Richard Bancroft (1544-1610)

Excerpts from:

A SURVAY OF THE PRETENDED Holy Discipline. Contayning the beginninges, successe, parts, proceedings, authority, and doctrine of it: with some of the manifold, and materiall repugnances, varieties and vncertaineties, in that behalfe.
(1593)

 

…I haue heard many, greately commende the intertainement, that was giuen  in Queene Maries time to Englishmen, at Geneva. And surely the citizens there, are (in mine opinion) to be greatly commended and assisted for it, as occasions shall require. But yet (to speake what I thinke) it had   beene better for this Iland, that neither Englishman nor Scottishman had ever beene harbored or acquainted there, in respect of such disciplinarian new lessons, & consistoriall practises, as they have brought with them from thence. …

As soone as this saide pretended discipline began to get a head in that Countrey: then againe (as amongest certaine of the Frenche Ministers,) no forme of Service, or of the administration of the Sacramentes, no orders, nor any thing else, but all must be done, as it was at Geneva. As any doubts did arise amongest them, concerning any Church causes, though they were but very simple, & such as a student of meane capacity and judgement, might very easely have satisfied: yet no man but Maister Caluin for his time, and afterwards Maister Beza, (as though they had beene such Peters for the Protestants, as the Bishop of Rome pretendeth himselfe to be for all Papists) was accounted of sufficiency, or able to dissolve them:…

 

… As soone as her majesty, (whom Almighty God longe preserue to raigne ouer us,) was come to the Crown: word was sent into this Realme from Geneva, in a Booke printed there 1559. that those Princes, that would liue without the yoke of Discipline, (meaning that Genevian forme,) were to be   reputed for Gods ennemies: and therefore unworthy to raigne aboue his people. About the same time, Goodman, Whittingham, Gilby, and some others, returned from Geneva into England. What violent and seditious doctrine they brought home with them, (at the least they three that are mentioned,) I leave to some other oportunity. But for the Genevian discipline, all their desires were in that point insatiable. They had seene how Calvin and Beza did raign at Geneva, and thought scorne thereuppon to be subject unto any. It seemed unto them a notable matter: If every one of them might by and by, have obtained an absolute authority, where they should have beene placed. Comming from Geneva: they thought they should haue beene admired. But finding themselves therein deceaued, and that their Genevian motions, were little regarded: it wrought in them a very great discontentment, and made them so wilfull, that nothing would please them, which was not practised in Geneva.

 

… Maister Cartwright, and all his English followers, (that I have read) doe affirme it moste confidently: that by the commaundement of God, by the institution of Christ; by the rules of Gods word; and by the practise, & commandement of the Apostles: There ought of necessitie to be an Eldership in every parish: in every  Congregation: Church by Church: in every particular Congregation: and not only in Cities, but in all Churches: in the  Countrye and uplandish townes whosesoever there is a  Pastor: without the which Eldership, every such church; or Congregation, is to be accounted  maymed, vnperfect, no entyre body: want the exercise of the principall offices of charity: to be destitute of no small part of the Gospell of true Religion, of Christs government, of the piller of truth, and of all those priueledges, & profits, which are assigned by them, unto the enjoying of it. Hereunto, is fit to be added; what they have further written; concerning this worde, Church, and howe they describe their said Parish. The Church (sayth Cartwright) is eyther taken in the Scriptures for the whole body of  the Catholique, church, or for one particular congregation, or for the faythfull company of one house. This one particular Congregation, when it hath an Eldership placed in it; they terme it, the body of one particular Church, and a perfect and unmaymed body of Christ: wherein the ministers of the word and the Elders are the eyes; and the Deacons, the handes: without the which members, though it may liue a while (they confesse), yet (saie they) it so pineth and wanteth; that in the ende, it will become, a deade corpes uppon the grounde. And for the quantitie of this body the dimensions of it, or the description of such a particular Congregation or Parish, as they speake of; thus M. Cartwright squareth it out: Everye competent congregation and particular bodye of a church, should haue hir parts in neighbourhood of dwellings wel trussed one with another. Againe, a Parish well bounded is nothing else, but a number of those families, which dwelling neere together: may have a commodious resorte, and be at once taught with one mouth.…

… Now you shall first knowe:  what manner of men they must bee. In most parishes of England, no doubt, but the brethren must content themselues, with very meane fellowes, Husbandmen, Taylors, Butchers, Carpenters, Shomakers, Thatchers, Dawbers, and such like.

… Yea, and which is more; Everie such officer is to be continually resident upon his charge, and that in his owne person. What, not a substitute to bee admitted for a Nobleman? It is well. Then Kings, Princes, Magistrates, Lords, & Gentlemen: looke well to your charges. Marke (if it please you) how you are raunged: and give place to your betters. For (saith Danaeus Your degree or kind; Longθ est dissimile, ac inferius ordine pastorum, Is farre vnlike, and inferiour to the order of pastors. You are but made their assistants, as the 70. were to Moses. Ergo quae inter eiusdem Collegij & Curiae assessores, siue consiliarios, & ipsum praesidem differentia est, eadem est inter presbyteros & pastores eiusdem. And therefore knowe this: that there is as much difference betwixt you, & the pastors of your consistories (wherin you serve:) as is betwixt a king, and his councellors. Fie uppon superioritie, may these Ministers say, fie vpon it. Indeede we (saith one of them in effect) do rest, not in names carrying shew, of worldly rule and lordly commaundement, &c. but of seruice, guiding, leading, overseeing, directing, & such like. Which maketh me to remember the Frier in Chaucer, that desired of the Capon, but the liuer; of a white loafe, but a shiver; and after that, a rosted pigs head: but for him he would not any beast were dead. They wil seeke to be no higher, than be above princes. They wil take nothing vpon them (men of great humilitie) but even, to be guiders, leaders, overseers, and directers. And as for names of any great shew or honor, they care not for them: so they may have but onely the estimation, which is due to men, that have such vaine titles. Euen Chaucers Frier, up and downe.…

 

…There is but only this difference betwixt them & the rankest Jesuits in Europe, that what the one sort, ascribe to the Pope and his shavelings: the other do challenge to themselues and their Aldermen. Upon which occasion Cartvvright, finding himselfe with his fellowes ranged, to walke step by step with such a crue, taketh vpon him, like some dawber or bricklaier, to make a high wall (as he tearmeth it) betwixt the Papists, and them in this point. But God knoweth, it is a simple one, and so thinne, that you may easily looke through it, and discerne them marching both togither. First (sayth he) the Papists exempt their priests from the punishment of the civile magistrate, which we doe not. It is reason in deed, you should not. But if you doe not, what doe these things mean? The author of the second admonition desireth, that he and his companions may be delivered by act of Parlement, from the authoritie of the civile magistrates, as Justices, and others, and from their inditings and finings. Furthermore where Cartvvright sayth, that the authoritie of Christian Princes commeth immediately from God, and not from Christ as he is mediator: and that the authoritie of the sword is the same ordinance of God, as well in heathen princes, as in Christians: doth it not follow, that in his judgement Christian princes have no authoritie over any of their subjects, but only as they are men, and not as they are either Christians or priests?

 

 …They put on an outside of gravitie and good conscience, they make a marchandize of the worde, and an open port-sale of the Gospell. They that sometimes to our seeminge sought Reformation and the kingdome of Christ Jesus, are now become of all others the most pernitious ennemies thereof, dayly studyinge for newe cauills and shiftes, to hide theyr wretchednes. They suppose themselves to bee those servaunts of Christ that are persecuted. These disguised hypocrits: these ravening wolves, which come to us in sheeps cloathing, under glorious and swelling titles of Pastors, Teachers, and Ministers of the Gospell, men of great learninge, of verye holy life, and of great sinceritie, seekers and sighers for reformation; and such as abhorre and crye out against the Bishops, and theyr proceedinges &c. These pharisies, these Sectaries are they, which misleade the people in theyr crooked and by pathes of death, and will neyther leade them, nor suffer them to enter into the peaceable and straight wayes of the Lorde: but keepe them alwayes learning, and never bring them to the sight or acknowledging of the trueth. These Prophets by theyr preachments and long pharisaicall prayers doe soder the people in theyr sinne, and wearie God with theyr  abhominable prayers, and hypocritishe fastes, counterfeyting a great sorrowe and heavines for theyr sinnes, afflicting theyr soules for a peece of a daye, bowinge downe the heade as a bulrushe. Wee finde not onelye the markes of false Prophets, which are recorded in the Scriptures uppon them: but euen Sathans uttermost deceits and effectuall delusions amongst them, suborninge and transforminge them, as if they were Ministers of righteousnes, taking unto them, the names and titles of Christs Ministers, preachers of the Gospell, seekers of reformation, &c. whereby hee deceaueth the world.…

 

 

Richard Bancroft (1544-1610). Bancroft was educated at Cambridge University. In 1589 he preached a sermon in London attacking the Presbyterian proposals for "reforming" the Church of England. He found enthusiastic patrons in Archbishop John Whitgift and Sir Christopher Hatton, (Elizabeth's Lord Chancellor and friend of the poet Edmund Spenser). In 1597, Bancroft became Bishop of London and helped direct efforts against puritans and Separatists. James I made Bancroft Archbishop of Canterbury in 1604 and appointed him to the Privy Council.

Christopher Goodman, William Whittingham, & Anthony Gilby were English Protestants who fled abroad when Mary Tudor restored Catholicism in England. They eventually settled with other exiles in Geneva, Switzerland. Christopher Goodman wrote a tract called How Superior Powers Ought To Be Obeyed By Their Subjects: And Wherein They May Lawfully By God's Word Be Disobeyed And Resisted (1558) to justify violent resistance to Queen Mary. With Gilby's assistance, William Whittingham supervised an influential new translation of the Bible into English that became known as the "Geneva Bible". Anthony Gilby was involved with John Field, Thomas Wilcox and others in the production of the First Admonition to Parliament (1572), which advocated the introduction of a Presbyterian system of Church government in England.

Thomas Cartwright (1535-1603) was the intellectual leader of the English Presbyterian movement. Educated at Cambridge, he became Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity but was dismissed when he attacked the Church of England and its institutions. He was a client of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester who protected him as far as possible, but Cartwright nevertheless spent time in prison and exile abroad for his views.

Lambert Danaeu (1530-95) was a Calvinist theologian. He wrote a tract against witchcraft but was best known at the time for his theological writings especially on predestination and Christian ethics.