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those who should rather have submitted to it, than have been deprived of their ministry, durst not concur in the suspension of others, who were more scrupulous of it than themselves.
By Can. 68. “ Ministers are required to baptize all children without exception, who are offered to them for that purpose."
Though some of the silenced ministers were much straiter in their notions about the qualified subjects of baptism than others, they were generally against submission to this canon, because not convinced that the children of all comers (e. g. infidels and profane, &c.) have right to this ordinance. And they apprehended swearing obedience herein, to be a consenting in effect, to the profaning this sacred institution.
By Can. 72. “Ministers are debarred the liberty of keeping private fasts upon any occasion, or so much as being present at them, without exposing themselves to suspension the first time, excommunication the second, and deposition the third." These ministers esteemed those unworthy of that sacred function, who were not to be trusted to fast and pray with their people, as occasions might require. And, taking this to be a part of their office, they could no more renounce it than the liberty of preaching the gospel.
By Can. 112. “ The minister, jointly with the parish of. ficers, is required every year, within forty days after Easter, to exhibit to the bishop or his chancellor, the names of all his parishioners, of the age of sixteen, who did not receive the communion at Easter before." With this canon agrees the rubrick in the communion office, which requires every parishioner to communicate at the least three times in the year, of which Easter is to be one. And if they refuse after presentation, they are to be excommunicated, and are liable to be confined in gaol till they die, by virtue of the writ de excommunicato capiendo. In this the silenced ministers durst not concur, being convinced this would fill the church with such as ought rather to be kept away; prevent all possibility of discipline, and be a bar to that purity, which is a great design of Christianity, as well as greatly terrify many timorous Christians.
Omitting some others, the three last canons relate to the authority of synods, and require all to be excommunicated who affirm, that “a convocation, summoned by the king's authority, is not the true church of England by representation; or that the absent as well as present, are not to be sub
ject to the decrees of such an assembly: or that their canons and constitutions are despicable, &c." These canons they could not oblige themselves to submit to, because of the disputable nature of the matters contained in them.
« That a convocation is the true church of England by representation," seemed to thein justly questionable, not only because the laity (whom they thought a part of the church) were altogether excluded, but also because the clergy were far from being therein fairly represented. But though they should be mistaken in points of this nature, it seemed to them strangely and needlessly severe, that an excommunication must presently be thundered out, for what might be a mere mistake without any malignity. They thought this highly unsuitable to the Christian spirit, and contrary to the will of our Saviour, who has so often recommended mildness and gentleness to his church; and therefore they could not swear submission.
It hath been pleaded by many, That the oath of canonical obedience doth not require approbation of all that is in the canons. To which they answered, That, in their judgment, the case of a minister was much the same as that of a justice of peace, who though not bound by his oath to approve of every law of the land, yet is bound by his office, when he is called to it, to execute them all.
2. Another capital reason why these ministers scrupled taking the oath of canonical obedience was, that they found the episcopal government managed by chancellor's courts, (which were kept in the bishop's name indeed, while they were not suffered to act in them) where laymen exercise authority, by decretive excommunications and absolutions.
They found the word ordinary, mentioned in the oath, would admit of divers senses. That it not only meant the bishop of the diocese, but the judges in their courts. And as for the “other chief ministers” added in the oath, to whom subjection was to be sworn, they saw not how less could be meant, than all the archdeacons, officials, commissaries, and surrogates, with the rest of the attendants upon those courts. Now they durst not bind themselves by oath to a submission of this nature, for fear of concurring to overthrow the pastoral office. They thought the keys of the church as inuch belonged to the pastor as the adıninistration of the sacraments; and that in case of abuse, an appeal might more properly be lodged with a synod, or with a meeting consisting partly of ministers, and partly of deputies from the neighbouring churches, than with a set of wrangling lawyers, whose concern in such matters they looked upon as irrational as well as unscriptural; and whose management of thein was more likely to be calculated for their own profit, than the credit of religion, and the purity of the church.
As for the provision made by the rubrick before the communion office, “That when a minister keeps any persons “ from the sacrament, he should within forty days give “ an account to the ordinary, that he may proceed against “ them according to the canons,” they could not acquiesce in it, being dissatisfied as to the grounds upon which these ordinaries (whether mere laymen, simple presbyters, or diocesans) appropriated the cognizance of matters of this nature to themselves, which in the judgment of common sense was more proper for those that had the opportunity of personal inspection, than for strangers. They were also confirmed in their dislike of this method of procedure, because of the tediousness, difficulty, and expensiveness of it; because of the number that must be accused if the canons were followed; because of the great hindrance it would be to them in their ministerial work; and in a word, be. cause of the impossibility of keeping up any real discipline in such a way; to which they were rendered averse by observation and experience.
Excommunications and absolutions they looked upon as very weighty matters, and durst not agree to trifle in them. If the bishops could trust their consciences with their chancellors, they desired to be excused till they were better satisfied in the point *. They could not yield to receive and publish their excommunications blindly, lest they should be chargeable with their irregularities and abuses, and be the instruments of molesting, worrying and ruining, as religious persons perhaps as any in their parishes. Nor durst they consent to publish these absolutions of notorious debauchees, who have given, it may be, no other proof of repentance of their crimes than paying the fees of the court. These things, they well knew, exposed the censures of the church to scandal and contempt, and therefore they were unwilling to give their countenance to them.
* The church-party themselves have not been insensible of corruptions in this respect. Among others, Bishop Burnet, at the close of his History of she Reformation, observes, “ There is one thing (we could heartily wish there were no more) yet wanting to complete the reformation of this church;
IV. They were also required by the Act of uniformity, to abjure the Solemn League and Covenant, in these words: “I A. B. do declare, that I do hold there lies no “ obligation upon me, or any other person, from the oath « commonly called, The Solemn League and Covenant, « to endeavour any change or alteration of government, " either in church or state, and that the same was in itself “ an unlawful oath, and imposed upon the subjects of this ," realm against the known laws and liberties of this king“ dom."
Though many of the ministers who were ejected had not taken this Covenant, and more of them were all along against the imposing it, their consciences would not allow them to yield to such a renunciation as this, for which a parallel can hardly be found in any age. Every man's endeavouring in his proper sphere to alter church-government, as far as he is convinced of its being faulty, appeared to them a matter of duty; and a thing to which that Cove-nant so far obliged all who took it, that all the princes and prelates in Christendom could not give them a dispensation. But for every one in holy orders to determine for all in the three kingdoms, who had taken the Covenant, that they were no way bound by it, they esteemed an unprecedented assumption. They remembered that king Charles himself had taken it into Scotland, with all possible appearance of seriousness and solennity. This indeed he had done no less than three times; and they durst not run the hazard of tempting the king himself, and thousands of his subjects. to incur the guilt of perjury, or of hardening them under that guilt.
V. Besides the oath of allegiance and supremacy, all in holy orders were, by the Act of uniformity, obliged to sub. scribe this political declaration : “I A. B. do declare, that “ it is not lawful, upon any pretence whatsoever, to take “ arms against the king; and that I do abhor that traita “ erous position of taking arms by his authority against his " person, or against those that are commissionated by hiin."
Though the silenced ministers were as free as any for the Oath of allegiance, and ready to give the government « which is, the restoring a primitive discipline against scandalous persons, “ the establishing the government of the church in ecclesiastical hands, " and taking out of lay-hands, who have so long profaned it, and have
exposed the authority of the church, and the censures of it, chiefly ex« communication, to the contempt of the nation ; by which the reverence « due to holy things is in so great a measure lost, and the dreadfullest of all censures is now become the most scorned and despised." VOL. I. NO. 2,
any reasonable assurance of a peaceable subjection, yet they were not for subscribing this declaration, for fear of contributing to betray the liberties of their country. For, being sensible that it is possible for the law and the king's commission to be contrary to each other, they thought it the duty of Englishmen as free people, to adhere rather to the former than to the latter. They esteemed self-clefence a part of the law of nature, and thought that the body of a nation have, by that law, a self-defending power against their enemies, and it was their comfort under the severe censures cast upon them, to have the Greeks and Romans, philosophers, orators and historians, the ancient bishops of the church, the most celebrated modern histo. rians, civilians, and canonists, together with such eininent persons even in the church of England, as Bishop Bilson, Bishop Jeremy Taylor, and Mr. Hooker, concurring in the same opinion with themselves. And notwithstanding all the clamours of their insulting brethren, they were satisfied that those who were most forward for this declaration, and most fierce in condemning such as scrupled it, would not adhere to it, if at any time they found things were come to extremity, as the event verified: for upon the landing of the prince of Orange, when to secure religion, liberty, and property, all ranks and qualities, both of clergy and laity, finding room for a particular exception, where they would before allow of no case whatsoever, ventured to join with a foreign prince, whom they had called in to their assistance, against the person of their sovereign King James, and those who were commissioned by him. As for the poor ejected ministers, who endured such hardships for refusing this declaration, They came off with this honourable testimony from impartial spectators, that by their refusal they helped, as much as in them lay, to pave the way for that glorious Revolution, to which we owe all our present happiness, and all our future hopes; while the promoters of this declaration, and all that adhered to it, could contribute nothing in the case, without bidding defiance to their most darling principle: the principle which for twenty years together had made the pulpits ring and the press groan.
These two last points, " of renouncing the covenant “ and subscribing against taking arms in any case whatso
ever," have not for some time been insisted on, with such as enter the ministry in the established church. The former was fixed by the act, only till 1682, and then it