« PreviousContinue »
fluence of archbishop Laud, so that they number in their train some of her most distinguished prelates. The Wesleyan Methodists also have received their system, and many divines in the congregational churches in New England. On the continent of Europe they have been very numerous. They have every where given themselves much liberty as to doctrinal belief; have been satisfied with a confession of faith in the Scriptures as the word of God, and a al life; many of them have viewed regeneration as a progressive work,—instantaneous conversion and revivals as fanatical, and the supper as a converting ordinance, to which all are to be admitted, who possess a good moral character.
Some of their principal writers have been Arminius, Episcopius, Vorstius, Grotius, Limborch, Le Clerc, Wetstein, Whitby, Taylor, Fletcher. Le Clerc wrote a commentary on the Bible ---Wetstein on the New Testament.
CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
Imperfect character of the Reformation in England. Cranmer
made Archbishop of Canterbury. Bible transiated and given to the people. Monasteries suppressed. Relics ridiculed. Ca. tholic Rebellion. Henry VIII. excommunicated. His death. Excellent reign of Edward VI. Liturgy and Articles introduced. Reign of Mary. Popish persecution. Martyrdom of John Rodgers, Saunders, Hooper, Taylor, Bradford, Ridley, and Latimer.
Cranmer. Darkness and distress of the period. Death of Mary and accession of Elizabeth. Restoration of the Protestants. Establishment of the English Church.
The reformation in England, being little besides a transfer of supreme power from the Pope to the King, left the nation still groaning under the monstrous corruptions of Popery; so that the history of this Church presents a long and hard struggle between such as wished for a thorough reform, and the friends of the Papacy. Henry VIII. was a monarch of violent passions. He had broken from the Pope; but he was determined to be Pope in his own dominions, and, whether right or wrong, would be obeyed. Fortunately for the cause of truth, he elevated to the See of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer; a man of great learning and sound judgment of a calm temper and an honest beart; whose mind rapidly opened to the doctrines of the Bible, and which, for many years, he most ably defended.
The language of Wickliff's version of the New Testament, wbich had been made one hundred and fifty years antecedent to this period, had become obsolete ; and it was moreover a prohibited book, so that the nation were really without the Scriptures. But one William Tyndall, impressed with the immense importance of a free circulation of the Bible, in the language of the day, retired, for security, to the continent, where he translated the New Testament into English. An edition was printed at Antwerp, with short comments, and sent to England, for distribution, in 1526.* But its circulation was
* This was the first time the Scriptures were ever printed in English. “Cardinal Wolsey declaimed against the art of printing as that which would take down the honour and profit of the priesthood by making the people as wise as they."-Baxter
violently opposed by the Papists, and prohibited by the bishops as infected with heresy; and Tonstel, bishop of London, had the edition privately purchased and publicly burnt at Cheapside. This event was far from being unfavourable ; for with the money for which Tyndall sold his books, he was enabled to print, in 1534, a more correct version; and the very act of conflagration, excited great displeasure and a spirit for reading the Scriptures, which nothing could suppress. Many who dispersed this hated book, and many who preached and avowed its doctrines, were brought before the bishop's courts and condemned to the flames. Tyndall himself was villanously betrayed at Brussels; and first strangled at the stake and then burnt. He expired, praying, “ Lord, open the King of Eng. land's eyes."
Cranmer, assisted by the new Queen, Ann Boleyn, endeavoured to stop the persecutions in England; but the king had written in defence of the Romish faith, and had too much pride to renounce his opinions, and was violently pressed to what he still believed to be duty, by the Duke of Norfolk, Gardiner bishop of Winchester, and the greater part of the Clergy.
Convinced that there could be no reformation without the Scriptures, Cranmer prevailed upon the King, in 1534, to order a translation of the Bible by some learned men, which should be printed and put into the hands of the people. It was a great point gained. The work was committed to nine eminent scholars; and, when finished, was sent to Paris to be printed. The next year, Miles Coverdale, an associate of Tyndall, printed at Zurich, the whole Bible in English ; which immediately received the royal sanction, and was placed, by the king's order, in every parish church in the kingdom. Cranmer's Bible was no sooner printed, than it was seized by the inquisitors and committed to the flames.
The printers fled to London with the presses and a few copies that were saved, where it was reprinted and offered by royal decree for sale to all the king's subjects. But so small was the number of
When the Greek and Hebrew originals were first printed, the monks declared from the pulpits (such was the grass ance of the age), " that there was a new language discovered, called Greek, of which people should beware, since it produced all heresies, that in this language was come forth a book called the New Testament, which was now in every body's hands, and which was full of thorns and briers. And there had also now another language started up, which they called Hebrew, and that they who learned it were termed, Hebrews."
the people that could read, that the edition of only 600 copies was not wholly sold off in three years.
The royal decree exceedingly grieved the papal clergy ; but the people received the Bible with great joy. Multitudes continually flocked to the churches to hear portions of the scriptures from those who could read.* Cranmer's heart was filled with gladness at this “ day of reformation, which he con
cluded was now risen in England since the light of God's word E did shine over it, without a cloud.”
The next thing to which Cranmer directed his attention, was the suppression of the monasteries. These gave law to the learning and religion of the nation; and while they remained, ignorance and superstition would brood over the land.
Henry at once coincided with the views of Cranmer, as the · monks were all his enemies, and would not acknowledge his
supremacy, and he could fill his empty coffers from their vast funds. In 1535, commenced their visitation; the object of which was, to expose their iniquities. They were required to acknowledge the King's supremacy, and to pursue a holy
In both they were condemned. Indeed their vices are not to be named. 375 of the lesser convents were dissolved. Henry acquired 10,0001. in plate and moveables, and a clear yearly revenue of 30,000l. ; abore 10,000 persons were cast upon the world. Pleased with the result, the profligate monarch proceeded to lay hands on the large religious houses; the people being quieted with the declaration, that they would never again be burdened with taxes, for the revenue obtained would support 40 earls, 60 barons, 8000 knights
* From one William Maldon, we have this lively picture of the times. “ He mentions that when the King had allowed the Bible to be set forth to be read in the churches, immediately several poor men in the town of Chelmsford, in Essex, where his father lived, bought the New Testament; and on Sundays, sat reading it in the lower end of the church. Many would floek about them to hear their reading; and he, among the rest, being then bui fifteen years old, came every Sunday to hear the glad and sweet tidings of the Gospel. But his father, observing it once, angrily fetched him away, and would have him say the Latin mating with him, which grieved him much. And as he returned at other times to hear the scriptures read, his father still would fetch him away. This put him upon the thought of learning to read English, that he might read the New Testament himself, which, when he had by diligence effected, he and his father's apprentice bought a New Testament, joined their stocks together, and to conceal it, laid it under the bed of straw, and read it at convenient times."'-[Townley.)
and 40,000 soldiers; make provision for the poor, and support the preachers of the Gospel. All this might have been done, so immensely rich had the monks become, but Henry squandered the money among his favourites.
In the suppression of the monasteries, their relices were all brought forth, and made the objects of ridicule and scorn. Abominable frauds were exposed. A vial which was said to contain our Saviour's blood, which could be seen only by the righteous, and which had long been venerated, was exhibited and found to be thick and opaque on the side held to sinners, and transparent on the opposite. An image, which had been a favourite object of pilgrimage, because it moved its head, and feet, was taken to pieces, and its mechanism was exposed to the people in church, by the bishop of Rochester. The shrine of Becket was the most profitable in England. It received andually over 10001. An immense sum in that age. Henry unsainted and unsbrined him, and ordered his name to be struck from the calender, and his bones to be burnt.
The Pope could not now restrain his anger. Henry was excommunicated, and his kingdom laid under an interdict; but the days of John were passed away. Henry regarded it as the idle wind.
A rebellion broke out among the Papists in England. A hundred thousand collected in Yorkshire, under one Aske, i and called their march the Pilgrimage of grace. This encouraged risings in other parts of the country. But they were suppressed by the royal armies.
The King had filled his coffers by exterminating monasteries, relics and images,—but he adhered rigorously to transubstantiation, and committed to the flames such as denied it. In this Cranmer, who had not as yet gained light, coincided with bim But in 1539, to his great grief, six popish articles establishing transubstantiation, purgatory, the celibacy of priests and auricular confession were enacted in parliment, and the papal cause gained a temporary triumph. Five hundred persons were committed to prison, and numbers to the Hames. Cranmer came near falling a sacrifice. The King suffered him to be summoned before the council to be tried for his life, but he had a secret affection for him, and he gave him his sealed ring to present to them, should they go to extremities. This alone saved him.
At this critical moment, Henry died, A. D. 1547, cursed by the Papists and abhored by the Protestants. He was succeeded by Edward VI. ; a prince only nine years of age, but re