(1536 — 1540.)
There were in 1536 three distinct parties in England, papists, the evangelicals, and the Anglican Catholics, who were halting between the two extremes. It was a question which of the three would gain the upper hand.
The Reformation in England was born of the power of the Word of God, and did not encounter there such obstacles as were raised against it in France by a powerful clergy and by princes hostile to evangelical faith and morality. The English prelates, weakened by various circumstances, were unable to withstand an energetic attack; and the sovereign was ‘the mad Harry,’ as Luther had called him. His whims opened the doors to religious freedom, of which the Reformation was to take advantage. Thus England, which had remained in a state of rudeness and ignorance much longer than France, was early enlightened by the Reformation; and the nation awakened by the Gospel gave birth in the sixteenth century to such masterminds as France, though more highly civilized, failed to produce so early. Shakespeare was born in 1563, one year before the death of Calvin.
The Reformation placed England a century ahead of the rest of Europe.
The final triumph, however, of the Reformation was not reached without many conflicts; and the two adversaries more than once engaged hand to hand, before one overthrew the other.
About the middle of October 1537 an event occurred which was of great importance for the triumph of the Gospel. There was at that time great rejoicing in the palace of the Tudors and in all England, for Queen Jane (Seymour), on October 12, presented to Henry VIII. the son which he had so much desired. Letters written beforehand, in the name of the Queen, announced it in every place, and congratulations arrived from all quarters.
This birth was called ‘the most joyful news which for many years had been announced in England.’ Bishop Latimer wrote: ‘Here is no less joying and rejoicing in these parts for the birth of our prince, whom we hungered so long, then there was, I trow, inter vicinos at the birth of St. John Baptist? (Luke 1:58.) Princeps natus ad imperium exclaimed the politicians. ‘God grant him long life and abundant honors!’ they wrote from the Continent. Henry was anxious that people should believe in this future. ‘Our prince,’ Cromwell sent word to the ambassadors of England, ‘our Lord be thanked, is in good health, and sucketh like a child of his puissance, which you my lord William can declare.’ It was all the more important to declare this, because the very contrary was asserted. It was even reported by some that the child was dead. As Henry feared that some attempt might be made on his son’s life, he forbade that anyone should approach the cradle without an order signed by his own hand. Everything brought into the child’s room was to be perfumed, and measures of precaution against poison were taken. The infant was named Edward; Archbishop Cranmer baptized him, and was one of his godfathers. The king created him at the age of six Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall.
Sir Edward Seymour, his uncle by the mother’s side, was created Earl of Hertford. It was alleged that a spell had been thrown upon .the king to prevent his having a male child; and behold, he had now an heir in spite of the spell. His dynasty was strengthened. Henry VIII. became more powerful at home, more respected abroad.
This great rejoicing was followed by a great mourning. The queen took cold; the women in attendance were indiscreet in their management; the queen was seized with acute pains. She was very ill during the night of October 23, and died on the following day.
What would Henry do? He had not a tender heart. Far from rejecting the thought of a fresh marriage, he gave an order, as we find in a letter written on the very day of the queen’s death, requiring his ambassadors, the Bishop of Winchester and Lord William Howard, to seek another wife for him. Cromwell pointed out to them two among others, Margaret, daughter of Francis I., afterwards duchess of Savoy, and Mary of Guise, widow of the duke of Longueville, who was the mother of Mary Stuart. The secretary of state, even before the body of the deceased queen was quite cold, wrote: ‘In the ensearching out of which matter, his majesty desireth you both to exhibit that circumspection and diligence that may answer to His Grace’s expectation conceived of you.’ f209 Voila l’extreme deuil dont son ame est atteinte!
Other agents besides these took part in the search. Hutton, envoy in the Netherlands, offered several spouses to the king. He might make his choice. There was a daughter of the Sire de Brederode, fourteen years of age; the widow of count Egmont, who was forty, but did not look so old; the princess of Cleves, but of her there was not much to be said in praise either of her mind or her beauty; the young widow of the duke of Milan, Christina of Denmark, niece of the emperor, who was said to be very beautiful, of agreeable conversation and dignified in person. The king resolved on this last alliance, which would reconcile him with the emperor.
For some time nothing was thought of but the making of marriages in this direction. The princess Mary was to marry Louis of Portugal, Elizabeth a son of the king of the Romans, and Edward was to be betrothed to a daughter of the emperor.
The birth of the young prince had, however, another kind of significance.
The hopes of the partisans of the Catholic Mary disappeared, and the friends of the Reformation rejoiced at the thought that the young prince was godson of the archbishop. Many circumstances contributed to their encouragement. witnessed the formation of unlooked for ties between the evangelicals of England and those of Switzerland; and the pure Gospel as professed by the latter began to exercise a real influence over England.
Edward, during his very short reign, was to fulfill the best hopes to which his birth had given rise, and the triumph to which his reign seemed destined was already visibly in preparation.
Simon Grynaeus, the friend of Erasmus and Melanchthon, and professor at the university of Basel, had as early as 1531 held intercourse with Henry VIII. and Cranmer.’ Afterwards Cranmer and Bullinger, successor of Zwinglius at Zurich, had also become acquainted with each other; and, as early as 1536, some young Englishmen of good family had betaken themselves to Zurich, that they might drink at the full fountain of Christian knowledge and life which sprang forth there. Some of them lived in the house of Pellican, others with Bullinger himself. These young men were John Butler, who had a rich patrimony in England — a sagacious man and a Christian who persevered in prayer; Nicholas Partridge, from Kent, a man of active and devoted character; Bartholomew Traheron, who had already (1527 and 1528) declared at Oxford for the Reformation, and had been persecuted by Doctor London; Nicholas Eliot, who had studied law in England, and who afterwards held some government office; and others besides. Bullinger was strongly attached to these young Englishmen.
He directed their studies and, in addition to his public teaching, he explained to them in his own house the prophet Isaiah.
There was much talk at Zurich at this time about a young French theologian, Calvin by name, who was settled at Geneva, and had published a profound and eloquent exposition of Christian doctrines. The young Englishmen eagerly longed to make his acquaintance. Butler, Partridge, Eliot, and Traheron set out for Geneva in November 1537, bearing letters of introduction from Bullinger to the reformer. The latter received them in the most kindly manner. It was more than common courtesy, they wrote to Bullinger. f213 They were delighted with his appearance and with his conversation, at once so simple and so fruitful. They felt a charm which drew them to his presence again and again. The master taught well, and the disciples listened well. Calvin was at the time in great trouble. Caroli was causing him much annoyance, and persecution had just broken out at Nismes. The four Englishmen, being called elsewhere, took their departure deeply saddened by the painful separation. A letter written by them afterwards is the first communication addressed by England to the reformer of Geneva. It runs as follows: — ‘We wish you the true joy in Christ. May as much happiness be appointed to us from henceforth as our going away from you has occasioned us sorrow! For although our absence, as we hope, will not be of very long continuance, yet We cannot but grieve at being deprived even for a few hours of so much suavity of disposition and conversation. And this also distresses us in no small measure, lest there should be any persons who may regard us as resembling flies, which swarm in the summer, but disappear on the approach of winter. You may be assured that, if we had been able to assist you in any way, no pleasure should have called us away from you, nor should any peril have withdrawn us. This distress, indeed, which the disordered tempers of certain individuals have brought upon you, is far beyond our power to alleviate. But you have one, Christ Jesus, who can easily dispel by the beams of his consolation whatever cloud may arise upon your mind. He will restore to you a joyful tranquillity; he will scatter and put to flight your enemies; he will make you gloriously to triumph over your conquered adversaries; and we will entreat him, as earnestly as we can, to do this as speedily as possible. We have written these few lines at present, most amiable and learned Master Calvin, that you may receive a memorial of our regard towards you. Salute in our names that individual of a truly heroic spirit and singular learning and godliness, Master Farel. Salute, too, our sincere friends Master Olivetan and your brother Fontaine. Our countrymen send abundant salutations. Farewell, very dear friend. f215 England at this time did justice to the Genevese reformer.
Much admiration was likewise felt for Bullinger. ‘We confess ourselves to be entirely yours,’ wrote to him the four Englishmen, ‘as long as we can be our own.’ The works of the Zurich doctor were much read in England, and diffused there the spirit of the gospel. Nicolas Eliot wrote to him: — ‘And how great weight all persons attribute to your commentaries, how greedily they embrace and admire them (to passover numberless other arguments), the booksellers are most ample witnesses whom by the sale of your writings alone, from being more destitute than Irus and Codrus, you see suddenly become as rich as Croesus. May God, therefore, give you the disposition to publish all your writings as speedily as possible, whereby you will not only fill the coffers, of the booksellers, but will gain over very many souls to Christ, and adorn his church with most precious jewels.’ f217 At the news that the mighty king of England had separated from the pope, the Swiss theologians were filled with hope, and they vied with each other in speeding his progress towards the truth. Bullinger composed two works in Latin which he dedicated to Henry VIII.; the first of them on The Authority, the Certitude, the Stability and the Absolute Perfection of Holy Scripture; the second on The Institution and the Function of Bishops. He forwarded copies of these works to Partridge and Eliot for presentation to the king, to Cranmer, and to Cromwell. The two young Englishmen went first to the archbishop and delivered to him the volumes intended for the king and for himself. The archbishop consented to present the book to the prince, but not till after he had read it himself, and on condition that Eliot and Partridge should be present, that they might answer any questions asked by the king. Then going to Cromwell, they gave him the copy intended for him; and the vicegerent, more prompt than the archbishop, showed it the same day to Henry VIII., whom Cranmer then hastened to present his own copy. The king expressed a wish that the work should be translated into English. ‘Your books are well received,’ wrote Eliot to Bullinger, ‘not only by our king, but equally so by the lord Cromwell, who is keeper of the king’s privy seal and vicar of the church of England. f218 Other Continental divines who held the same views as the Swiss likewise dedicated some theological writings both to the king and to Cranmer.
Capito, who was at the time at Strasburg, dedicated Henry VIII. a book in which he treated, among subjects, of the mass (de missa, etc.). The king, as usual, handed it to two persons belonging to the opposing parties, in order to get their opinions. he then examined their verdict, and announced his own. Cranmer wrote to Capito that the king ‘could by no means digest’ his piece on the mass, although at the same time he approved some of the other pieces. Bucer, a colleague of Capito, having written a commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, dedicated it to Cranmer, and wrote to him as follows: — ‘It is not enough to have shaken off the yoke of the pope, and to be unwilling to take upon us the yoke of Christ; but if God be for us who can be against us? and Christianity is a warfare.’ f220 While the Swiss and the Strasburgers were seeking to enlighten England, the Roman party on the Continent and the Catholic party in England itself were striving to keep her in darkness. The pope in sorrow and in anger, saw England lost to Rome. Nevertheless the Catholic rising in the northern counties allowed him still to cherish hope. The king of France and the emperor, both near neighbors of England, could if necessary strike with the sword. The pope must therefore stir up to action not only the English Catholics, but also the courts of Paris and Brussels. Whom should he select for the mission? Reginald Pole, an Englishman, a zealous Roman Catholic, and a kinsman of Henry VIII. seemed to be the man made for the occasion. It was he who had lately written these words — There was never a greater matter entreated, of more importance to the wealth of the realm and the whole church than this [the re-establishment of papal authority]. And this same that you go about to take away, the authority of one head in the church, was, a more principal and ground cause of the loss of the Orient to be in infidels’ hands, and all true religion than ever was the Turk’s sword, as most wisest men have judged. For if they had agreed all the Occidental Church, they had never come to misery; and like misery if God have not mercy us to return to the church, is most to be feared in our realm.... . Your sweet liberty you have got, you were delivered from the obedience papal, speaketh for itself. Whereof the rest of the realm hath such part that you be without envy of other countries, that no nation wisheth the same to have such liberty granted them. This last assertion was doubtful.
Pole was at this time at Padua, where he had studied, and where he was resident by permission of the king. He avoided going to Rome lest he should offend Henry. But he received one day an invitation from Paul III., who summoned him to the Vatican to take part in a consultation about the general council. To comply with this summons would be to pass the Rubicon; it would make Henry VIII. his irreconcilable enemy, and would expose to great danger not only himself but all his family. Pole therefore hesitated. The advice, however, of the pious Contarini, the command of the pope, and his own enthusiasm the cause, brought him to a decision. On his arrival at Rome he gave himself up entirely; and when Christmas was drawing near, on December 20, 1536, the pope created him cardinal, together with del Monte, afterwards Julius III.; Caraffa, afterwards Paul IV.; Sadoleto, Borgia, Cajetan, and four others. These proceedings were very seriously criticized in England. For the vainglory of a red hat, said Tonstall and Stokesley, Pole is, in fact, an instrument of the pope to set forth his malice, to depose the king from his kingdom, and to stir his subjects against him. There, was, however, something more in his case than a cardinal’s hat; there was, we must acknowledge, a faith doubtless fanatical but sincere in the papacy. Not long afterwards the pope nominated him the new cardinal legate beyond the Alps; the object of this measure being per dar fermento, to excite men’s minds. He was to induce the king of France and the emperor to enter into the views of the Roman court, to inflame the Catholics of England, and, if he should be unable to go there himself, to take up his residence in the Netherlands, and thence conspire for the ruin of Protestantism in England.
At the beginning of Lent, 1537, Pole, attended by a numerous suite, set out from Rome. The pope, who was not thoroughly sure of his new legate, had appointed as his adviser the bishop of Verona, who was to make up for any deficiency of experience on the part of the legate, and to put him on his guard against pride. Henry VIII., on learning the nature of his young cousin’s mission, was exceedingly angry. He declared Pole a rebel, set a price on his head, and promised fifty thousand crowns to anyone who should kill him. Cromwell, following his master’s example, exclaimed, ‘I will make him eat his own heart.’ This was only a figure of speech; but it was rather a strong one. No sooner had Henry VIII. heard of the arrival of Pole in France than he demanded that Francis I. should deliver him up, as a subject in rebellion against his king. Pole had not long at Paris before he heard of this demand. It aroused in his heart more pride than fear. It revealed to him his own importance; and turning to his attendants he said, ‘This news makes me glad; I know now that I am a cardinal.’ Francis I. did not concede the demand of the angry Tudor; but he did consider the mission of Pole as one of those attacks on the power of kings in which the papacy from time to time indulged. When Pole, therefore, made his appearance at the palace he was refused admission. While still only at the door, and even before he had had time to knock, he himself tells us, he was sent away. ‘I am ready to weep,’ he added, ‘to find that a king does not receive a legate of Rome.’ Francis I. having sent him an order to leave France, he fled to Cambray, which at that time formed part the Netherlands.
No sooner was he there than, under great excitement about what had occurred to him at Paris, he wrote to Cromwell, complaining bitterly that Henry VIII., in order to get him into his power, did not scruple to violate both God’s law and man’s, and even ‘to disturb all commerce between country and country.’ ‘I was ashamed to hear that... a prince of honor should desire of another prince of like honor, Betray thine own ambassador, betray the legate, and give him into my ambassador’s hands to be brought to me.’ The like, he says, was never heard of in Christendom. Pole had more hope of the emperor than of Francis I.; but he was soon undeceived. He was not permitted to go out of the town; and a courier entrusted with his despatches was arrested by the Imperialists at Valenciennes and sent back to him. He now resolved on taking a step towards opening communication with the English government; and as he did not venture to present himself to the ambassadors of Henry VIII. in France, he sent to them the bishop of Verona. But this prelate, likewise, was not received, and he was only allowed to speak to one of the secretaries. He endeavored to convince him of the perfect innocence of Pole and of his mission. ‘The cardinal-legate,’ he said, ‘is solely charged by the pope to treat of the safety of Christendom.’ This was true ill the sense intended by Rome; but it is well known what this safety, in her view, required.
Fresh movements in the north of England tended to increase the anger of Henry VIII. It was not enough that Pole had been driven from France. The king now wrote himself to Hutton, his envoy at Brussels — ‘You shall deliver unto the regent our letters for the stay of his entry into the emperor’s dominions;... you shall press them... neither to admit him to her presence, nor to suffer unto him to have any other entertainment than beseemeth the traitor and rebel of their friend and ally... You shall in any wise cause good secret and substantial espial to be made upon him from place to place where he shall be.’ Pole, on his part, spoke as a Roman legate. He summoned the queen to prove her submission to the apostolic see, and to grant him an audience; and he made use of serious menaces. ‘If traitors, conspirators, rebels, and other offenders,’ said the English ambassador, ‘might under the shadow of legacy have sure access into all places, and thereby to trouble and espy all things, that were overmuch dangerous.’ Here was no question of rebellion, Pole sent word to the regent by the bishop of Verona, but of the Reformation; and he was sent to refute the errors which it was spreading in England. Her opinion was that he should return, ‘for that she had no commission of the emperor to intermeddle in any point of his legacy.’ f230 Hereupon Pole went from Cambray to Liege; but in consequence of the advice of the bishop of Liege, he only ventured to go there in disguise. f231 He was received into the bishop’s palace, but his stay there was ‘not without great fear.’ He set out again on August 22, and went to Rome.
Never had any mission of a Roman pontiff so entirely failed. The ambitious projects of the pope against the Reformation in England had proved abortive. But one of the secrets of Roman policy is to put a good face on a bad case. The less successful Pole had been the more necessary it was to assume an air of satisfaction with him and his embassy. In any case, was it not a victory for him to have returned safe and sound after having to do with Francis I., Henry VIII., and Charles V.? It was November when he reached Rome; and he was received as generals used to be received by the ancient Romans after great victories. They carried him, so to speak, on their arms; everyone heaped upon him demonstrations of respect and joy; and his secretary, on the last day of the year 1537, wrote to the Catholics of England, to describe to them the great triumph that was made at Rome for the safe arrival of his master. Rome may beat or be beaten, she always triumphs.
This mission of Reginald Pole had fatal consequences. In the following year, his brothers, lord Montague, the marquis of Exeter, ,and Sir Edward Nevil were arrested and committed to the Tower. Some time afterwards his mother, Margaret, countess of Salisbury, the last of the Plantagenets, a woman of remarkable spirit, was likewise arrested. They were charged with aiming at the deposition of Henry and at placing Reginald on the throne. ‘I do perceive,’ it was said, ‘it should be for my lord Montague’s brother, which is beyond the sea with the bishop of Rome, and is all arrant traitor to the king’s highness.’ They were condemned and executed in January 1539. The countess was not executed till a later time.
Paul III. had been mistaken in selecting the cousin of the king to stir up Catholic Europe against him. But some other legate might have a chance of success. Henry felt the necessity of securing allies upon the Continent.
Cranmer promptly availed himself of this feeling to persuade Henry to unite with the Protestants of Germany. The elector of Saxony, the landgrave of Hesse, and the other Protestant princes, finding that the king had resolutely broken with the pope, had suppressed the monasteries and begun other reforms, consented to send a deputation. On May 12, Francis Burkhardt, vice-chancellor of Saxony, George von Boyneburg, doctor of law, and Frederick Myconius, superintendent of the church of Gotha — a diplomatist, a jurisconsult, and a theologian — set out for London. The princes wished to be worthily represented, and the envoys were to live in magnificent style and keep a liberal table. The king received them with much goodwill. He thanked them that, laying aside their own affairs, they had undertaken so laborious a journey; and he especially spoke of Melanchthon in the most loving terms. But the delegates, whilst they were so honorably treated by their own princes and by the king of England, were much less so by inferior agents. They were hardly settled in the house assigned to them than they were attacked by the inhabitants, ‘a multitude of rats daily and nightly running in their chambers.’ In addition to this annoyance, the kitchen was adjacent to the parlor, in which they were to dine, so that the house was full of smells, and all who came in were offended.’
But certain bishops were to give them more trouble than the rats. Cranmer received them as friends and brethren, and endeavored to take advantage of their presence to promote the triumph of the Gospel in England; but Tonstall, Stokesley, and others left no stone unturned to render their mission abortive. The discussion took place in the archbishop’s palace at Lambeth, and they did their best to protract it, obstinately defending the doctrines and the customs of the Middle Ages: They were willing, indeed, to separate from Rome; but this was in order to unite with the Greek church, not with the evangelicals. Each of the two conflicting parties endeavored to gain over to itself those English doctors who were still wavering. One day, Richard Sampson, bishop of Chichester, who usually went with the Scholastic party, having come to Lambeth at an early hour, Cranmer took him aside and so forcibly urged on him the necessity of abandoning tradition that the bishop, a weak man, was convinced. But Stokesley, who had doubtless noticed something in the course of the discussion, in his turn took Sampson aside into the gallery, just when the meeting was breaking up, and spoke to him very earnestly in behalf of the practices of the church. These customs are essential, said Stokesley, for they are found in the Greek church. The poor bishop of Chichester, driven in one direction by the bishop of London and in the opposite by the archbishop of Canterbury, was much embarrassed, and did not know which way to turn. His decision was for the last speaker. The semi-Roman doctors at this period, who sacrificed to the king the Roman rite, felt it incumbent upon them to cross all Europe for the purpose of finding in the Turkish empire the Greek rite, which was for them the Gospel. England must be dressed in a Grecian garb. But Cranmer would not hear of it; and he presented to his countrymen the wedding garment of which the Savior speaks. f238 The summer was now drawing to an end. The German delegates had been in London three or four months without having made any progress.
Wearied with fruitless discussions, they began to think of their departure.
But before setting out, about the middle of August, they forwarded to the king a document in which they argued from Holy Scripture, from the testimony of the most ancient of the Fathers, and from the practice of the primitive church, against the withdrawal of the cup, private masses, and the celibacy of priests, three errors which they looked upon as having essentially contributed to the deformation of Christendom. When Cranmer heard of their intention to leave England, he was much affected. Their departure dissipated all his hopes. Must he then renounce the hope of seeing the Word of God prevail in England as it was prevailing in evangelical Germany? He summoned them to Lambeth, and entreated them earnestly and with much kindliness for the king’s sake to remain. They replied ‘that at the king’s request they would be very well content to tarry during his pleasure, not only a month or two, but a year or two, if they were at their own liberty. But forasmuch they ‘had been so long from their princes, and had not all this season any letters from them, it was not to be doubted but that they were daily looked for at home, and therefore they durst not tarry.’ However, after renewed entreaties, they said, ‘We will consult together.’ They discussed with one another the question whether they ought to leave England just at the time when she was perhaps on the point of siding with the truth. Shall we refuse to sacrifice our private convenience to interests so great? They adopted the least convenient but most useful course. We will tarry, they said, for a month, ‘upon hope that their tarrying should grow into some good success concerning the points of their commission,’ and ‘trusting that the king’s majesty would write unto their princes for their excuse in thus long tarrying.’ The evangelicals of Germany believed it to be their duty to tolerate certain secondary differences, but frankly to renounce those errors and abuses which were contrary to the essential doctrines of the Gospel, and to unite in the great truths of the faith. This was precisely what the Catholic party and the king himself had no intention of doing. When Cranmer urged file bishops to apply themselves to the task of answering the Germans, they replied ‘that the king’s grace hath taken upon himself to answer the said orators in that behalf... and therefore they will not meddle with the abuses, lest they should write therein contrary to that the king shall write.’ It was, indeed, neither pleasant nor safe to contradict Henry VIII. But in this case the king’s opinion was only a convenient veil, behind which the bishops sought to conceal their ill-will and their evil doctrines. Their reply was nothing but an evasion. The book was written, not by the king, but by one of themselves, Tonstall, bishop of Durham. He ran no risk of contradicting himself. In spite of this ill-will, the Germans remained not only one month but two. Their conduct, like that of Cranmer, was upright, devoted, noble, and Christian; while the bishops of London and Durham and their friends, clever men no doubt, Were souls of a lower cast, who strove to escape by chicanery from the free discussion proposed to them, and passed off their knavery as prudence.
The German doctors had now nothing more to do. They had offered the hand and it had been rejected. The vessel which was to convey them was waiting. They were exhausted with fatigue; and one of them, Myconius, whom the English climate appeared not to suit, was very ill. They set out at the beginning of October, and gave an account of their mission to their sovereigns and to Melanchthon. The latter thought that, considering the affection which the king displayed towards him, he might., if he intervened at this time, do something to incline the balance the right way. He therefore wrote to Henry VIII. a remarkable letter, in which, after expressing iris warm gratitude for the king’s goodwill, he added: —’I commend to you, Sire, the cause of the Christian religion. Your majesty knows that the principal duty of sovereigns is to protect and propagate the heavenly doctrine, and for this reason God gives them the same name as his own, saying to them, Ye are gods ( Psalm 82:6). My earnest desire is to see a true agreement, so far as regards the doctrine of piety, established between all the churches which condemn Roman tyranny, an agreement which should cause the glory of God to shine forth, should induce the other nations to unite with us and maintain peace in the churches.’ Melanchthon was right as to the last point; but was he right as to the office he assigned to kings? In his view it was a heroic action to take up arms for the church. But what church was it necessary to protect and extend sword in hand? Catholic princes, assuredly, drew the sword against the Protestants rather than the Protestants against the Catholics.
The most heroic kings, by this rule, would be Philip II. and Louis XIV.
Melanchthon’s principle leads by a straight road to the Inquisition. To express our whole thought on the matter, what descendant of the Huguenots could possibly acknowledge as true, as divine, a principle by virtue of which his forefathers, men of whom the world was not worthy, were stripped of everything, afflicted, tormented, scattered in the deserts, mountains, and caves of the earth, cast into prison, tortured, banished, and put to death? Conscience, which is the voice of God, is higher than all the voices of men.