Page images

dued with special graces from God) was now peace-, ably established in his kingdom, and had a council abore him, grave, wise, and zealous in God's cause, especially his uncle, the duke of Somerset, he then most earnestly likewise desired, as well the advancement of the true honour of Alınighty God, and the planting of his sincere religion, as also the utter suppression and extirpation of all idolatry, superstition, hypocrisy, and abuses throughout his realms and dominions, and therefore following, as is afore expressed, the good example of king Josiah, he determined forthwith to enter into some reformation of religion in the church of England. Many injunctions were published in his name, addressed to all ranks in church and state, relative to the progressive reformation of religion, and commissioners were sent over the whole realm to enquire into the state of religion and to enforce the royal orders. · At this time the first book of the Homilies was written, published under the sanction of the king and his council.

Now, during the time that the commissioners were occupied abroad in their circuits about the speedy and diligent execution of these godly and zealous or. ders and decrees of the king and his council, his majesty (with the advice of the same) yet still desiring a further reformation as well in this case of religion, as also in some others of his civil government, appointed a parliament of the three estates of his realm to be summoned against the fourth day of November, in the first year of his reign, and the year of our Lord one thousand five hundred forty and seven, which continued unto the twenty-fourth day of December then next following. In the which session, forasmuch as his highness minded the governance and order of his people to be in perfect unity and concord in all things, and especially in the true faith and religion of God, and therewithal also duly weighed the great danger, that his loving subjects were in for confessing the Gospel of Christ, through many and divers cruel statutes made by sundry his predecessors' against the same (which being still left in force inight both cause the obstinate to contemn his gracious godly proceedings, and also the weak to be fearful of their Christian-like profession), he therefore caused it, among other things, by the authority of the same parliament to be enacted, that all acts of parliament * and statutes, touching, mentioning, or in any wise concerning religion or opinions, should from thenceforth be utterly repealed, made void, and of none effect.

By occasion whereof, as well all such his godly subjects, as were then still abiding within the realm, had free liberty publicly to profess the Gospel, as also many learned and zealous preachers, before banished, were now both licensed freely to return home again, and also encouraged boldly and faithfully to travail in their function and calling, so that God was much glorified, and the people in many places greatly edified.

The following are some of the principal steps taken towards the reformation of religion in this young king's reign. A.D. 1546. Protestant bishops and preachers were

appointed to preach the Lent sermons

at court. 1547. Erasmus's Paraphrase on the New

Testament and the first book of Homilies were published and enjoined to be read.

* Amongst the repealed acts particular mention was made of the af renamed statute of the six articles.

A royal visitation commenced, ac

companied with injunctions and arti

cles of inquiry. . .." Many acts of parliament were passed

against Popish abuses and errors. A.D. 1548. The book of Common Prayer was åp

pointed to be drawn up, and was

enacted. . .. Peter Martyr and Martin Bucer were

appointed to the divinity chairs of the

two universities. 1549. A firm stand was made by the king on oc

casion of his sister (afterwards queen) Mary refusing to use the new book of Common Prayer in her private cha

pel-and again also in 1551. . 1550. The learned foreigners were much en

couraged, and disputations held in

public by them at the universities.

Protestant sermons and books were much : : : enforced and circulated.

The English Communion-Book was rea


Refractory bishops were punished. 1551. Many eminent Protestants were pre

ferred to important stations in the

church. Fresh orders and injunctions were

given to the bishops to carry on and

· enforce the reformation. 1552. The Liturgy was revised a second

time, and published in an improved

form., Forty-two articles of religion were framed

for uniformity of doctrine, and a Catechism explanatory of their practical design was also published by royal

· authority. . A. D. 1553. Subscription to the articles and the

.. use of the Catechism was en

forced. : . Amongst the many good deeds of this godly prince, was the founding of several schools, with liberal endowments. The magnificent institution of Christ's Hospital in the city of London remains as a monument of his piety and zeal. By that establishinent above 1000 children, of both sexes, are maintained, educated, clothed, and prepared for divers stations in the universities, in trade, and in the maritime service. . . . .

. Thus having discoursed of things done and past under the reign of king Edward, such as seemed not unfruitful to be known, we will now draw to the end and death of this blessed king, our young Jo-, siah.' Who about a year and a half after the death of the duke of Somerset, his uncle, in the year of our Lord 1553, entering into the seventeenth year of his age, and the seventh year of his reign, in the month of June, was taken from us, for our sins, no doubt. . Whom, if it had so pleased the good will of the Lord to have spared with longer life, not unlike it was, by all conjectures probably to be esteemed by those his toward and blessed beginnings, but proceeding so as he began, he would have reformed such a common-wealth here in the realm of England, as by good cause it might have been said of him, that was said in the old time of the noble emperor Augustus, in reforming and advancing the empire of Rome : “ Which empire he received (as he said) of brick, but he left of fine marble.” But the condition of this realm, and the customable behaviour of English people (whose property is commonly to abuse the light of the Gospel, when it is

offered), deserved no such benefit of so blessed a reformation, but rather a contrary plague of deformation, such as happened after his reign, as you shall hear (the Lord granting) in the next queen's days

hear followed. this godly e mentioned

Thus then this godly * and virtuous youth, on the time and month above mentioned, was cut from us, whose worthy life and virtues have been partly afore declared. We will add here the order and manner of his godly departing.

As the time approached when it pleased Almighty God to call this young king from us, which was the sixth day of July, in the year above said, about three hours before his death, this godly child, his eyes being closed, speaking to himself, and thinking none to have heard him, made this prayer which followeth.

The Prayer of King Edward before his Death. “ Lord God, deliver me out of this miserable and *“When crowned king, his goodness increased with his great. ness; constant in his private devotions, and as successful, as ferFent therein, witness this particular. Sir John Cheeke, his schoolinaster, fell desperately sick; of whose condition the king carefully inquired every day. At last his physicians told him that there was no hope of his lite, being given over by them for a dead man. No,' saith king Edward, he will not die at this time, ' for this morning I begged his life from God in my prayers, and 'obtained it.' Which accordingly came to pass, and he soon after, against all expectation, wonderfully recovered. This was attested by the old earl of Huntingdon, bred up in his childhood with king Edward, unto sir Thomas Cheeke, still surviving, about 80 years of age.

He kept an exact account, written with his own hand, of all memorable accidents, with the accurate date thereof. No high honour was conferred, bishopric bestowed, state office disposed of, no old fortification repaired, no new' one erected, no bullion brought in, no great sumis sent forth of the land, no ambassadors dispatched hence, none entertained here, in a word, no matter of moment transacted, but by him, with his own hand it was recorded."

Fuller's Church Hist, book vii. p. 424. . N. B. The whole of king Edward's journal of his own Teigre is preservell in Burnet's History of the Reformation, vol.ii.


« PreviousContinue »