« AnteriorContinuar »
among other things, the churchwardens in every parish were enjoined to reinove the communion table from the iniddle to the east end of the chancel, the ground being raised for that purpose; and to fence it with decent rails, that it might not be profaned. This alteration, necessary as it was, could not pass without violent opposition in those miserable times; and even bishop W’illiams, a man unquestionably of enlarged sentiments in other respects, took advantage of the circumstance, and published a weak piece entitled “The Holy Table, name and thing;" which was shrewdly answered by the learned Heylyn. At this time the archbishop did the poor Irish clergy a very important service, by obtaining for them, from the king, a grant of all the impropriations that were then remaining in the crown. He also improved and settled the revenues of the London clergy in a better manner than they were before. February 5, 1634-5, he was put into the great committee of trade and the king's revenue, and shortly after appointed one of the commissioners of the treasury, in which situation he had frequent contests with Lord Cottington, chancellor of the exchequer.
Besides the parochial visitations, our archbishop visited also the cathedrals, and either provided for them new statutes, or improved their old ones. He insisted like. wise upon visiting the universicies as Metropolitan; which right, after some resistance, was adjudged to him, though he never took advantage of the decision.
To preserve and collect together the records in the Tower that concern the clergy, he was at the expence of having them all transcribed in a large vellum book, which was deposited in the Library at Lambeth for the benefit of posterity. For some years he had set his heart upon introducing the English liturgy into the church of Scot, land; and some of the bishops of that church had, under his direction, prepared both that and a body of canons for public service. The, canons were published in 1635; but the liturgy was not used till July 23, 1637. On that day it was first read in St. Giles's church in Edinburgh; when it occasioned a most violent tumult among the perverse and ignorant multitude, spirited up by many of the nobility who were losers by the restitution of episcopacy, and by the ministers who were attached to the presbyterian discipline. Our archbishop, having been the great promoter of that affair, was reviled for it in the most abusive manner; and both he and the book were charged
with downright popery. Some severe prosecutions, which were carried on at this time in the Star Chamber against Prynné, Burton, Bastwick, and other libellers, were also charged, though unjustly, upon the archbishop, and served to aid the purposes of the puritanic faction in rendering him odious to the people. The prosecution of bishop Williams also has been attributed to him, but whether upon any just grounds is a question of uncertainty.
In order to prevent the printing and publishing of any thing improper, he procured a decree to be passed in the Stár Chamber, July 81, 1637, to regulate the trade of printing; by which it was enjoined, that the master printers should be reduced to a certain number, and that none of them should print any books till they were licensed. He fell into the queen’s displeasure this year by speaking warmly to the king on the insolence of the Papists, and their success in making proselytes. In 1639, he employed a person to translate the liturgy into Greek; and at his recommendation bishop Hall wrote his able book.“ Of Episcopacy by divine right.” A new parliament, being summoned, met April 13, 1640, and the convocation the following day: but the Commons launching out into violent complaints against the archbishop, and upon the increase of grievances, the parliament was dissolved on the 5th of May. The convocation, however, continued sitting, which the archbishop was not satisfied with till he was determined by the opinion of lord. keeper Finch, and several other lawyers; as likewise by à precedent in 1586. In this convocation serenteen cánons were made, which, together with the continuance of the convocation, were afterwards charged upon the archbishop as a heinous crime.
In the parliament, which met November 3, 1640, many vehemént speeches were made against him; and on the 18th of December, Denzill Holles, esq. carried up to the House of Lord's, in the name of the Commons, the impeachment against him of high treason. Soon after, the Scotch commissioners presented also to the sanie assembly their charges against him ; on which he was immediately committed to the custody of the gentleman usher of the black rod. After he had continued ten weeks in custody, Sir Henry Vane, jun. brought up fourteen 'articles against him, and his grace was then conveyed to the Tower, amidst the insults and reproaches of an un
hined alsmake repare against
principled mob, encouragod and set on by the leaders of the faction, then bent upon the destruction of Church and State.
Soon after this, the Commons ordered him, with all who had passed sentence in the Star Chamber against Burton, Bastwick, and Prynne, to make reparation to those incendiaries. He was fined also 20,000l. for his concern in the late convocation. June 25, 1641, he sent down to Oxford his resignation of the chancellorship of that university, to be published in convocation. In order to take from him the disposal of benefices, the house of lords sequestered his jurisdiction, putting it into the hands of his inferior officers, and enjoined that he should give no benefice that was in his disposal, without first presenting to the house the names of such persons as he nominated to it, to be approved of by the house before collation or institution. As a farther proof of party malignity, the lords ordered his arıns at Lambeth palace to be taken away by the sheriffs of London. In fine, all the rerits and profits of the archbishopric were sequestered for the use of the commonwealth; and his house was plundered of what money it afforded, by two members of the House of Commons. What was still more oppressive, when he petitioned the same parliament which had robe bed him, for maintenance, he could obtain nothing; not even the least part of two hundred pounds worth of his own wood and coal at Lambeth, for his necessary use in the Tower. Such was the merciless conduct of these men, who pretended to be guided by the principles of equity, and who have been cried up by different historians as immaculate patriots.
On the 25th of April 1643, a motion was made in the House of Commons, at the instance of that religious buffoon and bloody regicide, Hugh Peters, and others, to transport the archbishop to New England, knowing well that in case he reached that country, the Puritan Inqui. sitors there would soon exercise all their vengeance upon him; but this motion was rejected.
On the oth of May his goods and books were sold for less than a third of the value. All this was done before the archbishop was brought to trial, and that by inen who pretended justice in all their proceedings.
The thirty-first of the same month, W. Prynne, by a warrant from the close committee, came and searched bis room, and even rifed his pockets; taking away his
diary, diary, private devotions, and twenty-one bundles of paper, which he had prepared for his own defence. Prynne shortly after published a garbled edition of the archbishop's diary, with malicious notes of his own, in order to infiame the public mind still more against him. In the mean time all the temporalities of the archbishopric were sequestered to the parliament, and the archbishop was suspended from all jurisdiction whatever. After continuing a close prisoner above three years, exposed to every insult and hard usage, he was at length brought 10 bis trial, which commenced March 12, 1613-4, and lasted twenty days. Every unprejudiced person must own, after a close and impartial consideration of the whole proceedings, that the persecuted archbishop had not common justice done him. And notwithstanding all the endeavours of his virulent enemies, it appears beyond all question, that nothing he had either said or done could be made to amount to treason by any known established law of the realm. When the trial was over, his prosecutors thought fit to proceed by way of attainder ; a most cruel measure, and full of illegality. The bill passed the commons November 16, but it was much longer before the lords were satisfied. In the mean time great pains were taken to force them to a concurrence. For instance, Stroud was sent with a message from the commons to quicken them in the business, and he had the insolence to say, “ that unless they agreed in the ordinance, the multitude would come down and force them to it." Notwithstanding this menace, when the articles of impeachment were put to the judges, they unanimously declared that nothing charged upon the arch, bishop was treason by the laws of the land: and the lords, in a conference with the commons, owned themselves of the same opinion. “And now (says Collier) to smite more solemnly with the fist of wickedness, a fast was ordered for Christinas day. If the two houses had been Jews, they could hardly have put a more open afiront upon Christianity. To proceed, the lords, at last, went through the bill, there being not above twelve, or, as one historian reports, only seven in the house*. To stop the consequence of this attainder, the archbishop pleaded the king's pardon under the great seal, signed about two years before.” But this protection was over
ruled by both houses, who were bent upon his execution, which at his earnest request was changed from hanging to beheading.
On the tenth of January, the archbishop, accompanied by his chaplain, Dr. Sterne, ascended the scaffold on Tower Hill, with an air of resolution and cheerfulness.
In his speech, which is remarkably energetic, he vindicales himself and the king from the charge of being popishly affected, and laments the condition of the Church in these forcible terms: “ The third particular is the poor Church of England. It hath flourished and been a shelter to other neighbouring Churches when storms have driven upon them : But, alas! now it is in a storm itself, and God only knows whether, or how it shall get out; and (which is worse than the storm from without) it is become like an oak cleft lo shivers with wedges made out of its own body, and it every cleft profaneness and irreligion is entering in, wbile, as Prosper speaks (in his second book De vita contemptu, cap.4.) men that introduce profaneness are cloaked over with the name, religionis imaginariæ, of imaginary religion; for we have lost the substance, and dwell too much in opinion: and that Church, which all the Jesuits' machinations could not ruin, is fallen into danger by her own."
After this speech the archbishop made a very pious and affecting prayer, and then moved towards the block; but finding the passage crowded with people, he desired them to make way and “ give him room to die." ..
While he was preparing himself for the executioner, Sir John Clotworthy (a zealous puritan, and an active man in the rebellion) asked him what text of Scripture was most comfortable to a dying inan? The archbishop answered, Cupio dissolri & esse cum Christo. Sir John going on in his barbarity, told him, “ there must be an assurance to found that upon." His grace meekly answered, "that this assurance was to be found within, and that expression could not reach it." Clotworthy still persisted in his impertinence, saying, “ 'tis founded upon a word though, and that word must be known." The archbishop replied to this effect, “ that 'twas the word of God concerning Christ, and his dying for us.” And finding this gentleman would prove further troublesome, he turned to the executioner, and, kneeling down, had his head serered from his body with a single blow*, Beo
* Hegiya, p. 536.