« AnteriorContinuar »
nent divine, and had a good judgment, a curious imagination, and a strong manner of reasoning, as appears by his works printed since his death in two volumes folio, which were no other than his common sermons transcribed from his notes;* his stile is manly and lofty, and his thoughts sublime: his love and charity were very extensive, and there was no part of learning to which he was a stranger.t He died July 26, 1680, aged 52. [On December 26th, 1680, died, at London, where he came to be cut for the stone, with which he was many years afflicted, Mr. John Corbet, ejected from Bramshot in Hants; a man every way great. He was a native of the city of Gloucester, and a student in Magdalen-hall, Oxon. He began his ministry in the place of his nativity, and lived many years there, and during the civil wars, of which he was a spectator. He wrote the history of the siege of the city, and is thought to have given as good an insight into the rise and springs of the civil war as can be met with in so narrow a compass. He removed from thence to Chichester, and then to the living from which he was ejected. After this he lived privately in and about London, till king Charles’s indulgence in 1671, when part of his flock invited him to return to Chichester, where he continued his ministrations with great assiduity and success. It was during his residence there that bishop Gunning gave a public challenge to the Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, and Quakers. (See chapter viii. p. 449 of this volume.) Mr. Corbet accepted it on behalf of the first; but, after the bishop had fired his own volley of invectives, Mr. Corbet was not permitted to enter into a defence; nor, though he proposed to do it at any other time, and waited on the bishop at his palace, could he, afterwards, obtain an hearing. He was a man of great moderation, a lover of peace, an advocate for catholic communion and union of saints, and of blameless conversation.— He saw some things to approve, and some things to dis
* Calamy, vol. ii. p. 56. Palmer's Non. Mem. vol. i. p. 159.
t Mr. Johnson, who preached his funeral sermon, says, “he never
knew a man in all his life, who had attained near to that skill Mr.
Charnock had, in the originals of the Old and New Testament, except Mr. Thomas Cawton.” Granger, vol. iii. p. 308. Ed.
like in all parties, and valued not the interest of a party or faction. True to his conscience, he had no worldly designs to carry on, but was eminent in self-denial, and managed his ministry with faithfulness and prudence. He was tender of the reputation of his brethren, and rejoiced in the success of their labors as well as of his own. Nor was he apt to speak against those by whom he suffered. He was very free in acknowledging by whom he profited, and preferring others before himself. He was much in the study of his own heart, had the comfort of sensible improvements in faith and holiness, humility and heavenlymindedness, and died at last in great serenity and peace. He had a considerable hand in compiling Mr. Rushworth’s first volume of Collections, which is reckoned by good judges a master-piece of the kind. His “Self employment in secret,” an excellent small piece, recommended lately by Mr. Bulkley in his “Christian Minister,” has gone through various editions. Mr. Howe wrote a preface to it. Dr. Wright reprinted it in 1741, and the Rev. William Unwin, rector of Stock cum Ramsden-Bellhouse, Essex, published it again in 1773, with the encomiums of a celebrated minister of the church of England upon it, as “ the best manual he knew for a christian or a minister, furnishing excellent materials for addressing conscience, and directing men to judge of their spiritual state.” Cal*o ii. p. 833. Palmer's Noncon. Mem. vol. ii. p. 4. Ed.
The *: having parted with his last parliament in displeasure, without being able to obtain any money, resolved once more to try a new one;” and apprehending that the male-contents were encouraged by the neighborhood of the city of London, he summoned them to meet at Oxford ; the same representatives being re-chosen for London, had a paper put into their hands by four merchants, in the name of all the citizens then assembled in the common hall, containing a return of their most hearty thanks for their faithful and unwearied endeavors in the two last parliaments, to search into the depth of the popish plot, to preserve the protestant religion,to promote an union among his majesty's protestant subjects, to repeal the 35th of Elizabeth, and the
* Eachard, p. 1002. Rapin, vol. ii. p. 720.
corporation act, and to promote the bill of eacclusion, and to request their continuance of the same. The members being afraid of violence, were attended to Oxford with a numerous body of horse, having ribbons in their hats, with this motto, Woo popery ; no slavery; the citizens having promised to stand by them with their lives and fortunes. Many other papers of the like nature were presented to the members in the several counties. The king, in his speech at the opening the sessions, March 21, reflected severely on the last parliament, and said, he was resolved to maintain the succession of the crown in the right line, and for quieting people’s fears, he was willing to put the administration into the hands of a protestant regent; but the commons rejected the proposal, to the inexpressible joy of the duke's party, and ordered the bill of eacclusion to be brought in again. In the mean time a motion was made to consider of the loss of the bill in favor of the dissenters last parliament. Sir William Jones said, “the bill was of great moment and service to the country, and might be to their lives, in the time of a popish successor; but be the bill what it will, the precedent was of the highest consequence ; the king has a negative to all bills, but surely the clerk of the parliament has not.—If this way be found out, that bills shall be thrown by, it may hereafter be said, they were forgot and laid by, and so we shall never know whether the king would pass them or no : if this be suf. fered. 'tis in vain to spend time here—” In conclusion this affair was referred to a conference with the house of lords, which was frustrated by the hasty dissolution of the parliament. They next went upon the libel of one Fitz-Harris, an Irish papist, which was a second meal-tub plot, promoted in the name of the non-conformists;* the libel was to be sent by penny-post letters to the lords who had protested in favor of the bill of exclusion, and to the leading men in the house of commons, who were immediately to be apprehended and searched. Everard, who was Fitz-Harris's confident, and betrayed the secret, affirmed that the king himself was privy to it, as Fitz-Harris's wife averred to a person of worth many years after; that his majesty had
* Burnet, p. 303, 4.
given Fitz Harris money, and promised him more if it unet with success. The label was to traduce the king; and the royal family as papists, and arbitrarily affected from the beginning, and says, that King Charles I. had a hand in the irish rebellion;–that the act forbidding to call the king a papist, was only to stop men’s mouths, and that it was as luuci, in the power of the people to depose a popish possessor as a popish successor. It was intitled The True Englishman speaking plain English ; and adds, “If JAMEs be conscious and guilty, CHARLEs is so too; believe me these two brothers in iniquity are in confederacy with the pope and the French, to introduce popery and arbitrary government, and to cast off parliaments, magna charta, and the liberty of the subject, as heavy yokes, and to be as arbitrary as the king of France—Let the English move and rise as one man to self-defence; blow the trumpet, stand on your guard, and withstand them as bears and tygers—Thrust to your swords in defence of your lives, liberties and religion, like the stout earl of old, who told his king, if he could not be defended by magna charta, he would be relieved by longa spada.” He goes on to reproach the king with the breach of his Scots oaths, Breda Promises, protestant profession, liberty of conscience; as designed only to delude protestants; and puts him in mind of all his political and moral vices, as intended to debauch the nation, to promote the popish religion and arbitrary government, &c. Thus were the non-conformists to be exposed again to the resentments of the nation ; but when the sham was discovered to the house of commons by Sir William Waller, he received the thanks of the house, and Fitz-Harris, though impeached in parliament, was tried by a jury, and executed with Dr. Plunket, the titular primate of Ireland. The whigs would have saved Fitz-Harris, though a papist, in hopes of his being an evidence in the popish plot; but the court was resolved to dispatch him out of the way, that he might tell no more tales. His majesty, hearing that the bill of eacclusion was to be brought into the house again, went suddenly, and not very decently, (says Burnet.*) to the house of lords in a sedan, with the crown between his feet, and having put on his
* Burnet, p. 306.
robes in haste, called up the commons, and dissolved his fifth and last parliament, after they had sat only seven days. As soon as his majesty got out of the house, he posted away in all haste to Windsor, as one that was glad he had got rid of his parliament, which was the last that he ever convened; though he lived three or four years after. And here was an end of the constitution and liberties of England for the present; all that followed to the king's death was no more than the convulsions and struggles of a dying man. The king raised what money he wanted without parliaments; he took away all the charters of England, and governed absolutely by dint of prerogative. April the 8th, the king published a declaration* to all his loving subjects, touching the causes and reasons that moved him to dissolve the two last parliaments ; and ordered it to be read in all the churches and chapels throughout England. It contains a recital of his majesty's condescensions for the security of the protestant religion, as far as was consistent with the succession of the crown in the lineal descent ; and a large rehearsal of the unsuitable returns of the commons. But notwithstanding all this, (says his majesty) let not these men, who are laboring to poison our people with commonwealth principles, persuade any of our subjects that we intend to lay aside the use of parliaments, for we still declare, that no irregularities in parliaments shall make us out of love with them; and we are resolved by the blessing of God, to have frequent parliaments;” although he never called another. Several anonymous remarks were made upon this declaration, to weaken its influence. But the court used all its interest among the people to support its credit: addresses were sent from all parts, thanking his majesty for his declaration, promising to support his person and government with their lives and fortunes. Most of them declared against the bill of eacclusion, and for the duke's succession't (as has been observed.) Some ventured to arraign the late parliament as guilty of sedition and
* It was observed, Dr. Calamy says, that “this declaration was known by M. Barillon, the French ambassador, and by the duchess of Mazarine. sooner than by the king's council, and that it was evidenced to be of French extraction by the gallicisms in it; and withal it had no broad seal to it, and was signed only by a clerk of the council.” Own Life, MS. p. 74. Ed. # Burmet, vol. ii. 308-9.