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prevail against (such] women, so that sometimes they forget their own children, or kill them : yet he shall not prevail against me, for I am mightier than he is (6).” This is hinging the question on the right point. While God perseveres in his love to the saints, the saints cannot but persevere in the grace of God. So that God himself must cease to persevere, ere they can.
Latimer justly observes, that the comfort of faith may be suspended, though the grace of faith is perpetual and inamissible." It is said, in scripture, that God leadeth (as it were] into hell, and bringeth up again. And so it is with such fearful men: for God doth cast them into hell, [i. e.] he hideth himself from them; but at length le bringeth them out again, and establisheth them with a constant faith, so that they may be sure of their salvation and everlasting life. I knew once a woman, who was seventeen years in such an exstacy and fear: but at length she recovered again, and God endued her with a strong and stedfast faith in the end (c).”
Nothing can be more comfortable to an awakened mind, than this blessed infallibility of perseverance. “ This is now an exceeding comfort to all Christian people: for they may be assured, that when they believe in Christ, and Christ taketh their parts, there shall be nothing, neither in heaven nor in earth, that shall be able to hurt them, or let [i. e. hinder] them of their salvation (d).”-Again: “By this text (viz. he that spared not his own Son, &c.] it appeareth, that he that bath Christ hath all things: he hath Christ's fulfilling of the law: he hath remission of his sins; and so, consequently, everlasting life. Is not this a comfort (e) ?”
“ Whoever thus believeth, mistrusting himself and his own doings, and trusting in the merits of
(6) Ibid. p. 575. .
(c) Ibid. p. 670.
(d) Ibid. p. 692.
Christ; he shall get the victory over death, the devil, and hell: so that they shall not hurt him, neither all their powers be able to stand against any of those who are in Christ Jesus ($). Who is a just man? he is just, that believeth in our Saviour. For, as you have heard before those, who believe in Christ, are justified before God: they are clean delivered from all sins, and therefore may be called just ; for so they are, in the sight of God. Such, saith the prophet, he hath never seen forsaken of God (9).”
So far was Latimer from not holding the final perseverance of true believers, that he held it sinful in true believers to doubt of their own final perseverance. “ We must always consider that God is able to save us, and believe undoubtedly that he will save us. So that, when I am sick, as is said before, I may doubt whether God will deliver me from my sickness, or no: but I may not doubt of everlasting life (h).”
He considered the doctrine of perseverance, as a powerful support and consolation, under even the outward afflictions of the present life. Christ “ Is every where: and will be with us unto the end of the world, as he promised to his apostles after his resurrection, saying, Lo, I will be with you until the end of the world. Which is the greatest comfort that may be, unto a Christian heart: for it is a stay to all trouble (i).”
Perseverance is but another name for retaining the grace of God. And, according to Latimer, grace is retained by all who are made truly good. “To retain is the property of the good seed. Therefore if thou canst find the keeping of God's most holy word in thy heart, then thou art in the good ground, and shalt bring forth much fruit : thou shalt keep the word of God with patience. For God bath ever a church : and those that be of the church, will keep his word with patience (k).”—Such, (f) Ibid. p. 809. (9) Ibid. p. 818. (h) Ibid. p. 844.
therefore, as do not keep it with patience or perseverance, were never of God's church, but reprobates and hypocrites.
Were I to adduce all bishop Latimer's assertions in behalf of final perseverance, they would amount to a little volume. The three following shall close the subject.
“ We may learn here (viz. from Matth. viii. 23, &c.] that the ship signified the congregation of Christ and his church. The disciples, being in the ship, are preserved, through Christ. So all those which are in the church of Christ, shall be saved and preserved by him. The others, which are without this church [i. e. the reprobate], shall be damned and perish (1).”
“ If thou believest in him, then thou art written in the book of life, and shall be saved (m).”
“ The Lord knoweth which are his. Also Christ himself saith, No man shall take those from me, whom my Father hath given to me: that is to say, which are ordained to everlasting life (n)."
Thus have I lain before the reader some (and only some) of those proofs, which are on record, of bishop Latimer's Calvinism. And I have done it, with much more amplitude, than I otherwise should, for this plain reason ; viz. To show, that, though this worthy martyr was (as already observed) by far the most unlearned, and by much the least guarded and accurate, among the whole choir of English reformers; still he was in reality, a Calvinist, a strict Calvinist, a zealous Calvinist, and, in most respects, a consistent Calvinist.
I have produced apwards of a hundred passages from Latimer himself, in support of the above assertion : and, if need had required, could have augmented the list with a hundred more. But enough has been alleged, to turn the balance of
(1) Ibid. p. 855.
(n) Ibid. p. 564.
Latimer's testimony on the side of our established doctrines. Though a million of Wesleys and Sellons, with their whole ragged regiment of coblers, tinkers, shoe-blacks, and old women, were to hang by the opposite scale; they would all mount and sprawl aloft in air, till they tumbled off in clusters, not without execrating the insuperable gravity of Latimer and the church of England.
Some readers, perhaps, may think, I have been too extensive and diffuse, in my quotations from this venerable bishop. If the reason, already assigned, will not avail for my apology, the only farther amends I am able to make, is, to promise, that my extracts from each of the remaining reformers, shall be less prolix.
The Judgment of our English Reformers con
IV. Doctor John Hooper, bishop of Gloucester and Worcester, comes next to be considered. He was born in Somersetshire, A. D. 1495; and received the academical part of his education at Merton College, Oxford. The exact time of his conversion to the protestant faith, is unknown: but it certainly was previous to the year 1539. For, upon the passing of the six bloody articles into a statute which happened in that year, we find Mr. Hooper quitting England for the sake of a good conscience, and wandering, like a partridge. hunted on the mountains, first into France, Ireland, and Holland;
and from thence to Switzerland : in which latter, hé lived partly at Basil, and partly at Zurich,
where he became intimately acquainted with the learned Bullinger.
On the death of Henry VIII. in 1547, our venerable exile returned to his native country. Prior to his setting out from Zurich, he dropt a very remarkable expression, in bis parting interview with Bullinger." In all probability,” said Bullinger,
king Edward will raise you to a bishopric. If so, do not suffer your elevation to make you forgetful of your old friends in Switzerland. Let us, from time to time, have the satisfaction of hearing from you.' Hooper answered, “No change of place, or of station, no accession of new friends, shall ever render me unmindful of yourself and my other benefactors here. You may depend on my carefully corresponding with you. But it will not be in my power, to write you an account of the last news of all: for" (taking Bullinger by the hand), “ others will inform you of my being burned to ashes in that very place where, in the mean while, I shall labour most for God and the gospel (©).” The holy man was not mistaken in his prediction. Gloucester was afterwards the principal seat of his religious labours ; and, at Gloucester, he sealed those labours with bis blood, Feb. 9, 1555, in the 60th year of his age : being, as Burnet (p) observes, the first of our protestant bishops that suffered death for the gospel.
He is universally allowed to have been eminently pious, extensively learned, and of the most unimpeachable morals. A noble instance of the steadiness and impartiality, with which he laboured to discountenance vice, occurs in the history last referred to. Being in his diocese of Gloucester, he denounced the censures of the church against some persons of inferior station, who had been convicted of open lewdness. One of them had the courage to say to him, we poor people must do penance for
(0) See Fox, vol. iii. p. 119. (p) Refor. vol. iii. p. 240.