Sivut kuvina

an image? They they, who is so mage, but God

already in divers cities of Germany, as Zurich, Basle, and. Strasburg and such other.”

“ The second cause is for redeeming your souls and your friends', which is also abominable... The idolator nowadays, if he set a candle before an image and idol, he says he does not worship the image, but God it represents. For, say they, who is so foolish as to worship an image? The third cause of your good intent is that the profit of your goods may come to the priests; as though they were the peculiar people of God and only beloved : as indeed to those who preach the Gospel the people are bound to give sufficient living... but not that their prayers can help the dead no more than a man's breath blowing a sail can cause a great ship to sail. So is this also become an abomination, for those be not Christ's ministers, but the ministers of a rabble of dirty traditions and popish ceremonies, and you find a sort of lusty lubbers who are well able to labour for their living and strong to get it with the sweat of their face."

“... O ye citizens, if ye would turn but even the profits of your chantries and obits to the finding of the poor, what a politic and goodly provision ! whereas now London being one of the flowers of the world as touching worldly riches hath so many, yea innumerable poor people, forced to go from door to door and to sit openly in the streets begging, and many not able to do otherwise but lie in their houses in most grievous pains and die for lack of the aid of the rich, to the great shame of thee, oh London !” 3

After exclaiming against the amount of money spent by the authorities of the city of London on civic entertainments, and railing against the support given to “the Mass of Scala Cæli, of the Five Wounds, and other such like trumpery,” our author continues : “ Have you not slain the servants of the Lord, only for speaking against the

* Ibid., sig. B i.

? Ibid., sig. B ü.

authority of the false bishop of Rome, that monstrous beast, whom now you yourselves do, or should, abhor ? I mean all his laws being contrary to Christ and not His body, and yet you see that a few years past you burnt for heretics abominable those who preached or wrote against his usurped power, and now it is treason to uphold or maintain any part of his usurped power, and he shall die as a traitor who does so, and well worthy."'?

After declaiming against the Mass and confession, and declaring that the bishops and cathedral churches should be despoiled of their wealth as their companions and brethren in antichrist, the abbots," had been, the author of the tract goes on: “God gave the king a heart to take the wicked mammon from you, as he may rightfully do with the consent of the Commons by Act of Parliament, so that it may be disposed of according to God's glory and the commonwealth, and to take himself as portion, as (say) eight or ten of every hundred, for an acknowledgment of obedience and for the maintenance of his estate. The rest politically to be put into a commonwealth, first distributed among all the towns in England in sums according to the quantity and number of the occupiers and where most need is, and all the towns to be bound to the king so that he may have the money at his extreme need to serve him, he rendering it again. And also a politic way (should be) taken for provision of the poor in every town, with some part to the marriage of young persons that lack friends."?

The bishops the writer considers to be the greatest obstacles to the reformation of religion in England on the model of what had already taken place in Germany. “ You wicked mammon,” he continues, “your inordinate riches was not of your heavenly Father's planting; therefore it must be plucked up by the roots with the riches of your other brethren of the Romish church or church

[blocks in formation]

malignant, which of late were rightfully plucked up. I • would to God that the distribution of the same lands ande goods had been as godly distributed as the act of the rooting up was; which distribution of the same I dare say all Christian hearts lament. For the fat swine only were greased, but the poor sheep to whom that thing belonged had least or nothing at all. The fault will be laid to those of the Parliament House, especially to those who bear the greatest swing. Well, I touch this matter here, to exhort all that love God's word unfeignedly to be diligent in prayer only to God to endue the Lords, Knights, and Burgesses of the next Parliament with His spirit, that the lands and goods of these bishops may be put to a better use, as to God's glory, the wealth of the commonalty and provision for the poor.''

The above lengthy extracts will show what the advanced spirits among the English followers of Luther hoped for from the religious revolution which had already, when the tract was written, been begun. It will also serve to show that even in London, which may be supposed to have been in the forefront of the movement, the religious changes were by no means popular; but the civic authorities and people clung to the old faith and traditions, which the author well and tersely describes as “the Romish religion.”

The readers of the foregoing pages will see that no attempt has been made to draw a definite conclusion from the facts set down, or expound the causes of the ultimate triumph of the Reformation principles in England. It has already been pointed out that the time for a satisfactory synthesis is not yet come; but it may not be unnecessary to deprecate impatience to reach an ultimate judgment.

The necessary assumption which underlies the inherited Protestant history of the Reformation in the sixteenth

? Ibid., sig. D viii.

• century is the general corruption of manners and morals

no less than of doctrine, and the ignorance of religious truths no less than the neglect of religious precepts on the part of both clergy and people. On such a basis nothing can be easier and simpler than to account for the issue of the English religious changes. The revival of historical studies and the alienation of the minds of many historians from traditional Christianity, whether in its Catholic or Protestant form, has, however, thrown doubt on this great fundamental assumption-a doubt that will be strengthened the more the actual conditions of the case are impartially and thoroughly investigated. Many of the genuine sources of history have only within this generation become really accessible; what was previously known has been more carefully examined and sifted, whilst men have begun to see that if the truth is to be ascertained inquiries must be pursued in detail within local limits, and that it does not suffice to speak in general terms of " the corrupt state of the Church.”

If we are to know the real factors of the problem to be solved, separate investigations have to be pursued which lead to very varying conclusions as to the state of the Church, the ecclesiastical life and the religious practices of the people in different countries. It is already evident that the corruptions or the virtues prevailing in one quarter must not straightway be credited to the account of another ; that the reason why one country has become Protestant, or another remained Catholic, has to be sought for in each case, and that it may be safely asserted that the maintenance of Catholicity or the adoption of Pro. testantism in different regions had comparatively little to do with prevalence or absence of abuses, or as little depended on the question whether these were more or less grievous.

Unquestionably those who desire to have a ready explanation of great historical movements or revolutions find themselves increasingly baulked in the particular case

of the Reformation by the new turn which modern historical research has given to the consideration of the question. Recent attempts to piece up the new results with the old views afford a warning against precipitation, and have but shown that the explanation of the successful issue of the Reformation in England is a problem less simple or obvious than many popular writers have hitherto assumed. The factors are clearly seen now to be manysometimes accidental, sometimes strongly personal-whilst aspirations after worldly commodities, though destined not to be realised for the many, were often and in the most influential quarters a stronger determinant to acquiescence or active co-operation in the movement than thirst after pure doctrine, love of the open Bible, or desire for a verna. cular liturgy. The first condition for the understanding of the problem at all is the most careful and detailed examination possible of the state of popular religion during the whole of the century which witnessed the change, quite apart from the particular political methods employed to effect the transition from the public teaching of the old faith, as it was professed in the closing years of the reign of Henry VIII., and the new as it was officially practised a dozen years after Elizabeth had held the reins of power.

The interest of the questions discussed in the present volume is by no means exclusively, perhaps to some persons is even by no means predominantly, a religious one. It has been insisted upon in the preceding pages that religion on the eve of the Reformation was intimately bound up with the whole social life of the people, animating it and penetrating it at every point. No one who is acquainted with the history of later centuries in England can doubt for a moment that the religion then professed presented in this respect a contrast to the older faith; or as some writers may put it, religion became restricted to what belongs to the technically “religious" sphere. But this was not confined to England, or even to Protestant countries. Everywhere, it may be said, in the centuries

« EdellinenJatka »