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is the stream which sweeps the bottom, that arrests the public attention. We have all seen this, in our own land; we should remember that the passions of men when packed into parties, are in all ages essentially the same.
The reformation in England was begun wholly on the principles of worldly policy. Henry VIII. being tired of his old wife, Catharine, and falling in love with Anna Bullen, applied to the pope for a divorce; and though the request was not refused, it was delayed so long, that this irritable monarch became impatient, and took the reigns of ecclesiastical authority into his own hand. The question then was, how he should make his people go along with him. For though the people of England had not been educated in the deepest reverence to the man of Rome, (for they were always restive children,) still, to call upon a whole nation to put off their religious opinions and habits at once, as a man would put off his coat, was too large a demand even for that servile age. Fortunately for the king, a vast treasure had been accumulating in the beneficed houses for ages. Such is the doctrine of the church of Rome, that a wealthy sinner on his death-bed, may commute for the sins of his life, by founding an abbey; and all such gifts are held in mortmain; that is, there is no alienation. In this way, the wealth of the church was a treasure always increasing; and it is computed by Giannone, the historian of Naples, (per Voltaire's quo
tation,) that two thirds of the whole wealth of the kingdom had passed over to the church. Voltaire computes the income of all the clergy in France, at 800,000,000 of livres; and says this sum is not large compared with other Catholic countries. In Scotland, before the reformation, full half of the property of that country was held by the clergy; and though in England, when Henry suppressed the greater monasteries, their income was computed at only about £161,100—while the income of all the realm was 3,000,000, and this is said to be small by Humeyet we should remember that the lesser monasteries had already been suppressed, and that a long list of other exactions is to be added to this sum; and finally, small as it is called, it amounted to of the property of the whole kingdom. This vast treasure then the king seized on, and held it up to his nobles as a' lure, to lead them to follow his steps. He told them if they would revolt from Rome, he should need no more taxes; and thus, between love and money; between the complex power of Anna Bullen's eyes, and the confiscations of the church, the people of England became a sort of protestants. It has been astonishing in all ages, how men open their eyes to the light of religion, when its blessings descend into the purse.
In this state of things, it will be seen by the penetrating eye of him who looks beyond surfaces to
principles, that the protestant reformation in England was accomplished with very little change either in the morals or the hearts of the body of the people. They merely removed the supremacy in the church, from the pope to the king; and abridged a few ceremonies, of which the relécts were reserved as a rear bridge to retreat over to the dominion of Rome.
Whether we take the reformation at the time of Henry VIII., Edward VI., or queen Elizabeth, we shall find in all these periods, there was no small danger of a popish successor. In the latter part of Henry's day, it is true, Edward was the next heir; but Mary likewise was living a bigoted papist, and backed by a great interest, and watching to seize the throne. In Edward's reign, during his minority, and especially when his health began to fail, her interest must have been powerfully felt. When Elizabeth mounted the throne, there was another Mary, and a papist, whose beauty made her formidable, waiting for the succession, and almost claiming it without waiting. Now, in such a condition, the shaking of a leaf might justly create an alarm even to a wise and brave Our fathers looked through the ceremonies to consequences, to deeper principles. Power and oppression claimed their usurped rights in trifles; and by trifles must liberty and wisdom defend those rights, founded in nature, and which the gospel allowed.
In a word, to represent the leading Puritans as
ridiculous precisians, for refusing the ceremonies, would be about as wise as to call the Roman emperors fools and madmen, because they always endeavor to punish some popular leader in the provinces, for putting on a purple cloak.
To conclude from all, what is man but a micro-coat, or rather a complete suit of clothes, with all its trimmings?
In all ages of the world, there have been certain affinities, in human opinions and practices, which deserve to be noticed. It is certain that liberty has been dressed in the simplest garb, while monarchy and priesthood have always arrayed themselves in a round of ceremonies. In China, morality and reli gion themselves, those ethereal essences, born in the skies, and whose domain is the heart, have degenerated into bowings, prostrations and genuflections, and all those outward motions by which policy conceals her barrenness when she expels principle from moral life. In Rome, too, where a most degenerate form of Christianity is nevertheless better than paganism, we find, that prayer is muttered over in an unknown tongue; and the splendor of the pontiff and his car