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HISTORICAL ESSAYS. which could scarcely be better im
proved than by enrolling his name No. IX,
among the most distinguished saints
and martyrs. Martyrdom has ever On the Corruption of Christianity in been considered the greatest mark
Britain, during the latter part of the of heroism and proof of sincerity, Reign of Henry the Second.
and therefore has not failed to ex1170-1189.
cite the attention and rouse the The mere narration of the inso- passions of mankind; and their imalence and ambition of Thomas àginary elevation to the saintly rank, Becket rouses the indignation of the next to the deification of the animpartial reader, and, as he pro- cients, produced the most powerful ceeds through his history, he feels effects, not only in exciting and himself prepared to welcome any preserving emulation among those means that may rid the country of who aspired to distinction, but in $0 great a curse. While he would securing the abject attention of their pot attempt to justify this feeling, devotees; for, in their estimation, he ceases to wonder that Henry, so it was not merely an honour that much more interested, and in an was thus conferred, but real influage far less enlightened, unguarded- ence and importance in the heavenly ly gave vent to his feelings in the state; hence, gifts were continually language of complaint, or that four presented, and prayers offered, to the persons so readily hastened to re- distinguished saints of their calenmove the cause of his sorrow; for it dar, to secure their mediation and evidently required a self-control, intercession with an offended God, that the unassisted human mind, which greatly tended to enrich the depraved as it is, is unwilling to clerical order, who took care to command, to endure such base in- employ these pious gifts to their gratitude and wanton arrogance. own advantage.
It serves greatly to illustrate the As we become acquainted with force of that superstition in which the history of popery, how evident the inhabitants of this country were it is, that it has been a progressive then miserably sunk; that this system of error, originating in want proud prelate could, amid such of attachment to the holy scriptures, monstrous proceedings, preserve, and consequent departure from their and even increase, his popularity, simple directions; and, therefore, although so able, and, compared how such considerations should enwith sovereigns of the age, so ex- dear to the inquiring youth Divine cellent a prince occupied the throne revelation, and lead him to a dilima popularity, the effects of which gent perusal of its contents, with an outlived the object of its regard, and earnest invocation of the enlightenwhen it could no longer gratify its ing influences of the Holy Spirit, fallen victim, was transferred to his and a humble dependance on his
essential aid : then will he learn to To make the best use of Becket's distinguish between the exemplary untimely end was the only policy sufferings of the Christian martyr, Rome could now adopt. An’arch- and the natural consequences of a bishop, of such remarkable zeal and life of insatiable ambition ; then will supposed sanctity, slaughtered be- he readily contrast the character of fore the altar, in the very exercise the humble saint, who, though he of his devotions, was a most extra- may be an apostle, counts himself ordinary and unjustifiable event, less than the least of all saints, and the chief of sinners, with that of the two years after his death, a jubilee individual, whose pride feasts on was appointed for the celebration of the rebellious greetings of a mob his excellencies, and his remains and the servile offices of a king. removed to a 'most superb deposi
Whatever Henry might have tory, enriched with presents from blamably uttered in the moment of all parts of Europe ; and it was estipassion, it was evidently that which mated, that a 100,000 deluded pilbis judgment did not afterwards ap- grims toiled to Canterbury in one prove, while his promptitude in dis- year, to pay their devotions at his patching a messenger to prevent the tomh, and secure his good offices in execution of the murderers' threats, their behalf in heaven. showed that he did not seek such a About this period, (A. D. 1171) deliverance; his conduct, also, on the first sufferings for heresy are said the report of the tragical event to have been witnessed in this counproved bow sensible he was of the try. Several persons, under the dioutrage, and how he dreaded its rection of one Gerard, came over conséquences. He withdrew from from Germany to propagate their all intercourse with his attendants, opinions; and although but ono and refused sustenance for three poor female embraced their sentidays, till the courtiers, lest be ments, the clergy took the alarm, should expire in so obstinate a soli- and through their influence, they tude, ventured to interrupt his re- were burned on their foreheads and tirement, and use every art and ar- whipped through the streets. They gument for the preservation of his manifested no reluctance to suffer health, the restoration of his cheer- for their tenets, but sang as they fulness, and the elusion of those passed along, “ Blessed are ye when consequences that were dreaded men shall hate you,” &c. Their from the powerful resentment of tormentors, not content with this Rome. Messengers were speedily cruelty, drove them from society, dispatched thither to endeavour to and thus friendless and destitute of convince the pope of Henry's inpo- food or proper clothing, the misercence, and to assuage his anger, able objects did not long survire. who were to proceed with all pos- Their peculiar sentiments are but sible haste, for Easter was approach- imperfectly known. ing, and the Thursday before its Happily for Henry his ability and approach, was the time when his address procured a much more holiness, in defiance of the heavenly speedy termination to the dreadful precepts of that gospel, of which affair of Becket's destruction than he professed himself the supreme could have been expected; and ambassador, published his maledic- having, therefore, some respite from tions against his enemies. This em- ciyil anxieties, his ambition promptbassy succeeded, for instead of ed him to think seriously of invading Henry's being individually cursed, Ireland, the conquest of which he and bis kingdom placed under an had long meditated. But to find interdict, the anathemas were ut- any thing like an equitable or plautered generally on all that were sible pretext for so doing, was not concerned in the murder, which so easy. However, as the popes of rendered them very harmless. Two late had maintained that the discardinals were afterwards appointed posal of kingdoms belonged to them, to investigate the matter, and they the best plea that the king could. were to proceed to Normandy for devise was to sanction this power, the purpose.
and endeavour to avail bimself of While these formal proceedings it in the form of a recommendation. were transpiring, the clergy were This he obtained in 1156, while indefatigable in extolling the merits Adrjan presided at Rome, the only and extraordinary sufferings of the Englishman who ever filled the palamented prelate, the virtues of palchair. As Henry had, at this whose reliques were declared to ef- early period of his reign, scarcely fect the most singular miracles. He manifested his hostility to ecclewas caponized by pope Alexander siastical tyranny, he was comply
mented in Adrian's bull as a prince following Christmas, and serve three that had ever manifested solicitude years against the infidels, if the for the enlargement of the church pope desired it; that he would not on earth, and for the increase of the enforce the observance of those cussaints in heaven: his projected in- | toms which were derogatory to the vasion was, therefore, ascribed to clerical privileges that he had introthe same pious designs, and he was duced ; nor would he obstruct apexhorted to invade the country in peals to Rome in ecclesiastical matorder to extirpate the wickedness ters, but merely require security of its inhabitants, and cause them from such of the clergy as left the to pay annually, from every house, kingdom for that purpose, that they a penny to the holy see. But how would attempt nothing against his little this prince was influenced by rights. The king, in return, resuch motives appeared from his tar- ceived absolution from the legates, diness in accomplishing his purpose; and the confirmation of Adrian's for it was not till 1172, after an in- bull authorizing and recommending vitation from an Irish chief, who the invasion of Ireland. was a sufferer in a civil commotion, Henry having thus cxtricated that he gave leave to some of his himself from a situation so delicate subjects to commence the hostile and perilous, was regarded as one visit, following himself at a conve- of the greatest monarchs of his day: nient season.
but, as if to remind him and those He was, however, soon obliged who beheld his greatness, of the to return, for the two legates ap- unwelcome truth, that “ man is pointed to investigate the murder of born to trouble as the sparks fly upBecket, had arrived in Normandy, ward,” he had now to experience and, tired of waiting for the king, trials of a different, but not of a less they threatened serious conse- painful nature. A parent has a quences if he did not at once repair much stronger claim to the gratito them. On his arrival, they pro-tude of his children than they are posed to him the most extravagant often willing to admit, and as this terms, as a sort of atonement, to prince had proved himself a fond which he indignantly objected, and, and indulgent father, he seemed to knowing that time had now weak- have stronger claims to their dutiful ened the impressions of horror which returns; instead of which, he had at first occupied the minds of his not only to feel “ how sharper than subjects, he talked of proceeding a serpent's tooth it is to have a again to Ireland, in defiance of their thankless child,” but to see his sons As policy was equally rebelling against him.
Young the motive of these delegates, find- Henry, at the instigation of his faing that so long delay had rendered ther-in-law, the king of France, dethe spiritual weapons less formida- manded the dutchy of Normandy, ble, they soon lowered their de- while Geoffrey and Richard, by the mands, nd Henry, according to advice of their mother, claimed prethe conditions at length agreed on, sent possession of the territories apswore before the reliques of the pointed them at their father's death. saints, that far from wishing the The afflicted father, contrary to his death of the celebrated prelate, he real interest, that he might adopt was greatly grieved at receiving the the most lenient measures, applied intelligence of it, but, as the ebulli- to the pope to interpose his authotions of passion might have been the rity, and reduce to obedience his occasion of it, he would pardon all undutiful children, and their cruel Becket's exiled adherents, allow advisers, who, pleased with so me their return, and restore to them ritorious a cause of interference, their livings; he would reinstate the issued his bulls accordingly; but sce of Canterbury in its former pri- the king had he mortification to vileges; he would pay the templars witness the gross hypocrisy of the for the maintenance of 200 knights priests, who were quite indifferent for a year in the holy land ; that he to enforcing punishments where would bimself take the cross on the their own interest was so little cop.
cerned; and he was obliged, after man guilty of murder was merely all, to have recourse to arms. His degraded; and the murderer of a encmies, considering his continental priest, only incurred excommunidominions most vulnerable, com- cation and censure, and for so monmenced their hostilities on the fron- strous a crime he could atone by tiers of Normandy, but, repairing penance : hence, notwithstanding all to the points of attack, he soon the anathemas of the pope, and the dispersed his foes. In the mean bumiliation of the king, the actual time, the turbulent barons, tired of murderers of Becket remained unhis strict discipline, promoted dis- molested; and it was not till they order at home; to which the king found themselves shunned by their of Scotland contributed by making neighbours as excommunicated perinroads in the north with 20,000 sons, that they thought of a visit to men. Henry, therefore, found his Rome to submit themselves to the presence necessary in England, and pope and to perform the penance that he might avail himself of every he might impose on them: having circumstance that could contribute observed these ceremonies, they reto his success, he determined to turned to their country, and enjoyturn their superstition to account, ed the good-will of all who surby gratifying it. After landing at rounded them. Southampton, he repaired imme- The commotions of Henry's reign, diately to Becket's shrine. He arising from the undutiful behaviour dismounted coming within of his children and the jealousy and sight of Canterbury church, and envy of foreign princes, were the proceeded to it barefoot, he pros- causes of the infelicity of his latter trated himself before the tomb, years, prevented him from entering which he continued to watch for a warmly into a crusade, to which he day and night; nor did this degra- was much inclined, and indeed ac dation suffice, he actually unclothed celerated his death; for the conhimself and presented his naked tinued rebellious conduct of Richard, shoulders to the discipline of a chap- after the death of young Henry, so ter of mouks, who successively in- greatly affected the king, that it flicted stripes with a scourge which threw him into a fever of which he he had previously given to each of died, on the 6th of July, 1189. them. The following day he re- The review of ecclesiastical tyceived absolution, which, as it had ranny, the worst, because the most been before granted, one should awful kind of tyranny, should lead have expected it would have been us to dwell thankfully on our distinneedless to repeat, especially as guished privileges, and to exert our they deemed the sovereign pontiff warmest zeal for the instruction of infallible. Intelligence was speedi- those benighted countries, that still ly reccived that the invading Scots groan under the yoke of papal superwere completely defeated, which, stition, which, however controlled by as it was said to have happened on power, or modified by circumstances, the day of his absolution, could not is the same yoke still, and especially be regarded otherwise than as a most should it lead us to employ our every conspicuous sign of the favour the talent for the improvement of that king had procured with the saint neglected country Ireland, which has and with heaven: nor was he at all such strong claims to our regards, displeased with the compliment, Is it true that our forefathers introbut often seemed to pride bimself duced this enslaving superstition in the supposed friendship of the there, and has its baneful effects deecased.
continued to delude our brethren, Most strange and inconsistent its inhabitants, until now? Justice were the laws that now regulated then demands that we now do our the conduct of the clergy and the utmost to give them those advanJaity towards each other, such in- tages that we have long possessed, deed as would be disgraceful to Happily, societies formed for this any state that professed the least glorious purpose now invite even regard to christianity. A clergy- youthful co-operation.
H. S. A,
REV. JAMES WILLIAMS. Horsely,in Gloucestershire, preached
to the people. It pleased the Lord
of the harvest to bless his labours On the 22d of January, 1818, died at home, and also in many dark the Rev. James Williams, for nearly corners in the surrounding country, twenty years pastor of the Baptist where he endeavoured to introduce Church at Kingstanley, in Glouces- the gospel of the kingdom," nametershire. He was born in the year ly, the Lays, on the banks of Wye, 1759, at Moulton, in Glamorgan- Goodridge, Walford, Wilton, Bayley, shire. He was brought up by his the steel works, and numerous other parents in the fear of God; and their places. instructions, in connection with the It was his felicity to meet with means of grace, with which he was a partner in life,exemplary for piety blessed from his infancy, terminated and affection, who still lives to under the divine influence of the mourn his loss, together with six Holy Spirit, in his real conversion children, which providence had left to God. In the 18th year of his age, him ont of a family of ten, who teshe gave himself, like the primitive tify, of him, that he possessed, in an believers, to the Lord, and to his eminent degree, the heart of an church, by a public profession, and amiable and affectionate husband, was baptized by the Rev. David father, and friend. We may here Jones, of Pontypool, in the river notice, that the Rev. W. Bradley, Lay, near Perstone-bridge. Feel- whose obituary appeared in the ing his mind powerfully inclining Magazine for March last, was baphim to the ministry of the word, he tized by him, and he also officiated evidently wished to consecrate bim- at bis ordination at Coleford. self to the work of the Lord, and He continued at Ryford till the with this view, with previous deli- close of 1800, when he removed to beration, and the advice of a num- Kingstanley; and although it was a ber of his religious friends, whose great trial to him to leave his friends opinion he consulted, he preached at Ryford, yet he had no wish nearer his first sermon at Lantridid, to a his heart than the advancement of pretty numerous congregation of the Redeemer's kingdom, and therepoor people, from Matt. xxiv. 14, fore counted all things but dross “And this gospel of the kingdom that he might follow the leadings shall be preached in all the world of his Divine hand. It was his refor a testimony unto all nations; gular custom for some time previous and then shall the end come.” to the removal of his family, to walk
In 1781 he was received into the from Ross to Stanley, a distance of Academy at Bristol, where he pur- twenty-three miles, on the Saturday, sued his academical studies with and return on the Monday. avidity and exemplary steadiness, The church at Kingstanley conunder the late Dr. Evans and J. sisted of only four members when Newton, till May 1785, at which Mr. W. took the charge thereof, țime he removed to Ross, in Here-, since which period about one hunfordshire, and having accepted the dred have been added. unanimous call of the church at Although he laboured under great Ryford, he was ordained on the 14th difficulties here, still the hand of the of September, in the same year. Lord was with him, and he received The Rev. Dr. Evans gave the charge, strength equal to his day. He and his most intimate friend, the laboured much in the surrounding Rev. Benjamin Francis, lato of villages, preaching alternately on