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ference may be sufficient to protect the compiler from the charge of plagiarism. But in didactic writing, there seems to be less necessity for borrowing; and as few of Mr. Brook's readers will suspect the extent of his obligations to his predecessors, it might have been as well to indicate by the usual marks of quotation, the passages which are not original. In Section II., on the era of Constantine, Mr. B. has done us the honour of making very free and copious citations from some former articles, but has omitted even to name the Eclectic Review at the bottom of the page. Will he pardon our saying that this is rather an irreligious liberty?
We have so recently had occasion to take a review of the early history of the British churches, that we shall not detain our readers with this portion of the work. Some few errors and some vague and hazardous assertions occur, which are not much to be wondered at in treating of a period involved in so great obscurity. For instance, that the Christianity of these ages was (Christianity) in its purest form;' that the exercise of public instruction and public worship were duly observed;' that, under the Dioclesian persecution, an incredible number of innocent Christians were tormented and slain; are points on which no doubts, Mr. B. affirms, can be entertained. He is mistaken they are very doubtful points. His sketch of these times is, indeed, far from satisfactory. The account of Wicklif, though copious, is somewhat deficient in precision, The character of that greatest of the English Reformers is done ample justice to, but some notice should have been taken of his predecessors and coadjutors, in a work professedly historical, This period of our ecclesiastical history is of the highest interest, and deserves the most attentive study. In the Lollards may be recognised under another name, the Puritans of a later day, and to them is certainly due the merit of having laid the foundations of our civil and religious liberties.
The false glory which the fickle sunshine of human patronage and royal favour threw over the nominal Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII., has served to eclipse the purer lustre of the preceding efforts of reformers and martyrs in the reigns of the Plantagenets. The emancipation of the English Church from the supremacy of the Pope by the Defender of the Faith,' is usually dwelt upon as a circumstance of the most transcendent importance, involving in it the greatest political blessings. An attentive consideration of the subject will, however, lead us to view this event in a light somewhat different. Preceding monarchs had, when it suited their policy, shewn almost as little regard for the authority of his Holiness, as Henry VIII. did, although they had not gone the length of crowning themselves with the pontifical tiara. The legislative measures adopted in
Parliament had considerably crippled the power of the court of Rome in this country; and old Fuller quaintly remarks, that whereas some former laws had pared the Pope's nails to the quick, the statute of Premunire, in effect, cut off his fingers. The removal of prelates from the principal civil offices, at the petition of the Parliament, in the reign of Edward III., the withdrawment of the tribute to the Pope, which had been paid ever since the reign of John, and the disregard of the Papal bulls shewn by the same monarch, were bold and decisive steps towards emancipating the nation from the yoke of the man of 'sin.' Had Edward III. lived some years longer, or had his magnanimous example been followed up by his royal grandson, and the counsels of John of Gaunt prevailed over priesteraft, it is highly probable that little would have been left for Henry and Cranmer to accomplish in this respect.
It will not for a moment be contended, that Henry had any other than the basest and most selfish motives for abjuring the Pope's supremacy. The only question is, what did the nation gain by this transfer of spiritual prerogative to the crown? It seems to us, that the Act of Supremacy was, at least in its immediate consequences, fatal alike to liberty and to religion. This enormous extension of the royal prerogative, although it seemed to take nothing from the privileges of the people, did, in effect, deprive them of the power of offering any further resistance to the encroachments of ecclesiastical tyranny. So long as the Bishop of Rome was the acknowledged Head of the Church, the spirit of liberty might be allowed occasionally to manifest itself against the usurpations of the clergy, while the monarch sometimes found it to his advantage to cherish this spirit, and to call in the aid of his Parliament to support him against the Pope. Some important concessions to popular freedom had been made with a view to lessen the influence or to restrain the encroachments of the Romish clergy, who formed a powerful aristocracy having interests not always in perfect accordance with those of the Crown. But now that the Church and the State were thus identified, to resist the Pope, was to rebel against the Sovereign. The victim of ecclesiastical oppression had no longer an appeal from the priest to the temporal power, for he was now burned, or hanged, or mulcted, by virtue of the royal prerogative. The clergy, deprived of that foreign influence which had enabled them at times to over-awe the monarch, or, at least, to dispute his prerogatives, sank into creatures and agents of his royal pleasure as the supreme fountain of spiritual power. Ecclesiastical censures fulminated against the crowned head, now fell harmless, or rather, became the height of impiety, since they were pointed at the Head of the Church. The independence of he clergy was, in a word, annihilated. They were thenceforth
incapacitated for taking a public step, until they should receive power, and authority, and instructions, from their newly constituted and self-constituted Head-an adulterer, a murderer, and what by many was deemed still worse, a layman.
Of the importance which Henry himself attached to this vast extension of his prerogative, we may judge from the peculiar and extreme jealousy with which he viewed any thing that seemed to trench upon his absolute dominion in matters ecclesiastical. It rendered him absolute, indeed, to a degree which no preceding monarch of England had ever been; more absolute than any contemporary monarch in Christendom. By virtue of this fatal supremacy over the consciences of her subjects, his daughter Mary restored the old popish observances, and rekindled the flames of martyrdom; not scrupling to avail herself of an authority abhorrent from her principles as a Papist, in order to re-establish the religion of Rome. The use which she made of this monstrous prerogative, must not be forgotten, in estimating the blessings which resulted from the Act of Supremacy. The ⚫ reader will here pause for a moment,' says Mr. Brook, in commenting on the first acts of Queen Mary, to observe the illegality as well as the inconsistency of these measures.'
There was nothing which the Queen so much desired as the restoration of the ecclesiastical authority and jurisdiction to the highest point to which it had ever arrived: yet, she counteracted this authority and jurisdiction by as flagrant an exertion of her supremacy in the Church, as her father or brother ever exercised, who avowed this supremacy. Thus, contrary to all precedents, and to all ecclesiastical privileges, she, of her own sovereign will and pleasure, empowered a committee of priests, without a single bishop or temporal judge among them, to try and determine a cause of the highest nature; to examine the faith of three bishops, to convict them of heresy, to cast them out of the church, and to commit them into the hands of temporal men to be punished. As king Henry and his son Edward reformed by their supremacy some enormities in the church, against the majority of the people, so queen Mary, by the same power, turned things into the old channel: whatever this power enabled them to do, it enabled her to undo. By her royal proclamations and orders in council, she destroyed the reformation; and, having, at length procured the consent of parliament, she restored the whole body and soul of popery.' Vol. I. p. 238.
But when this power fell into the hands of her sister Elizabeth, the absurd consequences of having a female as the lay Head of the Church, were rendered still more glaringly manifest. A female Pope of Rome would have been considered as a monstrous burlesque upon the pontifical character,-a scandal to the Church, and a never failing subject of sarcasm to the Protestant. But what else was the Virgin-queen than a female Pope of England, a lady Pontiff? And in what other light could foreign
churches view this subordination of the episcopacy to the caprice of a female despot, than as a religious farce, although to her own subjects the consequences were most tragical?
The ecclesiastical supremacy,' remarks Mr. Brook, formed a leading character in the reign of queen Elizabeth. Upon the rejection of the papal domination, and the final settlement of the legis lative reformation, her majesty's supremacy was permanently established; and no historical fact can be more obvious, than that this supremacy had a considerable share of influence on the great national transactions of this long reign, especially on those relating to religion. The act of uniformity invested the queen with power of a very extraordinary nature; and she failed not to appreciate and exercise this power in governing the religion of her subjects.
This, however, was only a small portion of that vast power and authority with which her majesty was entrusted. Extraordinary as it may seem, her pliant parliament unwisely invested her with precisely the same authority in the church as the pope had formerly enjoyed, which her majesty most explicitly claimed and exercised in the government of religion. Dr. Burn, in allusion to this, observes, that the princes of this realm, intoxicated with that excess of power which the pope had assumed, would needs understand that the same was not extinguished, but only transferred from the popes to themselves: and they carried similar notions into the civil administration. “This," he adds, "excited disorders and convulsions in the State, and in the end overturned the government."" Vol. I. p. 293.
The English Reformation must, then, be admitted to have had a most baleful influence upon civil liberty. And what were its consequences as respects religion? Originating in the dictates of brutal passion and ambition, begun, carried on, and perfected by violence, every step of its progress marked by blood, it bears upon it none of the characters of a religious transaction; and it left the nation nearly in the state in which it found it, immersed in the darkest ignorance, and under the bondage of the Protestant Antichrist.
Let us for a few moments reflect on what would have been the probable result, had king Henry contented himself with quietly withdrawing his allegiance to the Bishop of Rome, as king Edward III. had done bis tribute, disclaiming for himself and his heirs the Papal jurisdiction, and letting the Church in this country take care of itself. In the first place, it is pretty certain, that the progress of real reformation in this country, that is to say, the emancipation of Christianity from the Romish corruptions, would have been, if more gradual, yet, more entire and effectual, and that it would eventually have been carried much further. It is impossible, on reading the declared opinions of the Lollards, not to be struck with the fact, that their views of religion were far more liberal, far more scriptural than those of Cranmer and some of his fellow labourers. The nation appears
to have retrograded since the days of Wicklif; and those among the Reformers themselves who came the nearest to him in sentiment, seem to have laboured under a considerable degree of popish prejudice, and to have had far less clear and consistent ideas of Christianity. Latimer was, perhaps, the most truly apostolic in his sentiments and character. But how far short even the reformation of Edward VI. came of the wishes and intentions of the venerable men whom the Church of England affects to regard as the brightest ornaments of her episcopacy, is clear from extant documents. What put a stop to further improvements at that period, was the death of the admirable young monarch, and the accession of his sanguinary sister. This was the immediate cause. But what rendered it impossible for the work of reformation to go forward except at the bidding of the monarch, was the Act of Supremacy, by which the keys of St. Peter were placed among the regalia, and the faith of the nation was left at the entire disposal of the reigning despot. Henry VIII. and Elizabeth both interposed their sovereign prerogative, not merely to prohibit further innovation, but to make the Church retrace its steps towards popery. The latter, as Mr. Brook remarks, 'commenced her reformation by forbidding her subjects 'to be reformed sooner, and closed it by prohibiting them from reforming further, than she thought proper.' A woman's private opinion on points of doctrine, and her taste in rites and ceremonies, were, to a whole nation, the standard of faith and the rule of religious obedience. And this was called Protestantism!
But, secondly, had it not been for this fatal usurpation, ecclesiastical power would never have attained the height which it did in this country under a Protestant hierarchy. When England, or rather its monarch, revolted from the Pope, it seemed at the time that one of the heads of the Apocalyptic Beast was "wounded to death;" but "the deadly wound was soon healed" when the Papal supremacy was revived under another form; and "all the world wondered after the beast." Prior to this, before the novelty of a royal Head of the Church was contemplated, the Reformers were disposed to regard the alliance of the spiritual functions with temporal power as the very badge of Antichrist. In the Book of Conclusions introduced into Parliament in the reign of Richard II., the sentiments which were then held by the followers of Wicklif on this point, and which had spread very extensively through all ranks of the nation, are thus unequivocally expressed.
"Our usual priesthood, which took its original at Rome, and is framed to be a power higher than the angels, is not that priesthood which Christ ordained to his disciples. The Romish priesthood is done by signs, pontifical rites and ceremonies, and benedictions, of