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them. It is not however with Cranmer's fear of death that I here find fault, but with your account of the circumstances that attended it. Is it then true, that his recantation was the effect of " a momentary weakness," as you
as you describe it to have been? (1) Was it a single act, and that of short continuance? No, Sir, he is proved to have deliberately subscribed six different forms of recantation, at so many different periods, each one of which was more ample and express than the preceding one; and he remained during the whole five or fix last weeks of his life, and until the very hour of his death, either a sincere Catholic or an egregious hypocrite.(2) At length finding that, notwithstanding so many retractations, he was upon the point of being executed, he revoked them all, and shewed a resolution at his death which he had exhibited in no one occurrence of his life.
Methinks, (il P. 79. Dr. S. seems in this, as in many other passages, to have been milled by that treacherous guide, Hume, whose words are these : “ He allowed, in an unguarded hour, the sentiments of nature to prevail over his resolution.” Hift. of Tudors. [In the notes to his second edition, p. 181, my adversary confesses, with a candour that does him credit, his error in describing Cranmer's recantation as a momentary weakness.—Si fic omnia !]
(2) The two first of these retractations are without date. The third appears to have been signed Feb. 14. The fourth is dated Feb. 16; and the last is dated March 18. See Strype's Mem. Ecc, vol. n, p, 234. Cranmer retracted his recantations and was executed March 21.
Dr. S. is guilty of the greatest inconsistency, as well as uncharitableness, where he ascribes the conduct of Cranmer's enemies in making him recant, to a “ refinement of cruelty,....in order that infamy might be added to his death.” Did then Mary's divines think it infamous to retract heretical opinions ? No: they thought it honourable in this world, and advantageous for the next, which latter consideration was the real motive of their persuasions.
Methinks, Sir, you will hardly forgive me this statement of facts, which bears so hard on characters that you have celebrated as models “ of virtue and integrity.” But after all, Sir, reflect, that as I have not invented these facts, or foifted them into the records to which I have referred for their existence, so neither is it in your power to suppress them. And why indeed should you wish to suppress them? You have seen that I have acknowledged and reprobated the crimes of a Sergius, a John X, an Alexander VI, and of every other bad Pope, which I have found recorded in genuine history. Why then should you not be equally liberal in abandoning as indefenfible the characters of a Luther and a Cranmer? I grant indeed, that the truth or falsehood of a religious fyftem is not so much connected with the behaviour of its later members or superiors, as it is with that of its original preachers and founders. For though we find, at all times, many of God's ministers, who go on in ordinary succession to be bad men, yet we never find any but persons of the most eminent piety and virtue charged by him with any extraordinary commision of making known his will to men, such as were Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, the several prophets, John the Baptist, and the apostles. Still however, Sir, the cause of truth is inse. parably connected with that of religion; and to tell the plain truth ought to be our first concern, both as writers and as Christians. Before I conclude I cannot refrain from making one more reflection of the same tendency with the former. I see amongst the nobility and gentry of our communion, the pos
terity of several men who were the agents and confederates of Henry VIII, Somerset, and Cranmer, in the measures which I find fault with ; on the other hand, I behold amongst the nobility and even the clergy of your's the descendants of those who were instrumental in the burnings of Mary's reign. Who knows but your progenitor, between two and three hundred years ago, was a retainer of the latter class, and mine of the former? Thus much I can confi. dently assert, that if your boasted martyrs, Hooper and Rogers, were now amongst us and saw you officiating in your proper habit at the cathedral altar, they would turn from you as from a superstitious papist ;(1) and if Cranmer and Ridley were alive and fitting in judgment on some of your publications, which I shall have occasion to examine, they would infallibly sentence you to the fame cruel fate which they themselves suffered, (2) I have the honour, &c.
[(1) It has been signified that the latter, when led to execution, threatened his fellow Proteftants with everlasting fire if they did not lay afide surplices, and other things belonging to the service of the church of England.]
[(2) See the whole of Cranmer's speech to Edward VI, concerning the execution of Joan Knell, referred to above in Bur. Let's History of the Reformation, p. ii, b. i.]
POSTŚCRIFT TO LETTER V.
[I have to regret that Dr. S. bas not thought my vindication of the middle ages from the aspersions which he with most modern writers has thrown upon them, “ worthy of notice," as he has thereby deprived me of the opportunity of doing more ample justice to them than I have yet done, particularly in what regards their principles of religion and morality. If the ancient church had ceased to regard the theological and moral virtues as necessary for salvation, and had substituted forms and ceremonies in their place, if there had been wanting in any age a succession of holy personages to support these by their doctrine and to illustrate them by their example, if the Reformation, as it is called, were set on foot and embraced by persons the most eminent for their piety and virtue, when it began, and were followed by a general improvement in the religious and moral conduct of the people, where it prevailed, the occasion most certainly called upon my adyersary in his second edition to prove these points from the records of councils and authentic history. His neglecting then to support his affertions can be afcribed to no other cause but a conviction of their being indefensible. It was still more incumbent on him to repel those formal charges which I have brought against characters for which he professes fo much respect, had this been feasible, because bis professed object in writing his Reflections was to indicate them from imputations of the fame nature,
which are supposed to be contained in my History of Winchester. It is true he offers a few words in favour of two of these characters, Luther and Cranmer, but they are so little to the purpose, that they only serve to place the evidence against the accused in a more striking light.
With respect to Luther, it appears that my antagonist is more anxious concerning his reputation for good manners, than concerning his moral character in points of infinitely greater importance. So far is certain that Dr. S. has not said a word to justify Luther's motives, doctrine, or conduct from the weighty charges which I have brought against them in the foregoing letter. He has even left this patriarch under the imputation, with which he charges himself, of being the instrument of the Devil in his grand undertaking. The only article in my accusation to which any answer is made, is that concerning Luther's foul language : “ This,” says Dr. S. “ did not arise only from the violence of his temper, but aiso from the rude manners of the age and country in which he lived." He adds, “ the language which passed between Erasmus and the monks his opponents, would disgust readers at the present time." 2d ed. p. 176. Now such kind of an apology for Luther, I maintain, is highly injurious to the memory of his cotemporaries, and particularly of Erasmus. It is true we do not find in the lumi. nous and nervous style of this great genius the min. cing phrases of a “waiting gentlewoman," or master of ceremonies. Had it been made
Had it been made up of such filmy gossamer materials as these, it never would have