Page images
PDF
EPUB

more odious in the sight of God, or more disgraceful to the church, or offensive to all sober and religious men, it is hard to say. And as it seems, the scandal of it was so great, that the publisher thereof, though otherwise of a fiery and implacable nature, desisted from the putting forth of a second century, though he had promised it in the first, and was inclinable enough to have kept his word. Instructions had been sent before to all counties in England, for bringing in such informations against their ministers as might subject them to the danger of a depri. vation.* But the times were not then so apt for mischief, as to serve their turns ; 'which made them fall upon these wretched and unchristian courses to effect their purpose. By means whereof, they purged the church of almost all canonical and orthodox men. The greatness of which desolation in all the parts of the Kingdom, may be computed by the havock which they made in London, and the parishes thereunto adjoining, according as it is presented in the bill of mortality hereunto subjoined.”

#

to one but taxes and other payments bring it so low, that he hath no superfluities. And some, that have not wives or children, do give all that they can gather to the poor; and some, upon my knowledge, give mure to charitable uses, than they receive for the work of their ministry, living on their own means. And they have themselves been the means of taking own the lordly prelacy and riches of the clergy: and though they would not have had the lands devoted to the church to have been alienated, yet they would have had it se distributed as might but have reached to have made the maintenance of ministers to be an hundred pounds a year. This was the height of their covetousness and ambition, as you call it."

There is much craft in this statement. Baxter couples “ the pastors of the Reformed Churches" abroad with the dominant ecclesiastics at home, in order to make out his case. “A hundred pounds a year for maintenance," however, was no bad stipend in those days; and if the excellent men who were wrongfully ejected had received half of that sum annually, they would have accounted themselves in comparatively felicitous circumstances

acined, with what a joyful willingness these selfloving reformers took possession of all vacant preferments, and with what reluctance others parted with their beloved colleges and subsistence : but their consciences were dearer than both, and out they went; the reformers possessing them without shame or scruple, where I will leave these scruplemongers.-In London all the bishops' houses were turned to be prisons, and they filled with divines that would not take the Covenant or forbear reading the Common Prayer, or that were accused for some faults like these. For it may be noted, that about this time the parliament sent out a proclamation to encourage all lay-men that had occasion to complain of their ministers, for being troublesome or scandalous, or that conformed not to orders of parliament, to make their complaint to a select committee for that purpose; and the minister, though one hundred miles from London, was to appear there and give satisfaction, or be sequestered; (and, you may be sure, no parish could want a covetous, or malicious, or cross-grained complainant:) by which means all prisons in London, and in many other places, became the sad habitations of conforming divines. The common people were made so happy, as that every parish might choose their own minister, and tell him when he did, and when he did not preach true doctrine : and by this and the like means several cburches had several teachers, that prayed and preached for and against one another; and engaged their hearers to contend furiously for truths which they understood uot." Isaac WALTON.

The SUMMARY of this Bill is as follows: “ The total of the Ministers of London, within this bill of mortality,

besides Pauls and Westininster, turned out of their livings. 115 Whereof Doctors in Divinity (most of them plundered of their goods,

and their wives and children turned out of doors) above ... 40 Imprisoned in London, and in the ships, and in several gaols and cas

tles in the country . . . . . . . 20 Fled, to prevent imprisonment . . . . . . 25 Dead, in remote parts and prisons, with grief . . . And, at the same time, about forty churches void, having no

constant Minister in them.

“ By this sad bill confined within the lines of communication, Cin London) and some villages adjoining, we may conjecture at the greatness of that mortality which fell amongst the regular clergy in all parts of the kingdom, by plundering, sequestering, and ejecting ;t or finally, by vexing them into their graves, by so many miseries as were inflicted on them in the ships, or their several prisons. In all which ways, more men were outed of their livings by the Presbyterians in the space of

f Isaac Walton gives the following relation of the manner in which Dr. Sanderson preserved his small living of Boothby Panpel, after he had been ejected from the Divinity chair at Oxford :-" There was one Mr. Clarke, the minister of Adlington, who was an active man for the parliament and covenant; and one that, when Belvoir Castle (then a garrison for the parliament) was taken by a party of the king's soldiers, was taken in it, and made a prisoner of war in Newark: they became so much concerned for bis enlargement, that the committee of Lincoln sent a troop of horse to seize and bring Dr. Sanderson a prisoner to that garrison; and they did so. And there he had the happiness to meet with many, that knew him so well as to reverence and treat him kindly; but told him, 'He must continue their prisoner, till he should purchase his own enlargement by procuring an exchange for Mr. Clarke, then prisoner in the king's garrison of Newark. In time done it was, upon the following conditions : That Dr. Sanderson and Mr.Clarke, being exchanged, should live undisturbed at their own parishes; and if either were injured by the soldiers of the contrary party, the other having notice of it, should procure him a redress, by having satisfaction made for his loss, or for any other injury; or if not, he to be used in the same kind by the other party. Nevertheless, Dr. Sanderson could peither live safe, por quietly, being several times plundered, and once wounded in three places; but he, apprehending the remedy might turn to a more intolerable burthen by impatience or complaining, forbore both; and possessed his soul in a contented quietness, without the least repining. But though he could not enjoy the safety be expected by this exchange, yet by his providence that can bring good out of evil, it turned so much to his advantage, that, whereas his living had been sequestered from the year 1644, and continued to be so till this time of his imprisonment, he, by the articles of war in this exchange for Mr. Clarke, procured his sequestration to be recalled, and by that means enjoved a poor but more contented subsistence for himself, his wife and children, till the happy restoration of our king aud church."

This is a fair specimen of the sufferings of those conscientious clergymen who evinced their attachment to Episcopacy, and were at the same time permitted to retain their benefices. What then must have been the sufferings of those poor divines who were plundered, sequestered and ejected!

three years, than were deprived by the Papists in the reign of Queen Mary; or had been silenced, suspended, or deprived, by all the Bishops, from the first year of Queen Elizabeth, to these very times. [1642.) And that it might be done with some colour of justice, they instituted a committee for plundered ministers,* under pretence of making some provision for such godly preachers as had either suffered loss of goods by his Ma. jesty's soldiers, or loss of livings for adhering to the Houses of Parliament. Under which stiles they brought in a confused rabble of their own persuasions, or such at least as were most likely to be serviceable to their ends and purposes ;t some of which had no goods, and most of them no livings at all to lose. But the truth was, they durst not trust the pulpits to the regular Clergy; who, if they had offended against the laws, by the same laws they ought to have been tried, condemned, and deprived accordingly; that so the patrons might present more deserving persons to the vacant churches. But then this could not stand

*** The persons invested with this authority, were called The COMMITTEE FOR PLUNCERED MINISTERS. By the royalists, however, they were denominated The Committee for Plundering Ministers : a designation which was highly appropriate. In the month of July, 1643, they were empowered to receive information against Scandalous Ministers, and to deprive them of their livings, though no Malignancy in regard to the Parliament were proved against them. From this time the Committee for Scandalous Ministers, and that for Plundered Ministers, were united, and continued so to the end of the Long Parliament.

« This Committee made terrible havock of the regular Clergy. It excluded from the Church many comparatively worthless ministers, whose faults it was careful to emblazon before the world, to the scandal of religion and public morals; but it treated not a few upright, learned, and pious men with great severity, because of their conscientious attachment to episcopacy and to their king. Who can repress the feeling of indignation, on fiuding that such men as the Ever-Memorable Hales of Eton, and Dr. Brian Walton, the immortal Editor of London Polyglot Bible, were by this Committee deprived of their ecclesiastical preferments, and left to starve, or subsist by the kindness of their friends ?" JACKSON's Life of Goodwin.

f“ Dec. 4, 1653. Going this day to our church (Deptford] I was surprized to see a tradesman, a mechanic, step up: I was resolved yet to stay and see what he would make of it. His text was from 2 Sam. xxvi, 20 : And Benaiah went down also, and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in the time of snow.' The purport was, that no danger was to be thought difficult when God called for shedding of blood ; inferring, that now the SAINTS were called to destroy temporal governments with such feculent stuff. So dangerous a crisis were things grown to!” EveLYN's Diary.

I“ Now not only my rents present, but the arrearages of the former years, which I had in favour forborne to some tenants, being treacherously confessed to the sequestrators, were by them called for, and taken from me; neither was there any course at all taken for my maintenance. I therefore addressed myself to the committee sitting here at Norwich, and desired them to give order for some means, out of that large patrimony of the church, to be allowed me. They all thought it very just, and there being present Sir Thomas Woodhouse, and Sir John Potts, parliament men, it was moved and held fit by them and the rest, that the proportion which the votes of the parliament had pitched upon, viz. £400 per annum, should be allowed to me. My lord of Manchester, who was then conceived to have great power in matter of these sequestrations, was moved herewith. He apprehended it very just and reasonable, and wrote to the committee here to set out so

with the main design: For possibly the patrons might present such clerks as would go on in the old way, and could not be admitted but by taking the oaths of supremacy and allegiance to our Lord the King; and by subscribing to the discipline and doctrine of the Church of England, which they were then resolved to alter. Or, could they have prevailed so far with the several patrons, as to present those very men whom they had designed unto the profits of the sequestered benefices; yet then they were to have enjoyed them for term of life, and might pretend a legal right and title to them, which would have cut off that dependance on the Houses of Parliament, which this design did chiefly aim at. So that the best of this new Clergy were but Tenants at will ; and therefore must be servile and obsequious to their mighty landlords, upon whose pleasure they depended for their present livelihood.+

many of the manors belonging to this bishopric as should amount to the said śum of £400 annually; which was answerably done under the hands of the whole table. And now I well hoped, I should yet have a good competency of maintenance out of that plentiful estate which I might have had ; but those hopes were no sooner conceived than dashed; for before I could gather up ope quarter's rênt, there comes down an order from the committee for sequestrations above, under the hand of serjeant Wild the chairman, procured by Mr. Miles Corbet, to inhibit any such allowance; and telling our committee here, that neither they, nor any other had power to allow me any thing at all : but if my wife found herself to need a maintenance, upon her suit to the committee of Lords and Commons, it might be granted that she should have a fifth part, according to tbe ordinance, allowed for the sustentation of herself and her family. Hereupon she sends a petition up to that committee, which after a long delay was admitted to be read, and an order granted for the fifth part. But still the rents and revenues both of my spiritual and temporal lands were taken up by the sequestrators, both in Norfolk, and Suffolk, and Essex, and we kept off rom either allowance or account. At last, upon much pressing, Beadle the solicitor, and Rust the collector, brought in an account to the committee, such as it was; but so confused and perplexed, and so utterly imperfect, that we could never come to know wbat a fifth part meant : but they were content that I should eat my books by setting off the sum, engaged for them out of the fifth part.-Whiles I received nothing, yet something was required of me. They were not ashamed, after they had taken away and sold all iny goods and personal estate, to come to me for assessiments, and monthly payments for that estate which they had taken, and

took distresses from me upon my most just denial, and vehemently required me to find the wonted arms of my predecessors, when they had left me notbing." Bishop Hall's Hard Measure.

of At the close of this paragraph Dr. Heylin has given us the true reason of the servility so conspicuous in the chief divines who accepted preferment during the continuance of the Communwealth. To insure ministerial faithfulness, it is necessary that every pastor should be independent of the people of his charge, both with regard to stipend and continuance in office. Such a system, like every thing earthly, is capable of being abused; and, on this account, it would be absurd to contend, that none of the episcopal divines who were ejected bad formerly abused this liberty: That would be in effect to say, that they were not human beings, but in a condition so stable and angelical as rendered them incapable of being perverted. But it may be confidently averred, that, in all cases in which it is possible to institute a comparison between the effects of the two systems, for one pastor that errs through neglect of duty, two may be found in the opposite system whose error consists in men-pleasing, servility, and sometinies in the most disgusting hypocrisy.

! « The Scots having raised an army of eighteen thousand foot, and three thousand horse, taking the dragoons into the reckoning, break into England in the depth of winter, Anno 1643, and marched almost as far as the banks of the river Tyne, without opposition. There they received a stop by the coming of the Marquis of Newcastle, with his northern army, and entertained the time with some petit skirmishes, till the sad news of the surprise of Selby by Sir Thomas Fairfax compelled him to return towards York with all his forces, for the preserving of that place, on which the safety of the north did depend especially. The Scots march after nim amain, and besiege that city, in which they were assisted by the forces of the Lord Fairfax, and the Earl of Manchester, who by the Houses were commanded to attend that service. The issue whereof was briefly this ; that having worsted the great army of Prince Ru.

A few eminent royalists, through providential circumstances, retained their livings: This was the case with Dr. Sanderson, Dr. Pierce, Mr. Bull, and some others, who had been deprived of the offices which they beld in the University. They contrived to make some slight variation “ from the strict rules of Rubric," and adhered, as far as they lawfully could, to the excellent forms of the Common Prayer in the celebration of public worship. While ignorance and fanaticism were continuing their march of devastation through the land, these great and good men devoted their leisure to important occupations for the beuefit of future ages. Beside the numerous books of devotion that were then composed and published by the episcopal clergy, several of them were engaged with Dr. Brian Walton, in the coinpletion of that most erudite and valuable work, the LONDON POLYGLOTT Bible. Short biographical notices of the good Bishop's accomplished co-adjutors have lately been given in his LIFE, by the learned editor of “ Dr. Johnson's Dictionary,” the Rev. John Todd, A. M. F. R. S. &c. To that great undertaking allusion is made at the close of the following quotation by Dr. Pierce, who was one of the ever-honoured labourers:

.“ Nor can I guess at the reason, why he takes an occasion to tell the world, that he hath very few hearers of all his good preaching; as if it were a fine thing to be insufferable in a pulpit, and to preach men out of their patience. But if he is, in good earnest, so much more painful and more wholesome in his preaching than I am, why do the chiefest and most intelligent of his parishioners take the pains to go from him no less than two miles, as well in the Winter, as in the Summer? If he is not already, I do wish with all my heart he were, as much beyond me in every thing that is good, as he can imagine, or desire: Upon condition I might not be worse than I am, I would be glad if every creature might be abundantly better. Though a pastor's pains should not be measured by his preaching, (there being many other duties incumbent on him,) yet he knows I am a weekly preacher. And if he is more, I cannot think ihe better of him, or that he takes the more, but (perhaps, the less, pains. For many have found it by experience, (excepting the labour of lips and lungs,) a much easier thing to preach twice every week in one manner, than once a fortnight in another. Must all those glories and ornaments, those venerable supports of our English Church, (the very latchets of whose shoes, we weekly preachers are hardly worthy to untie,) be either binted or held forth to be lazy lubbers, because their lips do not labour twice a week in a pulpit? Let those learned, industrious, and righteous men (not to be named or thought on without a preface of highest reverence and honour,) be once restored to those places from which they were thrown by none other than Presbyterians, and they will preach more in one day, than any correptory corrector can do in twenty years ! And, whilst they are not preaching, they are doing things of greater moment.”

« PreviousContinue »