Publisher: Philadelphia : American Ecclesiastical Review
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Edition description: Digitized from 1906 volume
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IV. LINACRE: SCHOLAR, PHYSICIAN, PRIEST. NOT long ago, in one of his piquant little essays, Mr. Augustine Birrell discussed the question as to what really happened at the time of the so-called Reformation in England. There is much more doubt with regard to this matter, even in the minds of non-Catholics, than is usually suspected. Mr. Birrell seems to have considered it one of the most important problems, and at the same time not by any means the least intricate one, in modern English history. The so-called High Church people emphatically insist that there is no break in the continuity of the Church of England, and that the modern Anglicanism is a direct descendant of the old British Church. They reject with scorn the idea that it was the Lutheran movement on the Continent which brought about the changes in the Anglican Church at that time. Protestantism did not come into England for a considerable period after the change in the constitution of the Anglican Church, and when it did come its tendencies were quite as subversal of the authority of the Anglican as of the Roman Church. Protestantism is the mother of Nonconformism in England. It can be seen, then, that the question as to what did really take place in the time of Henry VIII and of Edward VI is still open. It has seemed to me that no little light on this vexed historical question will be thrown by a careful study of the life of Dr. Linacre, who, besides being the best known physician of his time in England, was the greatest scholar of the English Renaissance period, yet had all his life been on very intimate terms with the ecclesiastical authorities, and eventually gave up his honors, his fortune, and his profession tobecome a simple priest of the old English Church. Considering the usually accepted notions as to...