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those writers, and because they seemed of great importance to the parts of my History to which they belonged. Some of these being very short, and the others not long, I thought the inserting them made my Collection more complete. I would not lessen the value of books, to which I have been too much beholden, to make so ill a return; to the last espepecially, from whose works I have taken that which seemed necessary, to make the history as full as might be, but rele my reader to such vouchers as he will find in them.
And now, having ended what I have to say of King Henry, I will add a few reflections on him, and on his reign. He had certainly a greater measure of knowledge in learning, more particularly in divinity, than most princes of that or of any age; that gave occasion to those excessive flatteries, which in a great measure corrupted his temper and disfigured his whole government. It is deeply rooted in the Irature of man to love to be flattered; because self-love makes men their own flatterers, and so they do too easily take down the flatteries that are offered them by others; who, when they expect advantages by it, are too ready to give this incense to their vanity, according to the returns that they expect from it.
Few are so honest and disinterested in their friendship, as to consider the real good of others; but choose rather to comply with their humour and vanity. And since princes have most to give, flattery (too common to all places) is the natural growth of courts ; in which, if there are some few so unfashioned to those places, as to seek the real good and honour of the prince, by the plain methods of blunt honesty, which may carry them to contradict a mistaken prince, to show him his errors, and with a true firmness of courage, to try to work even against the grain; while they pursue that, which, though it is the real advantage and honour of the prince, yet it is not agreeable to some weak or perverse humour in him : these are soon overtopped by a multitude of flatterers, who will find it an easy work to undermine such faithful ministers ; because their own candour and fidelity make them use none of the arts of a countermine. Thus the flattered prince easily goes into the hands of those who humour and please him most, without regarding either the true honour of the master, or the good of the community.
If weak princes, of a small measure of kr iwledge and a low capacity, fall into such hands, the government will dwindle into an inactive languishing; which will make them a prey to all about them, and expose them to universal contempt both at home and abroad: while the flatterers make their own advantages the chief measure of the govern
ment; and do so besiege the abused and deluded prince, that he fancies he is the wonder and delight of the world, when he is under the last degrees of the scorn of the worst, and of the pity of the best of his people.
But if these flatterers gain the ascendant over princes of genius and capacity, they put them on great designs, under the false representations of conquests and glory; they engage thein either to make or break leagues at pleasure, to enter upon hostilities without any previous steps or declarations of war, to ruin their own people for supporting those wars that are carried on with all the methods both of barbarity and perfidy ; while a studied luxury and vanity at home is kept up, to amuse and blind the ignorant beholders, with a false show of lustre and magnificence.
This had too deep a root in King Henry, and was too long flattered by Cardinal Wolsey, to be ever afterwards brought into due bounds and just measures; yet Wolsey pursued the true maxims of England, of maintaining the balance during his ministry. Our trade lay then so entirely in the Netherlands, without our seeming to think of carrying it further, that it was necessary to maintain a good correspondence with those provinces : and Charles's dominions were so widely scattered, that, till Francis was taken prisoner, it was visibly the interest of England to continue still jealous of France, and to favour Charles. But the taking of Francis the First changed the scene ; France was then to be supported. It was also so exhausted, and Charles's revenue was so increased, that without great sums both lent him, and expended by England, all must have sunk under Charles's power, if England had not held the balance.
It was also a masterpiece in Wolsey to engage the king to own that the book against Luther was written by him, in which the secret of those, who, no doubt, had the greatest share in composing it, was so closely laid, that it never broke out. Seckendorf tells us, that Luther believed it was writ by Lee, who was a zealous Thomist, and had been engaged in disputes with Erasmus, and was afterwards made archbishop of York. If any of those who still adhered to the old doctrines had been concerned in writing it, probably when they saw King Henry depart from so many points treated of in it, they would have gone beyond sea, and have robhed him of that false honour and those excessive praises which that book had procured him. It is plain More wrote it not: for the king having showed it him before it was published, he (as he mentions in one of his letters to Cromwell) told the king, that he had raised the papacy so high, that it might be objected to him, if he should happen
to have any dispute with the pope, as was often between princes and popes : and it will be found in the remarks on the former volumes, that he in another letter says he was a sorter of that book. This seems to relate only to the digesting it into method and order.
How far King Henry was sincere in pretending scruples of conscience, with relation to his first marriage, can only be known to God. His suit of divorce was managed at a vast expense, in a course of many years; in all which time, how strong soever his passion was for Anne Boleyn, yet her being with child so soon after their marriage is a clear evidence that till then they had no unlawful commerce. It does not appear that Wolsey deserved his disgrace, unless it was, that by the commission given to the two legates, they were empowered to act conjunctly or severally : so that, though Campegio refused to concur, he might have given sentence legally, yet he being trusted by the pope, his acting according to instructions did not deserve so severe a correction : and had any material discovery been made to render Wolsey criminal, it may be reasonably supposed it would have been published.
The new flatterers falling in with the king's passion, outdid and ruined Wolsey. More was the glory of the age, and his advancement was the king's honour more than his own, who was a true Christian philosopher. He thought the cause of the king's divorce was just, and as long as it was prosecuted at the court of Rome, so long he favoured it : but when he saw that a breach with that court was like to follow, he left the great post he was in, with a superior greatness of mind. It was a fall great enough, to retire from that into a private state of life : but the carrying matters so far against him as the king did, was one of the justest reproaches of that reign. More's superstition seems indeed contemptible, but the constancy of his mind was truly won derful.
Cromwell's ministry was in a constant course of flattery and submission, but by that he did great things, that amaze one, who has considered them well. The setting up the king's supremacy, instead of the usurpations of the papacy, and the rooting out the monastic state in England, considering the wealth, the numbers, and the zeal, of the monks and friars in all the parts of the kingdom, as it was a very bold undertaking, so it was executed with great method, and performed in so short a time, and with so few of the convulsions that might have been expected, that all this shows what a master he was, that could bring such a design to be finished in so few years, with so little trouble or danger.
But in conclusion, an unfortunate marriage to which he advised the king not proving acceptable, and he being unwilling to destroy what he himself had brought about, was, no doubt, backward in the design of breaking it when the king had told him of it: and then, upon no other visible ground, but because Anne of Cleve grew more obliging to the king than she was formerly, the king suspected that Cromwell had betrayed his secret, and had engaged her to a softer deportment, on design to prevent the divorce ; and did upon that disgrace and destroy him.
The duke of Norfolk was never till Cromwell's fall the first in favour; but he had still kept his post by perpetual submission and flattery. He was sacrificed at last to the king's jealousy, fearing that he might be too great in his son's insancy; and, being considered as the head of the popish party, might engage in an uneasy competition with the Seymours, during the minority of his son : for the points he was at first examined on were of an old date, of no consequence, and supported by no proof.
When the king first threw off the pope's yoke, the Reformers offered him in their turn all the flatteries they could decently give : and if they could have had the patience to go no further than he was willing to parcel out a reformation to them, he had perhaps gone further in it: but he seemed to think, that as it was pretended in popery, that infallibility was to go along with the supremacy, therefore those who had yielded to the one ought likewise to submit to the other; he turned against them when he saw that their complaisance did not go so far: and upon that, the adherers to the old opinions returned to their old flatteries, and for some time seemed to have brought him quite back to them ; which probably might have wrought more powerfully, but that he found the old leaven of the papacy was still working in them; so that he was all the while fluctuating ; sometimes making steps to a reformation, but then returning back to his old notions. One thing probably wrought much on him. It has appeared, that he had great apprehensions of the council that was to meet at Trent, and that the eniperor's engagements to restrain the council from proceeding in his matter, was the main article of the new friendship made up between them : and it may be very reasonably supposed, that the emperor represented to him, that nothing could secure that matter so certainly as his not proceeding to any further innovations in religion : more particularly his adhering firmly to the received doctrine of Christ's presence in the sacrament, and the other articles set forth by him: this agreeing with his own opinion, had, as may be well
210 HISTORY OF THE REFORMATION. imagined, no small share in the change of his conduct at that time.
The dextrous application of flattery had generally a powerful effect on him : but whatsoever he was, and how great soever his pride and vanity, and his other faults were, he was a great instrument in the hand of Providence for many good ends : he first opened the door to let light in upon the nation : he delivered it from the yoke of blind and implicit obedience : he put the Scriptures in the hands of the people, and took away the terror they were formerly under by the cruelty of the ecclesiastical courts : he declared this church to be an entire and perfect body within itself, with full authority to decree and regulate all things, without any dependence on any foreign power : and he did so unite the supreme headship over this church to the imperial crown of this realm, that it seemed a just consequence that was made by some in a popish reign, that he who would not own that this supremacy was in him, did by that renounce the crown, of which that title was made so essential a part, that they could no more be separated.
He attacked popery in its strongholds -- the monasteries --and destroyed them all, and thus he opened the way to all that came after, even down to our days : so that while we see the folly and weakness of man in all his personal failings, which were very many and very enormous, we at the same time see both the justice, the wisdom, and the goodness of God, in making him, who was once the pride and glory of popery, become its scourge and destruction; and in directing his pride and passion so as to bring about, under the dread of his unrelenting temper, a change, that a milder reign could not have compassed without great convulsions and much confusion : above all the rest, we ought to adore the goodness of God, in rescuing us by his means from idolatry and superstition; from the vain and pompous shows in which the worship of God was dressed up, so as to vie with heathenism itself, into a simplicity of believing, and a purity of worship, conform to the nature and attributes of God, and the doctrine and example of the Son of God.
May we ever value this as we ought; and may we, in our tempers and lives, so express the beauty of this holy religion, that it may ever shine among us, and may shine out from us, to all round about us; and then we may hope that God will preserve it to us, and to posterity after us, for ever.