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the sister of the famous Osiander. On his return, March 13, 1533, the king conferred upon him the archbishoprick of Canterbury, and procured from the pope the bulls necessary for his consecration, but as he now began to embrace the opinions of the reformers, he refused to take the customary oath of obedience to his Holiness. He was at last, by the importunity of the king, prevailed upon to comply, by adopting an expedient which had been proposed to him, doubtful, at least, in principle, and dangerous in practice, but an expedient to which his mind perhaps was the more easily reconciled by the sentiments of the age, as well as by the common practice of that church which he wished to abandon. This was nothing else, than to enter a solemn protest, before he took the oath, that he did not intend by it, to restrain him, self from any thing that he was bound to, by his duty to his God, his king, or his country. On the 23d May of the same year, he pronounced the sentence of divorce between the king and queen. The pope, upon this, threatened him with excommunication. He, in return, promoted the reformation to the utmost of his power; and was the principal mean of abolishing the pope's supremacy, by act of parliament—of procuring a new and more correct translation of the scriptures and of suppressing the monasteries. In 1536, he, in compliance with the will of the king, dissolved the marriage of Henry and Anne Boleyn; but though at her death the hopes of the Catholics revived, yet the means which they employed to counteract the reformation, and to withdraw from Cranmer the affection and confidence of the king, had a contrary effect. Hence the constitutions, which were enacted this year by the convocation, corrected many errors respecting purgatory and images; but they determined a point of still greater importance, when they declared the scriptures to be the standard of faith. But the triumph of truth was soon blasted, by an act of parliament in 1539, for abolishing diversity of opinion in religion-an act which, by its being sanctioned by the gibbet and the Aames, was emphatically called the bloody statute. This, though approved by the king, was framed by the artful and insidious suggestion of Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, whose spirit it breathes; and which, by denouncing all who denied transubstantiation, the celibacy of the clergy, &c. must have fallen chiefly upon the reformers. With a modest, but manly fortitude, which must exalt the dignity of Cranmer's character in the eyes of all capable of appreciating truth and freedom, he opposed the enactment of this statute with all his eloquence and authority. Even when required by the king to leave the House, he refused, by declaring, that he was bound in conscience to vote against it--a declaration which his enemies fondly hoped would for ever ruin him with the king; but which, in reality, gave the king such high idea of his integrity, that he respected and trusted him the
But though he opposed the law in the House, yet he Vol. VI.
complied with it so far, when passed, as to send his wife to her friends in Germany, till better days should arise. In 1540, he received the royal commission to provide for the advancement of religion, by explaining its principal doctrines, which he performed by the publication of a work entitled, “A necessary Erudition of any Christian Man;" a work which the votaries of Rome endea, voyred in vain to answer.
We cannot refrain from bringing forward here an event, which will shew the malevolence of the primate's enemies, and the affection of the king. It is well known, that Henry persecuted, with the same severity, the opinions of reformers and Catholics, when they differed from his own; and that every person who would not subscribe his creed was a heretic. The natural consequence of free inquiry, was a variety of opinions, and Gardiner and his adherents, taking advantage of this, endeavoured constantly to impress the king with the belief, that Cranmer was the sole cause of the growing mischief. To repress at once their insinuations, which continually teazed him, he appeared to enter into their views, and permitted them to summon the archbishop to appear before them next day. At midnight, however, he sent Sir Anthony Denny to request Cranmer's immediate attendance in the gallery, and in all the confidence of friendship informed him of their machinations, and advised him not to commit himself to their mercy by any unguarded concession ; "for he would not have any better luck with the false knaves than his master, Christ, had.” At parting, he gave him a ring from his finger, as a pledge of his protection; and Cranmer retired, so deeply affected with the king's goodness, that he scarcely refrained from tears. When summoned next morning to attend, he obeyed, and his enemies were so confident of success, and so insolent in their malice, that they refused him admittance to the council-chamber, till Dr. Buts, the king's physician, informed his majesty that the primate of England was thus degraded like a foot-boy. When admitted, he was charged with heresy, and with protecting heretics; and was ordered to be committed to the Tower. The production of the ring was a stroke of thunder to his enemies. Equally abject in adversity, as proud in prosperity, they first broke out in reproaches against each other, and then in apologizing to the king; who told them, that he thought his council had been composed of wiser and better men, than to persecute the only person of integrity among them. After the death of Cromwell, Earl of Essex, whose execution the generous friendship of Cranmer laboured in vain to prevent, he retired to the duties of his clerical office; and left the court to those who, by their ambitious and crooked policy, were better calculated for rooting in that polluted soil. The king, however, not forgetful of his integrity and moderation, appointed him one of his executors; and in his last illness sent for him from Croydon, to assist him in his preparation for eternity. Before
he arrived the king was speechless; but as a proof that he knew him, he pressed his hand and expired.
Though Cranmer placed the crown upon the head of Edward VI. and was nominated one of the regents, yet he interfered in civil affairs only when they were connected with religion. But as the mind of the prince bad fully imbibed the principles of the reformed, the designs of the Archbishop were no longer impeded by the caprice of royal authority; yet, as he had many and powerful enemies, he proceeded in the work of reformation with a firm and steady pace, but at the same time, with a prudence which the more ardent of his party blamed. It is with real pity, and even indignation, that we see a mind, naturally mild, generous, and intelligent, still so embittered with the unrelenting spirit of bigotry, as to wield the sword of persecution, and to imprtson Gardiner, Bonner, and some others, for their attachment to Popery. But what must be our feelings, when we contemplate him directing the secular power against Joan Bocher, commonly called the maid of Kent, who denied the divinity of Christ. Her moral conduct was irreproachable, and with a constancy and courage which ought to have commanded the admiration of her persecutors, she refused to purchase life, by abjuring what she believed to be the voice of revelation, but what her enemies denominated a damnable heresy. She was sentenced to the flames; but to the eternal honour of Edward, his mind revolted against signing the warrant for her execution, declaring, that to burn any for conscience sake was a piece of cruelty too like that which the reformers condemned in Papists; and when Cranmer urged him to comply, “What, my lord !” was his animated and emphatic question, “Will you have me send her quick to the devil in her error ?" By the persuasion of the primate, in an hour fatal to his fame, the generous feelings of the prince were overcome, and he, signed the warrant with tears, protesting, that if he did wrong, his advisers must answer for it to God.
In 1551, Cranmer followed the example of other reformed churches, and under his direction, if not with his assistance, a Confession of Faith was prepared, the new liturgy was corrected, and the articles of the Church of England, forty-two in number at that time, were established by law. But the hopes of the reformers were soon disappointed by the premature death of Edward, in 1553, who, however, in his last illness, in order to secure the ascendency of the reformers, was prevailed upon to devolve the crown upon Lady Jean Gray. Cranmer refused to sign this settlement as a counsellor, but did it as a witness; a distinction of doubtful interpretation, though it is probable that he acted in this manner, not so much from an aversion to the deed itself, as from the fear of its consequences, as he afterwards composed one of her council. The accession of Mary, and the change of religion which immediately followed, banished, with respect to the
reformers, mercy and even justice from the throne. Cranmer had now nothing to expect but the most unrelenting persecution; and, with a fortitude and a dignity, which, though seldom found with such moderation and prudence, he knew upon great occasions to display, refused, at the earnest solicitation of his friends, to seek his safety in a foreign country. The honour of his own: character, the interests of truth, he said, imperiously commanded him to remain firm at his post; and to vindicate the changes which he had adopted in religion, he determined to wait the consequence. To deprive him not merely of life, but even of reputation, was resolved upon by his enemies. For this purpose, Bonner, bishop of London, degrading himself more than the victim of his resentment, burst out every where in spiteful railleries against Mr. Canterbury, as he was pleased to call him, and published a report that the archbishop in complaisance to the queen, had promised solemnly to abjure his errors. Into a snare thus cunningly prepared, and dexterously concealed, the wounded indignation of Cranmer betrayed him; and the refutation of this calumny which he published, and in which he called
the queen to attest his innocence, sealed his doom. He was cited be fore the star-chamber; le owned the publication, and, contrary to the expectations of all, was pardoned by the queen. ; This lenity strikingly discovers the casuistry of Mary. Cranmer had generously interposed with her father, when he had resolved to put her to death for her adherence to her mother, and as she owed her life to him, she thus discharged her debt of gratitude, with the fixed resolution of afterwards demanding from him her full debt of vengeance, which she well knew she could enforce. Three days after his liberation, he was committed to the Tower, where he remained till 1554, when, with his fellow-prisoners, Ridley and Latimer, he was conducted to Oxford, to dispute publicly with the leaders of the Catholics, at whose head was Weston, prolocutor of the convocation. The court party, by this exhibition, designed to expose and degrade the three venerable reformers; and this they accomplished by shutting their ears to truth, and silencing their opponents by insult and tumult; and they terminated this solemn mockery of truth and justice, by pronouncing them heretics, commanding them to abjure their heresy, and excommunicating them upon their refusal. But, as the power of this court extended no further, in September 1555, Cranmer was brought to a second trial, at Oxford, before Dr. Brooks, bishop of Gloucester, and sub-delegate to the Pope, Dr. Martin, proxy to the king, (Philip of Spain,) and Dr. Story, proxy to the queen. That he had been twice married ; that he had published heretical books; that he had forsaken the church of Rome; and that he denied transubstantiation; were the horrid crimes which were laid to his charge, which he confessed; and to answer for which he was cited within eighty days to appear before the Pope. When
we say, that he was immediately remanded back to prison, it will not be necessary to add, that he did not obey the citation ; but without recollecting the spirit of his persecutors, posterity will scarcely believe, that on the 14th February, Bonner and Thirleby were sent to degrade him for non-obedience. Though he defended himself with great eloquence and spirit, and protested against the injustice of a sentence condemning him for not appearing at Rome, whilst they detained him in prison, Bonner pro-. ceeded to the work of degradation with unrelenting cruelty. To expose him to ridicule, the archbishop of Canterbury was arrayed in pontifical robes made of coarse black canvass; these were taken off him piece by piece, according to the ceremonies appointed in such cases by the church of Rome; and a sentence adjudging him to the flames was pronounced. The patience and fortitude which he displayed, contrasted with the insolence and cruelty of Bonner, not only melted Thirleby into tears, but will transmit to posterity the name of the former with deserved infamy!
His immediate execution would have prevented Cranmer from clouding the evening of his days by an unavailing dereliction of principle. Unfortunately for his fame, he was remanded to prison: there he was assailed by the treacherous promises of his enemies, who assured him of pardon upon his gratifying the wishes of the queen; and by the no less urgent solicitations of his friends, who conjured him to relax his unbending spirit, and to yield to the storm, with which it was in vain to contend. In the gloom of confinement and of solitude, the dread of perishing amid the flames shook his virtuous resolution; the love of life, and the hope of being useful to his country, awakened in his bosom; and in an evil hour he signed that recantation of his religious principles, which has to the present moment inspired men with grief or with exultation, according as they have been the friends or the foes of the reformation. The victory which the treachery of his enemies had gained, their malice knew how to improve. His recantation was printed and circulated with the utmost assiduity; the queen, that he might not have time to return to a better mind, resolved upon his immediate execution; and a warrant, to that purpose, was signed on the 24th February. This his enemies designed to conceal from him, but he suspected their design, and prepared for the consequences. On the 21st March, he was conducted in solemn procession to St. Mary's church, Oxford; he was placed upon a platform raised opposite to a pulpit, where Dr. Cole, provost of Eton, was appointed to preach before him a sermon suited to the occasion; and whilst the preacher deferred his appearance, that the fallen victim of superstition might be fully exhibited to the mockery of his enemies, he turned his venerable face to a pillar that was behind him, in all the wretchedness of degraded dignity. The mean and the tattered garments which covered him; the agony of his soul, which appeared in every feature of his counte