Jewel by G.W. Bromiley
have surveyed the life and character of Jewell and outlined his
most famous work. The time has now come to attempt some estimation
of his influence and importance. We may notice first the importance
of Jewell for his own time. We can then go beyond to see whether
his life and work have not a wider importance for the Church
of England as a whole.
The importance of Jewell for his own time is obvious enough.
Jewell helped to re-establish Protestantism and to shape the
Reformation Settlement, both in theory and in practice, at a
time when the Marian reaction and its failure had left theological
and ecclesiastical life in England in a state of confusion and
even chaos. Against Romanists he maintained the essential principles
of Reform. Against the extremists who had imbibed more radical
notions, he loyally maintained the Edwardian policy: a thorough-going
reformation in doctrine, a minimum of change in liturgical and
ecclesiastical structure. Jewell was the scholar who could answer
the charges of Rome, and he was also the pastor who could translate
the Settlement into terms of diocesan and parochial life.
Jewell was not perhaps the outstanding character of his day
either in thought or in action, but it would still be true to
say that apart from his immediate importance he has in many respects
an importance for the Church of England even at the present time.
In a lesser but by no means negligible sphere, he sets an example
of the English diocesan bishop at his best: a scholar, conscientious
in the discharge of his pastoral duties, playing his part worthily
in the wider councils of the Church, not pre-occupied, however,
with matters of policy and organization. The English Church has
produced many such characters, but the diocesan bishop today
who aims to be worthy of his high calling could do worse than
study again the conduct and the work of this Elizabethan Bishop
In the sphere of scholarship Jewell excelled, not as the original
thinker but as the pure scholar. Here too the modern Anglican
has much to learn from Jewell, who showed once and for all that
the Church of England must take its side with the Reformed churches
in withdrawal from Rome, and that so long as Rome refuses to
reform itself by the Scriptures, such withdrawal is justified.
The cry for reunion so often sounded in our own day is a dangerous
cry if it is uttered at the expense of the fundamentally Protestant
character of the Church of England in doctrine and practice.
Jewell teaches us that the separation from Rome is still a justifiable
separation, and that there can be no unity with a church which
remains so flagrantly non-scriptural, non-apostolic, and non-catholic.
But Jewell had a wider importance than
that. He not only marked off the Anglican as a Reformed church
; in the tradition of Cranmer he also taught Anglican theologians
to seek their authority in the early Fathers and Councils as
well as in Scripture. The Reformers abroad had been willing to
appeal to the Fathers, to Augustine, Ambrose, Chrysostom, Bernard,
but not perhaps so freely and wholeheartedly as did the Anglicans.
In his appeal to patristic authority Jewell permanently influenced
the course of theology in England. His pupil Hooker carried
the appeal a stage further. The Carolines went a stage further
still. In our own time the appeal to the early Fathers is
still made, and the Church of England has produced a notable
line of patristic scholars.
It ought to be noticed that the appeal of Jewell has often
been misunderstood. That is why many positions have been advocated
on the grounds of patristic authority which are at variance with
the principles of Reformed theology. It may be that Jewell has
still something to teach us in this respect. Jewell did not appeal
to the Fathers as to a source of author- ity additional to that
which we have in Scripture. His appeal was historical, having
this aim, to show that the present Roman Church is not historically
the church of the early centuries either in practice or in doctrine.
Jewell granted that in its earlier period the Church was purer,
and that it ought to be studied for that reason. He did not urge,
however, that Scripture must be accepted as interpreted by the
Fathers. He did not wish to argue that the early Church was infallible
either in Scripture-interpretation or in conduct. The Church
in all ages remained under the final judgment of Scripture.
One of the great needs in the Church of England at the present
time is that those who follow in the Reformed tradition should
take up again the work which Jewell so nobly began. The essentially
Reformed nature of Anglican doctrine needs to be asserted plainly
against enemies without and within. Jewell had no thought of
the Church of England as a bridge - church between the Romanist
and the Reformed groups. Historical circumstance have perhaps
made that position appear possible, but doctrinally it is impossible.
The Anglican Church of Jewell was thoroughly Protestant, and
thoroughly anti-Roman. A further great need is that Anglican
scholars on the Evangelical and Protestant side should devote
themselves more thoroughly to the Fathers as Jewell did. They
will find many loose and incautious expressions in the Fathers.
They will see the beginnings of doctrines which later were to
develop into erroneous interpretations. But they will see also
that in the early Fathers there is both the complete confutation
of the medieval corruptions which still afflict the Church of
Rome, and also a general confirmation of the Evangelical understanding
of the Scriptures.
In past centuries the successors of Jewell have used their
patristic studies to pervert or to weaken the Reformed doctrines
of Anglicanism. The fact remains, however, that in the tradition
of Jewell, Reformed Anglicanism has still a distinctive service
to render to the Protestant cause as a whole: to show the catholicity
as well as the scripturalness of Reformed teaching and practice
in opposition to the corruptions and errors of Romanism. The
fulfilment of that service would be of far greater value to the
cause of Christian truth and scholarship than flirtation with
Scholasticism, or the attempt to create a "catholic " theology
apart from the scriptural norm. The challenge of Jewell's beginning
rings across the centuries to the Evangelical and Protestant
scholar of today.