Page images
PDF
EPUB

s principles, which, they erroneously supposed, had produced " these terrible effects. I say erroneously ; for, except among a * few honest but undiscerning men, and a company of wild

enthusiasts, religion, as to the leaders in these tragical scenes, 6 was merely the pretence: And if the nation had been divided * into zealots for Popery, and for Mohammedism, the designing * sagacious leaders would have known how to avail themselves of « their prejudices, and the event would have been nearly the * same; as the affairs of the late twenty years on the Continent “ may eyince. However that may be, at the Restoration a large “ majority of the Clergy, who kept their stations in the Church, « or who succeeded to those which became vacant, were Anti* Calvinistic, and have continued so to this day.” • Several assertions in this paragraph require explanation. The «principles” of Calvinism are here said « to be erroneously supposed to have produced the terrible effects” of the Civil Wars, and the dreadful subversion of Church and State. In pages 210-20, I have shewn, in as brief and inoffensive manner as possible, the Genevan origin of these destructive principles, and how far Calvin, Beza, Paræus, Buchanan, and Knox were involved in this crimination. But the fairest and most unexceptionable method of deciding this matter will be, by the testimony of Milton, the defender of the Regicides. In his “ Tenure of Kings and Nagisa trates,” published in the very year in which his Majesty was murdered, Milton defends that foul deed and the general proposition of the right of the people against their tyrants, by quotations from Calvin and his followers. This circumstance roused the indignation of the celebrated Alexander More, (better known by his Latin' name Morus) who had been educated at Geneva, and who, both as a Calvinist and as the son of a Scotchman, attempted in 1652 to wipe off the foul aspersion, in his Regii Sanguinis Clamor ad Cælum adversus Parricidas Anglicanos. To this futile attempt Milton replied in 1654, by his Pro Populo Anglicano Deal fensio Secunda, and unceremoniously decided that part of the controversy in the following manner : “ I have at greater length

ever, but by a sort of heart-revolting against principles which had produced these terrible effects,"_is not very wonderful : But the greatest matter of wonder is, that, in the warmth of their “ heart-revolting,” they did not recede still further from the principles of the Puritans, and run into the opposite extreme. Of those Divines whom I have designated by name, Burnet, Pearson, and Cudworth, retained all the least objectionabie parts of their former system, and may be justly styled, " Evangelical Arminians.”

The only correct sentence in the whole extract from the Rev. THOMAS Scott, is the last, in which he properly says: “At the Restoration, a large majority

of the Clergy, who kept their stations in the Church, or who succeeded to those 6 which became vacant, were Anti-Calvinistic, and have continued so to this « day.” This is a fact, for which Mr. Scott is evidently at a loss to account, but which receives ample confirmation from the remarks in pages 788 and 803.

taught this doctrine, [the rights of the People against their Tyrants, ] in that book which is entituled in our vernacular language, The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates. In that work, passages are quoted, even verbatim, from LUTHER,* ZUINGLIUS, CALVIN, BUCER, MARTYR, PARÆUS, and lastly from Knox, whom,' you say, "I

indicate as a Scotchman, [únum Scotum, 7 and whom all the Cal, 'vinists of that age, and especially the Reformed in France, con.

demned in that particular. But, on the contrary, Knox, as is there related, affirms, that he had derived the doctrine from • Calvin,' whom he specifies by name, ' and from others of the

principal Divines of that age with whom he lived in habits of intimate friendship.” Whatever may have been Milton's early prepossessions in favour of Calvinism, it is certain that he was cured of it during the Inter-regnum; and the forth-coming postbumous publication of this great man on Religion will probably teach us, more particularly, the mode of religious belief which he after... wards embraced. But he was too good a casuist not to know, that the rash and unscriptural sayings of the Genevan Fathers would reconcile many of their disciples, in Great Britain and on the Continent, to the infamous deed of the regicides; and, notwithstanding the partial and politic clamour raised in a few quarters by the Calvinists, the event proved Milton's artful mode of defence to have been exceedingly palatable to a vast majority of that party. A convincing evidence of this latter fact is seen in the restricted sale and confined circulation of the pamphlets published by Salo masius, Morus, and other loyal writers on the Continent.

Another of Mr. Scott's assertions is, that “except among a « few honest but undiscerning men and a company of wild enthu,

siasts, religion, as to the leaders in these tragical scenes, was « merely the pretence." In pages 729, 562-3, I have given expression to my own views of the character of this unchristian enterprize; and have shewn, (pp. 242-308,)that it was a general Calvinistic crusade against Arminianism and Episcopacy. Mr.. Scott ought to have specified more particularly the persons whom. he intended to comprise under this appellation, “the leaders in ' these tragical scenes ;" for, on examination, it will be found, that the principal “leaders” were Calvinistic pastors. If a modern divine of their persuasion choose to call them, as Mr. Scott has here done, a few honest but undiscerning men," I am afraid his epithets will not be relished by some of his better-informed Predestinarian brethren; because the charge of want of discernment will apply to such champions in the cause, as Simeon Ashe, Samuel Annesley, John Arrowsmith, Robert Baylie, Samuel Bolton, John

* Milton places LUTHER's name in the front of the Predestinarian supporters of his licentious doctrine. But though the great German Reformer was, early in life, sufficiently imprudent both as a politician and a divine, (p. 158,) yet, it will be seen, (p. 730,) that in his mature years his sentiments concerning lawful resistance were entirely changed.

Bond, Oliver Bowles, Thomas Brooks, C. and A. Burgess, Ed. "mund Calamy, T. and W. Carter, Joseph Caryl, Francis Cheynel, John Conant, William Cradock, John Dury, George Gillespie, Thomas Goodwin, William Gouge, John Green, Alexander Heriderson, William Jenkyns, John Lightfoot, Christopher Love, Thomas Manton, Stephen Marshall, Matthew Newcomen, Jolin Owen, Herbert Palmer, Edward Reynolds, Samuel Rutherford, Henry Scudder, (). and W. Sedgwick, William Spurstowe, Edward Stanton, Peter Sterry, Francis Taylor, Thomas Thorowgood, Anthony Tuckney, Richard Vines, Thomas Watson, and John White.

These are only a few of the very eminent and clever men, who, as • Preachers before the Long Parliament, alternately encouraged the readiness and chided the tardiness of both Houses, in perfecting the Calvinistic “ Reformation,” and who are generally, and in most cases very justly, admired for other productions than their sermons before the reforming Senators. If to these, we add the many equally clever individuals whose Parliamentarian discourses were not sufficiently « heart-searching" to entitle them to the honour of publication, who were efficient members of the Assembly of Divines, or who employed their youthful talents in composing treatises to forward the grand design, we shall have a list of some of the greatest divines who have graced the Annals of Protestant Dissenters. Now, it would, in more senses than one, be too great an abuse of language to style these men“ undiscerning;" for they possessed discernment enough to keep their own interests in sight, and to cry aloud whenever, in their apprehension, those interests were compromised or impugned. But though I should be afraid of calling them “undiscerning, I consider the epithet “honest," if applied without restriction to the whole of those whom I have specified by name, to be a still greater misnomer. The flexible principles and unjustifiable acts of some of them, during the twenty years of Calvinian misrule, have exposed their names to merited execration: Respecting such ministers of the gospel, the Jan: guage which I have employed concerning one of their number, (p. 882,) will not, when all the facts are taken into consideration, appear unjust: “ It was a happy circumstance, both for them “selves and mankind, that they were soon afterwards compelled « to retire from public life, and had abundant leisure afforded “ them of amending their ways; and that they were left to lay & « less exceptionable foundation for fame in the composition of « works of piety.” Several of those productions of their mature years I have read with admiration, and to my great personal benefit; and so far am I from cherishing any personal pique against them or their subsequent labours, that I have frequently blessed God for having "put it into the heart of these His servants” to compose works of such sterling worth and importance!

But, after all this concession, I am persuaded, my readers will too soon be convinced, that the individuals whom Mr. Scott. has

1980

here designated a few honest but undiscerningmen” were in reality “a company of wild enthusiasts,and gloried in identifying themselves with “the leaders in these tragical scenes," with whom, he truly asserts, “religion was merely the pretence.”.

To afford every impartial man an opportunity of forming a correct judgment of the part taken at that period by various Calvinistic ministers of eminence, and of the degree of criminality which actually attaches to their principles and actions, I shall transcribe a few passages from their Sermons before the Long Parliament." Of those extraordinary productions, which are among the very best chronicles of that eventful æra, I possess nearly an unbroken series of original quarto editions--the form in which they were ordered by the two Houses to be printed: . 1. The Puritan Ministers the grand Instigators of the Civil Wars:

The first extract, illustrative of the intimate connection between the Puritan ministers, and “the designing sagacious leaders," is from “honest John DURYE," who had for many years preceding been employed under the auspices and at the expence of Arch.bishop Laud, in trying to effect a general union among the Pro

testants of Europe. His sermon is entituled “Israel's call, to march out of Babylon unto Jerusalem," and was preached before the House of Commons, November 26, 1645. It is scarcely ne. cessary to say, that Episcopacy, then in ruins, is the thing intended by the term BABYLON in the following sentences: “God hath, since the beginning of the Reformation of His church from Popery and anti-christian superstition, intended to bring his vessels out of Babylon unto Sion. The way hath been opened, by the preaching of ļhe Gospel, a long while ago. The nations of Europe, some more, some less, frequently have begun their marches in several troops; and the spirits of many Magistrates and of many Ministers have been stirred up, and called upon to bear the vessels of the Lord, and, by their care, power, authority, assistance, and vigilancy, to bring them to Sion, here to be fully settled in the right use of the ordinances of God. But none of all the Maç gistrates or Ministers of other nations have ever given such an answer to this call, as you and WE OF THE MINISTRY and this peon ple hath done: For WE ALL have undertaken the cause in the full extent thereof; therefore we are, in this employment, nearer unto God than any others; and he is more interested in you and in Scotland, than in any nation whatsoever. And if this be so, do not you think, that God will have a nearer respect unto you, than unto others; and that He doth expect a more exact performa" ance of this charge from you, than from others? You, and wEALL, have fastened the cause we have in hand upon Him; and, for this cause, we have no foundation to build on, but upon Him: And He hath none other employment for us, but that WE ALL should carry his vessels carefully out of Babylon. If you do this faith,

[graphic]

fülly according to your promise, and make it your aim to fulfil your Covenant to this effect with Him, you may be sure that He will bear you up, and bear you out, in all your difficulties. But if you have any other aim, and do not make this your glory that the vessels of the Lord are committed to your trust, --if you cast them off in your heart, and think them a wearisome burden and heavy to be borné,-if, I say, any doth but in his heart quit the charge committed unto him, will not God require it at his hands ? The only way, then, for you to be supported by Him is this, that you be sure to support with all your heart and might his vessels : For, you must know, that it is only for their sake that you are and shall be a súre nail fastened in the wall of this kingdom; only, I say, for this end that the vessels of your Lord's house, and the glory thereof may be hung upon you. But if you cannot be made use of by Him to this effect, though the nail be never so strong, and fastened in a place never so sure, it shall be broken and pulled down, for the Lord hath spoken it !

My remaining extracts shall be confined to discourses delivered in the year 1646-7 when the Parliamentary interest was most flourishing, when their enemies were vanquished, and the King in the hands of the Army. The prosperous state of their affairs, and the deliberative as well as active employments of the Calvinistic Pastors, are well described in the dedication to the House of Commons, which Herbert Palmer prefixed to a sermon preached before them, September 30, 1646, and in which he says: • «The REFORMATION OF ENGLAND is the great expectation of the world, I think I may say, of Angels as well as men; and the PARLIAMENT OF ENGLAND, under God, is the great hope of the Chrigtian world, to bring this reformation about. If any would set himself to study abstractly, how God might prepare a company of men to earry on such a work, he would not easily find out any thing, which God hath not already fitted the Honourable Houses with :-Greal pressures, to help to make them humble before their meeting Manifold dangers all along from the beginning of their meeting, to help keep them humble:--A mighty concurrence of providence, to necessitate their meeting together : And an unpa. ralleled over-ruling of hearts, for their continuance together, without limitation of time, other than their own prudence should determine -A watchful eye and a strong hand, to preserve them from all sorts; of attempts to dissolve their meeting :-Marvellous and manifold actings of God's Almighty power and rich grace, in making their enemies fall before them, notwithstanding their frequent expectations and most probable hopes of swallowing them up suddenly; and in making the people every where to stoop to every part of reformation by them promoted, notwithstanding all their habituated and doted-on customs to the contrary :-The most solemn engagements to carry the work on for God, and accordingly to God, that are to be found upon earth or are directed by heaven :-*

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »