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[277] Had Luther been an Englishman, he might have per-
Chap VIII.}
ished by fire.1 In the latter part of his life, Henry revoked the general permission of reading the Scriptures, and limited the privilege to merchants and nobles. He always adhered to his old religion;2 he believed its most extravagant doctrines to the last, and died in the Roman, rather than in the Protestant faith.3 But the awakening intelligence of a great nation could not be terrified into a passive lethargy. The environs of the court displayed no resistance to the capricious monarch; a subservient parliament yielded him absolute authority in religion;4 but the advancing genius of the age, even though it sometimes faltered in its progress along untried paths, steadily demanded the emancipation of the public mind.

The accession of Edward VI. led the way to the

1547 Jan. 28.
establishment of Protestantism in England, and, at the same time, gave life to the germs of the difference which was eventually to divide the English. A change in the reformation had already been effected among the Swiss, and especially at Geneva. Luther had based his reform upon the sublime but simple truth which lies at the basis of morals—the paramount value of character and purity of conscience; the superiority of right dispositions over ceremonial exactness; or, as he expressed it, justification by faith alone. But he hesitated to deny the real presence, and was indifferent to the observance of external ceremonies. Calvin, with sterner dialectics, sanctioned by the influence of the purest life, and by his power as the ablest writer of his age, attacked the Roman doctrines

1 Turner's England, III. 140.

2 Ibid. II. 352.

3 Bossuet, Hist. des Variations, i. VIII. c. III. IV. and XXIV.—XL. Henry's Great Britain, XII p. 107.

4 37 Henry VIII., c. XVII Statutes, III. 1009.

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