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rigour, by the instigation and encourage
school, or take any boarders or tablers that were taught by any other, on pain likewise of forfeiting forty pounds. And two justices, opon oath made of any offence against the act, ivere to commit the offender for six months, without bail or mainprize.” justice, or chief magistrate, on the oath of two witnesses was to make a record of a conventicle, where any five persons, above sixteen years of age (besides those of the same household), should be assembled, for the exercise of religion, in any other manner than aco cording to the Liturgy and practice of the Church of England; which record was to be a conviction, and thereupon a fine of five shillings was to be imposed upon every offender, wbich was to be certified to the next quarter sessions. And for the second, and every other offence, ten shillings each : and in case of poverty, it is allowed to be levied on any other persons goods, present at the same conventicle. The preacher was to forfeit for the first offence twenty pounds, and forty afterwards, which might be levied on any of the hearers. Those who suffered a meeting to be in their house, barn, or yard, were to forfeit twenty pounds; which might likewise be levied on the goods of any present: provided that no person pay above ten pounds for any one meeting, in regard of the poverty of any other person or persons. Forfeitures incurred by married women, were to be levied on their husbands
These statutes need no comment. They were all except the last, the projection of lord Clarendon; and will reflect disgrace on his name and administration, as long as there is sense, virtue, or
* Stat. 17 Car. II, C. 2.
Stat. 22 Car. II. C 1,
ment of the prelates.- In Scotland, mat
humanity, in the world. That these laws were rigorously executed, our histories abundantly testify. That the prelates instigated the execution of them, will not be doubted by any one who reads wbat follows. Sheldon, archbishop of Canterbury, in a letter to the bishops of his province, dated Lambeth-house, May 7, 1670, says, “ It hath pleased his majesty, and the two houses of parliament, out of their pious care for the welfare of this church and kingdom, by making and publishing the late act for preventing and suppressing conventicles, to lay a hopeful way for the peace and settlement of the church, and the uniformity of Gods service in the same; it becomes us, the bishops, as more particularly sensible of the good providence of God, to endeavour, as much as in us lies, the promoting so blessed a work : and therefore having well considered what will be fit for me to do in my particular diocese, I thought fit to recommend the same council and method (which I intend, God willing, to pursue myself) to your lordship, and the rest of my brethren the bishops of my province, being thereunto encouraged by his majesty's approbation and express direction in this affair.--Your lordship is desired to recommend to the ecclesiastical judges and officers, and the clergy of your diocese, the care of the people under their respective jurisdictions and charges, that in their several places they do their best to perswade and win all non-conformists and dissenters to obedience to his majesty's laws, and unity with the church; and such as shall be refractory, to endeavour to reduce by the censures of the church, or such other good means as shall be most conducing thereunto: to which end I advise, that all and every of the said ecclesiastical
ters were still worse.
judges and officers, and every of the clergy of your diocese, and the churchwardens of every parish, by their respective ministers, be desired, in their respective stations and places, that they take notice of all nonconformists, holders, frequenters, maintainers, abettors of conventicles and unlawful assemblies, under pretence of religious worship, especially of the preachers and teachers in them, and of the places wherein the same are held, ever keeping a more watchful eye over the cities and greater towns, from whence the mischief is for the most part derived into the lesser villages and hamlets; and wheresoever they find such wilful offenders, that then, with a hearty affection to the worship of God, the honour of the king and his laws, and the peace of the church and kingdom, they do address themselves to the civil magistrate, justices, and others concerned, imploring their help and assistance, for preventing and suppressing of the same, according to the late said act in that behalf made and set forth.” The bishops and clergy, we may well think, were not wanting in their duty ; especially as we find the archdeacon of Lincoln earnestly desiring the parishes, within his jurisdiction, to take especial regard to perform whatsoever was required in the above letter; and adding, “ how you shall discharge your duty therein, I shall expect an account at the next Visitation.” In the year 1683, the justices of peace for the county of Devon, “ agreed and resolved, in every division of the county, to require sufficient sureties for the good abeæring and peaceable behaviour of all such as they might justly suspect, or receive any credible information against, that they have been at any conventicles and unlawful meetings, or any factious or seditious clubs.;
or that have by any discourses discovered themselves to be disaffected to the present established government either in church or state ; or that have been the authors or publishers of any seditious libels; or that shall not, in all things, duly conform themselves to the present established government.
And being fully satisfied, as well by the clear evidence of the late horrid plot (Lord Russell's] as by their own long and sad experience, that the non-conformist preachers are the authors and fomenters of this pestilent faction, and the implacable enemies of the established government, and to whom the late execrable treasons, which have had such dismal effects in this kingdom, are principally to be imputed ; and who, by their present obstinate refusing to take and subscribe an oath and declaration, that they do not hold it lawful to take up arms against the king, and that they will not endeavour any alteration of government in church or state; do necessarily enforce us to conclude, that they are still ready to engage themselves (if not actually engaged) in some rebellious conspiracy against the king, and to invade and subvert his government: Wherefore,” say they,
say they, “we resolve in every parish, in this county, to leave strict warrants in the hands of all constables, for the seizing of such persons. And, as an encouragement to all officers and others that shall be instrumental in the appreșending of any of them, so as they may be brought to justice, we will give and allow forty shillings, as a reward for every non-conformist preacher that shall be so secured. And we resolve to prosecute them, and all other such dangerous enemies of the government, and common absenters from church, and frequenters of conventicles, according to the directions of a law made in the five
time, in the eyes of the majority of the peo
and-thirtieth year of the reign of queen Elizabeth, entitled, An Act for keeping her Majesties subjects in due obedience.” _" This order, which will appear a very cruel one to most readers, was happy enough, however, to meet with the approbation and applause of the right reverend diocesan ; who, as he tells the world, that the continued care of his majesties justices of the peace for the county of Devon, for the safety of his majesties sacred person, the preservation of the publick peace, and advancement of true religion, may be fuller known, and have a better effect, ordered and required all the clergy of his diocese, within the county of Devon, deliberately to publish this order the next Sunday after it should be tendered to them."--If any one is desirous of knowing the name of such a wretch, it was Lamplugh. The Middlesex justices, at the general quarter sessions, Oct. 14, 1681, declared, " that all house-keepers, within the county, who kept ale-houses, and other publick-houses for entertainment, by virtue of any licence, and should not go to their parish-church, and receive the sacrament according to the practice of the Church of England, or should go to any conventicle, should have their licenses taken from them.”— They also farther declared, “ that if the churchwardens and overseers of the poor should dispose of any of the parish money by way of pension, or otherwise, to poor people who frequent conventieles, and do not come to their parish-church, and receive the sacrament there (except in case of sickness and necessity to be allowed by a justice of peace), the money
* See the Dedication to Long's Sermon on the Original of War. 4to. Londo