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Charles I. except the oath ex officio-and it was made a premunire to call the king a Papist *.
The storm was all this wbile gathering very black over the Presbyterians ; for when the parliament met a second time, November 20, the king complimented the bishops, who appeared now again in their places among the peers, and observed in his speech, that it was a felicity he had much desired to see, as the only thing wanting to restore the old constitution. He then spoke the language of the chancellor, and told the commons, “that there were many wicked instruments who laboured night and day to disturb the public peace.—That it was worthy of their care to provide proper remedies for the diseases of that kind; that if they found new diseases they must find new remedies. That the difficulties which concerned religion were too hard for him, and therefore he recommended them to their care and deliberation who could best provide for them.” The tendency of this speech was to make way for breaking through the Breda declaration, and to furnish the parliament with a pretence for treating the Nonconformists with rigour, to which they were themselves too well inclined.
Lord Clarendon, in a conference between the two houses, affirmed positively, that there was a real conspiracy against the peace of the kingdom; and though it was disconcerted in the city, it was carried on in divers counties; a committee was therefore appointed to inquire into the truth of the report; but after all their examinations not one single person was convicted, or so much as prosecuted for itt. Great pains were taken to fasten some treasonable designs on the Presbyterians; letters were sent from unknown hands to the chiefs of the party in several parts of the kingdom, intimating the project of a general insurrection, in which their friends were concerned, and desiring them to communicate it to certain persons in their neighbourhood, whom they name in their letters, that they may be ready at time and place. A letter of this kind was directed to the reverend Mr. Sparry, in Worcestershire, desiring him and captain Yarrington to be ready with money; and to acquaint Mr. Oatland and Mr. Baxter with the design. This, with a packet of the same kind, was said to be left under a hedge by a Scots pedlar; and as soon as they were found, they were carried to sir J. Packington, who immediately committed Sparry, Oatland, and Yarrington, to prison. The militia of the county was raised, and the city of Worcester put into a posture of defence; but the sham was so notorious, that the earl of Bristol, though a Papist, was ashamed of it; and after some time the prisoners, for want of evidence, were released. The members for Oxfordshire, Herefordshire, and Staffordshire, informed the commons, that they had rumours of the like conspiracies in their counties. Bishop Burnet says, “that many were taken up, but none tried ; that this was done to fasten an odium on the Presbyterians, and to help to carry the penal laws through the house; and there were appearances of foul dealing (says he) among the fiercer sort.” Mr. Locke adds, that the reports of a general insurrection were spread over the whole nation, by the very persons who invented them; and though lord Clarendon could not but be acquainted with the farce, he kept it on foot to facilitate passing the severe laws that were now coming upon the carpet * The government could not with decency attack the Nonconformists purely on account of their religion ; the declaration from Breda was too express on that article ; they were therefore to be charged with raising disturbances in the state. But supposing the fact to be true, that some few malecontents had been seditiously disposed, which yet was never made out, what reason can be assigned why it should be charged upon the principles of a whole body of men, who were unquestionably willing to be quiet?
* To Mr. Neal's detail of the acts of this session, it should be added, that the commons voted, that all their members should receive the sacrament according to the prescribed liturgy, before a certain day, under penalty of expulsion. This was intended as a test of their religious sincerity. Besides repealing the solemn league and covenant, they ordered it to be taken out of all the courts and places where it was recorded, and to be burnt by the common hangman. To the same sentence were doomed all acts, ordinances, or engagements, which had been dictated by a republican spirit during the late times. And they enervated the right of petitioning by various restrictions ; limiting the number of signatures to twenty, unless with the sanction of three justices, or the major part of the grand jury; and of those who should present a petition to the king or either house of parliament to ten persons, under the penalty of a fine of 1001. and three months' imprisonment. Secret History of the Court and Reign of Charles II. vol. 1. p. 412-414.-ED.
+ Kennet's Chron. p. 602.
It was nevertheless on this base and dishonourable suggestion, that the first penal law which passed against the Non-conformists this session was foundedt, entitled,
“ An act for the well-governing and regulating corporations ;" which enacts, “that within the several cities, corporations, boroughs, cinque-ports, and other port-towns within the kingdom of England, dominion of Wales, and town of Berwick-uponTweed, all mayors, aldermen, recorders, bailiffs, town-clerks, common-council-men, and other persons bearing any office or offices of magistracy, or places, or trusts, or other employment, relating to or concerning the government of the said respective cities, corporations, and borougls, and cinque-poris, and their members, and other port-towns, shall take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and this oath following:
"*1, A. B., do declare and believe, that it is not lawful upon any pretence whatsoever to take arms against the king; and that I do abhor that traitorous position of taking arms by his authority against his person, or against those that are commissioned by him.
• Rapin, vol. 2. p. 627.
+ Kennet's Chron. p. 602. “One would suppose (it has been well remarked), that the parliament, who prescribed such an oath, must have been as near-sighted and as stupid as they were servile and corrupt. Such a maxim of nonresistance to the king, on any pretence,
- They shall also subscribe the following declaration:
6661, Á. B., do declare, that there lies no obligation upon me from the solemn league and covenant, and that the same was an unlawful oath imposed on the subject against the laws and liberties of the kingdom.'
“ Provided also, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no person shall hereafter be elected or chosen into
of the offices or places aforesaid, that shall not have, within one year next before such election or choice, taken the sacrament of the Lord's supper, according to the rites of the church of England; and that every person so elected shall take the aforesaid oaths, and subscribe the said declaration at the same time when the oath for the due execution of the said places and offices shall be respectively administered.”
Thus all Nonconformists were turned out of all the branches of magistracy at once, and rendered incapable of serving their country in the offices of a common-council-man, or a burgess or bailiff of the smallest corporation. The oath imposed in this act robbed them of their right as subjects. Mr. Echard confesses that it seems at once to give up the whole constitution; and no wonder, says he, if many of the clergy as well as laity, on the account of this act, espoused a doctrine which, if rigidly taken, was hard to be reconciled to the great deliverance afterward. Mr. Rapin adds*, that to say that it is not lawful on any pretence whatever to resist the king, is, properly speaking, to deliver up the liberties of the nation into his hands. The high churchmen had then elevated ideas of the royal authority. But even this parliament did not think fit afterward to admit the dangerous consequences of their own maxims.
Commissioners were appointed, and employed during this and the following year, to visit the several corporations in England, and to turn out of office such as were in the least suspected; who executed their commissions with so much rigour, that the corporations had not one member left, who was not entirely devoted to the king and the church.
FROM THE CONFERENCE AT THE SAVOY, TO THE ACT OF
UNIFORMITY. 1661. ACCORDING to his majesty's declaration of October 25, 1660, concerning ecclesiastical affairs, twelve bishopst and nine assistwas directly subversive of their own consequence as well as of civil and religious liberty. The extent to which this principle might be carried, was put to the proof by James II., but the people of England rent asunder the chains which had been forged for them by their perfidious representatives." Secret History of the Court and Reign of Charles II. vol. 1. p. 428, note.-ED.
• Vol. 2. p. 628. + Dr. Nichols reckons twelve bishops, but has left out the bishop of Chichester,
ants were appointed on the part of the episcopal church of England, and as many ministers on the side of the Presbyterians, to assemble at the bishop of London's lodgings at the Savoy, “ to review the Book of Common Prayer, comparing it with the most ancient and purest liturgies; and to take into their serious and grave considerations the several directions and rules, forms of prayer, and things in the said Book of Common Prayer contained, and to advise and consult upon the same, and the several objections and exceptions which shall now be raised against the same; and if occasion be, to make such reasonable aad necessary alterations, corrections, and amendments, as shall be agreed upon to be needful and expedient for giving satisfaction to tender consciences, and the restoring and continuance of peace and unity in the churches under his majesty's government and direction." They were to continue four months from the 25th of March, 1661, and then present the result of their conferences to his majesty under their several hands.
The names of the episcopal divines on the side of the establishment at the Savoy conference were,
The Most Rev. Dr. Accepted Frewen, archbishop of York
Dr. John Cosins, bishop of Durham
Thomas Pierce, D.D.
Anthony Sparrow, D.D.
Herbert Thorndike, B.D. Peter Gunning, D.D. The names of the Presbyterian divines, or those who were for alterations in the hierarchy of the church at the Savoy conference, were,
The Right Rev. Edward Reynolds, bishop of Norwich
John Conant, D.D. Reg. Prof. Oxon
and named Edward bishop of Norwich. Dr. Kennet names thirteen bishops, amongst whom are the bishops of Chichester and Norwich. Dr. Grey's Examination, vol. 3. p. 308.-ED.
Benj. Woodbridge, B.D.
Mr. John Rawlinson, clerk
Mr. Wm Drake, clerk. John Lightfoot, D.D. When the commissioners* were assembled the first time April 15, the Archbishop of York stood up and said, he knew little of the business they were met about, and therefore referred it to Dr. Sheldon, bishop of London, who gave it as his opinion, that the Presbyterians having desired this conference, they (the bishops) should neither say nor do any thing till the others had brought in all their exceptions and complaints against the liturgy in writing, with their additional forms and amendmentst. The Presbyterians humbly moved for a conference according to the words of the commission, but the bishop of London insisting peremptorily upon his own method, the others consented to bring in their exceptions at one time, and their additions at another. For this purpose bishop Reynolds, Dr. Wallis, and the rest of the Presbyterian party, met from day to day to collect their exceptions#; but the additions, or drawing up a new form, was intrusted with Mr. Baxter alone. “ Bishop Sheldon saw well enough (says Burnet) what the effect would be of obliging them to make all their demands at once, that the number would raise a mighty outery against them as a people that could never be satisfied.”' On the other hand, the Presbyterians were divided in their sentiments; some were for insisting only on a few important things, reckoning that if they were gained, and a union followed, it might be easier to obtain others afterward. But the majority, by the influence of Mr. Baxter, were for extending their desires to the utmost, and thought themselves bound by the words of the commission to offer every thing they thought might conduce to the peace of the church, without considering what an aspect this would have with the world, or what influence their numerous demands might have upon the minds of those who were now their superiors in numbers and strengthll,
Though the Baptists in England were at this time very numerous, and as famous men amongst them for learning and piety as most in the commission ; yet no regard was had to their case, nor any one of that persuasion appointed to have any share in it. They did not design to reform so far; for if they could but bring the Presbyterian party in, which was the most numerous of the dissenters, that might be sufficient to secure their power ; though, by the consequence of this proceeding, it seems probable there was no design of reformation ; but only to quiet the minds of the people, till they could gain time." Crosby, vol. 2. p. 84, 85.- Ep. + Baxter's Life, part 2. p. 305.
Ibid. p. 306.
§ P. 262. 11.“ This (observes a late writer) was precisely what the advocates for persecution desired : they could say, that the king had taken every step, which the best policy and the tenderest concern for the happiness of all his subjects could suggest, to gain over and compose the jarring sects into a system of perfect harmony, but that all his wise and benevolent endeavours were defeated by the wilful obstinacy and perverseness of the Nonconformists; and that he must therefore now pursue such measures as the safety both of the church and state required.” Secret History of the Court and Reign of Charles II. vol. 1. p. 349, 350.-ED.