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1553.] His Death, and dying Prayer.
23 Of this anxiety, Northumberland, and some others, took advantage, and persuaded him to appoint, by will, that Lady Jane Grey should be his successor.
The other Counsellors, and the Judges, were required to consent to this arrangement; after some difficulties, they all assented, except Judge Hales, a steady friend to the Reformation, and Cranmer. Much importunity was used to persuade the Archbishop to sign the act of settlement, but he steadily refused for a long time; and at length only gave way to the earnest persuasions and commands of the King, and the assurances of the judges and law officers, that the King was by law empowed to change the succession to the crown. In fact, Cranmer appears to have submitted his own private judgment in this case, to the will and opinions of those who professionally were better qualified to decide what was right and lawful, as to temporal matters. Judge Hales continued stedfast in his refusal.
Edward gradually wasted away, and expired on the 6th of July, 1553. A few hours before his death, he was heard to utter the following prayer, thinking that he was
“ Lord, deliver me out of this wretched and miserable, life, and take me among thy chosen; howbeit, not my will, but thine be done. Lord, I commit my spirit to thee; O Lord, thou knowest how happy it were for me to be with thee, yet for the sake of thy chosen, send me life and health, that I may truly serve thee. O my Lord God, bless thy people, and save thine inheritance. O Lord God, save thy chosen people of England. O my Lord God, defend this realm from papistry; and maintain thy true religion, that I and my people may praise thy holy name, for thy Son Jesus Christ's sake."
He then turned round, and seeing some bystanders, exclaimed, “Are ye so nigh? I thought ye had been further off.” His last words were, “ I am faint; Lord, have mercy upon me, and take my spirit.”
Thus died Edward the Sixth, eminent for his learning and abilities, but especially for his piety. A brief view of his reign was necessary, to introduce the history of Queen Mary's persecutions, and her restoration of the Romish faith,
King Edward's Catechism. The following extract from the Catechism set forth by the King's authority, in 1553, may be acceptable to the reader, as shewing the doctrines taught under his authority. This Catechism is supposed to have been drawn up by Dr. Nowell, Dean of St. Paul's.
By original sin and evil custom the image of God in man was so darkened, and the judgment of nature so corrupted, that man himself doth not sufficiently understand what difference there is between honesty and dishonesty, right and wrong. The bountiful God, therefore, minding to renew that image in us, first wrought this by the law written in tables, that we might know ourselves, and therein, as it were, in a glass, behold the filth and spots of our soul, and stubborn hardness of a corrupted heart. That acknowledging our sin, and perceiving the weakness of our flesh, and the wrath of God fiercely bent against us for sin, we might the more fervently long for our Saviour Christ Jesus, which, by his death, and precious sprinkling of his blood, hath cleansed and washed away our sins; pacified the wrath of the Almighty Father; by the holy breath of his Spirit createth new hearts in us, and reneweth our minds after the image and likeness of their Creator, in true righteousness and holiness.
“. And that no man is made righteous by the law, it is evident, not only thereby that the righteous liveth by faith, but also hereby, that no mortal man is able to fulfil all that the law of both the tables commandeth. For we have hindrances that strive against the law, as the weakness of the flesh, froward appetite, and lust naturally engendered. As for sacrifices, cleansings, washings, and other ceremonies of the law, they were but shadows, likenesses, images, and figures of the true and everlasting sacrifice of Jesus Christ, done upon the cross. By the benefit whereof ALONE, all the sins of all believers, even from the beginning of the world, are pardoned by the only mercy of God, and by no desert of our's.”
THE DAYS OF QUEEN MARY
Queen Mary's accession to the throne, and her early
A. D. 1553.
The Protestant clergy imprisoned by the Romanists. See page 48. It is painful to reflect upon many events recorded iu history ; but the lessons they convey are so instructive, that it would be wrong for us to neglect them. Among this number, are the occurrences in the reign of queen Mary, connected with the reestablishment of popery, and the persecution of the followers of the truth in England. As it is not intended in this work to notice events which are merely of a secular nature, it might be expected that these details, for so short a period, would be comprised in a small compass; but, unhappily, almost all the events of that disastrous and bloody reign, are intimately connected with the struggles between the Church of Rome and the Reformation, and thus relate to the great contest between darkness and light, whick
26 Queen Mary's accession to the throne. has been carried on from the fall of man to the present day. This spiritual contest is not yet terminated; surely, then, we should seek to gather instruction from the past, and if we have not cause to bear these events in mind, for our immediate guidance, we should be thankful that our lot has been cast in different days. Let us not partake of the benefits which were purchased by the blood of our martyred forefathers, (as means,) without, at least, expressing some sense of gratitude that we are permitted to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience, and to enjoy the light revealed to us in the Scriptures. The Israelites of old were commanded constantly to remember their “hard bondage” in Egypt, and that the Lord had heard their voice, and looked on their affliction, and brought them into a land which flowed with milk and honey. (Deut. xxvi. 6-10.) Surely, British protestants ought not to forget the sufferings endured by their ancestors; and as the Israelites were commanded to declare the particulars of their deliverance to their children in times to come, so ought we to show these things to our children. Can that be a proper spirit which would forbid us to tell of the loving-kindness of the Lord, lest we should offend the enemies of his word, and the persecutors of his people?
But to proceed. In reviewing the events of queen Mary's reign, which are connected with the history of the Church of Christ, it appears most desirable to pursue a
egular course, and notice them according to the order in which they occurred. This will best show the manner in which the Church of Rome dashed to pieces the whole fabric raised by the reformers, and proceeded fully to reinstate the system of bigotry and superstition, which had been gradually removed during the preceding twenty years. This plan will also exhibit the stern, undeviating, unrelenting manner in which that bigoted queen, and her cruel associates, proceeded in their course; it will likewise show how signally God supported the martyrs and confessors of the truth, amidst their cruel sufferings, and how remarkably he interposed for the deliverance of his people, when all hope seemed at an end. The particular accounts handed down to us of the testimony borne by these sufferers in the cause of Christ are given so mi. nutely, that it is impossible fully to do them justice in the
1553.] State of religion in England. present work. It is, therefore, proposed only to present a brief, but regular, narrative of events as they occurred, with short accounts of the principal sufferers. But the reader will be able to form some idea of the manner in which popery resumed its iron sway in our land, and he will also be informed respecting the principal points set forth in the history of each of the Martyrs. Surely, we may hope that their Christian fortitude, and full testimony to the truths of the gospel, the glad tidings of salvation through the blood of Christ alone, will, by the Divine blessing, continue to profit the souls of many, even in our times.
To understand clearly the state of religion in England when queen Mary came to the throne, we must remember what were the leading doctrines of Romanism which had been laid aside during the preceding reign. At the death of Henry the Eighth, little had been effected more than casting off the supremacy of the pope, the abolition of monastic establishments, and a limited permission to use the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue. These, however, were very important points to gain ; and the fabric of superstition was so far shaken by their removal, as to give way more easily to the calm and persevering efforts of the reformers, during the reign of Edward the Sixth. Thus, at the decease of that excellent prince, all the main objects had been obtained. Image worship was prohibited. Transubstantiation, and the sacrifice of the mass, were no longer sustituted for the Supper of our Lord. The free use of the Scriptures was allowed to the laity of every rank and degree.
Traditions of men were laid aside. The worship of saints and the virgin no longer usurped the place of that honour which is due unto God alone. Prayers were no longer offered in an unknown tongue. The clergy were not prohibited from marriage. The belief in purgatory, indulgences, and all the gainful traffic of the Romish Church, were no longer encouraged. But, ABOVE ALL, the great doctrine of salvation, by faith in Christ alone, was set forth to the people, as the only ground for their hope and confidence, and as the only source of good works, and holiness of heart and life.
Although the Reformation had apparently made an extensive progress, many circumstances existed which weakened its influence upon the nation at large. The