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the Homilies too are undoubtedly by his hand. Edward VI., succeeded to the throne on the decease of his father Henry, had been educated in the principles of the Protestant faith, and warmly adopted the counsel of Cranmer, together with all his plans for the future welfare of the Church.
The ways of Providence are oftentimes to our imperfect view inscrutable. At a period when the Reformation had every promise of being firmly established, when the piety of the Prince and the judgment of his spiritual advisers seemed to conspire to give permanency to all his measures, it pleased God to remove him at the early age of sixteen, just when he was about to enter on a career of government which held forth the happiest prospects to his people; and to devolve the succession to a Sovereign, who became the scourge of the true Church.
William Thomas, Clerk of the Council, tutor to the young King, thus described this excellent and accomplished youth in the first year of his reign :
"Alas,' said he, if you knew the towardness of that young Prince, your heart would melt to hear him named, and your stomach abhorre the malice of them that would him ill. The beautifullest creature that liveth under the sunne, the loveliest, the most amiable, the gentlest thing of all the world. Such a spirit of capacitie in learning the thynges taught him by his schoolemasters, that it is a wonder to hear say. And finally, he hath such a grace of porte, and gesture in gravitie when he cometh into any presence.' The young King expired, to the great grief of the whole nation, July 6, 1553.
Another historian says, Three hours before his death this godly child his eyes being closed, speaking to himself, and thinking none to have heard him, made this prayer as followeth :—
Lord deliver mee out of this miserable and wretched life, and take mee among thy chosen; howbeit, not my will, but thine be done. O my Lord God, blesse thy people, and save thine inheritance! O Lord God save thy chosen people of England. Defend this realm from papistry, and maintain thy true Religion; that I and my people may praise thy holy name for thy Sonne Jesus Christ's
Surely this is the prayer of a truly patriot Prince. What might not reasonably be anticipated by his loving subjects from so blessed a beginning.
Aware of the devoted attachment of the Princess Mary to the Church of Rome, King Edward, perceiving his death at hand, had determined to alter the succession as appointed by the will of Henry VIII. in favour of the Lady Jane his cousin. The Council gave their consent, but Cranmer refused his signature to the act, considering himself bound by oath to support the will of Henry VIII. The young King at length prevailed on him reluctantly to subscribe his name, on the solemn assurance of the Judges, to whose opinion he yielded his own. Notwithstanding these precautions, no sooner had the King expired than the voice of the people called Mary to
the throne; one of whose earliest measures was the execution of the Lady Jane Gray, and her husband, Lord Guilford Dudley, together with the Dukes of Northumberland and Suffolk, who had supported her pretensions. The rest of the nobles were fined and pardoned, but the Queen's anger against Cranmer was implacable. In vain he wrote to her from the Tower a letter full of contrition for having given his consent to King Edward's will, relative to the succession of the Lady Jane Gray. He had shewn mortal offence to her previously by assisting Henry VIII. in the divorce of her mother Queen Katherine; and as a still deeper cause of displeasure, she looked upon him as the great champion of the Protestant faith; upon the immediate extinction of which she had already determined. A report was circulated, that for fear of her anger the Archbishop had actually said a mass for the soul of King Edward. Cranmer repelled this slander by avowing his total abhorrence of the Popish Creed, in a paper which he drew up for the purpose; and being copied by Scory, Bishop of Rochester, it soon got into general circulation. He was called upon to retract this declaration, which however he openly maintained, resolving to encounter the utmost fury of his enemies rather than compromise his principles. In consequence of this the Queen and her Council determined on sending a special commission to Oxford, to try him for his contumacy.
Brookes, Bishop of Gloucester, was appointed to preside as the Delegate of the Pope. Dr. Martin and Dr. Storie were joined with him as the Queen's Commissioners. The trial took place in the Church of St. Mary at Oxford, on Sept. 12, 1555.
When the Archbishop was brought from his prison into court, he bowed graciously to the Queen's Commissioners, and then putting on his cap, took no manner of notice of Brookes, the President; at which the Bishop expressed high displeasure, demanding the homage due to himself as representing there the authority of the Pope. Cranmer replied,' He had once taken a solemn oath never to consent to the admitting of the Bishop of Rome's authority into the realm of England again. That he had done it advisedly, and meant by God's grace to keep it.'
The speeches of his three opponents were long and violent. That of the Archbishop was conducted with his accustomed firmness and benignity. He repelled all their charges, appealing to Scripture for the proofs of all his opinions.
Having while abroad married for his second wife the niece of Osiander, one of the most eminent of the German reformers, this was alleged against him as an additional charge, and gave him an opportunity of condemning the popish rule against the marriage of the clergy, in very eloquent terms. When the speeches were ended and certain witnesses examined, the Commissioners broke up their sittings, and the Archbishop was remanded to his prison at Oxford.
On the 14th of February following, Bonner, Bishop of London, and Thurlby, Bishop of Ely, arrived at Oxford, bearing the Pope's commission to pronounce sentence upon the Archbishop. Thurlby had
been singularly favoured by Cranmer, and would have better shewn his gratitude by abstaining from so hateful a duty as that he now came to execute. Having read their commission, they proceeded to degrade him from his office. They caused him to be first arrayed in the habit of a Romish priest, and afterwards in the robes of Bishop and Archbishop as at his installation; but these were made of the most contemptible materials. A mitre and crosier were also placed in his hands in mockery of his sacred office. Bonner then began a long invective against him, filled with the coarsest expressions, which Thurlby would have moderated, but could not prevail. This done, the Archbishop would have answered, but they refused to hear him, declaring he was no longer of the Church; upon this he produced a paper whieh he had prepared, solemnly appealing from their unjusti fiable acts to the authority of a General Council, as Luther had done before him. He was then stripped of his robes in the rudest manner, and the crosier forcibly wrested from his hand, and in this state remanded to his prison.
It was now that his insidious enemies, who had already determined on his death, employed every artifice to work upon the good man's fears, who, worn down by long imprisonment and every sort of persecution, was become greatly enfeebled. They surrounded him with every base temptation to recant, persuading him of the Queen's pardon, if he would only make some concessions. It is said they accomplished this by degrees, procuring his signature to no less than six successive confessions, each stronger than the first, thus leading him on step by step to a declaration which his soul abhorred, and from which in the first instance he would have revolted.
No sooner had they obtained their object, than Cranmer's confession was printed and dispersed with extraordinary zeal, to the astonishment alike of friends and foes. There is considerable doubt, after all, whether he ever really signed the confession thus given to the world. That he signed something which he afterwards so bitterly repented, and so nobly expiated, is certain; but it probably was much falsified by those who were the instruments of the Queen's policy. Scarce had he set his hand to this paper, when he discovered that he had been deluded with false hope of mercy. Mary had already appointed a commission for his execution, which was fixed for the 21st March, 1556, one Dr. Cole having been secretly ordered to prepare his funeral sermon.
The Lord Williams, Sir T. Bridges, and Sir J. Brown, as the Queen's Commissioners, arrived at Oxford, and having resolved that the good Archbishop should authenticate his confession by a public declaration, he was summoned to attend the preaching of his funeral sermon in St. Mary's church. It was, as the historian of that time relates, a sorrowful spectacle to all Christian eyes to behold him who was of late Archbishop, Metropolitan, and Primate of England, and the King's Privie Councillor, now in a bare and ragged gown, and illfavoured clothing, with an old square cap, exposed to the contempt of all men. While he stood hearing the sermon, the outward showes of
his body and countenance did expresse his greate griefe of minde ; one while lifting up his eyes and hands unto Heaven, and then again for shame letting them downe to the erthe. A man might have seen the very image and shape of perfect sorrowe lively in him expressed. More than twentie severall times the tears gushed out abundantlie, dropping down marvellously from his fatherlie face.'
When the discourse was ended, the Commissioners called on their victim to confirm his public recantation. Cranmer solemnly kneeling down, prayed earnestly to God, and then, to their utter confusion and astonishment, declared his devoted attachment to the Protestant principles, which he said he had so basely abjured. He asserted his absolute detestation of the peculiar doctrines of the Church of Rome: he earnestly implored Almighty God to forgive his weakness for having in an evil hour consented to them, with a vain hope of prolonging a wretched life: he expressed an earnest desire to be led to execution, and vowed that the hand which executed the fatal paper should be first sacrificed in the flames.
When he came to the spot appointed for him to die, where Bishops Ridley and Latimer, his dear friends, had a little while before suffered at the stake for the same glorious cause, the executioner stripped him to his shirt, which hung gracefully down to his bare feet; his cap being removed, his head appeared quite bald, but his beard was long and thick, covering his face with marvellous gravitie. Such a countenance moved the hearts both of his friends and of his enemies.
The Spanish Friars, who were appointed to attend, plied him with their words in vain. An iron chain was tied about Cranmer, whom when they perceived to be more steadfast than that he could be moved from his sentence, they commanded the fire to be set to him. And when the wood was kindled and the fire began to burn near him, stretching out his arm, he put his right hand into the flame, which he held so steadfast and unmoveable, (saving that once with the same hand he wiped his face,) that all men might see his hand burned before his body was touched. His body did so abide the burning of the flame with such constancie and steadfastnesse, that standing always in one place, he seemed to move no more than the stake to which he was bound. His eyes were lifted up to Heaven, and oftentimes he repeated unworthy right hand, so long as his voice would suffer him; and using often the words of St. Stephen, Lord Jesus receive my Spirit, in the greatness of the flame he gave up the ghost.'
Thus died this pious and learned prelate: sealing by his death that faith which he inculcated by his teaching, and illustrated by his example. Having devoted his life to the glory of Christ, his death added greatly to the reputation of the true Religion, proving the truth of that ancient maxim, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."
A CONVERSATION ON THE TIMES, BETWEEN COLONEL ENGLISH AND CORPORAL KENT.
To the Editor of the Plain Englishman's Library.
SIR, If the following account of a conversation between a man whom all were swift to follow, for all loved,' and a brave veteran who served many years under him, suit the purpose of your miscellany, it is much at your service. It took place near a large manufacturing town in one of the Midland Counties.
T. B. P.
Col. Why, Kent, my good fellow, you look very blank still; has not your son-in-law got to work yet? I thought there was a little business doing again now.
Kent. To be su: e, your Honour, I can't say that it's altogether as bad as it was with him; but what's 10s. a week to support a wife and four children, and another coming? I help them what little I can with my pension, but after my wife and poor daughter are done for, it is not much can come to them. And then it is not he only that's in trouble, there's Nephew Bates and his three children, and Tom and his five not much better off. It's enough to break one's heart to see such distress all round one. The times have greatly altered for the worse, since I was a boy; and yet there's a great deal done for us too by the gentlefolks. I hear some people blame the Government, and say it is all owing to the heavy taxes, and unequal representation. I tell 'em I don't know; the taxes have been laid on pretty heavy of late years to be sure; but as for the representation, that has been nearly the same as long as I can remember, so I don't fancy to think it can be that has brought all this trouble en, all in a minute as one may say; for before the peace every thing was very thriving— men getting their three guineas a week, as my son tells me. Folks often talk of what they don't understand. But I'm making very free with your Honour.
Col.-Never mind that, Kent. You have stood close by my side many a hard campaign: as long as the field of Talavera lives in my memory, no freedom of yours will ever be taken amiss. But in this case, where all are concerned, (for you may depend upon it, that when the lower classes suffer, the higher suffer with them, and would gladly relieve them if it were in their power,) I should really