Page images
PDF
EPUB

d that if the ministers of the gospel attended to their own duty, “ and did not interfere with Cromwell's affairs, whatever might “ be their sentiments on church-government, they were not ex-« cluded from the enjoyment of his favour.” Adopting this as an undoubted maxim, many amiable writers have been led to suppose, that as the Protector's persecuting ordinance of 1655 was particularly directed against the Episcopal Clergy, they were a race of divines, as seditious and pragmatical as those by whom, they had been supplanted. The reverse of this will, however, be found to be correct; and when the great number of Episcopaa lians, who had been ejected from the ministry in 1643, are added to the hosts of young men, who, in the latter days of the Republic, were prevented from entering into Holy Orders on account of their Arminian principles, they present to the world the grand spectacle of a company of courageous yet humble sufferers, worthy

copalians were ejected from their livings, for their conscientious attachment to the Liturgy? What was the nature of the Calvinistic Covenant, which, in 1643, was appointed by Parliamentary Ordinance to be taken ? " It was the test of the « faction. No man was allowed to practise the Law, no man admitted into the " Ministry, that had not taken it ; and it was imposed, under a penalty, upon “ the whole nation. Then, after the taking of it, it was made DEATH for any “ man to return to his allegiance to his Kingl; and all the deserters of the con. " spiracy, that were murdered under a form of justice, were put to death for Breach of Covenant !Omitting all mention of the Engagement and other Republican Oaths, how can Mr. Orme venture to say, that “ no sacrifice of conscience was demanded," when this solemn League and Covenant became an: intolerable burden to his own denomination ? Were " no encroachments prac. tised on religious liberty," and did “ every man sit under his own vine and fig. tree without fear," when a whole congregation of Episcopalian believers was inter. rupted and seized by armed soldiers, while in the solemn act of receiving the wemo. rials of their Saviour's death ? (P. 451.) And can " no bounds” be said to have been “ prescribed to zealous exertion for the good of the souls of men,” when, in the early days of the Inter-regnum, the Presbyterian discipline was established by Parliamentary ordinance throughout England,-and when in Cromwell's time the Independents, by means of the cognate Commissions of “ Triers and Ejectors,” opened and shut the door of preferment to other denominations ? 66 The word of the Lord had free course,' indeed, and was often quoted for the encouragea ment of seditious and rebellious enterprizes before the Long Parliament itself : But the vapid manner in which it was " glorified” under their administration, the Puritans themselves have described in the preceding pages.

The following brief allusion to the liberty of Cromwell's æra is more correct than the description given by Mr. Orme. It was written by a man, whose grand. father and great-grandfather were actors in those turbulent scenes, and whose father was early initiated in the same principles. (See pages 812-815.) In his Calm Address, on the subject of the American War, the Rev. John WESLEY says : “ Do not you observe, on the other hand, the perfect liberty which we enjoy ? Not, indeed, derived from our forefathers, as some writers idly talk.. No; our forefathers never enjoyed it, either before or after William the Conqueror, and least of all in the time of the Long Parliament or under Oliver Cromwell. English Liberty commenced at the REVOLUTION. And how entire is it at this day! Every man says what he will, writes what he will, prints what he will. Every man worships God, (if he worships him at all,) as he is persuaded in his own mind.”

of the early days of Christianity. On this subject, one of the most eminent men among them published the following remarks in the days of Cromwell: “Since the latter spring of REFORMATION in England, I am confident there is not one instance of any one Bishop or Episcopal Divine, that either wrote or instigated any christian subjects to act, upon any religious pretensions, contrary to the rules of civil subjection to that Prince or State under which they lived; no, not to bring in or restore Episcopacy itself, which hath far more pleas for it from Catholic antiquity and universal prescription, &c. together with its own ancient, catholic and national rights, which aggravate its injuries, and exasperate men's spirits. Yet these are not enough to animate or heighten Episcopacy, so far as to make or restore its way into any Nation, Church, State, or Kingdom, by armed power or tumultuary violence, against the will of the Chief Magistrate or the laws in force. It humbly attends God's time, and the sovereign's pleasure, for its reception or restitution.”

Mr. Scott's remark is exceedingly just, (p. xlvii,) these designing sagacious leaders knew how to avail themselves of the prejudices” of the different Calvinistic pastors: And when one Republican General or Erastian member of Parliament was allowed to nominate the preacher of a Fast-day sermon before either of the Houses, as an expounder of the principles of the Independent persuasion, a similar privilege was claimed and exercised on the next solemn occasion by a Presbyterian divine, under the patronage of some General or Statesman of his denomination. Though much artifice was apparent in thus opposing the liberal and occasionally licentious opinions of the Independents to the intolerance of the Presbyterians, yet many benefits resulted from the practice. The violent confiicts, between the extreme opinions of the two parties, produced at length a happy medium; and Christian moderation about things indifferent began to find some countenance. These, however, were but the infant struggles of British Liberty; and, in the twenty years immediately succeeding the Restoration, the legal rights of a free people were better understood, and gained a glorious triumph at the Revolution in 1688.* (See page 692.)

The Episcopal Clergy of those days shewed themselves the consistent and intrepid admirers of “ the new sect of the LATITUDE-MEN.” Even some of those who had been eminent Tories, were, on that occasion, carried out beyond the narrow principles which they had imbibed ; they loudly declaimed against, and manfully resisted, the attacks of Popery and Tyranny. The following extract from Bishop HEBER will prove, that those eminent Whig Divines have still able successors in the Church of England :

Taylor, however, makes another admission, which, if his life had been prolonged a few more years, might have involved him in a very serious difficulty of conscience, and would have divided him, if he had acted on it, from all the best and wisest of his own order and religion : « The unlawful proclamations

and edicts of a true prince may be published by the Clergy in their several

In à succeeding page, (690,) I have said, "It would be singum lar, indeed, and a circumstance altogether anomalous in the moral history of mankind, were those narrow principles which are peculiar to Calvinism accounted the parents of a liberal Toleration, either civil or religious.". One of the best-informed of., modern Calvinists, (p. 802,) has on this subject made the following just remark: “ The same temper of mind which led Armi“ nius to renounce the peculiarities of Calvinism, induced him " also to adopt more enlarged and liberal views of church-govern« ment than those which had hitherto prevailed. While he main

tained, that the mercy of God is not confined to a chosen fen,' "he conceived it to be quite inconsistent with the genius of " Christianity, that men of that religion should keep at a distance " from each other, and constitute separate churches, - merely because they differed in their opinions as to some of its doctrinal articles.—This is the principle which runs through the evermemorable Hales's" tract on Schism, and which that great man defended, both in person and by letter,* to Archbishop Laud :

charges !'-I wish I had not found this in Taylor ; and I thank heaven, that., this principle was not adopted by the English Clergy in 1687. Yet, for Taylor, many allowances may be made ; and many excuses offered for this and the other ultra-monarchical features of his creed. Accustomed as he was to see and feel all the tyranny which then plagued the land, from those who, under the colour of freedom, had disturbed and enslaved their country, it was hardly to be expected that his attention could be equally alive to the possibility of the same evils occurring under a legitimate Sovereign. And, above all, let it be remembered, that his inclination for absolute monarchy, if it were unwise, was, at least, not interested or servile; that if he carried too high the power of a lawful king, it was when that lawful king was in exile. The Ductor Dubitantium, though pub.; lished at the moment of the Restoration, was written and printed while no such event could be tooked for, and when all that could be gained by an unlimited loyalty, was the suspicion or persecution of the ruling powers, imprisonment, fine, and aggravated indigence.”

* As every fact connected with this small treatise is important, I subjoin the narrative, which Lord Clarendon has given us in the account of his own LIFE, of the personal interview between Hales and Archbishop Laud : “ Nothing troubled him more than the brawls which were grown from religion; and he therefore exceedingly detested the tyranny of the Church of Rome, more for their : imposing uncharitably upon the consciences of other men, than for the errors in their own opinions; and would often say, that he would renounce the religion

of the Church of England to-morrow, if it obliged him to believe that any other • Christians should be damned'; and that nobody would conclude another man

to be damned, who did not wish him so.' No man more strict and severe to himself; to other men so charitable as to their opinions, that he thought that other men were more in fault for their carriage towards them, than the men them, selves were who erred ; and he thought that pride and passion, more than conscience, were the cause of all separation from each other's communion; and he frequently said, that that only kept the world from agreeing upon such a • Liturgy, as might bring them into one communion ; all doctrinal points upon

which men differed in their opinions, being to have no place in any Liturgy. Upon an occasional discourse with a friend, of the frequent and uncharitable reproaches of Heretick and Schismatick, too lightly thrown at each other, amongst inen who differ in their judgment, he writ a little Discourse of Schism, contained

His boldness and consistency did not alienate the affections of the Prelate from him, nor did they prevent him from obtaining high ecclesiastical patronage. That tract had been very extensively circulated, especially among his Arminian friends, either in manuscript or in print, without Hales's privity or consent, five in less than two sheets of paper : which, being transmitted from friend to friend in writing, was at last, without any malice, brought to the view of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Laúd, who was a very rigid surveyor of all things which never 80 little bordered upon schism ; and thought the Church could not be too vigilant against and jealous of such incursions.

56 He sent for Mr. Hales, whom, when they had both lived in the University of Oxford, he had known well; and told him that he had in truth believed him to be long since dead; and chid him very kindly for having never come to him, having been of his old acquaintance; then asked him, whether he had lately writ a short Discourse of Schism, and whether he was of that opinion which that discourse implied ? He told him, that he had, for the satisfaction of a private

friend, (who was not of his mind,) a year or two before, writ such a small tract, • without any imagination that it would be communicated ; and that he believed • it did not contain any thing that was not agreeable to the judgment of the • primitive Fathers.' Upon which, the Archbishop debated with him upon some expressions of Irenæus, and the most ancient Fathers; and concluded with saying, that the time was very apt to set new doctrines on foot, of which the • wits of the age were too susceptiðle; and that there could not be too much care "taken to preserve the peace and unity of the Church ;' and from thence asked him of his condition, and whether he wanted any thing, and the other answering, that he had enough, and wanted or desired no addition, so dismissed him with great courtesy ; and shortly after sent for him again, when there was a Preben. dary of Windsor fallen, and told him, the King had given him the preferment, because it lay so convenient to his Fellowship of Eton ; which, (though indeed the most convenient preferment that could be thought of for him,) the Archbishop could not, without great difficulty, persuade him to accept; and he did accept it rather ton please him than himself, because he really believed he had enough before. He was one of the least men in the kingdom, and one of the greatest scholars in Europe. Mr. Chillingworth was of a stature little superior to Mr. Hales, and it was an age in which there were many great and wonderful men of that size.”

It is probable, that, in this conversation, the Archbishop had pointed out to him the disregard which he had evinced towards Christian Antiquity in that tract, and the undue slight which he had put upon Church-authority. On both these points he explained himself in a letter, which is supposed to have survived the wreck of the learned Prelate's papers. " Whereas,” he says, “ in one ce point, speaking of church-authority, I bluntly added, which is none; I must 66 acknowledge it was incautiously spoken ; and, being taken in a generality, is “ false, though, as it refers to the occasion which I there fell upon, it is as I 6 think I may safely say,) most true. I count, in point of decision of church " questions, if I say of the authority of the Church that it is none, I know no « adversary that I have, the Church of Rome only excepted. For this cannot « be true, except we make the Church judge of controversies; the contrary of " which we generally maintain against that Church.”

The Archbishop, who loved frankness and hated an untruth even when uttered with a jocose intent, (p. 709,) admired Hales for his meek, yet manly, spirit, and took him under his protection. His Grace knew the source from which Hales's aversion to church-authority sprung, and which he had imbibed through disgust at what he had seen of the unwarrantable assumptions of the Dort Synodists. See page 579, in which the Archbishop's conduct towards Hales and Chilling. worth is satisfactorily explained.

years prior to the Archbishop's downfall and the beginning of the Civil Wars. * The salutary effects which it produced on the mind of Jeremy Taylor, who was then a mere youth, were soon afterwards manifest in his “ Liberty of Prophesying :" an able defence of which, from the nervous pen of Bishop Heber, will be found in page 808. What effects Hales's tract produced upon the minds of many other moderate men of different religious persuasions, during the Commonwealth, is apparent in the numerous quotations which they gave from its pages; but its fruits were most conspicuous in the writings and opinions of the new race of Arminians, who then arose in England, and who are well described by Mosheim under the name of “ Latitudinarians."-(See pages 789-800.)

But those earlier Episcopal Divines whose theology was applied to practical purposes, rather than to nice Predestinarian disquisitions, were more decided friends to religious liberty than their Calvinistical cotemporaries. Such great men as Bishops Hooper, Bilson, Andrews, and Overal, Dr. Saravia, and Richard Hooker, might with the strictest propriety have been called “ Arminians,“ had Arminianism, in their youthful days, had an existence as a system of religious doctrines. But they, and mula titudes of other moderate and learned Divines, who were generally styled “ Augustinians," thought it quite sufficient if they adhered to the first and sounder opinions of St. Augustine on Predestination, which had a sanctifying and practical tendency, and which Arminius himself never exceeded. The grand enemy, with whom the chief of these great men were compelled to contend, was the Papist; and in managing the usual arguments against him, especially that first of rational Protestant axioms, * THE BIBLE ALONE is The ReligioN OF PROTESTANTS,” and the absence of an infallible interpreter, they naturally learned and gave expression to the most liberal sentiments.t These tole

• It is said, by Wood, to have been written at the particular desire of his friend Chillingworth, when the latter was engaged in the composition of his immortal book, the Religion of Protestants, which was commenced in 1634, and printed in 1637. Hales's tract must therefore have been in circulation, at: least nine years before the murder of the Archbishop.

of In the year 1617, the amiable Bishop Overal, having congratulated Grotius, ' in a letter, on “ the bright prospect, which then shone, of greater concord and more Christian toleration among the Dutch Divines,” added the following just remarks : “ But I am unable adequately to express my astonishment, that there are some persons among us in England who indulge such a dreadful antipathy against your party, (the Arminians,] since it was long ago acknowledged, in our arguments against the Papists,- as is sufficiently manifest among us from the publication of JEWEL'S Apology,--that these dissensions of Protestants do not

relate to the principles, foundations, or heads of our owņ religion, but to * lighter matters and questions of less importance.' I hear that a certain treatise : by the present Bishop of Salisbury, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury's: brother, has been some time in the press. It is written against the Arminians and THOMSON's Diatribe. At this circumstance I am not much surprised,

« PreviousContinue »