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op felt that his loyalty as well as his safety would be compromised, and might be endangered, by his keeping the secret to his own bosom. He communicated the matterto the chancellor and others of the council; and they agreed with him, that though it might be equally dangerous to conceal as to discover it to the king, the latter course would, under all circumstances, be the most prudent. As the subject was one of great delicacy, Cranmer broke it to the unsuspecting husband in a long letter, in which the manner in which the information was obtained is stated with anxious minuteness, lest it should be inferred that he was a seeker of scandal or a spy upon the proceedings of the palace. An enquiry was the result of this painful intelligence: incontinency before marriage was proved against the Lady Catherine, and criminality after inferred. The opportunity of shedding blood was too tempting and feasible to be resisted: on the 13th February, 1542, she was beheaded on Tower hill, asserting her conjugal fidelity, while she confessed her maiden delinquencies.
It would be needless to enquire what share Cranmer had in framing and sanctioning the “Institution” and the “Erudition” of a Christian Man," or whether the“ bloody” law of the six articles was wholly owing to the intrigues of Gardiner and the Romanist party. During Henry's reign, the royal standard of orthodoxy would have been received by the clergy of the new learning, even though it were still more popish in its doctrine; and by the clergy of the old learning, even though it had issued from the protestant league of Smalcald. He was infallible in his own estimation, and, what was more, possessed the will and the power to prove himself so in that of others. The “Institution," and the “Erudition,” which was known by the name of the king's book, are chiefly remarkable for the ultra-catholicism of their theology, and for the earnestness with which they inculcate the doctrine of passive obedience.* They were the standard of orthodoxy till the accession of Edward VI., when the reformation party became possessed of the management of affairs, and all persons were compelled to subscribe to them.
The statute of the six articles was, however, still more trying to the feeling and conscience of the friends of pure religion, particularly to Cranmer,who employed all his address, and a degree of boldness that was unusual to him, to have it softened down, if not defeated. One of those articles, indeed, touched him to the quick : it declared the marriages of priests to be invalid, and compelled such per
sons in orders as might have been living with their wives to repudiate them, making subsequent cohabitation felony. The reader is aware, that during his residence in Germany, Cranmer had married a kinswoman of Osiander, a Lutheran divine. He never publicly avowed his marriage, as the canon which imposed celibacy on the priesthood had not been abrogated, and the king was well known to be averse from his clergy entering into a state of wedlock. His wife, however, lived with him in private, and bore him several children. His first opposition to the atrocious statute, which he knew would bear on him with such terrible severity, was made in the committee of spiritual peers, whose labours terminated in the framing of the six articles. That committee he divided for eleven days on every article, till Henry grew so impatient, that he came down in person, and awed the prelates (excepting the bishop of Salisbury, who "continueth a lewd fool,”) by his “goodlie learning” into unanimity. As the danger came nearer, Cronmer's efforts and ingenuity to avert it were doubled ; and at last he ventured to submit his reasons in writing to the "superior judgment of the king's grace,” against the obnoxious articles, particularly that which insisted on the celibacy of the clergy. On this sore point he suggested the expediency of a royal declaration, that would be equivalent to a suspension of that part of the statute, till the lawfulness of the marriage of priests should be debated in the universities, on the hazardous condition, that, if judgment were given against his opinion, its advocates should suffer death; if in its favour, that the canonical prohibition, and the article founded on it, should be no longer enforced, and that the matter should be left in future to every man's own conscience.* Henry bore patiently with this unusual contradiction to his will, but remained inexorable. Cranmer next induced Melancthon to write the king a long letter, for the purpose of subduing his obstinacy i but also without avail. Henry was rooted to his
* The delivery of the MS. treatise, containing the archbishop's objections to the six articles, was accompanied by a ludicrous accident, illustrative of the customs of the times. The bearer of it, Cranmer's secretary, must needs go to the Southwark side of the river, in a wherry, to look on a bear-baiting that was near the river, where the king was in person. They that were in the boat leaped out, and left the poor secretary alone there. But the bear got into the boat, with the dogs about her, and sunk it.'
The secretary and the treatise were, however, saved from drowning.
Our modern notions are startled by the fact of the king's joining a rabble rout at a bear-bait : but even the court ladies took part in those cruel “ amusements." Bear-baiting was the Virgin Queen's favourite pastime: with it she treated her most distinguished visiters ; and it was an important ingredient in the fare which she received in return, on her progresses. There were not less than twelve bears killed for her amusement at Kenilworth, at her now immora tal visit there. When Shakspeare became a propria etor of the Globe theatre in Southwark, the performances were forbidden on those days in which the
game of bear-baiting, and like pastimes, which are maintained for her majesty's pleasure,” was practised,
* A sermon of Cranmer is quoted by Strype, in which it is inculcated," that though the magistrates be evil and very tyrants against the commonwealth, and enemies to Christ's religion, yet ye subjects must obey in all worldly things as the Christians do under the truth, and ought so to do, as long as he commandeth them not to do against God.” The same doctrine was preached by the Romanist party, as may be seen in Gardiner's De Vera Obedientia.
purpose; and the archbishop saw with dismay, that his marriage was rendered void in law, and that death might be the penalty of his continuing to harbour his wife and children. Having despatched them in haste to their friends in Germany, and written a dutiful apology to the king for his presumption in for a moment differing in opinion from him, Cranmer artfully revived a design of a conference between the English and continental divines, that bad been agitated for the last few years in the council. After what had passed, to persist in calling in question any of the articles might have cost him his head; but he wisely con. ceived that foreigners might with safety impugn them under the appearance of advocating their own doctrines; and that the king might thus be induced to relax from his obstinacy. The conference was accordingly held; but Henry was not diverted a tittle from his opinions; and till his death Cranmer was obliged to keep his wife and children on the Continent, without daring to avow the validity of his marriage.
The slippery footing on which the law of celibacy placed Cranmer with respect to his further efforts for the advancement of the reformation, made him confine himself very much to the immediate business of his see during the remainder of this reign. The court, as usual, was divided by the overt intrigues of the two great religious parties who struggled for the king's favour, and who looked up to Gardiner, and the Duke of Norfolk, and the archbishop and the Seymours, as their leaders. As the question at issue was now mixed up with polemics, it need scarcely be added, that each antagonist regarded the other with intense and implacable hatred. Many attempts were made to deprive Cranmer of the loyal countenance; but Henry had too much confidence in his loyalty, and too grateful a recollection of his many delicate ser. vices, to be affected either by the insinuations or complaints of those whom he knew to be the archbishop's personal enemies. The prebendaries of Canterbury brought a charge against him, but were themselves arraigned, some imprisoned, and all obliged to beg the accused prelate's pardon. The member for Bedfordshire had the boldness, in the house of commons, to accuse Cranmer of heresy; but the king sent the “varlet” a peremptory message, that if he did not immediately acknowledge his error, he should be made an example to his fellows. On another occasion, Henry had consented to the committal of the . archbishop; but, on reflection, changed his mind, and sent him a ring as a testimony of his unaltered friendship. The readers of Shakspeare are aware of the subsequent incidents: Cranmer was bidden to the council, at the door of which “ the primate of all England was kept waiting an hour among the footmen and servants,” according to the testimony of an eye-witness: the king unexpectedly appeared among them: Cranmer produced the ring, and there followed" a wonderful con
fusion.” The king commanded them to be reconciled to the archbishop, whom "he protested by the faith he owed to God,--laying his hand on his breast,—that if a prince could be obliged by his subjects, he was by the primate; and that he took him to be the most faithful subject he had, and a person to whom he was most beholden.” With this striking proof of the sovereign's affection for the archbishop, the overt malice of his enemies ceased till the reign of Mary.
Cranmer attended his royal patron in his last moments. Being asked if he wished to confer with any clergyman, now that he was on the approach of death, Henry answered, “Only with Cranmer, and not with him as yet. I will first repose myself a little (he could not bear the thought of dying), and as I find myself I will determine.” When the archbishop arrived, he found him speechless, but not altogether insensible. He asked him to give him some intimation of his reliance on the merits of his Redemer. The king grasped his hand strongly, bowed his head, and expired.* By his will Cranmer was appointed one of the council of regency during the minority of the young Edward.
The usual consequences of a despotic reign manifested themselves immediately on the death of Henry. So long as he lived, the firm pressure of his iron hand had, as we have seen, enforced a level monotony of obedience. That removed, a recoil took place in the public mind that was felt at once in our civil and ecclesiastical institutions. Scarcely had his remains been consigned to the tomb, when his more sanguinary laws were abrogated, his anomalous treason and felonies effaced from the statute book, and his proclanations stripped of their legislative validity. The king's book, “The Erudition of a Christian Man,” ceased to be the standard of religious orthodoxy ; for the young prince and his two uncles, and Cranmer, his most influential counsellors, were strongly imbued with the spirit of Protestantism, and had determined on separating still fürther the Church of England from the Catholic worship. But these beneficial changes were but the bright morning of a cloudy day : the public mind was in a state of high excitement, and restless ambition renewed its outrages against law and reason. An oligarchy, with its factious concomitants, succeeded to a despotism : one successful monopolist of the power which Henry, by his will, had equally devolved upon a council of regency, of not less than sixteen persons, fol. lowed another to the scaffold ; to-day the protector signed the death-warrant of his own brother, to-morrow he shares that brother's fate ; a no
* It has been truly observed by Clarendon, that, except in the matter of the papal supremacy, Henry lived and died a sturdy catholic. Besides receiving the sacrament according to the rites and interpretation of the Roman Catholic church, he willed a sum of money for masses for his soul, perhaps thinking it prudent to be on the safe side on the purgatory doctrino.
distant day sees Dudley, the successful usurper of ing on the boundless merits of Christ's sufferings ; the young monarch's prerogatives, atoning with on the other, insisting that, to partake of them, his life for his lawless presumption. All this repentance and purity of heart were indispensably while, however, it is consoling to observe that the necessary.
The catholic ceremonies were left doctrines of the reformation were, under the vigi- untouched, and only the more gross superstitions, lant care of Cranmer, advancing with a certain, such as driving out the devil by sprinkling holy because steady and moderate, progress ; and, by water and lighting consecrated candles, animadthe close of the short reign of Edward the Sixth, verted upon and forbidden. The use of images had become so deeply rooted in the affections O. was not yet discouraged, their worship alone bethe more enlightened, wealthy, and thence influ- ing prohibited,* as contrary to the mandates of ential classes, that they have to this day continu- Scripture. ed the inalienable patrimony of the English people. Having thus cautiously felt his way, the primate A brief exposition of the principles by which the proceeded to lop off, by little and little, the superarchbishop and his associates were guided, in stitious excrescences that had disfigured for so effecting this great religious revolution, will, be- many ages the purity and simplicity of the Chrissides being more suitable to our design than a tian worship, and to engraft gradually in their mere chronological narrative of each proceeding stead those doctrines and ceremonies which are in which Cranmer was engaged in the interval still the boast of the church of England. Orders between the death of Henry and the accession of were issued to all the bishops to abolish, in their Mary, we should hope, impress the reader with a respective dioceses, the custom of bearing candles due conviction of their wisdom and moderation. on Candlemas-day, of receiving ashes on Ash Cranmer's first step was to petition the new king Wednesday, and of carrying palms on Palm Sunfor a licence to continue in the exercise of his ec- day; and the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was clesiastical jurisdiction, on the ground that, as his commanded to be thenceforth administered in both archiepiscopal authority was derived solely from kinds, and in the English language. The masst the crown, it necessarily expired with the death of was, at the same time, celebrated as usual in Latin; the granting monarch. The example of the me- and care was taken to guard against offensive tropolitan was, as a matter of course, followed by comments on the catholic belief of the real presence the other prelates ; and their dependence on, and in the eucharist. their obedience to, the will of the executive by this
A great progress was thus unobtrusively and means revived and strengthened.
unresistingly made in favour of the new doctrines, Having thus precluded the evil consequences of and Cranmer so far emboldened to proceed with refractory colleagues, the archbishop next esta- his other projected innovations. Aware of the blished a royal visitation, chiefly for the purpose of deep root which the ancient worship had taken in enforcing his Book of Homilies, just then compos- the minds of the large majority of the people, clergy ed, and Erasmus's paraphrase of the New Testa- as well as laity, and of the firm hold which the ment, to be read after mass in every church on catholic discipline had in the two universities, he Sundays and holidays. The object was to fami
encouraged by all means in his power the influx liarise the people with the language and injunc- of foreign divines and professors into England. tions of the Gospel delivered in the vernacular They were assured of a hospitable asylum in his tongue, and by that means to make the introduc
own palace till otherwise provided for ; and were tion of more striking changes in the ancient
only called upon, in return, to aid by their knowpractices and worship, which he was then ma
ledge and eloquence the common cause of the returing in his own bosom, less abrupt and repug. formation. Among the divines and preachers who, nant to established prejudices. “The greatest part in consequence of this tempting invitation, flocked of the ignorant commons” (we quote Burnet, to the archiepiscopal residence at Lambeth, the vol. ii. p. 35.) “seemed to consider their priests most distinguished for their learning, ability, and as a sort of people who had such a secret trick zeal, were the celebrated John Knox, and Bucer of saving their souls as mountebanks pretend and Peter Martyr, at the time heads of the church in the cure of diseases ; and that there was and university of Strasburg. Knox was appointed nothing to be done but to leave themselves in
one of the royal chaplains, and was licensed and their hands, and the business could not miscarry.
encouraged to preach every where throughout This was the chief basis and support of all that
the kingdom, having had the honesty to refuse superstition which was so prevalent in the nation. a benefice ; “because,” says Strype,“ many The other extreme was of some corrupt gospeller,
things were worthy of reformation in England who thought if they magnified Christ much, and
without the reformation, whereof no minister did depended on his merits and intercession, they could not perish, which way soever they led their *" Among Cranmer's papers I have seen several lives. In the Homilies, therefore, especial care arguments for a moderate use of images." Burnet, was taken to rectify both these errors." Between
ii. p. 13.
f Cranmer celebrated a high mass for the repose these two extremes Cranmer steered with great of the soul of Francis I., who died a few months after address and moderation ; on the one hand, dwell- Henry.
or could discharge his conscience before God.” rude people, is a positive proof that reason had Bucer, who was remarkable among theologians little or no share in their reception. The progress for a sort of metaphysical acuteness,-or rather, of truths, which now appear to be a part of our for a scholastic and disingenuous * subtlety, very being, was for a time slow and gradual. They was appointed to lecture on divinity in Cam- were first discussed and adopted by a few as valubridge; while his friend, Peter Martyr, an honest- able accessions to their knowledge. The circle of er and bolder man, was elected to the theological diffusion becomes in time wider and wider: they chair of the other university. By these able and are now received by many because they are the learned men, the continental doctrines of the
opinions of those whom they look up to; by others, eucharist, free will, and justification were taught from imitation; by some, because long familiarity to the rising generation of churchmen in England. makes their evidence appear intuitive. Their re
A catechism “for the singular Profit and In- ception thus in time grows universal, and seems, struction of Children and Young People,” was like the acquired perceptions of vision, to be a priCranmer's next measure. In this “easy, but most mary law of our nature. But this slowness and useful work, t” the archbishop strongly leans to gradualness is, it is evident, incompatible with the the ancient doctrines; he teaches the catholic essential rapidity of a great religious revolution, theory of the body and blood of Christ in the eu- like that which gives such celebrity to the reigns charist;
“exhorts much to confessions, and the of Henry and his immediate successors. Generapeople's dealing with their pastors about their con- tions would perish without participating in the ben sciences ;” and, contrary to his precepts in the for- nefits of the reformation, if they were not at once mer reign, maintains the divine institution of priests made glaringly manifest to the dullest apprehenand bishops. A much more important work soon sions of the people, instead of relying on the infollowed—the Book of Common Prayer, compiled trinsic truth of its principles and their consequent chiefly from the Romish ritual, which is in the general, but too tardy, diffusion. This fact could main similar to that in use at the present hour, and not escape the sagacity of the friends of the new which almost immediately received the sanction of doctrines. The question then for them was to Edward and his parliament. The church of Eng- facilitate the progress of those doctrines, by preland having now by law its own liturgy, rites, and senting them as tangibly as possible to the comceremonies, and its separation from the papal com- mon sense of the nation; while the errors and abmunion being thence legislatively consummated, surdities of the old worship were no less forcibly it only remained for Cranmer to win for that liturgy exposed to what may be designated the sensuous the sympathy and support of public opinion. In understanding of the vulgar. To men so illiterate his conduct in this delicate affair, as we have pre- as our fathers at this time, it would be a vain waste mised, we shall find much reason to admire his of breath to endeavour to win them to the protesdiscretion, excellent common sense, and know- tant tenets by controversial sermons on their Gosledge of the springs of human action.
pel purity, or by tracts proving with learned logic It may be stated as a general rule, that it is es- the antiscriptural basis of the faith in which they sential to the permanent success of religious, not had been bred up. They should be first made to less than of political, revolutions, that they be ef- see and feel the truth of the one, and see and feel fected with rapidity; that is, that the promulga- the corruptions of the other. The Horatian retion of the new doctrines be so much in accord mark, that with the public aspirations of the time being,- Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures ; however undefined, vague, or indeterminate these Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus, et quæ may appear,—that they may seem to be but their Ipse sibi tradit spectator." echo. Wycliffism was stifled in its birth by the applies universally; and the success which attend. mephitic exhalations which for centuries had pol. ed the labours of Cranmer and his associates luted the religious atmosphere of England; in proves their having acted upon it. The principle other words, it was not responded to by public thus asserted by the poet pervades all their measympathy, it was too much in the van of the gene- sures, and indeed almost all the proceedings of ral intelligence, it breathed no congenial atmo the promoters of the English reformation. sphere. On the other hand, it cannot fail to strike In the former reign, as we have all read, great the philosophic observer, that the very fact of theo- exertions were successfully made in exposing to logical innovations spreading rapidly among a the senses of the multitude the pretended miracles
and pious impostures of the clergy. The miracu* Bucer thought that, for avoiding contention, and lous crucifix, the “Rood of Grace,” as it was callfor maintaining peace and quietness in the church, ed, which had attracted generations of pilgrims to somewhat more ambiguous words should be used, that might have a respect to both persuasions concerning
Boxley in Kent, and which had proved one of the the presence. But Martyr was of another judgment,
most lucrative of the monkish inventions, was taand affected to speak of the Sacrament with all plain- ken to pieces at St. Paul's cross, and the several ness and perspicuity. Strype, ii. 120.
springs and wheels by which the head, mouth, and | Burnet, who says the catechism was first made in Latin by another, but revived in translation by
eyes of the image were made to move miraculousCranmer.
ly, according to the payment of the votaries, ex
impressed the vulgar with a sense of mysterious awe, which, by a natural illusion, was extended to the officiating priesthood. His conduct in this difficulty displayed his good sense and moderation. He framed his new English liturgy out of materials furnished by the Roman ritual. Its elevated piety and simplicity recommended it to the friends of pure religion; while its being but a translation, in the mother-tongue, of the daily service of their altar, could not fail to attract to it the enlightened members of the catholic communion. In either case, the senses were made ministrant to
posed to the public gaze, touch, and ridicule. “There was a huge image of our Lady at Worcester that was had in great reverence,” it having performed an orthodox number of marvellous cures of buth soul and body. It was stripped before the people, and found to be the statue of a bishop, "the which caused huge laughter to the beholders thereon.” Another famous imposture was discovered at Hales, in Gloucestershire; a phial containing the blood of Christ, taken from his body at Jerusalem. Its miraculous nature was shown by its becoming invisible to any one in a state of mortal sin, and continuing so till the criminal had expiated his offences by masses and offerings. The sacred blood was discovered to have been the blood of a duck, which was weekly killed in private for the purpose by two monks in the secret of the cheat; and the visibility of the fluid was found to depend on turning the phial, one side of which was transparent, the other opaque. When rich pilgrims arrived, they were sure to be shown the dark side; and, “having drained them of all that they brought with them, then they consoled them by turning the clear side outward, who upon that went home very well satisfied with their journey, and the expense they had been at."*
By these exposures to the eye and touch of the multitude, the feeling of fraud and corruption in their religious institutions was insensibly reduced, and the public mind prepared for the reception of newer and purer doctrines. To diminish still more the reverence of the people for the ancient worship, plays and farces were frequently performed in the churches, of which the invariable subject was the vices of the clergy, and the absurdities of the established superstitions. The effect of this great engine of ridicule would appear incredible to a modern frequenter of the drama. A semi-malicious relish of all jests at the expense of the great and the reverend is a part of our national character, and was, in this case, the more freely encouraged by the friends of the reformation, because the less ceremonial character of the protestant service exempted it from the caricatures by which the pageants and mummeries of the catholic worship were held up to public laughter. Thus we see the sensuous character of the religion of the church of Rome, by which she bound to herself, during centuries of intellectual darkness, the allegiance of the Christian world, tended ultimately to her degradation and downfall.
Bearing steadily in mind the principle which we have endeavoured to explain, Cranmer proceeded in his great undertaking. He knew that it was essential to the reasonable and unmysterious character of the new religion that its service should be expressed in the mother-tongue of its adherents; and yet he knew- such is the force of superstitious association—that the very fact of the mass being celebrated in an unknown dialect
A broad mark of sensible distinction being thus drawn between the new and old worship, without inducing the alarm of a radical difference, Cranmer next enlisted the pride of the multitude on his side, by proclaiming their private judgment to be the ultimate appeal in all scriptural controversy. Not that he ever intended to consult their decisions, for he was too well aware of their incompetency to come to any; but he knew that the permission of every man to freely exercise his "private judgment” in the meaning of the Scriptures, could not fail to alienate him from a religion which denied that indulgence, and to make him, on the other hand, a friend to the system of belief, which granted it as a matter of right. In point of fact, the reformers were at this time to the full as intolerant as the catholics in their interpretations of the sacred volume; but employed different, though much less consistent, means of ensuring a conformity with their own comments and opinions. All, therefore, who fancied they were exercising their private judgment, when they were probably only marshalling one set of prejudices in array against another, favoured the new doctrines.
The Scriptures being now the inheritance of every man, and the right of exercising the private judgment in their interpretation being promulgated as a religious obligation, the next step for the promoters of the reformation naturally was the sweeping away all those ceremonies and dogmas of the Roman worship which were not sanctioned by the letter or the spirit of the inspired writings. The Virgin, consequently, was deprived of her divine honours; most of the saints were cashiered or superannuated ; and the terra incognita of purgatory expunged from the map of true religion, as unknown to the prophets, and repugnant to the doctrine of justification. The practice of confession was left to the opinion of each "private judgment” on its efficacy, and very soon fell into disuse.
The sacrament of the Lord's Supper can present itself to the candid mind but under two in. terpretations, either that of the church of Rome, with all its absurdities ; or that of the Zuinglian divines, with its apparent contradictions to the letter of the Gospel. Endless attempts, however, were for nearly a century made to hit off a kind of middle term which inight embrace the two op
* Burnet, ii. 1. 313.