« EdellinenJatka »
Hildebrand was ascribed to the sovereign; then it dwindled down to an authority little more than that which had been claimed by many ancient English princes, who had been in constant communion with the Church of Rome. What Henry and his favorite counsellors meant by the supremacy, was cer
tainly nothing less than the whole power of the keys. The king was to be the pope of his kingdom, the vicar of God, the expositor of Catholic verity, the channel of sacramental graces. He arrogated to himself the right of deciding dogmatically what was orthodox doctrine and what was heresy, of drawing up and imposing confessions of faith, and of giving religious instruction to his people. He proclaimed that all jurisdiction, spiritual as well as temporal, was derived from him alone, and that it was in his power to confer the episcopal character, and to take it away. He actually ordered his seal to be put to commissions by which bishops were appointed, who were to exercise their functions during his royal pleasure. According to this system, as expounded by Cranmer, the king was the spiritual as well as the temporal chief of the nation. In both capacities his highness must have lieutenants. As he appointed civil officers to keep his seal, to collect his revenues, and to dispense justice in his name, so he appointed divines of various ranks to preach the gospel, and to administer the sacraments. It was unnecessary that there should be any imposition of hands. The king — such was the opinion of Cranmer given in the plainest words— might, in virtue of authority derived from God, make a priest; and the priest so made needed no ordination whatever. These opinions Cranmer followed out to their legitimate consequences. He held that his own spiritual functions, like the secular functions of the chancellor and treasurer, were at once determined by a demise of the crown. When Henry died, therefore, the archbishop and his suffragans took out fresh commissions, empowering them to ordain and to perform other spiritual functions till the new sovereign should think fit to order otherwise. When it was objected that a power to bind and to loose, altogether distinet from temporal power, had been given by our Lord to his apostles, the theologians of this school replied that the power to bind and to loose had descended, not to the clergy, but to the whole body of Christian men, and ought to be exercised by the chief magistrate, as the representative of the society. When it was objected that Saint Paul had spoken of certain persons whom the Holy Ghost had made overseers and shep
herds of the faithful, it was answered that King Henry was the very overseer, the very shepherd, whom the Holy Ghost had appointed, and to whom the expressions of Saint Pau. applied.* 4These high pretensions gave scandal to Protestants as well as to Catholics; and the scandal was greatly increased when the supremacy, which Mary had resigned back to the Pope, was again annexed to the crown, on the accession of Elizabeth. It seemed monstrous that a woman should be the chief bishop of a church in which an apostle had forbidden her even to let her voice be heard. The queen, therefore, found it necessary expressly to disclaim that sacerdotal character which her father had assumed, and which, according to Cranmer, had been inseparably joined, by divine ordinance, to the regal function. When the Anglican confession of faith was revised in her reign, the supremacy was explained in a manner somewhat different from that which had been fashionable at the court of Henry. Cranmer had declared, in emphatic terms, that God had immediately committed to Christian princes the whole cure of all their subjects, as well concerning the administration of God’s word for the cure of souls, as concerning the ministration of things political. The thirtyseventh article of religion, framed under Elizabeth, declares, in terms as emphatic, that the ministering of God’s word does not belong to princes. The queen, however, still had over the church a visitatorial power of vast and undefined extent. She was intrusted by parliament with the office of restraining and punishing heresy and every sort of ecclesiastical abuse, and was permitted to delegate her authority to commissioners. The bishops were little more than her ministers. Rather than grant to the civil magistrate the absolute power of nominating spiritual pastors, the Church of Rome, in the eleventh century, set all Europe on fire. Rather than grant to, the civil magistrate the absolute power of nominating spiritual pastors, the ministers of the Church of Scotland, in our own time, resigned their livings by hundreds. The Church of England had no such scruples. By the royal authority alone her prelates were appointed. By the royal authority alone her convocations were summoned, regulated, prorogued, and dissolved. Without the royal sanction her canons had no force. One of the articles of her faith was, that without the royal consent no ecclesiastical council could lawfully assemble. From all her judicatures an appeal lay, in the last resort, to the sovereign, even when the question was, whether an opinion ought to be accounted heretical, or whether the administration of a sacrament had been valid. Nor did the Church grudge this extensive power to our princes. By them she had been called into existence, nursed through a feeble infancy, guarded from Papists on one side, and from Puritans on the other, protected against parliaments which bore her no good will, and avenged on literary assailants whom she found it hard to answer. Thus gratitude, hope, fear, common attachments, common enmities, bound her to the throne. All her traditions, all her tastes were monarchical. Loyalty became a point of professional honor among her clergy, the peculiar badge which distinguished them at once from Calvinists and from Papists. Both the Calvinists and the Papists, widely as they differed in other respects, regarded with extreme jealousy all encroachments of the temporal power on the domain of the spiritual power. Both Calvinists and Papists maintained that subjects might justifiably draw the sword against ungodly rulers. In France, Calvinists resisted Charles the Ninth ; Papists resisted Henry the Fourth : both Papists and Calvinists resisted Henry the Third. In Scotland, Calvinists led Mary captive. On the north of the Trent, Papists took arms against Elizabeth. The Church of England, meanwhile, condemned both Calvinists and Papists, and loudly boasted that no duty was more constantly or earnestly inculcated by her than that of submisSion to princes. The advantages which the crown derived from this close alliance with the Established Church were great; but they were not without serious drawbacks. The compromise arranged by Cranmer had from the first been considered by a large body of Protestants as a scheme for serving two masters, as an attempt to unite the worship of the Lord with the worship of Baal. In the days of Edward the Sixth, the scruples of this party had repeatedly thrown great difficulties in the way of the government. When Elizabeth came to the throne, these difficulties were much increased. Violence naturally engenders violence. The spirit of Protestantism was therefore far fiercer and more intolerant after the cruelties of Mary than before them. Many persons who were warmly attached to the new opinions had, during the evil days, taken refuge in Switzerland and Germany. They had been hospitably received by their brethren in the faith, had sate at the feet of the great doctors of Strasburg, Zurich, and Geneva, and had been, during some years, accustomed to a more simple worship, and to a more democratical form of church government than England had yet seen. These men returned to their country, convinced that the reform which had been effected under King Edward had been far less searching and extensive than the interests of pure religion required. But it was in vain that they attempted to obtain any concession from Elizabeth. Indeed her system, wherever it differed from her brother's, seemed to them to differ for the worse. They were little disposed to submit, in matters of faith, to any human authority. They had recently, in reliance on their own interpretation of Scripture, risen up against a church strong in immemorial antiquity and catholic consent. It was by no common exertion of intellectual energy that they had thrown off the yoke of that gorgeous and imperial superstition; and it was vain to expect that, immediately after such an emancipation, they would patiently submit to a new spiritual tyr. anny. Long accustomed, when the priest lifted up the host, to bow down with their faces to the earth, as before a present God, they had learned to treat the mass as an idolatrous mummery. Long accustomed to regard the pope as the successor of the chief of the apostles, as the bearer of the key: of earth and heaven, they had learned to regard him as the beast, the antichrist, the man of sin. It was not to be expected that they would immediately transfer to an upstart authority the homage which they had withdrawn from the Vatican; that they would submit their private judgment to the authority of a church founded on private judgment alone, that they would be afraid to dissent from teachers who themselves dissented from what had lately been the universal faith of western Christendom. It is easy to conceive the indigna tion which must have been felt by bold and inquisitive spirits glorying in newly-acquired freedom, when an institutio younger by many years than themselves, an institution which had, under their own eyes, gradually received its form from the passions and interests of a court, began to mimic the lofty style of Rome. Since these men could not be convinced, it was determined hat they should be persecuted. Persecution produced its natural effects on them. It found them a sect: it made them a faction. To their hatred of the church was now added hatred of the crown. The two sentiments were intermingled ; and each imbittered the other. The opinions of the Puritan concerning the relation of ruler and subject were widely different from those which were inculcated in the homilies. His favorite divines had, both by precept and by example, encouraged resistance to tyrants and persecutors. His fellow-Calvinists in France, in Holland, and in Scotland, were in arms against idolatrous and cruel princes. His notions, too, respecting the government of the state took a tinge from his notions respecting the government of the church. Some of the sarcasms which were popularly thrown on episcopacy might, without much difficulty, be turned against royalty; and many of the arguments which were used to prove that spiritual power was best lodged in a synod seemed to lead to the conclusion that temporal power was best lodged in a parliament. Thus, as the priest of the Established Church was, from interest, from principle, and from passion, zealous for the royal prerogatives, the Puritan was, from interest, from principle, and from passion, hostile to them. The power of the discontented sectaries was great. They were found in every rank; but they were strongest among the mercantile classes in the towns, and among the small proprietors in the country. Early in the reign of Elizabeth they began to return a majority of the House of Commons. And doubtless, had our ancestors been then at liberty to fix their attention entirely on domestic questions, the strife between the crown and the parliament would instantly have commenced. But that was no season for internal dissensions. It might, indeed, well be doubted, whether the firmest union among all the orders of the state could avert the common danger by which all were threatened. Roman Catholic Europe and reformed Europe were struggling for death or life. France, divided against herself, had, for a time, ceased to be of any account in Christendom. The English government was at the head of the Protestant interest, and, while persecuting Presbyterians at home, extended a powerful protection to Presbyterian churches abroad. At the head of the opposite party was the mightiest prince of the age, a prince who ruled Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, the East and the West Indies, whose armies
* See a very curious paper which Strype believed te be in Gardiner's handwriting. Ecclesiastical Memorials, Took I, Chap_xvii. t These are Cranmer's own words. See the Appendix to Burnet's History of the Reformation, Part I. Book III. No. 21, Question 9.