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its, and were unwearied in their attempts to seduce the common people. The way to preferment was to be a catholic, or to declare for the prerogative ; all state affairs being managed by such men. An open correspondence was held with Rome, and many pamphlets were dispersed to make proselytes to the Romish faith, or at least to effect a coalition. Multitudes of the king’s subjects frequented the popish chapels; some changed their profession; and all men were forbid to speak disrespectfully of the king's religion.
At length the eyes of many of the clergy began to be opened, and they judged it necessary to preach against the popish doctrines, that they might recover the people who were deserting in numbers, and rescue the protestant religion from the danger into which their own follies had brought it. The king being acquainted with this, by the advice of his priests, sent circular letters to the bishops, with an order, prohibiting the inferior clergy from preaching on the controverted points of religion ; which many complained of, though it was no more than King James and Charles I. had done before. However when their mouths were stopped in the pulpit, some of the most learned and zealous agreed to fight the catholics with their own weapons, and to publish small pamphlets for the benefit of the vulgar, in defence of the protestant doctrines. When a popish pamphlet was in the press, they made interest with the workmen, and got the sheets as they were wrought off, so that an answer was ready as soon as the pamphlet was published. There was hardly a week, in which some sermon or small treatise against popery, was not printed and dispersed among the common people, which, in the compass of a year or two, produced a valuable set of controversial writings against the errors of that church.* The chief writers were Dr.Tillotson, Stillingfleet, Tennison, Patrick, Wake, Whitby, Sharp, Atterbury, Williams, Aldrich, Burnet, Fowler, &c.t men of great name and renown, who gained
* A vast collection of these pieces was published about fifty years ago, in three volumes folio, under the direction of Dr. Gibson bishop of London. But this contained only a part of the tracts written by the !...". and even the catalogues of them drawn up by Dr. Wake,
r. Gee. and Mr. Francis Peck, were defective in the titles of them. Birch's Life of Archbishop Tillotson, p. 127. Ed.
t Burnet, vol. iii. p. 79, 80. Edin, edit.
immortal honor, and were afterwards advanced to the highest dignities in the church. Never was a bad cause more weakly managed by the papists, nor a more complete victory obtained by the protestants. But the church party, not content with their triumph, have of late censured the non-conformists, for appearing only as-spectators, and not joining them in the combat.* But how could the clergy expect this from a set of men whom they had been persecuting for above twenty years, and who had the yoke of oppression still lying on their necks P Had not the non-conformists been beforehand with them in their morning eacercises against poperyP And did not Dr. Owen, Mr. Pool, Baxter, Clarkson, and others, write against the errors of the church of Rome, throughout the whole reign of King Charles II? Had not the nonconformists stood in the gap, and exposed themselves sufficiently to the resentments of the papists, for refusing to come into their measures for an universal toleration, in which they might have been included ? Besides, the poor ministers were hardly crept out of corners, their papers had been rifled, and their books sold or secreted, to avoid seizure; they had little time to study, and therefore might not be so well prepared for the argument, as those who had lived in ease and security. Further, the church party was most nearly concerned, the non-conformists having nothing to lose, whereas all the emoluments of the church were at stake ; and after all, some of the dissenters did write; and, if we may believe Dr. Calamy, Mr. Baxter, and others, their tracts being thought too warm, were refused to be licensed. Upon the whole, bishop Burnet
- * Calamy, p. 87s; and Pierce's Windication, p. 266.
# A lieence was refused to a discourse against the whole system of popery, drawn up by the learned Mr. Jonathan Hanmer, who was cjected from Bishop’s Tawton in Devon. ... A discourse against transubstantiation, written by Mr. Henry Pendlebury, ejected from Holeomb chapel in Lancashire, and afterwards published by Arch. Tillotson, met with the like refusal. An offer that Mr. Baxter would pro- . duee a piece against popery every month, if a licence might he had, was rejected with scorn. And Mr. Jane, the bishop of London's chaplain, denied his sanction to a piece he actually drew up on the church's visibility. But in opposition to what Mr. Neal says above concerning this point, Dr. Grey, it is but justice to observe, gives us letters from
wisely observes,” that as the dissenters would not engage
Dr. Isham, Dr. Alston, Dr. Batteley, and Mr Needham, lieensers of
they might be still suffered to ver the dissenters; and he named the very men, though they thought fit afterwards to deny it: how far the fact is probable must be left with the reader. It being thought impracticable to obtain a legal toleration in the present circumstances of the nation, his majesty determined to attempt it by the dispensing power; for this purpose sir Edward Hales, a popish gentleman of Kent, was brought to trial for breaking through the test act, when sir Edward Herbert, lord chief justice, gave judgment in his favor, and declared the pourers of the crown to be absolute.* The other judges were closeted, and such displaced as were of a different sentiment; and the king being resolved to have twelve judges of his own opinion,t four had their quietus, and as many new ones were advanced, from whom the king exacted a promise to support the prerogative in all its branches. There was a a new call of serjeants, who gave rings with this motto, Deus, Rex, Lex, God, the king, and the law ; the king being placed before the law. The privy council was new modelled, and several declared papists admitted into it; two confiding clergymen were promoted to bishoprics. Parker to Oxford, and Cartwright to Chester. Many pamphlets were written and dispersed in favor of liberty of conscience; and sir Roger L’Estrange, with other mercenary writers, were employed to maintain, that a power in the king to dispense with the laws, is law. But the opinion of private writers not being thought sufficient, it was resolved to have the determination of the judges, who all (except one) gave it as their opinion; 1. That the laws of England were the king's laws. 2. That it is an inseperable branch of the prerogative of the kings of England, as of all other sovereign princes, to dispense with all penal laws in particular
* Burnet, p. 73, 4,
+ Lord chief justice Jones, one of the displaced judges, upon his dismission, observed to the king, “That he was by no means sorry that he was laid aside, old and worn out as he was in his service : but concerned that his majesty should expect such a construction of the law from him as he could not honestly give : and that none but indigent, ignorant, or ambitious men, would give their judgment as he expected.” To this the king replied, “It was neeessary his judges should be all of one mind.” Memoirs of sir John Reresby, p. 233. Ed.
eases, and on particular occasions. 3. That of these redsons and necessity the king is sole judge. 4. That this is not a trust now invested in, and granted to the present king, but the ancient remains of the sovereign power of the kings of England, which was never yet taken from them, nor can be. Thus the laws of England were given up at once into the hands of the king, by a solemn determination of the judges. This point being secured, his majesty began to caress the non-conformists. “All on a sudden (says bishop Burmet”) the churchmen were disgraced, and the dissenters in high favor. Lord chief justice Herbert went the Western circuit after Jefferies, who was now made lord chancellor, and all was grace and favor to them : their former sufferings were much reflected upon and pitied ; every thing was offered that might alleviate them ; their ministers were encouraged to set up their conventicles, which had been discontinued, or held very secretly for four or five years ; intimations were given every where, that the king would not have them or their meetings disturbed.”f A dispensation or license office was set up, where all who applied might have an indulgence, paying only fifty shillings, for themselves and their families. Many who had been prosecuted for conventicles, took out those licenses, which not only stopped all processes that were commenced, but gave them liberty to go publicly to meetings for the future. “Upon this (says the same reverend prelate) some of the dissenters grew insolent, but wiser men among them perceived the design of the papists, was now to set on the dissenters against the church, and therefore, though they returned to their conventicles, yet they had a just jealousy of the ill designs that lay hid, under all this sudden and unexpected shew of grace and kindness, and they took care not to provoke the church party.” But where then were the under
* Page 78.
# King James, previously to his adopting of these conciliating measures with the dissenters. Such was his art and duplicity, had tried all the methods he could think of to bring the church into his designs: and twice offered it is said. to make a sacrifice of all the dissenters in the kingdom to them. if they would but have complied with him : but failing in this attempt. he faced about to the non-conformists. Calamy's History of his own Life, vol. i. p. 470, MS. Ed.