206. QUALIFICATIONS OF THE ACT OF THE SIX ARTICLES.
During the time of these six articles aforesaid, which brought many good men unto death, yet so it happened by another contrary act, set forth before for the king's supremacy, (as ye have heard,) that the contrary sect also of the papists was not all in quiet. For, besides the death of More, and the bishop of Rochester, and the other Charterhouse monks, friars, and priests above specified, about this year, also, were condemned and executed by the same law two others, of whom one was a priest of Chelsea, named Lark, who was put to death at London for defending the bishop of Rome's supremacy above the king's authority: the other was Germain Gardiner, (near kinsman to Stephen Gardiner, and yet more near to his secret counsel, as it is supposed,) who, likewise, in practising for the pope against the king's jurisdiction, was taken with the manner, and so brought unto the gibbet.
Upon the detection of this Germain Gardiner, being secretary to Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, his kinsman, it seemed to some, and so was also insinuated unto the king not to be unlike, but that the said Germain neither would, nor durst, ever attempt any such matter of popery, without some setting on or consent of the bishop, he being so near unto him, and to all his secrets, as he was. Whereby the king began somewhat more to smell and misdoubt the doings of the bishop; but yet the more in number, as the others who deposed against bishop so covertly and clearly conveyed his matters, playing under the board, after his wonted fetches, in such sort that (I cannot tell how) he still kept in with the king, to the great inquietation of the public state of the realm, and especially of Christ's church.
In declaring the dreadful law, before set forth, of the six articles, which was A.D. 1540, ye heard what penalty was appointed for the breach of the same, in like case as in treason and felony; so that no remedy of any recantation would serve. This severity was a little mitigated by another parliament, holden afterwards, A.D. 1544, by which parliament it was decreed, that such offenders as were convicted in the said articles for the first time, should be admitted to recant and renounce their opinions. And if the party refused to recant in such form as should be laid unto him by his ordinary, or, after his recantation, if he eftsoons offended again, then, for the second time, he should be admitted to abjure and bear a faggot; which if he deny to do, or else, being abjured, if he the third time offended, then he to sustain punishment according to the law, &c. Although the straitness and rigour of the former act was thus somewhat tempered, as ye see, and reformed by this present parliament, yet, notwithstanding, the venom and poison of the errors and mischief of those articles remained still behind; not removed, but rather confirmed by this parliament aforesaid. By the which parliament, moreover, many things were provided for the advancement of popery, under the colour of religion; so that all manner of books of the Old and New Testament, bearing the name of William Tyndale, or any others, having prologues, or containing any matters, annotations, preambles, words, or sentences, contrary to the six articles, were debarred. In like manner all songs, plays, and interludes, with all other books in English, containing matter of religion tending any way against the said articles, were abolished.
In the which parliament, furthermore, it was provided, that the text of the New Testament, or of the Bible, being prohibited to all women, artificers, prentices, journeymen, servingmen, yeomen, husbandmen, and labourers; yet was permitted, notwithstanding, to noblemen, and gentlemen, and gentlewomen, to read and peruse, to their edifying, so that they did it quietly, without arguing, discussing, or expounding upon the Scripture.
Over and besides, whereas before, the offender or defendant might not be suffered to bring in any witnesses to purge and try himself, in this parliament it was permitted to the party detected or complained of, to try his cause by witnesses, as many, or more in number, as the others who deposed against him, &c.
After this parliament, moreover, followed another parliament, A.D. 1545, wherein other qualifications, more special, of the six articles were provided: that whereas before, the cruel statute of the six articles was so strait, that if any of the king's subjects had been complained of by any manner of person, as well being his enemy as otherwise, he should be indicted presently upon the same, without any further examination or knowledge given to the party so accused; and so thereupon to be attached, committed, and in fine to be condemned: it was, therefore, by this parliament provided, that all such presentments and indictments should not be brought before the commissioners, otherwise than by the oaths of twelve men, or more, of honesty and credit, without corruption or malice accordingly.
"Item, That no such indictments or presentments should be taken, but within one year of the offences committed; or else the said indictments to stand void in the law.
"Item, That no person accused upon any such offence against the six articles, should be attached, or committed to ward, before he were thereof indicted, unless by special warrant from the king.
"Item, By the authority of the said parliament, it was considered and enacted, that if any preacher or reader, for any word spoken, supposed to be against the six articles, should be accused, but not within the space of forty days of the said his reading or preaching, then the party accused to be acquitted.
"Item, That the justices or inquirers of such presentments should have full power to alter and reform all panels of inquiry returned before them, in like manner as the justices of peace may do in their sessions, upon any other inquiries.
"Item, That the party so accused or indicted, upon his trial, may have all manner of challenges, (peremptory only excepted,) as other persons arraigned for felony may have, by the laws of this realm."
By these qualifications and moderations of the six articles, it may appear that the king began somewhat to grow out of favour with Stephen Gardiner, and to descry his doings, whereby he was the more forward to incline somewhat in furthering the desolate cause of religion, as may appear both by these premises, and also by other provisions and determinations of the aforesaid parliament, A.D. 1545, wherein it was decreed by act of parliament, that the king should have full power and authority to appoint thirty-two persons; to wit, sixteen of the clergy, and sixteen of the temporalty, to peruse, oversee, and examine the canons, constitutions, and ordinances of the canon law, as well provincial as synodal; and so, according to their discretions, to set and establish an order of ecclesiastical laws, such as should be thought by the king and them convenient to be received and used within this realm: which statute, as it is most needful for the government of the Church of England, so, would God it had been brought to perfection!