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a very powerful lever in their hands, which, however honestly it may be, and is in general applied, is nevertheless capable of misapplication, as the history of every nation can testify, and none more than our own. *And without any reference to extreme cases, to the danger, for instance, of religious meetings becoming, in critical seasons, schools of sedition, and of the divine resolving himself into the demagogue; a danger, however, by no means chimerical when there is nothing to connect the system of religious instruction with the office of the civil magistrate; even in ordinary times it would be found, and it has been found, that the spirit of the independent congregation and that of the government under which it exists, but to which it owes nothing, coincide but little-and that the state is apt to feel its energies crippled by the positive opposition, or at least the non-co-operation of these, its members, in their religious capacity.

It may be added, in defence of the consolidation of the supremacy, both civil and ecclesiastical, in the king, that the Romanists themselves could not deny that the early councils (the decrees of which are recognised by the church of Rome to this day) were summoned by the magistrate, and not by the Bishop of Rome; the council of Nice; for example, by Constantine, "who called together a synod (they are the words of Sozomen), and wrote letters to those who were set over the churches, in every place to attend on a certain day—and there were present (he adds) at this assembly, from the apostolic see, Macarius of Jerusalem, Eustathius, the President of the church of Antioch, (who is reported by Theodoret, it may be observed, as the leader of the council, and the orator who opened it by an address to

* See The Icon Basilike, chap. xvii., quoted by Warburton in his "Alliance between Church and State."

the emperor,) Alexander of Alexandria, Biton and Bicentius, presbyters of the church of Rome, Julius the bishop. being absent, and in all, of bishops about three hundred and twenty, and of presbyters and deacons who attended them no small number."*

Thus do we find Scripture lending its sanction to such an alliance between church and state, as the identification of the king with the supreme head of the church impliesearly ecclesiastical history declaratory of the authority by which councils were at first summoned, giving it the approbation of primitive usage-and the necessity of one mind actuating every member of the body politic, both civil and sacred, dictating its expediency.

* See Sozomen, Hist. Eccles. lib. i. c. xvii. Euseb. de Vit. Constantin. iii. c. vii. Theodoret, Hist. Eccles. i. c. vii.




HENRY had by this time fairly passed the Rubicon. After a long pause and much anxiety for the event, he had ventured upon an act which was a declaration of war against the Pope, and he must now on. The strength of the Pontiff lay, as we have seen, in the monastic orders, and in the Mendicants above all. The secular clergy were better subjects, and acknowledged a less divided allegiance. But the monks were so powerful a body in England that the monarch, even in times when he wore far from the semblance of a kingly crown, could scarcely balance them. Grievances are alleged against them without end in the "Supplication of Beggars;" "But what remedy?" says the author of this singular address to the King. "Make laws against them? I am in doubt whether ye be able. Are they not stronger in your own parliament-house than yourself? What a number of bishops, abbots, and priors are lords of your parliament!* Are not all the learned men of your realm in fee with them, to speak in your parliament-house for them against your crown, dignity, and commonwealth of your realm, a few of your own learned council only expected? What law can

* In the time of Henry III., sixty-four abbots and thirty-six priors were called to parliament; but Edward III. reduced them to twentyfive abbots and two priors: two abbots were added afterwards; so that there were in all twenty-nine who enjoyed this honor till the dissolution.

be made against them that will be available?"'* When, therefore, the time came for all men to choose their side, and it was clearly seen that this formidable body of regulars would cleave to the Pope to a man, the question was, whether the King should put down the monks, or the monks the King. Henry had no alternative but to try a fall with them, and accordingly, having been slow (considering his temperament) to get into the quarrel, he still acted as Lord Bacon would have advised, and being in it bore himself bravely. Some encouragement in his hazardous undertaking he might possibly derive from the new channel in which public benefactions began now to run, and the feeling it indicated towards the religious houses; for whilst no abbey or priory had been founded for thirty years and upwards, the endowment of schools and colleges was becoming more and more frequent.† Accordingly, he began with the lesser monasteries, of which the income did not exceed 2007., or the inmates twelve in number. There were many reasons for making them his first victims. They were the houses of the the friars, the most faithful of all the Pope's servants, and the earliest to lift up their voice against the King's supremacy whilst the question of the divorce was in progress. The friars did not stay at home like the easy and well-conditioned monks, but had to forage for a living. "Go not from house to house," though a text uttered, as it might seem, with almost a prophetic reference to them, they found it convenient to overlook. Whatever opinions, therefore, they entertained, they had the power of putting in extensive circulation; now that they were disaffected, this facility became doubly dangerous. Then they were the most vulnerable of the orders; their cor

* Fox's Acts and Mon. ii. 282.

+ Knight's Life of Dean Colet, p. 61.



ruptions were the grossest. Their vagrant habits threw them amongst temptations, whilst they at the same time withdrew them from wholesome restraints. Abroad they were notorious for intrigues in the hospitable families of the peasants and artisans who received them; and at home they had a treasury of lies, very profitable to themselves whilst their credit was good, but more profitable to their enemies when the fictitious nature of the capital with which they traded was exposed. The Rood of Grace, which would hang its lip when silver was offered to it, and shake its beard merrily when the offering was of gold, was for a time an exchequer; but when the profane hand of a Thomas Cromwell had once opened the figure at Paul's Cross, and displayed to the good citizens of London the wires by which it had been worked, indignation took the place of credulity, and the craftsmen, to whom it had brought no small gain, were justly scandalised. Moreover, the destruction of these lesser houses did not touch in a very tender place the powerful and privileged classes of society. Younger brothers were provided for in the wealthy abbey, but not in the friar's hostel. It was a war upon the weak (so far as property was concerned,) and at a time when commerce and manufactures had not taught the weak but the many their value and their strength; and therefore it was a step attended with less danger. Lastly, it was a measure that served very well as a feeler for one still greater which was behind, but which was as yet studiously disavowed, the suppression of all the monasteries and convents great and small; it was the bristle which made a way for the thread.

Thus the year 1536, saw the downfall of 376 smaller abbeys, and the transfer of the buildings themselves, and of the estates attached thereto, to the King. Here, Henry appears for a little while to have paused, partly, perhaps, waiting to see the effect of his first blow, and partly engaged by domes

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