Abbildungen der Seite

The presbyterian clergy were in some degree affected with the commotions, though envy itself could not charge them with guilt; but it was the wish and desire of the prelatical party, that they might discover their uneasinesses in such a manner as might expose them to trouble ; for their ruin was already determined, only some pretexts were wanting to cover the design, particularly such as affected the peace of the kingdom, and might not reflect on his majesty’s declaration from Breda, which promised, that no person should be molested purely for religion.t But they were insulted by the mob in the streets; when their families were singing psalms in their houses, they were frequently interrupted by blowing of horns, or throwing stones at the windows. The presbyterian ministers made the best retreat they could, after they had unadvisedly delivered themselves up into the hands of their enemies; for while they were careful to maintain an inviolable loyalty to his majesty’s person and government, they contended for their religious principles in the press; several new pamphlets were published, and a great many old ones reprinted, about the magistrates’ right of imposing things indifferent in the worship of God.—Against bowing at the name of Jesus.—The unlawfulness of the ceremonies of the church of England.—The common-prayer book unmasked.—Grievances and corruptions in church-government, &c. most of which were answered by divines of the episeopal party. - *

But the most remarkable treatise that appeared about this time, and which, if it had taken place, must have pre

an historian: and adds, “Sewel, a quaker, speaks more favorably. This writer, as Dr. Grey quotes him, does say, that at this time the king shewed himself moderate, for at the solicitation of some he set at liberty about seven hundred of the people called quakers; and that they were acquitted from any hand in Venner's plot, and that, being continually importuned, the king issued forth a declaration, that the akers should be set at liberty without paying fees.” But though ewel states these facts, Dr. Grey either overlooked, or forgot to inform his reader, that Mr. Neal, in charging the king with the breach of his promise, speaks on the authority of Sewel ; who says, “the king seemed a good-natured prince, yet he was so misled that in process of time he seemed to have forgot what he so solemnly promised on the word of a king.” History of the Quakers, p. 257. Ed.

t Rapin, vol. ii. p. 624, folio.

[ocr errors]

vented the mischiefs that followed. I was that of the rever

end Dr. Edward Stillingfleet, rector of Sutton in Bedfordshire, and afterwards the learned and worthy bishop of Worcester, who first made himself known to the world at this time by his Irenicum. or, A Weapon Salve for the Church's Wounds; printed 1661, in which he attempts to prove, that no form of church-government is of divine right, and that the church had no power to impose things indifferent. I shall beg the reader's attention to a few passages out of his preface. “The design of our Savior (says he) was to ease men of their former burthens, and not to lay on more; the duties he required were no other but such as were necessary; and withal very just and reasonable ; he that came to take away the insupportable yoke of Jewish ceremonies, certainly did never intend to gall the necks of his disciples with another instead of it; and it would be strange the church should require more than Christ himself did, and make other conditions of her communion than our Savior did of discipleship. What possible reason can be assigned or given why such things should not be sufficient for communion with the church, which are sufficient for eternal salvation ? And certainly those things are sufficient for that, which are laid down as the necessary duties of christianity by our Lord and Savior in his word. + “What ground can there be why christians should not stand upon the same terms now, which they did in the time of Christ and his apostles? Was not religion sufficiently guarded and fenced in then P Was there ever more true and cordial reverence in the worship of God? What char. ter hath Christ given the church to bind men up to more than himself hath done? Or to exclude those from her society who may be admitted into heaven? Will Christ ever thank men at the great day, for keeping such out from communion with his church, who he will vouchsafe not only crowns of glory to, but it may be aureolae too, if there be any such things there? The grand commission the apostles were sent out with, was only to teach what Christ had commanded them; not the least intimation of any power given them to impose or require any thing beyond what himself had spoken to them, or they were directed to by the immediate guidance of the spirit of God. It is not, whether the things commanded and required be lawful or not? It is not whether indifferences may be determined or no P. It is not how far christians are bound to submit to a restraint of their christian liberty, which I now enquire af. ter, but whether they consult the church’s peace and unity who suspend it upon such things. We never read of the apostles making laws but of things necessary, as .1cts xv. 19. It was not enough with them that the things would be necessary when they had required them ; but they looked upon an antecedent necessity either absolute or for the present state, which was the only ground of their imposing these commands upon the Gentile christians. But the Holy Ghost never thought those things fit to be made matters of law to which all parties should conform. All that the apostles required as to this was mutual forbearance and condescension towards each other in them. The apostles valued not indifferences at all; and those things they accounted as such which were of no concernment to their salvation. And what reason is there why men should be tied

t A conciliating and liberal design formed by two respectable men deserves to be mentioned here. “Soon after the restoration, the honorable Mr. Boyle and sir Peter Pett, were discoursing of the severities practised by the bishops towards the puritans in the reign of Charles I. and of those which were returned on the episcopal divines during the following usurpations; and being apprehensive that the restored clergy might he tempted by their late sufferings to such a vindictive retaliation as would be contrary to the true measures of christianity and polities, they came at last to an agreement, that it would tend to the public good, to have something written and published in defence of liberty of conscience. Sir Peter Pett engaged to write on the political part of the question. Mr. Boyle undertook to engage Dr. Thomas Barlow to treat of the theological part: and he also prevailed on Mr John Dury, who had spent many years in his travels, and had taken an active part in a scheme for reconciling the lutherans and calvinists, to state the fact of the allowance of liberty of conscience in foreign parts. Sir Peter Pett's and Mr. Dury's tracts were printed in 1660. But, for particular reasons, the publication of Dr. Barlow's piece did not take place : but it

... was published after his death.

“Dr. Barlow had given offence by writing, just before the restoration, a letter to Mr. Tombs, and expressing in it some prejudice against the practice of infant baptism, and by refusing, even after the restoration, to retract that letter. This refusal, was a noble conduct; for the doctor was in danger by it of losing his station in the university of Oxford and all his hopes of future preferment.” This shews how obnoxious was the sect of the baptists. Birch's Life of Boyle, p. 299, 300. Ed.

up so strictly to such things which may do or let alone, and yet be very good christians? Without all controversy, the main inlet of all the distractions, confusions and divisions, of the christian world, has been by adding other conditions of church communion than Christ has done.—Would there ever be the less peace and unity in a church, if the diversity were allowed as to practices supposed indifferent? Yea, there would be so much more, as there was a mutual forbearance and condescension as to such things. The unity of the church is an unity of love and affection, and not a bare uniformity of practice and opinion.—There is nothing in the primitive church more deserving our imitaton than that admirable temper, moderation, and condescension which was used in it towards its members. It was never thought worth the while to make any standing laws for rites and customs that had no other original but tradition, much less to suspend men her communion for not observing them.1–’” The doctor’s proposals for an accommodation were, “4. That nothing be imposed as necessary but what is clearly revealed in the word of God. 2. That nothing be required or determined but what is sufficiently known to be indifferent in its own nature. 3. That whatever is thus determined be in order only to a due performance of what is in general required in the word of God, and not to be looked upon as any part of divine worship or service. 4. That no sanctions be made, or mulcts or penalties be inflicted, on such who only dissent from the use of some things whose lawfulness they at present scruple, till sufficient time and means be used for their information of the nature and indifferency of these things. I am sure (says the doctor) it is contrary to the primitive practice, and the moderation then used, to suspend or deprive men of their ministerial function for not conforming in habits and gestures, or the like. Lastly, that religion be not clogged with ceremonies; for when they are multiplied too much, though lawful, they eat out the heart, heat, life, and vigor of christianity.—”ş If the doctor had steadily adhered to these principles, he could hardly have subscribed the act of uni

[ocr errors]

formity next year, much less have written so warmly against the dissenters, as he did twenty years afterwards.” But all he could say or do at present availed nothing, the presbyterians were in disgrace, and nothing could stem the torrent of popular fury that was now coming upon them.

[In the year 1660, April 25th died, when the king designed to advance him to the see of Worcester, the learned Dr. Henry Hammond. In addition to the short account given of him by Mr. JWeal, vol. iii. p. 454, some other particulars may be subjeined here. He was born 18th August, 1605, at Chertsey in Surry; and was the youngest son of Dr. John Hammond, a physician. He received his grammar learning at Eaton-school, and in 1618 was sent to Magdalen college in Oxford, of which he was elected fellow in July 1625; and entered into holy orders in 1629. The rectory of Penshurst was bestowed upon him by the earl of Leicester in 1633. In 1640, he was chosen one of the members of the convocation ; in 1643 made archdeacon of Chichester, and the same year was named one of the assembly of divines, but never sat amongst them. He was distinguished in his youth for the sweetness of his carriage, and at the times allowed for play, would steal, from his fellows, into places of privacy to pray:—omens of his future pacific temper and eminent devotion. When he was at the university he generally spent thirteen hours of the day in study. Charles I. said, “he was the most natural orator he had ever heard.” He was extremely liberal to the poor; and was used to say, that, “it was a most

* “If Mr. Neal,” says Dr. Grey, “would allow a man to retract his mistakes upon discovering them, he would not find fault with bishop Stillingfleet.” He then quotes the bishop's apology for his conduct, from the Preface to “The Unreasonableness of Separation.” “If any thing in the following treatise be found different from the sense of that book, I intreat them to allow me that, which I heartily wish to them, that in twenty years time, we may arrive to such maturity of thoughts, as to see reason to change our opinion of some things, and I wish I had not cause to add, of some persons.” But notwithstanding the foree of the bishop's plea, it will not, I conceive, be deemed a fortunate or honorable change, if a man's views and spirit, instead of enlarging and becoming more liberal, are contracted and grow narrow and partial : if, instead of being the advocate for generous and conciliating measures, he should argue for oppression and intolerance. Ed.

Wol. IV. 45

« ZurückWeiter »