Изображения страниц

said, to hear of the early death of our young king Edward VI. Yes, just when he was approaching manhood, -just when he was giving so much promise for the future,-just then he sickened. He did not die suddenly ; but every day he grew weaker, and those who anxiously watched him, saw, with deep, deep sorrow, that their beloved sovereign was gradually sinking into the grave, and that his crown and his kingdom would shortly pass into other, perhaps into very different hands Edward bad no fear with regard to himself. He had long learnt to look forward to death as a far happier event for him, than any that he could expect in this world; and so there was no need, as in his poor father's case, to keep from him the solemn truth-that soon he must die. And yet, as young Edward lay musing on his sick-bed, there was one thought connected with his death, which was painful and distressing to him ; for it had to do not with himself, but with his country; this was the recollection, that the next heir to the throne was his elder sister Mary, who was a rigid Roman Catholic, and would think it right, in her mistaken zeal, to persecute those who differed from her in religion, and to set up Popery once again in the land. No wonder that a thought like this should sadden the mind of the dying Edward.

One day, when the young king had been expressing his feelings on this subjeet to the Duke of Northumberland, the Duke who was a designing man, and one who acted only upon self-interested and ambitious principles, proposed a plan which might, he said, prevent the consequences which Edward so much dreaded. This plan was, to settle the crown upon Lady Jane Grey, a cousin of the king, who was as much attached to the doctrines of the Reformation as himself, and who would carry out with all her heart what he had so well begun. Lady Jane Grey had lately married Lord Guildford Dudley, a son of the Duke of Northumberland; and so the ambition of the Duke would be gratified, if he could only succeed in persuading Edward to acquiesce in this scheme. There were however some difficulties in the way, as Mary was the acknowledged heir to the throne, and her sister Elizabeth was living also. But then the Duke reminded Edward, that Mary was not eligible on account of the divorce of her mother, Catherine of Arragon; and that though her younger sister Elizabeth was a friend of the Reformation, yet the same objection might be made to her, because her mother, Anne Boleyn, had been disgraced likewise.

Edward was perhaps too ill to see through Northumberland's selfish motives, or accurately to weigh the difficulties of the ease. His heart was set upon one thing,--the progress of the truth,—and he eagerly caught at an idea which seemed to favour the grand object he had in view ; it was therefore no difficult matter to persuade him to act upon the arguments of the Duke of Northumberland, and to settle the crown upon Lady Jane Grey. So a paper, containing this alteration in the succession, was drawn up; and then Edward required his councillors to sign it. Only Cranmer hesitated; but the king entreated him so earnestly to add his name to those of the others, that the Archbishop was at last induced to comply.

During his illness, Edward often listened with great pleasure to the preaching of Dr. Ridley, an excellent man of whom we shall hear more by and bye. It happened one day that the good doctor said a great deal in his sermon about works of charity, and the necessity of them as the fruits and evidences of faith. The young king listened to this ex

. hortation very attentively ; his conscience was as tender as his zeal was earnest; it struck him that he had not been so active in the cause of charity as he ought to have been, so he desired, before he died, to do something which should be for the glory of God and the good of man.

He called Ridley therefore, and


[ocr errors]

begged him to direct and advise him as to what he should do. Ridley considered the matter a little, and then talked it over with the Lord Mayor and the aldermen of London ; and at last he proposed to the king three charitable objects, -an institution for the sick, another for the idle, and a third for the education of children. Edward was pleased with the proposal ; and he left accordingly a large sum of money to endow these three charities, --Bartholomew's Hospital, Bridewell Prison, and Christ's Hospital, or School, all which remain to this day in London,-useful and abiding memorials of the zeal and piety of this young king.

And now the time came for Edward to die. That time had been long expected, and earnestly desired by him ; and he was often heard praying that God would take him from this world of sin and misery, committing his happy soul into the hands of his heavenly Father. But he did not pray for himself only. No, Edward remembered his country, his kingdom, his subjects; and especially he prayed that God would be pleased to maintain His true religion among the people. His dying prayer was, “ O Lord, save England from Papistry, and maintain thy true religion.”

Tbus died this young king, when not quite sixteen years of age. May you learn from his

example, early and zealously to serve the God whom he served, and to labour for the good of others, as he laboured, both by his deeds, and words, and prayers; and then you will not have read in vain the story of our beloved, and ever-to-be-remembered, Edward VI!

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »