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men has often led them to do what is positively wicked. It led Herod to murder, when he cut off the head of John the Baptist "for his oath's sake;" and it led Saul of Tarsus to be "a persecutor and injurious," when he was thinking that he "did God service" by committing the Christians to prison. So then, you see, it comes to this:-We are in ourselves ignorant, and unable to judge or to act rightly, and our very conscience, being corrupt, is not to be trusted for guidance. But we have ample means of learning the truth, and an unfailing guide in the word of God, which is able to direct us in our perplexities; and the Spirit of God is ready to enlighten our conscience, if we ask Him to give us wisdom, and "a right judgment in all things." And therefore, if we remain ignorant, the fault is our own, because we will not be instructed; and if our conscience leads us astray, the fault is our own too, because we have not sought to have it set right. So that, we must not, we cannot, plead in excuse for our conduct, that we did not know, or that we could not ascertain, what was really the truth, and which was the proper path for us to pursue. And so, to return to Sir Thomas More ;—while we admire and love what there was in him great and amiable, we must pity in him that conscience which was so blind and ignorant;
and lament that he did not seek, as he might and should have done, to have it enlightened and instructed according to the word of God, which he so sadly and violently opposed.
Sir Thomas More was a great favourite with the king. Sometimes Henry would honour him with a visit at Chelsea; and very frequently Sir Thomas was invited to the palace, to entertain the king and his company with his wit and amusing conversation, when he would far rather have stayed at home quietly with his family. All this, however, did not deceive More as to the character of Henry. He well knew how unstable and capricious he was; and one day, when he was congratulated by his son-in-law on the favour he enjoyed with the king, he replied, "I find his grace my very good lord indeed, and I believe he doth as singularly favour me as any subject within the realm. However, son Roper, I may tell thee, I have no cause to be proud thereof; for if my head would win him a castle in France, it should not fail to go."
The time came when the truth of these words was proved. On the fall of Wolsey, More was appointed, as you remember, to succeed him as chancellor; but this honour he did not long retain. More differed from Henry on the grand subject of the divorce; and he felt that he could not remain in a
situation in which his opinion respecting it would continually be asked, without either saying what he did not feel, or else displeasing the king by speaking his mind. More was, as I said before, a very sincere and truthful man; and so he deemed it best to resign the office of chancellor altogether. But even this did not secure him. There was another point of disagreement, the act of supremacy. More would not allow the king to be supreme head of the church, it was contrary to his principles to do so; and this it was that led to his disgrace, his imprisonment, and, at last, his
After a year's confinement, More was brought out to take his trial; he was found guilty, and condemned to suffer as a traitor. As he was re-conducted to the Tower, after this unjust and cruel sentence had been pronounced, strongly guarded, and the axe, by which he was to suffer, carried before him, his beloved daughter, Margaret Roper, rushed through the crowd, amongst whom she had long been waiting to see him pass, and ran to embrace her father. She could only cry, "O my father, my father!" More, much affected, gave her his blessing, and then the mournful procession moved on.
More was visited in prison by his family
nds, and they were all astonished to
see how composed and even cheerful he was to the very day of his execution. That fatal day came at last; he was conducted to Tower Hill, where the scaffold was erected, and after a few moments spent in prayer, he bade the executioner do his office without fear; and then, saying he had committed no treason, he calmly submitted to the fatal blow. For fourteen days, his head remained exposed to public view on London Bridge, and then Margaret Roper contrived to have it conveyed secretly away. She carefully preserved it in a leaden box during her life; and when she died, it was placed, as she had desired, in her arms, and buried with her in St. Dunstan's Church, in Canterbury. This celebrated lady was esteemed as a dutiful and affectionate daughter, and a kind and devoted wife; and she was distinguished also for her literary talent and acquirements; she wrote several learned books, and corresponded with some of the most clever and remarkable men of the time in which she lived.
Sir Thomas More was not the only person who suffered for denying the king's supremacy. Fisher, bishop of Rochester, had been beheaded for the same cause only a short time before. Many indeed were the executions which took place during this reign, in consequence of the king's caprice and violent pas
sions. I have already told you, that his own queens felt the force of his tyrannical disposition. He was married no fewer than six times. You have already heard of his heartless conduct towards poor Catherine of Arragon;-his second wife, Anne Boleyn, met with a fate still more dreadful. After two years, she was accused of crimes of which she was probably never guilty, condemned, and beheaded. She left one daughter named Elizabeth, of whom we shall hear a great deal hereafter. Henry had another older daughter called Mary, the child of the unfortunate Catherine of Arragon; and of her too we shall have much to say by and bye. The third queen was Jane Seymour, who died soon after the birth of her son Edward, Henry's successor. Then came Anne
of Cleves, whom Henry divorced; and after her, Catherine Howard, who, like Anne Boleyn, ended her life upon the scaffold. Henry's sixth and last wife was Catherine Parr, a most amiable and excellent woman, who survived the king. She was much attached to the doctrines of the Reformation, and once so excited Henry's displeasure on that account, as to be in danger of falling a sacrifice to her opinions, and to his passion; but she happily contrived, by her cleverness and good humour, to turn away his anger, and to regain his