Page images
PDF
EPUB

with a pious regard to providence, and having written af account of this singular robbery, and of the persons proved to be concerned in it, he expresses his thankfulness to God, who restrained them from offering any violence to himself or his family, and closes thus : “All the passages of God's providence in the thing were very remarkable; but the sanctitying them to my soul is never to be forgotten." He was earnestly desirous of settling some Christian discipline in the church, for promoting knowledge and holiness. With this view, he had stared meetings with the neighbouring ministers. They agreed upon many things which they should practise in their respective congregations, and promised to help one another by inutual advice in any emergent difficulties. Finding that many would not be at the pains of learning the “ Assembly's Catechism," they drew up one much shorter, for the use of the most ignorant in their parishes. In 1661, the former incumbent, who had been put out as scandalous, came again into one of the livings in Swaffham ; upon which Mr. Jephcot knowing that the other would not be sufficient to maintain his family, and foreseeing that he should be in danger of having his conscience straitened by ecclesiastical impositions ; -tinding also inany in the place altered for the worse, and turning with the tide, determined to remove the first opportunity. Bishop Wren, who was restored with the king, was much incensed against him, because he had concurred with other ministers in ordaining several persons to the ministry, who were chiefly such as had been fellows of colleges. The free school of Boston being offered him, on the recommendation of Dr. Tuckney, he accepted it, and removed thither. On his application to bishop Sanderson for a licence, he treated himn very respectfully; told him, it was a pity a man of his worth should be confined to the drudgery of a school; and offered hiin his choice of two . livings, of about sixty pounds a year each. He thanked his

lordship, but waved acceptance, because, as things then went, he apprehended he should quickly be turned out of a living; but hoped he might be suffered to continue in a school. He was however turned out of that at Bartholomew tide, when he was but just settled in it, to the great · loss of the town. Some of the aldermen urged him to conform, that he might continue in the school, but he said, If he could conform, he would not do it werely to teach boys. 4!971 ne considerable persons were desirous of his staying

in the town after he quitted the school, but he rather chose to be near his friends in Cambridgeshire, and therefore settled at Ousden near Bury in Suffolk. Here he constantly went to church on Lord's days, and also to the sacrament. But he kept up a weekly lecture among a small company of honest well-meaning people. In the latter part of his life he set up a boarding school, and trained up youth in learning and piety. Nine or ten persons of fortune had engaged, upon bis ejectment, to raise hiin two hundred pounds a year; which they did for a time; but some who lived at à distance discontinued it, and others died before him, so that he had but a scanty subsistence in his old age, from his school, and a small estate of about twelve pounds a year. He used to spend much of his time in writing letters to persons on spiritual accounts. Indeed his whole heart seemed set upon promoting the work of grace in himself and others. He was distinguished for his unusual accuracy in the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin languages, philosophy, and some part of the mathematics. He also often practised dialing and surveying for his recreation, His abilities for the ministry were great, and he was very laborious in it. When he was reduced to a more retired life, he reaped what he had been sowing; having as much of the comfortable presence of God, and settled assurance of his love, as can well be supposed attainable in this life. In a painful and tedious sickness, he was wonderfully supported by the comforts of God's spirit, even to his death; in the view of which he continued the most devout addresses to Heaven, and serious discourse to those about him, as long as his strength permitted him to speak. He died Nov. 1673, at the great age of ninety-six. Mr. Jephcot succeeded Mr. Calany at St. Mary's in Swaffhain, Cain. bridgeshire, in 1633.

It doth not appear that Mr. Jephcot published any thing. But he left in MS, some small pieces, written in Latin; viz. 1. “A curious Account of an unusual Meteor which appeared at Swaffham in May, 16-16." - 2. " A Copy of Verses, presented to several of his friends who contributed to his Support when he was silenced.”—3. " A Character of a true Son of the Church of England.”

JEROM OF PRAGUE, (the lay Reformer,) was the companion and co-martyr of Dr. Huss, to whom he was G 2

inferior inferior in experience, age, and authority; but he was esteemed his superior in all polite and liberal endowments. He was born at Prague, and educated in that university, where he was admitted master of arts; and promoted the doctrine of Wickliffe in conjunction with Huss, He travelled into most of the states of Europe, and was every where esteemed for his elocution, which gave hiin great advantages in the schools, where he promoted what Huss advanced. The universities of Paris, Cologne, and Heidelberg, conferred the degree of master of arts upon him. He is said also to have had the degree of master of arts conferred upon him at Oxford ; but it is certain, that he commenced doctor in divinity, in 1396. He began to publish the same doctrine with Dr. Huss in 1408, and it is averred, that he had a greater share of learning and subtilty than his excellent friend. However that may be, the council of Constance kept a very watchful eye upon him, and esteemed him to be a dangerous person to the interests of Rome, While he was in England, and most probably at Oxford, he copied out the books of Wickliffe, and returned with them to Prague. . By that great man's evangelical writings, it pleased God to work upon him, and upon his friend Dr. Huss, to the acknowledgement of his truth. England, therefore may claim the honour of beginning the Reformaation; and may it be the last country upon earth to lose it !

Jerom was ciied before the council of Constance, on April 17, 1415, when his friend Dr. Huss was confined in a castle near that city. He arrived at Constance in the same month, when he was inforined how his friend had been treated, and that he also would be seized : upon which, Jerom retired to Iberlingen, an imperial city, from whence he wrote to the emperor and council to desire a safe conduct; and one was presented to him, which gave him permission to coine, but not to return. He then caused a protestation to be fixed up, wherein he declared, that be would appear before the council to justify himself, if a proper safe conduct was granted: and he demanded of the Bohemian lords an act of his declaration. After this, he began his journey to return into Bohemia: but he was stopped at Hirschau, by the officers of John the son of prince Clement, count Palatine, who had the government of Sultzbach : and Lewis, another son of the same prince, carried Jerom to Constance, where he was to answer the

JU!!

zt bei accusation as had been exhibited against Dr. Huss,who dowsmartyred on the 7th of July. Jeroin had many friends unieke council, who bore him great affection, and tried all mote could to bring him to a recantation; as they were

Havinced he had no prospect of escaping if he too! his was because the emperor had declared that he should be Jimmplarily punished. His friends prevailed, and he was -hat Jught before the council, in the nineteenth session, held

apo pt. 93, when he reada public abjuration of his doctrines, Donnking thereby to elude his prosecution. arts Poggius, the Florentine secretary, who was a spectator bed all he selates, and gave a full account of ihe matter to Diretin the pope's secretary, tells us, that as Jerom was are turning to Bohemia, he was brought back to Constance le the duke of Bavaria ; and, the next day, carried as a un risoner before the council, where it soon appeared, that slis abjuration had slipped from him in an unguarded hour -Rhrough the weakness of the fiesh. Poggius, who was one of the best judges of the age, asserts, ihat Jerom spoke

fith such a quickness of sentiment, such a dignity of expression, and such strength of argument, that he seemed to equal the noblest of the ancient compositions. When some members of the council called out to him to put in his answers, he told the assembly, that the objections against him were the effects of prepossession and prejudice: that, there- fore, in justice, they should permit him to lay open the

whole tenor of his doctrine, life, and conversation, whereby _ he could indubitably weaken and invalidate all the prepos.

sessions, which ignorant zeal and open malice had rendered

too strong ayainst himn in his unhappy condition. He was Witold, he could not expect indulgence. This exhausted his

patience, and he exclaimed to the whole assembly in these terms, " What barbarity is this! For three hundred and

forty days have I been through all the variety of prisons. : There is not a misery, there is not a want, that I have not

experienced. To my eneinies you have allowed the fullest scope of accusation : to me you deny the least opportunity of defence. Not an hour will you indulge me in preparing my trial. You have swallowed the blackest calumnies against me. You have represented me as a heretic, without, knowing what is my doctrine; as an enemy to the faith, before you knew wbat faith I professed ; and as a persecutor of priests, before you could have any opportunity of un

derstanding

derstanding my sentiments on that head. You are a ge, neral council : in you center all that this world can communicate of gravity, wisdom, and sanctity; but still you are men, and men are seducible by appearances. The hig':er your character is for wisdom, the greater ought your care to be not to deviate into folly. The cause I now plead is not my own cause ; it is the cause of men ; it is the cause of Christians; it is the cause which is to affect the rights of posterity, however the experiment is to be made in my person.” The bigotted part of the assembly considered this speech as poison to the ears of the auditors: but many of the members were men of taste and learning, who were favourably inclined to the prisoner, and pitied him in their hearts, though a restraint was on their tongues. Jeroin was obliged to give way to their authority, and to bear his charge read, which was reduced under these heads; “ That he was a derider of the papal dignity, an opposer of the pope, an enemy of the cardinals, a persecutor of the prelates, and a hater of the Christian religion.” He answered this charge with an anazing force of elocution, and strength of argument. “Now, says be, wretch that I am! whither shall I turn me? To my accusers! - My accuser are as deaf as adders. To you my judges! You are prepossessed by the arts of iny accusers." We are told by Poggius, that Jerom, in all he spoke, said nothing unbecoming a great and wise man: and he candidly asserts, i hat, if what Jeroin said was true, he was not only free from capital guilt, but froin the smallest blame. .

The irial of Jeroin was brought on the third day after his accusation, and witnesses were examined in support of the charge. The prisoner was prepared for his defence; which will appear almost incredible, when it is considered that he had been three hundred and forty days shup up in a dark offensive dungeon, deprived of day-light, food, and sleep. His spirit soared above these disadvantages, under which a man less enabled, must have sink ; nor was he inore at a loss for quotations from fathers and ancient authors, than if he had been furnished with the finest library in Europe. Many of the zealots and bigots of the assembly were against his being heard, as they knew what effect eloquence is apt to have on the minds even of the most pre. judiced. However, it was carried by the majority that he should have liberty to proceed in his defence, which he

began

« PreviousContinue »