« ForrigeFortsett »
BOOK tify him in that particular, than if the most cordial union v' UaA still subsisted between them. Henry's suit for a divorce had now continued near six years; during all which period the pope negociated, promised, retracted, and concluded nothing. After bearing repeated delays and disappointments longer than could have been expected front a prince of such a choleric and impetuous temper, the patience of Henry was at last so much exhausted, that he applied to another tribunal for that decree which he iiad solicited in vain at Rome. Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, by a sentence founded on the authority of universities, doctors, and rabbies, who had been consulted with respect to the point, annulled the king's mairiage with Catharine; her daughter was declared illegitimate; and Anne Boleyn acknowledged as queen of England. At the same time Henry began not only to neglect and to threaten the pope, whom he had hitherto courted, but to make innovations in the church, of which he 1.ail formerly been such a zealous defender, Clement, who had already seen so many provinces and kingdoms revolt front the holy see, became apprehensive at last that England might imitate their example, and, partly from his solicitude to prevent that fatal blow, partly in compliance with the French king's solicitations, determined to give Henry such satisfaction as might still retain him within the bosom of ,j-4, the church. Hut the violence of the cardinals devoted to Manh »> the emperor, did not allow the pope leisure for executing this prudent resolution, and hurried him, with a precipitation fatal to the J Ioman see, to issue a bull rescinding Cranmer's sentence, confirming Henry's marriage with Catharine, and declaring him excommunicated, if, within a time specified, he did not abandon the wife he had Iiap»l an. taken, and return to her whom he had deserted. Enraged thority at this unexpected decree, Henry kept no longer anv in iuglapd.measures wltu tne court of Rome; lus subjects seconded his resentment and indignation; an act of parliament was passed, abolishing the papal power and jurisdiction in England; by another, the king was declared supreme 21
of the church, and all the authority of which the popes were deprived was vested in him. That vast fabric, of ecclesiastical dominion which had been raised with such I,S34' rtrt, and of which the foundations seemed to have been laid ao deep, being no longer supported by the veneration of the people, was overturned in a moment. Henry himself, witb the caprice peculiar to his character, continued to defend the doctrines of the Romish church as fiercely as he attacked its jurisdiction. He alternately persecuted the Protestants for rejecting the former, and the Catholics for acknowledging the latter. Hut his subjects, being once permitted to ester into new paths, did not choose to stop short at the precise point prescribed by him. Having been encouraged by his example to break some of their fetters, they were so impatient to shake off what still remained % that in th- following reign, with the applause of the greater part of the nation, a.total separation was made irom the church of Rome in articles of doctrine, as well as in matter of discipline and jurisdiction.
A short delay might have saved the see of Rome from Dea!h nf all the nnhappy consequences of Clement's rashness.clement i after his sentence against Henry he fell into a lan
[ier, which, gradually wasting his constitution, put an«nd to his pontificate, the most unfortunate, Sepf ^ both during its continuance, and by its effects, that the church had known for many ages. The very day on which the cardinals entered the conclave, they raised to plu| m. the papal throne Alexander Farnc.sc, dean of the sacredOcui3. college, and the oldest member of that body, who assumed the name of Paul III. The account of his promotion was received with extraordinary acclamations of joy by the people of Rome, highly pleased, after an interval of more than an hundred years, to see the crown of St Peter placed on the head of a Roman citizen. Persons more capable of judging, formed a favourable presage of his administration, from the experience which he had acquired under four pontificates, as well as the character of prvdence and • Herbert. Burn. Hist, of Reform.
Book moderation which he had uniformly maintained in a stt
:— tion of great eminence, and during an active period, that
»534- required both talents and address b.
Europe, it is probable, owed the continuance of its peace to the death of Clement; for although no traces remain in history of any league concluded between him and Francis, it is scarcely to be doubted but that he would have seconded the operations of the French arms in Italy, that he might have gratified his ambition by seeing one of his family possessed of the supreme power in Florence, and another in Milan. But upon the election of Paul III, who had hitherto adhered uniformly to the imperial interest, Francis found it necessary to suspend his operations for some time, and to put off the commencement of hostilities against the emperor, on which, before the death of Clement, he had been fully determined. Inrarree- While Francis waited for an opportunity to renew a baptists war wh'ch had hitherto proved so fatal to himself and hi* Ger- subjects, a transaction of a very singular nature was carr > ried on in Germany. Among many beneficial and salutary effects of which the reformation was the immediate cause, it was attended, as must be the case in all actions and events wherein men are concerned, with some consequences of an opposite /lature. When the human mind is roused by grand objects, and agitated by strong passions, its operations acquire such force that they are apt to become irregular and extravagant. Upon any great revolution in religion, such irregularities abound most, at that particular period, when men, having thrown off the authority of their ancient principles, do not yet fully comprehend the nature, or feel the obligation, of those new tenets which they have embraced. The mind, in that situation, pushing forward with the boldness which prompted it to reject established opinions, and not guided by a clear knowledge of the system substituted in their place, disdains all restraint, and runs into wild notions, which often lead to scandalous or immoral conduct. » Guic. 1. xx, 556. F. Paul, 64.
Thus, in the first ages of the Christian church, many of Book the new converts, having renounced their ancient systems T~-j—r> of religious faith, and being but imperfectly acquainted 'SiA' with the doctrines and precepts of Christianity, broached the most extravagant opinions, equally subversive of piety and vjrtue; all which errors disappeared or were exploded when the knowledge of religion increased, and came to be more generally diffused. In like manner, soon after Luther's appearance, the rashness or ignorance of some of his disciples led them to publish tenets no less absurd than pernicious, which being proposed to men extremely illiterate, but fond of novelty, and at a time when their minds were occupied chiefly with religious speculations, gained too easy credit and authority among them. To these causes must be imputed the extravagances of Muncer, in the year one thousand five hundred and twentyfive, as well as the rapid progress which his opinions made among the peasants; but though the insurrection excited by that fanatic was soon suppressed, several of his followers lurked in different places, and endeavoured privately to propagate his opinions.
In those provinces of Upper Germany which had al-Origin and ready been so cruelly wasted by their enthusiastic rage.^"^£ the magistrates watched their motions with such severe attention, that many of them found it necessary to retire into other countries; some were punished, others driven into exile, and their errors were entirely rooted out. But in the Netherlands and Westphalia, where the pernicious tendency of their opinions was more unknown, and guarded against with less care, they got admittance into several towns, and spread the infection of their principles. The most remarkable of their religious tenets related to the sacrament of baptism, whieh, as they contended, ought to be administered only to persons grown up to years of understanding, and should be performed, not by sprinkling them with water, but by dipping them in it; for this reason they condemned the. baptism of infants, and rebaptising all whom they admitted into their society, the sect
Book can!C to be distinguished by the name of Anabaptists. To thi< pprnliar notion concerning baptism, which has the l534' appearance of being founded on the practice of the church in the apostolic age, and contains nothing inconsistent with the peace and order of human society, they added other principles of a most enthusiastic as well as dangerous nature. They maintained that, among Christians, who had the precepts of the gospel to direct, and the Spirit of God to guide them, the office of magistracy was not only unnecessary, but an unlawful encroachment on their spiritual liberty; that the distinctions occasioned by birth, or rank, or wealth, being contrary to the spirit of the gospel, which considers all men as equal, should be entirely abolished; that all Christians, throwing their possessions into one common stock, should live together in that state of equality which becomes members of the same family; that as neither the laws of nature, nor the precepts of the New Testament, had imposed any restraints upon men with regard to the number of wives which they might marry, they should use that liberty which God himself had granted to the patriarchs. Settle in Such opinions, propagated and maintained with enMunsrcr. thusiastie zeal and boldness, were not long without producing the violent effects natural to them. Two anabaptist prophets, John Matthias, a baker of Haerlem, and John Boccold, or Beukels, a journeyman tailor of Leyden, possessed with the rage of making proselytes, fixed their residence at Munster, an imperial city in Westphalia, of the first rank, under the sovereignty of its bishop, but governed by its own senate and consuls. As neither of these fanatics wanted the talents requisite in desperate enterprises, great resolution, the appearance of sanctity, bold pretensions to inspiration, and a confident and plausible manner of discoursing, thev soon gained many converts. Among these were Hothmati, who had first preached the protestant doctrine in Munster, and Cnipperdoling, a citizen of good birth and considerable, eminence Emboldened by the countenance of stieh dis