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u When Granmer was advanced to the primacy of England, and had time to survey the variety and extent of his responsibilities, the prospect must have been sufficient to appal him, and to show that, so far as his own personal ease was concerned, he did well to deprecate the preferment. For several years past, the mind of England had been in a state of incessant commotion. Questions had been freely agitated, the discussion of which was sure to send a feeling of restlessness and impatience throughout the whole mass of the community. A force had been incessantly at work, gradually to loosen the connection which bound the whole frame of society to the fabric of the Romish Church, with a cement which had been hardened by the lapse of ages. Things which, for many a century, had been deemed by multitudes immutable as the laws of nature, were now found to contain within themselves the elements of change. The supremacy of the Roman pontiff, more especially, had, till then, been very generally regarded as a fundamental principle of revealed religion. Yet this was precisely the principle against which the first violence of the spirit now abroad was vehemently directed: and, what was still more astounding, the assault against it was either directed or assisted by men who had pledged themselves to its maintenance by the most solemn sanctions which religion can impose. All this cannot have happened without a perilous convulsion of the public mind. It may be said, without the smallest exaggeration, that no disturbance in the order of the physical world could have produced, in many a heart, much more confusion and dismay than that which was occasioned by this rupture of immemorial prejudices and associations. The fountains of the great deep were breaking up before their eyes, and the summits of ancient institutions seemed in danger of disappearing beneath the deluge.

“An archbishop of Canterbury might well regard with some consternation the elemental war before him. The winds of discord were, even then, beginning to rush from their confinement; and their roar might have appalled the bravest heart. Humanly speaking, Cranmer might soon have been lost in the tempest, if a more lordly spirit than his own had not controlled its fury. It was fortunate, perhaps, for the cause of this great mental revolution, that his master was one who, according to Wolsey's description of him, would rather lose half his kingdom than miss the accomplishment of his will, -one whom nothing could appal, save the destruction of the pillars that kept the firmament from falling. And yet this very attribute of Henry was, itself, another source of difficulty and danger to those who were doomed to act in the same sphere with him. The increasing distraction of the times was bringing a change over his spirit. Six years of vexatious delay and treacherous chicanery (soon followed up, as we have seen, by an act of insult and defiance) gradually brought out the more formidable qualities of his nature. The frank, joyous, and convivial prince was beginning to degenerate into the stern and inflexible sovereign; and to verify the saying that he spared no man in his wrath, and no woman in his jealousy or his lust. This was the master whom Cranmer was to serve. This was the power under whose auspices he was to work out the deliverance and restoration of the English Church. He was doomed to stand by, while the cradle of our spiritual independence was rocked by the hand of impetuous and capricious despotism.

“One of the first measures which Cranmer had found it necessary to adopt was the publication of certain restraints on the licentious abuse of the pulpit. His diocess, from its geographical position, was favorable to the introduction of the reformed opinions from the continent: and the conflict between the new and the ancient learning was there proportionably violent. The spirit of dissension was active among his clergy. Their pulpits were often the watch towers of a fierce controversial warfare. The injuries of the incomparable Catherine, and the elevation of a youthful upstart in her place, were themes far too tempting for the advocates of the papal supremacy to resist: and the violence with which these subjects were publicly discussed by the clergy, speedily communicated itself to their still more unlettered and ignorant hearers. The consequence was, that the new queen was becoming the object of such coarse and vulgar raillery, that it became expedient to put some restraint upon this most unseemly liberty of prophesying.

" The general discontent, however, did not confine itself to invective. It took the shape of treasonable conspiracy and imposture: and the diocess of Cranmer was the scene of the disgraceful exhibition. No incident in English history is better known than the story of Elizabeth Barton, the nun of Kent. This wretched Pythoness the Suur Nativite of her day-was a native of Aldrington, in Kent. Her epileptic affections were exalted by her accomplices into mystic trances. She was skilfully trained by them to utter treason in the shape of prophecy: and her mission was accredited by a letter written in heaven,' and delivered to her by the hand of Mary Magdalene! Abel, the ecclesiastical agent of Queen Catherine, degraded himself by joining in this vile confederacy; and it is melancholy to find that such men as Warham, Fisher, and, for a time, Sir Thomas More, were dupes of the delusion. For no less than eight or nine years together had this miserable woman and her priestly confederates continued to assail the proceedings and character of the king; till at length she ventured to proclaim that he should die a villain's death, and to fix on the day on which he should cease to reign. It was not till the extensive patronage of the papal clergy had begun to make the fraud formidably dangerous that the original contrivers of it were sent to expiate their offences at Tyburn.

“ The activity of Cranmer in assisting to detect this cheat was among the earliest services rendered by him to the cause of good order and religion. His own account of the fraud is still extant in a letter to Archdeacon Hawkins, dated December 20, 1533 : and, in one respect, it is eminently curious, since it serves to show that, like the impostors of the remotest times, the holy maid of Kent was partly indebted for her success to the faculty of ventriloquism. After informing his correspondent of the great miracle wrought upon her eight years before, ‘by the power of God, and our lady of Curtupstreet, and of the pilgrimage established in consequence of it,' he adds - When she was brought thither and laid before the image of our lady, her face was wonderfully distigured, her tongue hanging out, and her eyes being, in a manner, plucked out and laid upon her cheeks; and so, greatly disordered. Then was there a voice heard speaking in her belly, as it had been in a tun, her lips not greatly moving ; she all that while continuing, by the space of three hours or



more, in a trance. The which voice, when it told any thing of the joys of heaven, it spake so sweetly and so heavenly, that every man was ravished with the hearing thereof. And, contrary, when it told any thing of hell, it spake so horribly and terribly that it put the hearers in great fear. It spake, also, many things for the confirmation of pilgrimages, and trentals, hearing of masses, and confessions, and many such other things. And after she had lain there a long time, she came to herself again, and was perfectly whole. And so this miracle was finished and solemnly sung, and a book written of all the whole story thereof, and put into print; which, ever since that time, hath been commonly sold, and gone abroad among all people. In a subsequent passage of his letter, the archbishop continues thus :—'Surely, I think she did marvellously stop the going forward of the king's marriage, by reason of her visions, which she said were of God; persuading them that came to see her, how highly God was displeased therewith, and what vengeance almighty God would take on all the favorers thereof: insomuch that she wrote letters to the pope, calling upon him in God's behalf to stop and let the said marriage, and to use his high and heavenly power therein, as he would avoid the great stroke of God which then hanged over his head if he did the contrary. She also had communicated with my lord cardinal, and my lord of Canterbury in the matter. And, in mine opinion, with her feigned visions and godly threatenings she stayed them very much in the matter.'— Now, about midsummer last, I, hearing of these matters, sent for this holy maid to examine her; and from me she was had to Mr. Cromwell, to be farther examined there. And now she confessed all, and uttered the very truth, which is this: that she never had a vision in all her life, but all that she ever said was feigned of her own imagination, only, to satisfy the minds of them that resorted unto her, and to obtain worldly praise. By reason of which, her confessions, many and divers, both religious men and others be now in trouble, forasmuch as they consented to her mischievous and feigned visions, which contained much perilous sedition and also treason. He concludes this letter with the interesting intelligence, that the queen was delivered of a princess on the 13th or 14th of September, and that he himself had the honor of being her godfather.”

It is a very trite remark, that the human mind is ever prone to run into extremes. And this is more especially true in times of great excitement. No sooner had the people of Great Britain shaken off the yoke of papal dominion, and placed the triple crown upon the head of Henry, than they began to demolish almost every thing which bore the marks of the ancient superstition, and were in danger of running mad in the wild career of levelling all distinctions in human society. This was pleaded as an excuse for restraining the liberty of the press, for abridging the freedom of discussion, and even of laying an embargo upon the pulpit itself. Hence the sanguinary laws which were enacted during the reign of this prince, by which the liberties of the people were nearly destroyed, and the progress of the reformation, which was considered by Henry only as an instrument of his own exaltation, went on but slowly, and accomplished little else than the alteration of some external rites and ceremonies, and the exchanging the mitre of the pope for the crown of a temporal prince, every way as haughty, as voluptuous, as tyrannical and obstinate, as was Leo X. himself, or any other potentate who sported himself with the liberties and miseries of his vassal subjects. Though many of these evils should doubtless be attributed to the comparative barbarism of the age in which he lived, yet the disposition of Henry VIII. knew no bounds for the gratification either of his passions or his desires for external pomp and splendor.

The next thing of importance which engaged the attention of Cranmer was a visitation of the see of Canterbury, with a view to reform abuses, to strengthen the hands of the reforming clergy and people, as well as to check the overbearing conduct of those ecclesiastics who still cleaved to the hierarchy of Rome. In this work the archbishop was, under various pretexts, opposed by Gardiner and the bishop of London. He, however, persevered in his undertaking, being patronized by the king, and encouraged by the pious and good of all ranks. It was during this visitation, while witnessing the ignorance of the people, and the sottishness of most of the clergy, as it respected spiritual and Divine things, that he resolved on executing the project of having the entire Bible translated into the English language—an enterprise he had for some time meditated. In the execution of this pious design Cranmer divided Tindall's translation of the New Testament into nine or ten parts, which he distributed among the learned bishops, requiring each of them to send back his portion, carefully corrected, by an appointed day. With this injunction they all complied, except Stokesley, bishop of London, whose share of the work was the Acts of the Apostles. When called upon for his share of the work, he sent the following insolent answer :-“I marvel much what my lord of Canterbury

eaneth, that thus abuseth the people, and in giving them liberty to read the Scriptures; which doth nothing else but infect them with heresy. I have bestowed never an hour on my portion, and never will: and therefore my lord of Canterbury shall have his back again; for I never will be guilty of bringing the simple people into error.” When Cranmer expressed his astonishment at the frowardness of this contumacious bishop, a facetious ecclesiastic, named Lawney, was standing by, and immediately replied :-"I can tell your grace why my lord of London will not bestow


labor upon this work. Your grace knoweth well that his portion is a piece of the New Testament. But he, being persuaded that Christ had bequeathed him nothing in his Testament, thought it were madness to bestow any labor or pain where no gain was to be gotten. And

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beside this, it was the Acts of the Apostles, which were simple poor fellows, and therefore my lord of London disdained to have to do with any of them.” Whereat, says the historian, my lord of Canterbury and others that stood by could not forbear from laughing ! This shows the spirit of the times, and the sort of materials with which Cranmer had to work.

Cranmer, however, persevered in his pious design, and in due time a new translation of the Bible was procured, much to the satisfaction of the people at large, and much more gratifying to those in the higher ranks of life, who were eager for the reformation in the Church to go on to perfection. This Bible at first was hung up in the churches, together with certain cautions to the people respecting the manner in which they were to read it. But the avidity with which they availed themselves of the privilege of consulting the living oracles, is thus recorded by Cranmer's biographer :

" It is, perhaps, scarcely possible for us to imagine the eagerness with which the people availed themselves of the liberty thus offered them, by the repeated declarations of the king, to consult the sacred volume for themselves. The impatience they manifested may, in part, be ascribed to mere curiosity. Men were naturally anxious to examine the writings which had been for ages so jealously locked up from their inspection. Nothing, however, but a higher motive can account for the universal rush to the fountain of living waters, the moment it was unsealed. Every one that could, purchased the book: and if he was unable to read it himself, he got his neighbor to read it to him. Numbers might be seen flocking to the lower end of the church, and forming a little congregation round the Scripture reader. Many persons, far advanced in life, actually learned to read, for the express purpose of searching the oracles of God: and one instance has been recorded of a poor boy, only fifteen years of age, who voluntarily incurred the same toil, and then joined his stock with a brother apprentice for the purchase of a Testament, which he concealed under the bed straw, and perused at stolen moments, undismayed by the reproaches of his mother, and the brutal violence of his father. Nay, such was the general excitement, that, at last, the tavern and the alehouse often became the scenes of religious discussion. The king found it necessary to discourage, by his proclamation, these unseemly debates; and to enjoin a reference to learned and authorized teachers, on all questions of difficulty or doubt.”

It is characteristic of the times in which Cranmer lived, and much more so of the ferocious temper of his sovereign, while the former was struggling against the abuses of the Romish Church and stemming the torrent of ecclesiastical tyranny, that he should be compelled to witness the ebullitions of a false and fanatical zeal against such as were considered heretics to the Church of England. Though Cranmer had thrown off many of the mummeries of popery, and abjured the authority of the pope, he was not yet emancipated from the thraldom he was under to long established opinions, nor could

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