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scene of polemical warfare; and the talents of mankind were monopolized by theological contention. The topics which now kindled the ardour of the most accomplished scholars, were, enquiries into tủe practices and maxims of the primitive ages; the nature of civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction; the authority of scripture and tradition; of popes, councils, and schoolmen--topics, which, from prejudice and passion, as well as from their want of philosophic habits of discussion, they were unable to treat with precision.
One of the first effects of the reformation was, that the revenues of the clergy were seized under pretence of zeal for religion. Even the students of the universities were deprived of their exhibitions and pensions; so that Roger Ascham complains, in a letter to the marquis of Northampton, dated 1550, that the grammar schools throughout England will be ruined; and that the universities themselves must speedily become extinct. At Oxford, both professors and pupils deserted the schools ; and academical degrees were abolished as antichristian. The reformers, not content with cleansing christianity from catholic corruptions, carried their absurd refinements so far as to
assert the inutility of all human learning; and thus reformation degenerated into fanaticism. In this enlightened spirit of innovation, these zealous advocates for apostolic simplicity and primitive ignorance, at a visitation of the university of Oxford, stripped the Humphredian library of all its books and MSS, many of which were utterly destroyed, and among the rest, a great number of classics, condemned as antichristian.
Yet, notwithstanding these untoward circumstances, the reformation was an event perhaps more auspicious to human improvement than any which adorns the annals of time. It produced, beyond all other causes that can be imagined, intellectual activity, the harbinger of free enquiry--the only sure cause of the progress of society. A change of manners in the church was the instantaneous result. The clergy, unable to prevail by force, were compelled to try argument; and their state of brutal ignorance vanished. The learned order of jesuits, who succeeded the friars as champions of the papal hierarchy, undoubtedly sprang from the reformation;
and thus Rome had once more its age of learning
This general state of intellectual excitement, however unfavourable, in the first instance, to that department of literature commonly stiled the Belles Lettres, was eventually conducive to the advancement of every kind of learning. The minds of men were awake and active ; and required only to be favoured by their political condition, to exert some of the highest efforts of intellect. Of this remark we shall have ample proof when we come to the reign of Elizabeth.
A most determined enemy to the reformation, was Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, and chancellor of England, born about 1483, at Bury St. Edmund's, in Suffolk. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he distinguished himself by his knowledge of Greek, for his promptitude in writing and speaking Latin, and for his talents in general. He subsequently confined his studies almost exclusively to the civil and canon law, in which sciences he took the degree of doctor in 1521. His reputation at the university recommended him to the notice of the duke of Norfolk, and particularly to Cardinal Wolsey, who took him into his house. From this situation he gradually rose to the high station which he ultimately filled. In 1531, he was consecrated bishop of Winchester. On the disgrace of Cromwell he was elected chancellor of the university of Cambridge; and on the accession of queen Mary, in 1553, was declared chancellor of England. He died in 1555.
Gardiner, from his talents, his age, and authority, was the most formidable opposer of the reformation. He was willing to submit to the ecclesiastical model established by Henry VIII. whose wisdom and learning he was forward to extol; but was afraid to allow, and therefore strenuously opposed all further innovation. The attack on the popish superstitions was now begun by the protestants from various quarters. Ridley, bishop of London, afterwards fellow martyr with Latimer, in a sermon preached before the court at the commencement of this reign, boldly attacked the use of images and holy water; superstitions which were defended by, Gardiner, in a letter written to Ridley in consequence of that sermon. I shall extract certain parts of this long letter as a specimen of the bishop's manner, as likewise, of the opinions common in that age. The letter is preserved in Foxe's Acts and Moa numents, and is by no means marked by that absurdity, which the nature of the subject. would seem to indicate,
Master Ridley, after right hearty commendations, it chanced me upon Wednesday last past, to be pre