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Proceedings in Parliament— Attainder and Execution of Lord
Seymour-Unpopularity of the Protector—Prosecutions for heresy.- A Royal Visitation—The Lady Mary refuses to use the English Liturgy-Uneasiness of the peasantry-The Western insurrection--Kett's insurrection-A national fast proclaimed -Archbishop Cranmer's answer to the articles of the rebelsDeprivation of Bishop Boner-Disgrace and imprisonment of the Protector.
THOSE fundamental principles, admitted by all parties in the late reign, that to independent states belongs the right of regulating completely their own ecclesiastical affairs, and that in matters of faith a record alone could be safely followed; by the new Liturgy were called into full operation. England thus acquired a faith resting upon intelligible grounds, while foreign Romanists found themselves professing a religion of which the authority, in many parts, was generally esteemed doubtful. Upon appeals to Scripture, it was now known the Romish polemic could often place very little reliance. Much, therefore, which he undertook to defend, could only be traced to some council, pope, or schoolman, and it had never been decided how far Christians were bound to respect such authorities.
In fact, the papal system had grown up gradually, and had never, as a
whole, received the sanction of any undisputed authority a. To provide a remedy for this defect, was the object of the Trentine council, which was charged, on the Pope's part, with examining the points in controversy between his adherents, and those of the Reformers, and with deciding upon the various matters submitted to its cognizance. Its real business was not, however, so much a diligent enquiry into the grounds of Popery, as the affording of an authentic confirmation to doctrines and usages already established ; so that such as dissented from the constituted ecclesiastical authorities should no longer be enabled to plead the uncertainty of propositions to which they were required to yield assent. While divines assembled by means of the Emperor and the Pope, the latter of whom was anciently
a “ We do not hold that Rome was built in a day, or that the great dunghill of errors, which we now see in it, was raised in an age." (Abp. Usher's Answer to a Jesuit's Challenge, 1.) Because Romanism cannot, like Mahometanism, be referred for its origin to one particular century, or traced to a single impostor, therefore its adherents artfully maintain, that it is coeval with Christianity. On the other hand, they insinuate, that the doctrines of Scripture were invented in Saxony three centuries ago; hence they confidently ask of ignorant Protestants, “ Where was your religion before Luther ?” To this it is sufficient to reply, “ In the Bible ; where yours never was.” Those, however, who have studied Romanism may venture to ask its admirers, where was your peculiar system before the council of Trent? and such students have besides the satisfaction of knowing not only that Popery will be vainly sought in the Bible, but also that it is at variance with the earliest monuments of the Roman, and of every other ancient Church.
no more than principal ecclesiastic in the dominions of the former, were investigating at Trent the claims of that religion in which they had been bred, other divines, commissioned for that very purpose by the government of their own country, were similarly engaged in England. These clergymen were like the Trentine deliberators, bred Romanists, they were among the best scholars of their age; they possessed unimpeached",
b The most prominent objections levelled by Romanists against the Reformation, are founded upon the characters of its principal promoters; but they are futile, resolving themselves into the facts, that most of the reforming clergymen married, and that many of the laymen answered political or interested ends by the part which they took. These absurd charges run through all the Romish attacks upon the revival of Scriptural Christianity, and they are embodied in a small tract, entitled, “ A Short History of the Origin and Progress of the Protestant Religion, extracted from the best Protestant Writers, by way of question and answer: by the Ven. and R. R. Dr. R. Challoner, V. A. Lond. 1813.” The “best Protestant Writers," who have furnished this array, are chiefly Heylin and Collier, two authors of great learning and industry, who have exposed the innovations of Popery in many important particulars ; but these great men lived during the time when Presbyterianism triumphed over the Established Church, and being keen political partizans, the former of Charles I., the latter of James II., they were willing to go all lengths in support of regal and sacerdotal privileges. This bias caused them to speak severely of the clergy who carried the Reformation through, because these were generally moderate in their views of the priestly character; and of the laity thus employed, as having been concerned in pillaging the Church. This pillage is undoubtedly a stain upon the Reformation, because it was carried too far ; but had it stopped time enough to leave a sufficient maintenance to all the bishops, and the impropriate tythes to the parochial clergy, little objection could be made to
and unimpeachable characters, they were remarkably free from rashness or enthusiasm, and they plainly shewed their original attachment to their early principles by the slowness and caution with which they admitted such articles of faith as were new to them. The English divines, however, came to conclusions widely different from those of their Trentine contemporaries; and the reasons were, because they could not admit the Pope to be a judge in his own cause, nor allow uncertain traditions to weigh against the genuine record of God's word. To the correctness of their judgment several successive generations of intelligent and learned enquirers have borne a grateful testimony. Their contem
it. Few men would desire to see the whole body of English dignitaries possessed of that enormous landed property which was in their hands three centuries ago. Many of those, however, who shared the plunder, were no doubt sincere converts to the religion of Holy Scripture, and it is obvious, that such share could have fallen to the lot of very few among those thus converted. As for the marriage of reforming clergymen, even if no motives for it but the most unseemly ones, will content Romish polemics, it is undeniable, that these ecclesiastics resorted to an expedient far more honourable than their infamous contemporaries, the Popes, and other such ecclesiastical grandees, who notoriously lived in lewd concubinage. It should besides be observed, that several of our leading English Reformers never married, as the Bishops Ridley, Taylor, and others. Nor did any of them display those violent political feelings which disgraced some of the low-church party abroad. It may, therefore, be truly said of those divines who planned and executed the English Reformation, that their characters were such as their enemies have never been able successfully to impeach.
poraries, however, were far from being so decided and unanimous. Many, indeed, of the most able and zealous religionists in England looked on with admiration, while the leading Reformers were engaged in their important labours, but the great majority of men in every rank and station were riveted in their early prejudices, and hated the prospect of surrendering that seductive religious system in which their fathers had lived and died ,
It is hence obvious, that if Somerset had consulted political expediency alone, he would have allowed the continuance of the mitigated Romanism established under King Henry. His determination to overthrow that system completely, must, therefore, have arisen from an imperious sense of duty. At that period religious toleration was unknown. Dissenters, indeed, from the Established Church had existed during the whole course of the papal usurpation, but these were branded as heretics, and had been usually treated as capital criminals. The only notions, therefore, entertained by European legislators as to their ecclesiastical duties, were, that one religion was to be protected, and all men subjected to their
• “The use of the old religion is forbidden by a law, and the use of the new is not yet printed : printed in the stomachs of eleven out of twelve parts of the realm ; what countenance soever men make outwardly to please them in whom they see the power resteth.” (Sir William Paget, to the Lord Protector, Strype, Eccl. Mem. Appendix II. 431.) This letter bears date July 7,