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lio, with the directions of the ritual.-
if this be the meaning, there can be no doubt that it is true. Amidst many thousand divines, if they have indeed considered matters, there will be a very great variety of opinions : and the more freely they think, the less will they like the trammels of almost any establishment;- though—for sundry reasons them thereunto moving—they have submitted to the same.
"There are many things in the church,” said the late most ingenious and learned Dr. Middleton, “ which I wholly dislike; yet while I am content to acquiesce in the ill, I should be glad to taste a little of the good, and to have soine amends for that ugly assent and consent which no man of sense can approve b. Various have been the opinions that men, at different times, have passed on this act of uniformity. “It was no sooner published,” says the writer just quoted, “than all the presbyterian ministers expressed their disapprobation of it with all the passion imaginable. They complained that the king had violated the promise made to them in his declaration from Breda, which was urged with great disingenuity, and without any shadow of right: for his majesty had thereby referred the whole settlement of all things, relating to religion, to the wisdom of parliament; and declared, in the mean time, that nobody should be punished or questioned for continuing the exercise of his religion in the way he had been accustomed to in the late confusions. And his majesty had continued this indulgence by his declaration after his return, and thereby fully complied with his promise from Breda; which he should indeed have violated, if he had now refused to
a Letter to lord Ilervey, Sept. 13, 1736. MS. in my possession.
Thus, under pretence of setčling the peace
concur in the settlement the parziament had agreed upon; being, in trutb, no less obliged to concur with the parliament in the settlement that the parliament should propose to him, than he was not to cause any man to be punished for not obeying the former laws till a new settlement should be madea.” This is plausible, but far from solid. Had the king thought himself obliged to concur with this parliament in the settlement now proposed ; why had he not thought bimself equally obliged to comply with the desires of the former parliament, who had thanked him for his declaration, so conducive to peace, and ordered in a bill for passing it into a law b? The court, at this time, had so much influence in the house of commons, as is well known, that nothing could have passed there contrary to its desires. His lordship afterwards says, “ There cannot be a greater manifestation of the distemper and licence of the time, than the presumption of those presbyterian ministers, in the opposing and contradicting an act of parliament; when there was scarce a man in that number who had not been so great a promoter of the rebellion, or contributed so much to it, that they had no other title to their lives but by the kings mercy; and there were very few amongst thein who had not come into the possession of the churches they now held, by the expulsion of the orthodox aninisters, who were lawfully possessed of them; and who being, by their imprisonment, poverty, and other kinds of oppression and contempt, during so many years, departed this life, the usurpers remained undisturbed in their livings, and thought it now the highest
of the nation, promoting and propagating
tyranny to be removed from them, though for offend ing the law and disobedience to the government. That those men should give themselves an act of oblivion of all their transgressions and wickedness, and take upon them again to pretend a liberty of conscience against the government which they had once overthrown upon their pretences; was such an 'impudence as could not have fallen into the hearts even of those men, from the stock of their own. malice, without
some great defect in the government, and encourage ·ment or countenance from the highest powersa."= Surely the losers had a right to speak. - Mr. Locke gives it as his opinion, “ that Bartholomew-day was fatal to our church and religion ; throwing out a very great number of worthy, learned, pious, and orthodox divines, who could not come up to this (non-resistance],' and other things, in that'act : and it is upon this occasion,” adds he, “worth your knowledge, that so great was the zeal in carrying on this church affair, and so blind was the obedience required, that, if you compute the time in passing this act with the time allowed for the clergy to subscribe the book of common prayer thereby established, you shall plainly find, it could not be printed and distributed so as one. man in forty could have seen and read the book they did só perfectly assent and consent to b." And the very worthy, excellent Dr. Clayton says, “I find, by the words of the act of parliament, which enjoins the dė claration of our assent and consent to all things con
* Clarendon's Continuation, vol. II. p. 298. Letter to a person of quality; apud Torbuck's Parliamentary Debates, vol. I. p. 73. 8vo. Lond. 1741.
the protestant religion, uniformity in opi
tained in the Book of Common Prayer, that the pur-' port and intent of the act is, that this declaration of åssent should be only to the use of those things which are contained in the said book, which is very different from assenting to the things themselves. - How these words, to the use of, came to be omitted in the express form of words that are ordered to be read in church for a legal qualification, I cannot say ; nor whether they were omitted out of neglect or by design: but I own it seems to me, when I consider the humour of the times when that act was made, that it was done with design; as 'a snare to obligé poor conscientious' men, who did not read the act of parliament at length, to give up their livings rather than declare their unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing contained in the Book of Common Prayer. For it is to be observed, that this condition was not required by the act of uniforinity, as published in the time of queen Elizabeth ; but was an addition made thereto after the Restoration of king Charles the Second, when the nation was, as it were, mad with the joy of having re'covered its antient constitution both in church and state: the little oath therefore, wherein it was declared, that it is not lawful, upon any pretence whatsoever, to take arms' against the king, was at the same time inserted into the act of uniformity. Which part of that acť hath been since repealed; and, indeed, I cannot but sincerely wish, that the other addition, which was made at the same time, was so far rectified, that the words of the declaration should be made to correspond with the design of the act; which manifestly was, to require the declaration of assent and consent only to the use of all and every thing contained in the book of
nions concerning it, and in the external
common prayer. Because I think that that solemn declaration, which a clergyman is obliged to make in the presence of God and his congregation, when he is going to take upon himself the care of their souls, ought to be simple, positive, plain; free from all ambiguity or doubtfulness; and should be expressed in such a manner, as that it cannot be misunderstood, either by him, or by the congregation : but that he may safely and honestly make it, according to that plain and ordinary sense of the words in which they would be commonly understood by all mankind, without any evasion, equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever; that is, without any latent reference to the intention of the act, which is not expressed in the very words of the declaration. But though we should suppose this was done, and that subscriptions were declared to be required for peace-sake; yet there is still a difficulty which remains behind, with regard to those who do not approve of all the articles of the established religion, or of every thing in the liturgy: because it is natural for them to desire, that those things, which they take to be errors, should be amended: and yet it is found, by experience, that whoever attempts to find fault with the canons, or the articles of religion, or the established form of liturgy, becomes immediately a disturber of the peace of the church, as he is sure, at least, to be loaded with the opprobrious name of schismatic, or heretic; which, eyer since the days of popery, are sounds that occasion wondrous horror in the ears of the vulgara. " All this seems to proceed from an honest and a good heart. But
• Essay on Spirit; in the Dedieation, p. 12–18. Svo. Lond. 1752.