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Of whut happened during the reign of king Edward the Siath,
from the year 1547 to the year 1553.
I HAD such copious materials when I wrote of this king, partly from the original council-book, for the two first years of that reign, but chiefly from the Journal writ in that king's own hand, that I shall not be able to offer the reader so many new things in this as I did in the former, and as I may be able to do in the succeeding reign. Some gleanings I have, which I hope will not be unacceptable.
I begin with acknowledging a great error committed in copying out a letter of Luther's, that I found among Bucer's Collections. The noble Seckendorf was the first that admonished me of this ; but with a modesty suitable to so great a man: without that rancour in which some among ourselves have vented their ill-nature against me. I took the sure method to confess my error, and to procure an exact collated copy of that paper, from that learned body, to whose library it belongs; which will be found in the Collection (No. i). It is an original in Luther's own hand; but it could not have been easily read, if Bucer had not writ out a copy of it, which is bound up in the same volume with the original. It was an instruction that Luther gave to Melancthon, when he went into Hesse, in the year 1534, to meet and treat with Bucer upon that fatal difference, concerning the manner of the presence in the sacrament. “In which it appears, that Luther was so far from departing from his opinion, that he plainly says, he could not communicate with those of the Zuinglian persuasion; but he would willingly tolerate them, in hope that in time they might come to communicate together. And as for a political agreement, he does not think the diversity of religion ought to hinder that, no more than it was a bar to marriage or commerce, which be among those of different religions.” And now I have, I hope, delivered myself from all the censures to which the wrong publishing of that paper had exposed me..
I should next enter into the historical passages of King Edward's reign ; but a great discovery, made with relation to the most important foreign transaction that happened both in King Henry and King Edward's reign (I mean the council of Trent, the first session of which was in the former reign, and the second in this), has given me an opportunity of acquainting the wcrld with many extraordinary passages relating to it.
There was a large parcel of original letters writ to Granville, then bishop of Arras, afterwards cardinal, and the chief minister of Charles the emperor, that, when he left the Netherlands, were in the hands of some of his secretaries, and were not carried away by him. About fifty years after that, Mr.William Trumball,then King James the First ser at Brussels, grandfather to Sir William Trumball (a person eminently distinguished by his learning and zeal for religion, as well as by the embassies and other great employments he has so worthily borne), got these into his hands; no doubt under the promise of absolute secrecy, during the lives of those who had them ; since, if they had been then published, it might have been easily traced from whence they must have come ; which would liave been fatal to those who had parted with them, in a court so bigotted as was that of Albert and Isabella. I have read over the whole series of that worthy gentleman's own letters to King James the First, and saw so much honesty and zeal running through them all, that, it seems, nothing under some sacred tie could have obliged both father and son to keep such a treasure so secret from all the world, especially Padro Paulo's History coming out at that time in London; to which these letters, as far as they went, which is from the 7th of October 1551, to the last of February 1551-2, would have given an authentic confirmation. I have been trusted by the noble owner with the perusal of them. It is impossible to doubt of their being originals: the subscriptions and seals of most of them are still entire.
These were by Sir William deposited in Bishop Stillingfleet's hands, when he was sent to his foreign employments; that such use might be made of them, when he found a person that was master of the Spanish tongue, as the importance of the discovery might deserve. Soon after that, my very worthy friend, Dr. Geddes, returned from Lisbon, after he had been above ten years preacher to the English factory there; and since he is lately dead, I hope I shall be forgiven to take the liberty of saying somewhat concerning him. He was a learned and a wise man. He had a true notion of popery as a political combination, managed by
falsehood and cruelty, to establish a temporal empire in the person of the popes. All his thoughts and studies were chiefly employed in detecting this ; of which he has given many useful and curious essays in the treatises he wrote, which are all highly valuable. When Bishop Stillingfleet understood that he was master of the Spanish tongue, he put all these papers in his hands. He translated them into English, intending to print the originals in Spanish with them; but none of our printers would undertake that; they reckoning, that where the vent of the book might be looked for, which must be in Spain and Italy, they were
re it would not be suffered to be sold: he was therefore forced to print the translation in English, without printing the originals.
Since that time, that learned and judicious Frenchman, Monsieur le Vassor, has published a translation of them in French, with many curious reflections : but though he found that a complete edition of the letters in Spanish was a thing that the booksellers in Holland would not undertake, yet he has helped that all he could, by giving the parts of the letters that were the most critical and the most important, in Spanish. Both these books are highly valuable. The chief writer of those letters, Vargas, was a man not only very learned, but of a superior genius to most of that age, as appe both by the letters themselves, and by the great posts he went through. He was specially employed by the emperor, both in the session that was held in the former reign, and in that which sat in this reign ; to which only these letters do relate. He was the chief of the council ihat the emperor's ambassadors had in matters in which either divinity or canon-law (the last being his particular profession) were necessary; and such a value was set on him, that the emperor sent him ambassador to the republic of Venice. And when the last session was held by Pope Pius the Fourth, Philip sent him ambassador to Rome, as the person that understood best how to manage that court, with relation to the session of the council.
I think it may give the reader a just idea of that council, both of the fraud and insolence of the legate, and of the method in which matters were carried there, to see some of the more signal passages in those letters ; that it may both give him true impressions of what was transacted there, and may move him to have recourse to the letter selves. (Oct. 7.) “He sets forth how much the pope and his ministers dreaded the coming of the protestants to the council: he can plainly perceive that they are not themselves, nor in a condition to treat about any business, when they are brought to touch on that point. These may, to their mortification, deliver their minds freely against abuses and some other things. Whosoever offers any thing that is not grateful to the legate, or that doth not suit exactly with some people's prepossessions; he is reported to have spoke ill, and to think worse ; and to have taken what he said out of I do not know whom. There are several matters, which the legate ought to treat with more deliberation than he hath hitherto handled things : I pray God give him grace to understand this.
“In the next letter, without daté, mention is made of a letter that the emperor wrote to the pope ; in which he did assure him, that nothing should be done in the council, but that which he had a mind should be done in it: and that he would oblige the prelates to hold their tongues, anů to let things pass witliout any opposition. The copy of this being shown the ambassador, he was astonished at it; but Vargas said, it was not to be understood literally (in the original it is judaically *) it was only writ to bring the pope to grant the bull; but that it was not intended by it that the pope should be suítered to do such things as would bring all to ruin, but only to do such things as are reasonable. He adds in Latin, that the liberty the pope took was not only a disease and sickness of mind, but was really grown to a fury and a madness.” Here the spirit of the promise is set up against the letter; and a strict adhering to words is counted a part of the yoke of Judaism ; from which some most Christian princes have thought fit, on many occasions, to emancipate themselves.
In another letter (Oct. 12), he sets forth the behaviour of the prelates : “ The legate never so much as acquaints them with the matter ; all things appearing well to them at first sight; and who, knowing nothing of matters until they are just ready to be pronounced, pass them without any more ado. I am willing to let you know how things are carried there; and what the pope's aims are, who seeks to authorize all his own pretensions by the council. There are several other things I am not at all satisfied with, which were carried here with the same sleight that Pope Paul made use of. And is not this a blessed beginning of a council ! As to the canons of reformation, they are of so trivial a nature, that several were ashamed to hear them ; and had they not been wrapped up in good language together, they would have appeared to the world to be what they are.”
In another letter (Oct. 28), he writes, “ I cannot see how
either catholics or heretics can be satisfied with what is done here. All that is done here is done by the way of Rome: for the legate, though it were necessary to save the world from sinking, will not depart one tittle from the orders ne receives from thence; nor indeed from any thing that lie has once resolved on.”
In another (Nov. 12), he writes, “ As for the legate, he goes on still in his old way, consuming of time to the last hour in disputations and congregations concerning doctrines; and will at last produce something in a hurry, in false colours, that may look plausible : by which means they have no time to read, and much less to understand what they are about. Words or persuasions do signify but very little in this place ; and, I suppose, they are not of much greater force at Rome. By what I can perceive, both Gud and his majesty are like to be very much dishonoured by what will be done here. And if things should go on thus, and be brought to such an issue as the pope and his ministers aim at and give out, the church will be left in a much worse condition than she was in before. I pray God, the pope may be prevailed on to alter his measures : though I shall reckon it a miracle if he is; and shall thank God for it as
In another (Nov. 26), he writes, “ There are not words to express the pride, the disrespect, and shamelessness, wherewith the legate proceeds. The success and end of this synod, if God by a miracle does not prevent it, will be such as I have foretold. I say, by a miracle ; because it is not to be done by any human means : so that his majesty does but tire himself in vain, in negociating with the pope and his ministers. The legate has hammered out such an infamous reformation (for it deserves no better epithet) as must make us a jest to the world. The prelates that are here resent it highly: many of them reckoning that they wound their consciences by holding their tongues, and by suffering things to be carried thus.”
Upon the point of collating to benefices he writes, “ We ought to put them to show what right the pope has to collate to any benefice whatsoever: I will undertake to demonstrate, from the principles and foundations of the law of God, and of nature, and of men, and from the ancient usage of the church, and from good policy, that he has no manner of right to it: and all this without doing injury to his dignity. and the plentitude of his power. He advises the leaving those matters to a better time, in which God will purge the sons of Levi: which purgation must come, and that with a