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thanked God for converting him from heresy ; spoke to him of the hope of Heaven, and promised that masses should be offered for the good of his soul after death. As Cranmer listened to all this he became deeply affected, even to tears ;-tears they were of real heartfelt repentance. At last the sermon ended, and he was called upon to speak. He began with a prayer full of self-condemnation, in which he earnestly entreated pardon for the grievous offence he had committed ; then he exhorted the people to obedience and holiness of life, and lastly he confessed to all present the sin which the hope of life had tempted him to commit, in denying the truths which his heart believed ; and expressed his firm adherence to all the reformed doctrines he had formerly professed. And then, holding out his right hand,—that hand with which he had signed the paper containing his recantation, he exclaimed, “ This hand hath offended, and therefore it sball first suffer in the fire ; oh, this unworthy hand!”
The confession which Cranmer made, greatly surprised the hearers, and it enraged them too. They would listen to no more, but hurried him away to the place of execution. There they reproached and reviled him, and said all they could to disturb his mind; but he made them no answer,-his thoughts were turned upon God, and he found peace in Him. When the fire was kindled, he thrust his right hand into the flame, as he had declared he would do, and holding it there till it was consumed. cried again and again, “Oh, this hand, this unworthy hand, this unworthy hand!”
Such was the death of Archbishop Cranmer, one of the greatest friends the Reformation ever had. There might have been some things in him which prevent us from admiring his character so much as that of others of our Reformers. He did not at all times show the constancy of Rogers, and Hooper, and Latimer, and Ridley; and this teaches us how weak even the best men are in themselves, and how needful it is for them to seek divine help, especially in seasons of temptation and danger. And we see too from history, how powerful the grace of God is, and how it can strengthen the weak, and give them courage and fortitude to bear suffering, and even death itself,—such a death as that of Cranmer.
But we must now end this chapter of martyrdoms, and with it close the reign of the unhappy Queen who was their chief cause. I have not much more to tell you of her, nor of the other events which took place during her reign. Towards the close of her life, she was much distressed by the ill-success of a war with France, in which Calais was lost, her last remaining possession in that country. You have not forgotten, I hope, in whose reign Calais had been taken by the English, and the remarkable circumstances connected with the siege. But long as it had been in the possession of this country, Calais was now lost ; and this so preyed upon Mary's mind, that she never recovered from the effects of her grief. Indeed she must have had much to make her unhappy; and little, very little, to comfort her when she lay sick and dying. She had few friends to love her, or to lament her death. Her natural disposition seems to have been unamiable, and she never learnt, under the influence of real religion, to become gentle, and kind, and forbearing. The faith in which she had been brought up, and in which she continued all her life, had taught her to believe, that those acts of cruelty which she committed were acts right in themselves, and necessary for the restoration of that religion which she considered to be the only true one. Her belief that they were so, cannot indeed excuse her conduct; for, as I told you not long ago, it is our duty to get our consciences enlightened, and rightly informed, in order that they may not lead us astray. This was a duty which Mary neglected, and dread
ful were the consequences of such neglect both to herself and others.
And now there are one or two lessons I wish you to learn from this part of our history. In the first place, we see from it how very dangerous is the tendency of the Romish religion. What a dreadful amount of suffering and death did it occasion in the course of one short reign! And it is iniportant for notice that this is, in fact, the natural tendency of the Popish system. The great end the church of Rome has in view, is the extension of her own power and authority, by bringing people into her communion; and if this cannot be effected by mild means,-by persuasions and allurements,--she considers it quite lawful to employ severity,-- persecution, and even death itself,—to accomplish her purposes, when it is possible and expedient
Now you know enough of the doctrines of this church, to see that it contains a great deal of most dangerous error; and so indeed must every system of religion which does not draw the rule of its faith from the word of God alone, and order its practice in accordance with Scripture truth. Oh, then, be thankful for that pure religion which you have learnt from the Bible ; love and study that Bible more and more, and strive really to understand its sacred doctrines, and to live in obedience to its commands.
to do so.
But then I must not forget to give you a necessary caution here, while we are talking on the subject of Popery. When we read of such a reign as Mary's, and the account of the sufferings of so many good and holy men, we are apt sometimes to feel
and to express a great deal of indignation against those who persecuted and killed them. Now this is not a right feeling. We should always carefully distinguish between principles and persons, between error, and those who hold error. We cannot be too strongly opposed to sin and error, of all kinds ;- it is well that we should
But then, we should cherish very different feelings towards the persons who are under their influence. For them we should show pity, not anger. We may blame their conduct indeed, but we should mourn over and pray for them. This is the spirit of the gospel; and if we act and feel differently, we act and feel unworthily of that religion of love which it is our privilege and happiness to profess. Let us always bear in mind the exhortation of Christ Himself ;—“Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persccute you."