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against Luther, in defence of the seven sacraments. This production was received by the Pontiff with the highest expressions of respect, and Henry received as an ample reward, the title of “ Defender of the Faith ;” a title which, whether we consider the character of the giver or of the receiver, or the service by which it was earned, it is strange, should still be worn by our monarchs. This doughty champion was soon confuted by Luther, with irresistible force of argument. Luther has been severely censured for the acrimony of spirit and style, with which he treated Henry; and perhaps his conduct is, in some degree indefensible; but it should be remembered, that the delicacy with which controversy, either political or religious, is now managed, was, at that time unknown; and consequently Luther's asperity has a claim to be considered as the fault, rather of the age than of the man. Besides, Henry by entering the lists with Luther, and attacking that Reformer, had put himself upon a level with his antagonist, and when Henry had forgotten that he was a monarch, is it strange that Luther should have forgotten it likewise ?
But Henry had much more formidable weapons in reserve, to oppose to the doctrines of the Reformation, than syllogisms brought from the stores of Thomas Aquinas; and by their terrors he endeavoured to suppress the Protestant religion. The violence of his own passions, however, by diverting his attention to another object, obstructed, for some time, his intolerance, and at last occasioned a total and final breach with the see of Rome. Henry, (a dispensation from Pope Julius having been previously obtained,) had married Catharine of Arragon, the widow of his brother Arthur, with whom he had long cohabited, and who had born him several children. While his Queen
retained the charms of youth and beauty, no scruples of conscience had disturbed the peace of his own mind, but when the infirmities of declining years, as there was some disparity in their ages, had cooled the ardour, and long possession had sated the keenness of his passion for his wife, he began to suffer some qualms with respect to the legality of his marriage. These, it would appear, had derived no inconsiderable degree of force, from the beauty and attractions of Ann, maid of honour to the Queen. Having applied to Clement, the reigning Pope, for a divorce, and at the end of six years, finding his suit in endless mazes lost, he had his marriage examined in the court of Cranmer, who had been created Archbishop of Canterbury. By the sentence of that prelate, the King's marriage with Catharine was annulled, as unlawful and invalid. This contempt of the Pope was soon followed by the sentence of excommunication, which was fulminated against Henry. That prince was too high-spirited to submit tamely to such an indignity, and he threw off all subjection to the see of Rome; renounced the papal supremacy, and was, by his parliament, declared the Supreme Head of the Church of England. His quarrel with the Pope did not lessen his attachment to the principal doctrines of the Church of Rome, and the doctrine of transubstantiation, in particular, was one of his favourite tenets. The worship of images he indeed prohibited, and the translation of the Scriptures into the English language, and their general circulation, he allowed. By his order, and that of the clergy, the prayers for processions, and the litanies were made into English, and used in public worship. The King's Primer was published in 1545, which contained among other things, the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, Venite, Te Deum, and
other hymns and collects, in English ; and several of them in the same version now used in the litany.* The monasteries were plundered by the King, and their spoils afforded him a rich supply to his wants. With respect to some subjects in dispute between the Church of Rome and the Protestants, his opinions were wavering and unsettled; and the winds of heaven were not more uncertain than the winds of doctrine by which he ordered the faith of his subjects to be regulated. What was published as the standard of Orthodoxy at one time, and enforced by the threat of death, was soon after condemned, and the opposite doctrine enforced by the same penalty. With indiscriminate vengeance, those who believed in the Pope's Supremacy, and those who denied the doctrine of the Real Presence in the sacrament, Papists and Protestants, fell the victims of his infuriate bigotry. During the remainder of Henry's life, the principles of genuine Christianity, though openly resisted with all the violence of power, were gradually diffusing themselves through the mass of society, till, like the little leaven hid in the three measures of meal, the whole lump was leavened.
The reign of his son, Edward VI, was, in England, the auspicious era of the Reformation. The doctrines of the Protestant faith were not only rescued from persecution, but obtained all the sanction that human laws could give them. Images were removed from all the Churches. The communion was ordered to be administered to the laity, in both kinds; private masses were abolished, and many superstitious practices were ordered to be discontinued. Forty-two articles of religion were
• Wheatley's Illustration of the Book of Common Prayer, p. p. 24, 25.
drawn up by Archbishop Cranmer and Bishop Ridley, and being approved by the Convocation, were published in Latin and in English. A new liturgy was composed, all the offices of which were to be performed in the vulgar tongue, and from it all prayers to saints were carefully excluded. The celibacy of the Clergy, though recommended, was to be no longer enforced. In short, the most obnoxious doctrines of popery, by which men had been retained in ignorance of the great truths of Christianity, and in the practice of superstitious and idolatrous rites, and in the shackles of spiritual tyranny, were renounced. To one of the most unjust, unrelenting, and disgraceful principles and practices of the Church of Rome, the leaders of the Church of England, in common with all other Protestants, continued rigidly to adhere. The liberty which they so justly claimed, to choose for themselves the tenets of their faith, they obstinately refused to give to others, and the fires from which they had so lately and so narrowly escaped, they readily lighted to destroy those whose claims stood upon the same foot. ing with their own. That spirit of intolerance which was the bane and the disgrace of the Reformation, and which made Christians mutually unjust, as well as cruel to each other, continued for a long period afterwards to disgrace religion, and to poison in the source, the streams of human comfort. It tortures every principle of our sensibility, to behold the venerable, the pious, the generous, the mild, and the gentle Cranmer, persuading Edward to commit to the flames, Joan of Kent, a poor deluded enthusiast, or perhaps rather a mapiac, for whom compassion would have prescribed solitary confinement and a physician. To the honour of that most amiable Prince it is recorded, that when he could no longer resist the importunity of the Primate, he burst into tears, and told him that if any wrong was done, the guilt should be entirely on his head. Several Baptists, and one Arian, were condemned, and, with the same cruelty and injustice, burnt alive. Had Cranmer, and those excellent men, who, not from malignity of disposition, but from an error they brought with them from the Church of Rome, acted a principal part in these tragedies, only remembered the great rule of Christian morality, to do to others as they wished to be done by, they would have revered the prerogative of Heaven, and left even the worst of heretics to His judgment, to whom alone vengeance belongs. When laws so tyrannical were executed with a severity so unrelenting, it was no wonder that the Princess Mary could, with the greatest difficulty, procure a connivance from the Council, at her private use of the mass. The persecution she suffered from the Protestants had, probably, considerable influence' in disposing her to inflict severities afterwards upon them, and would also probably be considered as a sufficient apology for their infliction.
By the death of Edward, who expired in the sixteenth year of his age, and in the seventh of his reign, the Church and Nation of England suffered a loss which it was not easy to repair. The opening germ of his talents, both natural and acquired, his native virtues, the fervor of his devotion, the gentleness and flexibility of his manners, his vigorous application to both study and business, his high sense of justice and equity, which far exceeded what could be expected at his years, the tender sympathies of his nature, which melted at every scene of distress, had raised to the highest pitch the expectations of his subjects ; and the blossoms of the spring had induced