Page images
PDF
EPUB

itself was also in a fluid state. Lutherans were not anxious to accentuate their divergences from Rome; they were also of different minds; and even upon sacramental questions conflicts merging into jealousies had appeared among them.

But the Formula of Concord' (1577) became a badge of union for Lutherans, even while it definitely parted them from those outside. Calvinism, however, and not Lutheranism was now the growing wing of Protestantism. But, as we pass the halfway mile-stone of the century, lines of religious separation appear more firmly drawn, and things are passing into the state where they long remain. There are still those who move singly or in groups from one religious camp to another; but neutrality, or that stage of mental unrest which might move in either direction, becomes rarer. The first quarter of the century had seen the rise of parties and principles which must make for disunion. The third quarter saw the divisions worked out in practice, and the dividing principles defined with precision. The mists of the dawn had passed away, and in the full noontide glare men saw clearly the watersheds which divided them, the ends to which their diverse roads would lead them. Men and parties alike were adopting definite attitudes and views in an age of definition, of sharply-marked policies and interests. Many of the issues which Elizabeth and her Ministers had to face were therefore more clearly marked than they would have been a generation before. Her policy inevitably moves in the same direction as the Europe of her day, towards clearness and definition. Politically the force of nationalism was working itself out in action ; ecclesiastically the Elizabethan settlement' was no mere artifice of statesmen ; it was part of the general movement of the day towards a practical unity based on definition and, if necessary, upon exclusion of what made such unity impossible. That settlement corresponds indeed, so far as the wishes of Elizabeth and her statesmen went, to the Interims' of the Continent, but it won a surprising success because it fitted in with tendencies deeper and more general.

One thing is clear. From the very first, independence of Rome was intended; the Queen might play diplomatically with the invitation--if it really was an invitation-to Trent, but she was justified in her doubts

[ocr errors]

of the freedom or universality of the assembly. The Pope was not the force in politics he had been of old ; thus in 1579 the English Ministers could comfort themselves with the reflection that, even if the Pope were malitious,' he had no more power to hurt than a 'pore chaplaine.' In this resolve for independence the Government did not by any means follow the line of least resistance, even if they rightly guessed the trend of national opinion. A fixed and firm principle of independence underlay all diplomatic appearances and expedients. And it is probable that Elizabeth's relation to foreign Protestants was of the same kind. She might play with them diplomatically; she might emphasise at her wish some special aspect of the English formularies; but, after all, these remain English and therefore of a type by themselves. The religious and political settlements ran on parallel lines. Inclusion, not exclusion, breadth, not narrowness, were their common characteristics.

It was not an age in which rulers or statesmen shrank from responsibility in religious matters, or even from revolutionary action. Elizabethan England can claim analogies in Spain, France, Bavaria, and in Sweden with its Red Book.' Nowhere, unless perhaps in Presbyterian Scotland, was the principle of ecclesiastical independence carried into consistent practice. If the Elizabethan settlement began with violence, with a bighhanded interference of the State, it was the usage of the day, which even Queen Mary had followed in her reunion with Rome. The age did not stand too closely upon precedents; it did not shrink from innovation or revolution any more than from persecution. It was enough if the broad essentials were left untouched ; and among unscrupulous politicians and self-willed theologians even these had sometimes fared badly. If the acceptance of the papal power was an essential of the Christian Church, there was therefore a sharp revolution to begin with. But this is, of course, a point of theological controversy ; and it would be easy to gather, either from the diplomatists of the day, or even from the theologiansspecially the Spanish theologians—at Trent, uncomfortable sayings against the papal power. It is doubtful, however, if the Papacy ever quite saw the permanency of Elizabeth's position, as compared with that of her father;

[ocr errors]

the Curia fancied until much later that she might be enticed to leave it.

When, in June 1563, the Fathers at Trent were considering the suggestion sent from Louvain for the excommunication of Elizabeth, the Curia was led by the Emperor Ferdinand I to shelve the proposal. Ferdinand, like Philip II of Spain in 1570, thought the stepsudden and unexpected. The limits of the papal power, though not (as in England) that power itself, were under general discussion abroad. Had the Pope the right of deposing sovereigns? If Elizabeth were to be deposed, it would be necessary, as Ferdinand pointed out, to depose all princes who had usurped ecclesiastical power. The merely partial reception of the Tridentine decrees, the reservation (even in accepting them) of royal privileges, which was made by Spain, Naples, and France, and the variations in the Empire, were significant. It was the same difficulty which the secular priests found (1603) in their Declaration of Loyalty to Elizabeth; they too limited the Pope's power to spiritual matters. The question of Papal Supremacy had been raised; and here Elizabeth made her great venture.

As Mr Gairdner (i, 329, 330) well puts it, the result of Mary's reign had been that the Pope's doctrine was now to be enforced by royal supremacy, instead of doctrine of a different character. ... So what might have ultimately come of the relations between England and the Vatican, if Mary had lived much longer, is a matter of speculation. All her zeal for the restoration of papal authority had only led her to assert it by royal supremacy after allying herself with a power disliked, not altogether unjustly, by the Roman Pontiff himself; and the Roman Pontiff ... felt apparently that papal authority restored by royal authority in such a fashion need hardly have been restored at all.' Tentative solutions of one kind or another had led men to think; and now the lines of controversy were plain.

An illustration of the state of feeling in religious matters can be found in the story of an alleged offer by the Pope to allow the English Prayer-book if the Queen would recognise his supremacy. The story (which is well treated of in a note by Mr Denny in his excellent little book on Anglican Orders) is sometimes accepted in spite of its improbability, and sometimes rejected because of the insufficient evidence for it. The mention of it by Lord Coke at Norwich in August 1606, allowing for the easy error of Pius V for Pius IV, is supported by later mentions of it, by Bishop Andrewes, who said it seemed as if, after all, “the supremacy is the assuaging of wrath,' and by others. These are much later than the incident could have been; but two letters in the Calendar of State Papers (Foreign) bear on it. Walsingham, writing to Burleigh under date June 21, 1571, describes a conversation he had held with Catharine de Medici as to the use of the English liturgy by the Duke of Anjou in case he married Elizabeth ; speaking at her request as a private gentleman rather than as an ambassador, he had insisted upon the use of the Prayer-book. He had given to M. de Foix, whom, along with Montmorency, the King was sending to England to discuss the agreement, a copy of the Prayer-book, which the Pope would have by council confirmed as Catholic if the Queen would have acknowledged the same as received from him.' For this papal offer a marginal note in Walsingham's own handwriting adds an explanation- an offer made by the Cardinal of Lorraine as Sir N. Throgmorton showed me.' There may be here a reference to incidents mentioned in an earlier letter from Throgmorton to Cecil (December 28, 1561), where he says that the formulary of the Church of England is better allowed by the Papists and less repugnant to them than that of Geneva or any form used in Germany. The Church of England Order would have more suffrages when under discussion than any other. Throgmorton himself in another letter urges the reading of Edward VI's Homilies, rather than the ramblings of 'perverse-spirited men who challenge to themselves singular gifts of God and extraordinary revelations'; for such reading he held to be an 'imitation of ancient Fathers, and the usage of ancient Churches.'

In these letters the conservative character of the English Church, and the large margin of unsettled opinion as to forms of prayer, are clearly displayed. The former

. is a feature to which more attention might be given ; and it is precisely here where the Elizabethan and Edwardine tendencies part. It may be allowed that in liturgical matters Cranmer and a few others were both learned and

a

conservative. But upon episcopacy Cranmer's views were looser than were Parker's, and much more so than Whitgift's. The correspondence between Whitgift and Beza, indeed, arising out of Matthew Sutcliff's writings, is instructive, not only for Whitgift's views but for the concessions towards episcopacy which Beza (writing this time to an archbishop, not to Knox) was ready to make. How deliberately this conservative position was taken up is shown by Elizabeth's Declaration of the Queen's proceedings since her reign'-an answer to the northern Earls' rebellion of 1569. She claimed that her supremacy was no more than her predecessors', although it was more clearly recognised; there was no intention to define the faith or change ceremonies from those before received by the Catholic and Apostolic Church. It was this conservative position of the English Church, much misunderstood and misrepresented, as the Queen complained, that attracted Saravia and still more Casaubon. It was asserted in the first place against the Papacy, and thus might be easily regarded as a mere negation; it was asserted secondly and positively against the Puritans, and thus it was not only taken up but maintained throughout the reign. Its two-sided development is the ecclesiastical history of the reign.

The large margin of unsettled opinion is also worth noting. The English Romanists, in their exorbitant but pathetic request to be allowed attendance at their parish churches, pointed out what the Spanish Ambassador de Quadra, himself a bishop, admitted—the scriptural and unexceptionable character of the Prayer-book; the conservative element in its workmanship was as evident then as now. It was an age of liturgic experiments. The pliancy of the Papacy in matters of vernacular worship and communion in one kind had been repeatedly shown, although it was soon to be replaced by an iron persistency. There was really nothing surprising then, and there need be nothing surprising now, in the thought of a papal confirmation of the Prayer-book. The papal supremacy might really be, as Andrewes said, “the assuaging of wrath.' A reconciliation on such terms might have been possible, although, as a matter of fact, neither Pope nor Queen was disposed for it. The permanence of such a reconciliation is more doubtful.

« PreviousContinue »