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meet the coming crisis with becoming firmness; and that he might be disentangled as much as possible from all worldly concern, he set himself to the cancelling of all his debts, which, having accomplished, he exclaimed, Thank God, I am now my own man ; I can now, with God's help, answer all the world, and face all adversities that be laid upon me.
The account of Cranmer's disputation, after his confinement in prison, is so curious in itself, and such an exemplification of the spirit of the times, as well as the absurdities by which the Church of Rome was distinguished and disgraced, that we give it in the words of the narrator:
“ The same parliament which restored the queen, attainted Cranmer of high treason. As a necessary consequence, he was divested of the temporalities of the archbishopric, which were immediately placed under sequestration. He appears to have been severely disquieted by the thought of being branded as a traitor ; and he lost no time in addressing to the queen the petition for pardon which has been cited above, and which contains the explanation of his conduct in sanctioning the late king's design for changing the succession. He dreaded the ignominy of suffering as a malefactor; but always professed himself ready to meet with cheerfulness whatever afflictions he might be called upon to endure in the cause of God. His eonviction for treason took place in November; and, at that time, he probably expected that his execution would speedily follow the sentence; for it has been ascertained that, shortly after the attainder, he was publicly led through London, unshaken, and even cheerful, amid the general grief of the spectators, urgently imploring that there might be no tumults, and declaring that he expected to suffer in the course of eight days. At this period, therefore, it is evident that he entertained no doubt whatever of being allowed to expire at the stake, for his faithfulness to his God, instead of perishing on the scaffold for disloyalty to his sovereign. It might have been well for his peace had he fallen, as he then expected, by the hand of the executioner: for nothing could well be more deplorable than the whole prospect around him, turn in what direction he might. The chief management of the realm consigned to Gardiner—the faithful Protestants driven into exile, or pining in dungeons--the foreigners, who had been allowed in the reign of Edward to form congregations in England, now compelled to remove, and to carry with them the arts and the industry by which they might have enriched the nation -the married clergy cruelly divorced or deprived—a packed and obsequious convocation, and a parliament also at the devotion of the crown--and what, perhaps, was more bitter than all, the professors of the Gospel beginning to fall away in the season of persecution, and to defile their conscience by falling down before the consecrated wafer: these were the visions of sorrow and dismay which now presented themselves to the view of the archbishop. On every side he beheld the structure which had cost him so many years of anxiety and toil crumbling away before his eyes as if it had been a fabric of clay. But even in these depths of dejection, he was not left wholly destitute of comfort. When the prisons began to be crowded by the
defeat of Wyat's insurrection, three other distinguished martyrs were thrust into the same chamber with him. Their employment in cap. tivity was afterward described by Latimer to the commissioners at Oxford; and nothing could better become the situation of men who were lying in peril of their lives for the testimony of the truth : Mr. Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury,' said he, Mr. Ridley, bishop of London, that holy man Mr. Bradford, and I, old Hugh Latimer, were imprisoned in the tower of London for Christ's Gospel-preaching, and because we would not go a massing. The same tower being so full of prisoners, we four were thrust into one chamber as men not to be accounted of. But, God be thanked, to our great joy and comfort, there did we together read over the New Testament with great deliberation and painful study: and I assure you, as I will answer before the tribunal of God's majesty, we did find, in the Testament, of God's body and blood no other but a spiritual presence, nor that the mass was any sacrifice for sin. But in that heavenly book it appeared that the sacrifice which Christ Jesus our. Redeemer did upon the cross was perfect, holy, and good, -that God the heavenly Father requireth none other,-nor that ever again to be done.'
“In the course of a few months these consolatory occupations were broken off. The three confessors were dragged out of their cell, not indeed to death, but to the intermediate martyrdom of a public disputation. The convocation had assembled at the same time with the parliament, at the summons of Bonner, who was now restored to the see of London, and exercised the functions of the imprisoned metropolitan. The composition of this assembly was so entirely conformable to the views of the government, that there were not more than six of their number who had the inclination or the courage to stand up for the reformation of King Edward. They proceeded, therefore, with all imaginable alacrity in the work of demolition. The labors of Cranmer fell rapidly before them. The Liturgy and the Articles were speedily disposed of: and their next care was to restore the doctrine of the Eucharist to its former honors. A disputation was accordingly held in the Lower House; and, at the especial desire of the queen, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was chosen for the subject. A more unexceptionable mode of proceeding could hardly have been adopted, if the contest had been conducted with any semblance of fairness and decorum. But the spirit which presided may be imagined from the language of Weston, the prolocutor. * We have the Word,' said the reforming disputants, appealing, as usual, to the Scriptures :— But we have the sword,' was the reply of the insolent and shameless moderator. The outcry against the mani. fest iniquity of these proceedings seems to have awakened the Romanists to some sense of decency: for it was resolved that the controversy should be renewed at Oxford under the management of a committee selected from both universities; and it was farther determined that Cranmer and his two fellow prisoners, who had been ex. eluded from the former conflict, should now be summoned to a share in this. In pursuance of this resolution, they were removed from the tower to the prison of Bocardo, at Oxford, in the month of March: and in the April following the strife of words was to begin.
" It would seem as if the dominant party regarded the approaching argument as a crisis of no ordinary importance, if we may judge by the pageantry with which it was ushered in. On Saturday, the 14th of April, the representatives of the Lower House of Convocation, with the Prolocutor Weston at their head, and attended by the delegates of either university, advanced in procession to St. Mary's, and seated themselves in the choir, in front of the high altar. When their solemn devotions and the formal preliminaries of their business were despatched, they sent orders to the mayor and bailiffs of Oxford, to bring Dr. Cranmer before them. The archbishop soon appeared, guarded by a body of bill-men. He stood with his staff in his hand, with a grave and reverential aspect; and in that posture he remained, having declined a seat, which they had the courtesy to offer him. The prolocutor opened the proceedings with a harangue, in which he observed how commendable a thing was unity in the Church of Christ; and then, turning to the archbishop, lamented that he, who once had been a Catholic man, should have made an unseemly breach in the unity of the Church, not merely by setting forth erroneous doctrine, but by teaching a new faith every year. It was, however, her majesty's earnest desire that he should, if possible, be recovered from his schismatical separation ; and she had, accordingly, been pleased to charge them with the office of reclaiming him. He then produced the three articles which had been agreed upon as the main points for discussion; the first of which affirmed the corporeal presence in the sacrament of the altar; the second declared the transubstantiation of the consecrated elements; the third maintained the life-giving and propitiatory virtue of the mass. The arch. bishop, being desired to pronounce his opinion on these propositions, replied that nothing could exceed his value for unity, as the preserver of all human commonwealths; the advantages of which he illustrated by various instances from ancient story; and he added that he would most cordially embrace it,-provided always that it were a unity in Christ, and conformable to the word of God. He then deliberately read the articles over, three or four times; and being asked whether he would subscribe them, he said that, as they were there worded, they were all false, and at variance with Scripture ; and that consequently he must decline all unity of which these propositions were the basis. He offered, nevertheless, that he would prepare his answer in writing by the next day, if he might be allowed a copy of the articles. The prolocutor assented; but told him that his answer must be in readiness that very night, and that he would be called upon to maintain the points of his dissent by scholastic argument in Latin, in the public schools. He was then consigned again to the custody of the mayor, and conducted back to his confinement at Bocardo, which was no better than a filthy prison for the reception of ordinary criminals. His demeanor on this day was throughout so distinguished by venerable gravity and modest self-possession, that several of the academics, who disapproved his opinions, were moved by it even to tears.
The next day, Sunday the 15th of April, a grand and solemn banquet was held by the commissioners at Magdalen College, after the sermon at St. Mary's, which was delivered by Harpsfield, chaplain to the bishop of London. In the course of the evening the written answer of Cranmer was sent in to the prolocutor, who was entertained at Lincoln college. In this paper he professed that he
could acknowledge no such thing as a natural body of Christ, which should be merely spiritual,--the object of intellect and not of sense, -and not distinguishable into parts or members. He contended, with the ancient doctors, that the bread and wine were called the body and blood of Christ, by a mode of speech that was purely figurative; and that the guests at the holy table of Christ are there reminded that his crucifixion supplies a nutriment as needful for our souls, as material sustenance is needful for our bodies. He, lastly, maintained that the oblation of Christ upon the cross was of supreme and final efficacy; and that to seek for any other sacrifice for sin would be to make the great propitiation of none effect.
“On Monday, the 16th of April, at about 8 o'clock, the commissioners proceeded, with the usual pomp and formality, to the divinity schools: and Cranmer was brought forward to undergo the baiting of a public dispute. He was immediately conducted to the respondent's desk, and near him were seated the mayor and aldermen of Oxford. The business was opened by the prolocutor in a speech which commenced with the following sentence: ‘Brethren, we are this day met together to confound that detestable heresy of the verity of Christ's body in the sacrament.' This exordium was so ludicrously equivocal, that it was received with a universal burst of laughter. As soon as the indecorous merriment had subsided, the prolocutor continued his harangue, the main object of which was to show that to oppose the doctrine of transubstantiation was neither more nor less than to deny the power and truth of God. Upon this the archbishop remarked, that they were met for the discussion of certain controverled matters, which yet, they were told, it was unlawful and even impious to dispute: and 'if this be so," he added, “surely mine answer is expected in vain. The contest respecting the indisputable points nevertheless commenced. "Your opinion, reverend master doctor, said Chedsey, who was to begin the debate, “is different from the Scripture, therefore you are deceived. To this specimen of logical audacity, Cranmer replied, of course, by denying the former propo. sition. The opponent then contended, that the word 'body' was to be taken in its literal acceptation; and that it had always been so taken by the Church. Cranmer, on the contrary, insisted that the language was wholly metaphorical, and that the Church had so understood it from the beginning; and this proposition he offered to maintain by arguments which he had prepared in writing, and which he now desired might be read aloud. The request was, apparently, acceded to by Dr. Weston; but notwithstanding this, the paper was never read. It would be impossible to detail the remainder of the controversy, without filling a great portion of our volume. The whole was, in truth, a scene of wearisome and most disorderly wrangling. It lasted from eight in the morning till nearly two in the afternoon. The argument was carried on sometimes in English, and sometimes in Latin. The prelate was compelled to stand alone against a multitude of antagonists. He was perpetually assailed with unmannerly interruption. The prolocutor disgraced himself by heaping epithets of disparagement upon the archbishop; and his offensive vehemence was a signal for turbulence and clamor to the miscellaneous auditory: so that the schools resounded at intervals with hissing, and hooting, and peals of laughter, and other symptoms of vulgarity and rudeness: and the assembly was at length dismissed by the exemplary moderator, with an invitation to the crowd to express their sense of triumph by shouts of Vicit veritas.' Such were
re the courtesies which dignified an important and so. lemn theological argument, in the sixteenth century, and in the most renowned university of Europe! The process by which the late primate of England was to be stamped as a heretic was such as, at the present day, would almost disgrace the hustings, at a period of the most tumultuous political excitement. The uproar which on this occasion was suffered to dishonor an assembly of scholars and divines, and to heap oppression and insult on the first ecclesiastic in the realm, may partly be ascribed to the semi-barbarous condition of society; and it might perhaps be too much to affirm that nothing of a similar description had ever occurred when Roman Catholics, instead of Protestants, had been placed on their defence. But it may, I presume, be very confidently asserted, that never before were the decencies of public discussion so infamously violated as on this trial of Cranmer and his two associates. The very persons themselves who had been guilty of these outrages on equity and common hu. manity, appear to have been stricken with a sense of shame: for on Thursday, the 19th of April, Cranmer was produced in the schools once more, in the character of an opponent to Harpsfield, who was then to perform his exercises for the degree of doctor of divinity. The contest on this day seems to have been carried on with a much more creditable show of order and propriety. The first part of the dispute related merely to the authority of the Church, as a guide to the safe interpretation of Scripture; but the parties soon found themselves again on the old debateable ground of the corporeal presence: and then there followed a long course of bickering, after the scholastic manner, in which the most awful topics were bandied to and fro, in language which (to say nothing of its monstrous absurdity) has, to our. ears, a sound of gross irreverence, if not of positive impiety. It was debated, for instance, whether the body of our blessed Saviour was present in the sacrament in such a manner that he could be eaten ; whether he was there substantially, or only as touching his substance, but not after the manner of his substance ; whether his body could have quantity in heaven, while it was present without quantity on earth; whether quantity could be predicated of it at all, or whether it were not rather quantitative, or existing, not actually in quantity, but after the manner of quantity; whether Christ were swallowed, in the sacrament, by wicked men, and if so, how long he remained in the eater! At the present day, it must appear beyond measure astonishing that grave and learned men could endure to desecrate the most solemn mysteries of our faith with all this worthless metaphysical jargon. It must be remembered, however, that Cranmer in resorting to it, acted purely on the defensive ; for though he was on this occasion personally the opponent, his cause was throughout the object of aggression; and it was absolutely essential to the honor of that cause that he should show himself a complete master of the weapons with which the warfare against it was usually carried on. His consummate accomplishment in the scholastic learning enabled him to acquit himself with a steadiness and serenity which extorted praise even from Weston himself, who before had