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XXV. THE DAYS OF REFORMATION.

"A.D. 1509–1536.

Oh! how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favours !
There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
Morc pangs and fears than wars or women have;
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.-SHAKESPEARE.

HENRY VII. was succeeded by his son Henry, who was not more than eighteen years of

age when he began to reign. The question of succession now seemed to be quite settled ; so young Henry met with no opposition in coming to the throne ; and as he was very handsome and agreeable, he soon became a great favourite with the people. He had superior abilities too, and a good share of learning, and altogether there appeared to be every hope of a happy and prosperous reign.

In the early part of the reign of Henry VIII, some victories were gained over the French, and also over the Scotch. The king of Scot

land at that time was James IV, and he had been married to Margaret sister of Henry VIII. James was killed at the battle of Flodden-field, while fighting against the English, and Margaret was left a widow with an infant son, of whom we shall bear again as king James V. Henry did not take any undue advantage of his victory at Flodden-field; but granted peace to the Scotch immediately, and treated his sister and his little nephew with great kindness and compassion.

There were, at this time, three young and powerful monarchs in Europe, who seemed likely to become rivals in their struggles for dominion. These were Charles V., Emperor of Germany, Francis I. of France, and Henry VIII. king of England. Henry was likely to prove the most powerful of the three, and Francis thought it would be a wise scheme to get him on his side, in order that he might have the advantage of his assistance in case any dispute should arise between himself and Charles. So Francis wrote to Henry requesting an interview; and Henry consented to meet him at Calais. Never was a more splendid assemblage of persons collected together, nor a more magnificent entertainment provided than on this occasion. Henry went over to France with his whole court; and the meeting between the two kings took place in some fields in that part of Normandy which still belonged to the English. The company and the decorations were so bright and sparkling, that the spot was named in consequence, “ The field of the cloth of gold.” Henry and Francis spent some days together in feasting and diversions; and then they parted, full of confidence in one another's friendship and good-will.

In a few months however, a change took place in the feelings of both parties. Henry made an alliance with Charles, and declared war against France; and Francis, having been defeated by the Emperor, was taken prisoner ; and then Henry began to fear that Charles would grow too strong; so he took part again with the French king, that their united force might be able to keep down the rising power of Charles. All these plans and negociations were formed by Henry, not from any feelings of friendship to Francis, but in order to gratify his own ambition by increasing his greatness and authority. As, however, I do not think these matters will interest you particularly, we will leave them for the present, and go to a subject of much more real importance.

You remember I told you, at the close of our last chapter, that we were just coming to that period which is called the time of the

Reformation. Now in order that you may understand what this means, and what particular work was then accomplished, I must wander a little from our native land, and tell you something of what was going on, about this period, in other countries in Europe.

You have frequently heard of the Popes of Rome, and of the power and authority which each of them claimed as the acknowledged head of the church. This power had been gradually increasing for many centuries, and at the time of which we are speaking, it had attained to a very great height indeed. You are acquainted too, with some of the errors of the Romish system, as they were held and taught by the Pope and the Roman Catholic clergy; such as the worship of saints and images, the doctrine of Transubstantiation, of the sacrifice of the mass, of purgatory,—and particularly that which declares that men are justified not by simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, as we believe in accordance with scripture, but by a number of so called good works, or meritorious actions, in addition, Such are some of the errors and false doctrines connected with the Romish system, and they were generally held in those days throughout Europe. And as false doctrine necessarily leads to wrong practice, so it was then. Wickedness, as well as error,

abounded even among

the ministers of religion, whose duty it was to set an example of holiness in their lives, as well as to preach the truth from their pulpits. The Romish priests seldom did either. There might indeed have been, and no doubt there were, some among the people, who, notwithstanding much ignorance and error, conscientiously desired and endeavoured to do right, and gladly would they have received the knowledge of the gospel to enlighten their minds, and enable them to walk in the safe path, the path of truth and holiness. But the Bible was still a forbidden book; and those were in danger of persecution, and even of death, who attempted to read it, or who ventured to profess those scriptural truths, which, you remember, Wickliffe in England, and others in different countries, had published, and for which some had actually suffered martyrdom. But, as I told you before, this sad state of things was soon to pass away, and preparations for the change had, in the good providence of God, already been made.

There was living at this time, in a monastery in Germany, a monk named Martin Luther. He had been brought up, like others, in ignorance of the Bible, and in the belief of all those errors of which we have been speaking: But there was in bis mind an earnest desire after truth ; and this truth he sought

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