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[276] him for disobedience. He commended to the waver-
Chap. VIII.}
ing emperor the English sovereign as a model for soundness of belief, and anathematized him only for contumacy.1 It was Henry's pride to defy the authority of the Roman bishop, and yet to enforce the doctrines of the Roman church. He was as tenacious of his reputation for Catholic orthodoxy, as of his claim to spiritual dominion. He disdained submission, and detested heresy.

Nor was Henry VIII. slow to sustain his new prerogatives. He rejected the advice of the commons, as of ‘brutes and inexpert folks,’ of men as unfit to advise him as ‘blind men are to judge of colors.’2 According to ancient usage, no sentence of death, awarded by the ecclesiastical courts, could be carried into effect, until a writ had been obtained from the king. The regulation had been adopted in a spirit of mercy, securing to the temporal authorities the power of restraining persecution.3 The heretic might appeal from the atrocity of the priest to the mercy of the sovereign. But now, what hope could remain, when the two authorities were united; and the law, which had been enacted as a protection of the subject, was become the powerful instrument of tyranny! The establishment of the English church under the king, was inexorably sustained. No virtue, no eminence, conferred security. Not the forms of worship merely, but the minds of men, were declared subordinate to the government; faith, not less than ceremony, was to vary with the acts of parliament. Death was denounced against the Catholic who denied the king's supremacy, and the Protestant who doubted his creed.

1 Fra Paolo, i. 82.

2 Herbert's Henry VIII., 418, 419.

3 Neal's Puritans, i. 55.

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