishop urged the opinions ot foreign divines: as, Peter Martyr and Martin Bucer, with the view of bringing them to conformity. This, indeed, proved ineffectual; for their judgments remained unconvinced. They requested that they might be dismissed, and return to their usual exercises at Oxford; but this the archbishop refused, intending to bring them before the council. After attendance for some time, they prepared a supplication, in a very elegant, but submissive style, which they presented to the Archbishop, the Bishops of London, Winchester, Ely, and Lincoln, and other commissioners.

In this supplication, they protested before God, how great a grief it was to them, that there should be any dissention about so small a matter as woollen and linen, as they styled the cap and surplice. But it comforted them, that, under Christ, the captain of salvation, they all professed the same gospel, and the same faith; and that in the matter of habits, each party followed the dictates of their own minds, where there was often room for liberty, and always for charity. They alleged the authorities of Augustin, Socrates, and Theodoret, to shew that in their times, there was a variety of rites and observances in the churches, yet unity and concord. They had many and powerful reasons for this address : as, " That their consciences were tender, and ought not to be grieved.—That they were not turbulent, nor obstinate, nor did they study novelty, nor refuse to be convinced, nor attempt to disturb the peace of the church.—That they were certain, that things in themselves indifferent, did not always appear indifferent, even to persons of a tender conscience.—And that the law for restoring the ceremonies of the Romish church, was connected with bondage and superstition." They also added, M Because these things do not seem so to you, you are not to be condemned by us; and because they do seem so to us, we ought not to be condemned by you." They beseech their lordships, therefore, that if there be any fellowship in Christ, they would follow the direction of divine inspiration, about things in their own nature indifferent, " that every one might be persuaded in his own mind."*

They wrote, also, to the Earl of Leicester, but all to no

• Strype't Parker, p. 162, 16S.

purpose. They could not procure their release; but were obliged to continue their attendance. The commissioners themselves were very much divided in their opinions. Some wished to have their reasons answered, and the habits enforced: others were for a connivance. But the archbishop, who was at the head of the commission, would abate nothing. For April 29th, he peremptorily declared in open court, " That they should conform to wear the square cap and no hats, in their long gowns; to wear the surplice with non-regent's hoods in the choirs, according to ancient custom; and to communicate kneeling, with wafer bread; or immediately part with their preferment." To this they replied, that their consciences would not suffer them to comply, whatever might be the consequences.* Upon this, they were still kept under confinement; but the storm fell chiefly upon Dr. Sampson.t

In one of their examinations, during this year, the archbishop put the following questions to them, to which they gave the answers subjoined.

Question. Is the surplice a thing evil and wicked, or is it indifferent?

Answer. Though the surplice in substance be indifferent, yet in the present circumstance it is not, being of the same nature as the garment of an harlot, or the apparel of idolatry; for which God, by the prophet, threatens to visit the people.

Q. If it be not indifferent, for what cause ?

A. Because things consecrated to idolatry are not indifferent.

Q. May the bishop detesting popery, enjoin the surplice to be worn, and enforce his injunctions ? A. It may be said to such a one, in the words of Tertullian,

whatsoever of it thou meddlest with, is idolatry." Which, if he believe, he will not enforce.

Q. Is the cope a thing indifferent, being prescribed by law for decency and reverence, and not in respect of superstition or holiness ?

A. Decency is not promoted by a cope, which was devised to deface the sacrament. St. Jerome says, " That the gold, ordained by God for the reverence and decency of the Jewish temple, is not fit to be admitted to beautify the Church of Christ;" and if so, how much less copes brought

" If thou hatest the

and pageantry of the devil,

• Strype'a Parker, p. 164. f See Art. Sampson.

in by papists, and continued in their service as proper ornaments of their religion.

Q. May any thing that is indifferent be enjoined as godly, for the use of the common prayer and sacraments ?

A. If it be merely indifferent, as time, place, and such necessary circumstances of divine worship, for which there may be ground brought from scripture, we think it may.

Q. May the civil magistrate constitute by law, an abstinence from meats on certain days ?

A. If it be sufficiently guarded against superstition, he may appoint it, dile regard being had to persons and times.

Q. May a law be enacted to make a difference in the apparel of ministers from laymen ?

A. Whether such prescription to a minister of the gospel of Christ be lawful, may be doubted; because no such thing is decreed in the New Testament. Nor did the primitive church appoint any such thing, but chose rather to have their ministers distinguished from the laity by their doctrine, not by their vestments.

Q. Ought the ministers going in popish apparel, to be condemned for so doing ?

A. We judge no man. To his own master he standeth or falleth.

Q. Ought such preachers to be reformed or restrained, or not ?

A. Irenaeus will not have brethren restrained from brotherly communion, for diversity in ceremonies, provided there be unity of faith and charity; and it is desirable to have the like charitable permission among us.

To these answers, they subjoined several additional arguments against wearing and imposing the habits: as, " Apparel ought not to be worn, as meat ought not to be eaten; but according to St. Paul, meat offered to idols ought not to be eaten, therefore popish apparel ought not to be worn.—We ought not to give offence in matters of mere indifference; therefore the bishops who are of this opinion, ought not to enforce the habits.—Popish garments have many superstitious mystical significations, for which they are consecrated; we ought, therefore, to lay them aside.—Some suppose our ministrations are not valid, or acceptable to God, unless performed in the apparel; we apprehend it, therefore, highly necessary to undeceive the people.— Things indifferent ought not to be made necessary, because then their nature is changed, and we lose our liberty.—And if we are bound to wear popish apparel when commanded, we may be obliged to have shaven crowns, and to make use of oil, spittle, cream, and all other papistical additions to the ordinances of Christ."*

Humphrey and Sampson having thus openly and fully delivered their opinions, a pacific proposition was drawn up, which they both subscribed, with the reserve of the apostle, All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient. All things are lawful, but all things edify not. Upon this, it seems, they were both released. Dr. Humphrey, about the same time, wrote a very excellent letter to the queen, in which he addressed her majesty as follows:— " Kings being kindled with zeal for the house of God, " have removed all the relics of superstition; so that no " token thereof remained. This form and pattern of " reformation is then perfect, when there is no blemish in " the face, and when, in religion and ceremonies, nothing " is taken from the enemies of the truth. You know, that in " things indifferent, especially those which are in contro" versy, it is lawful for every man, without prejudice to " others, to have his full persuasion, and that the conu science ought not in any case to be bound. That the " matter which we handle is agreeable to religion and " equity, I think there is no man that doubteth. Seeing, " therefore, the thing which we request is honest, and " that which is commanded is doubtful; and they who make " the request, are your most loving and obedient subjects, u and ministers of the word, why should your mercy, O u queen! which is usually open for all, be shut up from " us ? You being the prince will not give place to your " subjects; yet being merciful, you may spare them who " are in misery. You will not disannul a public decree; " yet you may mitigate it. You cannot abolish a law; " yet you may grant a toleration. It is not meet you " should follow every man's affections; yet it is most right " and convenient, that the mind and conscience be not " forced.

" We do not go about, O most gracious queen, to bear " rule, who ought to be subjects; but we would that reason, " the queen of queens, should rule, and that the humble u entreaty of the ministers of Christ, might obtain that which '( religion commandeth. Wherefore, O most noble prince, " I do in most humble sort, request and earnestly desire, u that your majesty would seriously and attentively consider

" the majesty of the glorious gospel, the equity of the cause, " the small number of workmen, the greatness of the " harvest, the multitude of tares, the grievousness of the " punishment, the lightness of the fault, the sighs of the " good, the triumphs of the wicked, and the mischiefs of " the times."* By using these urgent endeavours, and having many friends at court, he, at length, obtained a connivance and a toleration.

Dr. Humphrey having procured his liberty, the Bishop of Winchester presented to him a small living, in the diocese of Salisbury, but Bishop Jewel, his professed friend, and intimate acquaintance, refused to admit him; and protested he never would admit him, till he obtained some good assurance of his conformity.+ Jewel's great objection against admitting him, was his nonconformity; upon which, said he, " God is not the author of confusion, but of peace,- and diversity in the worship of God, is deformity, and a sufficient cause of deprivation." Dr. Humphrey, in a letter to the bishop, dated December 20, 1565, replied, " That his lordship's objection had but little ground to rest upon.—That he never w;is the author of cpnfusion.—That he had ever lived in peace and concord with his brethren, and in due obedience to his superiors, and, by the grace of God, was still resolved so to do.— And that if diversity in outward ceremonies be deformity, if it be any confusion, if it be a sufficient cause of deprivation, if conformity be a necessary part of the ministry; if all this came not from the pope," said he, " and if it existed before popery, then I am much deceived. But whatever he called it, whether order or disorder, it was of very littie consequence. He assured his lordship, that he did not mean to innovate, nor to violate their ecclesiastical ordinances." Though he had obtained the patronage of his grace of Winchester, and the favour of the archbishop, and the benefice was only very small, Jewel seems to have remained inflexible;! for it does not appear that he was admitted.*)

* Baker's MS. Collec. vol. vi. p. 353,354.

+ MS. Register, p. 873.—Strype's Annals, vol. i. p. 421.

t Strype's Parker, p. 185, 186.

^ Though Bishop Jewel was a zealous churchman, he was of a different spirit from many of his brethren. In a letter dated May 22, 1559, he wrote, " that the Queen (Elizabeth) refused to be called Head of the Church; and adds, that title could not be justly given to any mortal, it being due only to Christ; and that such titles had been so much abased by antichrist, that tbey ought not to beany longer continued."—8>mj»«n'< Plea for Religion, p. 146. Edit. 1810.

Upon the publication of the advertisements, for enforcing a more strict conformity, Dr. Humphrey wrote to Secretary Cecil, earnestly desiring him to use all his influence towards stopping their execution. In this letter, dated April 23, 1566, he says, " I am sorry that the old sore is broken out again, to the calamity of many, and to the wonder and sorrow of all. The cause is not so good, in my poor opinion, as it is represented. The trouble is greater than we imagine. The inhibition of preaching, how strange and lamentable! The cries of numbers awaken the pity of God and man. The book of advertisements contains many things, which, on many accounts, are much disliked by wise men. The execution of it, which has hitherto been vehement, has greatly agitated and spoiled all. I humbly request you to be a means with the queen's majesty, to put a stop to the execution of it, and that the book may sleep in silence. The people in these days, require other kind of advertisements. We stand in need of unity and concord; but these advertisements have produced greater variety and discord than was ever known before. To your wisdom and goodness, I refer all."*

About the same time, he wrote a very warm and affectionate letter to the bishops, boldly expostulating with them about their corrupt and unchristian proceedings. He says, " The gospel requireth Christ to be openly preached, professed, and glorified; but, alas! a man qualified with inward gifts, for want of outward shews in matters of ceremony, is punished: and a man only outwardly conformable, and inwardly unfurnished, is exalted. The preacher, for his labour, is beaten; the unpreaching prelate offending, goes free. The learned man without his cap, is afflicted: the man with his cap is not touched. Is not this a direct breach of God's laws ? Is not this the way of the pharisees ? Is not this to wash the outside of the cup, and leave the inside uncleansed ? Is not this to prefer mint and annis, to faith, and judgment, and mercy ? Is not this preferring man's traditions before the ordinance of God ? Is not this a sore disorder in the school of Christ ?—Charity, my lords, would first have taught us, equity would first have spared us, brotherly-kindness would have warned us, pity would have pardoned us, if we had been found transgressors. God is my witness, that I think honourably of your lordships, esteeming you as brethren, reverencing you as lords and

Strype's Parker, p. 217.

masters of the congregation. Alas then! why have you not some good opinion of us ? Why do you trust known adversaries, and distrust your brethren ? We confess one faith of Jesus; we preach one doctrine; we acknowledge one ruler upon earth : in all these things we are of your judgment. Shall we be used thus then for the sake of a surplice ? Shall brethren persecute brethren for a forked cap, devised for singularity by our enemy ? Shall we fight for the pope's coat, now that his head and his body are banished put of the land ? Shall the labourers, for lack of this furniture, lack their wages, and the church their preaching ? Shall we not teach ? Shall wo not exercise our talents as God hath commanded ? My lords, before this take place, consider the cause of the church; the triumphs of antichrist; the laughter of satan; and the sighing, sorrowing, and misery of your fellow-creatures."*

In July 1566, Dr. Humphrey and Dr. Sampson wrote to Bullinger at Zurich, giving him a particular account of their opinions and nonconformity. u We do not think," say they, " that prescribing the habits is merely a civil thing. And how can that habit be thought decent, which was brought in to dress up the theatrical pomp of popery ? The papists glory in this our imitation of them. We approve of rules to promote order, but this ought not to be applied to those things which destroy the peace of the church, and which are neither necessary, nor useful; and that tend not to any edification, but only to recommend those forms which most persons abhor. The papists glory in this, that these habits were brought in by them; for the proof of which, they vouch Otho's constitutions and the Roman pontifical.

" In King Edward's time, the surplice was not universally used, nor pressed upon the clergy, and the copes then taken away, are now restored. This is not to extirpate popery, but to plant it again; and instead of going forwards in the work of reformation, is going backwards. We do not make religion to consist in habits; but only oppose those who do. We hate contention, and are ever ready to enter into a friendly conference about this matter. We do not desert our churches, and leave them exposed to wolves, but, to our great grief, are driven from them. And we leave our brethren (meaning those who conformed) to stand or fall to their own master, and desire the same favourable

forbearance from them. All that is pretended is, that the habits are not unlawful. But they ought not to be taken from our enemies.

" We are far," say they, " from any design of making a schism, or of quarrelling. We will not condemn things indifferent, as unlawful. We wish the occasion of the contention removed, and the remembrance of it for ever buried. They who condemn the papal pride, cannot like tyranny in a free church. The doctrine of our church is now pure, and why should there be any defect in our worship ? Why should we borrow any thing from popery ? Why should we not agree in rites, as well as in doctrine, with the other reformed churches ? We have a good opinion of our bishops, and bear with their state and pomp. We once bore the same cross with them, and preached the same Christ with them; why then are we now turned out of our benefices, and some cast into prison, only about the habits ? We pray that God may quiet these dissentions, and send forth more labourers into his vineyard."*

" But the dispute," say they, " is not about the cap and surplice. There are other grievances which ought to be

divine worship.—The sponsors in baptism answering in the name of the child.—The cross in baptism.—Kneeling at the sacrament, and the use of unleavened bread.—The want of discipline in the church.—The marriage of the clergy is not legitimate, but their children are looked upon as bastards.— Marriage is not to be performed without a ring.—Women are not to be churched without a veil.—The court of faculties; pluralities; licenses for nonresidences, for eating flesh in Lent, &c.—Ministers have not free liberty to preach, without subscribing to the use and approbation of all the ceremonies."+

During the above year, Queen Elizabeth paid her pompous visit to the university of Oxford, on which occasion our author distinguished himself in a public disputation before her majesty. Every day the queen was entertained with academical exercises of different kinds; in which the wits of the ablest men in that age, were stretched to the utmost, to merit the applause of so illustrious an audience. The queen, together with her train of courtiers, was present at a divinity act, in which Dr. Humphrey was defendant; and Drs. Godwin, Westphaling, Overton, Calfchill, and

» Burnet's Hist, of Refor. ?ol. iii. p. 310—312, t Ibid. Records, p. 335.

redressed, or dispensed

music and organs in Peirce, were opponents. BishopJewel acted on thisoccasion, as moderator. At the conclusion, her majesty delivered a speech in praise of the learned disputants.*

This learned divine was, at length, favoured with a toleration for about ten or eleven years; and about 1576, he consented to wear the habits. Wood says, in the year 1570, but Mr. Strype, 1576, he was made dean of Gloucester; and in 1580, he was removed from the deanery of Gloucester, to that of Winchester. This he kept to his death.t He was particularly intimate with the Lord Treasurer Burleigh, who, even before he consented to wear the habits, moved the queen to prefer him to a bishopric: but, as Burleigh informed him, his nonconformity seemed to be the chief impediment in the way.} The Earl of Leicester, in his letter to the university of Cambridge, dated March 26, 1567, makes very honourable mention of him, and most warmly recommends him to the office of vice-chancellor of that university; " who," says he, " is every way a right worthy man."^ Dr. Humphrey was intimate with Mr. Gilby, a celebrated puritan, at Ashby-dela-Zouch in Leicestershire, with whom he held a friendly correspondence. Some of his letters to this venerable divine are now before me, addressed " to his worshipful and well beloved friend Mr. Anthony Gilby, at Ashby;" in one of which he writes as follows :||

" My salvation in Christ Jesus. " I thank you for your good counsel. I would I were (' as well able as I am willing. Though many brethren and " nobles also wish; yet we must pray that God may open " the queen's majesty's ears to hear of a reformation; for " there is the stay. And openly to publish such admoni" tions as are abroad, I like not; for in some parts and " terms, they are too broad and overshoot themselves. A ** book, indeed, I gave as a present of mine office and " cognizance of the university, a Greek Testament, with " mine additions or collections, to stir up her majesty to " peruse the book, and to reform the church, by it, in cer" tain sentences. I have there declared, and in a word or " two using orations, the copy whereof 1 send you. The 'l Lord Jesus bless you and yours. Oxon. Jan. 17, 1572,


As Dr. H umphrey was many years president of Magdalen college, Oxford, public professor of divinity in the university, and several times vice-chancellor; so the Oxford historian, who denominates him the standard-bearer of the nonconformists, says, that he stocked his college with such a generation of nonconformists, as could not be rooted out of it many years after his death; and that he sowed in the divinity schools, such seeds of Calvinism, and such hatred of popery, as if nothing but divine truth was to be found in the one, and nothing but abominations in the other. Nevertheless, he adds, Humphrey was a great and general scholar, an able linguist, and a deep divine; and who, for the excellency of his style, the exactness of his method, and the solidity of his matter, was superior to most theologians in his day. Archbishop Matthews said, " Dr. Humphrey hath read more fathers, than Campian the Jesuit ever saw ; devoured more than he ever tasted; and taught more than he ever heard or read."* He had the honour of seeing many of his pupils become bishops, while he, who was every way their superior, was denied any considerable preferment, on account of his puritanical principles. At length, after a life of much labour and hard study, he died in the month of February, 1589, aged sixty-three years. Fuller styles him a moderate and conscientious nonconformist, and says, that at his death, he bequeathed a considerable quantity of gold to Magdalen college. t Granger says, he was one of the greatest divines, and most general scholars, of his age; and that when Queen Elizabeth visited the university, he and Bishop Jewel entertained her majesty with a public theological disputation.} The remains of Dr. Humphrey were interred in the inner chapel belonging to Magdalen college, where a monumental inscription was erected to his memory, of which the following is a translation :h

Sacred to the Memory
of Lawrence Humphrey, D. D.
twenty-eight years Regius Professor
and Governor of this College.
His eldest daughter,
Justinia Dormer,
erected this monument to the memory
of her venerable Father.
He died in February, 1589,
aged 63.

* Wood's Athene Oxoo. vol. L p. 195, 196.
+ Fuller'! Church Hi>t. b. iz. p. 234.
t Granger's Biog. Hiat. vol. i. p. 211.
S Wood ■ Hilt, et Autiq. lib. ii. p. 808.

His Works.—1. Epistola de Grsecis literis, & Homeri lectione & imitatione, ad President, &c, 1558.—2. De Religione Conversatione & Reformatione deque Primatns Regum, 1559.—3. De Ratione Intcrpretandi Authores, 1559.—4. Optimates give de Nobilitate, ejusque antiqua origine, natura, ofliciis, disciplina, &c., 1560.*—

5. Orationes Woodstochiae habit* ad illustress. R. Eliz., 1572.—

6. De Vita et Morte Johannis Juelli: Ejusq; vera; Doctrinae Defensio, com Refutatione quorundam Objectorum, Hardingi, Sanderi, &c., 1573.—7. De fermento vitando: conscio in Matt. xvi. Marc. viii. Luc. xii., 1582.—8. Jesuitismi pars prima, 1582.— 9. Jesuitismi pars secunda, 1584.—10. Apologelica Epistola ad Acadcmiae Oxoniensis Chancellarium, 1585.—11. Seven Sermons against Treason, 1588.—12. Conscio in die Cinerum.—Many of these articles were translated and published in English.

California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information  California - CCPA Notice