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T the earnest and most kindly expressed desire of the
Students at St. David's College immediately preparing for Holy Orders, the following pages, the substance of a course of Academic Lectures, have been prepared for the press.
The Historical Sections embrace so much of the history of the subject as, it was hoped, would enable the Student to understand the general drift and importance of the Article. The references have been made, as far as possible, to popular and well-known books, for the greater convenience of the general or the younger reader. Where the Author has been led to a passage by a quotation elsewhere, he has generally given a double reference.
From residence in remote parts of the kingdom, he has sometimes been unable to quote from the best editions.
The edition, when necessary, has been specified.
He has aimed to be simple as far as was consistent with being sound, to avoid private or party views, and to take little notice of the controversies of the day.
HE Reformation was not the work either of a year
or of a generation. Its foundation was laid both in the good and in the evil qualities of our nature. Love of truth, reverence for sacred things, a sense of personal responsibility, a desire for the possession of full spiritual privileges, co-operated with the pride of human reason, the natural impatience of restraint, and the envy and hatred inspired among the nobles by a rich and powerful hierarchy, to make the world weary of the Papal domination, and desirous of reform in things spiritual and ecclesiastical.
Wickliffe in England, and Huss and Jerom of Prague in Germany, had long ago given utterance to a feeling which lay deep in the hearts, and spread wide among the ranks of thinking men. It was said of Wickliffe, that half of the secular priests in England agreed with him ; and his followers long gave serious trouble both to Church and State. On the Continent, the Bohemian Church was rent by faction; and even open war was the result of an obstinate denial of the Cup in the Lord's Supper to the lay-members of Christ's Church. The two great councils of Constance (A. D. 1415) and Basle (A. D. 1431) were the results of the general call for a reformation of abuses; and they left them where they were, or aggravated and strengthened them. Vol. I.
But there was a leaven which could not be prevented from working. The revival of letters and the art of printing taught men how to think, and how to communicate their thoughts. Men, whose character was almost purely literary, contributed not a little to pull down the system which threatened to stifle learning by confounding it with heresy. Amongst these, on every account the most important and influential was Erasmus. It is thought by many that his Biblical criticism and his learned wit did more to rouse men to reform than the honest but headlong zeal of Luther. At least, if there had been no Erasmus to precede him, Luther's voice, if it could not have been stilled, might soon have been stifled. He might not have found both learning and power zealous to protect him, so that he could defy and prove superior to the allied forces of the Emperor and the Pope. But Erasmus was himself alarmed at the spirit he had raised. He had been zealous for reformation; but he dreaded destruction. And he was the type of many, more in earnest than himself. On both sides of the great controversy, which soon divided Europe into two hostile communities, were many, who wished to have abuses eradicated, but who feared to see the fabric of ages shaken to its centre. Some, like Erasmus, remained in communion with Rome; others, like Melancthon, joined the Reformation. The distance in point of sentiment between the more moderate men, thus by force of circumstances arrayed in opposition to each other, was probably but very small. But in the ranks of both parties there were many of a more impetuous and less compromising spirit: and as the voice of a community is generally expressed in the tones of its loudest speakers, we are apt to look on all the reformers as actuated by a violent animosity to all that was Roman, and on the adherents of Rome as unrelentingly bent to destroy and exterminate all that was Protestant.
Whilst this state of things was pending, and whilst the spirit of inquiry was at least as much alive in England as on the continent, Henry VIII. was drawn into a difference with the Papal see on the subject of his divorce with Catharine of Arragon. The merits of the question may be debated elsewhere. This much alone we may observe, that Henry, if he acted from principle, not from passion, might have suffered his scruples to weigh with him, when his wife was young and well-favoured, not when she had grown old and care-worn; when she brought him a rich dowry, not when he had absorbed and spent it; when he had hopes of a male heir to his throne, not when those hopes had been disappointed, the lady Mary being the sole issue of his alliance. But, whatever the moving cause, he was in hostility to the see of Rome; and his only chance of making head against it, was to call up and give strength to the spirit of reformation,
Cranmer had been introduced to him by some casual observations on the best way of settling the question of the divorce; and Cranmer from that time forth Henry steadily favoured and protected. In 1533, the king threw off the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome, and declared the independence of his kingdom and of its Church. But it has been said that he rejected the Pope, not the Papacy. The Church was to be independent of Rome; but not independent absolutely. For a spiritual