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country, and they were smuggled notwithstanding. Proclamations were uttered against the possessors of all heretical writings, but they were set at nought.* Spies were encouraged; the husband tempted to betray the wife, the parent the child, and a man's foes became literally those of his own household. Nay, more, by a refinement in cruelty, the strongest instincts of nature were outraged, and a daughter was compelled to fire the fagots with her own hands, by which her father was to be burned. But measures like these were only calculated to defeat the object which they were intended to promote.

Strong public feeling, when matured in its growth and righteous in its principle, cannot be effectually suppressed -check it, and it rages impatiently; whilst, if its fair course be not hindered, it may only make sweet music.

* Fox, ii. 286.

+ Fox, pp. 759. 1240.

+ Wordsworth's Eccl. Biog. i. 292.



We have now touched upon a few of the many elements which were secretly at work preparing England for a refor mation of religion, and without some regard to which it would be impossible to account for the rapid pace at which it was consummated: let us but shut our eyes to this undercurrent of events-take our stand at the accession of Henry the Eighth-and endeavour to guess at the future; and what could seem to us more improbable, than that a reign so begun was destined to effect the extinction of the papal power in England? Henry mounted the throne with a treasury full to overflowing, the fruits of a revenue improved by the wisdom of his father's laws, by the care with which that sagacious monarch husbanded the nation's purse, and, it must be added, by the rapacity of Dudley and Empson, his fiscal officers; who then would conjecture that an exhausted exchequer was to drive him to the plunder of the church, in order to continue the profusion which its affluence had taught him? -He had mounted the throne a zealous papist and a learned, having been himself intended, it was said, for the see of of Canterbury, had not the death of his elder brother put the crown upon his head instead of the mitre; ambitious, moreover, of papal distinctions, and eventually able to procure them by entering the lists with Luther as a volunteer champion of the ancient creed; who would then conjecture that the title of "Defender of the Faith," in the sense in which it was conferred upon him, was the very last to which he was to have a just claim?-He mounted the throne, having Katherine, his brother's widow, for his wife



by a dispensation from the Pope, who counted it the ratification of his own authority in England, that her very princes were thenceforth to derive their title to the crown from the validity of this his bull; who then would conjecture that this stroke of policy, as it was thought, for which a point had been strained at Rome, was to be precisely the ruin of the politician, and that the subversion of papal usurpation in England would be actually effected by the very measure which was to have confirmed it? Amongst the distinctive marks by which God's hand may be perceived regulating human affairs, this, says Barrow, in his noble sermon on a special Providence,* is one" the wonderful strangeness of events compared with the ordinary course of things, or the natural influence of causes: when effects are performed by no visible means, or by means disproportionate, unsuitable, repugnant to the effect:"-and surely, when tried by such a criterion, nothing can furnish stronger evidence of a work which " was not of man but of God," than the events which immediately preceded the Reformation, and the consequences which flowed from them. It might seem that a question concerning the king's marriage was the most unlikely thing in the world to set this great cause in motionyet such was the fact.-Henry, after living nearly twenty years with Katherine, felt, or affected to feel, scruples as to the lawfulness of marrying a brother's widow. Whether the exception which was taken against the legitimacy of the Princess Mary by the French ambassador when the marriage between her and the Duke of Orleans came under discussion, was honestly made and did in reality open Henry's eyes to a new view of his own position-whether Wolsey started the objections which unsettled the King's mind, with the intention of serving his own ends by thwarting the

* Serm. xi. on the Gunpowder Treason.

Emperor the Queen's nephew, and providing the King with a match more agreeable to himself-whether the death of the Queen's untimely offspring with a single exception, did as he pretended, fill him with concern as the accomplishment of the Levitical law," that if a man take his brother's wife it is an unclean thing; they shall be childless;”—or whether, on the other hand, he was weary of a wife whose ascetic devotions might seem to fit her more for a convent than a court, whilst her person, not attractive at best, was now rendered less so by increasing infirmities;-or, lastly, whether the charms of Ann Bullen had conjured up in him his strong sense of the sin he had committed in uniting himself with Katherine, as may be imagined without any great breach of charity of a man, whose conscience, upon other occasions, besides this, seems to have been singularly ill-timed in its suggestions-so it was, that a divorce was determined upon, and measures were adopted to carry the determination into effect. Opinions were divided; the sexes in general took opposite sides; but the learned themselves were not agreed. on the one hand, it was argued that the prohibition of such a marriage was clear in the Levitical law,† and such prohibition was not to be considered as confined to the Jews, for that the violation of it is expressly numbered among the sins of the Canaanites by which the land was polluted, and therefore that it was of universal obligation; moreover, that John the Baptist declared of Herod, that it was "not lawful for him to have his brother's wife;" that John, therefore, held the law of Moses upon this point to be still binding;§--that in the same manner St. Paul condemned the Corinthian convert of a fornication not so much as named among the Gentiles, "in that he had his father's

*Levit. xx. 21.

+ Ibid. 24.

+ Ibid. xviii. 15.
§ Matt. xiv. 4.



wife;”* which like the other was one of the degrees forbidden in Leviticus, and forbidden in the very same chapter of Leviticus as the relation in question;f-that St. Paul, therefore, pronounced the Mosaical law, in these particulars, still to stand good.

On the other side, it was replied, that the Levitical precept must be understood, of not taking a brother's wife whilst he was living, for that the brother was actually enjoined to take the brother's widow, he having died childless and to raise up seed unto his brother;-that with regard to Herod, he was guilty in the case of Herodias, not of incest but of adultery—Philip, as seems probable from Josephus, being yet alive;-that the like must be said of the Corinthian delinquent, “fornication not to be named among the Gentiles," implying that the offence was committed in hist father's life-time, since, otherwise the connection, however monstrous, was not unknown among the Persians, and that even amongst the Jews Adonijah had desired Abishag in in marriage.§

To this it was rejoined, that the exception in the general law proved only that God might dispense with his own ordinances for his own ends, and that the end in this case was, the preservation of a family in Israel, and care for the protection of the genealogy of the future Messiah, objects now accomplished, and the means thereto now superseded; —that in Herod's affair, it cannot be with certainty affirmed that when he married Herodias, Philip was living, that she certainly deserted her former husband, but that she was probably divorced from him; and that for aught which appears to the contrary, Josephus who condemns her conduct as an infraction of the law, understands, when he does so, her marriage with her husband's brother, he not having left

* 1 Cor. vi. 1. Deut. xxv. 5.

+ Ibid. xviii. 8.
§ 1 Kings, ii, 17.

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