ly engaged in dispelling ancient superstitions, was still
fearful of the results of skeptical reform, and, in his opinions on heresy and its punishment, shared the unhappy error of his time.
, so far was the freedom of private inquiry from being recognized as a right, the means of
forming a judgment on religious subjects was denied.
The act of supremacy,1
which effectually severed the
English nation from the Roman
see, contained no clause favorable to religious liberty.
It was but a vindication of the sovereign franchise of the English
monarch against foreign interference; it did not aim at enfranchising the English church, far less the English
people, or the English
The king of England
became the pope in his own dominions; and heresy was still accounted the greatest of all crimes.2
The right of correcting errors of religious faith became, by the suffrage of parliament, a branch of the royal prerogative; and, as active minds among the people were continually proposing new schemes of doctrine, a statute, alike arrogant in its pretensions and vindictive in its menaces, was, after great opposition in parliament,3
enacted ‘for abolishing diversity of opinions.’4
All the Roman Catholic
doctrines were asserted, except the supremacy of Rome
The pope could praise Henry VIII.
for orthodoxy, while he excommunicated