Jewel by G.W. Bromiley
Jewel, like so many other great Elizabethans, was a Devonshire
man. Incidentally, it is interesting to reflect how representative
the Reforming leaders were. To take a few examples, Cranmer and
Latimer were from the East and West Midlands, Ridley and Grindal
from the North, Jewell himself from the West country. Jewell
was born on the 24th of May, 1522 - just after the epoch-making
Diet of Worms. He came of an old-established family living at
Buden, Berrynarbor, and was one of ten children. In early years
he seems to have been deeply attached to and greatly influenced
by his mother.
The foundations of Jewell's distinguished intellectual career were laid by
his mother's brother, Rector John Bellamy. Jewell later attended school at
Braunton and Barnstaple. During his school days he contracted small-pox - a
scourge which took heavy toll in Europe right up to modern times. Possibly
his later weak health owed some- thing to this illness. He quickly revealed
himself above the average as a scholar, both in aptitude and also in industry.
An intellectual career obviously awaited him. Already in his early years he
evinced something of that modesty which later was to be one of his foremost
The next step was the University. Cambridge was the main Reforming centre,
but Jewell went up to Oxford, entering Merton College in 1535. The comparatively
early age at which a University course commenced in those days may be noted.
Jewell held a postmastership at Merton and studied under John Parkhurst, probably
the first to introduce him to Reformed doctrines. In 1539 he moved to Corpus
where he quickly distinguished himself, arousing the admiration of some and
the envy of others. He took his Bachelor's degree in 1540, but continued in
study for the Mastership, which was successfully achieved during the year 1544-1545.
It was during these years that Jewell accumulated his vast stores of erudition.
The field over which he worked was limitless, notwithstanding the comparative
fewness of books and restricted nature of scholarship in his day. He made himself
thoroughly acquainted not only with the Classics, but also with History, Rhetoric,
Philosophy and Mathematics. He devoted much time to the study of the Evangelical
Father, Augustine. In order to make himself thoroughly the master of his craft,
Jewell worked at his books early and late. Like so many others of his age,
he was an early riser. His day began at 4 a.m., and he often finished work
only at 10p.m.
These years of study affected Jewell vitally in two ways. Physically,
he was affected for the worse, for his health was ruined. He began to suffer
from a rheumatic affection which remained with him throughout life, and resulted
in lame- ness. Theologically and spiritually, he gained better re-wards. His
studies led him in the direction of the Reformed theology. The cautious reforms
which Cranmer was able to initiate during these later years of Henry's reign
had their impulse from Lutheran rather than Reformed sources. The teaching
of Zwingli and of the younger Calvin had begun to have their effect, however,
and the day was soon to come when it would almost completely carry the day.
Jewell himself was amongst those who already leaned to the fuller and more
systematic formulations of the Swiss. His Master's degree completed, he remained
in Oxford, finding employment as a tutor and as a reader in the Humanities
and in Rhetoric. His obvious abilities and his exemplary life attracted the
notice of many benefactors, and Jewell was clearly destined to play a notable
part in the work of ecclesiastical reform.
The accession of Edward opened up the way for a more radical reformation. One
of Cranmer's more important moves on the theological side was the importing
of out- standing continental Reformers to fill chairs of theology at the Universities.
Bucer was perhaps the foremost of these foreign scholars. He was only too pleased
to find an asylum and a sphere of work in England at a time when the military
defeat of the Lutherans and the enforcement of the Augsburg Interim made his
position in Strassburg impossible. Hardly less eminent and more pronouncedly
and definitely Reformed was Peter Martyr, who came to Oxford in 1549. Jewell
attended the lectures given by Martyr in that year, and quickly became an admirer
and a friend. He copied out the important disputation of Martyr with Chedsey
upon the subject of the Lord's Supper-the central battle-field between the
Romanists and the Reformed theologians, and indeed between the Reformed party
and the Lutherans. In 1551 Jewell was licensed to preach, and in addition to
his academic work he took over the cure of Sunningwell. He became an acceptable
preacher at the University.
The death of Edward did not immediately blight Jewell's career. He was ejected
from his college - a strong Roman centre - but found a new home in Broadgates
Hall (now Pembroke), and gathered many pupils. The situation was ominous, but
Jewell, peaceable rather than disputatious by nature, probably hoped that by
abstaining from controversy he would be allowed to continue his academic work.
He was still highly regarded for his learning, and he must have been encouraged
when he was elected to the post of University orator. In this capacity he moved
an address to the Queen. In 1554, when Ridley and Cranmer were in Oxford, Jewell
was still unmolested. He did not hide his Reformed sympathies, for he acted
as notary to the two Reformers in their disputations.
The blow fell swiftly, and perhaps to a certain extent un-expectedly. It certainly
caught Jewell himself unprepared. He was required later in this year to sign
Romanizing articles. In a moment of weakness he complied. We must not judge
him too harshly. Like Cranmer, he was by nature a scholar rather than a man
of action. One thing was now clear, however, that the hope of a quiet academic
life in the new England was a vain and empty one. Jewell had to make a choice
between recantation and martyrdom, or seek safety as so many others had done
by flight. He chose flight.
At the end of 1554,
helped by Latimer's faithful servant Bernher, he escaped from
Oxford. He spent some time in hiding, and finally secured a passage
to the Continent. He made his way to that centre of English religious
refugees, Frankfurt, where the exiles had been hospitably received.
Jewell himself did not meet with a very good reception from the strongly
reformed leaders of the English Church, Whittingham and Knox. For one
thing, he was a weakling and a traitor. For another, he remained loyal
to the reforms of Cranmer, and was opposed to the more radical liturgical
reconstruction desired by the admirers of Geneva. Jewell atoned for
his fault by public confession, but he allied himself from the
first with Cox and the Prayer Book party against those who wished
to conduct the worship of the refugees (in the church kindly
allowed them by the City Fathers) along “purer” lines
than those laid down in the 1552 book. Knox and Whittingham had strong
support, but after a battle not very creditably conducted on either
side the Prayer Book party carried the day. The struggle became
so bitter that it became a public scandal in Frankfurt. Eventually
Cox and Jewell complained to the magistrates and secured the
ejection of Knox from the city. Clearly two parties were now
developing within the Anglican Reforming movement, agreed in
points of doctrine, but disagreeing widely in matters of ceremonial,
discipline, and government. Out of this struggle arose the great
and disastrous Puritan controversy of the reigns of Elizabeth
and the Stuarts. Jewell threw in his lot with the more conservative
Reformers, choosing to follow in the footsteps of Cranmer rather
than in those of Calvin.
The English by their quarrels had destroyed the goodwill of
the Frankfurters, and Jewell himself left in the year 1555. He
moved to Strassburg to join his old master and friend, Peter
Martyr. Here he enjoyed the company of many leading Reformers,
Grindal, Sandys, Nowel, and others. Martyr was invited to Zurich
the following year as Professor of Hebrew, and Jewell accompanied
him. At Zurich he found Lever and Pilkington, and his former
teacher, Parkhurst. The plight of the exiles became wretched
at this time, for Gardiner had succeeded in cutting off the supplies
which influential sympathizers in London had forwarded for their
maintenance. Bullinger and the Zurich church came to their rescue
with liberal gifts. Jewell spent the rest of his exile in Zurich - except
possibly for a visit to Padua - and he used his time profitably
in assisting Peter Martyr and in furthering his own studies.
The death of Mary in 1558 was the signal for a return to England and the re-establishment
of the work of reform. Jewell left Zurich in that year and arrived back in
his own land in 1559. On the way he was able to assist Parlihurst, who had
suffered robbery. Jewell never forgot the kind fellowship which he had experienced
in Zurich. Some of the letters which passed between himself and the Zurich
leaders have been preserved in the valuable Parker Society edition of the Zurich
Letters. Bullinger was highly thought of in Elizabethan England, and his Decades became recommended reading for the ministers of the English Church.
Back in England, Jewell very quickly found scope for his talents.
He acted as a Reformed representative at the abortive Westminster
disputation, and he preached one of the famous St. Paul's
Cross sermons. It was on this latter occasion that he first
issued his bold challenge to the Romanists to submit certain
disputed points to the judment of the reputable and acknowledged
Fathers of the first six centuries. In his appeal to Patristic
authority Jewell followed Cranmer, who had also argued that
the Fathers favoured the Reformers rather than their opponents.
The challenge was naturally the call to a battle of scholarship
for which the diligent and learned Jewell was singularly well equipped.
At this time he also served as a commissioner in the Visitation
of 1559, acting in the South-Western area. The work was important
in itself, but it had this further significance, that it
brought Jewell into contact with, and earned him the personal
enmity of, his later Romanist adversary, Harding. Like not
a few others, Harding had for a time professed Protestant
views. He recanted in the reign of Mary, and had risen to
be Treasurer of Salisbury. He was a known and active Romanist,
who was not prepared to forswear himself again. The Commissioners
ejected him from his office.
Many bishoprics were vacant in this year, partly through death, partly
through the solid opposition of the Marian bishops to the proposed Settlement,
and their consequent deprivation. It was only natural that the higher
offices should be entrusted to the returned exiles, and a man like Jewell,
loyal to the Edwardian Reformation, was an obvious choice for a bishopric.
Accordingly, he was elected to the see of Salisbury in 1559, and consecrated
the following year. It is noteworthy that Jewell was sufficiently Reformed
to scruple at the vestments and the crucifix, but not such a precisian
as to allow such small and in themselves indifferent matters to hinder
him from useful pastoral and spiritual work. In 1560 Jewell repeated
his challenge, enlarging the number of articles which he was prepared
to defend, and appealing now to the threefold authority, Scripture, the
early Fathers, and the early Councils. His correspondence with Cole began
in this year.
From 1560 onwards Jewell devoted himself wholeheartedly to
the rule of his diocese. As was so frequently the case in
the century, the see had been wasted by his predecessor (Capon),
but the revenues were still ample, especially for one who,
like Jewcll, did not maintain a luxurious state. One of his
anxieties was the dearth of preaching ministers. Jewell did
not spare himself in preaching, and in earnest ordination charges
he set out the high calling of the minister of the Gospel.
He applied himself to redress many of the abuses in diocesan
life, especially seeking to remedy the twin evils, the spoliation
and misapplication of benefices.
Diocesan affairs did not completely
absorb Jewell's time and energies. He found time to preach again
at St. Paul's Cross in 1561, and he also devoted much time to
literary and academic work. The first-fruits of his scholarship
was his defence of the Anglican Reformation against Harding,
the famous Apology of the Church of England. This greatest and
most widely-read of Jewell's works was published in Latin in
1562. An English translation was quickly made. This same year
he wrote his Epistle to Scipio, and during the years 1563-1564
he probably had some hand in the issuing of the Second Book
now at Louvain, entered the lists against the Anglican champion
in 1564, and a lively literary battle ensued. Jewell replied
in 1565. In the same year he was awarded his Doctorate at
Oxford and also found himself engaged against the Puritan, Humphreys,
over the subject of subscription. Many of the controversies of
this period had a personal aspect. Harding bore a grudge against
Jewell for his ejection, and Whitgift and Cartwright were University
rivals. The dispute between Jewell and Humphreys, however, was
strictly one of principle, and the two men remained good friends.
In the meantime Harding was busy. He issued his Confutation
of the Answer in 1565, and further rejoinders in the following
years. Jewell set about the task of writing a comprehensive reply,
the great Defence of the Apology, the first
edition of which appeared in 1568. In the following years,
1569-1570, Jewell enlarged the Defence, and the massive
second edition became a repository for his vast stores of learning.
It was reprinted in 1571.
Jewell was now barely 50 years of age, but his Herculean labours,
his years of ill-health, and the mental sufferings of the exile
had combined to make him an old man. His life was obviously
drawing to its close. He had sufficient strength to attend
the Convocation and Parliament of 1571. He saw the Thirty-Nine
Articles firmly established by Parliament as the norm of
doctrine of the Reformed Anglican Church. Against the Puritans,
now moving on from the Vestiarian controversy to the second
phase of their attack, the Presbyterian controversy, Jewell
stood firm. He regretted that so many of his friends and
companions in exile took the Puritan side. There was certainly
no bitterness in his resistance to their attempts. His own
position, however, was clear.
was able to carry through a visitation of his diocese in 1572.
As the year wore on, however, sickness overtook him, and it was
soon evident that it would be his last. As Jewell had glorified
God in his life, so he glorified Him in his death. His last hours
were spent in godly exercises. He gave a last address, testifying
to his Lord and Saviour to the very last. A psalm and prayers
surrounded his death-bed with praise and supplication. On the
night of September 22-23 Jewell passed from his earthly praises
to the worship of eternity. He had been granted only a short
span, but he died worn out with labours for his Master. He had
fought a good fight. He had finished his course. Henceforth there
was laid up for him a crown of glory.