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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

And the hierarchic views as to the merit of good works


It

appeared at once with full force at the Coronation, which was not celebrated at all after the form traced out by Henry VIII, since even this would have tied them far too much to the existing system; Cranmer, in the discourse which he there addressed to the young King, departed in the most decided manner from all the ideas hitherto attached to a coronation. Whither had the times of the first Lancaster departed, in which a special hierarchic sacredness was given to the Anointing through its connexion with Thomas Becket? Becket's shrine had been destroyed. The present Archbishop of Canterbury went back to the earliest times of human history: he brought forward the example of Josias, who likewise came to the government in tender years and extirpated the worship of idols: so might Edward VI also completely destroy image-worship, plant God's true service, and free the land from the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome; it was not the oil that made him God's anointed, but the power given him from on high, in virtue of which he was God's representative in his realm. His duty to the Church was changed into his duty to religion: instead of upholding the existing state of things, it at once pledges and empowers him to reform the Church.[140]

The great question now was, how an alteration could be prepared in a legal manner, and how far it would be possible to maintain in this the constitution of the realm in its relation to the states of Europe. On the ground of

the supremacy and of a precedent of Henry VIII, they began with a resolution to despatch commissions throughout the realm, to revive the suppressed Protestant sympathies; the precedent was found in the ordinances that had once proceeded from Thomas Cromwell, just as if they had not in the least been annulled by what had happened since, but simply set aside by party feeling and neglect. They were to enquire whether, as therein ordered, the bishops had preached against the Pope's usurpation, the parish priests had taught men to regard not outward observances but fulfilment of duty as the real 'good works,' and had laboured to diminish feast-days and pilgrimages. Above all, images to which superstitious reverence was paid were at last to be actually removed: the young were to be really taught the chief points of the faith in English, a chapter of the Bible should be read every Sunday, and Erasmus' Paraphrase employed to explain it. In place of the sermon was to come one of the Homilies which had been published under the authority of the Archbishop and King. For this last ordinance also authority was found in an injunction of Henry VIII. Archbishop Cranmer, whose work they are, establishes in them the two principles, on which he had already proceeded in 1536, one that Holy Scripture contains all that it is necessary for men to know, the other that forgiveness of sins depends only on the merits of the Redeemer and on faith in Him. On this depends absolutely the possibility of rooting out of men's minds the belief in the binding force of Tradition, and the hierarchic views as to the merit of good works. The Archbishop's views were promoted by eloquent and zealous preachers such as Matthew Parker, John Knox, Hugh Latimer; more than all by the last, who had been released from the Tower, weak in body but with unimpaired vigour of spirit. The fact of his having maintained these doctrines in the time of persecution, his earnest way and manner, and his venerable old age doubled the effect of his discourses.


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