Page images
PDF
EPUB

are præengaged to transact,) being provoked by the perverse importunity of such addresses, permits them, in displeasure, to the sway of their own inordinate passions, and to prosper in the irregular pursuit of them, this is presently interpreted to be God's gracious return unto their prayers, and his casting voice, (the intimation of bis secret beneplaciture,) for the determination of their will to this choice of their very rebellion against him, and consequently it hath, as is pretended, his unquestionable approbation,

“ When Balaam, upon Balak's invitation of him to curse Israel, consulted the Lord first about that message and expedie tion, he gave him a clear and peremptory signification of his will and pleasure. Thou shalt not go with them, thou shalt not curse the people : for they are blessed. (Num. xxii, 12.) But Balaam, upon a new and more urgent invitation, seeks God again, that he may yet obtain leave to gratify his avarice and ambition. Almighty God, provoked with the perversity of this solicitation, perinits him to his own lust; and upon this, (which was but an instance of God's indignation against him, that he was not satisfied with his express command at first,) without doubt Balaam would have concluded, that God had now infallibly determined and actually sent him, had he not been rebuked for his iniquity by a miracle: Bul the dumb uss speaking with man's voice, forbad The madness of the Prophet. (2. Pet. ii, 16.) What practices have been suggested and put in execution at Munster, &c. upon a persuasion of such an irresistible determination? and what work that opinion may yet help to make in other parts of Christendom, if not timely prevented, is easy to foresee without a spirit of divination.”

Other eloquent and decided testimonies against this perversion of Christianity, by pretended inspirations, might be adduced: But it becomes necessary to connect Dr. Twisse with the transactions which have now been briefly recounted, and with those which followed. This connection will be traced, in a manner at once the most concise and authentic, by the following quotations from Dr. Heylin, who having narrated some of the mal-practices of the Calvinists, to which allusion has already been made, proceeds thus: “ Such were the fortunes and successes of the Presbyterians in the rest of Christendom, during the last ten years of the reign of King James and the beginnings of King Charles. By which both kings might see how unsafe they were, if men of such pragmatical spirits and seditious principles should get ground upon them. But King James had so far supported them in the Belgick provinces, that his own Calvinists presumed on the like indulgence ;* which prompted them to set

. It was a most unfortunate circumstance for King Charles, that his royal father had been such an injudicious author. Who would ever have expected to find the following passage in King James's Defence of the Right

wng Charles, that his

expected to find the follsuch an injudicious author

nought by his proclamations, to vilify bis instructions, and des. pise his messages. Finally, they made trial of his patience also, by setting up one Knight, of Broadgates, (now called Pembroke College,) to preach upon the power of such popular officers as Calvin thinks to be ordained by Almighty God, for curbing

of Kings, in answer to Cardinal Person ?-«It is moreover granted, if a King shall command any thing directly contrary to God's word, and tending to the subverting of the Church, that clerics in this case ought not only to dispense with subjects for their obedience, but also expressly to forbid their obedience : For it is always better to obey God that man. How beit, in all other matters, whereby the glory and majesty of God is not impeached or impaired, it is the duty of clerics to ply the people with wholesome exbortation to constant obedience, and to avert by earnest dissuasions the said people from tumultuous revolt and seditious insurrection."

This doctrine had a Calvinian origin; and it was applied by the Calvinists to their seditious purposes in France, and several years afterwards in Eogland. In both kingdoms they easily shewed, that their sovereigns had “ commanded things directly contrary to God's word, [that is, as that word was interpreted by themselves,] and tending to the subverting of the Church;" and, for these alleged offences against the prosperity of the Calvinistic Churches, Archbishop Laud and his Royal Master were finally condemned to die ou a scaffold.

It was also most unfortunate for this monarch, that, in the Basilicon Doron, which bad been published early in the reign of King James and was among certain classes for above twenty years a subject of public animadversion, the latter bequeathed to bis successor all his hereditary antipathies to the Puritans and Presbyterians, in form following : “ Yet for all their cunning, whereby they pretended to distinguish the lawfulness of the office from the vice of ihe person, some of them would sometimes snapper out well grossly with the truth of their intentions, informing the people that all kings and princes were naturally enemies to the liberty of the Church, and could

never patiently bear the yoke of Christ :' With such sound doctrine fed they their flocks! And because the learned, grave, and honest men of the ministry were ever asbamed and offended with their temerity and presumption, pressing by all good means, by their authority and example, to reduce them to a greater moderation, there could be no way found out so meet, in their conceit that were turbulent spirits among them, for maintaining their plots, as PARITY IN THE CHURCH: Whereby the ignorants were emboldeued to cry the learned, godly, and modest out of it: PARITY, the mother of confusion, and enemy to unity which is the mother of order! For if, by the example thereof once established in the ecclesiastical government, the politic and civil estate should be drawn to the like, the great confusion that thereupon would arise may easily be discerned. --Take heed therefore, my son, to such PURITANS, very pests in the Church and Commou-weal, whom nu deserts cap oblige, neither oaths or promises bind, breathing nothing but sedition and calumnies, aspiring without measure, railing without reason, and making their own imaginations (without any warrant of the word, the square of their conscience. I protest before the great God, (ard, since I am here as upon my Testament, it is no place for me to lie in,) that ye shall never find with any Highland or Border thieves greater ingratitude and more lies and vile perjuries, than with these FANATIC SPIRITS! And suffer not the principals of them to brook your land, if ye like to sit at rest; except ye would keep them for trying your patience, as Socrates did an evil wife."

The Puritans and Presbyterian's treasured up this offensive character in their memories, and visited upon the son the transgressions of the father. The vanity of King James, and his ambition to be distinguished as a literary man, made him reckless of consequences; but his recorded opinions on tbis subject, though qualified in the preface to some subsequent editions, were highly detrimental to the interests of King Charles in the subsequent troubles.

and restraining the power of Kings.* In which, though Knight himself was censured, the doctrines solemnly condemned, and execution done upon a book of Paræus, which had misguided the unfortunate and ignorant man; yet the Calvinians most tenaciously adhered to their master's tendries, with an intent to bring them into use and practice when occasion served. So that King James, with all his king-craft, could find no better way to suppress their insolencies, than by turning Mountagu upon them ; a man of mighty parts, and an undaunted spirit; and one who knew, as well as any, how to discriminate the doctrines of the Church of England, from those which were peculiar to the sect of Calvin. By which he galled and gagged them more than his Popish adversary; but raised thereby so many pens against himself, that he might seem to have succeeded in the state of Ismael.

“ In this conjuncture of affairs, King James departs this life, and King Charles succeeds ;t who, to ingratiate himself with

* See an account of this, page 208. + The prosperous condition of England at that period is thus justly described in Lord Clarendon's Life, writteu by himself: “ England enjoyed the greatest measure of felicity, that it bad ever known; the two crowns of France and Spain worrying each other, by their mutual incursions and invasions ; whilst they had both a civil war in their own bowels; the former, by frequent rebellions from their own factions and animosities; the latter, by the defection of Portugal; and both laboured piore to ransack and burn each other's dominions, than to extinguish their own fire. All Germany weltering in its own blood ; and contributing to each other's destruction, that the poor crown of Sweden might grow great out of their ruins, and at their charge; Denmark and Poland being adventurers in tbe same destructive enterprizes. Holland and the United Provinces, wearied and tired with their long and chargeable war, how prosperous soever they were in it; and beginning to be more afraid of Frauce their ally, than of Spain their enemy. Italy, every year infested by the arms of Spain and France ; which divided the princes thereof into the several factions.

“Of all the Princes of Europe, the King of England alone seemed to be seated upon that pleasant promontory, that might safely view the tragic sufferings of all his neighbours about him, without any other concernment, than what arose from his own princely heart, and christian compassion, to see such desolation wrought by ihe pride, and passion, and ambition of private persons, supported by princes who knew not what themselves would have. His three kingdoms flourishing in entire peace and universal plenty ; in danger of nothing but their own surfeits ; and his dominions every day enJarged, by sending out colonies upon large and fruitful plantations; his strong fleets cominanding all seas; and the numerous shipping of the nation bringing the trade of the world into his ports ; nor could it with unquestionable security be carried any whither else : And all these blessings enjoyed under a prince of the greaiest clemency and justice, and of the greatest piety and des ud the most indulgent to his subjects, and most solicitous for their happiness and prosperity.

O fortunati nimium, bona si sua norint!

“In this blessed conjuncture, when no other prince thought he wanted any thing, to compass what he most desired to be possessed of, but the affection and friendship of the King of England; a small, scarce discernible cloud arose in the North ; which was shortly after attended witb such a storm, that never gave over raging, till it had shaken and even rooted up the greatest

this powerful faction, had plunged his father in a war with the house of Austria, by which he was brought under the ne. cessity of calling parliaments, and gave those parliaments the courage to dispute his actions. For though they promised to stand to him with their lives and fortunes, in prosecution of that war; yet when they had engaged him in it, they would not part with any money to defray that charge, till they had stripped him of the richest jewels in the regal diadem. But he was much more punished in the consequence of his own example in aiding those of Rochelle against their King, whereby he trained up his own subjects in the school of rebellion, and taught them to confederate themselves with the Scots and Dutch, to seize upon his forts and castles, invade the patrimony of the church, and to make use of his revenue against himself. To such misfortunes many Princes do reduce themselves, when either they engage themselves to maintain a party, or govern not their actions by the rules of justice; but are directed by self-ends, or swayed by the corrupt affections of untrusty ministers.*

“ The Presbyterian-Scots, and the Puritan-English, were not so much discouraged by the ill successes of their brethren in France and Germany, as aniinated by the prosperous fortunes of their friends (the Calvinists] in Holland; who by rebellion were grown powerful ; and by rapine, wealthy; and by the reputation

[ocr errors]

and tallest Cedars of the three nations ; blasted all its beauty and fruitfulness; brougbt its strength to decay, and its glory to reproach, and almost to desolation ; by such a career and deluge of wickedness and rebellion, as, by not being enough foreseen, or, in truth, suspected, could not be prevented.

• Dr. Heylin has been called, by his enemies," a favourer of absolute power," &c. Yet what writer of that age has pointed out with equal clearness the political errors of two sovereigns for whom he entertained the highest regard? The state of the British Constitution

on must likewise taken into the account, when we venture to object against some of the sentiments which are bere avowed. The well-defined jurisdiction and nicelybalanced power of the several branches of the legislature, now the boast of this country and the admiration of the civilized world, had at that period no existence.

It is remarkable, that the English soldiers who had assisted the Dutch in the recovery of their liberty, and had garrisoned those fortified places in the Low Countries which this country retained as pledges for monies advanced, were almost without exception, after their return, republican in their political principles, and inclined on religious subjects to Presbyterianism or Independency: This partial feeling of alienation from the institutions of their own country, was not without its effects in the subsequent troubles. The generous interest too which had been industriously excited, and very properly cherished, in the sound part of the nation, in favour of the new republic, was one of the causes that operated in forming a taste for a more enlarged religious and civil freedom than had been previously enjoyed.-la our own days we have seen a similar instance in our neighbours of France, with this marked difference, however, that religion was one of the least considerations among both the parties into which that unhappy country was divided. The King of France had sent his soldiers to fight the battles of the new American Republic; and some of those very men lived long enough to carry arms in their native land, and assist in the establishment of their own Republic.

of their wealth and power, were able to avenge themselves on [the Arminians 1 the opposite party. To whose felicities, if those in England did aspire, they were to entertain those counsels and pursue those courses by which the others had attained them; that is to say, they were by secret practices to diminish the King's power and greatness, to draw the people to depend upon their directions, to dissolve all the ligaments of the former government; and either call in foreign forces, or form an army of their own to maintain their doings.t And this had been the business of the Puritan faction, since the death of Bancroft; when by the retirements of King James from all cares of Government, and the connivance or remissness of Archbishop Abbot, the reins were put into their hands. Which gave them time and opportunity to grow strong in parliaments, under pretence of standing for the subjects' property against the encroachments of the court, and for the preservation of the true religion against the practices of the Papists. By which two artifices, they first weakened the prerogative royal, to advance their own; and, by the diminution of the King's authority, endeavoured to erect the people's, whom they represented. And then they practised to asperse with the name of Papist all those who either join not with them in their Sabbathdoctrines, or would not captivate their judgments unto Calvin's dictates. (See pages 209, 266, 294.]

“ The party in both kingdoms being grown so strong that they were able to proceed from counsel unto execution, there wanted nothing but a fair occasion for putting themselves into a posture of defence; and from that posture, breaking out into open war. But finding no occasion, they resolve to make one; and to begin their first embroilments upon the sending of the new Liturgy and book of Canons to the Kirk of Scotland. At Perth, in 1618 they had past five articles for introducing private Baptism, communicating of the sick, kneeling at the Communion, Episcopal Confirmation, and the observing of such ancient festivals as belonged immediately unto Christ: Yet when those articles were incorporated in the Common-prayer Book, they were beheld as innovations in the worship of God, and therefore not to be admitted in so pure and reformed a Church as that of Scotland. These were the hooks by which they drew the people to them, who never look on their superiors with a greater reverence, than when they see them active in the cause of religion; and willing, in appearance, to lose all which was dear unto them, whereby they might preserve the Gospel in its native purity. But it was rather gain than godliness, which

+ These were exactly the steps taken by the Calvinists in the United Provinces, under the guidance of that ambitious warrior Prince Maurice, the year prior to the meeting of the Synod of Dort; the most suitable preparation for which seemed to be a deep wound on the constitution then established.

« PreviousContinue »